A vacation in the historic town of Hoi An in Vietnam's central region is not complete without a foodie fiesta. Among the many mouthwatering delicacies dished out in the town is the elegantly named white rose.
Almost every restaurant in town now serves up its own white rose, but only one family holds the secret recipe that made the dish famous.
At 533 Hai Ba Trung Street, Tran Tuan Ngai is a third generation secret keeper of the traditional white rose recipe.
Ngai's grandfather first created the light and fluffy dumplings for family dinners. They became so popular that he started selling the dumplings to his neighbors. When demand increased, he turned a part of his house into a bistro.
A French reporter traveling through Vietnam was so taken by beauty and flavors of the dumpling that he coined the name "Hoa hong trang" (white rose).
Since then, white rose, which actually is a plate with two different kinds of dumplings banh bao and banh vac has become an iconic part of the town's culinary culture.
Tran Tuan Ngai and his beautiful "˜works of art'
Ngai's mother Trinh Thi Hue passed on the recipe to him. "We have the original recipe of the dough, minced filling and the dipping sauce," he said. "It takes at least three years to become an expert at making the white rose."
Making the white rose is not as easy as it looks.
Ngai cooks and grinds white rice from the Mekong Delta. He only uses the water drawn from the old Ba Le well, which is filtered and purified 15-20 times before being mixed with the rice paste to form airy dough.
Then, he rolls out the dough and cuts into small circles. He takes some filling - made of minced shrimp mixed with spices - places it in the center of each circle of dough, and deftly wraps it in the shape of a rose.
The unique dipping sauce is made of shrimp broth, hot chilies, lemon and sugar. A plate of steaming white rose cost about US$4.
A French tourist Karpiel Sebastien, 27, said that he had been eager to try the delicacy after seeing it in many guide books. Yet, nothing had prepared him for the burst of flavor in his mouth, and the intricacy of its preparation.
Ngai says his shop makes about two to three thousand dumplings everyday to serve at their café and also supply to restaurants and bistros in the town.