Though you can sample delicious dishes in the Ancient Town, to have a real local experience you’ll want to go where the locals go. The good news is that it’s not far away. Here’s a guide to having an authentic foodie adventure in Hoi An.

Morning

In the early morning, Thai Phien st. – from the corner with Nguyen Truong To to the corner of Tran Cao Van –  is full-on street food heaven. Come before 9am and you’ll be rewarded with all the local dishes your heart desires.

Bun Cha Ca - What to eat in Hoi An

For noodle soups there’s Bún Chả Cá, a light broth of fish bones, pumpkin and pineapple poured over peppery fish cakes, fresh greens, bean sprouts and herbs. There’s also bun (thin, fresh rice noodles) in other forms: meaty Bún Bò with pork bones, and Bún Nem Nướng, with grilled and spiced pork skewers.

Hoi An’s star dishes are also present on the stage of Thai Phien. Sidewalk stalls proudly serve Cao Lau and Mi Quang. Pull up a little red stool at a little red table and allow the cook to assemble your bowl from just-picked veggies, strings of luscious noodles, and ladles of rich broth straight from the pot. On Thai Phien st. you’ll also find banh mi stalls parked on the corners, eateries serving Chao (rice and ginger porridge) and Bun Ca Ri, beef curry with baguettes.

TIP: Take a walk up Tran Cao Van from the corner with Thai Phien in the early morning to see a mini-market with stalls selling fish, vegetables, and fruits spreading over the sidewalks. Stop by Mr. Viet’s coffee cart near the corner of Tran Cao Van for an addictive Vietnamese Bac Xiu.

Cao Lau noodles - What and where to eat in Hoi An
Cao lau noodles - What and where to eat in Hoi An

Must-try spots: Bún Bò Cô Thu, Cao Lầu Hồng, Ca Ri Cô Liên


Lunch

Vietnamese eat lunch early by Western standards and many stalls open from 11am and sell out before 1pm. A busy stall overflowing with local patrons is a sure sign that the food is worth a try.

Cơm bình dân translates as ‘common people’s rice’ in Vietnamese. The definition of a local lunch, cơm bình dân combines several dishes into one meal. Chicken in lemongrass, omelet with green onions, and stir-fried morning glory are a few items you’re sure to find at cơm bình dân stalls in Hoi An.

Com binh dan - What and where to eat in Hoi An
Com binh dan - What and where to eat in Hoi An

Here, an array of dishes — steamed vegetables, braised meats, and fried eggs — is cooked in the morning hours and laid out for presentation. By 11am, locals will show up and pick out entrees by pointing to them. The cook will place small portions of these on a bed of hot rice to be eaten all together, with spoonfuls of vegetable soup and sips of cold green tea on the side.

TIP: While you can find cơm bình dân all over Hoi An, stalls near the markets have access to the freshest ingredients. Try the cơm bình dân on Tieu La st., right next to the Hoi An Market.

Hoi An chicken rice - Com ga Hoi An - What to eat in Hoi An

On the subject of rice, Hoi An’s Cơm Gà (chicken rice) is a classic choice for lunch on a hot day. Choose between a whole boiled chicken leg or shredded chicken tossed with onion and herbs, or a fried chicken leg with pickled carrot, shallots and cabbage — all served atop a pile of fragrant, turmeric-tinted rice. Add a dab of chili jam and a few drops of lime to bring it all together.

Try it: Cơm gà Phương Oanh, Quán cơm Hai Gà


Dinner

While other times of the day are more social, evenings are when we gather with loved ones in our homes, to eat simple, seasonal food served on a round tray that symbolizes togetherness. Dinner in Hoi An is the best time to enjoy a leisurely dinner in the local restaurants or a seafood feast by the beach.

Seafood restaurant - What to eat in Hoi An

Save an evening to sample the delicious seafood of Quang Nam by the beach in An Bang or Cua Dai. Most seafood restaurants charge dishes by weight, and once you’ve chosen your seafood you can order each one cooked in a different style. Prawns sautéed in tamarind sauce, clams steamed with lemongrass, and scallops grilled with green onions in oil are popular choices.

Another local dinner idea is a seafood hotpot, a shared experience where everyone cooks seafood, tofu, mushrooms, vegetables and rice noodles in a boiling pot of flavorful soup set in the center of the table. The more ingredients added to the soup, the more tasty it becomes. Dip your cooked seafood in the dipping sauce of green chili, lime and sea salt to heighten the taste.

Try it: Nhà Hàng Hơn, Bảo Hân Restaurant


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