Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster
A thick encyclopedia could be written about Asian sweets and desserts. There are as many different kinds of treats as there are species of tropical flora. The Vietnamese dessert called che, by itself, has subphylums I have not yet begun to explore.
Dry and soupy. Slippery and sticky. Brightly-colored and dull. Cold and hot. These are just some contradictory word pairings I think of when trying to describe che. Most often, it will be sweet. But it can also be savory and salty. Starches like tapioca are used, but so will sticky rice. Fruits like banana will be stewed to a pudding consistency. Others will get a prodigious amount of coconut milk. Also, artificial food coloring isn't taboo, it's required in the recipe.
Thach Che Hien Khanh has all kinds of che. But one night, I just wanted something I can suck through a straw on the drive home. I looked over some sample cups -- provided in case a non-Vietnamese speaker like me just happened to wander in -- and pointed to the one with the brightest color combo.
I asked how much. "Three dollar," the lady answers.
Then she assembles the one I will drink. She ladles in onyx black tapioca pearls first, then slippery, slime green squiggles, followed by some crunchy, faux pomegranate seeds. Crushed ice goes on top, some syrup, and finally a nice, generous pour of coconut milk. The white liquid snakes down through the ingredients, and fills up the cup to the brim.
Before consumption, the drink must be thoroughly mixed to distribute the sweetener and milk (as I demonstrate in the before-and-after photos above). I have found that it helps to wait until the ice melts a little.
With the first sip comes a comforting surge of coconut milk. It's creamy sweet with the lightest touch of saltiness. Then as the solid pieces of the concoction travel up the straw, there's chewing involved. The boba has the bouncy bite-resistance of bubble-gum, the red bits are crunchy like water chestnuts, and the green stuff wiggles around like a worm -- wait, didn't I compare che to species of flora? Maybe I should include fauna too.
Thach Che Hien Khanh
9639 Bolsa Ave., #A
Westminster, CA 92683
To read Wandering Chopsticks' post
on Thach Che Hien Khanh,