Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 Hanoi Trip - Thu Nga - Kem Xôi & Chè Thái Lan

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

Full experience of my visit to Hanoi can be accessed through the list below:

More about Hanoi can be read through the list below:
Vietnamese Dong

I wouldn't have expected that Hanoi has a delicious and less well known dish which involved ice-cream. After getting our fair share of bún, phở and bánh cuốn in our 8 day trip, to find respite from the more conventional everyday meals was welcoming. We had our pleasant surprise at the successful food hunt for Kem Caramen at the Northern end of the Old Quarters, and our subsequent adventure to the south bagged us an encounter with Kem Xôi, an ice cream dessert with stick pandan rice and roasted coconut.

Introducing another Vietnamese treasure - a dessert known locally as Kem Xôi, where vanilla ice-cream complements the pandan sticky rice covered underneath. A heaven sent after a hot walk under the sun.

Tucked in the corner between Phố Hai Bà Trưng and Phố Phan Chu Trinh was this ordinary shop Thu Nga. Its unremarkable outlook contrasted with the neatly trimmed garden nearby as well as a colonial styled Hanoi Opera House and a pristine white Hilton Hotel. One would just sign it off as another simple shop where Hanoians squat/sit to enjoy a bowl of dessert, just as we would, except that our trusty guidebook pointed us to this particular spot, and to one particular Kem Xôi. Once seated with a menu in front, we were overwhelmed with Vietnamese, so we just trusted the guidebook again and ordered for the aforementioned dessert.

We were offered a small bowl with 3 generous scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Digging past the balls of temptations were pandan sticky rice the color of light verdant. The rice was soft and chewy, and when scooped up with the ice cream and crunchy roasted coconut, revealed a whole new definition of dessert. With the addition of sticky rice, its chewy texture allowed us to savor the dessert longer since we need to chew a little before swallowing, unlike savoring ice cream where we just simply let it flow down our throat. We wondered whether the sticky rice was more memorable with its chewiness or the ice cream with its tempting vanilla flavor before deciding that it didn't matter anyway.

Tru Nga would be swarmed over by throngs of lunch goers determined to get themselves each Kem Xôi to make their day palatable.

At the crossroads...

Get yourself a cup of Ice Coffee if you are craving for it, as Tru Nga served coffee and some other beverages on top of its usual line of desserts.

So enraptured were we with Kem Xôi that we returned for another bowl in a subsequent visit to the area. I thought I detected an amusing look from the otherwise bland face of the young lady who served us, presumably the owners daughter or relative from her casual home worn clothes. Maybe she just thought how  funny it was that this bunch of travelers returned for another round of Kem Xôi when tourists were seldom seen in this part of Hanoi.

Or it could have just been my imagination.

Suitable for:             A gathering of friends and family for Kem Xôi! Other interesting desserts are available, but Kem Xôi is a must!
Cost:                             Cheap and totally worth it! A bowl of Kem Xôi only costs VND20,000, equivalent to RM3.20.

Contact:                     +84-(43)-936-6164
Address:                     8 Hai Bà Trưng, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Operating hours:   8.00 a.m. - 10.00 p.m.

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