7 Hoi An Signature Dishes You Should Not Miss Out On

Hoi An is a graceful and tranquil town, home to the grand architecture of a historic trading port, Japanese-style merchant houses, and Chinese temples. However, apart from its tranquility, this small coastal town in central Vietnam is also known for its delicious and hard-to-resist cuisine. Visitors to Hoi An should have a bucket list full of unique dishes to try out. Today, Student Exchange Vietnam will take you on a food adventure to see the 7 amazing Hoi An signature dishes that you definitely should not miss out on.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi Hoi An - Student Exchange Vietnam

Even though banh mi is a common dish found in almost every street corner in Vietnam, the banh mi in Hoi An has a different taste. A typical banh mi in Hoi An contains similar ingredients like pate, mayonnaise, coriander, pork cold cuts, roasted pork, pickled daikon and carrot, chili, sauces, and stacks of golden bread rolls.

However, the one ingredient that makes Hoi An’s banh mi so popular and memorable to tourists is the special savory and spicy sauce. Its sauce brings together the richness of the pork, the crunch of cucumber, and the sourness of pickles. Therefore, it creates a perfect harmony in taste that only exists in Hoi An’s banh mi.

Banh Mi Madam Khanh - Student Exchange Vietnam

Besides, the two most popular banh mi stalls here are Banh Mi Phượng and Madam Khánh. Prices range around VND 20,000–30,000, depending on the types and toppings you request for your banh mi.

To enjoy Banh Mi and other Hoi An signature dishes, we suggest you book a Hoi An Street Food Tour. Besides tasting delicious dishes, you can learn about them with excellent tour guides.

Cao Lau (Vietnamese Cold Noodles)

Cao Lau - Student Exchange Vietnam

Cao Lau comprises the signature cao lau noodles, slices of bean sprouts, lettuce, herbs, crunchy croutons, and barbecue pork. Pork meat in Cao Lau is sliced thin and cooked in the traditional Chinese method known as char siu. The final touch is a spoonful of rich and flavorful stock. Cao lau noodles’ main ingredient comes from a special local fresh rice.

The Cao Lau noodles are the star of the show. It’s the ingredient that makes this dish one of the Hoi An signature dishes. While the exact recipe is known only to a few people, the tale behind the noodles is legendary.

Cao Lau Noodles - Student Exchange Vietnam

Firstly, people believe that Cao Lau noodles originate from the water from an ancient well in Hoi An called Ba Le Well. It is surprisingly unmarked in a town that depends on tourism and would undoubtedly profit from making it a better-known stop on the tourist circuit. However, tucked inconspicuously in an alley and wedged right up against a house, the well looks like nothing special and unnoticeable. This obscurity makes the well all the more mystical, adding to the esoteric quality of the noodles made with its water.

Besides the well water from which Cao Lau noodles supposedly come, a specific type of ash is added to create a lye solution. This ash comes from a type of tree found on the Cham Islands, which are off the coast of Hoi An. Moreover, the precise process of making Cao Lau noodles also sets them apart. The recipe is a secret, known only to a few families in Hoi An.

Madam Be Cao Lau - Student Exchange Vietnam

You can find Cao Lau almost everywhere in Hoi An. However, we recommend Thanh Cao Lau on Thai Phien Street or Madam Be Cao Lau on Tran Phu Street. A delicious bowl of Cao Lau will cost you around $1.

Chicken Rice

Rice Chicken Hoi An - Student Exchange Vietnam

Chicken is no doubt a universal and yummy type of meat. A finger-licking-good crispy fried chicken or a herb-roasted whole chicken will satisfy even the more picky gastronomers. In Hoi An, the locals have a different way of making their chicken dishes unforgettable to customers. Chicken rice is the pride of Hoi An’s cuisine and a dish you should not miss while visiting this graceful town.

While in the North, people like to eat whole pieces of boiled chicken thighs or chests, in Hoi An, the carefully boiled chicken is cut or torn into smaller slices. Later, they season it with spices like salt, pepper, chili, and Vietnamese coriander. The seasoning gives the meat a unique aroma and irresistible taste. After that, the meat will go on top of a pile of special golden rice imbued with chicken broth and a dash of fresh turmeric for a glossy yellow color.

Moreover, on top of the chicken rice, people sprinkle sliced mint leaves and onions. This is another layer to the complexity of the dish. Lastly, the chicken rice will be poured evenly over with the famous chili sauce.

Rice Chicken Com Ga - Student Exchange Vietnam

A chicken rice dish can surely help visitors cure their hunger and make them remember the place for years. You can order a plate with either chicken strips or chopped chicken for around VND 40,000 ($1.77). You can also order chicken, rice, and soup when you come in a group. The most famous restaurants are Madam Buoi’s on Phan Chu Trinh Street and Huong’s on Le Loi Street.

Quang Noodles

Mi Quang Hoi An - Student Exchange Vietnam

Quang Noodle, or Mi Quang, is one of the most famous Hoi An signature dishes that you must try. It’s a type of noodle that includes pork, shrimp, chicken, sometimes boiled eggs, and especially its signature broth. Mi Quang’s broth is less than that of Pho, making it seem like a salad-type dish. Other contributions to the taste of Mi Quang are roasted peanuts, rice paper, herbs, and chopped onions.

You can enjoy a tasteful bowl of Mi Quang for only $1–2. We recommend these Mi Quang shops: Mi Quang Di Hat (4 Phan Chau Trinh Street), Mi Quang Ong Hai (6A Truong Minh Luong Street), and Mi Quang Ba Minh (Cam Ha Ward).

Banh Canh

Banh Canh Hoi An - Student Exchange Vietnam

Banh canh is a type of soup dish with thick noodles. Its noodles’ main ingredient is usually tapioca flour or a mixture of rice and tapioca flour. Besides, its soup or broth varies according to the kinds of banh canh. Indeed, you can find banh canh in different flavors in Hoi An, such as pork knuckles, crabs, fish cake, etc.

It’s not an opulent dish but local and simple, making it a favorite of both native and foreign people. Its price ranges from 15,000 to 60,000 VND (<1 to 3 USD) depending on the toppings. Banh Canh shop suggestions in Hoi An are Banh Canh Ba Quyt (51 Thanh Hoa Street) and Banh Canh Co Luon (276 Ly Thuong Kiet Street).

Banh Beo

Banh Beo Hoi An - Student Exchange Vietnam

Another star among Hoi An signature dishes is Banh Beo. It’s an unforgettable dish for many thanks to its adorable appearance, soft rice cake, and well-seasoned shrimp or meat.

Banh Beo exists in many areas of Vietnam, but Banh Beo Hoi An has distinguished features of Quang Nam Province. The cooks display each round piece of Banh Beo in each tiny bowl and arrange six to ten bowls in a large tray to serve their customers. You will eat these with a special, mild mixture of fish sauce, fat, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and chili.

Besides, Banh Beo has other variants, such as sweet Banh Beo and vegetarian Banh Beo (mung bean instead of meat). We recommend Banh Beo Co Xe (613 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street) and Ba My (Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street).

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo Hoi An Signature Dishes - Student Exchange Vietnam

Banh Xeo is a rice pancake famous for its crunchy bites and eye-catching golden color. It features a golden fried crust, a filling of lean meat, and soft shrimp. This combination creates a unique look for the dish.

Moreover, the soul of Banh Xeo in Hoi An is the dipping sauce, meticulously prepared so that others cannot imitate it. This sauce includes ground peanuts, sesame, and pork liver. They mix these ingredients and boil them up, giving the dish a good fragrance and an undeniably delicious taste.

One piece of Banh Xeo costs 10,000 VND. Visitors can find this dish at many famous Hoi An tourist destinations. Some stores we suggest are Ba Le Well (45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street), Hai Dao (160 Ly Thai To Street), and Hai Nam (409 Hai Ba Trung Street).