Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 215

Banh Dua (Sticky Rice Stick): Today marks day 3 of new Vietnamese finds from Lee's Bakery on Buford Highway. If I haven't mentioned before, Vietnamese is one of my favorite cuisines, and I've generally liked everything I've had from it. I have obvious faves (banh mi, pho), but Ive really been enjoying the new stuff I found at Lee's. I found today's food (banh dua) at the prepared foods counter there, and I honestly had no idea what it was. The guy behind the counter's description ("sticky rice with mung bean") didn't help much, but I'm all about things I can't identify.
Before heading back out on the road today, I decided to give this unusual-looking item a try. Other than rice and mung bean, I had no idea what else was wrapped inside the leaf, which was tied up tightly with plastic string then wrapped in plastic. After a bit of internet searching (I've gotten really good at figuring out what things really are based on appearance), I determined that this was banh dua, also known as Vietnamese sticky rice stick. The contents are apparently wrapped in a coconut leaf, then steamed.
I tore off the plastic wrapper, then snipped the twine off. After peeling away some of the coconut leaf, I was left with a solid center of sticky, gummy rice with mung beans placed throughout. I took a bite (right off the top, like a candy bar), and was surprised. It wasn't sweet at all, and the center of the rice was filled with something that reminded me of cornmeal or grits. The rice had a tasty, super-sticky texture, but I can't really say the dish had much flavor. Kind of like eating cold cornmeal, and I would have liked it more if it were a bit sweeter.
This one was OK, but I probably wouldn't do it again. Out of all the Vietnamese cuisine I've tried, it's been my least favorite so far.

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