Hai Ba Trung Street is an interesting strip of the city for nocturnal wanderings. Brightly lit stores with the latest and greatest from the west compete with sidewalk vendors offering a slice of the east. Indeed, sidewalks are not meant for walking in this part of District 3. They are both an extension of the shops where goods overflow into the street yet also an extension of the street where people drive and park their motorbikes. Pedestrians beware…not that many Vietnamese people seem to be distance walkers anyhow. My long strolls for no particular reason other than taking it all in definitely make me the odd man out.
Of course all this wandering creates an inordinate level of hunger requiring immediate street food attention. I tell myself that all these calories hopefully melting away justify eating just about anything that crosses my path no matter how fatty or carbohydrate laden it might be. It’s a wonder I have been able to lose weight lately rather than expand my girth to new proportions. Then again I suspect Vietnamese food poses no particular risk of supersizing anyone as it is.
Sometimes dinner is best served sweet and cold rather than hot and savory and one woman’s drink stand near the Tan Dinh Market pulled me right in with a display of glasses filled to the brim with colorful delights. Now of course I fully suspect the average Vietnamese person would never make a dinner of chè ba màu or three color dessert. I, however, prefer to blaze my own path and turn tradition and rules upside down. If people over here consider fertile duck eggs a meal, then surely we can call this dinner as well.
Red beans, yellow mung bean paste and green agar strips lend this drink its three color name but other surprises linger inside as well. A layer of fake pomegranate seeds adds some gelatinous texture to the mix and condensed milk binds it all together in its sticky glory. A dose of shaved ice on top melts into each layer and stirring it all up is the only tableside preparation needed. This one is along the same lines as the sâm bổ lượng in food experiences 259 and 260.
The taste is much like taking sugary soy milk and adding various beans and gelatin products. Somehow this one works better than one would imagine based on the description. I can’t believe I had been living over two years in Vietnam before even discovering this whole array of desserts, or dinners depending on who is doing the eating.
Best of all, an entire menu of this awesome stuff still awaits.