Jan 2008

Chè Nhãn

It’s gettin’ hot in HCMC.

The dry-season is in full swing and the days of motorbiking in the rain while donning ponchos is now a distant memory.

Unlike The Astronomer, I love the heat. It’s probably the result of my Saigon genes and SoCal upbringing. And even though it’s already suitably warm right now, according to my mom, after Tet is when the temperatures really soar.

The Astronomer is going to melt.

To stay cool and hydrated in times like these, the Vietnamese turn to chilled young coconuts and dessert-y drinks like chè nhãn.

Chè nhãn is made from nhãn (dried longans), sương sa (agar jelly) and served in a tall glass over ice.

Although not the prettiest chè on the block—that award goes to sương sa hột lựu—it certainly has its merits. Chè nhãn‘s cool liquid tastes like a soda-less cream soda with hints of vanilla, while the sương sa‘s playfully crinkly texture reminds one to take it easy or risk a stroke.

Chè nhãn can be purchased from most chè vendors. The glass above cost 2,000 VND from a chè lady on Ton That Thuyet Street in District 4.

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5 thoughts on “Chè Nhãn

  1. Chè isn’t something easily homemade, but Chè Nhãn can be! I remember my dad always making this when I was a kid, I got sick of eating it really quick, and I think my dad has too, because he doesn’t make it anymore!

    My favorites are CHÈ BA MÀU and CHÈ THÁİ.

    Is flan popular over there? I remember my relatives making it a lot when I was a kid and the only logical reason I can think of now is because it reminds them of home.

  2. Very un-Vietnamese like of me, but I don’t really like Che… However, the exception is this one, because it’s so light and refreshing. Can’t wait to get to Vietnam and eat!! One more week!

  3. Raine – che ba mau is a gem! I love the multi-colored layers and the beans (fiber!). I once ordered che thai in Saigon, but the woman told me that it contained durian so I changed my mind. I hope to embrace durian one day.

    Flan is super-popular over here and always served topped with crushed ice. I haven’t had it yet because I’m always eying the che, but will do so soon.

    Neneh – the countdown is ON! Start fasting now, the food here is gonna knock your socks off 😉

  4. Che Thai that my aunt makes doesn’t have durian, but it does have jackfruit. I sometimes get the two confused because they’re both poke-y, but by far I love Jackfruit over durian (:

    If you try flan, do tell if it tastes like the boxed Jell-o kind xD That’s all my family every makes… :b

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