Some call it chè, others call it art in a plastic cup.
When Bambu Desserts & Drinks opens later this spring in Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood, the menu of Vietnamese desserts will be like few others in the region.
The outpost is part of a California-based chain with five King and Snohomish County locations. Tacoma’s location will be the first in the area. The next closest is in the Great Wall Mall in Kent near IKEA.
Similar to the Filipino dessert halo-halo, chè is a layered masterpiece served as a refreshing dessert. Many versions offer ballast from the addition of beans or avocado, sweetness in the form of coconut juice and fresh fruit, and textures aplenty from wiggly basil seeds to jiggly pandan jelly.
The ingredients are separated into sweet, chewy, refreshing, squishy layers and are topped with a crunchy halo of shaved ice.
And that’s just one portion of Bambu’s menu. There’s also smoothies, bubble teas, juices and, of course, Vietnamese coffee.
If there’s one thing for which Bambu is known, it’s probably the pandan jelly. Making the jelly is so involved that the Tacoma Bambu’s owner, Quoc “Michael” Huynh, intends to close every Tuesday to devote the day to handmaking the jelly. Eventually, he hopes to use commercial kitchen space.
House-made everything is at the core of Bambu, which uses fresh-squeezed juices, fresh fruit and other labor-intensive ingredients.
Huynh will operate the dessert-and-drink cafe with family members. They already have plans to add unusual items not readily available at other Bambu cafes, such as pandan waffles, macarons, exotic ice cream flavors and their family specialty, mochi cupcakes.
This is the first food business for the Huynh family, although family members have long worked in restaurants.
Tacoma’s Bambu should open in early summer. Huynh described the decor as rustic casual with accents of wood and modern touches, such as the menus displayed on large flat-panel screens. The cafe will have seating for about 20 with a dining bar that will face 38th Street. The space is actually two combined spaces. One previously was occupied by the banh mi sandwich shop Trung Chanh Cafe. The cafe will operate in a neighborhood dominated by Vietnamese cuisine, but also home to a number of terrific dining finds.
Bambu Desserts & Drinks
Where: 773 S. 38th St., Tacoma; bit.ly/2okXfdO.