As mentioned previously, it’s highly unlikely I’d take up train spotting, traverse the Sahara barfeoot or start sodomising small mammals in the garden shed in order to get at a bowl of xoi. But I am a completist and Xoi niep than, or sticky black rice xoi, is unfamiliar turf and so to be… errr… complete – I’ll tuck in. Strolling round Cholon, or Chinatown, in District 5 the other morning – after negotiating the all too familiar pleasure that is collecting a parcel sent from overseas in Vietnam – "Who sent it?" "I have no idea" "You must know who sent it, if you want to open it." "OK. I like quizzes. How many guesses do I get?" etc. ad infinitum, smile, bow, smile, scrape, beg, cry, thank you so much for giving me my parcel. I am not worthy of your generosity. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Post-Post Office I spot this seller at 86 Phung Hung street sitting next to a banana seller, behind a rather natty mobile banh mi sarnie parlour and a passing Chinese salty egg seller. She sells Xoi niep than and Xoi dau xanh vo , or green bean xoi. 2,000Vd a pop. I’m going black. It comes with sugar, shredded coconut, grean bean paste and something, I think she says, is called muoi dau. . Not sure what that means, but it’s some kind of brownish powder. There’s also the option to add some deep fried shallots.
Above is a pre-coconut, pre-sugar, pre-muoi dau black xoi with just the bean paste spread on top. It’s about 8:45 am and this is a well-sweet breakfast. I more used to this – in my better dreams – or even this – so xoi is always going to have a battle on its hands to win over my taste buds. The rice is dry and slightly crunchy. It combines well with the healthy sweetness of the beanpaste. But babe, hold the sugar, she keeps plying me with more… What is it with these southern sweettooth fetishists? So, xoi niep than. Not bad, but never again (probably). More shots from Chinatown.