Top must-eat dishes in Hoi An

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Hoi An attracts tourists for many reasons: beautiful sceneries, peaceful town, unique architecture, and culture, etc. And one of the most important reason is cuisine. Hoi An has plenty of food and street food that can blow your mind away with its delicate taste.

Here are top 10 delicious dishes in Hoi An that you cannot miss in your Vietnam food tour.

Pho Hoi chicken rice

Com ga Pho Hoi

Com Ga Pho Hoi

Rice used for this food is carefully selected with a preference of sticky and soft type. Rice will be added ingredients, then boiled with chicken broth and pandan leaves by charcoal. The chicken must be the young, soft but not friable one. The chicken will be boiled, then ripped into small pieces and added onion, fried red onion, salt, black pepper and Vietnamese coriander.

The decoration of this food is very important. Ripped chicken pieces are put on top of rice dish. It is taken with onion, papaya pickle, Tra Que herbs, pepper sauce and soy sauce. Especially, Pho Hoi chicken rice is featured in a soup made by mixed internal organs of the chicken. With a unique, meticulous cooking method and special materials, people in Hoi An created a unique chicken rice, earning foreign visitor’s trust.

Addresses:

Bà Buội Chicken rice – 22 Phan Chu Trinh Street; Sân Đình Chicken rice – 16 Phan Chu Trinh Street; Bà Hương chicken rice – 18 Le Loi Street; Mermaid Restaurant – 2 Tran Phu Street; Cô Ly Restaurant – 22 Nguyen Hue Street; Canh Buom Trang Restaurant – 34 Tran Cao Van Street; Cô Thuận Restaurant – 17/4 Hai Ba Trung Street.

Cao Lầu

Cao Lau

Cao Lau

The elders in Hoi An said that Cao Lầu appeared from the 17th century, during the time Hoi An Port was opened, allowing a lot of foreign traders enter Hoi An. This is the reason why Cao Lầu affected a lot by Chinese Cuisine and a little by Udon noodle of Japanese. However, Cao Lầu keeps one-of-a-kind outstanding features of Hoi An cuisine. This dish can make your Vietnam food tour more special and unforgettable.

Addresses:

Bà Bé Restaurant, Vạn Lộc Restaurant, Trung Bắc Restaurant – Tran Phu Street; Chị Liên Restaurant – Thai Phien Street.

Bánh bao – bánh vạc (White Rose cake)

Banh Bao - Banh Vac

Banh bao – banh vac

Bánh bao (dumpling) and Bánh vạc are couple cakes with similar materials and processing. The main material is white, sticky rice. Banh vạc is filled in with ground shrimp, mixed with black pepper, garlic, onion and citronella and some other secret ingredients. Bánh bao has pork, jelly ears and sliced onion and secret ingredients inside. The secret ingredients is one of the major reason for the specialty of these two cakes.

Addresses: White Rose restaurant – Nhi Trung Street

Bánh đập

Banh dap

Banh dap

This is the name of a pancake made from rice, including two layers: the roasted crispy layer and the wet sticky layer. When enjoying it, you have to use your hand to beat the crispy layer, making it stick with the wet layer. It is pretty simple food but draws the interest of many people.

Another important part to make a perfect banh dap is the sauce. It is processed from mam cai (a kind of Hoi An fish sauce which is made from the best small fishes in Cua Dai sea). A reasonable mixture of fish sauce, sugar, chilly, onion and cooking oil will make a bowl of delicious sauce. Nothing can replace this sauce when enjoying banh dap.

Addresses: Bánh đập Bà Già (Old Lady Restaurant) – Hamlet 1, Cam Nam commune, Hoi An.

Corn sweetened porridge

Corn sweetened porridge

Che Bap is made of corn

This sweetened porridge is special because it is made from famous Cam Nam corns. The sweetness of this food comes from the natural and light taste of the corn. Unlike other sweetened porridges of the South, Hoi An corn sweetened porridge doesn’t have coconut milk as the sweet soup, so the only flavor is from the corn. The best time to enjoy Hoi An corn sweetened porridge is between March and September, as the harvest season of Cam Nam corn.

Addresses: Corn sweetened porridge stalls on the bank of Hoai River.

Bánh bèo

Banh beo in Hoian

Banh beo in Hoi An

Bánh bèo (water fern cake) is mostly made of available local materials, such as pork, shrimp, etc. Although it is a simple ingredient, it can be more specific as the art of making, yet to many Vietnamese people, it is actually the art of enjoying water fern cakes.

A different way to eat banh beo in Hoi An than other places is you have to use a special stick made of bamboo.

Addresses: banh beo is everywhere in Hoi An, but the best is small stalls outside of the ancient quarter such as Cam Chau, Cam Nam.

Mì Quảng (Quang noodle)

Quang noodle

Mi Quang

When you ask local people what to eat in Hoi An, they definitely recommend you ‘Mi Quang’. The main ingredients of the dish are noodles, meat, and vegetables. Vegetables are placed atop of a bed of rice noodles in a bowl, then topped with pork, shrimp and finally lukewarm broth and meat are added.  Mì Quảng is also served with toasted Vietnamese sesame rice crackers, fried shallot and various herbs common in Vietnamese cuisine such as mint, "rau ram" or laksa leaves, perilla, lettuce … Shrimp and Pork are usually the proteins of choice because of their abundance. 

Addresses: Mi Quang is everywhere in Hoi An.

Hoành thánh (Wonton)

Wonton is a Chinese food but it has come into existence in Hoi An for a very long time, therefore, it is adopted as a traditional dish of Hoi An. Wonton is made with rice flour and filled with ingredients such as shrimp, pork, egg, and spices. There are many kinds of wonton dishes, such as fried wonton, wonton soup or wonton and noodle soup.

Addresses: Van Loc restaurant – Tran Phu Street; some small stalls on Thai Phien Street.

Banh Trang (steamed rice rolls)

Banh trang is a very light crepe with ground pork, minced jelly ears, and fried onion, eaten by ham, steamed bean sprouts, and cucumbers. Banh cuon in Hoi An is added with shrimp and eaten with mo hanh (sauce of grease and Welsh onion).

Addresses: The cuisine street on the side of Hoai River.

Banh xeo (Rice pancake)

Banh xeo

Banh Xeo

Banh xeo is a very famous dish in Vietnam, but just a few people know that the origin of it is from Hoi An. It is made out of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts and then pan fried. Banh xeo is eaten with fish sauce (mix with water and pepper and lemon) and a lot of herbs. It is a perfect food for the rainy season. In your Vietnam food tour, you can try ‘banh xeo’ in different places across the country to see the differences of ingredients, flavor and also the way of eating.

One of the best impression about Vietnam tour is cuisine. Therefore, when you travel to Hoi An or any place in Vietnam, let’s try the food there and create wonderful memories for your trip.

 

 

 

 

Talking about Central Vietnam’s cuisine – The rumor about Hoian cooking class is true

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Hoian, the beautiful ancient town of Vietnam, has long been a well-known destination for the tourists both inside and outside the country. People tend to associate this old town with the images of paper lanterns, Chinese and Japanese styled houses, a peaceful river running in the city.

But do you know that the food here is too good to be forgotten as well? In fact, tasting the local dishes is one of the top things to do in Hoian.

The gorgeous Hoian at night

The gorgeous Hoian at night

Cao lau

Cao lau is considered as a signature dish of Hoian. Hardly does anyone come to this ancient town without trying cao lau for once. It’s actually a kind of Vietnamese vermicelli but bears no resemblance to the famous bun cha, or Hanoi rice vermicelli that you usually hear of.

A bowl of cao lau typically consists of noodles, pork, vegetable and a solid broth. There is only a small amount of the broth, and the visitors just need to mix it well with other ingredients to enjoy the dish. The essence of cao lau lies in the noodles. The water used to make the noodles is taken from Ba Le well created thousands of years ago by Cham residents. The vegetable is from Tra Que village, including lettuce, bean sprouts, cilantro and some other herbs. To finish, a cao lau bowl is topped with fried pork rind. You can add some chili to the dish if you want it to be spicy. Cao lau has many flavours: sour, sweet, bitter.

Cao Lau

Cao lau – the pride of Hoian cuisine

Charcoal grilled pork skewers 

Grilled pork is not something new. But in Hoian, pork is grilled in charcoal kept burning by constant hand fanning. First, the pork is marinated in a special mixture of salt, brown sugar, garlic, onion, lemongrass, uncooked sesame, cashew nut powder, and vegetable oil. Seasoned at least 2 hours, this pork is then wrapped around bamboo skewers and grilled on charcoal. The pork is served with vegetable, soy paste, Vietnamese rice cake and rice paper. Unlike cao lau, pork skewers are often sold in food vendors along the river banks. Sitting on colorful plastic chairs and enjoy this delicious dish is quite a way to experience the culinary culture of the local people.

A full set of charcoal grilled pork

A full set of charcoal grilled pork

Vietnamese bread

Yes, it’s Banh mi! Vietnamese bread is famous all around the world. In Vietnam, its ingredients vary according to the local tastes. Hoian bread surely fits the taste of Hoian people, but moreover, it satisfies almost all the visitors coming to Hoian. In this old town, there are two Vietnamese bread stores whose reputation has spread around the globe: Phuong Bread and Madam Khanh Bread (The Banh Mi Queen).

Hoian bread attracts the tourist thanks to all home-made ingredients. Pate is made from carefully-chosen pork liver, herbs are from Tra Que village, the sauce is made following a secret recipe for many generations. Even the bread is well-baked with the layer being aways warm and crispy. Bite through that crust, you’ll feel the hot sauce pour out, combining with the fresh cut ingredients inside. Yum!

Madam Khanh Bread

Madam Khanh Bread – best sandwich globally

Hoian chicken rice

Eating Hoian chicken rice is the last dish that I want to introduce for the best tour with your family.

Like other places, chicken rice here also includes rice, boiled chicken, and vegetable. The chickens are those who have only laid eggs once. That’s to make sure the chicken is firm and fragrant. Rice was harvested for at least one year ago. The raw vegetable is taken from the famous Tra Que village.

When the guests come, the owner will take out the rice and lay it with raw vegetable salad and chicken. At the top, the cook bastes some broth. When you eat, you may add a little chili sauce, then mix all the ingredients together.

Hoian chicken rice has existed for over one century and been through many ups and downs of Vietnam history. Yet somehow the flavour has been well-preserved so that today we can enjoy the dish when traveling to Hoian.

Madam Buoi

Madam Buoi’s Hoian chicken rice

Now you see why Hoian is sometimes called the new culinary town of Vietnam. Next time if you travel to Central Vietnam, come to Hoian and enjoy these amazing dishes at super reasonable prices!

 

Cao Lau – The pride of Hoi An cuisine

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There is an obvious truth that anyone who has ever come to Hoi An has definitely tasted this delicious specialty! 

Cao Lau Hoi An

Cao Lau Hoi An

Discussing dishes in the ancient town of Hoi An, no one can skip the Cao Lau. On fairly cold Tet Holiday (Vietnamese New Year), it is not difficult for us to see old eateries, stewardesses and the "Cao Lau" in the menu. Cao Lau has long been mentioned as the typical food contributing to the soul of the cuisine still lingers old stature of Hoi An.

In essence, what is a Cao Lau? It is a noodle that has long been considered as one of the must-eat dishes in Hoi An. This food has yellow noodles, served with shrimp, pork, and vegetables. Just like Quang noodle, Cao Lau is eaten with very little broth. A special feature of this Vietnam cuisine is the yellow noodles, which are mixed with the ash wood, which is taken from the Cham Island.

The origin of the name "Cao Lau"

A Cao Lau restaurant

One of Cao La restaurants in Hoi An

According to the local people who are living in Hoi An for a long time, Cao Lau has appeared in the old town since the 17th century, when Hoi An port was established and Lord Nguyen allowed foreign merchant ships to trade here. Although the Japanese have been in Hoi An before, the new Chinese are the longest anchor character on this “age-old” land.

Cao Lau is neither a vermicelli (rice noodles) nor a beef noodle soup (called Vietnamese Pho). This dish is considered a mixed dish, only appeared in Hoi An, Da Nang and Hue. Cao Lau is usually sold in the two-storey restaurants, on which hang red lanterns. Customers come here not only for eating but also enjoying the delicate aroma of ancient dishes. Besides, they also have the opportunity to be satisfied with the peaceful air and feel relax in the ancient town.

Hoian Ancient Town

Hoian – ancient town

The name "Cao Lau" is always a question for inbound or outbound travelers whenever experiencing the ancient features of Hoi An. This kind of Vietnam cuisine is not native to China, nor to Japan. It can be said that this is a composite of many ethnic groups. In addition, this interesting name may originate from the Chinese, it means “the finest of food”. The wealthy people when going to the restaurants in Hoi An often choose to sit on the floor, this dish is familiar to "let’s go upstairs" (Cao means: high and Lau means upstairs). Therefore, to make it shorter, people usually call it “upstairs” (Cao Lau) instead of the long sentence.

Coming to Hoi An, thrill to the gastronomic soul of the old town

Although there are some similarities with Quang style noodles, Cao Lau is a much more elaborate dishes. To make the color of noodle yellow and delicious, we have to use ashes cooked from marinated rice in Cham island to create a new crispy and special fluff. The water mill must be taken from Ba Le well, which is known for its non-alum, cool water. In order to make it more scrumptious and flavorful, people usually add a little pigskin or fried and crispy noodles.

Cao Lau noodles are yellow or brown. What makes it special? It doesn’t include broth, but rather a flesh, fatty, greasy greens, pork fat. To make fried pork, local people usually opt for pork boiled lean meat, marinated spices and the special sauce called “five flavors”. Pork fat is also an exotic raw material, made of crispy pork skin, now replaced by high-fiber flour. In addition to “transform” to aroma flavor, which is also a bit like Quang style noodles, the great cook also added roasted peanuts. These dishes are placed on above of Cao Lau bowl. When the sauce is poured on the bottom, who likes to eat flavorsome can add a little more home-made fish sauce.

Cham Island

Cham island in Hoian

Stepping out of Hoi An ancient land, the Cao Lau has changed a little more, the ancient atmosphere also faded away. Only in Hoi An, this Vietnamese cuisine has enough flavor of a delicate and antique central dish. It is said that the well water of Ba Le and the ashes of Cham island and Tra Que new vegetables make this dish typical.

On top of above, with innovative ways and means of cooking, chefs have created a variety of delicious dishes catering to the needs of the people. Especially, Hoian cooking classes will create the culinary characteristics of the dishes that is the Cao Lau of Hoi An with new style according to the original taste of Quang will help you enjoy one of the special dishes of Vietnam by foreigners. This dish is considered frugal, suitable for many people's taste. When you travel to Vietnam, remember to go to the Hoian local kitchen to try this!

Hoian cooking class

Last but not least, the followings are the suggestions for the best Cao Lau restaurants:

+ Thanh Cao Lau, 26 Thai Phien street

+ Khong Gian Xanh Cao Lau, 687 Hai Ba Trung Street

+ 2 Toan Cao Lau, 27 Phan Chau Trinh street, etc

hoianreviews hopes you guys will enjoy your trip as well as the pride of Hoi An – Cao Lau.

Cao Lau – the legendary food in Hoi An

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Hoi An has been the most-visited destination in Vietnam for many years. This beautiful ancient town is not only famous for unique architectures and cultures, but also the amazing cuisine with a lot of delicious food. Among them, Cao Lau seems to be the most special when it is only found in Hoi An.

Let’s figure out about this must-eat in Hoi An and where to eat Cao Lau in your Hoi An food tour.

Cao lau in Hoi An

Cao lau in Hoi An

What is Cao Lau

Cao Lau is a simple bowl of brown noodle with pork and green. Cao Lau is believed to be the Vietnamese version of Japanese soba noodle but still maintains its difference and unique taste. The ingredients to make Cao Lau are not really complicated but it is also not easy to find. The noodle must be made with the water from the Cham wells nearby Hoi An. The pork should be the belly pork with little bit fat and lean and skin. Different herbs and vegetable used in the dish are grown in the neighborhood areas such as Tra Que vegetable village. Cao Lau is a truly local food that you can only find in Hoi An. In any Hoi An food guides, Cao Lau is always the highest recommendation as a great Hoi An food.

Cao lau noodle

Cao lau noodle

History of Cao Lau

Cao Lau is definitely created in Hoi An. However, it is hard to tell who exactly create this noodle. The food appeared around the 17th century during Lord Nguyen dynasty. Some believed that Cao Lau was originated from Japanese soba noodle. But the fact is that Cao Lau is not made of buckwheat flour as soba noodle. On the other hand, there were the clues that Cao Lau is similar to some Chinese noodle and contains Char siu (Chinese pork) in it. But this theory is not really persuaded. Actually, during that time, Hoi An is a crowded port where a lot of Japanese traders and Chinese traders came to do business. That’s why Cao Lau was influenced by these two food cultures and of course, has its own special flavor of Vietnamese cuisine.

Cao Lau in Vietnamese means ‘high floor’. In the past, only rich people can sit on the higher floor of the restaurant to enjoy this fancy food. Therefore, it is called Cao Lau. Today, Cao Lau is sold both on streets and in the restaurants in Hoi An.

Where to eat Cao Lau in Hoi An

Cao lau Ong Ty

Cao lau Ong Ty

In your Hoi An food tour, you can easily find a Cao Lau food vendor on the streets. You may hear of Thanh Cao Lau, Ba Be Cao Lau, Trung Bac Cao Lau which are really popular restaurants for tourists. However, there is a small Cao Lau stall that is highly recommended by locals named Cao Lau Ong Ty.

Located on number 69 on Phan Chu Trinh Street, Cao Lau Ong Ty is a favorite Cao Lau address for Hoian people. Most of the customers are locals. Cao Lau in here is cheaper than other restaurants but the flavor is still very delicious. Cao Lau in this vendor stall is as the same as cao lau in other places with the same ingredients such as char siu, fried cao lau noodle, a lot of vegetables. However, the taste is slightly different and unique that makes you unforgettable. The bowl of cao lau is much bigger than that of other places with full of noodle. The char siu is cut into big slices and taste so great. The herbs and vegetables are incredibly fresh. All of them create a special and delicious cao lau bowl. This street vendor is opened in the late afternoon (around 5 PM).

Hoi An food is a precious treasure of Vietnamese cuisine. And Cao Lau plays the most important part in Hoi An culinary culture. It is not only a food. It is the interference and the influence of Asian cuisine including China, Japan, and Vietnam. After hundreds of years since Cao Lau was created, it still keeps all the best features to make it unique and special. The noodle has to be made in a very strict and complicated process in the traditional way. And only in Hoi An do you find a standard cao lai bowl.