What to eat in Hoi AN, Vietnam
You can not say that you have been to Hoi An until you have tried these unique local dishes...
1. White rose dumplings, or Banh Bao Banh Vac
This special dish is found only in Hoi An! The dish is called "white rose dumplings" because of the way that they are arranged on a plate, looking something like the petals of a large flower. White rose dumpling are made from rice paper stuffed with meat (usually shrimp). The dumplings are steamed until they are perfectly cooked, garnished with fried onions and shallots, and served with sweet chili dipping sauce.
2. Cao Lau or Hoi An noodle
Cao lầu is made out of a special type of Hoi An noodle, served with the meat of your choice and topped with fried wontons, veggies, and herbs. Cao lầu must be prepared with a certain traditional technique, and the ingredients used make it unique and very special. Local lore suggests that only Hoi An water is able to give the noodles their unique flavor and texture. Cao lầu noodles are a bit firm and chewy, but not too hard. The noodles are unlike any noodle that I have ever tried. The meat that I ordered was a soft and tender marinated BBQ pork - a perfect combination between salty and sweet.
3. Banh Dap or smashed rice cracker
Banh Dap, or "smashed rice paper" in English, is one dish that originated in this charming little town. Banh Dap is different from any other rice paper that you will see here in Vietnam. This menu is good for snacking and as a side dishe. Banh Dap is made from two pieces of rice paper smashed together - one crispy and one soft - and folded together like a sandwich. The cracker is dipped into a sauce made of fish sauce, dry onion, and chili. I like the texture of this menu. I didn't know what this dish would be like, but it looked like it would be very crispy from the outside, so my brain had already imagined the sounds of the rice paper cracking when I chew it. BUT it's not exactly like that! The texture of crispy and soft rice cracker mixed together was very interesting.
4. Banh Trang Nuong or grilled rice paper
Spend an evening in the Hoi An Night Market! There are lots of souvenirs that you can find, especially the city's iconic beautiful lanterns to take home. Most importantly, you can always find lots and lots of food and snacks! As you walk through the busy market, there are so many street vendors who want to to sell you stuff like frog on a stick, rolled ice cream, and fresh fruits. What stood out for me, though, was this Banh Trung Noung, or grilled rice paper. This local snack food is made out of rice paper as a base, grilled until crispy, and topped with shredded pork, fried onion, shallot, quail egg, and chili sauce. It's then folded in half like a taco to be easy to take home or eat as you walk. It's crispy, salty and sweet - what could be a better snack?!
5. Bun Thit Nuong or grilled pork noodles
Bún thịt nướng is served with fish sauce for dipping, just like most other dishes in Hue which all have their own special dip for each item. Bún thịt nướng, or grilled pork noodles, come with tasty grilled pork served over rice noodles and fresh veggies (such as sweet basil, banana blossoms, and bean sprouts). The fatty grilled pork, which has already been marinated with a special recipe, tastes so delicious and goes great with the rice noodles. Fresh veggies add a crispiness and a healthy herbal aroma to the dish. Pick up each bite of noodles in your chopsticks and dip it into the sauce for extra flavor!
If you like discovering delicious local dishes from all across the world, please check out our sister blog, World of Street Food! There, we post all of the amazing things that we eat as we make our way around the world.