Exploring East Asian taste in Hoi An

Although not too large in size, Hoi An Ancient Town still clearly shows the richness, diversity and identity of Vietnamese cuisine. Particularly, it can be considered as a cuisine heaven for vegan and vegetarian travellers.

Hoi An Ancient Town (Photo: Collected)

Unlike the vibrant big cities of Vietnam, Hoi An Ancient Town, which is in the UNESCO heritage list, well preserves the long traditions of East Asian cultures. Once an important port, where trade activities flourished, Hoi An still retains many ancient traditional values with many cultural and artistic traditions. When coming here, visitors can learn about the special architecture from the past, learn many cooking skills at many local cooking classes or order a dress that fits your body from some local tailors. Visitors can also sit under the colourful lanterns, walk along the riverbank or can cycle around the old town, take a local electric taxi or relax at one of the pristine beaches.

But the impressive thing is, Hoi An makes you fall in love with its delicate cuisine through many dishes with a balance between cool and rich taste, suitable for a wide range of travellers, from meat lovers to vegan and vegetarian options.

According to India's leading financial information source - Money Control, local Vietnamese food follows the Buddhist vegan tradition and is largely gluten-free, the real taste comes from the purity and richness of nature’s own ingredients.

Cool and light dishes with rice paper

First of all, the delicious and fresh rolls. A layer of thin rice paper is dipped in water to soften and roll with many of the ingredients inside, for the original version, it is stuffed with herbs, vermicelli, meat, and fresh shrimp. The rolls will be more flavourful when dipped with sweet and sour fish sauce.

For vegan and vegetarian version, the rice paper is rolled with all kinds of salads and pickles, then dipped in a special peanut sauce.

Hoi An crispy pancake is also a must-try dish. Cheap, light, healthy, and appetising, you can gobble down a couple of these in the morning with tea to start the day. Unlike the large and soft crust pancakes, Hoi An pancakes are smaller and crunchier, made out of a batter of rice, salt, and turmeric. The batter combination is fried to crispness and served with fresh and even more crispier bean sprouts and onions as well as other vegetarian or non-vegetarian ingredients. The pancake will be dipped in a spicy dip next to it, an intoxicating concoction of chilli, garlic,  sugar, ginger, and fresh lime juice.

Another famous dish in Hoi An is Banh Mi. Made from the main ingredients of a mixture of flour, rice flour, crispy and fragrant cake shell and the small, elongated shape of two ends have made the name of Hoi An banh mi. Banh mi will be served with a variety of fillings such as pate, roasted meat, boiled meat, ham, or avocados and other vegetables ... and herbs, pickled vegetables to balance the taste. Visitors can find bread stalls in every alley, but the two famous in Hoi An are Banh Mi Phuong and Banh Mi Madam Khanh.

Hoi An crispy pancake (Photo: TITC)

Wide range of Typical main dishes

Money Control stated that each South Asian region has its own version of the “curry”. Thai has their green, yellow and red Thai curries, Indonesian-Malaysian style Curry Rendang got their tangi taste, and Vietnamese curry also use coconut milk as their base, but they are lighter, thinner, yet creamier and sweeter with chunkier ingredients.

Vietnamese people often use banana leaves to contain main dishes. According to many studies, banana leaves have some of the same antioxidants found in many green teas and leafy vegetables that are very popular in Vietnam. In Hoi An, visitors will find several dishes wrapped in banana leaves, from all kinds of grilled meat, fried food to rice.

Following the tradition of Southeast Asia, Hoi An people also creatively use a variety of fruits, noodles, as well as unique vegetables to flavour local soups. From potato to cauliflower and mushroom as well as noodles, the local Hoi An soups are all grated into a perfect paste.

Cao Lau veggie bowl (Photo: Vinpearl)

Cao Lau noodle bowl is the most famous dish in Hoi An. The dish is made of Quang Nam's pure rice steeped in bone broth. Not only do they have a variety of fillings such as shrimp, pork, char siu, the accompanying vegetables are also very diverse such as: star fruit, cucumber, banana, baby cabbage, lettuce, fish mint, bean sprouts, cilantro, bitter vegetables, crown daisy, cinnamon, herbs … Vegetarian travellers can have its vegan version in any restaurant in Hoi An.

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