Soda chanh in a can. No, that doesn't rhyme.
Soda chanh in a can. No, that doesn't rhyme.
Dave Lieberman

Phancy Soda Chanh: Little Saigon In a Can

I have a checkered history with bottled ethnic specialties.

First there was bottled tepache, the fermented pineapple drink of central Mexico, which had the hilarious and ambiguous instruction on the bottle, "No consuma si se pone verde." Are we not supposed to drink it if it turns green, or if we do? It rhymes with rascuache (bad quality) for a reason.

Then there was pulque in a can, which may be the worst thing I've ever drunk. Gustavo was kinder to it in his review of it. I've had outstanding pulque, but it was made that morning and served out of a clay jug in Oaxaca; the canned stuff resembled fermented canned milk loogies.

It was with no small amount of trepidation, then, that I picked up a can of Phancy soda chanh at the Whole Foods sandwich counter in Tustin. It's made by Jaime (that's jay-me, not high-may) Phan, an Orange County native with a convincing last name.

Soda chanh is sparkling limeade, a mainstay of nearly every Vietnamese menu in Little Saigon. It's freshly squeezed lime juice, powdered sugar, ice, and sparkling water. You mix the concoction together with a spoon and the drink gets progressively sweeter as you near the bottom. It's addictive on a hot day.

The ingredients in Phancy soda chanhg are nearly the same as you would find at your local palace of phở; the only difference is that Phancy's drink tasted "cooked", presumably due to the process required to make it shelf-stable. That cooked taste makes it taste exactly like a clearer version of Rose's Lime Juice dissolved in soda water. Frankly, you could add gin to this and have an incredibly refreshing cocktail, like a fizzy gimlet.

Finally, someone has managed to bottle the taste of Orange County and have it taste good. You can buy Phancy drinks at Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Markets, Mother's Markets, and online at Amazon. It's expensive (a twelve-pack from Amazon will set you back $29.35), but it's easier than squeezing limes into Collins glasses.

Find their website at

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