Monday, July 17, 2017 at 7:03 a.m.
You don’t have to drive to Orange County’s Little Saigon to find good Vietnamese desserts. Just head to a food court in the San Gabriel Valley city of Rosemead, where you’ll find a branch of one of Little Saigon’s leading dessert purveyors, Thach Che Hien Khanh.
Usually shortened to Hien Khanh, the food court stall has a great selection of Vietnamese desserts and beverages lined up in containers in the display case. Unfortunately, they are not labeled, which can make the colorful array of rainbow-hued items a bit overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with them. Simply ask — though one shouldn’t hold up the line of folks who know precisely what they want. Another option: just point to what looks interesting to you.
A touchstone might be the Thai desserts, found at places like Bhan Khanom Thai in Hollywood. Desserts from Thailand and Vietnam do share similarities, such as the use of glutinous rice flour and coconut milk. Coconut, banana, tapioca and cassava are other ingredients that turn up, as do pandan and durian. Pandan, a plant with a distinctive flavor described as somewhat vanilla-like combined with a vegetal taste, usually is indicated by desserts colored a bright green. The notoriously odorous durian, with its distinctive flavor, is another favorite. Which brings us to the various versions of sticky rice. Bright green designates pandan; bright orange is a distinctive sticky rice that uses gac, a spiky, orange fruit of southeast Asia known by various names; and the yellow sticky rice with a custardlike smear is durian, should you either wish to avoid it or…
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