17 Must-Try Dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam
I have a very special place in my heart for Vietnam, particularly Hoi An. It’s one of those cities that transports you to a fairytale land that you never want to leave. The colorful handmade silk lanterns that are strung as far as the eye can see, the smell of aromatic broths simmering away in pots in street side stall, and the one of a kind noodles made by one family for generations with water supposedly from a secret well; it’s everything that weaves together the unique story Hoi An has to tell.
The food is by far the stand-out feature of this quaint little town, and Trang from Travel with Trang breaks down 17 must-try dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam. Take it away Trang!
Vietnam can be a shock to new visitors in its bustling cities such as Hanoi and Saigon. The streets are loud, chaotic, and filled with swerving motorbikes. However, tucked away in central Vietnam is a small and charming town called Hoi An.
Throughout Vietnam you’ll find a variety of rice and noodle based dishes. However, there’s one that you can only primarily made in Hoi An called “Cao Lau”, a noodle soup made from pork. If you aren’t a fan of soups, not to worry! Here are some of my favorite must-try dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam that I grew up with!
1) Bánh Bao (Steamed Pork/Meat Bun)
These are useful snacks when people are on-the-go. Veggies, ground meat, and sometimes an egg are enclosed by a layer of dough that has been steamed.
2) Bánh Cuốn (Steamed Rice Rolls)
A thin layer of rice batter, topped off with ground meat and then rolled. It’s eaten with herbs, ground pork, scallions, crispy fried shallots, and topped off with fish sauce.
3) Gỏi (Vietnamese Salad)
It’s very similar to Thailand’s papaya salad. Variations include shrimp, beef jerky, or shredded chicken breast. I like to get this when I want to take a break from heavy carbs.
4) Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Usually dipped with a peanut hoisin sauce, this roll consists of thin vermicelli rice noodles, veggies, shrimp and/or pork.
5) Bánh Xèo (Savory Crispy Crepe)
One of my top dishes for travelers to try! It’s a crunchy crepe filled with shrimp or pork, bean sprouts, mung beans, and onions. It’s then wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc cham (dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, chilis, and lime juice).
6) Chả Giò (Eggrolls)
Deep fried crunchy eggrolls. Enough said.
7) Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sandwich)
There was a period of time where the French took over Vietnam and as a result, their influence can be shown in this dish delicious combination of crispy baguette bread, grilled meat, and pickled vegetables and herbs.
8) Nem Chua (Cured Fermented Pork Roll)
Most people don’t know about this snack. It’s pounded pork that has a chili garlicky tart taste to it which I like.
9) Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò (Dry Noodles, Grilled Pork, Egg Rolls)
Another favorite of mine. I think it’s a crowd pleaser and is more flavorful. It’s a bowl of rice noodles, grilled pork (or chicken) and crispy egg rolls, topped off with some greens, crushed peanuts and fish sauce.
10) Cao Lầu (Hoi An’s soup)
This is a pork noodle dish with thicker noodles that you can mainly get in Hoi An.
11) Bún Mọc (Noodle Soup with Pork Meatballs)
This dish has a differently seasoned pork broth, pork meatballs, and very thin noodles which give the dish a light feel to it.
12) Cơm Tấm (Rice)
I highly recommend people eating this rice dish with marinated meat “Thịt kho” or short ribs called “Sườn Nướng” as I think this is a very typical meal Vietnamese people eat at home.
13) Cháo (Rice Porridge/Rice congee)
This is like the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup but with rice instead. It’s a great comfort food, especially when you’re sick (or hungover).
14) Cà Phê Sữa Dá (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)
An all-time favorite of mine, especially on a hot day. The drink is made with strong black coffee balanced out with sweet condensed milk.
15) Sinh Tố (Smoothie)
You can grab one from a street cart and can choose whatever fruit you’d like. Try some Asian tropical fruits such as jackfruit, sweet lychee, longan, or rambutan. Avocado smoothie sounds weird but it’s actually pretty good!
16) Xôi (Sticky Rice)
There are sweet varieties of sticky rice that make it a dessert, topped off with sesame seeds, coconut, and peanuts. There are also savory types of sticky rice such as ones with Chinese sausage, scallions, and soy sauce.
17) Chè (Dessert)
I always have a hard time trying to explain this but chè is a generic name for dessert that comes in all different flavors and forms! Some are like a warm sweet corn or black bean porridge, others (which I prefer) are layers of Asian fruits, jelly, crushed ice, condense milk and more. Two of my favorite types are “Chè Ba Màu” or “Chè Thái”.
You can find these dishes all throughout Vietnam, including Hoi An. One evening, I was shown by a local to a dinner place called “Bale Well”. Located in an alleyway, they ladies bring out unlimited food to your table. The menu included grilled pork satay, pickled vegetables, savory rice pancakes, and spring rolls. All for just $5 USD/person!
As you can see, Vietnam’s influence from its past with the Chinese and French give it a wide array of cuisines and dishes to eat from. So come visit the charming town of Hoi An: a city made for travelers, beach lovers, and foodies like you!
Trang Pham-Nguyen is the creator of Travel With Trang, a travel blog and resource website showing how you can get on the road, eat along the way, and create memorable experiences. You can reach her at Facebook or Instagram.