Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, appeals to most tourists for its irresistible charm of architecture and landscape.
However, I think it will be a big mistake for those who visit the town without spending time to explore its diversified gastronomy, especially street food.
Thanks to my buddy who is a food connoisseur, my second trip to Hoi An was a great experience savoring some tasty treats at unbelievably cheap prices.
Some tourists are afraid of eating food on the streets but I had an upset stomach for three days but still survived eating street food.
After getting off a shuttle bus at our resort, we headed to Phuc Kien Pagoda where numerous street vendors displayed food – but we opted for a bowl of hot tofu and grilled corn which were delicious and kept us warm in the cool weather after the rain. I thought these treats were more delicious as diners like us had a chance to sit on some small chairs on the pavement and look at the sellers preparing the food or simply admire the surrounding area.
The more we entered the town, the more food vendors appeared. For the first time I found it so interesting to enjoy a rustic dish like fried banana cake wrapped in paper inside a nylon bag. Honestly, Saigon has this food also but I think it was a different feeling eating it in Hoi An, as I could leisurely eat and walk on some quiet and romantic streets with numerous galleries on both sides.
For savory treats, people should head to an area near Cau Bridge (or the Japanese Bridge) where lots of food shops by the Thu Bon River are located. The closer we got to the area the more delicious smells we could sense in the air. Some must-try specialties are com ga (chicken rice), cao lau (noodles served with pork and greens), nem nuong (grilled meat), Quang noodles and hen xuc banh da (mussels served with dry pancake) priced from VND25,000. It is such a great experience dining there as tourists watch junks and boats drifting on Thu Bon River and enjoying the cool breeze. A boat trip at VND100,000 for half an hour is worth every penny as tourists love to release flower garlands into the river and it is the perfect ending to a visit to the town.