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Xa Dan dessert shop hits the sweet spot

Vietnamese che usually comes in flavours like black bean and lotus seed, but this shop offers more modern styles. Hoang Ha reports.

Sweet success: The shop is particularly crowded on hot days and warm evenings.
Sweet success: The shop is particularly crowded on hot days and warm evenings.

If you’ve tasted the Vietnamese traditional dessert or snack called che (pudding), you may be familiar with the black bean, green bean, maize and lotus seed varieties. But Che Bat Xa Dan owner Nguyen Lan Huong creates more unusual flavours.

I first visited the shop on a hot day, when it was already crowded with customers. In front of the shop, about 30 people were sitting at plastic tables, sampling flavours like bo (avocado), mit (jackfruit), xoai (mango) and matcha (Japanese green tea).

Made from avocado, black agar and milk, the avocado che (VND15,000) was aromatic and a bit sweet. Holding the cool green bowl, I couldn’t help but devour spoonful after spoonful, prompting the server to scold me. “It’s better eaten slowly,” Huong said.

She was right. When savoured at a leisurely pace, the buttery flavours melted in my mouth.

My friend wanted to have another bowl, but I reminded her that we had others to sample.

Creative twist: Che Bat Xa Dan creates different flavours of desserts such as bo (avocado), mit (jackfruit), xoai (mango) and matcha (Japanese green tea).

Next came che dang (bitter) (VND15,000), the most popular variety. To make this dish, black agar leaves are cooked with a number of medicinal herbs. After the mixture cools and sets into a jelly, it’s cut into pieces and put into a mix of ice cream and coconut juice. The result has a light coolness that dissolves in the mouth.

Che Bat Xa Dan

Address: 245 Xa Dan Street, Dong Da District, Ha Noi

Tel: 0904343839

Price: VND15,000-17,000

Hours: 10am-12am

Comment: Delicious desserts

Despite its name, the bitterness is gentle and appealing. My father used to say that in the summer, eating bitter melon or bitter vegetables would cool you down and make you feel healthy. He was right. I got a virtuous feeling from the medicinal flavour.

We moved on to matcha pudding (VND17,000), which Huong claims she was the first to make in Ha Noi. The owner says she tried to mix several foods in her refrigerator, such as matcha tea powder, sugar, agar and ice cream, and this was the result.

“To my surprise, customers loved my matcha pudding. They enjoyed the fragrance of tea, as well as the green colour, saying it stimulated the appetite,” she says.

After sampling a bowl, we could see why it was so popular. The nutty flavour of lotus seeds combined with the taste of matcha and coconut milk, creating an entirely new sensation. Standing up, we felt as if we had eaten a meal in a bowl.