Sâm Bổ Lượng Take Two – 264 of 365

Sâm Bổ Lượng

We just sampled an improper sâm bổ lượng that personified the antithesis of truth in advertising.  It was missing half of the ingredients that make a sâm bổ lượng a proper sâm bổ lượng.  Also, those chunky ice cubes made mixing those very same not so tasty ingredients a difficult task indeed.  I couldn’t finish that insipid crap and filed this food away in the back of my head to maybe try again one day.

One day came sooner than expected as in the very next day.  I know two of the same meals in so many days is not what everypne comes here for but I had to make this one right.  Yesterday’s foolishness just did not do this part of Vietnamese cuisine any justice.  And since I so randomly came across a proper sâm bổ lượng, I had to resample this cold, sweet “soup” in its more native habitat out in the streets.  This tasty treat was like night and day and might as well have been a completely different meal.

Finding this one was an accident.  My friends went out for some drinks, and I went my own way for a long, three hour walk.  In the end we all had good evenings and this goes to show Saigon has something for everyone.  My path meandered up Hai Ba Trung Street to Nguyen Huu Cau Street where a typical Vietnamese market squats on the corner.  The interior area had already wound down for the evening but the outer perimeter was alive with stall after stall of street foods.

Tasty Fruit

I surprised my audience watching my every move by ordering this in my own versioon of Vietnamese.  Evidently I butchered the pronunciation since the woman had no clue I wanted.  I don’t get it.  She has two items on the menu and can’t put on her thinking cap to figure out the context?  I pointed to sâm bổ lượng and she came to life and excitedly prepared my food.  I felt like a fish in a bowl with people all around it tapping on the glass.  Actually every one of my walks feels this way but that’s ok.  It just means I am hitting parts of the cities few westerners dare enter.

I am now a fan of this one.  The liquid was properly sweetened without the infusion of ocean taste like yesterday’s disaster.  I now know what a jujube is as well and this soft red fruit tastes much like a maraschino cherry.  The lotus slice was so thick and meaty unlike the thin tough mess I want to now forgetyesterday’s first foray into the cold soup scene.  The sweet longan fruit and barley-like Job’s tear went a long way in making this one miles above my first sampling.

Even the ice was better.  The shaved bits melted nicely into the warm liquid and I was able to use the long spoon to scoop out the fruit and slivers of seaweed.  I watched a grandmother and granddaughter enjoying their soups and much like their counterparts in America would enjoy an ice cream sundae.  And truth be told I would choose this one over the ice cream in a heartbeat.  It hits the spot for something sweet and even adds in a bit of savory.  I am sure it is loaded with calories but at least it isn’t chock full of fat.

I think I am ready to try some of the other cold varieties as well.  They are the perfect antidote for a warm Saigon evening.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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