Hoi An, Vietnam – The charming city in Central Vietnam is not all about its UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. Don’t leave without trying some of the local Vietnamese cuisine, including one of the most famous Banh Mi in the whole of Vietnam featured in Anthony Bourdain’s show.
Cao Lau is one of the most famous dishes of Hoi An, which is essentially thick dry rice noodles with tender pork and croutons. It’s so unique because the water used to prepare Cao Lau comes from the wells in Hoi An, which explains why you can only have this dish here. The noodle texture is somewhat like Japanese Udon, and it is interesting to see the mix of Chinese and Japanese influences in this dish. It is very easy to find it in Hoi An, but for a more authentic street experience, try it from one of the street side stall.
We have never imagined that Chicken Rice is also one of the specialties in Hoi An, with a vastly different presentation from Singapore’s version. The rice in Com Ga is slightly yellow, due to the use of turmeric in cooking the rice. The shredded chicken is then mixed with onions, Vietnamese coriander and other spices for flavour. Unlike the Chicken Rice we are used to having in Singapore, the ones in Hoi An is served with loads of salad and spicy sauce.
While Banh Mi (which means bread and wheat), also often coined the national bread of Vietnam, is available throughout Vietnam, it is on our to-try list in Hoi An simply because there is a particular stall in this old town which is accorded the best of its kind in Vietnam by Anthony Bourdain. Banh Mi Phuong is a nondescript eatery by the main road located near Hoi An Old Town, where you can get freshly prepared Banh Mi for about 20,000 Vietnamese Dong. We tried the pulled pork Banh Mi, which was delicious.
Hoanh Thanh Chien
Otherwise known as fried wonton dumplings, we were surprised that this dish is a specialty of Hoi An as fried wanton is a very common Chinese dish. The main difference is that the shape of the fried wantons in Hoi An is much broader than the Chinese versions, topped with various slices of tomato, spring onions and other meats.
Banh Bao Vac
Similar to the fried wanton, dumplings are common in Chinese cuisine but the ones in Hoi An have a fancy name called White Rose Dumpling. The shape of the dumpling resembles a white rose, characterised by a much thinner and translucent dumpling skin filled with minced shrimps. The texture is really thin, and while we didn’t find it particularly special in taste, it is still worth a try if you are clueless about what to have on the local menu.
Ranted by The Ranter