Chillaxin With Che
By Tristan Ngo
As summer approaches I can’t help thinking about desserts. When the sun is up and the weather is hotter, a glass, bowl, or cup of che is the perfect thing to satisfy your thirst.
Young and old Vietnamese alike love this traditional sweet dessert so much that they often eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or late supper. Breakfast che is usually made from steamed tofu with sweetened ginger syrup, warm taro with sticky rice, or sweet corn kernels in coconut milk. A cup of this with a ca phe sua da or a hot cup of tea is the perfect way to start a day.
In District 3 there is a long-standing iconic che spot called Che Ky Dong on Ky Dong Street near the corner of Truong Dinh. This family-owned, two-floor establishment has roughly 20 small tables and has been hugely popular since it opened in 1981. At first, it only had two items on the menu: che ba mau (tri-coloured che) and warm soymilk. They no longer serve the soymilk but che ba mau remains in high demand.
There are many types of che, but all are measured against the standards of che ba mau, which is made with mung beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, tapioca, jelly, and seasonal fruits. With the addition of the all-important sweetened syrup, coconut milk and crushed ice, you will have a refreshing, delicious, and sweet dessert.
Here are some other popular che dishes from Che Ky Dong: sam bo luong, my favourite, with dates, longans, barley, seaweed, gingko nuts and lotus seeds, making it both refreshing and healthy; rau cau dua, made from agar-agar that is mixed with fresh coconut meat and juice; and assorted fresh fruit cocktails, lotus seeds with coconut milk and suong sa hat luu, or agar-agar with imitation pomegranate seeds. I could go on, but you’ll just have to go and explore for yourself and see what types you like.
Che Ky Dong offers over 20 varieties of che and is open daily from 7.30am to 10.30pm. Average cost is around VND 13,000 per item.
Che Ky Dong
16C Ky Dong Street, D3
08 38 46 90 39
Tristan is the chef and owner of The Elbow Room and Skewers, two popular restaurants in District 1. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.