Hoi An Foodie Guide
The central Vietnam city of Hoi An is not only arguably the most beautiful city in the country, it’s also home to fantastic cuisine, with several unique dishes that reflect the city’s multicultural past and Chinese and Japanese influences.
Here is my Hoi An foodie guide to whet your appetite:
Hoi An Market
Hoi An’s main market in the old town is on the riverside and it’s a one-stop shop for the locals. Don’t expect to find any big supermarkets here. The Hoi An market action starts before dawn as the fresh produce — everything from ducks to hand-made noodles — arrives. The fresh seafood portion of the market is right on the water’s edge, whilst the dry goods are in the main building, where vendors sell delicious local noodle dishes.
Cooking Classes in Hoi An
While it appears that every visitor to Hoi An does a cooking class, not all of the classes are created equal. Some are demonstration only and offered to huge class numbers, while others are so hands-on and personal that you’ll be making your own fresh noodles and stock for Vietnam’s national dish phở (pronounced ‘fer’). For foodies wanting that kind of experience, your best bet is the Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School where you’ll visit a farm and a different local market, learn to cook local specialities from scratch, and after your meal return to town by boat.
Hoi An Street Food
Hoi An is a great street food town. In the morning there are several noodle places that open early near the markets, before the stalls open and cater for the stallholders. However, when the market opens the dish to order is the local speciality, cao lau. Cantonese-style barbecued pork and smoky local noodles unique to Hoi An are topped with fragrant herbs. It’s a dish you’ll want to try time and again. In the afternoon, vendors on the streets sell barbecue pork skewers, as well as delicious local desserts. By sunset though most are gone — apart from a few stalls near the Japanese Bridge. Don’t forget to try banh mi, a delicious baguette packed full of flavour.
Best Restaurants in Hoi An
If it’s a more sophisticated version of cao lau you’re craving, try Ms Ly Cafeteria (22 Nguyen Hue), where Ms Ly makes a wonderful cao lau as well as the best version of hoanh thanh chien (fried shrimp wontons) and ‘white rose’ (rice flour and shrimp dumplings). The stylish Vietnamese restaurant Mai Fish (45 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St) is set in a beautiful colonial style house on the river. Order the do-it-yourself banh uot thit nuong (barbecued lemongrass and sesame pork skewers) served on a tray with lots of salad greens, herbs, rice paper roll casings, and a tasty peanut and chilli sauce. Another great restaurant is Mango Mango (opposite the Japanese Bridge), where Chef Duc brings his global travel experience to bear on local ingredients as well as serving up Hoi An classics. His more casual Mango Rooms on the other side of the river is fab for a sunset cocktail and snacks overlooking the river.