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Food in Vietnam: Papa Herb offers delicious healthy dessert alternatives

Papa Herb


“Desserts and Drinks for Health”—Papa Herb’s sign caught my eye with these words as I strolled down Tran Hung Dao in District One, Ho Chi Minh City. With delicious alternatives to less healthy, heavily sugared desserts, this café offers a friendly shelter from the Vietnam heat and also offers free Wi-Fi access.

The staff is friendly, helpful, and understands English well. True to the Papa Herb’s motto devoted to health, the staff members were happy to accommodate my dairy-free diet (and is therefore vegan-friendly). They recommended desserts without sữa bò (cow’s milk) and offered to leave it out of smoothies.

I first tried mango sticky rice, a warm milky dessert with fresh mango. Only coconut milk is used in this dish, so it was safe.

My next few visits, I was pleased the staff remembered me and my dietary needs. I tried the strawberry aloe vera and mango herbal jelly smoothies. Both were fresh, low sugar, dairy-free, and absolutely delicious.

Papa Herb's menu includes both warm and cold desserts. Some are popular in Hong Kong and Thailand, as well as puddings, herbal jelly drinks and desserts, and smoothies. Toppings including red bean, lotus seed, and mango are offered for an extra 5,000 or 6,000 dong. Curry fish balls and tea lattes are also available.

Ask a staff member to put the Wi-Fi password in your device for free access. Tip: Remember to keep your valuables well out of sight when on the street.

I give Papa Herb four stars because I have no complaints—the only thing that would make this place even better would be dairy-free alternatives for every single menu item (but that's wishful thinking).

What is your favorite dessert? Please leave a comment below. Want more Asia travel tips? Stay updated by hitting the subscribe button and or following Melissa at @mdwrites on Twitter.

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