According to Makansutra, Ice Kachang is “Singapore’s favourite dessert.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s certainly Singapore’s most colorful dessert. It’s a mountain of shaved ice coated with different syrups, and then topped with creamed corn and red beans. (You can also get additional toppings, such as durian puree.) Mine came with three different syrup flavors and I had some trouble identifying them: the pink was certainly lychee; the green tasted like bubblegum (which is odd not only for the color, but since it shouldn’t be a recognized flavor in Singapore – so I think it was probably something else); and I have no idea what the yellow was – my guess is mango.
Now, I know you’re wondering why anyone would put red beans and creamed corn on top of shaved ice. Red beans are fairly common in desserts here, so that’s not that surprising to me. (Granted, in baked goods, the red beans are normally mashed and sweetened with sugar – and they’re delicious.) I have no idea about the creamed corn. But think of the possibilities the next time your kids won’t eat their vegetables! Throw the veggies on top of dessert and tell ’em it’s what the kids in Singapore eat.
But wait, there’s more! As my leaning tower of ice kachang literally toppled over, I discovered some buried secrets. At the base of the mountain, mixed in with the ice, were pieces of grass jelly, more red beans, and a solitary lychee. I felt like I’d just found the toy in a box of cereal – when I didn’t know it came with a toy. Unfortunately, shortly after this point, the pink, green, and yellow ice mixed into an unappetizing brown color (with the aforementioned jelly pieces and beans floating in it). It reminded me of the end of a Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster – you get to the point where it looks like a big, gross mess and you realize you’ve already had more than enough.
I’m not sure if I’ll eat Ice Kachang again. I did kind of like it, but I think part of it was the novelty and trying to figure out what the flavors were. Nevertheless, it was nice to have something cold after walking around underneath the hot Singaporean sun. Somehow, though, I think I may just stick to ice cream. (For an East-West compromise, I’ll make it red bean ice cream.)