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Apr 20, 2012 11:11 AM

strange soup at vietmanese restaurants

I am a frequent diner at a Vietmanese restaurant in Yorba Linda called Photasia. The pho is totally satisfing hot, fragrant, and spicy. The only hiccup is that when we receive are check it is always accompanied by this strange "dessert". It is served hot, is yellow, slightly sweet and contains lemongrass and tapioca. My wife finds this dish impossible to eat (thinks it tastes soapy), I however can stomach it but is not my favorite tasting thing. The running joke is that I dig into it with gusto, then tell my wife. "Yep still tastes like crap". My question is if anybody else has encountered this "dessert" at other Vietmanese restaurants and do you like it?

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  1. I've had it (or similar dishes) numerous times. It's okay as far as desserts go, but I'd much rather have a chocolate chip cookie.

    1. There could be a whole thread of odd, complimentary dessert soups at L.A. Asian restaurants - the varieties of Chinese bean soups, one at Thai Paradise in San Gabriel. I agree - I've tried to refuse it and they just don't take it back, but usually just laugh and say "free!" (like that's a good thing)

        1. re: ns1

          thats it exactly. my wife asked what was in and they said there was lemongrass, although I don't taste any. Do you know what the green bits are?

            1. re: kurtdesign

              Kelp, or something similar. Def not lemongrass.

              Pretty ubiquitous dessert at many chinese/Vietnamese restaurants. I like it as long as its not too sweet. Many variations.

          1. Think of it more like a dessert than soup, it's made with mung beans. I also like the red bean variety, but I grew up with it, it's called che dau xanh. A lot of authentic places will give you some at the end of the meal. I have an Indian friend who loves all sorts of food especially Vietnamese but she doesn't just "get" desserts with beans.....haha. Big asian thing to incorporate beans for dessert and make them sweet.


            3 Replies
            1. re: groover808

              I'm Japanese so I should be used to sweet beans... I think its the hot soup for dessert that throws me.

              1. re: kurtdesign

                I agree, hot is not my thing, cold is more refreshing :)

                My mom used the make it, throw it in the fridge overnight then I'd eat it cold...

                1. re: kurtdesign

                  I like how the starch and subtle flavor of the beans plays against the sweetness. What about zenzai?


              2. It's called che (sounds like the first part of the word "chair"), and is a traditional Vietnamese soupy dessert. There are many varieties of che, from the yellow mung bean/seawood/tapioca bits commonly given away at Vietnamese restaurants, to fancy ones made from bitter grapefruit rinds, exotic fruits, and/or corn.

                Down in OC, there is a local chain called Hien Khanh which is well known for their che - it's pretty much all they sell. It's set up like a food to go place, with the goodies spread out in metal pans. You order what you want, and the server scoops it into cups for you. I'm used to having che as dessert since I grew up eating it, but I can understand the apprehension if you've never had it before. Add to it the variance that comes from restaurants that make it well and those that don't and you may not like it the first time you try it - but you should give it a second chance, preferably at a place that does it well.

                6 Replies
                1. re: kingkong5

                  don't think my wife will be in, but I my try. Maybe some different flavors will do the trick. Thanks

                  1. re: kurtdesign

                    Try che chuoi—banana che. It's basically really loose sweet tapioca with bananas and coconut milk. I love it.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I will try that. Thats sounds good. Does che ever get served cold?

                      1. re: kurtdesign

                        Yes, there are all different kinds... banh mi che cali has a pretty broad selection of che but the big dog for che is in Little Saigon.... I think it's called Thach Che Hien Khanh but Das Ubergeek can correct me if I'm wrong. All they sell is che.

                        Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            That's right. There are two of them, one on Bolsa and one on Westminster Ave.

                            I prefer cold che to hot che, myself, and Hien Khanh sells only cold che.