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Go nuts for donuts in Da Lat

Banh tieu xoi (Vietnamese donut with sticky rice) is one of the superbly tasty dishes of Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, according to Hanoian Le Hoa.

Hoa, who recently visited Da Lat to escape the severe summer heat in the capital, said the dish reflects the colourful image of the flower city and its friendly people.

“Enjoying the cake, one could also experience the soul of the city," she said.

Kicker: Banh tieu xoi (Vietnamese donut with sticky rice) in Da Lat attract not only locals but also many travellers visiting the city. — Photo

There are several sorts of xoi to be wrapped in banh tieu such as xoi trang (white sticky rice), xoi lac (groundnut) and xoi dau xanh (green bean) but eaters are interested in xoi la cam (magenta plant) most for its violet colour and fragrance.

Compared with Hanoi which has been very hot for almost two months, Da Lat is a paradise for its cool climate, with an average temperature of between 17-20 degrees Celsius, said Hoa, adding that it is very suitable for enjoying banh xoi tieu.

Kicker: There are several sorts of banh tieu xoi but most wanted is violet sticky rice wrapped in the cake. Photo

Hoa’s friend Nguyen Thi Dao, who was born in Da Lat, said the donut is not sold in luxury hotels and restaurants but by vendors on the streets.

The cake is popular across Da Lat but the most tasty one is sold by an old woman that locally known as bà Năm (Mrs Năm) who has been selling the donuts for more than 30 years at a corner of Phan Dinh Phung Street, said Dao, noting that the donuts here can sometimes sell out shortly after 7am.

"When we want to eat the donuts we often have to wake up early in the morning,” she said.

Hoa said she was so excited about Dao’s recommendation.

“When we went to Nam’s we already saw a long queue there. I stood behind a woman who said she has to wake up early several days a week to buy the donuts as breakfast for her family of five,” she said.

Hoa said a student queueing in front of her told her that the donuts helps him to be full all morning compared with other dishes such as a bowl of pho (noodle soup).

Nam said she intended to sell the donuts from 5am-9am but they're often sold out at 7am. 

Kicker: A vendor selling the banh tieu xoi at a corner of Da Lat's Phan Dinh Phung Street. Photo

“Apart from housewives, my customers also include local and foreign travellers and among them are many students because my donuts are affordable for them at only VND10,000 each,” Nam said.

Hoa said she was lucky to be one of the last persons to buy Nam’s donuts at 6:50am. 

Different from the north or the south, in this area xoi is often wrapped in a banana leaf for a lotus leaf and the violet sticky rice has other ingredients such as steamed green bean with sugar, roasted peanuts, coconut juice and coconut threads wrapped in bánh tiêu (donut), she said.

“It is the first time I tried the dish. I’ve travelled many places and eat many sorts of xoi but this dish gives me a great impression by its great mix of characteristics: fragrant and soft of sticky rice, greasy of peanuts and light sweet of coconut juice,” Hoa said, adding that eating the donut while going for a walk in a fresh cool climate was a unique sensation.

“It’s really worthwhile for me to have this trip to Da Lat. I enjoy both the pure air with beautiful landscape and the bánh tiêu xôi too,” Hoa said.  VNS

Ha Nguyen and Hoang Ho

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