Sunday, 19 June 2011


Hoi An has a beautiful old town that has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries due to it's location and the influences from the Chinese, Japanese and Dutch are still present.

Hoi An is famous for their food too. There are lots of local dishes to try here that you won't find anywhere else in the country.

The most popular is Cao lau. Cao lau noodles are made from sticky rice and the dish is served with vegetables, fresh herbs and bean sprouts. In the traditional version the dish incorporates pork sliver and crackling but there's also a vegetarian one with tofu and crutons instead.

Instead of a ready-made summer roll you sometimes get the fresh rice paper, herbs and greens so you can make your own rolls, always to be dipped in the sweet and sour spicy fish sauce.

White rose or Banh Bao Banh Vac is another speciality in Hoi An: rice paper dumplings filled with a pork and shrimp meat paste and then steamed. The presentation resembles a rose hence the name.

And another classic dish from Hoi An. Wantons are fried in hot oil and served with vegetables. Great as a starter.

There are a lot of street vendors selling all sorts of dishes. This lady here sells silken sofu with a ginger syrup or Tau Hu Nuoc Duong in Vietnamese. The tofu is still warm but the syrup is mixed with ice and this combination makes this dish a winner.

Chè refers to a traditional Vietnamese sweet dessert soup or pudding and there are many variations. Some say the more ingredients the better and this one here incorporates loads: red tapioca perls that resemble pomegranate seeds, coconut gel, grass jelly, cream and mung bean paste on top. So many different flavours and textures shouldn't work but they do.

And a more modest version with less ingredients: Chè hat sen is made with lotus seeds and grass jelly cubes.

Cua Dai beach is 5 km from Hoi An on the South China Sea with fine white sand and clear blue water. Some vendors go up and down the beach to sell kites, balloons and rent tubes.

STREETS is a restaurant with a cause. While dining you help support the local community as the restaurant offers an opportunity for street kids to learn a trade and work in the kitchen or front of house. The menu includes Vietnamese classics and with such simplicity it's all about the execution and presentation.

The term Canh refers to a clear broth with vegetables and often meat. In this version fresh herbs play the main role.

Banh flan is influenced by French cuisine and the vanilla flavoured flan is served with a caramel sauce. In this restaurant version of a street food and patissery classic coffee flavour replaces the caramel and you even save ordering an espresso.

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