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May 1, 2007 06:05 AM

I Ate Something Weird at Udom's in Chinatown

Yesterday, I had a delightful shopping experience at Udom's Thai and Indonesia Grocery on Bayard between Mott St. and Mulberry.

This little store is about six feet wide, if that, and maybe eighteen feet deep and is stacked from floor to ceiling with Thai, Indonesian and (some) Malaysian dry and canned goods. They sell many different varieties of curry pastes, shrimp pastes, fish juice, canned vegetables from Southeast Asian, chili sauces and the like. Practically everything you need to make Thai or Indonesian food.

Anyway, as the owner was ringing up my purchases, he convinced me to buy a couple of the little banana leaf bundles that he was selling at the register. The price was $1.50 for two. Basically, these things were a large, folded up piece of banana leaf with a sticky, sweet concoction inside that contained rice and ...

I'm not sure.

It was semi-gelatinous and gooey. I presume it was steamed inside the leaf. There was also something reddish and also sweet in the center of the goo.

Anyone have any idea what weird thing I ate at Udom's in Chinatown?

Picture of Udom's storefront linked below. I should have taken a picture of the weird thing, but my hands got so sticky eating it that I didn't want to mess with my camera.

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  1. Besides being weird, was it good? Would you order it again?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez

      Yep! It was delicious. I would actually take friends over there just to surprise them with something unusual (at least for me).

      1. re: foodmonk

        Probably sticky rice and bean paste.

    2. Was the red stuff red bean paste?

      1. I get this all the time--I have to say Udom's version is much better than the version at the Thai grocery on Mosco (though they are friendlier there). I think it is sweet rice in banana leaf with banana and beans (red? mung?). It's delicious.

        1. Thanks, folks! I found a recipe on the Internet that sounds exactly like what people described here ... Some sort of sweet, sticky rice with bean paste. Mystery solved.

          1. These sound a lot like Chinese Jung, aka zongzi (粽子) You can find those at May May on Pell Street, they're also offered by street vendors.

            4 Replies
              1. re: foodmonk

                Thank you! If you like them, May May has a really large selection... about 20 different kinds. They are freshly made. I've never tried one. I wanted to... but they are so big it would have spoiled my dinner. They also do frozen dim sum, listed on their website (which doesn't have most of the zongzi)

                1. re: foodmonk

                  I actually don't think they are like Chineze Jung or at least not like the Jung at May May (the only place I've had them). First, May May does not have sweet Jung, only savory, so the filling is very different. Second, I don't think Jung use coconut milk, so the rice has a different taste. I am not sure what they do with the rice and whether they use the same type of rice, but the rice is browner in color in a Jung.

                  I have to say I've tried Jung twice at May May (can't remember which kind) and I am not enamored. Something about the smell turns me off (compared to the smell of the item at Udoms which I can just inhale with glee) and the beans are too starchy (al dente) for my taste. The meat inside was delicious though. Still worth a visit to May May for me since the curry beef puff in flaky dough that I bought yesterday was amazing (was it only 80 cents?), and I love their ginger cider which they now are serving iced as the weather changes.

                  1. re: Produce Addict

                    Since Udoms sells Thai food, maybe it's a Thai sweet, or a kanom. One food blog (gaijingirl) has this to say about Udom: "They have a particularly good snack - taro root with sugar and coconut milk, wrapped in sticky rice and banana leaf. I wish I knew what it was called." So maybe it's that. Here's gaijingirl's list of kanoms: