Freshness is the name of the food game in Hoi An. Many vendors open for only a few hours a day, and specialize in just one or two traditional family recipes made with ingredients harvested from the farm the same morning. The result is fantastically fresh fare that’s beyond delicious. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the local food of Hoi An. Here are five must-try dishes to put on your list.

Cơm gà - Ăn gì ở Hội An Quảng Nam?

Cơm gà (Chicken rice)

When you get in front of a perfectly cooked plate of com ga, everything becomes a blur. There is a lot going on: fluffy rice cooked in chicken fat and turmeric, crunchy pickles teasing your tongue and delicate herbs adding aromas, drops of lime juice and spicy chili jam competing for attention.

Mixed in with it all is the soft chicken meat and the fragrance of the lightly spiced chicken rice that you inhale with each bite. Don’t be surprised if you clean every grain from your plate — that’s the way it should be!

Try it: For an authentic version of com ga, with delightful little pickles and lemon leaves, try Hai Gà in Cam Thanh. Closer to the Ancient Town, Cơm Gà Bà Buội is a local favorite.

Quang noodles - Mi Quang - Local dishes in Hoi An and Quang Nam

Mì Quảng (Quang noodles)

Mi Quang is the queen of noodles in Quang Nam province, where Hoi An is located. Thick, luscious rice noodles coated in peanut oil form the base of this dish, which is held together by a savory sauce made with turmeric and pork or chicken broth. Bright orange shrimp, boiled quail eggs and fatty pork belly are laid on top of the noodles. Each bowl of mi Quang is served with toasted sesame crackers, a handful of fresh greens and herbs such as cilantro, mint, and perilla.

Read more: Discover Quang Nam’s delicious mi Quang

TIP: Although many people think of mi Quang with yellow noodles, the dish as its served in Quang Nam usually has pure white noodles, and an orange sauce laced with turmeric.

Try it: Every morning mi Quang stands pop up all over the Hoi An Ancient Town. Around lunch time, look for Mi Quang 92 at 112 Tran Cao Van st. — which makes an oh-so-perfect version of this dish.

Bánh bao bánh vạc (white rose)

So delicate, so luscious, so hard to pin down — white rose has all the marks and the magic of dimsum, but done in Quang Nam’s style. This dish is unique to Hoi An, and is said to have been originally brought to local kitchens by a family of Chinese settlers.

White rose are small steamed dumplings with slightly chewy, translucent skins, each one holding a single bite of peppery shrimp and pork paste. The dumplings are made to order and topped with crispy fried shallots, green onions, and a light, slightly sweetened fish sauce mixed with lime and chili. Light and tantalizing, it’s the perfect starter to a meal.

Try it: The original white rose recipe is said to have come from the restaurant at 533 Hai Ba Trung in Hoi An, however you can find delicious versions of white rose at other restaurants, including Morning Glory.

Cao lầu (Steamed high noodles)

No dish showcases the multicultural influences that passed through ancient Hoi An as well as cao lau. The chewy, springy noodles are similar in texture, size and length to Japanese udon. The pork loin is marinated in a mix of spices, soy sauce and garlic similar to Chinese char siu.

How to make cao lau’s unique yellow-brown noodles is a local secret, involving ancient wells and ash from the Cham Islands. All the elements come together exquisitely in the finished bowl. Stir crispy fried dough, fresh greens and herbs with the noodles in a lemongrass-scented sauce, and enjoy big bites full of texture.

Try it: It’s not hard to find cao lau on the streets of Hoi An. For a pitch-perfect version, order a bowl from Mrs. Hung on Thai Phien St.

Bánh Mì - Ăn gì ở Hội An, Quảng Nam?

Bánh mì (Vietnamese baguette)

Banh mi is made all over Vietnam, but there’s something about Hoi An’s version that packs a punch. The bread is thick and crunchy, and generously packed with your choice of meat or egg, tangy papaya and carrot pickles, cilantro and crunchy slices of cucumber.

And then there’s the sauce. Each vendor has their own recipe for sauces to drizzle on the bread, and Hoi An’s special chili sauce elevates any bánh mì to new heights.

TIP: Banh mi vendors in Quang Nam will toast your banh mi with everything inside before giving it to you — enjoy it hot for a swoon-worthy experience.

Try it: While there are a few famous banh mi stalls in Hoi An, such as Bánh Mì Phượng and Bánh Mì Khánh, you can also try simpler versions in the local style outside any market.

Read more: An authentic DIY food tour of Hoi An

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