Street fruit with flair

TN News

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Fresh fruit goes down well when the temperature goes up, and there's an endless variety of scrumptious fruit waiting to be bought in Vietnam's streets and markets.

Hanoians love it as much as anyone but they are more finicky about their food and like to jazz up their fruit in assorted ways.

Among their favorites are chè trái cây (fruit soup), sinh tố trái cây (fruit shake) and trái cây dầm with salt, chili pepper or condensed milk.

While these dishes can be bought in many parts of the city, the best streets to find them are Ly Quoc Su and To Tich near the old quarter.

Ly Quoc Su has long been known for its fruit pickles, though lately it has been overshadowed by To Tich, one of the shortest named streets in Hanoi and now known as "street of fruits."

Just a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, To Tich is busy from morning until late, particularly in the summertime. There are a dozen stalls selling fruity fancies to mostly young people as they have more time and inclination to hang around with their friends on a hot summer's night.

We went to see for ourselves one recent Sunday afternoon and were soon caught up in the buzz of the crowded thoroughfare where the gaily decorated stalls were sporting every fruit imaginable on trays and tables and hanging from the rafters.

To mention just some of the produce on display, there were strawberries, longans, pineapples, apples, pears, water melons, coconuts, avocados, jack fruit, durian, mango and kiwi fruit, all of it looking fresh and exuding the sweetest of smells.

We sat on small stools, decided what fruit we wanted in our glasses, and waited for our turn to be served. From what we observed, the most popular dishes were fruit shakes and fruit cocktails with toppings.

I ordered a fruit shake with only pineapple and mango, my two favorites. My glass was prepared with some ice, sweetened condensed milk and coconut extract blended together.

My friend opted for a glass of assorted fruit cut into small cubes and artfully arranged with sweetened condensed milk and coconut extract sprinkled on and a topping of crushed ice. Extra ice in a bowl was brought to the table in case we wanted more.

The glasses not only looked attractive but smelled and tasted wonderful too. It was a pleasant experience enjoying the different taste of the fresh fruit in an excellent combination with milk, coconut extract and ice for a mere VND15,000 to VND20,000 per glass.

To save time when serving a large number of customers, glasses full of fruit cubes are prepared in advance and kept in the fridge. When an order comes in, the sellers simply add the condensed milk, coconut and ice so that no customer will be kept waiting for long.

If you have already sampled the dried beef salad of Ho Hoan Kiem Street, the hot pot of Phung Hung Street and the simmered chicken of Tong Duy Tan Street, why not add the fruity concoctions of To Tich Street to your culinary enjoyment of Hanoi?

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