VietNamNet Bridge – Hanoians or those who have visited the capital are probably familiar with a popular treat called tra chanh (lemon ice tea) served at numerous streetside shops around Hanoi Cathedral.
Customers gather at Ngo 89, the first tra chanh shop in town in Nguyen Du Street.
The image of a tra chanh shop is considered a cultural trait of the capital. After creating a phenomenon in the central city of Danang, tra chanh arrived in HCMC earlier this year and has received a great response from local people, especially the young and celebrities.
After bun dau mam tom (vermicelli served with tofu and shrimp paste) which was a hit last year, tra chanh is another trendy food in town. “Tra tranh chem gio” which means drinking tea and chatting is now a popular phrase with Saigon’s youth on Facebook and texting language.
The first and most popular tra chanh shop in town is at Ngo 89 (Alley 89) in Nguyen Du Street in District 1. Then numerous shops were born in the streets of Nguyen Trai, Pho Duc Chinh, Le Thi Rieng, Tran Quang Khai in District 1 and No Trang Long in Binh Thanh District. They have drawn huge crowds sitting on some small tables and chairs on the pavement daily after work or after school time from 6 p.m. onwards.
These shops serve simple Hanoi-style food and drinks like nem chua ran (grilled fermented pork roll), pho mai que (cheese stick), hat huong duong (sunflower seeds), sua chua nep cam (yogurt with violet glutinous rice), and mo dam (soaked apricot), among others. But some also offer shisha pipe, a treat that is normally found at luxury bars, clubs or lounges.
Tra chanh (lemon ice tea) (R), sua chua nep cam (yogurt with violet glutinous rice) and sunfl ower seeds are popular treats to customers at tra chanh shop My Nhan Wang at Le Thi Rieng Street in District 1.
Minh, a Hanoian who works in HCMC, said that she can feel a bit of nostalgia for the capital whenever she comes to Alley 89 shop as it serves the same taste of tra chanh in Hanoi and the shop’s owner is also a Hanoian.
No one knows when the tra chanh phenomenon will be over but for now it’s a hot trend to city people and a night out with friends at a tra chanh shop is a must to many of them at weekends.
Food and drinks at tra chanh shops are priced from VND12,000 so everyone can afford to go. If you haven’t heard about this phenomenon or a new style of hanging out with friends, check out tra chanh this weekend to get your own experience.