By no means does Vietnam conjure up images of sweetness. In fact, many of the same characters can be found in the Vietnam dessert scene: coconut, rice, bananas, and fruit jellies. This has a lot to do with what crops can grow in Vietnam, therefore the distinctions between northern and southern Vietnamese sweets may seem slight, but they are there.
Well, there are some helpful players and a few surprises, but this is a nation entrenched in tradition. The sweets in Vietnam undoubtedly show the effort to keep traditions alive. But I assure that even if you don’t like any of the top players, there’s something for you on this list. I picked Vietnamese desserts with a variety of tastes and ingredients to symbolize the country’s diverse landscapes and customs.
Now go graze! We’ve planned a whole meal for you. It is a day for dessert.
- 1 Concerning Vietnamese Desserts
- 1.1 Kem ng (Stick Ice Cream) (Stick Ice Cream)
- 1.2 Sinh T (Fruit Smoothies)
- 1.3 Caramen, Bnh Flan (Creme Caramel)
- 1.4 X M (Black Sesame Soup) (Black Sesame Soup)
- 1.5 Vietnamese Handmade Chocolate
- 1.6 Mu Ch Ba (3 Color Dessert)
- 1.7 Chui, Ch (Banana in Coconut Tapioca Pudding)
- 1.8 Np Cm Sa Chua (Sweet Sticky Rice & Yogurt)
- 1.9 Kem B (Avocado Ice Cream) (Avocado Ice Cream)
- 1.10 Mt. Sa Chua (Iced Jackfruit Yogurt)
- 1.11 Trung Thu Bnh (Mooncakes)
- 1.12 Ph Trng C Ph (Egg Coffee)
- 1.13 A Traveling Saleswoman’s Local Fruits
- 2 Vocabulary for Vietnamese Desserts
Concerning Vietnamese Desserts
As previously said, if observed from afar, Vietnam’s desert environment might seem monotonous. Yet the reality is more complicated. Historically, Vietnamese people did not consume sweets, but this changed after the French conquest. During the colonial era, French people insisted on eating dessert after dinner, and this practice lasted after their evacuation.
Although most Vietnamese people do not eat dessert every night, it is a frequent enough demand that dedicated dessert eateries may be found on the major streets of any given city. There are chains and mom and pop stores, much like cafés, but the better ones are always crowded. You’ll normally find little plastic seats and, if you’re fortunate, some small tables. The term ch denotes these open-air eateries.
According to common online misconceptions, not all Vietnamese sweets are named ch. Ch is a term you’ll see advertised for a sweets restaurant, but chances are the goods they’ll sell aren’t of the ch sort. Flans, rice-based snacks, jellies, ice creams, and other sweets are available from these open-air eateries. Some of the most popular foods differ depending on whether you obtain them in the north or south, while others are exclusively available along the coast or elsewhere. It is up to you to find your favorites.
Kem ng (Stick Ice Cream) (Stick Ice Cream)
What exactly is it? These small delicacies, although self-explanatory, are sticks of ice cream produced in a long, thin mold. Depending on the season, the most prevalent flavors are coconut, mango, mint, durian, and strawberry. Although not excessively sugary, these snacks are wonderfully tasty, portable, and inexpensive!
It may be found in central Vietnam, near the shore. These ice creams, as well as its relatives (the rolled ice cream), were available in both Nha Trang and Hoi An. You’ll notice that they are particularly popular in open-air markets near the shore, however vendors may also emerge at major tourist attractions throughout the day.
Sinh T (Fruit Smoothies)
What exactly is it? A smoothie is essentially a drink comprised of fruit and ice that has been mixed till smooth. It is often served with ice cubes to keep it chilled. I’d suggest mango, avocado, or passion fruit, particularly if they have herbs in them (my fave combination is mango + mint). Smoothies aren’t excessively sweet, making them the ideal cure to extremely strong Vietnamese coffees.
Smoothies are offered at restaurants, cafés, and roadside vendors across Vietnam. Expect to spend more or less for quality depending on where you get your smoothie!
Caramen, Bnh Flan (Creme Caramel)
What exactly is it? This delicacy, an import from the French colonial era, is the Vietnamese version of flan (egg-based custard). In the south, a thick slice or individual flan caramel is served over ice, frequently with black coffee. The version served in the north is lighter and sweeter, with no coffee. Other versions include fruits and fruit jellies or coconut milk, but they are usually served chilled.
Where To Find It:This meal is accessible throughout the nation, however it may vary somewhat from location to location. Restaurants and open-air dessert cafés are your best option for locating it, however it may be rare in the north during the winter!
X M (Black Sesame Soup) (Black Sesame Soup)
What exactly is it? This sweet black soup looks more like squid ink than dessert, yet it’s extremely tasty. The cuisine originated in China, but has gained popularity in central Vietnam, particularly in the version prepared by an old couple in Vietnam (aged 96 and 106!). Crushed black sesame seeds, coconut powder, sweet potato, tapioca, and brown sugar are used to make it. Some recipes include greens, although the taste is often mild and somewhat sweet (it could probably use some salt TBH).
17 Tran Hung Dao Road. Where To Get It: Although you may get x m at a few restaurants in Vietnam, it is a speciality of Hoi An. The soup takes a long time to make from scratch and is best served warm. I suggest tasting it at a little street food stand in Hoi An, or at the old couple where we did. Hoi An Old House: 45
Vietnamese Handmade Chocolate
What exactly is it? Chocolate is manufactured by roasting, peeling, and crushing cacao beans, and cacao has become a major business in Vietnam in recent years. From the south to the north, Vietnam has over a dozen chocolate manufacturers, and there are several locations to purchase local chocolate. I assure this is nothing like what you’d find at a convenience shop (though you may be able to find Marou in some).
Where To Get It: Seek for dark chocolates that include solely cacao beans, sugar, and cocoa butter. Although there are several chocolate cafés in Vietnam, excellent bars are more likely to be found at a speciality store in Saigon or Hanoi. For the greatest assortment, head to Vietnam Chocolate House in Saigon.
Mu Ch Ba (3 Color Dessert)
What exactly is it? This dish is created with sweet beans, coconut milk, and fruit jellies and belongs to the genre of highly traditional delicacies. Ch Thi, its relative, is similar to Vietnamese halo halo (coconut milk and coconut rice with mixed fruit jellies, and often pieces of durian). Ch Ba Mu is served in a plastic cup and is often taken after meals or as a sweet snack, however it is not as sweet as other traditional Vietnamese sweets.
Where To Find It: Since all of the components are shelf-stable and portable, this is one of the most popular Vietnamese sweets across the nation. This is served in roadside dessert kiosks or open-air caf eateries, which are also available to go.
Chui, Ch (Banana in Coconut Tapioca Pudding)
What exactly is it? The sweet tapioca pudding serves as the dish’s foundation, with the sticky rice-coated banana serving as the headliner. If you see or sample Bnh Chui Nng, you’ll be eating the same rice-covered banana as in this meal. The banana is grilled over charcoal before being placed in a tiny dish of room-temperature pudding. Next they’ll add thickened coconut milk and a sprinkling of peanuts on top. That may seem unusual, but it is excellent and not excessively sweet.
Where To Get It: I noticed it on menus all around the nation, although it appeared to be more popular in southern Vietnam. I observed more plain rice-covered bananas in the country’s center and north, which are tasty but not my favorite by themselves. Chui sweets are both forms of street cuisine, served at stalls or open-air restaurants along a town’s main drag.
Np Cm Sa Chua (Sweet Sticky Rice & Yogurt)
What exactly is it? Please bear with me while I explain this delicacy as fermented black rice covered with runny yogurt and served cold. Nonetheless, the contrast between the sweet, chewy rice and the melty, acidic yogurt is absolutely delicious. I actually bought a to-go cup of it when I first had it because it was so wonderful. If you have the option of adding your own ice to the cup, be sure to let it cool down the yogurt before sipping the water. It’s not a particularly sweet dessert, but it’s certainly worth a try if you’re missing wonderful milk sweets in Vietnam.
Where to Find It: Although not a rare dessert, it wasn’t the simplest to locate. If you do find it, it will be in a dessert restaurant along a major road rather than a roadside kiosk; seek for the term ch.
Kem B (Avocado Ice Cream) (Avocado Ice Cream)
What exactly is it? In Vietnam, we had two variations of this dessert: one with an avocado smoothie (avocado mixed with coconut water) and coconut ice cream, and the other with a thicker avocado puree and vanilla ice cream. Both are highly creamy and mildly sweet, with some incarnations being superior than others.
In Vietnam, unlike in North America, avocado ice cream is not commonly vegan. Avocado coffee, which is increasingly popular in the spring, is an intriguing alternative to ice cream. The drinkable avocado seems to be vegan, since it is created with avocado smoothie and strong Vietnamese coffee.
Where To Find It: Avocado season runs from April through June, although the drink and dessert are more frequent in Vietnam’s southern half. Go to a restaurant that specializes in avocado-based beverages, such as Nari Avocado Cream in Da Lat City, for a real avocado ice cream or coffee. Just remember to whisk the avocado cream and coconut water together, otherwise you’ll believe you’ve been gifted a cup of guacamole!
Mt. Sa Chua (Iced Jackfruit Yogurt)
What exactly is it? This is the Vietnamese version of yogurt with fruit on the bottom. A lot of chewy, sweet fruit jellies line the bottom of a large plastic cup, which is topped with sour, runny yogurt, coconut jellies, and jackfruit bits. This is one of my favorite Vietnamese sweets, with a variety of textures and a lovely hot & cold temperature dynamic from the crushed ice. Although not too sugary, this is a tasty treat.
Where To Find It: This is a very typical item on dessert shop menus, so keep a look out for it, but you’re more likely to find it at an open-air restaurant than a street stall. Mt signifies jackfruit, which grows across the nation, therefore check for Sa Chua fruit name in Vietnamese to sample various forms of yogurt dish.
Trung Thu Bnh (Mooncakes)
What exactly is it? While mooncakes are essentially a Chinese treat, they are also popular in Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. The dessert is produced to commemorate the autumn harvest festival, which occurs every fall according to the lunar calendar. Cakes range in size from a few to several inches in diameter, and I’ve seen ones with minced chicken or pig within.
Mooncakes are typically filled with sweetened mung bean paste and an egg yolk in Vietnam, while some contemporary versions may include jam or chocolate. The cakes’ consistency is between between bread and pound cake, and they aren’t very sweet. Certain variations are flakier or sweeter than others, but mooncakes are typically a dessert-style snack for enjoying the festival with friends and family.
Where To Find It: Vietnamese mooncakes may be found at bakeries and souvenir stores, but only during the month before the event (which varies form year to year). Certain cafés and specialized stores will also offer their own variations, such as the one seen above from Saigon’s Marou Chocolaterie. The durian-filled Bnh Ba has a similar consistency if you come outside of mooncake season.
Ph Trng C Ph (Egg Coffee)
What exactly is it? When done correctly, Vietnamese Egg Coffee is a wonderful miracle, but when done incorrectly, it is an unmitigated disaster. The drink is served hot and consists of a shot of hot coffee on a sweet egg yolk meringue. You’re supposed to mix it up into a fluffy sweet mess and drink it till it’s gone. Some restaurants may offer the drink in a bath of warm water, although this is generally because they are providing a bigger piece at a much greater price; ambient temperature should be sufficient to keep the drink warm.
As milk became scarce after the war, egg coffee was allegedly devised to make coffee creamy. If you’ve ever tasted iced coffee in Vietnam, you may believe they never received milk again, but the egg version caught off and has prospered ever since, albeit it’s far from a daily indulgence. Egg Chocolat, available at Maison Marou and a few other coffee shops in the north, is a wonderful alternative to the coffee version.
Where To Find It: Egg coffee originated in Hanoi, Vietnam’s northernmost city, and is most commonly obtained there. The tastiest egg coffees we tasted were at Madam Khanhs in Hoi An (albeit theyre more known for their Bnh m) and Café Dinh in Hanoi, where the drink is said to have originated. On our visits, we had approximately ten different egg coffees, and these were by far the finest, with a deep, chocolaty coffee and a smooth, sweet meringue. These treats may be found in cafés and the rare restaurant, but the tastiest ones are served in eateries devoted just to egg coffee.
A Traveling Saleswoman’s Local Fruits
What exactly is it? Fruits vary by region, with some nations producing sweeter or sourer variants of apparently comparable food. Mangosteens, cacao fruits, giant creamy avocados (ideal for smoothies), durian, rambutan, dragon fruit, and sugar apple are among the most unusual fruits in Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam). Each of these fruits has a distinct season, however mangoes seem to be accessible all year.
Where To Find It: Since Vietnam has such a warm environment on average, fruits are accessible throughout the year as their seasons change. Strawberries, for example, are in season from December to February, but durians are in season from May to July. Fruit is sold in open-air marketplaces, chopped up and packed, or whole on the street, sometimes by women holding two baskets on a pole thrown over their shoulders. Some of these ladies earn additional money by posing for photos, so ask before taking any. Further information about Vietnamese fruits may be found here.
Vocabulary for Vietnamese Desserts
Xin cho: Good day.
Thank you, Cm N. (informal)
Em I: I’m over here (for calling servers over)
Ch: a dessert-related term
S: milk (fresh, condensed)
Grain-based BnH (often represents white bread, but could also be corn, barley, or any other grain)
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Which of these Vietnamese sweets makes you want to book a flight to Hanoi the most?
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