In this post, I’ll be sharing the stops we made during our Hoi An Food Tour, plus some extra places worth the calories!
As one of the main go-to’s for tourists in Central Vietnam, it’s no surprise that the Hoi An food scene is nothing short of impactful. Majority of the eateries in Hoi An cluster as close to the Old Town as they can, but it’s good to note that even the so-called “tourist traps” within the Old Town itself can hold their own against the more “authentic” establishments. If you’re game for a bit of walking, you can totally do as we did and hit up a variety of different restaurants within and around the Old Town main proper. This way, you get to experience almost the entire range of what the Hoi An food scene is about. (Except for fine dining. We did none of that here!)
[READ ALSO: Our Da Nang Food Tour!]
Hoi An Old Town has a really nice mix of very local-feeling restaurants, but also a bunch of restaurants with a bit more ambiance thrown in. And until now, I can still remember what it was like to eat in each and every one of these places.
If you ask me to compare my Hoi An food experience to my Da Nang one, I would say that it almost feels like Hoi An build their restaurants to cater more to tourists, while Da Nang unabashedly want the attention of the locals more. In Hoi An, there seems to be more “fusion” stuff going on. Meanwhile in Da Nang, more places allow you to experience authentic local food like a local, alongside locals. Not to say they don’t have places like that in Hoi An; there just feels like a more obvious focus towards the international market in Hoi An.
So in the end, getting to eat good food in either Da Nang or Hoi An is a win for us all, isn’t it? But right now let’s keep our focus to the Hoi An side of things! Just like with Da Nang, our food tour was organized by our tour guide Katie, but I’ve thrown in some extras as the second part of this post.
Hoi An Food Tour
Classic Hoi An-Style Banh Mi from Madam Khanh The Banh My Queen
Madam Khanh is quite possibly the most well-known banh mi shop in Hoi An. Every food guide you will ever come across about Hoi An will include this place in their list. I think it’s safe to say Madam Khanh has become quite the icon! Ironically, Madam Khanh is not even the name of the owner of this shop. It is owned by a woman named Lộc, and Khanh is the name of her husband. But I suppose “MADAM KHANH THE BANH MY QUEEN” is a lot more catchy.
This banh mi shop has been standing at this location for 30 years, but Lộc has been selling street food for much longer than that. Despite being located at a less touristy area of Hoi An, she has managed to put herself forward. I think it’s even fair to say that she has managed to deliver on the hype her banh mi has been receiving over the years, considering how her success has allowed for the expansion of her shop. Nowadays, she handles the day-to-day operations of the shop with the next generation of her family.
I was actually expecting a line upon our arrival here. Based on what I read, a lot of people come to Madam Khanh as early as possible because the banh mi has a tendency to get sold out quickly. And when they’re sold out for the day, the shop closes its doors and you’ll have to try again tomorrow. Luckily, the line was very short upon our arrival. Our guide Katie made the orders for us and we were ushered inside to be seated.
The shop is shockingly HUGE inside! It has a deceptively small storefront, you see. There are several floors worth of seating, and I noticed there were a lot of foreigners enjoying their banh mi here. I get it though. Banh mi is probably one of the easiest things to explain to a foreigner unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine. It’s essentially a Vietnamese submarine sandwich, filled to the brim with an assortment of things. Typically, there’s chả lụa (Vietnamese ham), pickled vegetables, meat, and cilantro inside the sandwich, with pâté, mayonnaise, and other sauces generously slathered on the baguettes.
We came here and had the Mixed Banh Mi, which was delicious! I always love how the savory chả lụa and the pâté contrast so nicely with the sweet-sour pickled veggies in a good banh mi. The baguettes themselves are delicious, with a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior that I looooove. With a bit more chili sauce added, I thought these sandwiches were just downright addictive!
In keeping with the times, Madam Khanh actually delivers through the Grab app these days! You can totally have these sandwiches delivered to your hotel starting from early in the morning. Next time I’ll try the sandwiches with just one particular meat inside.
Address: 115 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Banh Bao Banh Vac & Hoanh Thanh Chen from White Rose Restaurant
Here’s another mainstay in Hoi An food guides. The White Rose Restaurant is considered a bit of an institution around these parts because they specialize in white rose dumplings– something you can only find here in Hoi An. The white rose dumpling or bánh bao bánh vạc is unique to Hoi An because for it to be considered as such, it MUST be made with water from the Ba Le Well only.
The Ba Le Well is located inside the Hoi An Old Town, and it is an ancient well with a lot of legend surrounding it. To this day, there are a lot of beliefs attached to drinking water from the well, but it is also an important element for Hoi An cuisine. Local dishes like cau lao and bánh bao bánh vạc are not considered “strictly authentic” if not made using water from this well.
Because the water from the Ba Le Well is open to the public for a small fee, it stands to reason that anyone can make bánh bao bánh vạc. Based on what I’ve read however, it seems that White Rose Restaurant is the best of the best. Apparently, no one has been able to replicate the way they make their dumpling skin, and to this day it remains a family secret.
The dough for these dumplings is made with Ba Le Well water and rice flour, plus a special dough-making technique involving pounding in a mortar. They are then shaped into flowers/rough rose shapes, thus the name. The filling of the dumpling is typically a mix of shrimp, mushrooms, bean sprouts, shredded veggies, and spring onions. For every plate of bánh bao bánh vạc, you’ll get two different kinds of dumplings with two different fillings, but all of them will be topped with fried shallots.
The dumplings are served with nước mắm chấm, which is the sweeter version of the Vietnamese dipping sauce made with fish sauce, sugar, chillies, garlic, and lime.
Because this restaurant only has two things on their menu, obviously we also had to try the other one! The Hoanh Thanh Chen is arguably the more unusual of the two. It’s essentially a pizza of sorts, with a deep-fried version of their dumpling wrapper as the base. THIS WAS SO GOOD! The crust is extra crispy, with a saucy topping of assorted vegetables that just creates this wonderful textural experience in the mouth. The topping is savory yet has that tartness of a tomato-based sauce.
Most people will probably find this more memorable than the dumplings lol.
According to Katie, apart from being its own restaurant, the White Rose Restaurant is also a supplier of dumplings for many other restaurants in Hoi An.
Address: 533 Đ. Hai Bà Trưng, Phường Cẩm Phổ, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Oc Hut & Banh Kep from Quán Ốc Xuân
The next place we stopped at is this home-based eatery called Quán Ốc Xuân. Here you get to sit on low stools and tables to enjoy your food as the locals do! This is one of those eateries that are off the beaten path so we wouldn’t have known of its existence were it not for Katie.
This eatery specializes in oc hut, which are snails braised in a special and spicy flavorful sauce.
I have to say, this is probably my new favorite way to eat snails because the sauce this is cooked with is INCREDIBLE. It has heat and it has a ton of flavor that is just PERFECT for the snails! You eat these snails by using a toothpick to coax the meat out.
There’s another food item being sold here which is only referred to as banh kep. Based on my understanding, that’s a bit of a catch-all phrase. These fried treats remind me a lot of banh xeo more than anything, but the wrapper is definitely deep-fried rice paper.
Katie ordered us banh kep with two different fillings: liver pâté and pork jerky. Personally I enjoyed the pork jerky version more because it tasted better with the dip.
Address: 215 Lý Thường Kiệt, Sơn Phong, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Black Sesame Sweet Soup from Che Xi Ma Phu
It’s easy to walk past this small set-up on the side of the street without a care if you weren’t walking with a local, especially if you don’t know what their sign actually means. The xí mà is a sweet black sesame soup that was adapted by the Vietnamese from the Chinese. Since then, it has become quite a favorite and a staple among the Vietnamese.
While eating here, we saw a handful of people on motorbikes stop just to have a bite of xí mà as though it was a sudden decision based on a sudden craving. They don’t even hop off their motorbikes anymore; they just buy a bowl and in less than 3 minutes they’re on their way once again. By the way, you get to eat these inside pretty but small ceramic bowls on the side of the street! (Though I have no idea how they wash the bowls!)
Che Xi Ma Phu makes such delicious xí mà. Their recipe and techniques have been passed down from one generation to another, but I’ll bet they are still able to maintain the same kind of quality all this time. Every day, someone from the family comes out here to sell one large pot of xí mà, and once that entire pot is emptied out, then they pack up and go home right away.
I super loved this. They make it just sweet enough, but it’s that toasted black sesame flavor that’s the best part! The soup is incredibly smooth, and while it looks shiny and greasy, it’s actually more buttery than anything else. I could eat bowl after bowl after bowl of this! I may be biased but this was one of my favorites, because my black heart really loves black sesame lol.
Address: 115 Nguyễn Trường Tộ, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Classic Cao Lau from Quán Cao Lầu Thanh
Yet another food institution here in Hoi An is the Quán Cao Lầu Thanh. It’s this really unassuming restaurant with really old interiors, but from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, patrons kept coming and going. I get the impression it’s full of people pretty much all day.
Before the pandemic hit, every food blog will tell you that this place sells out of cao lau as early as noon. Most restaurants in Vietnam– this one included– close shop as soon as their supply for the day runs out, so many have to make their way here really early just to get a taste of this Hoi An classic. We were lucky we managed to get one table to ourselves upon arrival because a big party was just about to leave.
Cao lau is a noodles dish that is unique only to Hoi An. Many sticklers for authenticity will tell you that just like with the White Rose Dumplings, one of the measures of a true cao lau is when its noodles are made using water from the Ba Le Well. However, minus the holy water element, there’s already a lot of mystery surrounding how these noodles are made. The best cao lau makers in Hoi An never share their secrets outside their family.
Cao lau noodles have a very unique color and texture to them. They are made with rice that has been soaked in water and lye, plus wood ash brought from one of the eight Cham Islands surrounding Hoi An. According to Katie, locals can immediately tell if the cao lau has been “made right” because only wood ash from Cham island trees can create noodles with the specific kind of color and texture as a “real” cao lau.
It’s interesting that the noodles have such meticulous standards and yet the toppings are as simple as what you see above! To serve cao lau, the noodles are blanched, then topped with some slices of char siu pork, fried noodle pieces, then sprouts and herbs from Tra Que Village. It is then lightly flavored with a spoon of the sauce from cooking the char siu, plus a touch of chili.
There’s a particular herb that’s included in most cao lau called the fish mint that literally tastes like fish, so don’t be surprised if you get that flavor even though there’s no fish in sight in your bowl.
To eat these noodles, make sure to mix everything up until coated in the sauce. I really enjoyed the interesting texture of the noodles. They look kind of like yellowed udon, don’t they? The bite is very different though; they are somewhat crunchy yet chewy at the same time. I did feel that this bowl felt a bit plainer in flavor than I was expecting, but it was SUPER filling!
As you can see on the menu, Quán Cao Lầu Thanh make and serve only one primary thing, and that is the cao lau noodle. If it weren’t for Katie, we wouldn’t have known they also sold yummy homemade yogurt here. Their yogurt is a bit tart and just the right amount of sweet, and super smooth. It was the perfect way to end our walking food tour, methinks!
Address: 26 Thái Phiên, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Other great food spots
Quán Cao lầu Bá Lễ
Would people get mad if I say I actually thought the cao lau from this place tasted better than Thanh’s? Because in terms of flavor, I thought this version was way more memorable!
We popped by Cao Lau Ba Le for a quick lunch. Unlike Thanh, this restaurant serves other dishes aside from cao lau, and so we also got to eat some of our other Vietnamese favorites. We’ve been eating banh xeo everyday at this point yet still relish the idea of eating more lol. The banh xeo here was a bit on the plain side though, compared to others we had before.
The barbecue however… Incredible! It’s a delightful combo of sweet and savory and smoky, then you dip it in a peanuty sauce and then wrap in rice paper with some veggies. YUM!
As for their cao lau, as I mentioned, I thought this one had much more flavor than Thanh’s. I felt they scrimped just a bit on the toppings, yet that did not deter from making this a good bowl of noodles. Their noodles are a lighter color and are slightly less dense if I remember correctly, but they were more generous with the sauce.
I would definitely come back here the next time I’m in Hoi An!
Address: 49/3 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 56000, Vietnam (MAP)
Any of Taste Vietnam’s Restaurants
Taste Vietnam is a restaurant group founded by a famous food icon Ms Vy. She is credited as being the first to globalize the Hoi An food scene, starting with building restaurants with English menus, then building cooking schools that any foreign tourist can feel comfortable to join.
Many others have followed in her footsteps, but based on my observations, she seems to be the most successful. This is evidenced by the entire row of restaurants she owns inside the Hoi An Old Town.
Ms Vy has cleverly built this interconnected “palace” full of all her restaurants under the Taste Vietnam umbrella. Each restaurant has a different concept and a different menu, so you can spend days and days trying each of them out but you need only to go to one place. It’s almost like a Food Hall-slash-Amusement Park, because when you cross over to another restaurant the environment completely changes! I thought it was so cool.
They also constantly have promos that you can use across restaurants, which is one of the ways they “lure” you back over and over lol. But of course, there’s also the fact that the food they serve is pretty good.
If you’re wondering about the prices of the restaurants at this point; in my opinion, it’s surprisingly affordable compared to restaurants in Manila that have similar concepts. The restaurants maintain kind of the same price point, but you’ll get a bang for your buck with each dish. Keep scrolling and you’ll see what I mean.
First up, we got to try Vy’s Market Restaurant.
This is their more Asian concept, and majority of the dishes we ate here were Vietnamese dishes. I was totally in love with their banh xeo, which was super crunchy and savory! The bean sprouts add more crunch actually.
Banh xeo in these parts is eaten by wrapping the pancakes inside rice paper, alongside pickled veggies, lettuce, and herbs. Then it’s dipped in nuo cham. I like this version better than just wrapping the pancakes in lettuce.
We also got to try the fancier Morning Glory Restaurant. Their dishes are priced just slightly higher, but I wouldn’t call it “high end” per se.
Apparently, this restaurant is where Ms. Vy serves all of her personal signature dishes. It’s got one of those stylish ambiances that invites you to stay and chat with friends over wine and really good food. And honestly, the food here was legit!
Their Duck Salad with Mango Dressing was a highlight, but everything else we ate was delish! The photos below are not the complete dishes we ordered, but I just wanted to give an idea of what you can expect from the menu here. They have an entire iPad full of photos of their menu items.
After eating here, all I can say is: I’m now in search of how to cook Tamarind Pork Belly similar to the one we ate here!
Vy’s Kitchen & Deli is where we get more of the European-Vietnamese fusion dishes. I forgot to snap a photo of the restaurant itself, but among all the restaurants we visited, this was the most packed with customers. It’s got a bit of a fancy diner vibe to it, but the food is most certainly uncommon.
Normally I am nervous when people use “contemporary” to describe food because sometimes that just means they’re giving themselves too much liberty to “adapt” dishes, but Ms. Vy made it work to her advantage.
From the Roast Pork banh mi to the Lobster Bisque Pasta to the Soft-Shell Crab My Quang, this place is THE BOMB. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to encounter lobster or lamb this size in a restaurant for below Php 1,000! Just look at the servings here!
My only complaint is that it can be hard to get the attention of the staff sometimes when the place is super busy. It can get really noisy as well because there are lots of tourists talking over each other in different languages lol.
Taste Vietnam Group also has a cafe in their lineup. You can find a branch in this building, but there is a solo coffeeshop in another area of the Old Town as well that is gorgeous. I have a separate post just about the COFFEE SHOPS we got to try while in Da Nang and Hoi An so you can find snapshots there.
Address: Vy’s Market Restaurant- 3 Nguyễn Hoàng, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000, Vietnam (MAP)
This restaurant is relatively hidden within a small alley near one of the backroads of Hoi An Old Town. Once you know which alley to enter, you’ll immediately see the lanterns beckoning you towards Relics. (Google Maps is pretty accurate!)
This pretty tropical-themed restaurant serves a mix of Vietnamese and Chinese-influenced dishes, and the prices of their food are really fair. It’s no wonder it’s very highly rated in food review sites.
If you’re looking for unique foods, you probably won’t find it here. However, if you’re looking for common Vietnamese dishes done well to fill your hungry tummy, then this is a great place to dine! I enjoyed everything we ordered, but their pho was so-so and clearly not their specialty.
What surprised me was actually how good their coffees were! I was able to drink my favorite version of Salt Coffee from here. It had an added black sesame element that made it even yummier. Their Coconut Coffee is also pretty good!
Address: 129B Phan Chu Trinh, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 51306, Vietnam (MAP)
Random street food like Bánh căn and Bánh bèo
Just like most Asian countries, Vietnam also has quite a lot of street food to choose from. Frankly, I’m not very familiar with Vietnamese street food so I was more than happy to receive lessons from our guide Katie.
Sadly, we were full from our other food adventures when we came across these street sellers so we were only able to try two kinds of street foods. First up, bánh căn or Vietnamese savory crispy pancakes.
To cook, a batter is poured into these specialized bánh căn molds, then each mold is topped with a whole small shrimp and scallions, or with quail eggs. We brought back a mix to our hotel. Typically this is served with nuoc cham and is best eaten out of the mold for maximum crispiness! The sauce removes a lot of the potential deep-fried greasiness from this snack.
Meanwhile, bánh bèo is also another type of Vietnamese pancake, made with rice flour and tapioca starch. Instead of being fried, these are steamed then topped with a sauce made with dried prawns, ground pork, scallions, and other things. I can’t quite remember the specifics of what Katie said lol. This is also eaten with nuoc cham though.
Pho Che Co Ban Che Ngon for cold Vietnamese desserts
We loved this place so much we came here every night we were in Hoi An before ending our day. This place serves an assortment of Vietnamese desserts such as tau hu (silken tofu with sweet toppings) and che (sweet desserts with coconut milk bases). We did our best to try as many flavors as possible lol.
I honestly don’t think you’ll get a bad order here if you follow what you’re in the mood for. But because we get a lot of tau hu here is the Philippines as well, I was more interested in the che desserts. My personal favorite was the Che Sau Rieng or the Durian Che. Each time we came here, I ordered this and shared with my mom. I absolutely loved the cool and sweet coconut milk with all the jellies and the big blob of sweet durian.
I loved the dessert so much, first thing I did when I got back to our hotel after eating this for the first time was to research how to make this at home. If you are a durian-eater, this is a must try. In fact, this whole place is a must-try!
Address: 88 Phan Chu Trinh, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam (MAP)
Throwing this in here as a bonus because I know many of us are chocolate fans, and therefore we support countries that grow cacao and do bean-to-bar stuff lol.
So maybe I’m biased when I say this place DOES NOT beat our local Auro Chocolate in terms of flavor and quality, but Alluvia certainly takes the prize for variety. In fact, the variety of chocolate flavors they sell here is kind of mind-blowing. Black Pepper Chocolate? Coconut Chocolate? Ginger Chocolate? It reminds me of Philippine-brand Theo & Philo in terms of creativity with flavors, except that Alluvia seem to push against the norm just a tiny bit more.
Of course, not all of the flavors here will end up being liked by everyone. I’m not a fan of chewing a whole piece of black pepper with my chocolate meself! But hey, I have to hand it to them for trying. They have such pretty packaging and such a pretty shop to boot, and in the end, my visit here had become a memorable part of my trip to Hoi An.
When you visit the Alluvia store, you can taste test all the flavors of their chocolates before you decide to buy any. I think this is a smart move rather than deciding to buy their assorted set of chocolates and later on being surprised by some of the flavors. (It ain’t cheap here!) The set includes Alluvia’s 100% cacao chocolate as well, which is virtually inedible on its own looool.
I personally really enjoyed the coffee and coconut flavors most, as well as the ginger. I also ended up buying coffee from here because it was really cheap. Since it’s located quite close to Pho Che Co Ban Che Ngon (from above) it’s easy to drop by. You can see the shop across the street from the dessert shop.
Address: 117 Phan Chu Trinh, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000, Vietnam (MAP)
Table of Contents
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Places to Visit
- Food Trips
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