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Vietnamese Lemonade?

On some days, only an icy Vietnamese lemonade truly hits the spot. However, it's difficult to find an excellent version with the right balance of sweet and tart. I'm stuck hanging around the financial district for an appointment after work and would love a good lemonade. Any recommendations in the FiDi/Chinatown area?

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  1. Have you tried Sai's? I don't know if the lemonade's good but some of their stuff is.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for the rec--I ended up going to Sai's before reading your post. The lemonade was very good (crushed ice!) and the chicken curry soup was even better (though my favorite version is still at Yummy Yummy on Irving).

    2. Pardon my ignorance, but what distinguishes viet lemonade from "regular" lemonade?

      6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Huh, for some reason I associate lemon, salt, and soda water as Vietnamese lemonade. Maybe it is a different drink entirely but it's the only Viet lemon drink I have had. Hung Ky and Will's are very good versions.

          1. re: chaddict

            You're right, I was thinking of something else. The Vietnamese drink's usually lime rather than lemon, no?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I've had "soda chanh" w/ both lemon or lime. I prefer lime, and my favorite is at Vung Tau in San Jose (sorry, don't have recs for SF). Lime juice tastes really fresh, sugar is incorporated well (perhaps simple syrup), and the soda water has very fine, silky bubbles.

              2. re: chaddict

                Although it doesn't help here, the best Vietnamese lemonade I've tried has been at Bui on Solano in Berkeley.

          2. For what it's worth, I love the lemonade at Slanted/Out the Door.

            1. is one able to buy a bottled version of this stuff? would be nice to have avail in my fridge.

              maybe order a gallon?

              1. Okay...just to clarify....Vietnamese "lemonade" is often made with limes, has sugar.. SALT! and soda water...so it is in effect a salty lemon/lime soda?
                I think I would prefer Roberts' version with mint, sugar, lemons... and saltless..

                2 Replies
                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  There are 3 different vietnamese lemonade versions:
                  -Soda chanh=lime with soda and sugar
                  -Soda chanh muoi= salted/brined lime with soda and sugar
                  -Da chanh=lime with ice, sugar and water

                  Many restaurants in the US use lemons now since it's more available but there's no lemons in vietnam as I know it. Also, in the authentic version, no mint is added. You can buy the salted/brined limes at Ranch 99.

                  Soda xi muoi (soda with salted plum which had been rehydrated with hot water, sugar and ice) is a different animal altogether.

                2. Is this the same as the drink made with salted preserved lemons? (plus sugar and carbonated water)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                    No, that's "xi muoi", which can be very stimulating but a little too salty at times.

                    To ChowFun_derek: I've never had Viet lemonade w/ salt in it. I believe that I've had a version w/ lime, sugar, mint, club soda, but I'm blanking on where. Mint isn't common though.

                    I had a Viet lemonade in San Jose yesterday and it tasted like a mixture of lime and lemon. Lots of sugar at the bottom that had to be stirred in and included the pour-at-the-table Canada Dry club soda.

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      That's interesting. Nearly every one I've been served has salt in it.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Really?! Have you had the one from Vung Tau San Jose? Does that have salt? Maybe I've just never noticed...

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          Nha Toi's in SJ has salt in it to cite a recent example where we might overlap. Also Hung Ky in SF. I don't find it overwhelmingly salty as ChowFun seems too, but maybe it's not an unusual taste for me. I think the touch of salt highlights the tart flavors more.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Haven't had the versions at Nha Toi or Hung Ky, but I'll pay extra attention the next time I have one of these drinks. I think I'm just used to the salty flavor such that I don't even notice!

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          My fiance's (Vietnamese) mom makes the lemonade at home -- she packs thin-skinned lemons in very salty brine and leaves the jar out in the sun for a few weeks to ferment. To make the lemonade, she'll put some of the salty lemon into a glass with sugar and muddle them together before adding ice and either water or soda water. Whether the lemonade tastes salty or not obviously depends on how much sugar is added.

                    2. Wow, until Melanie spoke up I (like CL) never thought there was salt in Vietnamese lemonade/limeade (Soda Chanh). Sorry I didn't believe you Derek! I'm confounded that I never tasted the salt. I haven't had it at Nha Toi, but will definitely order it to see if there's salt next time. I like places that give you mix-yourself soda chanh, which allows me to use only half the can of club soda to make a strong version, hence I don't like ordering it at Vung Tau.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Alice Patis

                        Some places have salt, some don't ... or use it so sparingly you don't notice. I'm far from a Vietnamese food expert but I'm interested in different ethnic drinks and the first thing I'll order in any Vietnamese place is the lemonade. Not all versions are salty and most use lemons which probably has to do with econmics since that is the cheaper fruit in this area.

                        1. re: Alice Patis

                          The places that have both usually call one "fresh" and the other "salty"

                        2. Also worth noting that club soda generally has salt in it. Some are saltier than others.

                          I have generally ordered this as a lemonade soda or soda lemonade.