Before you pull into the picturesque historic town of Hoi An, located in central Vietnam, you are greeted with an incredible drive along the coastline boasting budding five-star properties that are mushrooming in the city owing to the growing popularity. But the moment you enter the heritage town’s vicinity, the warm sunshine colored buildings are a welcoming sight. We were drawn right from the first glimpse owing to its simple laid-back vibe, bright multi-colored lanterns strung all over and of course the ever-smiling locals. Right after checking into our hotel, we hopped out into the harsh sun to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger.
Before our arrival, we had a fair amount of our research about places we absolutely had to go; so, for lunch we dove right into the best Hoi An had to offer with a quaint establishment by the name Morning Glory. As the menu educated us about the staple vegetable, which inspired the establishment’s name, we absolutely had to order it. So, within minutes our table boasted of a garlic stir-fry morning glory, traditional white rose dumplings, Com Ga, Vietnamese condensed-milk coffee and a refreshing lemon iced-tea. Everything was exceptionally delicious, fresh, fragrant and just light. We especially loved the traditional white rose dumplings and highly recommend it for its fresh texture and the scrumptious pork and shrimp filling. The fried shallots and fish-oil dip with chili just accentuated the dish and made it a memorable one. The drinks gave us the much-needed refreshment for our following walk through the historic town and spots.
In the evening we ventured out again and this time the town looked so different under the bright lights, despite brimming with people in all corners, Hoi An still maintained its elegant vibe while now having a romantic makeover all thanks to the lights.
We made our way through the people to a coveted food joint called Banh Mi Phuong. This local Banh Mi joint which gained popularity Anthony Bourdain’s visit where he handed the sandwich a title of ‘Best Banh Mi in Vietnam’, which is saying something. We ordered two different Banh Mi, one with barbequed pork and one classic with the side of cold lemonade. Like my friend rightly said this Banh Mi was the Beyoncé of sandwiches. Nestled between the crispy French baguette were layers of meat, fresh herbs, creamy sauce, and a rich pate. Everything was just so seamlessly merging into this sandwich which again deceptively light.
The next day, we made our way to a humble place, in the middle of a narrow alley, called Nu Eatery which was in right across the ancient Japanese bridge. This little place houses only a few people and does not offer a vast menu, but each item is thoughtfully designed and everything on the menu is bound to be a hit which is why this joint comes highly recommended. They have vegan and vegetarian options too. We got a rice c’om, a chicken rice bowl with an abundance of fresh veggies, and Banh Bao Kep which were soft buns tucked with perfectly rich barbequed pork, and a sweet potato salad with roasted local veggies and nuts. The Bao was a standout dish which we could not help but order a second serving of…
After walking through the night market and drinking glasses of Mot, a traditional herbal drink including honeysuckle, cinnamon, lemon and lemongrass and luo han guo,for dinner, we grabbed the local specialty Cau Lau from a local joint along the river. You can spot these joints with their silver tables paired with small stools which have a small menu of delectable local treats. The trouble with this local joint is that it is always crowded because of the spectacular view and the authenticity of local cuisine. The Cau Lau noodles are available only in Hoi An as the water used to cook the noodles comes from a special well which gives the noodles a special texture. The dish was divine because of the rich broth, crisp pork, supple noodles, and fresh herbs – you must get a bowl of this while in Hoi An.
We strongly suggest staying for a day or two in Hoi An to take it slow, walk around and explore this beautiful town. While there remain so many more local gems and dishes that you must try while in Hoi An – these four spots are the ones you cannot afford to miss so be sure to drop by and treat your taste-buds!
- Morning Glory – 106 Nguyễn Thái Học, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam. Open all days from 10am to 11pm
- Banh Mi Phuong – 2b Phan Chu Trinh, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000, Vietnam Open from 6:30am to 9:30pm
- Nu Eatery – 10A Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam Opens at 12pm to 9pm, closed on Sunday
- Mót Hội An – 150 Trần Phú, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam