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It’s much better to finish a meal with something sweet?


Travelers commonly know about Vietnam’s culinary culture through some ‘iconic’ savory dishes, but desserts here are also worth trying. Likely savory meals, Vietnamese desserts offer diversity in flavors, textures, and ingredients, which properly satisfy your sweet tooth yet healthy. It’s not difficult to find these delicious and affordable desserts on many sidewalks, fresh markets and even in any alleys across the country. Locals in Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City enjoy sweets derived from cane sugar and rich coconut milk, that are frequently found in desserts. They assume that the sweetness will balance out the heat of the tropical weather. Shall we beat the heat of Saigon in the sweetest way?


Tàu hũ (Sweet Tofu Pudding)


‘Tao Pho’ (sweet tofu pudding) is a refreshing and dedicated Chinese - Vietnamese dessert for the locals. It is made from soybean, has a jelly texture, a taste of soy milk and usually served in a sweet syrup made from ginger and rock sugar. Tofu pudding in Vietnam is treated as street food, served by many street vendors and dessert restaurants. Travelers may somehow come across Vietnamese women who lug around 2 baskets on opposite ends of the pole over their shoulders. If you want to try the cold version, then the bowl would be added red beans, black jelly, and a bubble with crushed ice on top. In Saigon, locals often mention 2 famous vendors located on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Le Thanh Ton (District 1) and Bui Dinh Tuy (Binh Thanh District), which offer the best sweet tofu pudding in town.

“The favorite recipe of ‘Tao Pho’ includes soft tofu pudding from silken tofu, topped with thickly cooked sweet ginger syrup.”

Chè (Sweet Soup)

Travelers may be incidentally introduced to ‘Chè’ (Vietnamese dessert soup in Vietnam) when it comes to Vietnamese sweet foods. The soup is sold at any place in the country and is well-known as locals’ favorite and traditional dessert during any special occasions such as the Tet holiday and Luna new year. ‘Chè’ comes in a wide variety of recipes, flavors, and ingredients. With the base of coconut milk, you can create ‘sweet soup’ by adding any topping like fruits, any kinds of beans, and glutinous rice, e.g. Here is several popular versions of ‘sweet soup’ travelers should try in Saigon


Chè Chuối (Sweet banana with coconut gruel) 

‘Chè chuối’ is supposed to be the most nutrient-rich Vietnamese dessert. 

The spirit of the soup is porcelain banana originally from Southeast Asia, which tastes sweeter and more fragrant than other types. The locals’ favorite soup combines bananas cooked with coconut cream, granulated sugar, and garnished with tapioca pearl and jelly. The taste is lightly sweet and occasionally flavored with roasted sesame. Many vendors are selling delicious ‘Che Chuoi’ in Saigon that dessert lovers can easily search for the addresses, especially dessert shops located in the center of the city


Chè Mâm (Sweet soup “buffet”)

If you find it difficult to choose between numerous types of sweet soup, then ‘Che mam’ - Sweet soup buffet is absolutely the best choice to taste a little bit of everything. The buffet is served in small portions on a tray (“mâm” in Vietnamese), with up to 16 Southern-style sweet soups available in Saigon. In this way, guests are allowed to select their own tray of Vietnamese desserts. The attractive tray is a signature at a local shop that has existed for about 40 years on Su Van Hanh street (District 1), this place is also suitable for those who eat in groups of more than 4 people. 


Chè Thái (Thai sweet soup)

If you’re a fan of durian - a specialty in Asia tropical countries, then Thai sweet soup (Che Thai) would be a great option to taste on these summer days. Differ from Thailand’s tub tim grob, the soup in the Vietnamese version is varied with an enriched cream base and the use of various tropical fruits like durian, longan, jackfruit, and lychee. By that, the dessert specializes in the unique taste, lightly sweet, and eye-catching rainbow appearance. The recommended address selling Thai sweet soup is located on Nguyen Tri Phuong Street (District 10) when the whole area features this special dessert and is always crowded with customers. 


Chè mè đen (Black sesame sweet soup)

Black sesame sweet soup is a Chinese traditional soup and has gradually become one of the beloved desserts in Vietnam. The key ingredients combine fragrant roasted black sesame, cooked with coconut milk, sugar syrup, and tapioca flour. Although the black sesame sweet soup does not have an eye-catching appearance, the dessert won a sweet tooths’ heart by the gentle aroma and moderate sweetness. To be more innovative, diners sometimes ask the shop to add peanut tea with a similar cooking method in the same bowl.


Trái cây tô (Mixed fruit bowl)

A bowl full of tropical fruits (jackfruit, longan, watermelon, dragon fruit, etc.) mixed in ground ice and creamy yogurt, topped with crispy coconut flakes would be the ideal for beating the heat of the country. The colorful and extremely healthy treat with the combination of crunchy, creamy, fruity, and icy is not only good for your photos but also your health. It is popular street food, so you can find it easily on most of the streets in town, or we recommend you have a short trip to Thanh Thai Street, District 10 for it.


Xôi ca dé (Custard Sticky rice)

Layer glutinous rice (sticky rice) steamed cooked with coconut milk, and a sweet kaya (egg custard) layer to finish off. Using a banana leaf to wrap it up, the smell of the plant meets the heat from the rice, enhancing all the flavor into it. Kaya is the same as custard made from coconut milk, eggs, flour, and sugar that bring a light yellow colour. The smell of creamy custard, coconut milk, combined with the sticky texture of the rice. This sweet is super marvelous! The only small stall selling this is located at 451 Tran Phu Street, District 5; it opens from 8 pm till 2 am. 


Coconut ice-cream sticky rice

Sticky rice is one of the most loved grains in Vietnam. From fully topping savory sticky rice to a sweet treat, from serving in hot to cooling down. 

Coconut ice cream sticky rice is one of the most trendy street foods around SEA, and not except in Vietnam. The main ingredients of the treat are coconut ice cream, sticky rice, and toasted coconut flakes (or roasted peanuts). Rich and fragrant coconut ice cream, soft-chewy rice, cracking toasted nuts all are placed in a coconut half-shell. Normally, you will have a small glass of coconut water within your order in order to fresh up from the creamy flavor. It is localized and has been sold popularly in merchants, especially in District 1. I hope you will give it a try and tell us how it tastes!


Chuối chiên (Fried banana cake)

Chuối chiên, roughly a type of fried banana cake, is a livelihood snack in southern Vietnam.  They press and shape the banana into regular size, roll in flour, sprinkle it with topping (it could be black sesame, coconut shredded, or anything that tastes good); then deep fry it in an oil pan. Mid heat and keep stirring is one of the skills to bring the well-cooked, crispy yet spongy texture. Fried banana cakes are likely to be sold by pushcarts, around Nam Hai Church on Pham Hung street. Or a local brand of Chuối chiên located in the center called "Vina Chuối" offers many options to customize and try this sweet. 


Kẹo chỉ (Dragon's Beard Candy)

One of the most remarkable local childhood snacks that no one had never tried. It is a handmade traditional food craft-art sweet art similar to floss or cotton which can be found on many front of every school gates. High sugar content is heated into chewy, and covered by tapioca flour then repeatedly pulling, twisting, stretching, and folding dough mixture into small, thin strands. Break a piece of rice paper and make it into a taco shell, stuff with candy, shredded coconut, nuts, and condensed milk. It should be eaten immediately after completed preparation since it tends to melt at high temperatures. As it is a popular street food, you can find it from mobile push carts on the streets. 

 (ENG: Hương Giang - JSL)