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I always aim for lists of 10 and get carried away when it comes to my food blogs. This Hoi An street food guide is no exception. Indeed, ‘carried away’ and ‘Vietnamese food’ go hand in hand because it’s so tasty and moreish.
I spent two months living and working – and more importantly eating – in Hoi An. This charming, crumbling city in Central Vietnam is a must for your Southeast Asia bucket list whether you’re a fan of culture, architecture, beaches or cuisine.
Regarding the latter, I’d argue it’s a must for foodies because the street food in Hoi An is so unique.
HOI AN ESSENTIALS
Copy of Lonely Planet Vietnam
Getting there: flight (Kayak) / bus / train (12GoAsia)
Getting around: on foot / scooter / Grab taxi
Staying connected: E-sim data plan
Accommodation: Booking.com // Hostelworld
Book your airport to city transfer
Tours & activities: GetYourGuide, Backstreet Academy
While there’s plenty of vegan food in Hoi An, often served at the more stylish Hoi An cafes, I have to say I prefer the messy street food!
At least five of the following dishes won’t be found in cities an hour from Hoi An. The same is true of signature dishes in Hanoi or Saigon (you won’t find Hanoian bun cha in Saigon for example). For that reason, you must eat your way around Hoi An to truly understand the food culture.
Related read: the ultimate 2 week Vietnam itinerary
Best street food in Hoi An
After writing guides to the best street food in Hanoi and where to eat in Saigon, I’m here to tell you about the unique and abundant Hoi An cuisine.
Ensure you squeeze the following dishes into your Hoi An itinerary!
Cao lau is the most famous street food in Hoi An and also the most mysterious. Apparently, the noodles contain a tiny serving of ash that comes from one particular tree, as well as water from one specific well.
Rumour also has it that only one local lady knows the exact cao lau recipe. Restaurants purchase the noodles daily from the market and make the other parts of the dish (barbeque pork, crispy crackling and salad) themselves.
For this reason, this is one of the dishes that won’t be found outside of Hoi An.
Where to try cao lau in Hoi An? My personal favourite cao lau spot is Restaurant 339 in Tra Que (pictured). This eaterie on the main road is halfway between town and the beach so you could consider dropping in as a pitstop.
If that’s too much of a trek, basically every restaurant and food stall in the Ancient Town serve it. You’re never far from cao lau in Hoi An.
Crispy wontons remind me of giant nachos. They’re slightly different wherever you eat them in terms of flavour and ingredients. Some are tomato-based while others taste more like Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Others are topped with chopped up fresh ingredients rather than a chutney.
Either way, they’re very moreish. I’d recommend them as a light lunch or starter.
I learnt during a street food tour in Hoi An that the city’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese flavours, whereas Hanoian food exhibits French influences following colonial rule (have you seen a banh mi baguette?) and food from Saigon is typically more westernised. When you consider dishes like wontons with a sweet and sour sauce, it makes sense.
Where to try wontons in Hoi An? The best serving I’ve had was at White Rose Restaurant which I’ll mention again in a moment. For a quick and tasty bite on the go, you can eat wontons at Central Market. As a general tip, this Hoi An street food market is an excellent place for eating typical Vietnamese dishes for 30,000 VND or less.
3. Com ga (chicken rice)
By the time you’ve been in Hoi An five minutes, you will have seen com ga being served somewhere. Like many other Hoi An street foods you’ll find it at modest restaurants, markets and takeaway stands.
I paid 40,000 VND (just over £1) for a giant plate of yellow rice piled with fresh chicken meat, salad, herbs, lime and chilli.
For me, chicken rice isn’t as exciting as some of the other street foods in Hoi An. However, it’s tasty and filling so I can’t complain much.
Where to eat com ga in Hoi An? Bà Buội’s Chicken Rice on Phan Chu Trinh is often hailed as the best place. This whole street is com ga crazy with lots of stalls and restaurants serving it.
4. Bahn xeo
The dish translates as sizzling pancake, apparently because of the noise it makes in the pan. I cannot get enough of these pancakes which are made simply with rice flour, water and turmeric.
Ingredients are added to the batter like pork, prawns and bean sprouts. They’re usually oily and probably very calorific but highly delicious!
Banh xeo pancakes are a favourite Vietnamese dish and, although it’s not known exactly where they originated from, people generally agree they’re from Central Vietnam. I’ve also tried them in Hue and Saigon but my favourite serving was here in Hoi An.
Here’s my mini guide to eating them:
Step 1 – tear a chunk of banh xeo and place it on a piece of rice paper along with some salad.
Step 2 – roll up the rice paper to make a spring roll. Dip in the sauce that comes with it (this one pictured is tangy and flavoured with orange – mouthwatering with the smoky pork!).
Where to try banh xeo in Hoi An? I love Baby Mustard, hidden away in Tra Que Vegetable Village where everything is locally sourced from the green surroundings. You’ll pay 60,000 VND for banh xeo which will keep you full for ages.
5. White rose dumplings
White rose dumplings won’t be found elsewhere, making them a must-try Hoi An street food. These light rice flour parcels are filled with pork, prawn or vegetables. They won’t make a whole meal but they’re a great starter or sharer.
Where to try white rose in Hoi An? The dumplings are only made in one location, White Rose Restaurant, which then distributes them to other restaurants, markets and street food stalls.
During my visit to White Rose, I observed a group of female chefs making them by hand. They start early to produce 2,000 daily after having completed a scholarship before starting the role. If that’s not evidence that Hoi An street food is a serious business, I don’t know what is!
6. ‘Vietnamese pizza’
Otherwise known as bahn tráng nuong, this classic Hoi An street food won’t be found in sit-down restaurants. Vietnamese pizzas are made from grilled rice paper held together with egg and layered with other ingredients like pork, chilli sauce and shallots.
Where to try rice paper pizza in Hoi An? The Night Market and stalls along the riverfront are where you’ll find bahn tráng nuong. People may try to overcharge you as a tourist so aim not to pay more than 30,000 VND.
7. Bahn mi baguettes
Banh mis are by no means exclusive to Hoi An but when in Vietnam, you should eat them wherever you go. Check out my guide to finding the best banh mi in Vietnam if you’re visiting other cities after Hoi An.
Banh mis are cheap, filling and flavoursome, packed with Vietnamese ingredients including pork, tofu, grated carrot, sliced cucumber and copious amounts of chili sauce.
Where to eat banh mi in Hoi An? There are a couple of highly-rated places to sample these fresh baguettes packed with meat and salad.
Anthony Bourdain’s favourite, Bánh Mì Phượng, is a popular yet very busy and hyped-up cafe. My personal favourite if I want a messy, meaty, local banh mi is Madame Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen, while my go-to for a veggie lunch is Phi Banh Mi.
I’m aware that’s three options not one but it’s so hard to choose where Hoi An street food is concerned!
7.5. Banh mi op la
Yep, this is point 7.5 because it’s not quite a banh mi but also I’m not done with this topic yet!
In the early mornings, you’ll find food stalls emblazoned with ‘banh mi op la’ and sometimes the English, egg bread.
As you might guess, they sell banh mi baguettes filled simply with a fried egg. Oh, and some herbs, chilli, soy and fish sauce – you know this is Vietnam, right?
They never cost more than 15,000 VND and keep me full for ages. Well, until lunch.
8. Bun thit nuong
Bun thit nuong is a peanuty dish made from cold rice noodles with pork and veggies. While I’ve had it as far away as Saigon, my favourite serving was served as street food in Hoi An.
Where to try bun thit nuong in Hoi An? Head to Trần Cao Vân, a street with lots of bun thit nuong stalls.
I ate at a particularly good one close to the corner with Ganesh Restaurant. Rather than a few sprinkled peanuts like past servings I’ve had, this one was drenched in rich satay sauce. Heaven.
9. Bahn bot loc (prawn dumplings)
Banh bot loc are dumplings similar to white rose but clear and chewy. Made with rice flour and prawn, they’re cooked in a big metal vat with sausage, herbs and chilli.
They’re served in takeaway boxes, topped with crispy onions.
Where to find banh bot loc in Hoi An? Wander the riverfront and you’re bound to stumble across local ladies cooking and serving these moreish dumplings. I paid 40,000 VND but I should definitely have haggled lower.
10. Mi Quang noodles
Pork, juicy prawns and quail eggs are at the heart of this affordable Hoi An street food dish. You’ll find Mi Quang everywhere for 30-40,000 VND which is a bargain for the rich and plentiful ingredients used.
The noodles, salad and bean sprouts should be mixed together for a tasty and filling meal.
Where to try Mi Quang in Hoi An? I had a really tasty portion at Streets Restaurant which is an NGO that trains local teens in hospitality.
Here I paid 80,000 VND which was a decent price for a good cause but you’ll also find street food versions all over town for half the price including this serving pictured at my local, Restaurant 339.
11. Cơm tấm
Cơm tấm is from Saigon but it’s now popular in central Vietnam too. The dish is made from grilled pork with a fried egg and extra small grains of rice. It translates as broken rice and was traditionally made from the damaged pieces that couldn’t be sold. Now people make them as small as possible specifically for cơm tấm.
This dish is a classic Hoi An street food, cooked on a hot grill barbecue-style and served upon plastic tables under a shady awning.
Where to try com tam in Hoi An? Head to Phạm Hồng Thái street where there are a few food stands serving cơm tấm. I ate at the one outside FTP phone shop for 30,000 VND.
12. Gỏi cuốn AKA fresh spring rolls
A few (okay most) of the street food dishes in Hoi An are oily and fried. I can’t lie, I love this type of food but we all need a break sometimes.
If you’re in need of a healthy snack, you’re in luck with goi cuon. Fresh veggies including cucumber, carrot and mint are rolled up in a sheet of rice paper with or without prawns and pork. They’re usually cheap, refreshing and great for dipping.
Where to try fresh spring rolls in Hoi An? Visit Hoi An Central Market for cheap and fresh gỏi cuốn at every other stand.
tron (clam salad)
For fish fans not scared of a little salt overdose, cycle over the bridge to Cam Nam Island which has its very own unique cuisine despite only being 4km in length.
Hen Tron is a salad made with clams, peanuts, herbs and onion. It’s served with a giant crispy rice cracker called banh dap.
The other Cam Nam dish to try is sweet corn soup or che bop. I ordered it but it never arrived and no one spoke English… Oh well, I more wanted it for the experience than a genuine desire for sweet corn soup!
Note: if you go to Cam Nam, check the prices before ordering. A woman tried to rip me off in a restaurant by the river but as it wasn’t listed on Google, I can’t be sure which one. Try to eat somewhere with prices listed on the menu.
14. Bahn khot
Battered quails eggs are a moreish Hoi An street food usually served in portions of three. While quail eggs are a delicacy at home, they’re a cheap and plentiful ingredient here in Vietnam.
We watched as a lady tended to not one but four pans of boiling water, diligently turning and battering the quail eggs. Once she’d finished, another lady served up our bahn knot with some fresh salad, chilli sauce and a squirt of lime.
I’ve also tried these tasty morsels in Saigon but they’re well worth a try whilst you’re in Hoi An. I didn’t note down the name of this particular stall but you’ll find plenty similar.
15. Bun bo Hue
I had such a quirky experience eating Bun Bo Hue with Hoi An Street Food Tour. We ate inside a restaurant so modest it was basically someone’s family home with motorbikes learning against the wall. Since it’s not listed on Google Maps, they’ll have to show you the way!
As the name suggests, Bun Bo Hue originates from the nearby city of Hue. Being only a couple of hours away, it’s unsurprisingly become a popular street food in Hoi An, too. Unlike pho which is made with a meaty broth, this tangy noodle soup is flavoured with lemongrass. The noodles are round rather than the flat variety used in pho.
Hoi An street food tour
If you’re a real foodie and don’t want to miss a thing, I would highly recommend a tour with Hoi An Food Tour. They will pick you up by motorbike and tour some unique parts of Hoi An like Tra Que Veggie Village where ingredients are grown, before taking you to some of the best market stalls and local restaurants.
My friend Ziba and I had a ball on this tour and leant so much about Hoi An food history and culture as a result. We also drunk some amazing freshly-roasted coffee and finished with dessert. Book with Hoi An Food Tour here.
More Hoi An food activities
I would recommend taking a Hoi An cooking class during your trip. I enjoyed the Thuan Tinh Island class including a market visit and boat ride.
Another fun option is a farming session and cooking class in Tra Que Vegetable Village where you’ll see where Hoi An’s fresh produce is grown and sent straight to your table. I took an amazing tour with social enterprise, Backstreet Academy.
Thanks for reading my Hoi An street food guide!
Check out some of my other Vietnam posts:
- 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking route
- Visiting Tam Thanh Mural Village from Hoi An
- Complete digital nomad guide to Hoi An
- Complete 2 week Vietnam itinerary
- 2 week itinerary for North Vietnam
- How to visit the Hue Abandoned Waterpark
- Visiting Ninh Binh from Hanoi
- The perfect 2 day itinerary for Hue
- Visiting Phong Nha National Park
- How to spend 3 days in Sapa
- The best banh mi in Vietnam
- Ha Long Bay guide and tour review
- How to spend 4 days in Saigon
- The best street food in Saigon
- Digital nomad guide to Saigon
- Exploring the Mekong Delta
- How to spend 3 days in Hanoi
- Where to eat Hanoi street food
- Truc Bach, Hanoi visitors guide
- Ngoc Ha, Hanoi visitors guide
- The ultimate guide to Hanoi egg coffee
- Where to drink coffee in Hanoi
- The hidden gems in Hanoi
Please note: while I was a guest with Hoi An Food Tour, all opinions are my own.
See you next time for more adventures,
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