Durian sticky rice 'burrito' bridges breakfast divide

By Calvin Godfrey   October 8, 2016 | 10:30 pm PT
Durian sticky rice 'burrito' bridges breakfast divide
The durian breakfast burrito. Photo by VnExpress/Calvin Godfrey
Americans tend to view breakfast like original sin—a meal you must spend the whole day atoning for.

To be fair, we started eating donuts and pancakes when the average workday required, say, the extermination of the American Buffalo. Now largely sedentary, we still wake up with a sweet tooth.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that most (delicious) Vietnamese breakfasts lack the caloric gut punch Yankees expect from the Most Important Meal of the Day.

Where is the happy medium?

Behold: the durian breakfast burrito!

According to some very questionable reporting from An Giang Province, a Thai-Vietnamese person brought  'xoi xiem' (durian custard + coconut goo + sticky rice) to the delta town of Chau Doc in the 1970s.

At some point, someone cut out the custard and began wrapping 'xoi xiem' in crepe-like 'banh trang phong' ---- effectively creating the durian breakfast burrito. An ill-conceived chain called Neppy appears determined to use this technology for evil, but the sweet stuff remains widely available on street corners.

Delta transplants have sold these bad boys in Saigon’s outlying districts since at least 2014. Around that time, a skittish transplant from Ben Tre Province brought them downtown with help from her nephew, Phuc.

Poor Phuc spends all night guarding the Sea Collection (283C Hai Ba Trung) in a busted office chair just East of the electric pink Tan Dinh Cathedral. Not long after dawn, the happy-go-lucky security guard rolls out a vinyl sign reading “Durian Sticky Rice: Eat and Become Addicted.”


Photo by VnExpress/Calvin Godfrey

At some point around 6 a.m., his aunt pulls up with a load of durian breakfast burritos that he sells for fifty cents to passersby. By the time rush hour hits and Hai Ba Trung has devolved into a standing-room-only carbon monoxide party, Phuc sells out and goes home to sleep.

On a recent early morning run, two women selling fried noodles ordered Phuc’s last two bags moments before his elusive aunt pulled up in a pink pantsuit to drop off the loot. She declined to give her name or be photographed.

She did insist she makes everything in the burrito at home, before speeding off.

“It’s a Delta dish, dude” she cried before speeding off into traffic. 

VnExpress International was denied the privilege of observing the assembly process, so we dissected one at our office. Beneath the pliant exterior lies a firm layer of mung bean-studded sticky rice.


Photo by VnExpress/Calvin Godfrey

The burrito’s flavor core consists of chunky peanut butter, fresh shaved coconut and a palpable, if invisible, layer of durian.

Finally, a breakfast for everyone. 

Related news:

Backpackers vs. Durian in Vietnam

Hanoi’s sticky breakfast guide

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