In the time traveling to Vietnam, besides taking beautiful destinations or the unique traditional food reviewed on the internet, Vietnamese sweet snacks are among the most must-try dishes here, even though it is not that popular compared to “Pho” or “Bun dau mam tom”. These snacks vary extensively in favors, shapes, and sizes. For ingredients, people mainly use rice, sugar cane and fruits. Many use coconut as the primary material for their dishes. And of course, they are very cheap!
There are quite a lot to list out, but these top 5 Vietnamese sweet snacks are the most recommended ones, both by the local and the foreigners. You should never skip them during the time in Vietnam!
And hang on tight because this article may drive you out of your house getting some of these right away.
Okay, let’s go!
Chè a.k.a Vietnamese sweet soup
In Vietnam, you can find that che is specially prioritized in hot summer days due to the ability to resolve the heat. Beans, fruit, vegetables, jellies, seeds, glutinous rice and tapioca are the ingredients making che. By carefully stewing the ingredients and mixing them with the sugar syrup, che is ready to be served.
Because of so many choices in the ingredients, there come a thousand kinds of che for the customers to choose from. Hot, cold, in a little bowl or a tall glass over ice – you can try them all!
In Vietnam, you can find che everywhere: in a shophouse or simply in the vendors along the street. As a tradition, Vietnamese people have che not only for their favorite dessert after a decent meal but also for special occasions such as a child’s First Birthday, Lunar New Year, a death anniversary or a family gathering.
It is difficult for a Vietnamese like me to list out all kinds of che, but these followings are some typical ones that are tried and loved by many foreigners:
- Three-color dessert – Che Ba Mau
- Sweet corn pudding – Che Bap
- Sweet glutinous rice dumplings – Che Bap
- Banana with sago pearls and coconut milk sweet soup – Che Chuoi
- Vietnamese pomelo sweet soup dessert – Che Buoi
- Black bean sweet soup with coconut syrup – Che Dau Den
Where to get?
- Xoi che Bui Thi Xuan, 111 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1
- Che Ky Dong, 153/7 Ky Dong Street, Ward 9, District 3
- Khanh Vy Che tray shop (the Su Van Hanh street corner) Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, District 5
Chuoi chien a.k.a fried banana
Hot and crunchy on the outside, yet soft and sweet on the inside is the feeling of almost everyone who has ever tried this snack. Everything is combined perfectly in the dish, making chuoi chien the most desirable street snack in the rainy season. To make this, people often select “chuoi xiem” or “chuoi su” because of their sweetness and fragrant smell. The banana is dipped deep in the flour which has been moistened and then fried in the hot cooking oil pan until it is fully cooked and yellow-brown on the surface.
But the secret of an extremely crunchy banana fried is to double deep-fry the banana-flour mixture. When the banana fritter begins to brown, take it out and quickly dip it back in the batter, and then re-fry it. And of course, serving right away will maintain the crispiness to the fullest.
Where to get?
- Banh Cay Chuoi Chien, 81 Tran Quoc Thao, District 3
- Chuoi Chien Gion, 100/27 Tran Hung Dao, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
- Chuoi Chien – De Tham, 40 De Tham, Cau Ong Lanh Ward, District 1
Banh da lon a.k.a “pigskin” cake
Don’t worry, it is not made from the pig’s skin. The name of this cake is originated from the texture of the pie – chewy and gelatinous just like the skin of the pig. And indeed, the smell is lightly sweet for Vietnamese sweet snacks.
For the recipe, banh da lon is a steamed layer cake, which includes rice flour, tapioca starch, mashed mung beans, taro (or durian,) coconut milk and/or water and sugar. It comes in all shapes and sizes with an adjustable number of layers of green and yellow tapioca flour.
Normally, the cakemakers add food or vegetable coloring to the snack for the sake of making it more eye-catchy. The savory aroma of coconut, the richness of mashed mung beans and the softness of the cake all mingle together to create a pleasant taste that lingers on your taste buds long after your first bite. People eat Banh da lon regardless of the occasion, as a dessert or a snack.
FYI, many locals use it as an offering to present one’s deceased loved ones on important days like a death anniversary.
Where to get?
- Banh Da Lon A Muoi, 270 Vo Van Tan, Ward 5, District 3
Banh Pia a.k.a Pia cake
Bringing into comparisons, this pie is not as popular as the aforementioned dishes, primarily because the cake’s ingredient is durian– which certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of durians or have no issues with its ungodly odor, then the creamy banh pia is the thing.
Banh pia is a puff pastry with a sweet filling made of durian, green bean, and salted egg yolk. For many, the most special feature of this Vietnamese sweet snack lies in the flaky pastry crust; therefore, making the crust is the most sophisticated step in the process of baking banh pia. Locals traditionally serve this with hot ginger tea. One bite while sipping on tea is a delightful experience. The sweetness of banh pia blends with the bitterness of tea creating a delicate aftertaste. A regional specialty of the South, specifically the Soc Trang province, every aspect of the baked good is a reflection of three ethnic groups: the Kinh, Hoa and Khmer.
If you love durians and have no trouble with its strange odor, the creamy banh pia is the thing.
Where to get?
- Banh Pia Nhu Lan, 64 Ham Nghi, District 1
- Banh Pia Tan Hue Vien, 116C Nguyen Thi Nho, District 5
- Dac San Mien Tay, 123 Bach Dang, Binh Thanh District
Banh bo a.k.a “cow” cake or steamed rice cake
Once again, it is not made from a cow or any parts of it! And the interesting part of this dish lies in its name. Some say that it got the name from its inner texture, which resembles that of beef liver. Others say it’s because the cake looks familiar to a cow’s udder implying that the name was shortened from bánh vú bò (cow udder cake). While the true origin of banh bo’s name remains a mystery, its tastiness is utterly undeniable.
Banh bo’s ingredients are water, sugar, glutinous rice flour and yeast. When serving banh bo, sellers often sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and pour coconut milk sauce all over the cakes. The richness and aroma of coconut milk enhance the flavor of the cake.
There are many stories about this cake, and the origin of the name remains a mystery until now
Where to get?
- Banh Bo La Dua, 3 Pham Ngoc Thach, District 3
- 40 Hong Bang, Binh Thanh District
- 575 Cach Mang Thang Tam, District 10
And of course, there are still a lot more to count but these cakes above are mentioned at a huge rate.
Try them out and you will never forget the experience.