Ever had an ice ball? They’re kind of defunct now in Malaysia, but they used to be all the rage in the 1960s right up til the late 70s. When my parents were kids, they used to buy these sweet icy treats for only 10 cents each. (They are now RM3 .__.)
What’s an ice ball? It’s basically, well.. a ball of ice, poured over with flavouring. Bringing back the nostalgia is Bits & Bobs, a small kiosk located at Kong Heng Square in Ipoh Old Town, where you’ll find it among a cluster of hipster cafes.
The space is very small, but is jam packed with old novelties, collectibles and other knick knacks for sale. Stacked on wooden cupboards up to the ceiling are woven baskets, stools, glasses, even an old gramophone or two.
It was a hot day and there was a long line snaking outside of the shop as people queued up for a thirst quencher. The young man running the shop expertly patted shaved ice into balls before pouring over them with various syrups and sweet flavours. Some possible combis include Nishibomb (Sarsi + assam), Jineebee (grape + lychee), NingNong (gula melaka *palm sugar* + lychee) and BusyBee (lychee + sarsi + rosella).
At the counter were various childhood snacks and old school card/board games we used to play as kids. What a trip down memory lane!
My NingNong (sounds wrong, ha!) was served on a piece of brown paper so it wouldn’t be too messy.
Sucking on the ball was an oddly satisfying experience in the hot weather, despite the chill numbing my lips. One has to constantly turn the ball as the syrup tends to congeal at the bottom. Once the ball is dry and tasteless, you can throw it away.
Wanna do a part for charity? Buy a Selalu (Always) lock for Rm15 at the shop!
Bits & Bobs
Kong Heng Square
99 Jalan Sultan Yussuf
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opening hours: 10am – 5.30pm