You may have wandered Saigon, past shops or wheelbarrow stands that sell plastic containers filled with multi-colored beans, nuts, and other things that you can’t really identify at first glance.
Some look thick, others look like puddings; some are hot and some are cold; and some contain basil seeds that look like tiny frog eggs, which can be quite a fascinating sight for some. However, they all fall into the same category: they are all Vietnamese desserts called chè.
So what exactly is chè? And how do you differentiate between the different types of desserts available? There is an endless list of different combinations and varieties of Chè that originated in different parts of the country.
The phrase “there are not two chè they are the same ”may seem plausible, although it cannot be fully verified (yet), but here is a list of some of the different types of chè that you can find, differentiated by their main ingredients, and some places where you can find them in Saigon.
The ones with rice and tubers
Because the word “chè ” usually appears as a prefix, the easiest way to classify them is through the ingredients they are made from. Here are some of the most common. Chè They can be found made from rice and tubers such as potatoes, cassava and tapiocas.
– Rice: Chè hột lựuIt is made with rice pasta that is cut into small pieces; chè cốm It is a dish that is made with tender rice and chè lam It is made from ground glutinous rice. All three are usually served with various side ingredients depending on where you are and what you prefer.
– Tubers: There are a variety of chè that are quite similar to each other. They use different tubers as the base ingredient. chè khoai tây, a cream-colored dish similar to congee is made with potatoes and chè khoai lang is the sweetest variant of this dish, in the sense that it uses sweet potatoes instead, and chè khoai môn makes use of taro.
Speaking of taro, chè môn sáp vàng originated from Hue, and also uses a type of taro that is grown in the city.
Another tuber commonly used in che it’s cassava. Chè bột sắn It is made with cassava flour and the final product is a bowl full of starch. Chè sắn lát on the other hand, it is a dessert made with sliced cassava as the main character.
Chè bắp is a tapioca-based rice pudding that contains generous amounts of corn and chè củ súng It is a different soupy dish made with water lily bulbs. Other notable desserts are chè hạt sen, which is made with lotus seeds as the main ingredient.
The ones with the jelly
These particular versions of chè They are gelatin based, with secondary ingredients added to the mix and can be found almost anywhere in Saigon. Agar agar, which is a popular specialty of Southeast Asia, is the main ingredient for chè thạch.
Chè thạch lựu combines seaweed and tapioca pearls as secondary ingredients and chè thạch sen It is made from algae and lotus seeds. In other words, they almost resemble each other, which can be confusing to foreigners.
If you have found chè containing a black jelly base, chances are you’ve found the sương sao. Made from herb jelly, which is also commonly found in desserts in China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, this chè it is refreshing and quite addictive.
Chè thạch sen takes on a different shape with its finely prepared jellies that resemble noodles.
The ones that look like dumplings
Just to make things really confusing, there are also versions of chè They take the form of meatballs, but not the savory types you are most familiar with. They are typically created as a main ingredient and served in a sweet, syrupy liquid.
Chè bột lọc It is a type of sweet dough ball made with small cassava and sealed with rice flour. Chè bánh xếp It is made with green beans wrapped in a tapioca skin dumpling. It is usually served with coconut milk that contains small pieces of tapioca for a crunchy touch.
Chè trôi nước They are balls of dough that come in the form of balls made with glutinous rice flour. The filling consists of mung bean paste and the balls are usually served in a thick, transparent or brown liquid depending on where you go, made with syrup and pieces of ginger.
The ones that are fruity
Like most desserts in Southeast Asia, you can find varieties of chè made or containing fruit. One of the most popular and delicious offers would be chè hoa what It contains a mixture of fruits such as apple, pear, mango, lychee, pineapple and watermelon and is served with milk, yogurt and syrup.
Simpler single-fruit varieties of chè also exists with chè nhãn which is made with longan; chè xoài which is made with mango; chè trai vải which is made from lychee with gelatin included and chè lô hội which is made from aloe vera.
For the more adventurous, you can search chè mít, made of jackfruit and if you really want to test yourself, chè sầu riêng, which is made from durian and is really very tasty.
Another notable mention is chè chuối which is made with bananas and tapioca.
The ones that are just a combination of everything
If you’re the type of person who likes to have everything thrown into a messy plate of goodness, then these particular versions of chè they’re for you.
Chè thập cẩmaka Ten Ingredient Sweet Soup is probably the poster boy from chè in Vietnam, in the sense that it is one of the most popular forms of chè in the country. Azuki beans, black-eyed peas, lotus seeds, mung beans, coconut and trân châu (those black balls in bubble tea), form the chews in a mixture that includes syrup, milk and ice cream.
Chè bách niên hảo hợp, which literally means “one hundred years of a good marriage”, is made with red beans, lotus seeds and water lily bulb as the main ingredients. Other chè that is popular during the dry season is sâm bổ lượng, which is made with dried longans, lotus seeds, seaweed, red jujube in a cold and sweet soup with crushed ice.
Another popular number is chè thưng, which has several versions depending on where you go. One version is made from taro, cassava, seaweed, water chestnuts, and green beans, although there are also variants that include red jujube and peanuts.
Those that you can also find in other places
Like some components in your kitchen, you can find certain versions of chè on Vietnam which are interpretations of desserts from other countries.
An example is the bobochacha, which is the Vietnamese version of bubor cha cha which originated from the Peranakan communities in Malaysia and Singapore. the bobochacha is a sweet soup made with coconut milk and pandan leaves and topped with taro, yams, sweet potatoes, and beans. the bobochacha Vietnam, however, is more popular in Hanoi.
Thailand tim krob bathtub, a chestnut soup is also believed to be the inspiration behind the chè thái. The main difference is that the Vietnamese version contains a mix of tropical fruits.
You hủ, a sweet soy dessert is the Vietnamese version of Douhua, a Chinese dessert that is also very popular in Singapore and Malaysia. However, unlike the Malaysian and Singaporean versions, the versions you can find in Saigon are served cold with added milk or hot with lychee and coconut water.
However, there is a dessert that is popular in all Southeast Asian countries. Made with similar ingredients, this dessert is easily recognizable by its distinctive green color and coconut milk flavor. In Vietnam, it is known as chè ba màu, also known around the world as the cendol.
Although the roots of this dessert are still unclear, it is believed to have originated in Indonesia, where traditional methods for making this dish have been and are still practiced in Java.
The basic ingredients in cendol they are coconut milk; green jelly noodles that are made from rice flour with green food coloring from pandan leaves; shaved ice and palm sugar. It is usually served over shaved ice in a tall glass or plastic cup.
Where can you get it?
Needless to say chè it can be found anywhere. However, if you are looking for some really good ones recommended by locals, you can try one of these establishments below.
Chè Thanh Tâm
They serve Chinese style chè and it is popular with the locals for its reasonable prices and the quality of its ingredients. Your black sesame chè is one of his bestsellers.
Address: 98 Bui Huu Nghia, D5, HCMC.
Opening hours: 9:00 am to 11:30 pm
Price: VND13,000 to VND40,000
Chè Tường Phong
Another popular Chinese style chè establishment in District 5, Chè Tường Phong has a wide selection of chè and also known for its tau hu. its chè thập cẩm It is one of the best in the city.
The only downside to this place is its opening hours. They only operate every night for 3 hours which means it would be better as a take out option.
Address: 83 An Diem, D5, HCMC
Opening hours: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Price: VND18,000 to VND47,000
Chè Thái Ý Phương
This place is known for its chè thái and durian chè Which the locals believe is one of the best in town. Located in District 10, the establishment Locals often use it as a place to relax late into the night.
Address: 380 Nguyen Tri Phuong, D10, HCMC
Opening hours: 10:00 am to 1:30 am
Price: VND18,000 to VND33,000
Chè Hà Ký
Another establishment in District 5. Chè Hà Ký is another popular Chinese style chèVery affordable stall that is popular for its refreshing grass gelatin and shaved ice desserts.
Address: 138 Chau Van Liem, D5, HCMC
Opening hours: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm
Price: VND15,000 to VND33,000
Chè Hiển Khánh
Located in District 3, this position is for those looking to escape the morning heat and prefer their chè so as not to be overloaded with sugar.
Moderately priced and some delicious bargains, the stall has been around since 1959 and they receive their fair share of returning customers of varying ages and a visit to the store, with their antique furniture and interiors they will make you feel like you’ve just stumbled upon a a few decades in the past.
Just keep in mind that they are closed from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm.
Address: 718 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3, HCMC
Hours: 9:00 a.m. M. At 12:30 p. M. And from 2:30 p.m. M. At 10:00 p. M.
Price: VND10,000 to VND33,000