In my last post I started telling you all about the "Taste of Hoi An" street food tour I did just after Christmas. If you haven't been to Hoi An, well, you should. Despite being ridiculously touristy, it has somehow retained an immense amount of charm and with its traditional shophouses lining the river, and its location near the beach, it's a great place to relax for a few days!
On with the tour! After we spent some time in a cafe sampling some of the street food, Neville told us we were about 30% through the tastings for that day. I panicked a bit at that point, because I was already starting to feel full! Thankfully, we had a bit of a break and some walking to do.
We found this mobile chè seller along our walk. She had several types, with red beans, jellies, and coconut, served hot or cold. So many choices!
Hoi An has a pretty major history as a trading port and at various times had communities of Chinese, Indian, Dutch, and Japanese, among others. Visitors from all over the world left their legacies in Hoi An, and one of the main sights is still the Japanese covered bridge.
The Japanese may also have left a food legacy. Historians and foodies have speculated that cao lầu noodles are possibly somehow derived from or made to imitate Japanese soba noodles. They are thick and chewy and made with rice, lye, and the town's special well water, and thus are completely unique to Hoi An!
Walking down a lane, we found these cao lầu noodles drying.
These noodles are cooked and served with five-spice pork, lettuce, herbs such as mint, basil, and cilantro (coriander), bean sprouts, a bit of broth, and topped with crunchy croutons. Of course there are always chili sauce, vinegar, and lime available to make it taste just how you like it! It's delicious, cheap, and everywhere!
We strolled down this cute little lane, which is quite typical of Hoi An's back alleys.
At one point we stopped down a lane at a vegetarian restaurant, the kind that makes "meat" out of soy products, and we tried soy "beef" and "pork belly". It was ok but I still prefer the real thing!
And we found this guy!
Then it was time to retreat to the tasting room, where we were presented with numerous more dishes to try. The first was this bánh cuốn, thin rice noodle wrapped around pork and wood-ear mushroom. Again, I devoured this while all of the others found the texture and flavours very strange!
Next, we had two different types of sticky rice, one savoury with pork and herbs, and another sweeter with peanut, black bean, and sesame.
Then it was on to chả giò (spring rolls made with lattice paper, filled with pork, carrot, and mushroom)....
....green mango with sweet spicy dressing,...
...chả lá lốt (minced pork mixed with herbs and wrapped in a betel leaf - one of my favourites!)...
...and bánh bèo (steamed rice-flour discs with dried shrimp filling).
Near the end of the meal, we had a few beverages, including chanh muối, (salty lemonade), and because Neville realized that this would be a great mixer for margaritas, he whipped out this tiny bottle of tequila and we all added some to our lemony drink.
I can't believe this is all the pictures I have! There were so many more things we tried, I feel like I must have lost some pictures along the way somewhere, but maybe I just never took them.
We also had chuối chiên (deep fried banana fritter), mi ga (chicken noodle soup), mứt dừa (candied coconut strips), tương ớt (Hoi An special chili sauce), nếp (fortified rice wine), bánh chưng (sticky rice cake in banana leaf and a Tết holiday specialty), a Vietnamese version of Spam, and cà phê sữa đá (iced Vietnamese coffee). I've probably forgotten something, but you get the idea.
If you're ever in Hoi An, I highly recommend this tour. Neville has lived there for many years, and he's quite a foodie so he knows a lot about it as well as the local area, and he talks just about non-stop for the whole 5 hours! He's also great for recommendations on tailors, spas, and cooking classes (can you see a future post in this?) So do this! It's great if you love food!