Wandering Hanoi’s streets, people might easily hear the echoes of a tofu pudding seller: “Tào phớ đây!” (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.
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.