Going bananas over a Vietnamese dessert

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  A dish of chuối nếp nưá»›ng served at a street stall in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
PHOTO: TAN NHAN

During the first-ever World Street Food Congress held in Singapore on May 31June 9, Vietnam's chuối nếp nưá»›ng stall had one of the longest queues of Singaporeans and tourists, Nguyen Nha, a culinary expert, told Vietweek.

Thuy, who did not want her last name mentioned, ran that stall. She said she sold 700 dishes at S$4 (US$3.13) each everyday, compared to about 300 she would sell at her establishment in Ho Chi Minh City.

What was it that made this sweet dish from the western part of Vietnam's Mekong Delta so attractive to foreigners?

In their reviews, most foodies wrote about the combination of its ingredients.

To make the dish, glutinous or sticky rice is cooked with coconut milk. Next, the rice is wrapped around a banana. The sticky rice banana is then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled on charcoal until the rice layer becomes crispy.

The banana is cut into three or four pieces and served on a dish, topped generously with sweet coconut milk and roasted sesame seeds.

"It's a delicate interplay," Umi Fadilah of Indonesia wrote in her blog after having the dish four times in two days. "It brings a whole new level of intensive pleasure..."

However, foreign foodies are not likely to know that while Thuy makes the dish in the same way as many other chuối nếp nưá»›ng vendors in HCMC, it is her sweet coconut milk that has distinguished her stall from others over the last 20 years since it opened.

It was famous culinary expert Vo Quoc who recommended Thuy and her chuối nếp nưá»›ng to the organizers of the international street food event, based on reviews and polls of netizens who hailed it as the best of its kind. Most of Thuy's fans said she served the best coconut milk sauce in the city.

Speaking to Vietweek, Thuy said that although she is a native of HCMC, she had a chance to learn the special recipe from a person in the Mekong Delta, the homeland of sticky rice banana, some 20 years ago.

Chuối nếp nưá»›ng Nam Bá»™

109 Phan Dang Luu Street, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City

Open hours: 3:00 p.m. to between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Price: VND10,000 a dish

Her coconut milk sauce also makes other dishes sold at her stall tastier than elsewhere, whether it is in the chuối hấp (steamed banana), bánh chuối (banana cake) or bánh bò (sponge cake).

Those who have a sweet tooth cannot afford to miss a visit to her stall and having a mixture of her creations, to thoroughly enjoy genuine countryside flavors from the Mekong Delta.

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