One of the distinctive qualities of living in a large metropolis like Houston is that you can visit certain ethnic stores and restaurants and get a truly authentic feeling that you are in a different country.
Asia Market, a non-descript Thai mini-mart on Cavalcade near Airline just inside the north loop, offers a perfect example of this vicarious culinary travel.
On Saturdays, a table is set up in the front of the store and aspiring cooks within the Houston Thai community bring in their fresh culinary creations for sale and tasting. On this Saturday, it was all Thai desserts–lots of coconut and banana flavors.
The store shelves are filled with an amazing variety of exotic Thailand/Phillippines/Asian products, both packaged and fresh. A sample is to the left.
The proprietor, after overcoming a healthy suspicion of the caucasian male asking all the nosy questions, explained that on Saturday they cook fresh lunch dishes in the tiny kitchen in the back. Asked about durian, the infamously loved and hated produce native to SE Asia, she explained that the season was May, June and July and I should come back for a fresh sample. Oh I’ll be back.
For today I chose to purchase a fresh Thai dessert known as Kanom Tien.
Kanom Tien is a moist, sticky pastry that comes wrapped in banana leaves. The external dough appears to be made of sticky rice flour and mung bean paste. The texture is reminiscent of a Chinese dumpling, though thicker and stickier. The taste was sweet and earthy and admittedly my first experience with mung beans.
The interior is filled with coconut shavings and thick, sweet jam or jelly.
I can’t say that I’ll be eating Kanom Tien on a regular basis but it definitely satisfied my craving for vicarious culinary travel. You just don’t get this kind of unique flavor anywhere else in Houston. Counting the days until durian season!
Foodie Favorite: Yes