Central Vietnamese cuisine has stolen hearts of locals and foreigners alike, and for good reason. The dishes are generally more flavorful, and come with a lot more spices than those served throughout the rest of Vietnam.
Central Vietnamese cuisine has stolen the hearts of locals and foreigners alike, and for good reason. The dishes are generally more flavorful, and come with a lot more spices than those served throughout the rest of Vietnam. Here are some of our favorite must-try dishes in Hoi An.
Hoi An Chicken Rice (Com Ga Hoi An)
Among the many must-try dishes in Hoi An, chicken rice (com ga) has gained a huge fan base. This dish is so popular that most Hoi An travel brochures spend a whole section dedicated to it. Hoi An chicken rice has an eye-catching greeny-yellow color partly due to the fact that the rice is cooked with quality chicken broth and also due to the green of the fresh, raw vegetables harvested in Tra Que Village used in this dish.,
The rice is also of high quality. After seasoning, people cook the rice with chicken broth and pandan leaves on a wood stove to make sure it reaches a special fragrance and a balanced structure. In term of cooking the chicken, the meat has to be soft and fresh. After boiling, the chicken is ripped and then squeezed with onion, fried onion, salt, and pepper to ensure the spices absorb into the meat. Finally, the rice is piled onto the plate, served with shredded chicken meat on top, and flavored with onion, sour papaya, fresh herbs, soy sauce, and chili sauce. In addition, some places will also serve the dish along with a bowl of hot chicken soup.
Hoi An locals have really created a chicken rice that is unlike any other.
Diners may think this dish is similar to any regular chicken dishes. But after just one bite, you will realize how deliciously unique this dish really is. Hoi An locals have really created a chicken rice that is unlike any other.
Com Ga Xi
Address: 47/2 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoi An
Opening time: from 9 AM to 9:30 PM
Average price: 20,000 – 50,000 VND/ a plate
Com Ga Ba Buoi
Address: 22 Phan Chau Trinh Street, Hoi An
Opening time: from 11 AM to 9 PM
Average price: 35,000 – 50,000 VND/ a plate
Quang Noodle (Mi Quang)
Also a type of rice vermicelli like pho and hu tieu, and similar in structure, Quang noodle (mi quang) possesses a completely different shade and flavor. As the name implies, this noodle is a specialty of the Quang Nam province. And just like other dishes that have originated from Central Vietnam, this is a very sophisticated dish, full of flavors.
To soften, the rice is soaked in cold water and then ground into a fine powder. Then, a small amount of alum powder is mixed in to make the noodles tougher. After boiling, the noodles are carefully taken out and cooled on a griddle. Also, a thin layer of vegetable oil is spread on the noodles to avoid them sticking to one another. A bowl of mi quang consists of quang noodles, shrimp, pork, chicken, roasted peanuts, quail eggs, fresh herbs, and only a little amount of broth.
Mi Quang Chi Ha
Address: Thai Phien Street, Hoi An
Opening time: from 7 AM to 7 PM
Average price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND/ a bowl
Cao Lau Hoi An
This is one of Vietnam’s delicacies solely associated with Hoi An’s Ancient Town. The essence of this dish is situated in the noodles which are processed meticulously. Firstly, the rice is soaked in ash water made by wood collected at Cu Lao Cham. Then the rice is carefully filtered and ground into powder. For this step, the water must be taken from the old Ba Le Well of the Cham people. This is why this dish cannot be prepared anywhere else. After being shaped, the noodles are steamed several times and are then put through a drying stage. Thanks to such a careful process, servers can make sure the noodles retain their best quality even when being left overnight.
The water must be taken from the old Ba Le Well of the Cham people. This is why this dish cannot be prepared anywhere else.
People usually eat cao lau with boiled bean sprouts and veggies grown in the famous Tra Que vegetable village in Hoi An. Cao lau definitely possesses a varied combination of flavors, smells and textures from the different ingredients and they combine to form a heavenly dish. This is definitely a must-try dish in Hoi An because where else can you get it?
Cao Lau Thanh
Address: 26 Thai Phien Street, Hoi An
Opening time: from 6 AM to 3 PM
Average price: 25,000 – 30,000 VND/ a bowl
Hoi An Crispy Pancakes (Banh xeo Hoi An)
Banh xeo (Vietnamese crispy pancake) is a typical folk dish of Vietnamese cuisine. However, as a result of the differences in methods of preparation as well as the use of local ingredients, banh xeo’s made in different regions can taste and look different. And of course, banh xeo Hoi An is unique as well. These pancakes are smaller but noticeably stronger in flavor compared to banh xeo from the south. Not only that, but how banh xeo is eaten is also different. While banh xeo in the south are eaten all year round, in Central Vietnam, these cakes seem to be particularly popular in the cold season.
The crunchiness of rice flour, the fatty taste of coconut milk, the fragrance of turmeric powder, and the saltiness of the seafood inside, all wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves and dipped in sweet and aromatic fish sauce. Undoubtedly, it is a flavor explosion in your mouth and you are sure to crave more. However, notice that Hoi An pancakes are also a bit fatty, so try these cakes while they are still hot.
Banh Xeo Hai Dao Hoi An
Address: 160 Ly Thai To Street, Hoi An
Opening time: 7 AM – 10 PM
Average price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND/ a banh xeo
Dubbed as “the best baguette in the world”, banh mi is a favorite street food for travelers. Hoi An’s banh mi is famous for being overly delicious and this is due to the sophisticated cooking style of the central people.
Bread must always remain hot to ensure the crunchiness of the crust and the softness of the powder inside. Instead of using cold meat like in other places, the highlight of banh mi Hoi An comes from the use of delicious spicy fillings. Another important part in addition to the meaty fillings that creates a characteristic scent for banh mi Hoi An is the pate. The pate is cooked exactly to the minute in the oven to ensure the product is fat, soft, not too dry, and aromatic. Besides, the baguette is also filled with handmade butter sauce made from fresh chicken eggs, pork, ham, organic vegetables from Tra Que Village, and flavored with spicy gravy.
The pate is cooked exactly to the minute in the oven to ensure the product is fat, soft, not too dry, and aromatic.
The arrangement of ingredients used inside each banh mi creates a true artsy masterpiece that is delicious. Banh mi Hoi An is not only flavorful and colorful, but it is also a nutritious and cheap baguette that can be had as both a light snack or as a main meal.
Banh Mi Phuong
Address: 2B Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoi An
Opening time: 6 AM to 9:30 PM
Average price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND/ a banh mi
Banh Mi Madame Khanh
Address: 115 Tran Cao Van Street, Hoi An
Opening time: from 7 AM to 7 PM
Average price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND/ a banh mi
Giant freshwater prawn (tom cang xanh)
An Bang beach is not only a renowned haven for tourists, it’s still a traditional fishing village. That makes it heaven for holidaying seafood lovers. There are a lot of restaurants along the side of the beach where you can find many different types of fresh seafood (such as shrimp, squid, fish, crab and so on) cooked in a variety of ways, all at reasonable prices. Besides the usual seafood, there is one exceptional dish on the menu… the giant freshwater prawn.
The giant prawn from Hoi An is also known as the “large freshwater prawn” since it is caught in freshwater environments like the river reefs or canals. Vietnamese people called it tom cang xanh (the blue claw prawn) due to the two big blue nippers they brandish. In Vietnam, the giant freshwater prawn can usually be found in the South, especially in Mekong Delta. To catch the prawn, people have to scoop water out of the canal and grab it with their hands or use a net to catch the ones living in the river reef. In Hoi An, these prawns are usually raised in prawn farms for distribution to the restaurants.
There are several ways to cook this giant prawn but to bring out the best taste you should boil them. Instead of killing the shrimp first, the whole giant prawn goes into the pot and gets cooked alive with lemongrass which helps keep it fresh and moist. An Bang beach is near Tra Que vegetable village, and most of the food eaten in the area is paired with greens harvested from the farms there. The boiled giant prawn is no exception. It’s commonly served with salad, laksa leaves or mint, then eaten with a mixture of sour sauce made of salt, pepper, and lime. The red color of prawn blends well with the green of the herbs.
Eating boiled giant prawn is truly an art. First, you rip the nippers off. Next, carefully peel the head off. Then, use scissors to cut the top of the shell through the center, down the middle of the tail, and then remove it from the flesh. Finally, you dip the juicy tail in the sour sauce and take a big bite. The prawn tastes sweet and moist. The texture of the meat is firm and fresh, but not tough. The prawn’ legs are also edible. You have to crack the claw into pieces and then use the same cutting technique to split the hard shells. When you’re finished, you will have fleshy nipper sticks to enjoy. Vietnamese people often eat prawn with a plate of rice. For another delicious alternative, you should also try the boiled giant prawn with butter and garlic sauce.
Besides the incredible taste, there is one more reason for you to try the prawn. It is very healthy and nutritious. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, each giant river prawn is an excellent source of protein, amino acids, vital minerals, and vitamins. They are particularly beneficial for new moms and malnourished children.
The giant freshwater prawn is seen as a luxury dish in Vietnam. For one kilogram, which is about 2-3 prawns, you’ll pay around 1.5 million VND, which equates to approximately $75 USD.
The best seafood restaurant
Among many restaurants at An Bang beach, Kim Cuc restaurant is a rising star for those who want to experience a local seafood feast. They have a reputation for serving the freshest ingredients at very reasonable prices. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy!!!
Let us know if you’ve tried the giant freshwater prawn in Hoi An in the comments below. What did you think? Did you like it?
Restaurant name: Kim Cuc Restaurant
Address: Block 01 An Bang beach, Cam An Ward, Hoi An city
Business hour: 8 AM – 10 PM
Price of giant freshwater prawn: From 1.5 million/kilogram
A foodie tour with Onetrip!
Besides exploring these delicious dishes by yourself, you can book a private food tour with Onetrip, a reliable and youthful company. Onetrip’s local guides will take you to the most local food stalls, share with you everything about the dishes, and also show you how to eat these dishes in a Vietnamese way. You might be surprised to find that eating food the Vietnamese way is the right way! Although we have shared with you all our local favorites, there are a lot more the Onetrip guides are looking to share with you – some of their personal favorites.