We only spent one evening and three full days in Hoi An, of which two days with non-stop rain. Moreover, Brecht was still feeling weak and a bit feverish from the dengue fever he was suffering through. This meant we had some more take-out food in Hoi An, comparable to our food experience in Hue. Breakfast was included (and delicious) in our hotel, so we only had to find food for lunch and dinner.
Our first night in Hoi An was still nice and dry and Brecht was feeling good. So we hopped on a bicycle, provided for free by our hotel (Sincerity Hotel), and biked to Hoi An Ancient Town. We ate at Mermaid Restaurant, a nice little restaurant with lovely decorations. We tried fried wonton as a starter (75,000 VND), a local must try dish. We loved it! This was the first local must try dish we really liked so far on our round the world trip. It reminded me a bit of nachos and home made dipping sauce, but different.
For the main course we chose stir fried prawns with cashew nuts (105,000 VND, best so far!) and claypot fish with caramel sauce (85,000 VND, just OK). Fried eggplant was a recommended side dish, so we ordered it as well (45,000 VND). I loved it, but Brecht is not a fan of soy sauce like me. For drinks we had a delicious lime juice (25,000 VND). A couple of days later, we returned for a meal of local starters: cao lau (45,000 VND), white rose (55,000 VND), and some more of that delicious fried wonton (still 75,000 VND). The cao lau (noodle dish with pork and local greens) had a flavour to it we didn’t like, the white rose (kind of shrimp dumpling) was not bad at all, but the fried wonton remains our favourite. If you’re ever in Hoi An, you should really eat at Mermaid Restaurant!
On our second day we had lunch at Bale Well, as recommended by Mimi from our hotel. The rain started pouring on our way over there, but luckily we packed our rain coats. We chose a table on the “covered terrace” of the restaurant, close to the wall, water dripping down all around us. After a couple of minutes the alley turned into a small stream and our feet got soaked, all adding to the genuine Hoi An experience, I guess. Before we ordered anything, they began bringing all kinds of food to our table. Turns out they just serve a set menu for 110,000 VND per person, consisting of fresh spring rolls, barbecued pork satay, banh xeo (rice pancake with shrimp) and dip sauces. The waitresses show you how to roll and dip. The first kind of spring roll was with vegetables and pork satay, the second kind just adding banh xeo to the roll. It was not bad at all, but Brecht wasn’t feeling well, so he didn’t really enjoy the meal. We even got a discount of 10,000 VND per person because we (read: Brecht) didn’t eat that much. It is definitely a must try if you want to experience some local favourites like banh xeo.
That evening we ordered (technically the reception of the hotel did the ordering) some take-out from Ganesh Indian Restaurant. They have an up-to-date menu on their website, which allowed us to choose a dish from our hotel room and order by phone. Normally they also deliver the food, but it was too busy that night and they couldn’t spare any staff to do the delivery. So I went down there on a bicycle of our hotel and entered the crowded restaurant, while people were queuing up outside to get a table. My mound watered and my expectations rose by the delicious smell that came from the kitchen. The owner was very friendly and apologized for not being able to deliver the food. I returned to our hotel room with tandoori chicken (120,000 VND), chicken garlic kebab (90,000 VND), and three naan (103,000 VND in total). The tandoori chicken was nice, but we missed the best part: the range of sauces sitting on every table in an Indian restaurant. The chicken garlic kebab tasted like I was putting cloves of garlic in my mouth, but the naan was delicious! In any other Indian restaurant we tried, we had to order three naan for the two of us, but this time two naan would’ve sufficed. Ganesh Indian Restaurant is very popular. I’m sure our experience would’ve been better if we ate at the restaurant and had the range of delicious sauces within reach.
Our second round of take-out was delivered at our hotel by Dingo Deli. They have an online up-to-date menu as well. We tried their spaghetti carbonara (155,000 VND) and American cheeseburger with fries (180,000 VND), both good.
We had booked a sleeper bus from Hoi An to Mui Ne, set to leave at 18h15. So we spent our last afternoon in Hoi An at The Chef, a nice and cozy bar above a bookshop. We got some work done while we sipped lime and passion fruit juice (25,000-30,000 VND). We had a light early dinner before we left for the sleeper bus: delicious vegetable soup (40,000 VND), OK pumpkin soup (40,000 VND) and some special Hoi An fries (40,000 VND), not sure if we liked them. It’s a nice place to get some drinks, they even have a rooftop terrace. All very cozy.
Mermaid Restaurant was our favourite place to eat in Hoi An, you should definitely try it! Probably not a coincidence this isn’t one of the places where we got take-out. We hope the weather is nicer during your stay in Hoi An!