Once one of Vietnam’s most important trading ports, Hoi An has now become a popular tourist city. The Old Town still maintains its fusion of ancient Vietnamese and colonial French beauty and culinary heritage, with specialities such as cao lau, quang noodles and shrimp dumplings. Here is our selection of the top 10 culinary spots in Hoi An.
Miss Ly Cafeteria
For the past 21 years, Miss Ly has been cooking typical fare, such as cao lau, fried wonton and white roses, and her own designed dishes. Her small restaurant is a vibrant and friendly spot right in the heart of the historical town center. The menu’s ample selection, with a regional taster menu, provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience authentic Hoianian flavors at reasonable prices. The relaxed atmosphere and the charming interiors of the place is decorated with antique wall prints and paintings. This makes Miss Ly Cafeteria the ideal stop to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the center while still enjoying the beautiful view of the surrounding historical buildings.
Awarded membership to Clinton Global Initiative in 2014, Streets is a non-profit organization established in 2005 with the aim of providing training and employment for disadvantaged youths and street kids in the catering and hospitality industries. As part of the training program, the trainees work at the restaurant where they learn to cook and serve international and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. The profit from the restaurant is then reinvested for future training. Located in the center of the Old Town, Streets is in an ancient two-story shop.
At Morning Glory, customers are presented with many options, from classics like quang noodles (yellow rice noodles with shrimps, pork, vegetables and grilled rice paper) and coa lau to more contemporary creations. The owner, Ms Vy, shows her passion for Hoi An traditions and culture. She respects classic recipes by redesigning home-cooking that has been handed down by her grandmother, preserving the authentic flavors. The restaurant’s historic premises and the building’s façade are an evident reminder of the French colonial period, and the interior is finely decorated for a fine dining experience. Despite being pricier than other restaurants, Morning Glory retains the authenticity and quality of regional food.
A view of Hoi An’s river at night is a must while visiting the city. Mango Mango sits just across the riverbank. It’s an area once forgotten but is now becoming increasingly popular among tourists who want to enjoy shopping for art and crafts and souvenirs at the market or have a nice meal away from the buzzing city center. On offer are a variety of both Vietnamese traditional recipes and Western dishes. Although the prices are more expensive than other restaurants, the location just across the Japanese Bridge makes it the perfect place to enjoy the stunning view of the river. In the evening the river lights up with many colors, street vendors and Chinese flying lanterns.
Little Faifo Restaurant, Hoi An | Courtesy of Ancient Faifo
For a true combination of local food, music and art, pay a visit to Ancient Faifo. This beautiful restaurant is a unique testament to the city’s trading period and its artistic one. It includes a bar area, a relaxing cafe space and a restaurant decorated throughout with oil paintings, antique furnishing and ceramics. Previously owned by Vietnamese artists, Ancient Faifo has its own art gallery that showcases local Vietnamese artists’ works on a regular basis. In line with its historical prominence, the menu presents ancient recipes with a touch of modern fusion. It has four different set menus to choose from and a good selection of tapas.
A fusion of Japanese and Vietnamese flavors, U Café is located on the river, a 20-minute walk from the Old Town going towards Cua Dai beach. Ideal for a break away from shopping and sightseeing, U Café’ is 100% eco-friendly. Its structure and equipment are designed to reduce a negative impact on the river by recycling water. The same values are applied to the food, and the drinks and coffee they serve, which are sourced from the local market and from organic farms. Fishponds, plants and lotus flowers throughout the three levels of the cafe enhance the feeling of being in a green oasis.
The strongest asset of this cozy venue is its location. Placed at the corner of Le Loi Street, right in the middle of the heritage sights, it is the ideal spot to chill out after a long day walking. Enjoy people watching and the beauty of Hoi An’s historical streets here. White Marble’s comfy interiors are lit by warm yellow colors, creating a relaxing, low-key and yet tasteful atmosphere. Although the food menu is simple, it still presents quality regional specialties and a good selection of tapas. On the other hand, the wine menu is one of the most extensive and sensibly priced in town.
Brother's Café Hoi An, Hoi An | Courtesy of Brother's Cafe
Formerly a French-era police station, the building has been transformed into one of the most peaceful and stunning venues in town. Strategically located on the Thu Bon River, Brother’s Café comprises an inside dining area and an elegant open garden overlooking the river, making it ideal for a quiet drink while watching the sun go down. Due to its premium location and its historical value, Brother’s Café is one of the most expensive restaurants in town but the scenery makes it worthy for a special night out. The food portions are generous and the quality is good. Visitors have the option to choose from the à la carte menu, five different set menus and buffet sets. The restaurant caters for special, themed events, such as the Lantern Festival, sunset cruises and other ceremonies by arranging special buffet sets and activities around them.