No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery 2370 West Alameda Avenue 303-922-0999
The Vinh Xuong Bakery in the Alameda Square shopping center sits in sharp contrast to its parent on Federal Boulevard. While the older store is cluttered and close, the newer version is bright and airy. Comfortable chairs and gleaming green tile invite customers to linger over a cup of Novo coffee and a pastry. Vinh Xuong makes all the baked goods for both locations daily, including crusty baguettes for the banh mi, so you can always stock up on Vietnamese delicacies at the Federal shop. But if you want to hang out and enjoy them in a modern environment without the urban bustle, the Alameda bakery is the place to go. Our favorites are the sesame balls, sweet treats to end a lunchtime sandwich excursion or as a complement to a Saturday morning cappuccino.
See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014
Sesame balls are deep-fried rice-flour spheres coated in sesame seeds and filled with bean paste. While red bean paste is not uncommon, Vinh Xuong's are filled with yellow mung bean paste. The sesame balls puff up when they're fried, resulting in a hollow center. The soft bean paste center rolls around the inside -- a hidden treat beneath the tender and chewy rice-flour skin.
Lightly sweetened sesame seeds provide nutty flavor and a touch of crunchy texture to the golden surface. Despite a bath in hot oil, the pastries aren't greasy or heavy. And at $1.50 each, two sesame balls with a cup of coffee won't set you back much -- and they won't fill you up like sweeter, heavier doughnuts. Of course, Vinh Xuong is known for its Vietnamese sandwiches, so grab a barbecue pork banh mi and save the sesame ball -- or two -- for dessert.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're already loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next nine months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
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