Jun 13 2011
Saigon street food isn’t all about main meals — yummy drinks and sweets are also on offer. Among the sugary offerings is che dau hu, a confection that can be tricky to find, but is worth the effort. Keep your eyes peeled: the roaming vendors are often surrounded by groups of students or children seeking a sugar high.
To a Western palate, che dau hu may initially be a little off-putting as a dessert — it pretty much looks like a cup full of hot, runny tofu topped with mystery syrup — but it is indeed delicious.
First, the server puts some tapioca balls in the bottom of a cup. Next, warm tofu, cooked in a large pot, is scooped into the cup where it is mixed with a warm ginger syrup. Your che dau hu can then be topped off with either coconut milk or condensed milk. You then stir everything together and eat with a spoon. The best part is the price: a cup will only cost 5,000 to 10,000 VND.
This dessert has quickly become a favourite for me because it tastes great, as far as desserts go it’s pretty healthy, and it is very elusive. Every time I happen to stumble upon my local che dau hu lady I feel like I’ve won a prize.
The unassuming Saigon che dau hu vendor will either push a small cart or carry a pot over their shoulder, but rarely has a sign to help with identification. Making things harder still is that these vendors tend to be constantly on the go instead of sitting in a more regular location. But be vigilant, and you should find some — it’s a lovely light sweet to carry you between meals, no matter what the season in Saigon.
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