You know how much I love to try new food, and our stop in Hue had finally upped the game for Vietnamese cuisine. Lucky for me – Hoi An impressed throughout. A fantastic stop for foodies, and there are so many local dishes to try you need a day or two to get through them all. These include Hoanh Thanh Chien (fried wontons), Cao Lau (Hoi An noodles and pork), Banh Xeo (rice pancakes) and White Rose (shrimp dumplings). Although we didn’t manage to eat any disappointing food in Hoi An, our favourite restaurants were as follows:
Miss Ly Café – we loved this place so much we kept their business card to show to people we met along the way to tell them to eat there! We stumbled upon Miss Ly’s after seeing positive reviews on trip advisor, and were not disappointed. The restaurant itself is fairly small but full of character, with Miss Ly’s friendly husband looking after the front of house, whilst she runs the kitchen (which I have to say, was one of the calmest little kitchens I’ve ever seen!). We started with some amazing fresh pork spring rolls (which remained the best we had all trip), and Dave finally got his fish wrapped in banana leaf, whilst I had an unbelievably fresh chicken and papaya salad washed down with with an oh so naughty but nice whisky cocktail. Huge portions, great value… don’t think about going to Hoi An and missing out on eating here!
Morning Glory – with top recommendations from Lonely Planet, it didn’t come as a surprise to find this place incredibly packed, and full of travellers rather than any of the locals. A telling sign was perhaps being given the option of cutlery and chopsticks – something we hadn’t seen too often (meaning my chopstick skills are now simply excellent). That said, the menu is full of local “street food”, which we did greatly enjoy, and as the restaurant is so large we were seated relatively quickly after being told it would be a 20 minute wait. Here we tried White Rose (not to my taste!), and Cau Lau, which was delicious. Whilst this is certainly a place we would recommend, we were seated upstairs, and the experience of trying local food was somewhat tainted by being in such a huge, busy restaurant, that could have easily been anywhere in the world, as opposed to feeling the authentic experience of homemade Hoi An cuisine. Try and get a table downstairs – there are fewer tables and in the centre you get to see the chefs preparing dishes right in front of you (which really would have been a treat, and a good way to pick up cooking tips to take home!). They do also run a cooking school which would have been fantastic to attend had we not been short on time.
Mermaid Restaurant – another very popular spot in Hoi An, which we ended up visiting for lunch after being unable to get a table there in the evening. Located close to market, the freshness of the food here definitely cannot be faulted, and the meals are all extremely affordable. The Banh Xeo was perfectly sized to refuel me for the afternoon ahead, and I could have eaten the peanut sauce over and over again for the rest of the trip. A charming, brightly decorated little restaurant, and a great place to try the local dishes even if on a very tight budget.
We definitely could have spent another week in Hoi An sampling the great places to eat, and of course it’s hard not to be enticed into the many cafes for a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (served with condensed milk) and a spot of watching the world go by – the coffee turned out to be a bit of a revelation, and an addiction for myself for the duration of our time in Vietnam! In fact, I love them so much, I have had to make one right now with the coffee I brought home! (a MUST try Hector as a coffee fan!)
I am definitely a convert to Vietnamese food after our stay in Hoi An… however just you wait and see what this was going to be followed by…!
With kindest regards,