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
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 – 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
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 – 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’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!