We didn’t expect a lot from the food in Hoi An. Instead, we anticipated the culinary selection to be dumbed down for the hordes of tourists who come to this lovely city known for its yellow buildings and multi-colored lanterns. Needless to say, we were wrong about the Hoi An food scene. Dead wrong.
It’s not difficult to find fast food in Hoi An. Street food vendors dot the ancient streets, serving take away foods like dumplings, pancakes, meat on a stick and little sticky balls known as banh xoai. Other vendors have set up more permanent stalls where it’s fun to eat local specialities like Cao Lau and Mi Quang on tiny plastic chairs. Despite the seemingly never ending stream of tourists, much of this food is surprisingly cheap and deliciously authentic.
We started our Hoi An food journey by eating dinner at upscale Mango Mango, one of the best Hoi An restaurants, and then continued our unofficial Hoi An food tour by eating Cao Lau, a local noodle dish, the next morning for breakfast at the city’s Central Market Food Hall. This bustling market is a great place to graze and try many different local foods. Though the vendors can be pushy when encouraging shoppers to sit at their stalls, the market is a fun food mecca for both locals and tourists. Here we first tried white rose dumplings, yet another Hoi An street food staple. And we can’t forget Banh Mi Phuong where we enjoyed the best banh mi sandwiches in Vietnam.
However, we found our true happy place when we ate lunch while sitting on little bitty stools and eating Mi Quang, a popular Hoi An street food. We weren’t previously familiar with Mi Quang, but we quickly found out that the Central Vietnam dish has a mixture of thick rice noodles, protein, broth and greens. Even though we ate the bowls of Mi Quang on the street and couldn’t communicate with the vendor beyond pointing and smiling, our bowls were luxuriously loaded with shrimp, pork belly, quail eggs and peanuts in additional to the standard rice noodles, greens and broth. Yes, it’s fair to say that there was a good bit of smiling as we ate Mi Quang.
Grab your chop sticks in solidarity and watch our video to learn more about Mi Quang, our favorite Hoi An street food meal.