Street food of Vietnam – a US quarter ($0.25) for a bowl of “chè bột năng”, coconut chunks stuff in tapioca pudding

Day 6, Vietnam/Cambodia trip, Jan – March 2011
Day 6 – Đà Nẵng, Vietnam (day 2, part I)

After our morning coffee ritual, Vietnamese style in the outdoor garden cafe, my 5th aunt’s youngest daughter, bé Ty asked if I wanted to join her to Han’s market aka chợ Hàn (chuz Hanz), for shoes shopping? I said sure since I got nothing on the schedule yet. Up I hop on her scooter toward the market.

Make shift motorbikes’ parking garage (actually this is someone’s house)

Price posted: bicycle – 1,000 VND = $0.05 or a nickle

Motor-bicycle – 2,000 VDN = $0.10 or a dime

Tip:  As it is around Vietnam, real estate are hot potato so there’s no official parking structure. Each garage or parking facility is own by the individual property owner. I learned from di` Giang, my mom’s BFF when I was in Saigon that the parking fee posted, is NOT the real/market price when we went to Ben Thanh’s market. She hand in $10,000 VND and got only $2,000 VND change back while the sign said $4,000 VND fee. When I asked, she said that the fee is imposed by the government but obviously, that wasn’t enforced, otherwise, she should got $6,000 VND in change back, instead of $2,000 VND. Therefore, in Saigon, realistically, be expected to pay double the posted price for parking when checking in your motor-bicycle around the main strip/downtown area. 

However, I was surprised to see that my cousin only paid $2,000 VND, as posted, when we check in the motor-bicycle here in Đà Nẵng. I’m loving it here in Đà Nẵng as what you see is what you pay culture.

Aerial view of the ground floor of Han’s market aka chợ Hàn (chuz Hanz), from the 2nd floor

I followed my cousin for the shopping experience but didn’t buy anything. First of all, I wouldn’t cut it with their petite Asian size. Secondly, most material are made for hand wash or non-washing machine compatible. Things will shrink to kids size after you take it out of the washer/dryer. This is a fact, based on items mom brought back to the States in the past.

After my cousin is done with her shoe shopping, she suggested we have a sweet snack or chè (cheh in Vietnamese). Chè (cheh in Vietnamese) is typically sweet although we have a few savory ones, made with sweet cooked beans or rice flour and often top with a coconut milk sauce. Depending on the chè (cheh in Vietnamese), it can be a pudding like relative of the West, less the milk/dairy. Milk or dairy is NOT a native ingredients to SE Asia, hence the widely use of coconut milk for the substitution of fatty and creamy texture. Chè (cheh in Vietnamese) also comes hot or cold.

Hot served chè (cheh in Vietnamese) stall (pudding)

Cousin sat down to this stall, so I followed course. You tell the stall owner what type of chè (cheh in Vietnamese), you want, then she will scoop it into a dish bowl and serve you. Or you can take out, which she will scoop it into the small plastic bag as in the above picture.

Menu & price: 5,000 VND = $0.25 per serving for all pudding type.

This pudding is completely NEW to me and intriguing, although I’m pretty familiar with Vietnamese chè.

I opted for a bowl of it and here’s what I found out. It’s made of chunk of fresh aged coconut flesh, then coat by tapioca flour, hence the white specks. The pudding is then thicken with probably more tapioca flour. The pudding is then top with coconut milk sauce.

I generally like Vietnamese chè but found myself not impressed with this one. It has the crunch of the coconut flesh, and the chewy texture of the tapioca flour yet the taste is a little bizarre. It wasn’t bad nor nasty but it wasn’t delicious either. It maybe on a lighter note or not sweet enough for my taste. But if I didn’t try it, then I will never know what the heck type of chè (pudding) it is, right? At a quarter a pop, not much damaged done!

With some modifications, this chè can easily go into my recipe box for future re-creation.

Cho Han – Han’s Market

Location:

Grand intersection of  Tran Phu street, Bach Dang street, Hung Vuong street & Tran Hung Dao street.

Entrance: Free

Hours: 5 am – 7pm

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