I find this seller at the corner of Truong Dinh and Nguyen An Ninh near Le Lai street and Ben Thanh Market in District 1. She occupies the very corner spot next to a banh my pate seller and opposite a popular bun moc shop. Two upturned buckets and a couple of metal trays make up her economical shopfront stall. A slab of ice the size of an Alpine glacier keeps her commestables cool – what they are exactly I’m not entirely sure. I think we’re talking coconut palm hearts.
One non-English speaking Saigonese tells me they’re called dua nuoc. As far as I understand it this translates as coconut juice. Hmm?? Am I barking up several wrong trees, a sizable geranium bush and a fist full of fuschia here? Hardly looks liquid now, does it? She also sells them peeled and bagged with coconut juice (see below). A bag is what I buy and from memory (this was a few weeks ago) one costs 5,000 or 7,000VD.
As for taste, it’s quite the oddest texture. Fairly firm, rubbery, yet yearning to be water chesnut crunchy and there’s the merest hint of coconut. It’s the spitting image of a lump of plastic and when all’s said and done it’s not that interesting, but I’m glad I tried it. I imagine a snazzy chef with more imagination than Imagination could conjure up all sortsa hipster New York dessert section/salad bar trendiness with these. Maybe they already do?