For those with a serious sweet tooth, just the thought of going somewhere of bland taste may ruin your dream vacation. There’s good news for you – just because people in the South of Vietnam crazily fall for sweet dishes. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with mouth-watering Vietnamese sweet soup desserts in Saigon.
Featuring a vibrant food scene with both traditional and modern influences, Vietnam has everything to give travelers uniquely new gastronomic experiences. Vietnamese do not only take pride in the signature Pho but also a wide range of street food flatters the nation’s cuisine. Vietnamese sweet soup dessert or ‘Che’ is among the best street treats that deserve a special place in your heart.
Must-try Vietnamese sweet soup desserts
In a place that never really gets cold, but can get very hot, a glass of iced sweet soup is a perennial favorite. Vietnamese sweet soup desserts in Saigon reflect the diversity of flavors and cooking style. Are you ready to feast in Saigon?
Three-color dessert (Che ba mau)
The three colors represent three types of beans used with this sweet treat. Red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and mung bean are put in a tall glass and divided into three layers, covered with coconut milk and crushed ice on top. When you are ready to eat, simply use a spoon to mix them all. The smoothness of beans and greasiness of coconut milk indulge your taste buds perfectly.
Mixed sweet soup (Che thap cam)
Mixed sweet soup is a blend of beans that usually include white lablab beans, red kidney beans, black beans, and mung beans. However, beans themselves do not create the best dish without fruit jelly, lotus seeds, longans, coconut milk, sliced coconut meat, and many other greasy ingredients. A dish of mixed sweet soup can feast your eyes with appealing colors and satisfy any sweet cravings after dinner.
Ching bo leung (Sam bo luong)
For those who are searching for a dessert as well as a herbal remedy, Ching bo leung is an excellent idea. If you know Cantonese cuisine well enough, you will find Ching bo leung a familiar dessert on the menu in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau. According to Chinese medicine, Ching bo leung is believed to benefit the cardiovascular system and the whole body functions.
The recipe may vary from countries to countries, though Ching bo leung is usually served in a tall glass with dried longans, red jujubes, lotus seeds, lotus roots and thinly sliced seaweed. You can eat Ching bo leung both hot and cold, but the latter seems to be more preferred on boiling hot summer days in Vietnam.
Khuc bach dessert (Che khuc bach)
Khuc bach is another sweet dish you should never shut your eyes to. Neither too sweet nor too greasy, Khuc bach dessert is in the middle-level for sweet food lovers. The typical Khuc bach combines gelatin powder, whipping cream, purified milk and lychee. A fine bowl of Khuc bach will rock your taste buds with sweetness, smoothness, and unique smell of thinly sliced almond. You can also customize your sweet soup dessert with tempting toppings such as strawberry, longan, cherry or any kind of fruit jelly.
Grass jelly and coconut milk dessert (Che suong sao nuoc dua)
Grass jelly has been one of the most favored refreshing desserts as it can help to keep the body cool during hot days. Like Ching bo leung, grass jelly is very popular in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Those who are not fond of traditional herbs may find its smell quite strong but these cases are rare as the vendors often add in sugar soup and coconut milk to make the sweet soup taste more pleasant.
Glutinous rice balls (Che troi nuoc)
Craving for something fulfilling and comforting? Vietnamese glutinous rice balls indulge your sweet tooth for every second. Unlike other sweet soups, glutinous rice balls are usually served warm or cool as ice may lessen the flavor of the sweet soup. A small bowl of glutinous rice balls will be bathed in fragrant sweet ginger syrup.
In Vietnamese, Che troi nuoc means ‘floating sweet soup’ as the rice balls will float to the surface when cooked through. This sweet treat enchants foodies by the rice balls filled with mung bean paste in combination with the slightly sweet ginger syrup. You can ask the vendor to add in extra nutty flavors with coconut milk and sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped peanuts.
Best places to eat
You don’t have to look hard to find a place to eat sweet soup desserts in Saigon. Just strolling around the city, you can enjoy one of the best parts of Vietnamese cuisine in famous markets and local dessert shops.
Ben Thanh Market
Many travelers choose Ben Thanh Market as their favorite shopping destination but don’t forget this place is also a food paradise. Never leave the market until you find something sweet to eat. You can see many stalls serving all popular sweet soup desserts that will linger in your mouth with pleasant sweetness.
You don’t have to worry about food hygiene as most ‘Che’ stalls are well cleaned, and the ingredients are kept in glass cases to avoid insects and dust. The space in the market is usually limited, so if you are not lucky enough to get an empty seat, just order a takeaway of your favorite and continue strolling through the market.
# Where to eat: Be Che – Kiosk 1154-1130, Gate 7 Ben Thanh Market
Binh Tay Market
If you are walking around Binh Tay Market, there’s a good chance that you can enjoy the best of Chinese cuisine in Vietnam here. Binh Tay Market is a reward for those who are willing to take risks with new dishes. When you are bored at the market, walk a bit further to nearby streets where you can see shop signs written in Chinese everywhere. Here you will be treated with unique Chinese sweet desserts that can hardly be found anywhere else.
Xoi Che Bui Thi Xuan
Right in the center of District 1, approximately 1,5 km from Bui Vien Walking Street you can find Xoi Che Bui Thi Xuan. This is exactly a place where you get lost in the world of Vietnamese delicacies. Foodies easily get fascinated by a colorful menu that represents almost all of the best sweet soup desserts. Mixed sweet soup, Ching bo leung, Khuc bach dessert, lotus seeds sweet soup, mung bean sweet soup with seaweed and coconut milk, to name just a few.
If you are not in the mood for sweet soups, try sticky rice instead. You can enjoy many dishes of sticky rice, just as varied as sweet soup. Wait a second! This place is not for desserts only, most-favored Vietnamese dishes including fresh spring rolls, beef rice noodles are available too.
# Where to eat: 111 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 6.30 AM – 10.00 PM
Che Ky Dong
Opened 30 years ago, Che Ky Dong is a good place to enjoy hot and cold sweet soup desserts. Even if you are not a sweet tooth, a wide range of sweet soups is tempting enough to cause you to order an extra portion. The signature dish here must be the colorful mixed sweet soup that triggers your eyes and your taste buds.
When you have fueled your stomach with fantastic dishes, continue with your sightseeing tour to the well-known Ky Dong Church – one of the best Catholic churches in Ho Chi Minh City. The church is only 180 meters away from the dessert shop, and it takes you just 2-3 minutes of walking.
# Where to eat: 16C Ky Dong, Ward 9, District 3
Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 10.00 PM
In a list of must-have experience in Saigon, how can you forget trying sweet soup desserts? Other than just satisfying your taste buds, Che also presents a gratifying food experience. So what are you waiting for? Get a taste of Saigon today with our amazing Ho Chi Minh Food walking tour now.
Trinh Tran written for Maika Tours
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