Hoi An is a perfect little riverside town with a lot of eateries to choose from and tons of great food. Cao lau is the authentic local noodle dish and is good in almost any place you come across. For more sophisticated fare there are also some great choices. I’ve highlighted just a few of my favourite places to grab a meal in this charming town.
Here are some of my favorite top end places, all of which require reservations, along with a few casual eateries and cafes to round out the list.
Cô Mai is relatively new to the Hoi An culinary scene, but it already feels like part of the rich tapestry of this ancient merchant town. This is partly because it is in a 200-year-old house, originally built by Chinese merchants. It is also because owner and chef Didier Corlou has spent years searching for the best spices and combinations, and he paints with the full palette of Vietnamese flavours. He uses locally-sourced produce and meat, and the fish and seafood are brought fresh from the nearby morning market on the Thu Bồn River. Add a fantastic wine list and a little shop where you can buy some spices to take home and voilà: you have an old soul of a restaurant that offers a delicious, genuine Vietnamese central coast experience!
I’m partial to this trio of restaurants, all run by the amazing Chef Duc. A true legend in Hoi An who still shops for the freshest fish himself in the early mornings, Duc’s creative flair comes from his global upbringing: Vietnamese-born and Texas-raised, he has also travelled extensively and cooked around the world, including in Sweden and New Zealand.
To be honest, if I had three nights in Hoi An I would probably spend one night at each—chef Duc’s food is that good! Mango Rooms is a bit more bohemian and I prefer to start any evening here with a riverside cocktail at one of only two cute outside tables. Mango Mango is probably the chicest of the bunch and better for larger groups of friends, as the tables are bigger; it also overlooks Hoi An’s famous covered 18thC Japanese bridge. Finally, Mai Fish has the best outside seating, so if the temperature is perfect, it’s a great choice.
Ms. Vy is another culinary legend in town. Growing up in a family restaurant gave her a taste for the industry, but a true passion and knack for business helped her start her restaurant empire. She owns a couple places in Hoi An but this is the clear standout. Reservations are required for dinner, but the place is also wonderful for lunch. In my opinion, this is the best mì quang noodle in town. Morning Glory is a bit more casual than the rest, but don’t be fooled: the food is authentic, traditional and sophisticated.
ThirtySeven is another project of from our irrepressible friend Duc, who has partnered here with Australian chef Ben Attwater to deliver a fresh twist on the steakhouse experience, where all the cooking is done using sustainable locally-sourced coffee and cashew wood.
Local seafood specialties are available as well. With a stylish interior and a nice beer and wine list to boot, this is a new winner in town.
Looking for the taste of home? Or at least some bread and cheese? This Italian restaurant serves up the best pizza and pasta in town with a great wine list to accompany all the carbs your heart desires.
For something totally different, mix it up at this authentic Indian restaurant. You’ll find fresh naan bread and a wide range of Northern Indian dishes with a pleasant atmosphere; vegetarians will also find something to love on the menu.
Hands down, the best coffee in town. They also roast their own beans. Get your caffeine fix at this incredible coffee house!
This juice bar and café is cool, trendy and organic. Great for an afternoon smoothie!
Bánh mì is the quintessential Vietnamese sandwich, reflecting its French colonial heritage: a crusty French baguette filled with pates, cold cuts, herbs and pickles with Vietnamese flavours. Here are two places where I like to get my fix.
Bánh Mì Phuong is my preference. It’s now more popular, thanks to popular TV chef Anthony Bourdain (who recently had noodles and beer with former president Barack Obama in Hanoi).
Another superb option is grabbing a takeaway bánh mì from Ms. Vy’s Market restaurant.