Hanoi’s Oldest and Busiest Lá Dong Market on the Eve of Tet

During the upcoming Lunar New Year in 2024, the bustling Trần Quý Cáp leaf market in Hanoi is always bustling from morning till night. The vendors are delighted as the number of customers coming to purchase keeps increasing day by day.

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Trần Quý Cáp Market (Dong Da district) is the oldest traditional market specializing in selling dong leaves in Hanoi. Dong leaves are sold here all year round, but the busiest time is during the days leading up to the Lunar New Year, from the 17th to the 29th of the Chạp month. The shops start selling from 5 am until late at night.

During the days leading up to the Lunar New Year 2024, Trần Quý Cáp street, which is over 50m long, has about 7-8 stalls of various types of dong leaves for sale. The dong leaves here are imported from many places, with different sizes. Among them, the forest dong leaves are imported from Lao Cai, Tuyen Quang, while the countryside dong leaves are imported from Thanh Oai (Hanoi), Phu Ly (Ha Nam).

Many people rush to the market to buy large, beautiful, and fresh dong leaves to wrap traditional Tet banh chung.

Selling dong leaves for 50 years at Tran Quy Cap Market, Mrs. Mai Loan (69 years old) said that this year the weather is not favorable, so the dong leaf harvest is less than usual. In addition, it has to be exported abroad, so the selling price is higher than usual. The current price of dong leaves is from 50,000 – 80,000 VND per bundle of 50 leaves, while banana leaves cost about 15,000 VND per kilogram and palm leaves cost 15,000 VND per bundle.

This year, Mrs. Loan imported more than 100,000 forest dong leaves to sell from mid-Chạp month. Due to high demand, there were times when all the leaves were sold out. Every day, she sells over 10,000 dong leaves and palm leaves. “The forest dong leaves are usually more popular and sell better because when wrapping banh chung, they give a beautiful green color, the cakes are fragrant, and they don’t stick when unwrapping. To make the countryside dong leaves turn green, you have to add ginger leaves and sticky leaves to the cake when unwrapping,” she said.

Happy that the goods arrived and sold out, Mr. Tran Thanh Tung said: “Many banh chung manufacturers or restaurants have already ordered the leaves, and they will buy large quantities. The remaining small quantities will be sold to individual customers.”

Mrs. Trinh Thi Thai Hien (in Giang Vo) said that from the 23rd to the 25th of the Chạp month, she and her family go to Tran Quy Cap Market to buy dong leaves to wrap banh chung. According to Mrs. Hien, the dong leaves here are always standard and beautiful, so there is no need to choose too much. The selling price this year is slightly higher than usual.

This year, I bought 120 dong leaves and 3 bundles of palm leaves to make 30 pieces of banh chung. My family has a tradition of making banh chung to worship our ancestors, so choosing the dong leaves is very important to me. Despite the busy urban life, my family always maintains the old customs, gathering around the pot of banh chung instead of buying ready-made ones at the store,” Mrs. Hien said.

To choose the desired dong leaves, many meticulous customers spend 20-30 minutes.

The image of people bustling to carry dong leaves home to make banh chung signals the approach of the traditional Tet holiday of the ethnic people.

SOURCEcafef
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