Last year I went on an amazing adventure to Vietnam with a strong focus on eating as much amazing Vietnamese food as was physically possible. Exploring the world via my stomach is always going to be the focus. One of the highlights of the trip was a few days spent in Hoi An in Central Vietnam and going on the Last Great Taste of Hoi An food tour.
I booked in advance on the referral of a friend and the tour was hugely insightful and delightful. It’s been rated as one of the world’s 15 fabulous food tours by National Geographic Traveller and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Neville, an ex-pat Australian and now a resident of Hoi An runs daily tours with help from his wife Colleen and a local guide. You will not meet an English-speaking person more passionate and knowledgeable about Vietnamese food than Neville.
They pick you up from your hotel in this quaint ancient town and then you head to the Tan An Market where the culinary adventure starts. It’s a walking tour with a few stops to meet food producers and taste around 44 different dishes. You get a great insight into the culture as well as the cuisine of Vietnam and this was fascinating to me. Understanding how the French and Americans influenced the food of the country. Neville also shares all his recommendations to have clothes, jewelry, bags, or shoes made, so it’s advisable to do the tour near the beginning of your time in Hoi An.
Where to eat out in Hoi An
These are a couple of restaurants we ate in which I can highly recommend:
Nu Eatery (Vietnamese/Fusion) :
A little tricky to find tucked down a small alley to the right fairly soon after you go through the Japanese Bridge. Bookings are advisable and expect absolutely delicious food.
Am (Vegetarian), 33D Ly Thai To Street. Try the Japanese (savory) Cake – a pizza-like dish. We were very fortunate to have Neville and Colleen join us for dinner here and he took care of all the ordering. Phenomenal food.
These are a few other of Neville’s recommendations that I didn’t get to try but will definitely do on my next visit if I can be drawn away from Nu and Am.
Du Vit Restaurant, 07 Thai Phien Street. World’s Best Mango Salad; Spring Rolls – both fried & fresh; Fried Wontons with Salsa. Excellent cooking class.
Son (Vietnamese), Tel 0510 3861 172, 232 Cua Dai Road – ask for Special Menu – Duck w/- Orange Sauce; Prawns w/- Garlic Sauce; Lotus Salad; Cassava Salad Exotic Vietnamese garden setting.
Minh Hien Quan Chay Restaurant (Vegan) , 50 Tran Cao Van Street – A fantastic food experience for vegan or otherwise.
Pho Xua (Vietnamese) , 35 Phan Chau Trinh Street, – special salads and noodle dishes – #4 Salad Nunu; #10 Nem Ram; #13 Bun 5 vi (noodles); #19 Bun Cha (noodles with char-grilled pork) – unbelievable value
Thuan Y (Vietnamese), 94 Bach Dang Street (Ancient Town waterfront) Manager: Ms Plum Fish in Banana Leaf; Calamari w/- Lemongrass & Chilli; Fresh Beer (VND8,000/40cents) – Shabby chic – not chic
Where to find the best Banh Mi in Hoi An
I had seen Anthony Bourdain devour a Banh Mi from Banh mi Phoung and claim it as ‘the best sandwich he had ever eaten’ so we obviously had to give it a try. We had also heard about Madam Khanh’s (The Banh Mi Queen) rendition so that was the very first thing we ate as we arrived in Hoi An. We thought Madam Khanh’s was marginally better, and it was for me the best sandwich I had ever eaten. We had one on our way out too to double-check our thoughts on the matter of the best Banh Mi in Hoi An. Ps – on the food tour we tasted another sample from another vendor which some locals claim is THE best, so my advice is to eat them all and then decide for yourself. It’s hard to imagine that something that filling and delicious only cost around $1 USD. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.
Another place I really loved and recommend visiting is Reaching Out Teahouse. It’s the best place to take a break from the very noisy and bustling streets of Hoi An and step into a tranquil space that supports deaf & hearing impaired women. The silent tea ceremony is beautiful and they offer a few delicious tea snacks. They also have a lovely courtyard in the back if you prefer being outside.
Here are a few pics from the tour and of the town of Hoi An:
We stayed at a really lovely 3-star hotel that I can highly recommend called Thuy Duong 3 and conveniently located near the ancient town and with a pool (which is pretty essential at all times in this very humid part of the world).
To see my other posts on my trip and loads of pictures, check out:
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