Hanoi's Tofu Pudding

Hanoi is heaven for street food enthusiasts. For first-time visitors it can be daunting to figure out what to eat, so we’re here to help with one of the best authentic desserts: “Tao pho” or tofu pudding, along with some top vendors in Hanoi.
Tofu pudding on Hanoi streets

Wandering Hanoi’s streets, people might easily hear the echoes of a tofu pudding seller: “Tào phớ đê!” (meaning “Here’s the tofu pudding!”). Looking around, they will see a man riding a bicycle with the front basket full of small bowls and take-away cups, carrying a big pot of tofu pudding which can keep the heat of the pudding for hours, a bottle of sugar syrup, a bag containing a handful of fresh jasmine flowers, and a small ice chest.
Due to the fact that tofu pudding is made from soybean, which is believed to have a natural cooling effect, calming the heat of human body, this street dessert is very popular in the summer. A typical bowl of Hanoi’s tofu pudding looks incredibly simple but is refreshing and full of summery flavour. Observing the seller making tofu pudding might be a strangely satisfying and relaxing experience for customers. First of all, some ice cubes will be put into the serving bowl to help cool off the heat of the tofu pudding and also the heat of summer in this tropical country.

Second, with a sharp flat metal spoon in the hand, the seller will skillfully scoop out some thin slices from the hot pudding in the pot, neatly and quickly putting those slices into the serving bowl. After pouring some sugar syrup into that bowl, jasmine flowers then will be added on top to decorate as well as creating a gentle floral scent and flavour.
From the North to South, tofu pudding is an iconic food for Vietnamese people with a long history of development in ingredients and processing throughout provinces and cities. From the familiar vendors on a bike that ride around town, waking kids and serving traditional cups of tao pho with soy-bean milk, tofu, and yellow sugar, to bigger, more modern shops with added ingredients, tao pho is always close to the heart of Hanoians, from children to adults. In the central region, especially in Hue and Da Nang, tao pho is called “dau hu”. It differs slightly in flavour from tao pho, which has ginger. The taste of “dau hu” is more pungent but still very unique. Further to the South, dishes are generally sweeter. The tao pho is thicker with coconut milk and called “tau hu”. Saigoneses usually eat “tau hu” with hot syrup but during the summer months, “tau hu” with ice and cool coconut water is the best choice for students after a hard day at school.
Whether you are a local who is just too familiar with this sweet treat, or a visitor who loves exploring, it is worth spending a few minutes to stand on the pavement, asking for a bowl of tofu pudding, observing step by step how this delightful street snack is served, then enjoying the taste of summer melted in your mouth.

Nowadays, from small stalls to big, modern shops, tofu pudding can be found everywhere in Hanoi. Types sold include original flavours to those with different ingredients. Jelly Bean (on Hanoi’s Quang Trung Street) is leading the tofu pudding trend among young people. From tofu pudding with red beans and coconut milk, tofu pudding with coffee and chocolate to tofu pudding with ginger jam. The diversity of its menu brings fresh tastes to young customers and travellers. You can find them in many street hawkers or other streets in the Old Quarter from the price of VND 10,000 only:
Vua Tao Pho, 192 Hang Bong Street - 50 meters from our hotel
Jelly Bean, 28 Quang Trung Street - 2,0 kilometers from our hotel
Tao Pho ToFu, 41 Dao Duy Tu Street - 1,8 kilometers from our hotel

Video: Tao pho in Hanoi

 

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