Filling for one, topping for another

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Xoi cade, sticky rice topped with egg custard, is best eaten when it is hot or a little bit cold / PHOTOS: GIANG VU

If you love the filling of steamed egg custard buns, a common dim sum dish that is known as lai wang bao in Chinese, you should check out xoi cade glutinous rice with the same custard as a topping in Ho Chi Minh City.

Unlike banh bao cade (Vietnamese name for lai wang bao), which is available almost throughout the day and can be found in pushcarts that sell banh bao Vietnamese buns with a savory filling consisting of pork, mushrooms and eggs, xoi cade is less prevalent.

In fact, it is only sold in pushcarts in and around Cho Lon (big market), the country's biggest Chinatown area, and these only open late in the evening, typically.

I recommend that you visit a pushcart located at the crossroads between Tran Phu and Nguyen Tri Phuong in District 5.

While many other pushcarts add more toppings like grated dried coconut flesh and ground peanuts, this anonymous one serves sticky rice simply with the custard topping made with coconut milk, eggs, wheat flour and sugar.

Lots of HCMC residents apparently favor the simplicity, because it is now one of the most crowded businesses of its kind.

XÔI CADÉ

In front of noodle shop Giai Ký at 451 Tran Phu Street, Ward 7, District 5

Open hours: 8 p.m. 2 a.m.

Prices: xoi cade (VND12,000/serving), rau cau and cakes (VND4,000/piece)

The pushcart does not have stools or tables to serve its customers, so most of them order takeaways. The sticky rice is placed on a banana leaf, topped with the custard filling, and the leaf folded into a pyramid and kept in place with a toothpick.

Xoi cade is best eaten when it is hot or a little bit cold.

Besides the trademark food, the pushcart also sells different kinds of rau cau (jelly) like with chocolate, coconut, eggs, and longan fruit flesh or Long yan rou that are usually used as herbs in Chinese medicine.

There is also an array of cakes like banh da lon (steamed layer cake made from tapioca starch, rice flour, mashed mung bean, taro or durian, sugar, coconut milk and water), and banh khoai mi (made from grated cassava, sugar, coconut milk, and a small amount of salt).

If ever you feel like making a meal of desserts, you know where to go.

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