The colorful food culture of Hoi An Ancient Town

Nga Do
Once a major Southeast Asian trading port in the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An is a living museum featuring a unique mixture of East and West in the form of its old-town architecture and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Hoi An is not just famous for its ancient beauty that has been recognized many times worldwide but also for its authentic cuisine. Hoi An is one of the 25 most attractive destinations for foodies all over the world. If you’re a foodie, trying all local street food is a must do activity in Hoi An.

#1 - Cao Lau

The colorful food culture of Hoi An Ancient Town
Photo by Dragfyre
Cao Lau is Hoi An’s signature dish. This is made with Cao Lau a pork broth, noodles, and vegetables. Cao lau is the best when being enjoyed in Hoi An and almost just available in Hoi An. To make cao lau, people have to take water from a thousand – year – old well in Hoi An called Ba Le, the rice to make cao lau must be soaked in ash water from Cham island, and the vegetables to eat along with the noodles must be from Tra Que organic vegetable village. This is a kind of noodles with just a little of the broth and being enjoyed upstairs (high floors) by the merchants from all over the world in the past.

– Ms. Ha, stall E035, Hoi An central market.
– Ms. Thanh, 26 Thai Phien St.

#2 - Quang Noodle

The colorful food culture of Hoi An Ancient Town 1
Photo by SauceSupreme
Mi quang is a noodle dish from the Quang province of central Vietnam. While there are different versions of mi quang and how to serve it, the dish most commonly comes with pork slices, whole shrimp and peeled quails eggs served atop warm wide white rice noodles with a little amount of strong pork and prawn stock or soup. Scallion ( spring onion) and chopped coriander are added to the noodles before the broth is ladled on. Crushed peanuts finish the dish but at the table other elements can be added to taste. A lot of locals will say that the best mi quang is the one their mother makes.

– Mr. Hai restaurant- 6A Truong Minh Luong (from 6.00 AM to 10.00 PM).
– Ms. Bich restaurant at 272 Hung Vuong St.
– Street vendors in Thai Phien street.

#3 - Banh Mi Phuong - Hoi An

– Address: 2B Phan Chau Trinh street, near the crossroad of Phan Chau Trinh and Hoang Dieu
Opening hours: 6am – 10pm

The most popular food stall in Hoi An is none other than Banh Mi Phuong. In “No Reservations” travel show, famous American chef Anthony Bourdain’s came to Hoi An, ate banh mi Phuong and then claimed that it is a symphony in a sandwich.

The colorful food culture of Hoi An Ancient Town 2
Photo by quangvinh
Phuong has been serving up the most delicious banh mi in Hoi An for more than 20 years. She gets up at 3am every morning to prepare the pork and condiments ready for her first customers of the day while her younger sister baked the crispy banh mi. Soon, it became one of Hoi An’s busiest food stalls. So what makes banh mi here so special? I think the crucial part is the banh mi Madam Phuong bakes next door. It is crispy outside, soft and airy inside.

Her original banh mi kep thit heo is the most popular choice. When all the ingredients – pork liver pate, handmade mayonnaise, pork floss, grilled pork, head cheese, pork patty, pickled papaya, long sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, cilantro, spring onion, mints – all combine together, it is really tasty. The secret dressing she created will leave your taste buds singing with joy.

Another good recommendation for Banh Mi is MADAM KHANH THE BANH MI QUEEN which is located at the north of the Thu Bon river. 80-year-old Madam Khanh makes banh mi with passion. Each sandwish has pâté, pork char siu, sausage, fried egg, homemade pickles, papaya, carrots, parsley, chili sauce, soy sauce, and her secret sauce. The result is a well-balanced sandwich that’s sweet and salty, spicy but basic, crunchy yet creamy.

#4 - Banh It La Gai

 Address: Hoi An Market Trần Quý Cáp tp. Hội An Quảng Nam Vietnam

The central market is a must visit because it is a great combination of foods and shopping as well as interesting local lifestyle experience. Besides Cao Lau, there is an old lady at the entrance that sells Banh It (black) and Banh Phu The (yellow).

Bánh phu thê (literally “husband and wife cake”) is a Vietnamese dessert made from tapioca, shredded coconut with mung beans stuffing wrapped in a box made of pandan leaves. The dessert was traditionally given by a suitor but is now part of many wedding banquets.

#5 - Xi Ma

 Address: On Nguyen Truong To Street, about 50 meter away from the crossroad of Nguyen Truong To Street and Ly Thuong Kiet Street (near to Hoi An Centre for Orphans and Disabled Children)

Sitting on a stool along Nguyen Truong To Street, the enjoy a small bowl of Xi Ma – a dessert made from black sesame, sugar, pennywort, and a kind of Chinese medicine. It may not have an attractive colour but it tastes really good and you should not miss it!

Opens from 7am daily, this roadside stall started about 70 years ago and is opened by Mr Ngo Thieu. He is now 100 years old and is no longer able to run this business at this age, hence the daughter took over. They make just enough to sell out every day, so be sure to get there earlier rather than later. Each bowl of sesame paste is sooooo smooth and nutty, costing only 5,000 VND/bowl.

If you are curious about these dishes, contact us here for more information about food as well as Hoi An tourism.

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