It may sound strange but sweet soup is one of the most favorite dishes during winter in Hanoi.
The sweet soup stall owned by a woman named Thin, usually called Che Ba Thin (Ms. Thin's sweet soup) on Bat Dan Street is famous for the sweet soup cooked from sticky rice, mung beans and black beans.
When the cold covers every corner of Hanoi streets, people come to Thin, sitting down on small chairs to sniff the sweet smell of black sugar combined with the fragrant smell of ginger.
The customers usually hold the small, hot porcelain bowls of sweet soup in their hands for a while to fell the warmness and sniff the smell before enjoying the soup.
There are four main kinds of sweet soup served in this stall, namely ba cot (sweet soup cooked from glutinous rice and sliced ginger), do den (literally means “black beans”, cooked from black beans, tapioca and coconut fibre), do xanh (sweet soup cooked from broken peeled mung beans), and banh troi tau (sticky rice dumplings boiled in a sweet ginger soup, with the stuffing of the dumplings comprising of black sesame or ground mung beans mixed with crushed roasted peanut, sugar and coconut fibre).
Customers may choose to have black bean or mung bean sweet soup served with xoi vo (the sticky rice made from glutinous rice grains coated with ground peeled-and-boiled mung beans).
Unlike sweet soup in the south, Hanoi’s sweet soup is not too sweet. It is moderately sweet, spicy, chewy and tasty.
Although it is cold outside, the seats in the sweet soup store are always occupied. Dressed in puffy jackets, gloves and scarfs, customers sit, eat and talk in the cozy store as if there is no winter here in Hanoi.