Monday, July 18, 2005
Vietnamese Sandwiches, Yes. Vietnamese Tacos, No.
Xoi Bahn Kep: Vietnamese dessert "tacos"
I went back to Bahn Mi My Tho for the third time this weekend. If you'll recall, my pilot trip was back on July 7, so if you do the math, it means I like it alot. I've become somewhat addicted to their bahn mi dac biet.
This time around, it wasn't as uncomfortable dealing with surly lady behind the counter because there were other customers waiting for their bahn mi. She was kept busy and didn't have time to stare. I, however, had more time to check out some of the deli items they had in their tiny section off to the side. An arm reached out in front of me as I was studying some of the Vietnamese dessert items on the shelf. One of the other customers, a mom, had grabbed a plastic wrapped styrofoam plate with some sort of sweet rice dessert in it and called out to her teenage daughter in Vietnamese. Next thing you know, the daughter's smiling and nodding and the mom grabs two of the packages and pays for them with their bahn mi.
There was one package left, so I picked it up, wondering what the daughter was so excited about. Xoi Bahn Kep read the label on the package. "Are they tacos?" I asked myself. I had to find out what all the excitement was about so I grabbed the last one and took it home with my bahn mi dac biet. $3.25 for lunch and dessert. Not bad. I even got a little hint of a smile--an upturned corner of one side of the mouth--from surly lady behind the counter.
After unwrapping the little square plate after scarfing down my sandwich, I studied my Vietnamese dessert "tacos" some more. Each "taco" was wrapped in a crepe-like shell, stuffed with sweet rice and topped with shredded coconut and ground peanuts. I couldn't stop staring at the middle "taco," stuffed with sweet rice that had been dyed bright space-alien green. Finally, I picked one up and took a bite. It was definitely strange, not strange tasting, but strange in texture. I've eaten many a rice based dessert--mochi, manju, kanom krok--but all are made with rice flour that's shaped into something else. On this dessert, it was like I had accidentally spilled coconut milk and peanuts on my steamed rice and didn't want to waste food so just ate it anyway. Hmm, sounds like something my parents would do.
I didn't know if I could finish all three. In fact, I didn't even finish one, and I wasn't able to give them away, either. I wish I knew where that mom and daughter were, I'd give them the two leftover ones.