Anthony Bourdain, Asia, Banh Mi, Banh Xeo, Banyan, Cao lầu, Cau Lau Noodles, Food and Drinks, Hoi An, Hoi An Specialities, Tiem Banh Mi Phoung, Tuyet, Vietnam, White Rose Dumplings, White Sail Café, Wonton with Salsa
Mr. Selfish and I have been all over Vietnam and accordingly have enjoyed the food throughout. However, I found Hoi An to have the best food in Vietnam by far. Aside from the regional specialties being amazing, I found the regular Vietnamese food to be better as well.
Mr. Selfish loves banh mi (Viet subs). We ate some in Saigon, Nha Trang, and Dalat, and they were so so. When he discovered that Anthony Bourdain had been to Hoi An and had recommended a banh mi shop (Tiem Banh Mi Phoung), he made certain that we went there our first day in Hoi An.
It was worth all the hype and the queuing. It was indeed the best banh mi in the world. It cost 15,000 dong ($.72USD) for a regular banh mi and 20,000 dong ($.96USD) for a deluxe banh mi with egg. There must have been 15 ingredients in these banh mi, and I couldn’t tell you what they all were. Some of them were tomatoes, mint, cucumber, lettuce, junk meat, meatball, meatball sauce, pork slices, egg, mayo, and peppers. The rest was either magic or pure crack, because this banh mi was outrageously well-balanced and delicious. In total, Mr. Selfish and I had over 10 banh mis while in Hoi An, and we still wish that we had eaten more!
Aside from all of this banh mi, Mr. Selfish and I enjoyed the regional specialties of Hoi An as well. We went to the White Sail Café (Canh Buom Trang) to enjoy the specialities.
The first specialty is the white rose dumplings (banh bao vac), which are a shrimp dumpling made to look like a little rose. These dumplings are made by one Chinese family in Hoi An. They have a secret recipe and have been making them exclusively in Hoi An for several generations.
The next specialty is Cao lầu noodles, which is also made exclusively by one Chinese family. The noodles are made from a specific well water in Hoi An and flavored with smoke somehow. Therefore, you can only get authentic Cao lầu in Hoi An. Of course, the recipe is kept very secret as well. The noodles are served with pork, dough fritters, and lots of herbs and veggies.
The third Hoi An specialty is deep-fried wontons served with salsa. The salsa was a mix of chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and corn. Although this doesn’t sound very interesting, it was quite tasty and different from other wontons I’ve had.
The last specialty we had from Hoi An was the chicken rice. I’m not sure how they make the rice so fragrant and moist but it was delicious. It is topped with herbs, papaya, and carrots. This was Mr. Selfish’s favorite Hoi An dish.
We also had some other dishes from the White Sail Café that were noteworthy. We had stuffed squid in a tomato sauce, which I found to be perfectly tender and delicious, and chargrilled eggplant in shallot oil, which had a nice smoky flavor. I highly recommend the White Sail Café, we obviously went there a couple of times during our stay in Hoi An.
After our disappointment over the beach in Nha Trang, we decided to check out the beach in Hoi An. Fortunately, it was in stark contrast to the beach in Nha Trang. It was mostly empty and quite serene. We enjoyed a bottle of rosé at Banyan, which is right on the water.
Finally, we ate at Tuyet Seafood, which is reputed to have great seafood including the best seafood eggrolls in the world. The eggrolls were the second best I’ve ever had (nothing beats my mom’s eggrolls!). We also had some tamarind shrimp and steamed crabs. I forgot how to open the crabs, and our waitress had to do it for us, which indicates to me that me and Mr. Selfish need to eat more crabs!
Hoi An is certainly the foodie capital of Vietnam. Every meal that we had there was divine, and Mr. Selfish and I definitely want to return. I think Mr. Selfish just wants another banh mi from Tiem Banh Mi Phoung, but I can’t blame him.