Street food: Kem ky kem can


For me and other today’s twenty-somethings, it’s not Kem Trang Tien that thaws youthful memories, but kem ky. Words by me. Photos by Francis Roux. This article was published on Word Hanoi September 2012.

Many Hanoians born around the 1980s and early 1990s share a love for kem ky, a type of ice-cream they associate with being children and teenagers. Imported from Ho Chi Minh City, kem ky was widely distributed in the capital around the turn of the millennium. Usually served on a plate filled with colourful ice-cream slices, each a different fruit flavour, the ice-cream sellers would measure the weight of all the portions and then calculate the payment. This explains why it is called kem ky, ice-cream sold by the kilo.

To many Hanoians, the Neopolitan-like kem ky paints a picture of their childhood. It’s not just the taste and the look, but the associations. This rainbow-coloured ice-cream was the reward for doing something good or getting high grades at school. Now only a decade later, it is impossible to find.

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