Bánh trôi tàu – A warm Vietnamese dessert for a sweet tooth

If you find yourself wandering on the streets of Hanoi on a late winter evening, a short stop at a bánh trôi tàu shop is much-needed to warm your body up in the stinging cold weather. Being lesser-known to tourists than bánh mì or other kinds of noodles, yet bánh trôi tàu is a favourite street food of the residents of Hanoi when chilly breezes sweeping through the city.

A harmonious combination of simple ingredients

Bánh trôi tàu (stuffed sticky rice balls)

Bánh trôi tàu (stuffed sticky rice balls) is different from bánh trôi nước , as the first one originated in China and is eaten hot while the latter is a Vietnamese traditional dish and is eaten when cooled down. The rice balls are stuffed with either black sesame seeds fillings or mung bean paste fillings before being boiled until done. The secret to a perfect bowl of bánh trôi tàu, however, lies in the sweet soup that the rice balls are served with. This sweet soup is made of water cooked with brown sugar and sliced ginger until thickens, mixed with a bit of coconut milk when served in bowls. A portion of bánh trôi tàu should have two to three rice balls covered in sweet soup and decorated with shredded coconut and crushed peanuts on top.

The pleasant warmth on a winter night

The savour of bánh trôi tàu comes not only from the food itself but also from the cozy ambience of the food stalls that sell it. If you are seeking some pleasant warmth on a winter night, it is best to try this dish at a small store or at a food vendor on a quiet corner of the streets, observing the tranquil night life of Hanoi as the gingery warmth of the dish gently spreads through your body. Take a bite of the chewy rice ball, sip a bit of sweet soup and experience the rich tastes of this delicacy: the mild sweetness from brown sugar, the freshness from sesame and mung beans fillings, the light touch of spiciness from the ginger-infused soup, and the lingering aroma from coconut milk. Bánh trôi tàu is no longer just a traditional dish, but rather an indispensable part of the Hanoi cuisine. Considered as one of the Hanoi delicacies with very reasonable price, it is definitely worth a try if you happen to visit the city during these cold days.

Prices: 15,000 VND – 20,000 VND

1. Bánh trôi tàu Phạm Bằng – 30 Hàng Giầy (from 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
2. Xôi chè bà Thìn – 1 Bát Đàn (from 6 pm to 11 pm)
3. Bánh trôi Hàng Ngang – 53 Hàng Ngang (from 3:30 pm to 6 pm)
4. Bánh trôi Điệp béo – 52 Hàng Điếu (from 4 pm to 10 pm)
5. Bánh trôi tàu Ngô Thì Nhậm – 16 Ngô Thì Nhậm (from 7 am to 6 pm)

Content and Photos: Mao & Koo (Hanoikids’ Tour Operation Department)

You can see more Hanoi dishes here: https://hanoikids.org/category/food-in-hanoi/

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