The best Hoi An dishes are exclusively available within the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is this remarkable city, utilising fresh greens, herbs, fish, meat, and even water from the neighbouring Tra Que Vegetable Village, Cham Island, Ba Le Well, and Cam Nam Village. Once a prominent Vietnamese trading port, Hoi An’s specialities are the result of Chinese, French and Japanese influences.
In addition to the beauty of “one of a kind”, Hoi An is also famous for possessing a variety of unique dishes that only this place has. This old town in the central province of Quang Nam is also known for its people’s honesty and hospitality.
But Hoi An’s attractiveness also lies in its vast cuisine with foods that are cheap — not more than 50,000 VND ($2.15) for a dish – but delicious. Moreover, food of decent quality can be found even in street stalls and small eateries.
If you plan to make a food tour in Hoi An, it is highly recommended to start at around 3 p.m., when motorbikes are restricted, leaving streets free to pedestrians and a few bicycles and tricycles. It is also the peak time for street food vendors.
And remember to add the following foods to your list of items not to be missed when coming to Hoi An.
Cao Lầu (Rice Noodles With Barbecued Pork, Greens And Croutons)
Cao Lau is only available in Hoi An so it becomes a brand and the first must-try food on this list. It is a definitive dish, comprising chewy udon-like rice noodles, Chinese barbecued pork slices, beansprouts, croutons, and fresh herbs in a pork-based gravy.
This local delicacy is only available in Hoi An because the noodles can only be cooked using water from well-hidden ancient Cham wells while fresh greens are sourced from Tra Que Vegetable Village. You can find cao lau at any Vietnamese restaurant in Hoi An, with prices ranging between 10,000 VND and 50,000 VND. Certain eateries serve their own variation of cau lao by adding peanuts, rice crackers, scallions, lime, and chilli jam.
Mì Quảng (Vietnamese Turmeric Noodles)
Currently, noodles are sold in many places in Vietnam but people still want to go back to Hoi An to try the original taste of this dish. The dish is rustic but also extremely charming, delicious like an extremely simple, classic Hoi An food but still captivating many travelholics.
Mi quang consists of yellow rice noodles, bone broth seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot, and garlic, topped with a variety of meat, herbs, and local greens. A bowl costs between 15,000 VND and 25,000 VND, though prices can go much higher at established restaurants in Hoi An.
Traditionally, meat toppings are either chicken, pork, or beef slices, but many restaurants now include squid, boiled quail eggs, snails, and frogs. As with most noodle and rice dishes in Vietnam, mi quang also features lots of fresh herbs and other additions such as basil, peanuts, coriander, sliced banana flowers, and sesame rice crackers.
Cơm gà (Chicken rice)
Chicken rice is a popular dish in Vietnam but why is this dish still included in this list? In fact, com ga is a hearty ensemble of fragrant rice, shredded village chicken, fresh herbs, black pepper, and chilli jam. Originating from China, it’s a very common dish in Southeast Asia, but Hoi An food is said to utilise only top quality rice and farm-raised chickens.
Instead of cooking rice with water as usual, the rice in this dish is stir-fried with turmeric and turmeric leaves to produce a bright yellow color with a light aroma. Rice is also seasoned to stimulate the taste of most customers. The chicken is boiled and thinly sliced, can be mixed with ingredients such as laksa leaves and papaya or leave it raw. There is also a galvanizing water made from blood or a cradle of chicken that gives a more delicious and attractive flavor to this dish.
It is probably said that it is one of the “trump card” making Hoi An become one of the most crowded tourist attraction A standard plate of com ga is priced at 30,000 VND, which comes with a small bowl of clear soup, dipping sauces, and pickled green chillies.
Bánh dập (Vietnamese Rice Crackers)
Literally translated as cracked/smashed rice pancakes, banh dap is perhaps one of the simplest foods in Hoi An’s cuisine, but its contradictory textures easily makes the biggest impression on foreigners. Banh dap is a traditional snack that’s exclusively available at Cam Nam Village, located about 10 minutes away from Hoi An Ancient Town.
Banh dap is actually a combination of two kinds of rice papers, one white, thin and kind of sticky and the other, dry, crispy and brittle. Even though the dish looks very simple, you have to learn some rules to eat it in a right way.
First, you place a wet pancake on a crispy one. Then apply some mung bean paste and place some fried chopped shallots and shredded spring onion. Lastly, add another dry pancake before breaking the sandwich with the hand. You have to crack the sandwich once again, this time into two, and dip it into a sauce whose ingredient is mam cai – a kind of fermented and salted fish paste that is native to the central region.
A good eatery to check out the special pancake is Ba Gia, which is located in Hamlet 1, Cam Nam Commune. Priced at only 8,000 VND, it’s made by placing a wet rice paper atop a crispy one before layering on some mung bean paste, fried shallots, and chopped spring onions.
Bánh Mì Phượng (Phuong’s Vietnamese Baguette)
It is not natural that this list has bread, a rustic food that anywhere in Vietnam can be sold. Banh Mi Phuong has been ranked in the top 10 most delicious burgers in the world by a renowned food blogger.
Quick and tasty, banh mi is one of Vietnam’s quintessential dish that you should never miss out on. This hearty baguette sandwich is priced between 10,000 VND and 15,000 VND and consists of pickled vegetables, pâté, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chillies, and hot peppers.
Depending on the restaurant or food stall, you can also choose from a variety of meat fillings for your banh mi, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausages), xiu mai (meatballs), thit ga (boiled chicken), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), and xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).
Thịt nướng (Grilled meat)
Ending this list is an extremely famous street food. This dish is a perfect combination of extremely marinated grilled meat and a thin wet cake and raw vegetables. In addition to the sauce, this dish is extremely popular among young people
Cooked with a special recipe, this “divine” sauce is suitable for all dishes in Hoi An, so it is also an incredibly important element to make the special and delicious taste of dishes in there. Actually the secret of these delicacies relates to an accompanying fever that few people pay attention to. This is Quang Nam chilli sauce, it is considered by Hoi An people as an indispensable item for dishes.
Bun thit nuong combines white vermicelli rice noodles, freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, beansprouts, pickled daikon, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint. The dish is finally topped with sweet and grilled pork slices that are grilled over a charcoal stove.
While the dish is quite filling on its own, you also opt for a side of green chilli, fresh lettuce, and a peanut-based gravy to mix into the bun thit nuong for extra flavour. Bun thit nuong is priced around 30,000 VND at established restaurants within the Ancient Town, but there are numerous food stalls along Hoi An Riverside selling it much cheaper.