Sunday , May 26 2024

Hai Phong coconut dessert drink: A refreshing summer delight


Hai Phong’s summer, adorned with red phoenix flowers, is renowned for its coconut dessert drink, a refreshing beverage that helps beat the heat.

The Hai Phong coconut drink stands out as a local specialty among many dessert drinks. The people of Hai Phong have a saying: “Just like rain seeping into the ground, the coconut dessert drink provides a deep and refreshing satisfaction to the soul.”

With its creamy coconut milk and delightful sweetness, this drink captures the taste buds from the very first sip.

Chè dừa dầm là thức quà vặt được yêu thích khi Hải Phòng vào hè.

A cup of coconut dessert drink is filled with coconut milk and lots of toppings. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

Although the drink has been a part of Hai Phong’s culinary scene for a long time, its popularity in Vietnam soared about five years ago. Hien Beo’s shop, located on Lach Tray Street in the Ngo Quyen District, was one of the first establishments to introduce this dessert in Hai Phong.

It has earned a place on Hai Phong’s food map, as published by the Hai Phong Department of Tourism.

Hien, the shop owner, has been selling the coconut dessert drink for more than a decade. Initially situated across from 118 Lach Tray Street, near the entrance to An Bien Lake, the shop relocated to 124 Lach Tray Street approximately three years ago.

The front of the shop is spacious, accommodating around 10 sets of plastic tables and chairs, each accommodating four people.

It can serve up to 30 guests at once during busy times. In the mornings, the shop also operates in a nearby alley. The main shop at 124 Lach Tray Street opens from 2:30 p.m. until around 10 p.m. every day. The busiest periods are usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Hien prepares to open her shop. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

Hien prepares to open her coconut dessert shop in Hai Phong. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

On an average weekday, Hien sells around 1,000 to 2,000 cups. The numbers increase on weekends, with up to 3,000 cups sold as food lovers and tourists visit the area.

To cater to customers who order in large quantities, Hien pre-packages the drinks in cups and keeps them chilled. “This saves time for customers and helps preserve the flavor for longer,” Hien said.

Each cup includes coconut milk, grated coconut flesh, coconut jelly, milk, condensed milk, and homemade tapioca pearls. Hien selects fresh and young coconuts with tender flesh for the best taste. The milk made from young coconut flesh is sweet, aromatic, and has a smoother texture compared to ripened coconuts.

The coconut dessert drinks are pre-chilled, allowing visitors to purchase them in large quantities. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

Hien’s coconut dessert cups are pre-chilled in a freezer. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

To prepare the coconut milk, Hien grinds the young coconut flesh, filters and cooks it for four hours while stirring continuously. Some of the grated coconut meat is shredded into pieces. Coconut jelly, made from coconut water, is sliced into small pieces. The tapioca pearls in the coconut dessert drink are ivory white, slightly yellowish, and bigger than the tip of a pencil.

When you savor a cup of coconut dessert drink, a simple scoop is all it takes to enjoy a spoonful of toppings. The toppings include crunchy pieces of coconut meat, soft pearls, as well as smooth and translucent coconut jelly.

These toppings are accompanied by a thick layer of rich, creamy coconut milk that is both fragrant and oily, resulting in a delightful sweetness. A cup of grated coconut costs VND20,000 (84 U.S. cents).

To prepare the coconut milk, Hien grinds the young coconut flesh, filters and cooks it for four hours while stirring continuously. Some of the grated coconut meat is shredded into pieces. Coconut jelly, made from coconut water, is sliced into small pieces. The tapioca pearls in the coconut dessert drink are ivory white, slightly yellowish, and bigger than the tip of a pencil.

The handmade tapioca pearls are prepared in advance and stored in a large pot. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

The handmade tapioca pearls are prepared in advance and stored in a large pot at Hien’s shop. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

Hoang Thi Thu Huong from Hanoi is a loyal customer who visits Hien’s shop whenever she comes to Hai Phong. She enjoys the drink and often buys some to take home.

After six years of being a regular customer, Huong found that the coconut dessert drink at other places in Hanoi and Hai Phong cannot match the quality she experienced at Hien’s shop.

“The sweet coconut milk is thick, fragrant, and creamy. My favorite part is the coconut jelly,” Huong said. She even bought 20 cups to enjoy later at home.

Hai Phong’s coconut dessert drink is a treat for coconut enthusiasts. However, its strong sweetness may not be suitable for those who prefer lighter flavors.

Trinh Thi Hong Hanh, a 23-year-old from Hai Phong, mentioned that despite living near the eatery, she doesn’t have it regularly.

“I find coconut dessert drinks too sweet, and I lose interest after a few sips. Besides, most of them are pre-made, so I can’t customize the flavor to suit my taste buds,” Hanh said.

Coconut is a cooling fruit with Yin properties that offer several health benefits. It helps reduce urinary and intestinal problems, strengthens the immune system, and supports digestion and cardiovascular health.

The ideal time to consume coconut products is in the morning or at noon. It’s advised to avoid consuming coconut in the late evening to prevent catching a cold and to maintain bone and joint health.

The Center for Preventive Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City advises against combining coconut with seafood, which also has cooling properties and may cause colds, and chocolate, as it interferes with calcium absorption in the body.

Coconut is a cooling fruit with health benefits. It can help with urinary and intestinal problems, boost the immune system, aid digestion, and support heart health. It’s best to consume coconut products in the morning or at noon.

Diners are advised not to consume coconut in the late evening to prevent catching a cold and avoid negative impact on bone and joint health.

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