Vietnamese vendors are extremely business savvy. In order to entice customers to purchase additional goods, they willingly offer up free samples. Once while at a market in Da Nang, I approached a fruit vendor to purchase guavas, and he insisted that I try a bon bon. He peeled it before I could object and came this close to sticking it in my mouth. Needless to say, I left his stand with a kilogram of guavas and an unplanned kilogram of bon bons in hand.
A cookie dealer in District 3 got me using the same brilliant technique. The Astronomer and I visited the store with the intention of buying a couple kilograms of banh lo tai, but ended up with an additional purchase of banh kep ngo after an addictive free sample.
Although vendors can be a bit pushy, I do appreciate being force fed because otherwise I’d be missing out on some really good stuff.
Banh (cookie) kep (pressed) ngo (cilantro) isn’t your average sweet cookie. It is comprised of a sprig of cilantro pressed between thin layers of crispy rice sheets. It’s difficult not to make a mess when biting through the multitude of layers, but crumbs are an unavoidable part of this treat. The best part of the cookie is the PEANUT BUTTER filling. The cilantro flavor is gentle, while the smooth, sweet and salty peanut butter takes center stage. If you’re a peanut butter aficionado like I am, theses crazy cookies are definitely up your alley.