Food Guide: 7 Best Local Dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam

During my two weeks in Hoi An, I discovered a culinary paradise that goes beyond the famous phở, bánh mi, bún chả, and bánh xèo. This ancient town offers a delightful array of local dishes that showcase fresh greens, herbs, fish, and meat sourced from nearby islands and farming villages like Cham Island, Tra Que Vegetable Village, Ba Le Well, and Cam Nam Village. Once a bustling trading port, Hoi An’s cuisine is a harmonious blend of Chinese, French, and Japanese influences, that’ll definitely take your tastebuds on a culinary tour! The town’s history as a major spice trading port is evident in its richly spiced dishes and a meal here is never complete without the ubiquitous chili sauce, fresh lemon, mint and coriander leaves, and chilies.

Just on day 1, I realized that Hoi An Ancient Town is a food lover’s paradise – with everything from elegant Vietnamese restaurants to charming riverside food stalls, boutique cafes, and street carts, selling delicious local snacks, noodle bowls, curries, and hotpots, coconut coffee, iced latte, a variety of ice cream and much more.

If you are wondering where to eat in Hoi An, I’ve got the answer! Here are 7 best local dishes in Hoi An, that locals love to eat in this remarkable city.

1. Cao Lầu (Pork Rice Noodle)

Lantana Riverside food in hoi an
Courtesy: Lantana Riverside Hotel, Hoi An

Cao Lầu or Cao Lau is a noodle dish unique to Hoi An that you won’t want to miss. It might seem like a typical Vietnamese dish at first glance – marinated roast pork slices and fresh green vegetables over rice noodles. However, what sets Cao Lau apart are the specific local ingredients, especially the noodles, which are rarely found outside Hoi An.

These noodles are not just any rice noodles! They are soaked in calcium-rich water drawn from the ancient Ba Le Well and mixed with herbs from local trees on Cham Island. This process gives the noodles a distinctive yellow color and a firmer texture than other rice noodles. The Ba Le Well, located in the heart of Hoi An, is essential for achieving the authentic texture of Cao Lau noodles. So, trying Cao Lau is a must when you’re in Hoi An. It’s a unique dish you won’t find anywhere else!

Where to eat? – While you’ll find it at every restaurant in Hoi An, you must try the Cao Lau at Morning Glory – it’s the BEST! You can also try the delicious Cao lau at Lantana Riverside Hotel in Hoi An.

2. Bánh Bao Vạc (White Rose Dumpling)

Bánh Bao Vạc, also known as the White Rose Dumpling, is another must-try dish unique to Hoi An. These delicate steamed dumplings, with their translucent white skin made from rice flour, are filled with minced shrimp and pork and topped with crispy fried shallots.

If I have to believe the locals, much like Cao Lau, the secret to these dumplings lies in the water used for the dough, which must be drawn from the ancient Ba Le Well. Adding to their exclusivity, only one family in Hoi An makes and supplies these dumplings throughout the town. No matter where you enjoy them, they all come from this single source, and the name ‘White Rose’ was given by the French, who thought the dumplings resembled white roses.

Where to eat? – For the freshest and most authentic experience, visit the White Rose Restaurant, run by the original family dedicated to crafting these dumplings.

3. Cơm Gà (Chicken Rice)

com ga hoi an local dish

Originating from China, Hainanese chicken rice is a staple across Southeast Asia, but in Hoi An, it takes on a unique flair. Known locally as Cơm Gà or Com Ga, this dish is crafted with top-quality rice and farm-raised chickens, reflecting the region’s commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients.

What makes Hoi An’s version stand out is its distinctive preparation. The rice is cooked in a blend of pandan leaves, chicken stock, and turmeric in wood-fired clay ovens, giving it a pale yellow color and rich flavor. Each plate of Com Ga comes with a small bowl of clear soup, dipping sauces, and pickled green chilies. True to Vietnamese cuisine, it also includes fresh greens and herbs on the side.

For me, Com Ga tasted a lot lighter and fresher than the Hainanese chicken rice I’ve had in Singapore, making it a delightful and refreshing culinary experience.

Where to eat? – I had the best Cơm Gà in Cho Hoi An (the local market) as well in Morning Glory.

4. Mì Quảng (Seafood Noodles from Quang Nam)

mi quang
Can you see the tiny quail egg in my bowl?

Mi Quang is a popular noodle dish that originated from Quang Nam province, the very region where Hoi An is located. This dish is perfect for summer, with its abundance of greens and minimal broth, making it a refreshing alternative when it’s too hot for a hearty noodle soup.

Mi Quang is a delightful mix of pork, shrimp, boiled quail egg, fried rice crackers, rice noodles, and leafy greens. The shrimps, marinated with the pork, are fried to perfection, adding rich flavor to the dish. The handmade noodles have a creamy texture, and the crushed fried rice crackers add a satisfying crunch. The boiled quail egg is the highlight, elevating the dish to another level. Topped with peanuts, each bite of Mi Quang offers a delightful crunch.

This dish promises a surprising and delicious experience, making it a must-try when you’re in Hoi An.

Where to eat? – I had a lovely bowl of Mi Quang at Morning Glory Signature, which was delicious and perfectly paired with a glass of chilled beer!

5. Bánh Mì (Vietnamese baguette)

bahn mi food in hoi an

Your trip to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without trying Banh Mi! This Vietnamese-style sandwich comes with a variety of fillings, such as minced meat, liver pate, and fresh vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, and pickled carrots. The bread, reminiscent of a French baguette, highlights the French influence on the region during the colonial period.

Depending on where you’re trying it and what’s there to offer, you can pick from all sorts of tasty meat fillings for your Banh Mi – think of anything from roasted pork belly, roasted beef, shredded chicken, smoked salmon, grilled sausages, fried eggs, etc! The reason I enjoyed Banh Mi so much, is the contrasting textures in every bite. The bread is crunchy on the outside yet soft inside, the meat is juicy, and the mix of fresh and pickled vegetables adds a fantastic balance.

Where to eat? – Bánh Mì Sum and Bánh Mì Phuong are the two places in Hoi An serving the best bánh mì. Apart from these, I also like All Day Bánh Mì.

6. Bún Thịt Nướng (Vermicelli noodles with grilled pork)

Bun thit nuong food in hoi an

When I think about the food I had in Hoi An, the flavors of a bowl of bún thịt nướng always come to mind. This ‘salad’ of BBQ sliced pork served over greens and cold rice noodles is popular all over Vietnam, even though it’s not specifically from Hoi An, and it’s a must-have whenever you’re here!

Bún thịt nướng is a textural delight. The soft noodles, the refreshing sauce, and the crunchy vegetables create a perfect balance. I absolutely loved it. This dish combines white vermicelli rice noodles, freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, beansprouts, pickled daikon, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint. It’s topped with sweet and peppery pork slices grilled over a charcoal stove. While the dish is quite filling on its own, you can add a side of green chili, fresh lettuce, and a peanut-based gravy for extra flavor.

Where to eat? – The best places to try bún thịt nướng in Hoi An are Morning Glory, and also the tiny open-air stalls by the river in Ancient Town.

7. Rau Muống Xào Tỏi (Stir Fried Morning Glory with Garlic)

food in hoi an

Growing up in Kolkata, West Bengal, I’ve been eating a leafy vegetable called ‘kolmi saag’ (water spinach) since I was a kid. To my surprise, I found it in Hoi An. Almost every restaurant had it on their menu, and I soon realized that ‘morning glory,’ as they call it, is an integral part of their diet. Growing wildly in the region, morning glory is consumed usually with sticky rice, and a favorite amongst locals. Needless to say, the classic Vietnamese stir-fried morning glory with garlic makes a nutritious and delicious side dish.

Where to eat? – I absolutely loved the flavors in Châu Kitchen & Bar, and also at Morning Glory Signature.

Apart from these dishes, there are two beverages that the locals love to drink in Hoi An, which have now become quite popular among travelers as well.

1. Herbal Iced Tea at Mót Hội An

Since our first evening in Hoi An, we passed by this place several times and always wondered why it was so crowded! Curious, I looked up Mót on Instagram to see what they were selling and discovered their famous iced tea. Truth be told, it was a super soothing drink, perfect for sipping while walking around the Ancient Town on a humid evening! The drink was absolutely refreshing and delicious, ideal for the hot weather. I’m not sure of all the ingredients, but it tasted a lot like a honey lemon and lemongrass drink.

I especially loved how it was served with a lotus petal, in an unlined paper cup, and with a lotus stem straw instead of plastic!

2. Coconut Coffee

There wasn’t a single day in Hoi An when we skipped having a glass of coconut coffee! Every cafe in this UNESCO Heritage Town has its own version, and we couldn’t get enough of them. Coconut milk is poured into a glass of coffee decoction and mixed until it reaches a rich, creamy consistency. It’s then topped with whipped cream and bits of crushed ice to cool and thicken the mixture. Sweetened with sugar, the chilled coconut milk cuts the bitterness of the coffee and adds a sweet, coconutty flavor. In some cafes, they also served it with coconut cream, which I loved.

Where to try coconut coffee in Hoi An? – 25S Cafe, Chu An, Cong Ca Phe, Nourish, and Phe La are just a few places where you can try the best coconut coffee, but there are tons of other good places too!

If you’re planning a trip to Hoi An, these dishes are a must-try for their authentic flavors, and I bet you won’t regret it.

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