Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Guide to the Food of Hoi An, Vietnam

My favorite place for eating in Vietnam was Hoi An. In addition to the warm, inviting ambiance of the town, the food was delicious and inexpensive. A killer combo for us budget travelers. To save money and experience the real culture of a place, Brad and I almost always eat the street food of each town we go to. We've never once (knock on wood) become sick eating street food. We actually tend to trust street food vendors more than restaurants (especially when we see a crowd of locals lined up) because their turnover tends to be higher, meaning less time for food to sit out and go bad.

I've put together a quick guide of some of my favorite foods in Hoi An, Vietnam. One US dollar at the time of writing was just over 21,000 dong. If you ever plan on visiting this lovely town, be sure to eat these four things:

Spring rolls are a traditional Vietnamese food and for good reason. I liked them because they are usually served stuffed with fresh vegetables, which can be hard to come by when you're traveling. Spring rolls can range in quality and price. The most simple spring rolls come with some skewered, grilled meat and some greens wrapped in rice paper. More complex spring rolls can include rice pancakes, small omelets, more varied vegetable options, cooked noodles, and various sauce options for dipping. My favorite spring rolls were found at Bale Well, a modest restaurant in the city center that serves very big portions of incredibly tasty ingredients, but I also enjoyed the simpler versions, sold from a food cart on the south side of the bridge in the city center. 

All around Hoi An and especially near the bridge, you can find women at food carts selling fried pastries. I tried everything they had to offer and the best was the sugar donuts. They are what they look like: fried warm dough, coated in sugar, and at 10-20,000 dong a pop (they'll start at 20, but you can negotiate them down), you can't beat the price. 

Com Ga is a common street food in Hoi An and it is what it translates to: chicken and rice, served with a chili sauce and chicken broth. It's a simple dish that fills your belly and tastes good. I think we paid 30,000 dong per plate for this dish and it was delicious!

Saving the best for last, the crowning jewel of Hoi An cuisine is Cao Lau. It is literally only found in Hoi An as the noodles are prepared with water from a special well in the city. I still don't understand why it hasn't been replicated elsewhere, but I guess you really do need that special water to give it the distinctive taste. It's a fairly basic noodle dish served with sliced pork, heaps of fresh greens and herbs, crunchy wontons, and a delicious sauce. But the noodles! Something about the way they are flavored and the thick, homemade texture, just makes this dish irresistible. Our favorite place for Cao Lau was in the Central Market. Don't be detracted by the buzzing flies and lack of air conditioning, just find a vendor, any vendor will do, order Cao Lau for 25,000 dong a bowl, and enjoy. 


Anonymous said...

Girl, you're making me hungry!! I've heard of Bale Well before so we'll definitely have to stop there for a meal when we visit Hoi An.

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