Famous for it’s ancient beauty and authentic food, check out our guide to eating in Hoi An, Vietnam.
This vibrant city first stole our hearts back in 2011 after days spent wandering around winding streets lined with timber-framed buildings and silk lanterns.
Fast forward five years and although there’s been an increase in tourists, we were glad to see our favourite spot in Vietnam hadn’t lost it’s old-fashioned charm.
Famous for it’s cheap food and cold beer; warm-hearted and welcoming locals can be found on every street corner offering plates of delicious goodness cooked on the spot for less than a £1.00.
After ten days of eating everything we could get our hands on. Here’s our five favourite local dishes that will leave you hungry for Hoi An.
1. Cao Lầu
Slices of smoky barbecue pork, crunchy crackling and crisp lettuce and bean sprouts rest on top of soft, thick rice noodles drizzled with a spoonful of stock; Cao Lau is the signature dish of Hoi An and it’s clear to see how this tasty noodle delight earned it’s reputation.
Available only in Hoi An, the town’s speciality must be made using water drawn from the Ba Le Well, giving the noodles their unique taste.
Even with it’s reputation of being the best meal in town, the origin of the iconic Cao Lau is somewhat a mystery; many believe the thick noodles are similar to Japanese soba noodles, yet others argue the char siu pork indicates Chinese routes.
Whatever it’s history; the taste is as unique as the city it belongs to and should be at the top of your list of must-try meals in Hoi An.
2. Bánh Mì
Now I know what you’re thinking, and before you say it – no, it’s not just a sandwich, it’s a sensation. A byproduct of french colonialism in Vietnam; the airy baguette is made by using half wheat and half rice flour, deliciously crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside.
Hot, salty, sour and sweet; oozing with cured cold-cut meats, homemade pate, egg, sliced carrots, pickles and cucumber and finished with a drizzle of a mayonaise-like sauce and a sprinkle of coriander. It’s simple and delicious and makes for the perfect snack.
3. Bánh Xèo
Quite literally translating to the ‘sizzling cake,’ because of the sound made when the batter hits the fryer; this savoury fried pancake is accomplished by mixing rice flour and water and then stuffed to the brim with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and green onion.
Don’t be fooled by it’s omelette-like appearance; the components of the dish may be served to you separately; add them onto the pancake, roll it up and give your tastebuds a treat with this delicious street food snack.
4. Hoành Thánh Chien
This crispy wonton is covered in a tangy salsa-like sauce packed with fresh prawns and ground pork, thinly sliced vegetables and finished with a pinch of coriander and a sprinkle of crunchy onions.
A popular choice among locals; not only did these fried wontons taste amazing, the bite-sized parcels are a work of art, carefully crafted by street vendors across the city.
5. Bánh Bao Vạc
Commonly known as white rose dumplings, these translucent rice cakes are famous not only for their flavour, but their flower-like appearance. Filled with either shrimp or minced pork, the dumplings are steamed and covered with crunchy toasted garlic.
Soft in texture, small in size but big in flavour; rumour has it that one family provides the whole town with their famous white rose dumplings, so be sure to try these flavoursome flowers – one plate just isn’t enough.
If you want to sample all of the above then head downtown to the Central Market Food Hall.
The stall holders are friendly and the food is cooked fresh right in front of your eyes. With most dishes costing less than £1.00, it’s great value for money; but beware – once you’ve been here you won’t want to eat anywhere else!
Other restaurants we’d recommend are;
Unfortunately they don’t have websites but directions can be found on Trip Advisor.
Have you been to Hoi An? What was your favourite food?