9 things to eat and drink in Hoi An

White rose dumplings and signature noodles, chicken rice, and a sandwich are dishes that the late chef of the USA raved about. The group start their journey on a sweltering morning of August, from the bustling, sense-smacking Central Market in Hoi An to the cooking class named the Red Bridge Cooking School. Mimi - their host a.k.a cooking teacher welcomed them with five Britons, an Australian couple and a family of seven from the Netherlands.

The group took a Market tour on a boat for a 20-minute ride along the Thu Bon River to the cookery school, set amid 8,000 square metres (2 acres) of fruit trees, herb gardens and carpets of lush tropical flowers.

During the class, Mimi shared tips on all things food, from how to tell if a mangosteen is ripe - the skin must be glossy and deep purple - to what differentiates a male crab from a female one - lady crabs have broader abdomens.

And they learned how to make Banh cuon (fresh rice paper rolls with shrimp), Quang Nam-style fresh rice noodles with chicken (mi Quang ga) and two sauces: a zesty fish sauce (nuoc mam) and a peanut one (sot tuong dau). Plus, Hoi An pancakes (banh xeo) topped with shrimp, pork and herbs.

“Bloody Good, Bloody Cheap”, stated SCMP. According to a report by Google Destination Insights, between March and June, Vietnam was the seventh-most searched destination and the only country in Southeast Asia in the top 20. New visa policies implemented in August, increasing the duration of e-visas from 30 days to 90 days. SCMP indicated that, with this new policy of e-visas, tourist numbers will be boosted highly.

Here are dishes were highlights during SCMP’s visit to Hoi An:

1. White rose dumplings

White rose dumplings (banh bao banh vac) - named because they look like roses in the translucent rice paper pouches filled with pork or shrimp, and lightly steamed to create a crimped edge, are a regional speciality. White rose dumplings are served with a fish sauce for dipping, and topped with crispy onion, the dumplings were a delight, if a tad oily.

2. Cao lau

This is the most famous dish of Hoi An. Cao lau means “high storey” in Vietnamese, the label dating back to the 17th century when it was served to posh diners on the upper floors of restaurants.

Comprising noodles topped with slices of barbecue pork (think char siu), bean sprouts and a bunch of fresh herbs. The noodles are made with calcium-rich water from the thousand-year-old Ba Le Well in the city, famed for its purity.

3. Quang noodles

Mi Quang or Quang-style noodles originated from Quang Nam Province. The flat, chewy noodles, topped with pork, shrimp, quail egg and garnished with peanuts and a rice cracker. Diners can order a glass of fresh passion fruit drink (chanh day tuoi) to wash down the grease.

4. Chicken rice

The boiled chicken was soft, the rice glossy, while chilli sauce, served with a shredded green papaya and carrot slaw, and herby broth.

Chicken rice (com ga) is a popular dish in Hoi An, introduced to the city by Chinese traders, and Com Ga Ba Buoi is the most famous place to try it.

5. Pho

Pho is considered the national dish and was popularised worldwide. It is such a sin to leave Vietnam without indulging in a hearty bowl of pho, stated SCMP. The pho’s broth was clear, the beef tender and the herby side salad daisy fresh. According to SCMP, always eat where the locals eat, so visitors should ask around and find restaurants that are crowded with people.

6. Banh mi

Banh mi is a popular street food bread. Banh mi are sold throughout Hoi An but a hotspot is Banh Mi Phuong, made famous by the late chef Anthony Bourdain, who featured the shop in his TV show No Reservations, calling its banh mi a “symphony in a sandwich”. The baguette is crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside, filled with pate, pork rolls, shredded meat, special sauce and lots of vegetables and herbs.

7.Deep fried wontons

Another dish popping up on menus around the city is deep fried wontons (hoanh thanh chien). The wontons were topped with fresh shrimp and sweet and sour mango salsa.

8. Liquid assets

A cup of Vietnamese coffee, served hot or cold, with or without condensed milk is a must-try drink in Hoi An. Also, Mot water is a typical drink of Hoi An. It is a traditional herbal drink mainly comprising lime and lemongrass but also including licorice, jasmine, chrysanthemum, lotus leaf and ginger. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies are served around the streets.

9. Something sweet

Mango cake (banh xoai) - sticky rice balls in the shape of mango seed, is a popular street snack in Hoi An. Inside are crushed nuts with brown sugar.

Chocolate lovers can find Alluvia chocolate here since chocolate makers whose wares are sold throughout the city. The alluvium-rich Mekong soil which helps give the brand’s cocoa beans their distinctive fruity flavour. Visitors can join chocolate-making classes to make bean - to - bars for your own.

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