Vietnamese food. It is a cuisine like no other – renowned around the world for being incredibly versatile, fresh and healthy. The dishes are all about contrasts – crunchy and soft, sweet and sour, refreshing yet spicy – the sensation of textures whilst eating is just as important as the flavours. I’ve eaten some of the best world in Vietnam, and in particular Hoi An – where I’ve chosen to spend the bulk of my time on my visit this time around. Hoi An in my opinion is the foodie capital of Vietnam and one of the best places to sample the countries finest as well as regional specialties.
As most of my days here revolve around where to eat and trying new things, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite places to eat in Hoi An and the must try dishes that they serve – I hope you’re hungry!
White Lotus Restaurant
11 Phan Boi Chau Street
For: Spring Rolls
White Lotus is located just outside of the main hub, offering a little more serenity than other spots in town and less traffic. What I really like about this restaurant is that it is a patron of Project Indochina, an Australian non-profit organisation that exists to improve the life of disadvantaged children in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The profits made from the restaurant and its cooking classes go towards the running of Project Indochina. Its always nice to know the money you’re spending is going towards a good cause.
The White Lotus Pork and Shrimp Spring Roll is divine and is a must try on the menu, which has an extensive list of Vietnamese, Asian and Western cuisine.
Vy’s Market Restaurant
An Hoi Minh An
For: BBQ Chicken
Vy’s Market Restaurant has been created to capture the essence of a street food market, with a wide range of street food choices but enjoyed in a communal, restaurant style. From grilled treats to noodles, weird and wonderful to pho – this restaurant has it all. The menu is even an iPad, with beautiful pictures and descriptions of each dish listed under different categories.
They also offer a fantastic cooking class, which I wrote about here and highly recommend.
The range of BBQ meats – chicken and pork – are out of this world. I have never tasted anything like it, the marinade used on the meats before being grilled over charcoal has the most unbelievable flavour. Try the BBQ Chicken and Lime Leaf – you won’t regret it.
106 Nguyen Thai Hoc
For: Crispy Pancakes
Crispy Pancakes may very just be the best thing you ever eat, and no one does them better than Morning Glory. Situated just across the road from The Cargo Club, Morning Glory was the first restaurant in Hoi An to have an in house cooking class.
The famous Hoi An crispy pancakes are the must have dish here. They take just a few minutes to prepare, and are served to you on a beautiful platter full of fresh herbs and greens. Take out your rice paper, and place a large lettuce leaf on top, followed by your hot crispy pancake. Follow this with a few slices of green banana and starfruit and a healthy helping of fresh herbs. Roll up the pancake tightly in the rice paper, before dunking it in some nuoc cham – a sweet and sour chilli sauce.
Heaven in your mouth.
2 Tran Phu
For: White Rose Dumplings
Mermaid Restaurant – the very first restaurant to be established in Hoi An – is a bit of a local legend. The small yet tastefully decorated restaurant, with vibrant yellows, orange and ocean blue decor is incredibly popular. It specialises predominantly in seafood, hence the rather ‘oceanic’ colour scheme and its name, but the menu also features a number of western dishes – including those added to the menu back in 1992 when it first opened.
You must try the White Rose dumplings here. A small spoon of shrimp and mushroom filling is placed in the centre of the rice paper, before it is steamed and served with the deliciously crunchy fried shallots and garlic. The contrast in the flavours and the textures is amazing, especially when dipped in nuoc cham.
It’s a super popular stop with tourist groups so try and come outside of the usual lunch time hours or you might be waiting a while – but its very worth the wait!
The Cargo Club
tp. Hoi An, Quang Nam
The Cargo Club is probably my favourite place of them all, as I have such a sweet tooth. Travelling through Asia hasn’t yielded anything too spectacular in the dessert category, so when I find a place that does it well, I’ll indulge a little – like almost every day!
The Cargo Club, another restaurant owned by Ms Vy is a European style cafe and patisserie. The dessert menu is out of this world, with something to suit every taste – chocolate, cheesecake, tart or ice cream – they have it all. And best of all – it’s cheap – the most expensive pastry is the equivalent of $3.30 AUD. Hows that for champagne taste on a beer budget?!
Come here for a refreshing caphe sua da and a pastry or two – the restaurant overlooks the Thu Bon River in the centre of Hoi An.
There are hundreds of restaurants in this fabulous little town of Vietnam, and you are guaranteed to find yummy, delicious Vietnamese food wherever you go. These are my favourites, the ones I keep going back to as they never fail to deliver fresh, tasty and cheap Vietnamese cuisine.
Do you have a favourite place to eat in Hoi An? Let me know in the comments below!