UNESCO world heritage listed Hoi An’s restaurants and street side eateries offer a tasty snapshot of traditional Vietnamese food. The town’s ancient feel and languid pace of life seem almost tailor-made for long meals and culinary exploration. For the food-loving traveller, Hoi An should be high on your Southeast Asian to do list.
These are the very best traditional Vietnamese foods in Hoi An.
Com Ga Hoi An
This fluffy, oh-so-chickeny dish is a staple of daily life in Hoi An. Com Ga – or Chicken Rice, as English speakers know it – consists of succulent shredded chicken over a bed of fluffy white rice cooked in chicken stock, often with a hint of turmeric for colour. The chef sprinkles shredded papaya, spring onions and peppermint on top and adds a side of chilli sauce before serving.
Those looking for a taste of Com Ga Hoi An won’t need to go far – from street side food stalls to upscale Hoi An restaurants, each has their take on the perfect Com Ga combination. The kids will also love Com Ga as it lacks the fire and spice of other Vietnamese dishes.
Hugely popular all over Vietnam and eaten by millions of people every day, Mì Quảng (Quảng noodle) is the culinary child of Hoi An and the Quảng Nam Province. The dish is so popular you can’t go more than a few metres without seeing a street side stall or sit-down restaurant offering this traditional Vietnamese food.
Mì Quảng consists wide and flat rice noodles with a choice of proteins – usually shrimp, port, chicken, fish or beef – simmered in a rich bone broth. The broth is made first and slow-cooked; it’s not unusual to see a large pot of broth permanently simmering on the stove as the chef doles out steaming ladles into waiting bowls. As a result, the broth is wonderfully intense in flavour and is sure to set the taste buds buzzing.
Looking for a snack on the go as you explore Hoi An’s ancient town? Look no further than the simple yet flavourful Banh dap! Banh dap is made from carefully prepared rice flour, and consists of layered rice pancakes and crunchy rice crackers served with a variety of condiments, including, anchovy, chilli, soy and fish sauces.
Dap in Vietnamese means ‘hit’, and when eating Banh dap you hit the cake to break it up before digging in. It’s a fragrant and tasty mix of crunch, spice and carbs.
Round, thick noodles, BBQ char siu-style pork, fresh aromatic herbs and lettuce, pork crackling and a dash of stock – we’ve saved the best traditional Vietnamese food for last.
Ask any chef in Hoi An’s restaurants, and they’ll tell you that while their town can lay claim to influencing much of Vietnam’s cuisine, perhaps its greatest culinary gift to the country is Cao Lau.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking Cao Lau is a derivative of a Chinese dish, yet the flavours and preparation used are distinct not only to Vietnam but Hoi An in particular. The locals will tell you that ‘real’ Cao Lau can’t be replicated outside the city as the water used needs to come from one of the town’s oldest wells and, while we can’t detect the subtleties as well as the local palate, we know it’s damn tasty.
Thinking of a food lover’s odyssey to Hoi An? Find out more about Karma’s Hoi An resort, Karma Cây Tre.