Along with Vietnam's rich history—the way food is prepared, consumed, and shared is full of love, craft, and hard work. Street food is characterized by cheap, low plastic chairs, something always boiling or being grilled, and people of all walks of life coming together for meals to fuel the day. When we decided on a trip to Vietnam, my boyfriend and I knew we had to find the best eats.
This is Part 1 with food focused in Hoi An and Hue. You can find Part 2 focused on Hanoi, Sapa, and Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City here.
For a full map of my recommended eats, feel free to see here or at the end of the post.
I'll be doing further posts on how to prepare for a trip throughout Vietnam in 1 month, things to do (and how to get to do them) in Vietnam, and my reflections of the trip. They'll be linked here once they're up. Meanwhile, enjoy!
- Hoi An
- The Full Map
This little town in Central Vietnam that's full of great eats and some beautiful sights. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Hoi An attracts many tourists especially in the evenings when the sun has set. Aside from the Japanese Bridge, and endless activities that locals sell such as boat rides and floating lanterns, there are great eats that are very specific to Hoi An that you won't find anywhere else.
Bánh mì is quite unique in Hoi An. By unique, I mean it's different from the South and what we're used to in America. From the pointy bread to the mix of sauces, a variety of meat, sometimes an egg and Pâté, I was head over heels. I'm not into sandwiches much but this is probably the only kind I'm into.
Banh Mi Phuong
2B Phan Châu Trinh, Minh An, tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam | +84 90 574 37 73
This spot is very well known as Anthony Bourdain paid a visit here a long time ago for one of his shows. You'll know it's the right place because his picture is right outside.
Banh Mi Queen
115 Trần Cao Vân, Sơn Phong, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam | +84 90 666 03 09
This queen only makes one type of sandwich and it's one of my favorites. The egg, Chả, and hot sauce that kicks you in the mouth is such a rewarding combination. Plus, she has a huge space inside so you can bask in the fans to cool down from the heat.
Bánh Mì Lành
430 Cửa Đại, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
While not made famous, we stopped by this cart after a quick breakfast for phở across the street. Just as great as the places above.
If I had to pick one bowl of noodle as my favorite, it has to be Mì Quảng. Originating from the Quảng Nam Province, this bowl of noodles hits the spot with crunchy bits, quail eggs, and egg and rice noodles. It barely has any soup but packs a punch of flavor.
You can find Mì Quảng at Central Market. The stall we went to was off to the corner (not the middle aisles) run by a mother and daughter.
73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Quảng Nam 越南, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
A Hoi An specialty, this braised pork noodle with crunchy bits and savory sauce. You can also find this at the Central Market from the same stall (see Mì Quảng).
Good ol' Phở! We had to try a bowl here and had the opportunity to on our last morning before heading to Hue.
301 Cửa Đại, Cẩm Châu, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Locals filled this place to the brim and the side plate had thinly sliced green mangos which were very tasty. At first, I had to watch what everyone else was doing with the sweet treat on the side. Basically, toss a bunch of chili and fish sauce. Then dip, and enjoy!
Banh Dap (Smashing Rice Paper)
This treat is basically smashing rice paper then ripping it to dip in the sauce. a fun snack food to eat with your hands.
Che Bap (Sweet Corn Soup)
The most unexpected treat. I was so full and hot by the mid-afternoon that I thought...hot corn soup? No thanks. However, they brought it out over ice and the glutinous bits mixed with the cold corn was exactly what I needed.
Hen Xuc Banh Trang (Minced Clams)
This little bed of baby clams and the sauce is probably one of the more fun treats to eat. I always wonder how one gets such tiny baby clams.
Just a short walk south of Hoi An is Cam Nam Village. If you're willing to venture out, there's restaurant by the water tucked away that serves a few varieties that will help you snack your way to bliss. You can find Che Bap, Hen Xuc Banh Trang, and Banh Dap all at Quán Ăn Bến Tre (Xuyên Trung, Cẩm Nam, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam).
And a bit of everything else...
I didn't quite know where to pack this in as they aren't quite specialties of Hoi An but still loved every bit of here.
Kumquat BBQ Restaurant and Cooking Class
Tra Que Village, Cam Ha, Cẩm Hà, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
We stopped by here out in the village side based on a Tripadvisor search. This place is run by a couple with kids where restaurant patrons can take a cooking class. We opted just for picking our plates and enjoying the meal. If I were to come back, I'd definitely try out the cooking class.
73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Quảng Nam 越南, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
As mentioned above, there were a few more things about this place I loved. Bánh Bèo is my absolutely favorite and the same mother/daughter vendor had big versions and a tasty sauce. There was also a great fruit juice and coffee stand where I loved seeing the owner gossip about with her friends.
Of course, it'd be wrong if I didn't mention that I didn't get to try everything that Hoi An has to offer. A few things on my list when I go back:
- White Rose Dumplings
- Com Ga (chicken rice)
- Bale Well Restaurant
- Mango Cake (It's rice flour with peanuts inside)
The Imperial City that once was the home to the Nguyen Dynasty and where the massacres occurred during the Vietnam / American War, Hue has a lot to offer not only in food but also many lessons in history. We'll save that for another post but the attention to food and detail is intertwined.
Bánh Bèo, Nem lụi, Bánh Nậm, Nem Rán, Banh Khoai
When we arrived in Hue, we wanted what the locals would eat. One spot, Hanh Local Food restaurant had it all in a set menu or a la carte that both locals and tourist alike flocked to. Nhau or snacking/bar food which isn't necessarily a meal but meant to be a snack or eaten along with your drinks, these dishes were by far my favorite.
This dish has always been my favorite back home in California. There's something so satisfying about taking my spoon and scraping the bottom, adding the fish sauce concoction on top and then throwing the thing in your mouth. The most satisfying part is to then stack the plates after finishing to see who has eaten the most. What's pictured here is probably a very small portion. For my Cantonese friends, this reminds me of the savory version of what we'd have as red bean rice cakes.
On the left, we also got Bánh Nậm, minced shrimp cooked with tapioca flour that's wrapped in banana leaves. To eat, you can take a spoon or chopsticks to scrap out the mixture and add a bit of sauce. Fun to eat and leaves your hands a bit sticky.
Hello, fried food! Spring rolls are probably the most ubiquitous in America. These are classic. There's not much to say other than eat sparingly as fried food can be delicious but on the spectrum of healthy, it's a bit off to the side.
Nem lụi & Bánh Khoai
Pork skewers cooked and grilled on a stick of lemongrass, these are Hue specialties that you wrap up in rice paper. Delicious and hot off the stick, these bad boys are so good that we asked for another order. Bánh Khoai is a rice flour cake very close to a Bánh xèo. Crispy and delicious in and out.
You can find all of these above items at:
Hanh Local Food Restaurant
11 Phó Đức Chính, Phú Hội, Tp. Huế, Phú Hội, Vietnam
You absolutely cannot go to Hue and not try Bún bò. Elsewhere, it's known as Bún bò Huế as this beef noodle is unique to this city. Distinct in it's red tinged soup, the noodles, beef, and pork blood make this hearty meal a great option for breakfast. In fact, most places only sell this for breakfast. Also, Hue's version isn't as deep or pungent in flavor as you would find in Saigon or the states. It's still just as good.
You can get this bowl pictured above before 9AM at 38 Tran Cao Van Street.
Bún Thịt Nướng
Oh gosh, get in my mouth deliciousness. After wandering around in the old city, this place we walked by that was originally selling Bún bò, they immediately switched to Bún Thịt Nướng, grilled pork over charcoal on a bed of vegetables and noodles. This was so savory and sweet and it hits all the spot. Also, when that charcoal smoke comes out, you know something good is being cooked on top.
We found this on accident at a place that also sells Nước mía (sugarcane juice) on the corner. Once I find the place, I'll place it in the post.
Rice dish made with baby clams or mussels. There is also an option for a noodle based. This little dish hit the spot with its crazy mixture of herbs and spices. As we watched the woman prepare it, there were more than eight ingredients layered on top of one another. The peanuts and fried pork skin were the serious crunch needed to give this bowl extra texture. This was also insanely good that I had to have two bowls.
Bánh Tráng Trứng & Bánh Ep
Following Legal Nomad's lead, these two dishes were such strange ones that we had to try it. Bánh Tráng Trứng is essentially like a pizza those with a much thinner crust and everything you can think of as toppings. I preferred this over the Bánh Ep which is grilled pork pancakes that remind me a lot of Cantonese Scallion Pancakes. Both were good snack foods though more popular with the younger children as an afternoon snack.
You can find both of these at 14 Lê Thánh Tôn, Phú Hậu, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam, at the stall off the side of the road that opens from 4-8PM.
For friends who love Vietnamese food but shy away from meats, there's Hue's famous vegetarian options. We stopped by a local restaurant as part of our I Love Hue tour (more on tours and things to do in a future post!). I can't speak too much on the vegetarian options as I tend to opt more for meat. If you want to learn more about the history, you can find out here.
We got to try a variety with a restaurant in the Old City on our I Love Hue tour.
While I had this everywhere I went, it deserves a special mention in Hue as this was the first place we got the drink on our trip. Sugarcane juice can be found everywhere. Fresh pressed from the cane out of machines in front of you, this sugary liquid was the natural energy drink we needed as a boost throughout our travels. We tried many variations where some had kumquat added to even coffee and flan jelly as a supplement to the drink.
We found this one at the Night Market Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Vĩnh Ninh, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam. This place opens from 6PM.
Also as part of our I Love Hue tour, we started off the day with salty coffee. Coffee is well known in Vietnam and simple variations always trump the coffee you can find in the states. This simply had salt added which reminded me of a salted caramel latte minus the caramel. It's rather sweet but definitely different from the normal coffees with condensed milk you'd find everywhere in Vietnam.
You can find this one at Cà phê Muối in 10 Đường Nguyễn Lương Bằng, Phú Hội, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam.
The sweet, healthier dessert of your dreams and your choice. Chè is quite popular throughout Vietnam and given the hot weather, who wouldn't love some icy cold dessert topped with fruits, syrup, green beans or whatever combination you can think of?
We found Chè — 27 Hùng Vương at 27 Hùng Vương, Phú Nhuận, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam. This is in an alleyway. You'll know you're in the right place as this place was packed after dinnertime. We got a mixed fruit (left) and green/mung bean variation (right).
Green Mango w/ Chilis & Frozen Yogurt
There's nothing like street food that may be a bit questionable but you're going to give it a try anyways. We found green mango with chili which kicked out tastebuds in the rear. My favorite of all the foods we found at the Night Market had to be the frozen yogurt drinks.
You can find both plus more underneath the bridge where the food vendors all congregate at the Night Walking Market Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Vĩnh Ninh, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam.
The Full Map
I've compiled everything in this map. Best of luck on your food hunt! Share what you've tried. Always looking for new places to add to the list as well.
Great resources that helped me throughout this food journey:
Special thank you to Andrew H., the boyfriend, for being my personal tour guide, the one to order all the food, and explaining and answering all my questions.