Posted on January 31, 2017
Hoi An was known as Faifo in centuries past and is one of the most prosperous towns in Central Vietnam. Certified a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, Hoi An has been Vietnam's foremost tourism success story. Despite it's popularity, it has firmly retained it's charming atmosphere with elegant shops, traditional architecture, and it's own fabulous cuisine. It's no wonder our travelers always mention Hoi An as their favorite place.
Where & What to eat:
Where to chill:
What to do:
Most popular loaf in town - keeping visitors coming back for more.
Let’s start the Faifo adventure with the most popular “Banh mi” in town – “Bánh Mì Phượng” – which has been so popular that it made to CNN Travel and is praised by tourists from far and wide. One loaf costs only For a buck (10,000 VND for locals and 25,000 for foreigners), a tasty treat to go. If you must, ask your guide to get the good price, but one dollar for a good loaf of bread is a true bargain.
Centella juice, green and healthy.
After, head to old market and have some smoothies or juice, of my favorite is centella juice, an exotic choice for visitors but recommended for its health benefits.
No, these are not erasers, but sweet cake with the texture like jello called “Bánh chín tầng mây” ("Cloud nine cake"). These are sold by the sweets vendor along the streets of Hoi An.
Another specialty to try is "Sắn Đập" made with smashed sweet potato topped with smashed peanuts.
Refresh your taste with these small but delightful Vietnamese dessert.
"Xí mà phú" (sesame sweet soup)
"Xoa xoa" – a combination of black and white jello.
The afternoon is blessed with so many food choices, especially grills. When it come to grills, don’t expect too many BBQ dish like Western cuisine. Let’s discover Vietnamese exquisite way of grilling.
"Bánh Kẹp" aka Vietnamese crêpe
Commonly known as “Bánh tráng nướng” (grilled paper cake), this dish in Faifo is far more different thanks to the stuffing inside. The vendor they grill these and put either egg, sausage or pork. The crispiness differentiates the taste from what I tasted in Saigon.
"Thịt Xiên Nướng" (skewers)
Yes, these skewers are similar to BBQ, but the way to eat them is more interesting than BBQ. First, take on some rice paper and put the rice cake on. Secondly, put the veggies and meat inside then roll it. Dip the roll into the sauce and enjoy. We like this plate served up on Hai Ba Trung Street.
"Bánh Hoa Hồng Trắng" (White Rose Cake)
Hoi An's must not miss specialty is cao lầu, a delicious drier soup of pork, thick rice noodles and fried crutons that will remain in your memories long after you leave Hoi An. Legend has it, the critical ingredient for cao lầu is the local water. Whatever the true story, you'll seldom find it elsewhere, and not as delicous. The finest cao lầu is served up by our old friend, Miss Ly (and has been for over 20 years), at her Miss Ly Cafe 22 at 22 Nguyen Hue Street.
"Cao Lầu" (literally translated as High Floor) a udon fusion with pork meat.
This sublime and savory cake is a variant of dim sum, but the shape is like a white rose, thus the source of the name. The stuffing is a small ball of pork, but the flavor highlight of this local dish are the fried onion and fish sauce. Life can not get any better.
Quang Noodle ("mi Quang"), which originated right here in Quảng Nam Province, is a bowl of glistening, mouth-watering golden noodles, pork, shrimp, with fresh herbs and top secret ‘nuoc sot mi quang’ or Quang noodle sauce which imbibes the stock with a slightly sweet and spicy taste. Like cao lầu, it is a drier soup, served with just enough broth to barely cover the noodles.
"Cơm Gà Bà Nga" (Bà Nga Chicken Rice)
Even though Cơm Gà Bà Buội (Bà Buội Chicken Rice) is the most popular place in Hoi An for this traditional dish of the region, we prefer it in another restaurant nearby where the taste is good as well, the meat surprisingly fresh with a seasoning fusion of sweet chili sauce and fat from the chicken base.
What else to eat in Hoi An? Let's keep going.
"Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Mực" (Papaya Salad with Dried Squid)
"Tàu phớ" (Steamed Tofu with Jello)
Bánh xèo (Vietnamese grilled crepe)
Bánh xèo (say: bahn SAY-oh) means "sizzling cake," a sort of grilled crepe that may be familiar—it's also very popular in American Vietnamese restaurants (although on order of magnitude larger of course). The dish is actually more from Hue, but if you missed it there, make up for it here in Hoi An. Filled with pork, shrimp, and bean shoots, served up with fresh herbs and nước mắm (fish sauce). If you're taking the cooking class we recommend, you'll be learning how to make this dish. Often called a "savory crepe," bánh xèo was actually prepared in Vietnam before French colonial-era, influenced by Indian pancakes or crepe called dosas.
The most beautiful scene in Hoi An is at night, just after sunset, when all the shops opened and the colored paper lanterns are alight and there is usually some traditional musical performance.
Looking at Hội An from the Thu Bồn River.
The many lanterns
Don’t forget to buy yours here
The Japanese Bridge at Night
"Bài Chòi" musical performance where you can bet and win some gifts. It’s similar to lotto.
Late Night Stroll
Some cafes to pause in
Cocobox’s special drink: "Relax Thu Bồn" a veggie mix with avocado.
Chilling with coconut at Hội An Roastery.
Even though it was my second time here, I could not help feeling so joyful with all the food Hoi An offers. The ambiance was a big plus that boosted my appetite.
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