Let’s Eat: Colorful, coconutty chè, a Vietnamese dessert

Madison is something however a dessert barren region. Bakeries abound. It increases instances for chocolatiers. And with spring’s arrival, ice cream stores across the isthmus have begun slinging their first scoops.

But whilst Arom Wichitchu went searching for goodies conventional to his local Thailand, he determined the town coming up brief.

That modified six months ago while Wichitchu, the proprietor of Sa Bai Thong, was approached through his commercial enterprise companions, sister-in-regulation Taratip Buchli, and Maihoua Xiong. Their intention turned into easy: construct something to fill the distance.

“At a few points, we have been wondering, oh, we did not see any dessert, Asian dessert round,” Wichitchu said. “We did not see (the one’s sorts of) desserts around here loads. And then we assume this ought to be something that would be very, superb for human beings to have and try and discover it and flavor it.”

Enter Bambu, opened in mid-April at Hilldale Shopping Center.

The first storefront in Wisconsin, Bambu (550 N. Midvale Blvd.) is one in a small line of countrywide franchises making Southeast Asian dessert liquids, coffees and teas. Menu items consist of treats like Vietnamese espresso, smoothies, milk teas, mochi and waffles made with chewy, aromatic pandan jelly.

The star at Bambu is the Vietnamese dessert chè.

Chè is a category of cakes that encompasses puddings as well as iced beverages. Bambu specializes in the latter. Similar to tapioca pearls in bubble tea, chè starts offevolved with layers of colorful jellies flavored with Southeast Asian botanicals which include pandan, sweetened beans or tapioca.

Some iterations are scattered with syrup-soaked basil seeds, fleshy coconut meat or end result like jackfruit or longan, a tropical fruit much like lychee. The drink is finished with a blanket of coconut milk or water and crowned with shaved ice.

The result is a feast for the senses: lush and colorful in appearance and flavor, with springy, chewy textures from the jellies. The beverage is meant to be renowned briefly, Wichitchu said, then speedy mixed to meld the syrupy layers with the coconut topping.

The beverages at Bambu benefit from the freshness in their elements: The boba and jellies, prepared in residence day by day, are flavorful and fragrant but now not overly saccharine. Young coconuts are damaged down by means of hand earlier than each day’s service, Wichitchu said, and the ensuing glasses of milk and waters have a wealthy, toasty high-quality. Flavors are balanced and bright, and though the chè is certainly filling, they don’t sense weighty or overwhelming.

Bambu’s chè variety from the colorful and complicated Bambu Favorite ($6) to the fruity and floral Taro Lover ($6). The keep additionally has a create-your-very own choice (starting at $6.50). Wichitchu encourages clients to experiment with variables like sweetness or toppings.

“We just try and offer something that I think maybe human beings will like, however you get a preference,” Wichitchu stated. “And then you may change it, anything you want. You just pick out what you like.”

While many objects on the menu are dairy-unfastened by design, clients might also the alternative for non-dairy creamer, soy or almond milk for dairy-based totally drinks. Caffeine-unfastened options also are ample.

Bambu’s storefront, sandwiched between Muramoto Hilldale and Gigi’s Cupcakes, additionally targets to delight. Decorated by means of Buchli, the interiors are ethereal and open, with excessive ceilings anchored by using a vintage chandelier. A garden setup, entire with miniature waterfall, greets clients on the door, setting a tranquil tone for the scholars, customers or submit-dinner guests who collect there.

With the appearance of the summer season, Wichitchu hopes to add out of doors seating for best people-watching. He’s searching beforehand to fall, kicking around concepts for hot beverages better proper to autumn’s colder temperatures.

In the meantime, even though, Wichita’s desires for Bambu are clear-cut.

“I desire human beings can come and revel in the assembly vicinity,” Wichitchu stated. “I desire people revel in the vicinity and revel in the liquids and enjoy the cakes.”