The other night, an awe-inspiring exhibition of appetite: A young Vietnamese woman took a seat at the dining counter of the East Village’s new Hanoi House and proceeded to devour three chè sundaes in quick succession, like a sailor on shore leave knocking back shots of cheap whiskey. This feat was not only a reflection of her joy at finding a taste of home but a comment on the appeal of the dessert itself — an inspired version of chè, the broad category of sweet soups, drinks, and puddings studded with any combination of tender-chewy legumes, jellies, tropical fruits, tubers, cereals, beans, and seeds. In Hanoi, you might encounter them mixed with shaved ice; on St. Marks Place, they’re layered with black-sesame ice cream from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Only 12 are served nightly — nine if you show up after you know who.
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On the menu at Hanoi House; $9; 119 St. Marks Pl., nr. Ave. A; 212-995-5010
*This article appears in the March 20, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.