The food of Hoi An – Cao Lau and more

Hoi An has its own unique take on Vietnamese cuisine. Amongst the little ancient houses are a myriad of options, in the market, restaurants and street stands. It is one of our favourite places in Asia to eat out, and one of the cheapest. Here are a few of our favourite options. 


The stand out specialty is Cao Lau noodles, the signature of the area. It is made with thick hand made noodles, barbecued pork, fried rice flour croutons and finished with a rich, well seasoned thick pork broth. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or (and?) dinner. Try it on the waterfront near the Japanese bridge at night – look for the plastic tables and chairs and enjoy it with the atmosphere of the floating lanterns on the river and the lights of the old town. 

Cao Lau

White rose (Banh Vac) are shrimp and pork paste filled steamed dumplings, topped in crispy fried onions and have a lovely delicate flavour. Available everywhere!
Banh Vac
An amazing and unexpected dish was minced clams, steamed and then fried with a variety of local herbs, then served with chilli, holy basil and peanuts. It comes out as a kind of dip that you load onto fried rice paper for an amazing starter. There is a little place called Cam Nam in an alleyway off Hai Ba Trung which makes this dish amazingly!


Minced Clams
Banh Xeo in Hoi An are a bit different to those in the south, and we think better. You wrap them in rice paper with salad, perhaps some grilled pork and various other bits (depends where you get them!) and dipped in chilli and fish sauce. Try the market for these – super cheap and loads of options. 

Fried wontons filled with shrimp and topped with peppers, onion, herbs, carrot, pineapple and lots more. Try them, they’re also amazing!


Fried Wonton

Bia Hoi is not just found in Hanoi – most places in Hoi An will serve you a cold glass for 3000 to 8000 dong (quality and price not necessarily linked!). There are a few good places just over the river from the old town (turn left off the bridge) to watch the world go by at night. 


Bia Hoi
Vietnamese coffee is always great. If, like us, you need a daily caffeine fix, then right in front of the Japanese bridge is a plastic table cafe where you can get a great and cheap coffee with sweet milk and not too much ice. And, if you get hungry, they crack out the Cao Lau around 11am. Great view too!

Coffee with a view

One comment

  1. […] We arrived at night and decided to leave exploring the old town until the next day. Instead, we had a bite to eat by the night market- a few local specialties such as Cau Lau noodles and Banh Vac steamed shrimp dumplings. We love the food in Hoi An – so much, in fact, that we decided to write an extra blog all abou…  […]


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