So you’re currently sitting in a Hoi An guesthouse, searching for tips on what to eat, provided you can manage to drag yourself away from your Bia Hoi hangover… Or maybe you aren’t there just yet but you’re very organised. Either way, you’re a winner. Hoi An has some of the best food in Vietnam, including a couple of dishes which only exist within the city limits. The following six dishes which we enjoyed in Hoi An make me want to book a direct flight back to this city immediately!
1. Cau Lao – Comprising of a special type of noodle made only in Hoi An from the waters of an ancient Cham well, fried pork, sauce and local greens. This simple looking dish is very understated. These noodles are like no others found in Vietnam, and supposedly the rice is mixed with ash after being ground, and then cooked three times. Whatever the process is, it works. This dish can be found everywhere in the city, but we particularly liked the version sold at the incredibly friendly Cafe 41.
2. White Rose – Shrimp dumplings made with translucent white wrappers formed to look like a rose. Topped with crispy fried garlic and served with a sweet dipping sauce. This dish is another Hoi An specialty/secret, made exclusively with water from the Ba Le well. These can be found everywhere and are well worth trying.
3. Fried Wontons – Crispy fried wonton wrappers topped with sweet and sour pork. Like some kind of kickass Vietnamese nachos. Perfect accompaniment to several glasses of Bia Hoi. I highly recommend Cafe 41 for these too, the place can do no wrong.
4. Banh Mi from Banh Mi Phuong – Probably the most famous banh mi stall in all of Vietnam, thanks to celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain who featured it in an episode of his TV show No Reservations. At 20,000 VND (1 USD) this is the cheapest, tastiest thing ever. Choose your ingredients from the list or simply ask for one with everything and you won’t be disappointed. The pâté itself deserves a medal. There is always a line here with locals and tourists alike getting their fix. We found the service delightful too, and they don’t mind you walking behind the counter to point out what you do and don’t want. We must have visited three times. So very very good!
5. Banh Xeo – A kind of crepe/pancake filled with shrimp, pork and beanshoots. Often served with rice paper wrappers which you fill with a chunk of the pancake, then dip into a sauce. In our last plug for Cafe 41, I must say that their version of this, especially the dipping sauce, was the best. I’m pretty sure Laura lived on this dish whilst we were in Hoi An.
6. Bo La Lot – Minced beef and herbs with a tonne of lemongrass wrapped in betel leaves, then barbecued. The smell of the betel leaves over a coal fire will draw you in, the taste will seal the deal. We bought these off a guy making them on the back of his scooter in the middle of the street. This guy became an instant hero.
Have you been to Hoi An and tried any of the above? Anything you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below.