Our time in Hoi An was very much a vacation-within-a-vacation. We spent the bulk of our time at the lovely Victoria Hoi An resort on the beach outside of town. Plus, it was ungodly hot and humid the entire time. This meant we ate a few of our meals at the resort rather than making the trek into town. Still, there are some places I’d like to share.
Market, Hoi An Town
On our first day in town, we wander through the food market around 6pm, and while it’s starting to close down for the day, it’s also humming with locals making late purchases for their dinner. We get caught in a motorcycle traffic jam inside the market. Someone is making a purchase, from his bike, blocking all traffic, both pedestrian and moto. While I want to return on another day, we never do make it back inside the market. I’ve read though, that there is good food to be had inside.
Mango Rooms, Hoi An Town
The next day, we walk around town a bit more, and it’s so hot, I’m carrying an umbrella for shade, something I’ve never done before. We stop for lunch at the Mango Rooms, a place well recommended on travel sites and in guidebooks. The chef/owner is from Saigon and has lived all over the world, including the Texas, Latin America, Japan, New Zealand, Europe, and Australia. Their menu and web site states they only use organic fruits and vegetables, no MSG and use filtered water for preparing fresh produce, and bottled water for their ice.
We each order a baguette sandwich; one with beef, the other with egg and chicken. David has a Gin and Tonic and I have a fruit smoothie. Everything is very fresh and good, but lunch is 340,000 VND (about $19.30) which is pretty expensive for here.
Bao Han, near Cua Dai Beach:
I wanted to try one of the local restaurants, near the beach, close to our hotel. The girl at the place where we drop off laundry recommends a restaurant down the road called “Bao Han” so we head down there. We want to try the local Hoi An noodle specialty called Cau Lao, and we both order a bowl and the local beer, Biere Larue. The noodle dish is pretty, but the noodles themselves are heavy and the dish as a whole a bit flavorless. I’m not impressed, but I’m willing to try it some place else to see if it’s the dish, or the preparation. Dinner is 80,000 VND.
Citronella, Hoi An Town:
Like the Mango Rooms, Citronella (5 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai) mentions in the front of their menu that they only use filtered water for ice and food preparation. For this reason, we felt safe ordering drinks with ice and I had yet another wonderful Vietnamese “lemon juice.” I decided to give the local noodle dish, Cao Lai another try and we ordered another local specialty, the White Rose dumplings. Both were very good and while this version of the noodles was decidedly better, it’s just not my favorite dish in Vietnam. Give me Bun Cha any day. Our meal was 108,000 VND.
Morning Glory, Hoi An Town:
Morning Glory Restaurant bills itself as a “Street Food Restaurant and Cooking School.” This is one of 4 restaurants and a hotel owned by the same woman, named Trinh Diem Vy, who grew up in Hoi An. The menu is quite lengthy with lots of choices and an emphasis on “street food style” and “healthy” food using herbs. Unfortunately, we were having such a good time talking with friends, I did not take notes on the meal. I know from my photos we had a very good sauteed white eggplant dish, stir-fried morning glory greens with garlic (so good we ordered a second), tofu (very plain, the weakest dish), banh coun, a salad with beef, and something on a skewer which I cannot identify. Add to that numerous beers, sodas and a couple ice creams for dessert and dinner was 550,000 VND for 5 people.
Hoa Hung, near Cua Dai Beach:
Late in the afternoon of our last day, when we go to pick up our laundry, we check out a couple more local restaurants for dinner that night. There is a large restaurant called Hoa Hung, up on a small rise overlooking the beach, right at the intersection of the road into town and the road which runs parallel to the beach. We look at a menu and decide to come back later.
Also at that intersection is a beach area which is very popular with locals. At night, there are many tables and BBQs set up on the sand and it looks it it was possible to eat there too, though we did not investigate closely.
Hoa Hung has tanks filled with all manner of live seafood; large lobsters, shrimp, clams, and fish still swimming. While these can all be ordered by the kilo, it’s a little risky to do it this way when you don’t speak the language and those prices aren’t clear on the menu.
We order some steamed shrimp by the plate (2), fried calamari, sauteed morning glory (2), a bowl of ramen noodle soup for our friend’s kid, and some fried noodles with pork. Everything is very simple and good, though not spectacular. In cases like this I always wonder what the food would be like had we been with someone local who did the ordering. With a couple of rounds of beer, soda and water, dinner is around 500,000 VND for five.
If you’d like to see more about Hoi An Vietnam, including more food photos, sightseeing, and the beautiful beach, please see my travelogues at http://www.wired2theworld.com