Specialities such as cao lau (pork and greens with noodles), mì quảng noodles and white-rose shrimp dumplings make Hội An, Vietnam’s Yellow City, a foodie’s delight. Whether you want something classic or are in the mood to sample some of the city’s outstanding modern fusion food, the following are our culinary hotspots in this fascinating former trading port.
Within the boutique La Siesta Hội An Resort & Spa, this airy space offers classic dishes from Quang Nam province and other parts of Vietnam, enlivened by modern twists. Sit indoors or out in the courtyard and enjoy the likes of claypot eggplant or crispy morning glory accompanied by views over the tropical gardens. Regular street-food buffets give you the chance to sample a wide array of different dishes. The venue also runs street-food tours of the city and cookery classes that include a visit to an organic farm.
This long-standing favourite offers classics, such as cao lau, fried wonton and white-rose dumplings, alongside Miss Ly’s own recipes. In the heart of Hội An’s historical centre, this compact venue (expect to wait for a table), with its antique wall prints and paintings, is a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.
A member of the Clinton Global Initiative, this restaurant is part of a non-profit organisation that trains and employs disadvantaged youths and street kids for a future in the catering and hospitality industries, pouring back any profits into future training. Expect contemporary Vietnamese and global cuisine ranging from toasted baguette paninis to heo kho tộ (braised claypot pork with quail eggs), plus speciality market tours and cookery classes also led by the trainees.
Great value in a city where nothing is expensive by Western standards, this unpretentious restaurant and bar, with its colourful lanterns, serves tasty Vietnamese and Western fare, from the likes of stuffed squid, passion-fruit chicken and eggplant with lemongrass grilled in a banana leaf to decent pizzas for those in the market for familiar comfort food. The staff are a delight, too.
This most upmarket of the venues run by local restaurant doyenne Ms Vy serves refined contemporary Vietnamese cuisine to rave reviews. This is a place to try cherished family dishes given a modern spin, all of them with a story to tell – don’t miss the sautéed squid with steamed black rice or the lemongrass stalks wrapped with minced meat. Its balcony also boasts some of the best views of the Japanese Bridge across the lantern-lit river. The other Morning Glory, at 106 Nguyễn Thái Học, showcases everyday Vietnamese food.
Just across the river from central Hội An on An Hội island with its night market, this is a popular spot for modern Vietnamese dishes accompanied by river views from its inviting terrace. The crispy duck wins plaudits, as does the red snapper with five spices. Loving attention to detail includes beautifully carved vegetables and even fresh flowers embellishing colourful cocktails. There’s a great selection of wine, too. Staff strike the perfect balance between attentive and unobtrusive.
A unique testament to the city’s merchant history and its artistic past and present, this gorgeous venue combines local food, music and art. As well as a restaurant decorated with oil paintings, antiques and ceramics, it includes a bar area, a café space and a a gallery showcasing local artists. Fittingly, the menu is strong on ancient recipes given a modern fusion spin. Standouts are the banana blossom salad with seafood and the roasted country duck.
This glamorous spot within a beautifully preserved 19th-century French villa with delightful vintage decor and polished original wooden floors is one for special occasions. Feast on Hội An cuisine as well as classic Northern and Southern dishes, all gorgeously presented – the softshell crab and grilled oysters are particularly good. There’s also a memorable table barbecue option.
On the river a 20-minute walk from the Old Town towards Cua Dai beach, this eco-friendly, water-recycling venue sources its ingredients from the local market and organic farms. The feeling of being in a green oasis is enhanced by the fishponds, plants and lotus flowers. As for food, think Japanese meets Vietnamese in dishes such as vegetable sushi and taro croquettes, plus great home-made yoghurt and ice cream.
In the middle of Hội An’s main heritage sights, this is also a great venue for people-watching. The modern takes on regional specialities are accompanied by an extensive menu of sensibly priced wines. The Hội An ‘money bags’ – deep-fried, intensely flavoured parcels of prawns, herbs and spices – are a sensation.