Friday, January 5, 2007

Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Che, this Vietnamese gelatinous, tapioca-filled, coconut milk dessert is rather hard to describe for the uninitiated. Is it a dessert pudding? Dessert soup? It can be eaten warm or iced. It serves as dessert or a light snack. No matter what you call it or when you eat it, Thach Che Hien Khanh is the place to go in Little Saigon for the best and largest selection of che.

Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster Little Saigon Bolsa Ave. 1

Thach Che Hien Khanh started as a small cafeteria-line style eatery (it's too small to really call it a restaurant) at 9784 Westminster Avenue in a tiny strip mall with only a few other shops. The lines used to go out the door and the cars overfilled the parking lot. Back then, two people were needed -- one person to fight through the hordes to grab some che, a second person to wait in the car because there was no parking available.

Thankfully, Thach Che Hien Khanh opened another location inside the Today Plaza on Bolsa Avenue in the heart of Little Saigon. This location, in the same strip mall as the always popular Quan Hy Vietnamese Restaurant and Banh Cuon Tay Ho 4, is convenient as a quick stop after eating at either of the two restaurants.

But again, it's just a little eatery. There are no tables or chairs. Or menus for that matter. Grab drinks or flan or yogurt from the refrigerators first if you want them. Then line up and point to what you want. All their che offerings are on large metal trays behind glass. The milky che are variations of taro, banana, plantains, corn, with coconut milk and tapioca pearls with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and crushed peanuts on top. Che sam bo luong is a "healthier" offering with seaweed, lotus seeds, and dates. Che troi nuoc, small dough balls in ginger syrup, with or without mung bean filling. Che ba mau, three color che, usually features red bean, green doughy strips, and white bean or mung bean. Che Thai features lychees and jackfruit. Sticky rice with lap xuong (Chinese sausage). Sticky rice with corn.

On this particular afternoon, I opted for xoi nep than (charcoal rice), black sticky rice with mung bean and coconut shavings. Coconut milk is served on the side. The sticky rice is studded with large slices of lap xuong and shredded chicken and scallions.

Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster Little Saigon Bolsa Ave. 2

The banana che (starting from the far left) featured bananas, mashed taro, along with tapioca pearls, tapioca strips, coconut, and a light dusting of sesame seeds and crushed peanuts on top. The plantain che held their shape better than regular bananas. And corn che is mixed with sticky rice, coconut milk is served on the side.

Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster Little Saigon Bolsa Ave. 3

Each item is $1.75. I've never been charged more than that for anything, but, just in case, I hesitate to say everything is that price.

Che should be eaten right away for freshness. Or refrigerated for later.

And in the quirky hodgepodge of cultures and cuisines that we call Southern California. The kitchen workers are Latino and Spanish music can often be heard from the back, while Vietnamese workers are in front. And adapting to the Taiwanese craze for boba that's gone mainstream, you can also add that to your che too. Just ask. Same goes for ice. Otherwise, che is served at room temperature.

Thach Che Hien Khanh
9639 Bolsa Ave., #A
Westminster, CA 92683

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Comments on "Thach Che Hien Khanh - Westminster (Little Saigon)"

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (January 5, 2007 at 10:09 PM) : 

Oooh... So close to my office. Thanks for the che primer, WC! Usually I just order the three bean thingie when considering Vietnamese desserts.

- Chubbypanda

Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said ... (January 5, 2007 at 10:21 PM) : 

Oh! I forgot to talk about three bean! I'll edit and add that in. Although, I have to admit, my faves are still bananas and corn.

Blogger elmomonster said ... (January 6, 2007 at 9:39 AM) : 

Niiiice! Thanks for the tip!

Blogger The Bill said ... (January 6, 2007 at 11:11 AM) : 

Hien Khanh is the best, only place I will have che been eating at that place for over 15 years now.
Imagine my waist line now. LOL

Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said ... (January 6, 2007 at 3:20 PM) : 

Hi Elmo,
No problem.

Hi Bill,
They have been around a while. As I was typing this post up last night, I realized I've been eating there for a decade. Imagine my waistline. :)

Blogger Melting Wok said ... (January 8, 2007 at 8:53 AM) : 

Btw, OC Food Bloggers, great set up you got here :) Btw, I don't reside in OC, hehe, can I contribute ? *wide-grins*

Hi wandering chopsticks, is this one of the location tucked in tt Plaza where there's this huge Saigon market. Haven't been there a while, I forgot the name. You made me dig up my crockpot & made some mungbeans taro dessert y'day :P

Cheers ! :)

Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said ... (January 8, 2007 at 9:49 AM) : 

Hi Melting Wok,
Yes, Hien Khanh is inside the T&K Plaza, on the left side of the entrance.

I don't live in OC either, but as long as you eat there, we welcome you. :) Send a msg to ChubbyPanda to get added.

Blogger The Bill said ... (January 8, 2007 at 4:57 PM) : 

at the rate i'm going, reading all these blogs...I'm going to be so round and happy :-)

Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said ... (January 8, 2007 at 6:23 PM) : 

Hey Bill,

It's not the reading of the blogs that's the problem. It's if you act upon it and eat everything you read about. :)

Blogger The Bill said ... (January 8, 2007 at 10:07 PM) : 

I’m glad I stumbled upon such awesome food blogs. All I was looking for was a nice place to take my wife too. And I ended up reading all of Elmo, Kirk and Chubby’s archive and present blogs and wait eagerly for the next. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the blogs and comments I have left, but thank goodness for!

Thanks guys…

How can I not not act upon?
Just an excuse to be a glutton ;-)

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (January 8, 2007 at 11:05 PM) : 

Awww... We love ya, the Bill!

- Chubbypanda

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