Short N Sweet Cafe
Come for the bubble tea, but stay for the shredded squid
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., May 9, 2008
Short N Sweet Cafe10901 N. Lamar, 873-0893
Monday, Wednesday-Thursday, 9am-9:30pm; Friday-Saturday: 9am-6:30pm, Sunday, 10am-6:30pm; closed Tuesday
Two years ago, Nancy Pham opened Short N Sweet in the Chinatown shopping center anchored by MT Supermarket. It's a brightly decorated Vietnamese shop with bubble teas (short, $2.77; sweet, $3.77), shakes, ice cream, candies, preserved fruit, meats, seafood, snacks, and a limited menu of home-style dishes. We supped on a wonderful Spicy Hue Beef Noodle Soup ($6.45): a huge bowl of rich broth loaded with fresh rice noodles, tendon, fresh beef slices, stew beef, and even a large chunk of blood cake, accompanied by a plate of herbs, sprouts, and shredded greens to add. We also sampled an excellent Pork Bahn Cuon platter ($5.59), loaded with fresh rice-sheet dumplings filled with ground pork; topped with julienned cucumber, sprouts, scallion, and fried shallot; and served with slices of Vietnamese headcheese, pork loaf, and a bowl of zesty nuoc cham dressing to drench it all in. Finish this up with a luscious Thai tea smoothie with tapioca pearls, and you have yourself a perfect meal.
Most seem to come for the bubble teas and shakes, which are offered in many taste configurations, while kiddos migrate toward the ice cream selection (which includes a sensuous durian, mango, green bean, and red bean). A big draw is the Crazy Drink, made with your choice of taro, egg, strawberry, or almond puddings; mango, sweetgrass, or pandan jellies; and several dozen other ingredients.
Not to be missed are the 40-odd containers of preserved fruits, along with assorted candies and 23 different snacks and preserved meats, including spicy venison jerky and numerous manifestations of beef jerky. There is an addictive sweet-spicy dried shredded squid that you have to try; it tastes just like Thai plaa mèuk bing (grilled dried squid with sweet chile sauce). Short N Sweet isn't that big, but it's packed with yummy food finds, and the service is fantastic.