Eating Your Way Through Hoi An
A Foodie’s Guide to The Ancient TownDon’t let its size fool you; Hoi An has an enormous amount of food options to choose from!
It’s a rather unassuming drive crossing through Quang Nam’s outlying villages into Hoi An. Concrete houses, suntattered construction barriers, brief glimpses of empty beach, skeleton frames of resorts to come and crumbling foundations of resorts that will never be. It’s not until the single stretch of Hai Ba Trung crossing over the salt river leading into expansive rice paddies that the beauty of Hoi An really starts to emerge. After a few minutes of “playing chicken” on the exceedingly narrow roads, the brilliance of the ancient town fully blossoms.
Hoi An’s main attraction, the riverside ancient town, only takes up a small area of land. With only three main streets in the old town itself, visitors may wonder how there could possibly be a plethora of eateries. Once you start exploring Hoi An, however, you quickly realize how much the tiny town has to offer. Instead of breaking down the “best” restaurants in all of Hoi An, this guide aims to break down the best eateries quarter by quarter; you’ll never go hungry... regardless of your whereabouts!
The Ancient Town
Where the majority of visitors will be headed, Hoi An’s pedestrianized ancient town has a fantastic array of eateries to choose from. From upscale restaurants to streetside food stalls, foodies should head directly for the ancient town for the most varied food options.
Local Specialties: Hoi An’s Famous Dishes
Cao Lau: Hoi An’s iconic dish
For Cao Lau with a view, head to the stall directly in front of the Japanese Bridge (11:0014:00)
Mi Quang: The Province’s Local Dish
Mi Quang literally means Quang Noodles (Hoi An is part of Quang Nam province). This dish combines rice noodles, spices and veggies with an array of quail egg, meat, seafood usually shrimp and pork. A goto option for breakfast and lunch, you can find a delicious bowl of this in the ancient town inside the covered Hoi An Market (Cho Hoi An.)
Com Ga: Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is a deliciously filling meal that you can find all over the country. Hoi An, however, does an incredible version of the classic, in which the rice itself is cooked in chicken stock. Combined with fresh herbs and shredded chicken, it’s a musttry.
To make things easy and picturesque, you can find a delicious Com Ga at the same stall as the aforementioned Cao Lau, in front of the Japanese Bridge. Scrumptious and only 30.000!
White Rose: Steamed Dumplings
Restaurant hopping in the Ancient Town
Madame Vy is Hoi An’s most famous chef & entrepreneur. She has opened four restaurants, and each one is unique and fantastic:
The Market: Set up in the classic Hoi An marketstall style. The Market offers every street food option of Hoi An, prepared in a hygienic manner, in an upscale setting. A great place to sample all the different foods: try the all you can eat option!! 3 Nguyen Hoang Street
Mermaid: Ms. Vy’s first restaurant, Mermaid offers Hoi An classic dishes in a very local setting. 2 Tran Phu St
Cargo Club: The more westernized of Vy’s restaurants, Cargo offers Vietnamese and international cuisine, plus some amazing desserts. Also great for breakfast! 107109 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Morning Glory: Her famous Vietnamese restaurant, Morning Glory offers a brilliant array of Vietnamese dishes with a high end touch. 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Chef Duc is another Hoi An mastermind. He is known for his highend eateries producing internationally acclaimed dishes. His restaurants are as follow:
Mai Fish: The more laidback of his restaurants, this riverside oasis serves upscale local specialties with few international touches. 45 Nguyen Thi, Minh Khai
Mango Mango: High end Vietnamese fusion 45 Nguyen Phuc Chu
Mango Rooms: A taste of the entire world with a Vietnamese flare 111 Nguyen Thai Hoc
More Ancient Town Selections:
Ms. Ly’s Cafe: Run by the lovely Ms. Ly, this quaint restaurant is in the heart of the old town and serves excellent Hoi An specialties! 22 Nguyen Hue
Banh Mi Phuong: Hoi An’s most famous Banh Mi vendor; a musttry for breakfast/lunch! 2B Phan Chau Trinh
Nu Eatery: Boutique eatery with a super cool location! Excellent take on Vietnamese specials that you might not find anywhere else! 10A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
Three Dragons: Great pub setting and western favorites... for when you need it! 51 Phan Boi Chau
Fusion Cafe: Upscale international food with great coffee and desserts! 35 Nguyen Phuc Chu
North of the Ancient Town
Once you start traveling out of the Ancient Town, it can get a bit trickier to find delicious eateries. This doesn’t mean that they’re not available though! Below are some excellent goto’s in the area north of the Ancient Town:
Aubergine Restaurant: New addition to Hoi An; beautifully prepared, high end Vietnamese cuisine 49 Ly Thai To
Ganesh: Hoi An’s best Indian restaurant a classic for over five years! 24 Tran Hung Dao
Ba Le Well: All you can eat deliciousness; the ultimate banh xeo destination in Hoi An! 45/11 Tran Hung Dao
Streets Restaurant: Delicious Vietnamese cuisine with an amazing concept backing it; getting disadvantaged youth off the streets and into the hospitality industry! 17 Le Loi
Hola Taco: Tacos in Hoi An... why not?! 5 Phan Chau Trinh
The Kebab Shack: Delicious Kebabs! 38B Thai Phien
Baby Mustard: Though it’s sort of northeast (towards An Bang beach), this Tra Que Herb Village restaurant grows their greens on site and has some deliciously fresh options to choose from. Very few other restaurants around this, so if you’re in need of a good meal this is the spot! Hai Ba Trung - part of Tra Que Herb Village.
East of the Ancient Town
If you’re traveling Cua Dai Road out to Cua Dai Beach (or what once was Cua Dai Beach...) the following are great choices:
328 Restaurant: Patrons often call this their “favorite meal” in Vietnam... amazing local food prepared by the lovely Ms. Ha and her family. A musttry for anyone in the Cua Dai area. 328 Cua Dai Street
Dingo Deli: Hoi An’s first western eatery; excellent food, great bakery and wonderful coffee 277 Cua Dai
The Field Restaurant: A bit tricky to find, but worth it for the food and views: right in the heart of an expansive rice field! Tong Van Suong Street, Cam Thanh
Red Bridge: One of Hoi An’s classics; excellent Vietnamese cuisine and a great cooking school. Thon 4 Cam Thanh Village
Son Hoi An: Slow food for slow life; great place to sit back and enjoy passing the time in Hoi An with delicious Vietnamese food. 232 Cua Dai
...and the Beach!
For those who aren’t too familiar with Hoi An, there used to be two main beaches: Cua Dai the “tourist” beach and An Bang the “local’s beach.” Unfortunately, due to typhoons, natural erosion and construction too close to the water’s edge, Cua Dai beach has all but disappeared. All eyes are on An Bang Beach now, which has some excellent restaurants. All are located along the beach stretch (not too hard to find!):
Soul Kitchen: Great combination of Vietnamese, seafood and western options; excellent bar and live music at nights. Luna: Amazing pizza on the beach; the original Luna location, currently undergoing a facelift so check it out!
La Plage: French/UK/Vietnamese run restaurant (all the way to the far right) with a great bar and nice, fresh menu options. H’mong Sisters: A new addition to the An Bang stretch; Vietnamese fusion cuisine with a cool bar scene
Didn’t know Hoi An had so much to offer, did you?! From brilliant Vietnamese fusion and local street eats to western comfort food and quick snacks, Hoi An has a lot to offer the hungry traveler.
- Want to try some more traditional Vietnamese food? Watch out for the stalls with the most local people eating there: those will be the best options. On a similar note, if there’s a stall where you never see patrons... that might be for a good reason.
Author: Daniel Robbins
Photo: Charles Haynes, Steve Swayne, Janine Cheung, Anthony Gurr, Jungmin Hwang