The Astronomer and I both have killer sweet tooths. Whereas my heart skips a beat for che (details on my latest obsession to come), The Astronomer cannot resist doughnuts and cream puffs sold street-side.
Back in the good ‘ol US of A, we both ate very healthily and only splurged on occasion. However, in a country without trans-fat bans or nutrition labels, we’re throwing caution to the wind and enjoying ourselves to the max. It’s a good thing we’re continuing to run nightly!
On the outside, Vietnamese and American doughtnuts seem to have a lot in common. However, one bite and it’s obvious that their sole commonality is the hot bubbling oil they’re cooked in. The major differences between the two lie in the lack of frosting and types of flour used in Vietnamese doughnuts.
While American doughnuts are sickeningly sweet, Vietnamese doughnuts are dramatically less so and even a bit salty in some versions. The rice and tapioca flours used in Vietnamese doughnuts bring about a springy and chewy texture not found in Krispy Kremes or Dunkin Donuts.
The Astronomer’s favorite doughnuts are Bánh Vòng (rice flour rings sprinkled with sugar) and Bánh Tiêu (hollow mounds of dough dusted with sesame seeds).
A little less common, but just as addictive are cream puffs or banh kem su. The puffs are made beforehand and the custard and whipped cream are smeared to order. The first cream puff we enjoyed contained a vanilla custard that took us back to Beard Papa’s in NYC. Unfortunately, we weren’t as thrilled with our second experience—a sau rien (durian) flavored custard! It wasn’t horrible, but the flavor was unexpectedly intense. After the durian debacle, I’ll be sure to ask what flavor the custard is before placing my order.