Kem Tràng Tiền – Hanoi, Vietnam
When I heard about a famous place to eat local style, truly Hanoian ice cream, I couldn’t have been more excited…and I had no idea how cool it was going to turn out…
My excitement elevated and I knew we were getting close when we saw crowds of Vietnamese chomping on green ice cream bars and neatly balled ice cream cones while slowly lingering down the street.
Kem Tràng Tiền is nothing fancy but everything about it is extraordinary, feeling much more like an auto mechanic than you neighborhood Baskin and Robbins. Though it looked like everyone was fixing their motorbikes, on closer inspection I realized that everyone was sitting aboard their motorcycles, slowly chitchatting, waiting for another round of the treat that was making everyone so happy.
It was like a Vietnamese Sonic Drive-In of enthusiastic ice cream eaters, only with motorcycles instead of SUV’s.
Even ordering your ice cream was comparable to ordering an auto part over a counter where the service attendant goes back into the warehouse to retrieve it. Likewise, ice cream cones and bars were flying out of the warehouse freezers and into the hands of waiting customers over the counter.
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In the ice cream warehouse, 2 of the counters were fully dedicated to ice cream bars and ready made ice cream cones, while 1 counter was reserved for the lovers of soft serve…we went to all 3.
The coconut ice cream cone costing 7,000 Dong ($0.36), was my favorite of the bunch. A smooth blend of coconut, just the right amount of sweet, and a little on the icy side.
The green bar cost 6,000 Dong ($0.30) and was extra creamy with a slight buttery taste.
Motorcycles came and went, turning off their engines before entering the enclosed region to save the ice cream eating guests from suffocation. When everyone had had their ice cream high, the entire family would roll out on the motorbike, licking their lips with satisfaction.
The ice cream itself was not of gourmet quality. It was good, it was cool and refreshing, it was super cheap, the ambiance was exciting, and it was the first ice cream parlor that could embarrassingly be mistaken for a motorcycle mechanic shop. The great thing about Kem Tràng Tiền is that for the price, it was absolutely delicious, and it’s feasible to order every different kind of ice cream and only set you back about $2.
Bars cost from 5,000 – 7,000 ($0.26 – $0.36)), soft serve runs 6,000 ($0.30), and ready-made cones cost 7,000 ($0.36)
Kem Tràng Tiền is located on the corner of H. Khay Trang Tien and Ngo Quyen in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, just a hundred meters from the Southern point of Hoan Kiem Lake. If you don’t see the sign, you will surely see the crowds loitering around the street or sitting on their motorcycles, all eating ice cream.
If you go to Hanoi, you can NOT miss this ice cream motorbike drive-in!