Eating sweet dessert avocado was a delicious surprise to me. But now for another ingredient out of its savoury western comfort zone: corn. I have grappled with the sweet presentation of this fresh grain before, but never in Hanoi. Are my taste-buds up for Vietnamese sweet corn? I love fresh corn but I despise the sound people make when eating it but I really don’t like that sweet salty gloopiness of that creamed stuff from a tin. Grilled corn with salt, chilli and coriander is some small piece of heaven for me and I even prefer my popcorn salty. Looking at this glass of che (I don’t know the correct name for it, but I call it everything che, because it’s got everything in it, naturally), sweet corn would be the least of most people’s worries.
As a child I loved junket. Pmum bought some for me when I was a teenager. I was so excited to taste this dessert that I recalled adoring, but whose flavour I had lost. I was excited when the dessert was set and ready for tasting, and inconsolable almost immediately afterwards. It was revolting, but I did quite like the texture.
Texture is what is key in this everything che. It has all manner of jelly from wibbly wobbly, through squidgy to firm, strange jellied fruits, soft and fluffy lotus seeds, red beans with bite, gloopy tapioca and crunchy fresh corn, and I love it all. This corn was tender, sweet and crunchy delicious.
I was actually going to skip lunch dessert when I saw a woman preparing this for two customers. She held two cups in one hand and deftly extracted spoonfuls of one jellied treat after another, putting exactly the same amount in each glass. For comic effect I stared wide eyed, looking like a tourist, and ordered one. The other customers laughed at me taking a photo, and eating my textural oddity dessert. Unfortunately my favourite south east asian iced dessert ingredient palm seeds aren’t commonplace here (though I often get overly excited by lumps of ice disguised as palm seeds).
While there are some flavours and textures that I just don’t enjoy here, avocado and corn in desserts isn’t one of them.
Che spots, all over town.
This one is on Hang Dieu in the old quarter.