October 23, 2007
In front of ABC Bakery at 91 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Xôi Ngọt – sweet sticky rice (5,000 VND)
The editor of the the Time’s leisure section invited me to fashion/cultural show last night and I couldn’t turn her down. As a result of my late night jaunt, I stayed up way past my bedtime (10:30 PM!) and am now suffering as a result. What I wouldn’t give for a power nap or two.
If there’s one thing that perks me up in the morning, it has got to be sticky rice. Tastier than coffee and sweeter than Frosted Flakes, xoi ngot provides a fine jolt. Unfortunately, I was running too late this morning to stop for a fix, so the best I can do at this moment is to relive my glorious xoi breakfast from last week.
The xoi vendor on CMT8 was selling a couple of different varieties of the sticky stuff in hot metal steamers, including the classic combination of plain sticky rice with peanuts. Desiring a visually arresting breakfast, I requested 5,000 VND worth of the purple, yellow, and orange xoi. He scooped up even amounts of each, sprinkled on some sesame seeds, smeared on a bit of mung bean paste and sent me on my way.
The rainbow of xoi was a feast for the eyes—the colors popped like a box of Crayolas. The subtle differences in flavor between the colors were too slight for my palette to discern, but it really didn’t matter because they were all tasty as heck.
QUESTION: Does anyone know how the xoi’s bold colors are achieved? Natural? Artificial? I know that the orange variety, xoi gac, is made from the gac fruit, but am unsure about the purple and yellow kinds.