In the bustling city of Hanoi, known for its vibrant street food culture, there exists a hidden culinary gem that has been enchanting locals and visitors alike for nearly three decades. This unassuming eatery in a narrow alley on Tran Hung Dao Street serves “che,” a delectable Vietnamese sweet soup. What sets this place apart is not just its scrumptious offerings but also its premium price tag. Charging twice as much as a bowl of hearty pho, this shop has garnered a reputation for serving the most expensive che in the entire country. In this article, we delve into the intriguing story behind this iconic eatery, explore the reasons for its high prices, and discover why customers are willing to splurge for a taste of Hanoi’s supreme sweet soup.
The Legacy of the 1976 Shop
The story of this extraordinary sweet soup shop begins in 1976 when the current owner, Le Minh Dung, inherited the eatery from her mother. Initially, the shop faced challenges in attracting customers, but Dung’s mother remained steadfast in her dedication to serving sweet soups.
The Evolution of Che Prices
Over the years, the price of a cup of che at this shop gradually increased. Dung asserts that both the quality and quantity of the ingredients warranted this price hike, contributing to the premium tag it now carries.
A Symphony of Flavors
Each cup of che at this renowned shop is a symphony of flavors, carefully crafted with approximately 18 ingredients. From green beans to coconut milk and an assortment of fruits, the taste experience is nothing short of delightful.
The Distinctive Ingredients
Dung’s shop stands out from others due to its inclusion of large tapioca pearls infused with flavors like chocolate, grapes, green beans, lotus, sesame, and coconut. These unique variations originate from Dung’s roots in Phu Yen, adding a distinct touch to her che.
A Loyal Patron’s Perspective
Xuan Lam, a loyal customer who has been frequenting the shop since he was 14, attests to the consistent quality of the sweet soup. Despite the increasing prices, Lam remains devoted to the eatery, unable to find comparable che elsewhere in Hanoi.
Justifying the Premium Price
The shop owner acknowledges receiving complaints about the high prices but firmly believes they are justified by the generous portions and handpicked ingredients, including imported chocolates from Germany.
Navigating Economic Challenges
While the shop once sold around 1,600 cups of che per day during its peak, economic challenges have impacted customer spending, resulting in about 700 cups sold daily. However, Dung remains determined not to lower the prices.
The Enduring Allure
Despite the economic changes and decreased footfall, Dung’s shop continues to charm discerning patrons seeking an extraordinary taste experience. Its unique flavors and top-notch ingredients keep customers coming back for more.
The humble eatery tucked away in a narrow Hanoi alley may boast the most expensive sweet soup in Vietnam, but its popularity endures. From its rich history to the exceptional flavors crafted with care, the shop has carved a niche for itself in the hearts of locals and food enthusiasts alike.
Q1: What makes Hanoi’s sweet soup shop stand out?
A1: The shop’s distinction lies in its premium pricing for the delectable sweet soups it serves, making it twice as expensive as a bowl of pho.
Q2: How many ingredients are used in each cup of che?
A2: Each cup of che at this shop contains approximately 18 ingredients, including green beans, coconut milk, fruits, and young green rice.
Q3: What are the unique aspects of Dung’s sweet soup shop?
A3: Dung’s shop stands out due to the inclusion of large tapioca pearls infused with various flavors and the use of distinctive ingredients from Phu Yen.
Q4: How has the shop navigated economic challenges?
A4: Economic fluctuations have impacted customer spending, leading to a decrease in daily sales. However, the shop remains committed to maintaining its prices.
Q5: Why do customers continue to flock to the shop?
A5: Despite the premium prices, customers are drawn to the shop for its exceptional taste experience, high-quality ingredients, and enduring allure.