Despite being a small town but the food culture of Hoi An is extremely rich. Therefore, you can hardly enjoy all specialties if you don’t spend much time in this fantastic city.
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The following is local foods that you have to try when coming to this special town.
1. Pho Hoi chicken rice
Com Ga, or chicken rice, is not exclusive to Hoi An, but locals have successfully improved on it, making it one of their signature dishes.
A dish of chicken rice is mouth-watering with its pleasantly yellowed rice topped with hand-shredded chicken and herbs. It is served with a small bowl of soup containing some chicken giblets like heart and liver.
It is said that to make the famous com ga, Hoi An people carefully choose rice and chicken of top quality. They season the rice before cooking it with chicken broth and pandan leaves on wood-fired clay ovens. After boiling, the chicken is shredded and then strangled with onion, salt and pepper and cilantro.
The chicken was torn up and eaten with onion, papaya, tomato, Tra Que herbs and chili sauce. In addition, mixed heart, liver, kidney, chicken soup to eat together. With all the meticulous craftsmanship in its processing, Hoi An people has created a very own chicken rice, enough impression to people call with a special name : “Pho Hoi Chicken Rice”.
Reference addresses :
- Ba Buoi (Madam Buoi Chicken Rice) at 22 Phan Chu Trinh Street. Price: 50.000 VND (about 2.5 USD).
- Co Huong restaurant at the top of Sica alley. Price: 35.000 VND (about 1.5 USD).
- Ms Nga Restaurant at 14 Phan Chau Trinh. Price range: 40.000 VND- 60.000 VND (about 2 – 3 USD).
2. “Cao Lau” in Hoi An ancient town
Cao Lau is the foremost traditional food in Hoi AN. Visitors to Hoi An always remember Cao Lau, which was considered by the Quang Nam people as a special symbol representing Hoi An. Cao Lau does not taste like any other Vietnamese dish, but nobody can really recognize it as being comparable to Chinese or Japanese cuisine.
Despite its Chinese-like appearance, the Chinese people don’t consider it to be Chinese food. In a way, it has some things in common with Chinese and Japanese noodles. It’s al dente noodles, for instance, look raw and thick like Japanese udon. Its toppings include slices of pork that look like char siu or Chinese barbecued pork.
People said that once upon the time, when Hoi An is a famous port of Vietnam, has many restaurants and its design style of patrons who often sit on the 2 floor to enjoy this dish, so it is called “Cao Lau”.
The essence of this dish is pasta. To make a delicious pasta, you must firstly select delicious rice to make up the crispness and plasticity. Pasta is undergone many times making a special taste and be difficult to forget. Eating Cao Lau with raw vegetable and bean sprout.
Enjoying Cao Lau you will feel brittle cartilage tough shot of pasta, enough sour, spicy, sweet and fatty taste of graves plus the cool salad … makes people feel it’s good food.
- Madam Be Restaurant at Tran Phu Street. Price: 20.000đ – 44.000 VND. (about 1-2.5 USD).
- Trung Bac Restaurant at 87 Tran Phu is also said to sell original cao lau. Price: 50.000đ – 110.000 VND.( about 2.5 – 5 USD).
3. Steamed Bun (Banh bao) – Small Shrimp Dumpling (banh vac)
The famous dish actually consists of two kinds of steamed rice dumplings. Banh vac is filled with ground shrimp, garlic, spring onion, lemon grass, and spices. Banh bao, on the other hand, has minced pork and mushrooms as the main fillings.
They are known –somewhat poetically — as white roses among English speakers, though only one of the two dishes lives up to the name; the other looks more like Chinese jiaozi or pot stickers. The dish is served with a dipping sauce made from shrimp broth.
For the best dumplings, you have to visit Bong Hong Trang (White Rose) at 533 Hai Ba Trung Street, where you can also see how the trademark dish is made.
Price: 50.000 VND.( about 2.5 USD).
4. Banh dap ( Rice Cracker) – Hen xao
Literally translated as cracked/smashed rice pancakes, banh dap is perhaps one of the simplest foods in Hoi An’s cuisine, but its contradictory textures easily make the biggest impression on foreigners.
Banh dap is actually a combination of two kinds of rice papers, one white, thin and kind of sticky and the other, dry, crispy and brittle.
Even though the dish looks very simple, you have to learn some rules to eat it in a right way. First, you place a wet pancake on a crispy one. Then apply some mung bean paste and place some fried chopped shallots and shredded spring onion. Lastly, add another dry pancake before breaking the sandwich with the hand.
You have to crack the sandwich once again, this time into two, and dip it into a sauce whose ingredient is mahenm cai — a kind of fermented and salted fish paste that is native to the central region.
A good eatery to check out the special pancake is Ba Gia, which is located in Hamlet 1, Cam Nam Commune. Price: 10.000 VND(about 0.5 USD).
5. Che bap (corn sweet soup)
A food tour in Hoi An is never complete without sweet beverages, dessert soups, and puddings that are collectively known as che in Vietnam. Che in the ancient town comes in small bowls that cost just a few cents at street stalls.
“Che bap” is a sweet and sticky dessert, its raw materials are very close with people here as shaved kernels of corn sourced from and sweet glutinous rice. All are products of the farmer.
You can enjoy in any season, in winter you will eat warm sweet corn soup and in summer adding a little ice will make a cold one or at room temperature also is suitable.
You know, Hoi An is available many expensive or inexpensive restaurants and you also will always find appealing and unique dishes here.
Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, make sure to check out the local sweet corn soup or che bap, especially the one made with corn grown in Cam Nam Ward, considered among the country’s best. Che bap can be eaten hot, cold or with another sweet soup.
- Ben Tre Restaurant (across Cam Nam Bridge 100m, turn left).
- Price: 5.000 – 10.000 VND. (about 0.5 USD).
6. Steamed rice pancake ( Banh beo)
Hoi An’s banh beo (steamed rice pancake) is big and thick compared with its Hue cousin. Its topping sauce is also thick, and brick red, a color that comes from achiote or tomato juice added to a mixture of shrimp and pork.
Some sellers add sugar when mixing the flour to make the cakes, and so they are slightly sweet. The idea of sweet combined with the salt and spice of nuoc mam (fish sauce) – the dipping sauce – might turn some people off. But the fact is that many people are hooked after the first bite.
The town’s banh beo also tastes fatty thanks to fried shallot slices, oil and deep-fried cao lau noodles that are used as another topping.
The distinctive pancake can be found everywhere in Hoi An, but the best is often at street vendors’ and little eateries.
Cam Nam, Cam Chau. Price: 20.000VND ( about 1 USD).
7. Mi Quang Noodles
This is the popular country dish in Hoian and Quang Nam. The noodle is yellow or white in color and made from rice flour. It is mixed with shrimp, pork, and vegetables, and topped with grilled rice paper and spices.
Similar to rice noodle and chicken or pork soup (Hu tieu), My Quang is a variety of Pho (rice noodle soup), because the noodles are made from rice and covered with soup as serving.
- Ba Minh, CamHa.
- Co Ha, Thai Phien Street. Price: 20.000 VND.( 1 USD).
8. Hoanh Thanh (Egg noodle soup with wontons)
If you think you are familiar with hoanh thanh, a Chinese dumpling known as wonton, you may have to think again when eating it in Hoi An, where people make changes here and there so that the popular dish’s flavors become distinct.
Like in many other places, hoanh thanh there is served with soup, with or without noodles, or deep-fried.
It is the crispy variety that proves how skillfully Hoi An people can add their signature to non-native foods. The hot shrimp dumplings are topped with a kind of slightly sour and spicy sauce consisting of shrimp, char siu pork, and crispy vegetables.
You can get good hoanh thanh at Anh Dung eatery at 14 Ba Trieu Street and Van Loc at 27 Tran Phu Street. Price: 20000 – 50000 VND (about 1-2.5 USD).
9. Girdle-cake (stuffed pancake)
Girdle-cake is similar to stuffed pancake in Thanh Tri, Ha Noi, but instead of thin rice paper coming with black fungus, it also comes with dried shrimp. When eating, girdle cake is topped onion soup and served with Vietnamese pork roll.
Street stalls along the Hoai river. Price: 10.000 VND( 0.5 USD).
10. Crispy savory crepes (Banh xeo)
The fried rice pancake is not a must-eat in Hoi An but still worth checking out during a food tour. The “sizzling cake,” as it is known among English speakers, is quite popular there, especially during the rainy season.
“Banh xeo” is eaten hot in the cold season. Walking along this street, people cannot help hearing the joyful sound of the cooking and the flavor of this dish coming out of the restaurant kitchens, which makes it hard to resist the temptation of walking into one of the restaurants along the street to enjoy this delicious banh xeo.
“Banh xeo” made from this cooker is very crispy and tasty. These are some pale yellow spicy Vietnamese-style crepes. One piece on the bottom and another on top encase what is usually a salad consisting of bean sprouts, prawns, boiled pork, taro, and carrot. Drench it in fish sauce, and you have a deliciously messy slice of fine pleasure.
The dish is round, and you cut it into slices, like a pizza, so it resembles a triangle on the main platter, but usually by the time it arrives on your plate, it could resemble anything.
The mixture necessary for making “banh xeo” is a liquid made of rice flour, soy bean and sliced spring onion. Some restaurants add the first extract of coconut to the mixture and color it with turmeric flour.
It is said that some restaurants add beer to the mixture, which was neither denied nor agreed upon by the restaurant directors. The secret to extra-thin crepes is a deep frying pan and a quick wrist to coat the frying pan with the batter before it starts to set.
- Many foodies recommend Ba Le Well Restaurant at 45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street for good banh xeo.
- Price range: 5.000đ – 10.000 VND/ piece.( about 0.5 USD).
Read more Hoi An travel guide at here.