What to eat in Hoi An

Bánh bao vac (white roses)
a type of shrimp dumpling made using two round sheets of rice paper. A bit like ravioli, really.
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Viet.com Cafe
730 Hai Ba Trung
0510 3910 104

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Stir fried Jasmine flowers.
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Morning Glory
106 Nguyen Thai Hok
+84 0510 2241 555
http://www.restaurant-hoian.com/index.php/en/restaurant-morning-glory-hoi-an.html

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Ban Xeoh
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Grilled squid

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Peeled fruits.
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Springroll with lattice skin wrap and yam filling is my favourite. Chinese style spring rolls have white radish and carrot fillings. But in Hoi An, the black fungus, prawn and steamed yam filling with lattice wrap remains quintessentially Vietnamese.

And fish sauce. Smuggle two bottles back, tightly wrapped. The most expensive glass bottled and from the island of Phu Qoc. But make sure you plastic wrapped the bottles or you’ll stink up your suitcase.

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Mango.Mango
45 Nguyen Phuc Chu
0510 3911 863

Bale Well Restaurant
45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street
Hoi An0510 3864 443

Hai Cafe Restaurant Bar & Grill
98 Nguyen Thai Hoc & 111 Tran Phu Street
0510 386 3210

What to do in Hoi An

1. Shop

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2. Visit a wet market

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3. Cooking class

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4.  Respect the locals. A day in the life of a farmer

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5. Catch a open air performance

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6. Float a lantern

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7. Visit the pottery museum

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8. Resist the temptation. Don’t tailor a suit unless you’ve 4 days. 

9. Chill by the beach. There’s a free hotel shuttle from Essence Hotel. But how come no one is swimming ?

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10. Support local artists

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11. Just walk

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Both sides of the river have rows of eateries. Ask your hotel for a map. Otherwise they’re on Google map.

Despite being an old town with rich historical heritage, and Japanese, Chinese influence, we didn’t see any elaborate cuisine like in Hue. Most of the food is very similar in HCMC or Hanoi except for the flower ravioli.

12. Eat

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My favourite pancake ban xeo.

Cafe hopping in idyllic Hoi An

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Hoi An is a pretty idyllic UNESCO town. Charmingly framed with pink bougainvillea, yellow  Alamanda at the UNESCO site. Cafes, happy faces, affordable light snacks. The main activities are centred around tourism. To enter the town, you need to buy a pass which you need to carry around you in case someone asks.

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With the beautiful bougainvillea, you absolutely forget the rundown Chinese buildings. My grandmother used to live in one of these quarters in Singapore.

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Always inspiring to just have a coffee and pick up gardening.

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In tiny pots.

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Or just take a walk.

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Screened out the noise of motorcycles.

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Hoi An, Vietnam

Not too long ago, we took a 4 day trip to Hoi An and surprised how convenient it was. There’s a direct flight by SilkAir to Danang. From there its a 1hr drive to Hoi An.

As we were staying with the Essence Hotel in Hoi An, we negotiated for the hotel transfer. It’s important to tell them the exact number of bags. As the hotel sent us a pick-up for 4 adults and 2 children without space for one extra luggage which had to be tied to the top of the vehicle.

Our hotel is not on the main shopping area. It’s next to a rice padi field which is quite therapeutic from the hustle and bustle.
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Padi fields next to the hotel.
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But we need to take a taxi about US $1 to the UNESCO heritage site or shopping area or wait for the free hotel shuttle. As we have 4 adults and 2 children, it’s totally worthwhile as there are taxis which can accommodate all of us at the same price. Or you can cycle with the free bikes as many Caucasians do.
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So, yes, Hoi An Essence has a great location beside the padi fields, nice comfortable rooms, and a breakfast spread that I look forward to every morning with pho, springrolls and fruits. When things go wrongly unexpectedly, you want a safe pair of hands to guide the polite and courteous local staff. I’m very pleased to note that one of the staff who spoke good English was trained in Singapore.

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Essence Hotel
132 Hung Vuong , Hoi An, Vietnam

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Metered taxis are available for low cost. Most popular taxi companies are Mai Linh (0511-356-5656) and Taxi Xanh ((0511-368-6868)

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Delicious springrolls and noodles pho every morning with tropical fruits. The western spread is not fabulous but it didn’t matter to me.
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Relaxing ambience at the hotel which charged something very reasonably at about $120 per night. Rates change according to season.

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Papaya Salad

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100gr green papaya, peel and julienne
100gr pork, trimmed of excess fat, thinly
slice and Cut each slice into strips.
100gr shrimp peel and devein
50gr carrot julienned
50gr onion sliced finely
50gr mint leaf
1 tsp sesame
2 tsp peanut
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Seasoning Maggi
2 tsp chili sauce
2 cloves of garlic, sliced finely
2 cloves of shallot, sliced finely
40 ml lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
Papaya Salad With Shrimp & Pork

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Serve salad with fish

METHOD
1. Put the papaya strands, carrot and onion in water and leave them to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Season the shrimp and pork with pepper, fish sauce and ½ tsp sugar.  Mix well and marinate 10 minutes. Place in a hot pan with ½ table spoon of oil and fry quickly until cooked.
3. Combine shallots, garlic and 2 table spoon of oil in a heavy skillet and bring oil to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook shallots & garlic, stirring occasionally with chopsticks, until light golden brown, 5 – 7 minutes. Careful not to burn! (=> Mixture of garlic, shallot and oil)
4. In a big bowl place green papaya, carrot, onion, mint leaves, sea salt, sesame, peanut, 1 ½ tsp pepper, chili sauce, lime juice and (3). Toss well with your hand or chopstick. Add shrimp and pork on the top. Transfer to a serving platter.

If you skip the shrimp and pork and only use the vegetables, this can be a lovely side dish for your meal.

While in Hoi An, Vietnam, we took a cooking class. There are many different schools which offer a visit tour to the market. Some may even organise a class for your private family of 4.

Hoi An at night

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Hoi An. There’s something mysterious about lanterns in the dark. 

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Dumpling fried or steamed. Wrapped or exposed.

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If soup is not your thing and you must hold your sandwich.

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Or skewered. After a while, I wonder if this is Vietnamese or Malay influence or simply Middle Eastern.

More than just pho – Eating in Vietnam

Hoi An Pork in Pancake wrapped

Hoi An Pork in Pancake wrapped

Fresh Spring roll

Fresh Spring roll

Squid in Pepper and Salt

Squid in Pepper and Salt

Tous Le Jours - My favourite bakery chain. Japanese I suspect

Tous Le Jours – My favourite bakery chain. Japanese I suspect

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Really good Canard a l'orange at Augustin

Really good Canard a l’orange at Augustin

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Fromage at Trois Gourmand

Fromage at Trois Gourmand

Cheese spread at Trois Gourmand

Cheese spread at Trois Gourmand

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Spring roll with vermicelli

Spring roll with vermicelli

Fried pumpkin flower

Fried pumpkin flower

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An Vien – Ban Xeo (Pancake)

An Vien

An Vien

An Vien - flower bud

An Vien – flower bud

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Elephant ear fish

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Tear fish in pieces and wrap with vermicelli and rice paper

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Vietnamese food is more than just baguette, pho and spring roll as I’ve discovered on this trip.   Generally, food is reasonably priced, although go slow on the wine. I saw a Danish couple gawk and re-checked their bill several times. In Ho Chi Minh, there’re a number of good French restaurants too.  I have a weak stomache, so I don’t take the street food, although my mom tried with success.  Best beef pho is found on the streetwalks, she claims.

Ho Chi Minh has a vibrant café culture, and its quite common to see coffee places packed with people.  I find Vietnamese coffee, the famous civet cat coffee beans, and the Vietnamese drip coffee too strong for me. Otherwise, you find the local Highland Coffee, Trung Nguyen and various Indie joints plus international brands such as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Starbucks. And Japanese bakeries such as Tous Le Jours and MOF.

My personal Favourite restaurants

(1) Quan An NGON RESTAURANT 160 Pasteur Ben Nghe District 1 -this place serves Vietnamese street food from the three regions. Ala Carte USD3-15 per pax

(2) Hoi An Restaurant 11 Le Thanh Ton Street District 1 -serves Central Vietnamese food. Includes traditional musical performance. USD 15 onwards per pax. Ala carte & set menu available

(3) An Vien, 178A Hai Ba Trung St, District 1. My favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Interesting Hoi An food such as the fried tempura pumpkin flower.

(4) Trois Gourmand in District 2. Dinner Set at around US$50, amazing cheese spread. Very good food. Be sure to book. Cheeky/witty head waitress.

(5) Augustin (French cuisine), 10D Nguyen Thiep, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam(08)3829-2941 & (08)3823-1626. Excellent French home-cooking such as French onion soup and Duck in orange sauce.

(6) The Refinery ( French cuisine) 74 Hai Ba Trung Street District 1. Ala carte & set menu. USD 15 onwards per pax. There’s a Saigon Cooking Centre right beside, and some Lebanese, Japanese restaurants beside it. Cozy ambience, food passable.

(7) Nguyen Trai Street in District 1 serves lots of Chinese Vietnamese food. Just tell the taxi and they will let the passengers alight at the beginning of the street.. so they can walk down the stretch to select food
Cha ca la vong (serves the well-known Vietnamese dish) 36 Ton That Thiep District 1. Only ONE DISH served. USD 10 per pax