Che, known as sweet soup, is a delightfully fresh and popular specialty preferred by many Vietnamese and Hanoians in particular in the hot weather.
The ingredients for the sweet treat are quite cheap, easy to find and exceptionally fresh including seasonal fruits, beans, nuts and jellies, tapioca, coconut syrup or even pork dumplings, among others.
There are properly hundreds of types of this pudding-like and plain mixtures that are suitable to be savored in four seasons in the North namely spring, summer, autumn and winter or two seasons in the South of the country, the rain and dry.
Che is so popular in Hanoi that can be enjoyed almost everywhere, sitting in tiny plastic chairs at some small vendors or diners on some corners of the Old Quarters’ streets or even in high-end restaurants.
In fact, nobody knows where the sweet soup is originated from, however, it was specifically mentioned in some folk songs years ago and well-served as a traditional dish to worship the ancestors in many special occasions of the year such as Lunar New Year or Mid-autumn Festival.
During the cold season time in Hanoi, you will be warmed up with a hot sweet treat, maybe enjoying a bowl of steamy expanded glutinous rice or cassava sweet syrup would help you immerse yourself in local life and enjoy the cool air.
Otherwise, in the summertime when the scorching heat seems to inflame and dehydrate your body, a cup of cool multi-colored dessert can rescue both of your eyesight and your body.
As usual, bowls of ice cubes or smashed ice is always served with the cold sweet syrup in order to reduce the extremely sugary taste of the textures besides bringing the chill to the customers.
It is hard to say which types of che are most well-known and yummy, however, there are some popular ones that are worth a try when you pay a visit to Hanoi such as lotus seed and longan sweet syrup, pomelo sweet soup, black bean sweet soup and mung bean pudding.
You can enjoy the best sweet soups in some decade-old shops in the city such as Che Muoi Sau – 16 Ngo Thi Nham; Che 4 mua – 4 Hang Can; Che BoBoChaCha – 92 Cua Bac; Nam Dong Market; Che Xoan – 29 Hang Giay; among others. A bowl of che may cost you VND15,000 (6 US cents) to VND50,000 (US$2.1).