Thursday, August 20, 2009

Xoi Nep Than

Xoi Nep Than
Mekong Grocery, $1.65

I recently took a joyride on Seattle's new light-rail train, which currently runs from downtown to almost Seatac airport (the airport terminal is due to open soon, followed by more northern stations). It was a great ride--smooth enough for my creaky bones, but bumpy enough to delight David, a talkative 12-year-old fellow joyrider seated across the aisle (he was so adorably excited to take his first train trip that he high-fived the ticket inspectors).

Somehow rocketing along either far above or far below ground level messes with my internal map, so it wasn't until the trip back towards town that I realized the Mount Baker station is mere blocks from one of my favorite Asian shops, the Mekong Rainier Grocery. When I was housesitting in the neighborhood several years ago I made almost daily trips for single-serving portions of spongy duck egg custard, cut in thick golden slabs and laid across a little bed of black sticky rice cooked with coconut milk.

Alas, things have changed. The Mekong is bigger and more bustling, but the slabs of custard are no more. The salesgirl I asked said that it just didn't sell well enough (starting the moment my housesitting gig ended, presumably). So I had a pack of xoi nep than instead; the same mass of coconut black rice, but topped with a schmear of sweetened mung bean paste and sprinkled with flaked coconut. Not quite as luscious as custard, but good enough fuel for a train trip.

Mekong Rainier Grocery
3400 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA

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