When it’s steamy and hot, drinkable cold desserts such as boozy milkshakes and slurpees offer their own form of refuge. Icy Vietnamese ché may have them all trumped.
Sort of like bubble tea on steroids, and falling somewhere on the textural scale between icees and smoothies, these polychromatic creations look like liquid sand art terrariums and are designed for both slurping and spooning out things such as pandan jelly and tapioca. “You drink them and eat them,” said Connor McGrath, a Stony Brook University student who works at Bambu, a Vietnamese ché shop, also in Stony Brook.
The three-year-old Bambu, part of a national chain, is a casual spot with a few tables, blasting R&B and a lengthy rota of Vietnamese ché (as well as smoothies, milk teas, and juices) that take some time to sort through, so complex are the various combos, from avocado and coconut milk to pandan jelly, longan (a fruit akin to lychee), basil seeds, jackfruit, taro and mung bean.
These technicolor elements are layered into plastic cups and topped with ice; then, you spear a giant straw through the top and slurp from the layer of your choosing, with cascading waves of fruit and milk and occasional glomps of jelly or Jell-O slithering across your tongue. None I tried were overly sweet, but the textural experience can mess with your senses. Abandon the straw for a long spoon, reach to the bottom, and you can scoop out things such as red tapioca or crunchy longan balls.
Bambu also serves banh mi and rice bowls, but the piéce de résistance may be its milky, smoky, slightly sweet Vietnamese-style coffee, especially amazing over ice. McGrath said he got a job at Bambu “partly to drink this coffee," he said, holding up his daily ration.
Bambu, 2350 Nesconset Hwy. (Route 347), Stony Brook. 631-364-9360. drinkbambu.com