Oan on Hang Giay Street

According to the Vietnamese, Oan (truncated cone shaped cake) made from glutinous rice and white sugar is considered the quintessence of heaven and earth. Therefore, it is an indispensable offering on the altar of many families, pagodas and communal houses on special occasions, such as festivals or Tet (Lunar New Year Festival).

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 Legend has it that Oan has existed in Hanoi for 150 years. It is a delicious cake that is sought after by both the elderly and children. At present, there is a variety of offerings to worship ancestors and genies so there are fewer shops selling the cake and the business of making Oan is falling into oblivion. However, the business is now preserved by the family of Doan Thi Tuyet on Hang Giay Street. 

Flour and sugar are rolled smoothly by hands.
Moulds carved with patterns to decorate pieces of Oan.

According to Doan Thi Tuyet, over 80 years old, to make delicious Oan it is necessary to select good ingredients such as Hoa vang glutinous rice, white refined sugar and grapefruit flower attar. If the sugar is not sweet enough and adhesive, the batch will probably be unsuccessful. Moulds for making Oan are often made from wood and there are about 10 different sizes of moulds. The largest mould can make a piece of Oan, weighing 16kg. After taking them out from the mould, pieces of Oan are firm and unbroken with a pure white colour and the aroma of grapefruit flower attar. Then, they are wrapped in colourful cellophane with a gold label on the top

Flour is jammed into the mould.
Oan is taken out from the mould.
Oan in an eye-catching wrapper.

For many generations of Trang An (present-day Hanoi) people, Oan is still a meaningful gift in their spiritual life.

Story: Thao Vy – Photo: Tran Thanh Giang