Cao lau, Hoi An in a dish//
Foodies flock like hungry gulls to Hoi An for its world-renowned street food, and there is little doubt that this UNESCO World Heritage site stakes a strong claim to the title of Vietnams food capital.
No matter where you go within the confines of the captivating old town your mouth is almost guaranteed to water with anticipations, as you will be surrounded by amazing street eats and fine dining establishments.
One thing that you will see etched on just about every menu is cao lau, the quintessential Hoi An pork and noodle dish, which is rarely found outside of the city.
Quite simple in content, yet complex and pleasing on the pallet, cao lau is comprised of freshly made rice flour noodles topped with sliced pork and a melange of local green vegetables all seasoned with varying toppings; usually including chilli jam and peanuts.
Recopies for cao lau are highly guarded, and are often handed down by word of mouth. It is believed that the water used to make the noodles comes from a secret Cham well on the outskirts of town, and that along with the local Cham island firewood used to triple-cook the noodles is what make this cao lau flavour unique to Hoi An.
The best place to sample cao lau is at one of the stalls in the main Central Market on Cnr Tran Phu, which opens from 7am-8pm.
Three more great Hoi An specialities
Banh Mi (also My)
Often touted as the best sandwich in the world Hoi An’s famous banh mi crispy baguettes come in various varieties, with the pork, pate, vegetable and chilli sauce laden banh mi thit pate being by far the most popular.
You will find banh mi stalls all over town, with the Banh Mi Phoung restaurant widely considered as the best in Hoi An., as endorsed my celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain
28 Phan Chau Trinh, Tel + 84 905743773, open 6.16am-9.30pm.
Banh Bao Vac
Better known as “white rose” these delicate rose shaped dumplings are found throughout Hoi An, yet their secret recipe is held by just one family, who supply most of the restaurants in Hoi An.
Rice paper is topped with a spoonful of mixed pork and shrimp, and is folded and then steamed.
The dumplings are served with a brown chilli, lemon and sugar based sauce, with a light topping of shallots and crispy shrimp.
One of the best places to eat these is Miss Ly Cafeteria 22, 22 Nguyen Hue. Tel + 84 51 3861603. Pen 11am-10pm.
Hoi An’s twist on chicken rice is immensely popular with locals and visitors alike, and is an evolved and tweaked version of the same dish found throughout the region.
Fine grade rice and high quality chicken are used, with cooking of the rice being done in a chicken broth and in a wood fired clay oven, with pandan leaves also adding to the seasoning.
Shredded chicken and herbs top the mildly yellow coloured rice, and a small clear chicken soup is served with it.
One of the best places to eat Com Ga is Ba Buoi, 22 Phan Chu Trinh Street Tel + 44 51 10861151.