Che Hoang Anh
Hanoi traffic is the kind of thing tourist nightmares are made of. But once you become a part of it, and as a pedestrian you’re likely already playing, you notice that the zig and zag of the bikes runs along some kind of demented reason. Same goes for the bikes that block up the footpaths and cause you to enter the maelstrom. Some are codified parking zones, others are reserved for patrons of certain shops or restaurants. So when we were denied parking in one of the latter places, all hope for dessert was lost, until my friend uttered the secret code ‘chè’. The parking boy perked up, filed away the bike and as we crossed the road, he followed, excitedly navigating us to Che Hoang Anh.
A colourful sign for Che Hoang Anh marks the narrow entrance. Walk past someone’s living room and an interior courtyard parking lot/washing up area. Go up the stairs that make you feel like you’re walking into someone’s house and around the corner is the bright box full of sweet treats. We visit in the afternoon, and sit in the tiny dining room – a cool pre-fab fluorescent cell – and devour the speciality: sua chua mit (yogurt with jackfruit).
Ice-capped bowls are handed over by giggling girls. Underneath is tapioca, jellies, sour and berry-like red versions of basil seeds and vivid slices of jackfruit. These components have been prepared and portioned with a steady hand, though I’d like to throw the balance out with more jackfruit. Sua chua means yogurt, and the milky liquid in this bowl has the suspicion of coconut. You could almost pretend to be on some tropical island paradise, if it weren’t so hilarious to be sitting on a mini-stool in a box suspended in a crumbling Hanoi house, eating a wonderful dessert soup.
It could be the novelty of the experience or the actual dish, but this sua chua mit is extraordinary. It’s even enough to turn a jackfruit-casual into a fan.
Che Hoang Anh
22 Ba Trieu
We went after lunch and the place was deserted, but I hear it’s pumping in the evening.
Sua Chua Mit (17,000 dong ~$0.80AU)