Aside from Hoi An’s cute streets, rustic yellow buildings, and colorful temples and decorations, there is a whole lot of delicious food to be devoured in this quaint town. While there are a few items that are an absolute must anywhere you go in Vietnam (Banh Mi and Vietnamese coffee, to name a few), Hoi An also has a handful of regional dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in Vietnam. Get ready to spend a good deal of your time eating the 7 types of local food you must try in Hoi An!
1. Banh Mi
Basically, you can’t go to Hoi An (let alone Vietnam) without trying this delicious sandwich. While it sounds simple enough: baguette, some meat and pâté, cucumber, cilantro, and pickled carrots, some shops make a mediocre one at best, whereas others serve up such a masterpiece that you’ll go back again and again. Apparently, the key to a great banh mi is in the owners secret sauce.
Average price is 10,000 VND ($0.50 USD) for a poorer quality (not many fillings) banh mi, and up to 25,000 VND ($1.15 USD) for one of the mouth-watering, filled-to-the-brim banh mi’s mentioned below.
For the best banh mi you’ll ever have go to:
“Madam Khanh: The Banh Mi Queen” – 115 Trần Cao Vân
Anthony Bourdain’s recommended “Banh My Phuong” – 2B Phan Chau Trinh
2. White Rose (Bánh Bao Vạc)
When I first saw advertisements for “White Rose” outside restaurants, I thought it was some sort of strange edible white flower. Little did I know, this Hoi An specialty was actually a steamed shrimp dumpling made from translucent dough that is folded in such a way as to resemble a white rose. Often garnished with roasted garlic and accompanied by a sweet shrimp and chili dipping sauce, this starter is simply delicious. White Rose can only be found in Hoi An, so be sure to take advantage of its availability while you’re there!
Average price of a White Rose is anywhere from 20,000 VND ($1 USD) – 40,000 VND ($2 USD), depending on the type of restaurant you visit.
3. Chicken Rice (Com Ga)
Probably the most simple dish (albeit an incredibly popular one) I ate in Hoi An was this chicken rice. Made only of rice, shredded chicken, and pickled carrots, this staple in Hoi An sounds like it would be a walk in the park to make, but the chicken used in this dish is so incredibly tender and juicy that you’ll never think of chicken and rice the same again.
A plate of Com Ga should cost around 20,000 VND.
4. Mi Quang
This dish is from the Quang Nam region, hence the name, and is a popular breakfast dish among locals. The noodles, typically yellow or white in color, are thick and bouncy, and are often made fresh each morning. Served on top of the noodles are pork, shrimp, lettuce, herbs, spring onion, a spoonful of peanuts, and a boiled quail egg. The broth is rather thick, consisting of a pork base with a subtly sweet Vietnamese fish flavour. Not all shops that sell Mi Quang use all the ingredients listed above, as there may be some variation between dishes.
Expect to pay 20,000 VND ($1 USD) for a bowl of Mi Quang.
5. Cao Lau
This regional dish consisting of noodles, pork, and local veg (aka lettuce) is another great bowl of goodness that you’ll only find in Hoi An. Out of all the noodle dishes I tried in Vietnam, this certainly has one of the most unique flavours. What makes this dish so special is that the water used to achieve its distinct taste comes from an ancient Cham well, located just outside the city (whether this is true or just an urban legend is certainly up for debate). Like many of the other dishes, there are many variations depending on the restaurant you go to, however, the noodles used for Cao Lau will always remain the same. My favourite part? The crispy pork crackling on top!
A bowl of Cao Lau will cost about 20,000 VND – 25,000 VND.
6. Sweet Banana Pancake (Bánh chuối chiên)
You can find these sweet snacks at just about any food stall throughout Hoi An. As you walk by a cart, you’ll likely hear them say, “banana pancake” as a way to entice you over (they often sell a variety of other things on the cart as well, like crab pancakes). One thing to note before purchasing a banana pancake is to make sure they are fresh, as I had some really good ones and some really bad ones.
The lady or man at the stall will likely ask for 15,000-20,000 VND, but tell them 10,000 VND ($0.50 USD) and, if there aren’t other tourists queuing, they’ll readily agree.
7. Vietnamese Coffee
Despite this clearly not being a Hoi An-specific drink, you just have to try Vietnamese coffee if you haven’t already done so in Vietnam. The taste and texture is so incredibly different to the Western coffee you’re likely used to – most love it, while some aren’t as crazy about it because it’s made using lots of condensed milk (unless you specifically order it black). Utterly satisfying both hot and iced, grabbing a Vietnamese coffee at any of the restaurants or bars in Hoi An is always a good choice, regardless of what time it is.
A typical black Vietnamese coffee is about 15,000 VND, while a Vietnamese coffee with milk is 20,000 VND ($1 USD).