Kem xoi a summer treat to beat the Hanoi heat

Nguyen Thu Loan from Germany loves getting the chance to enjoy Hanoi’s special treat kem xôi (sticky rice ice cream) when she returns to Vietnam.


Loan has been suffering the powerful summer heat in Hanoi, but it’s worth it to enjoy the traditional kem xoi made by her mother Trinh Thi Thao, 75.

Kem xoi a summer treat to beat the Hanoi heat
A bowl of tasty and fresh kem xoi dua in Hanoi’s Phan Chu Trinh Street is one of famous destinations of Hanoian generations. Photo

“The kem xôi helps to cool down the heat from the body’s inside so much,” Loan said.

Loan, who has lived in Germany for almost 30 years, said her mother’s kem xoi is as tasty as those sold on the streets of Hanoi that she fell in love with as a youngster.

Kem xoi a summer treat to beat the Hanoi heat
Kem xoi Kim Ma is also well known for nearly half a century in the capital. Photo

The ingredients to make kem xoi include sticky rice, fresh ice cream, fresh milk, yoghurt, coconut juice, white sugar, and lá nếp (pandan leaves). The leaves have a fragrance similar to new glutinous rice with green colour.

Thao said she has to order nếp cái hoa vàng (a special glutinous rice grown in mountainous areas) and pandan leaves from her friend in the northwestern province of Son La because this rice is softer and stickier.

Kem xoi a summer treat to beat the Hanoi heat
La nep or la dua (pandan leave) is one of main ingredients to make the kem xoi more tasty and enjoyable. Photo

The rice has to be soaked between 8-10 hours while the pandan leaves are ground with water and strained to ensure there is no fiber left. These two ingredients should be mixed well together before steaming.

After the sticky rice (xoi) is steamed, it should be mixed with coconut juice as the xoi is greasy, Thao said, noting that the next step is to mix yoghurt, fresh milk and ice cream and whisk well them until the mix becomes smooth and freeze it for two hours then whisk it again twice more to ensure that the mix does not have any pieces of ice left.

The next step is to draw the steamed xoi into a bowl and let it cool and cover on it with the mixed cream and finally top it with fresh coconut threads or roasted peanuts, Thao said.

Nationwide favourite

Vuong Dac Duc, in the countryside of So Hamlet in Hanoi’s Quoc Oai District, opened his Kem Xoi Dua Duc So branch after facing many failures.


He was wandering around Hanoi’s Old Quarter when he saw young people drinking soft drinks such as Coca-Cola imported from abroad. These colourful carbonated beverages are attractive but unhealthy.

Kem xoi a summer treat to beat the Hanoi heat
Kem xoi dua made by rural man Vuong Dac Duc in Hanoi’s So Hamlet receives prestige among eaters in not only his Quoc Oai District but also surrounding areas. Photo

“An idea for creating healthy dessert using traditional organic cereals such as organic glutinous rice, and fresh fruits such as coconuts to supply increasing demand appeared in my mind. I decided to carefully research the market and joined several courses to make my own dessert from my own recipe,” Duc said, adding that he registered to approve his food’s quality, safety and hygiene at the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Quality Assurance and Testing Centre 1.

As a result, his kem xôi dừa (coconut sticky rice ice cream) has won favour not only in Quoc Oai but also its surrounding areas.

Writer Nguyen Van Toai in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District said he recently went to So Hamlet to try famous miến So (So noodles), see ancient So communal house and enjoy Duc’s dish.

“It’s really great to have a bowl of fresh coconut sticky rice ice cream handmade by a young rural man, particularly during such severe hot weather.”

“I saw Duc’s dish has its own flavours such as light sweet fragrant soft sticky rice covered with three cream pieces compared with two cream pieces in other shops and topped with coconut threads or roasted peanuts,” Toai said, adding that he felt quite healthy after enjoying the dish.

Duc told Việt Nam News that he had popularised his kem xoi dua online to meet increasing demand.

“I’ve received hundreds of orders every hot day,” Duc said excitedly. VNS

Ha Nguyen & Hoang Ho

To sample kem xôi Hà Nội check out the following olaces:
+ Kem xôi dừa Đức So at Km 20 Road 419, Cộng Hòa Village, Quốc Oai District
 Hotline 0979228686
+ Kem xôi 8 Hai Bà Trưng, Hoàn Kiếm District
+ Kem xôi Kim Mã, at 117 A5 TT Giảng Võ, Ba Đình District
+ Kem xôi 47 Trần Quốc Hoàn Street, Cầu Giấy District
+ Kem xôi  90 Tô Hiến Thành Street, Hai Bà Trưng District
+ Kem xôi 57 Nguyễn Chí Thanh Street, Đống Đa District.