Excerpts from Hoi An: Old Garden

Hoi An Bridge

Hoi An Bridge

Just finally had a chance to upload some photos from a recent trip to Hoi An. Though the town is mainly known for it’s cheap tailoring and World Heritage protected Old Quarter, it has a rich culinary history that I was dying to sample.

The town was one of Vietnam’s major international ports from the 17th to 19th century hosting traders from China and Japan along with many other nationalities. This is evident in the fusion of different cultures in Hoi An’s cuisine. Our first meal in the city was at the Old Garden restaurant. Set in an meandering alleyway about 50 meters from the busy Tran Phu street, this busy family run restaurant serves traditional Hoi An cuisine at reasonable prices.

Cao Lau

Cao Lau

The dish we had to order was cao lau (25,000 Dong). Cao lau is indicative of the fusing of cultures in Hoi An. Pork cooked in a five-spice broth (Chinese), sliced greens, herbs and bean sprouts (Vietnamese) served with cao lau noodles (Japanese) in a soy based broth (Chinese) and topped with deep fried croutons made from the noodles (no idea but I’m glad someone put it in). The combination of cultures makes this dish a culinary tour-de-force. The soba-like texture of the noodles mingles well the soy based sauce while the greens and herbs bring a freshness that brings the stodge level down a bit.

ram hoi an with a dipping sauce

ram hoi an with a dipping sauce

We also ordered banh vac (30,000 Dong), otherwise known as white rose dumplings and ram hoi an (35,000 Dong) or hoi an springrolls. Beautifully presented, the banh vac dumplings were filled with pork and dried shrimp and garnished with deep fried sliced shallots. The ram hoi an were filled also filled with pork and shrimp but were served with a light nuoc cham dipping sauce. They were a bit greasy for my liking but tasted great. However, the banh vac were also very light and this was much appreciated after the ample portion of cao lau.

Banh vac in Hoi An

Banh vac in Hoi An

Old Garden restaurant
76/26 Tran Phu

Almost forgot to mention, large Biere Larues are only 10,000 Dong!


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