Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chinese sweet dessert soup in China town

In Saigon, Chinatown is quite big (that's why we call Chợ Lớn, i.e Big market), its image has been faded away after 1975 due to certain political reasons, but these years, it seems to come back!
I live in Nguyen Trai street, district 5, where considered as the gate to Chợ Lớn or Chinatown!
I have a Singaporean friend, he used to live here before 1975. One day he took me to a small shop right in the center of Chợ Lớn for Chinese sweet dessert soup (chè Tàu).

He said "I used to come to this place long before 1975, when the parents of the current young owner still alive", so I understand I'm now in the shop with more than half century history!
Very simple, typical Chinese style shop in the old times, no decoration, but the sweet here is nice, fine taste with very affordable price!

Stew papaya with rock sugar (đu đủ tiềm), nice taste, not too sweet! 
Chinese sweet soup is very different from ours, you never smell even a drop of our popular coconut sauce. Here in this shop the menu offers quite wide choice, many of them are my favorite!

Stew papaya (đu đủ tiềm) served cold! The taste is simple, light, not very sweet, papaya flavor is not too strong! I like it since I tried it for first time! It's good dessert in the summer heat!

Green mung bean with crystal tapioca pearls, seaweed (đậu xanh bột báng, khổ tai)
Green mung bean with small "crystal tapioca pearls" (đậu xanh bột báng) served hot, I add "crystal" to make it more "luxury"!. It's similar to Vietnamese one but without coconut milk. Purely green mung bean taste and well mixed with seaweed flavor.
Hot "chi ma fu" (black sesame cream soup - chè mè đen) surely in my top three list, it reminds the image of very old Chinese hawker carrying two wooden boxes, selling this sweet and another sweet peanut cream soup in our neighborhood, every night! His shouts with heavy Chinese accent attracted me, a hunger kid, very much. They serve chi ma fu only by Saturdays!

Chicken egg sweet dessert soup, my childhood's favorite! 
Chicken egg sweet dessert soup (chè hột gà), when I was kid, I keep wondering why the egg is black in this sweet soup? I grew up without the answer until one day... someone told me because it's cooked in special very dark tea (!?). Nowadays the egg is in brown color, not very dark as before. And we still call "Tea egg sweet soup"! 

Egg custard (hột gà chưng) very similar to our popular flan, but lighter! Not sweet but milky! Good cold dessert!

Egg custard (hột gà chưng) 
Black turtle jelly (cao quy linh) is not really my favorite here, but I remember whenever we go to "5 stars" place for Chinese food, especially we are "invited" (!!!) we always try to order this quite unique
and expensive dessert!
Jelly-like, not sweet, slightly bitter, but taste good with honey! Many people said this's good for skin, for health! Traditionally made from turtle shell powder, now no more but the word "turtle" (quy) still there!  

Black turtle jelly - special dessert and good for health! 
Coconut tofu 
Coconut tofu. It would be the only item with coconut flavor as I already said no coconut cream has been used in Chinese dessert soup! Tell me if I'm wrong!
Soft, jelly-like, very light! I have no idea how to prepare this coconut tofu, but surely gelatin is one of the ingredients, same as almond tofu!

Almond tofu
Almond tofu (or almond jelly) - we say "tàu hủ hạnh nhân" but I heard the name is not correct, as the flavor doesn't come from almond but apricot kernels! And even we say "tofu" (or tàu hủ), this dessert is not made from soya bean but gelatin with "almond" flavor extract! For certain people this almond flavor could be too strong! Almond tofu is usually and better mixed with longan or lychee!

This simple shop but very crowded, esp. young people, during weekend as they open only from 6:00 PM. The owner still keeps very old shop signboard "Tiệm đồ ngọt" Tường Phong ( tiệm đồ ngọt literally means Shop of sweet items)! Hope one day they will upgrade the shop!

Signboard could come from 70s, judging by the language on it.   
Simple, typical Chinese style shop of old times in Chợ Lớn (Chinatown) 

Where to try ? 
Chè Tường Phong, 83 An Điềm, district 5, open only from 6:00 PM to 11:00PM. Very crowded by weekend. 

1 comment:

  1. I like the Chinese soup very much and there are many kinds of Chinese soup recipes available and all of them are very delicious. This is a nice post about the soup and about recipe.


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