6. Banh beo
Photo credit: hoianworldheritage
Hoi An’s banh beo
(steamed rice pancake) is big and thick compared with its Hue cousin. Its topping sauce is also thick, and brick red, a color that comes from achiote or tomato juice added to a mixture of shrimp and pork.
Some sellers add sugar when mixing the flour to make the cakes, and so they are slightly sweet. The idea of sweet combined with the salt and spice of nuoc mam (fish sauce) – the dipping sauce – might turn some people off. But the fact is that many people are hooked after the first bite.
The town’s banh beo also tastes fatty thanks to fried shallot slices, oil and deep-fried cao lau noodles that are used as another topping.
The distinctive pancake can be found everywhere in Hoi An, but the best is often at street vendors’ and little eateries.
7. Hoanh thanh
Photo credit: VnExpress
If you think you are familiar with hoanh thanh, a Chinese dumpling known as wonton, you may have to think again when eating it in Hoi An, where people make changes here and there so that the popular dish’s flavors become distinct.
Like in many other places, hoanh thanh there is served with soup, with or without noodles, or deep-fried.
It is the crispy variety that proves how skillfully Hoi An people can add their signature to non-native foods. The hot shrimp dumplings are topped with a kind of slightly sour and spicy sauce consisting of shrimp, char siu pork, and crispy vegetables.
You can get good hoanh thanh at Anh Dung eatery at 14 Ba Trieu and Van Loc at 27 Tran Phu.
8. Banh mi
Photo: Hang MT
Many people consider Ho Chi Minh City the center of banh mi (Vietnam sandwiches) universe since there are myriad choices of filling. However, Vietnam’s best sandwiches are found in Hoi An, at least according to American celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.
Thanks to his endorsement, Phuong Bakery near Cam Bridge, which sells the best banh mi, is always crowded with foreign tourists.
But ask locals and you will be shown many other stands that sell equally good sandwiches, like a street stall on the sidewalk outside 115 Tran Cao Van Street.
Or, if you prefer different fillings rather than the traditional mix of pâté, pork, cha lua (kind of pork bologna), vegetables, and sauces, you can check out banh mi stuffed with roasted pork at Minh Thu bakery at 248 Ly Thuong Kiet Street.
9. Banh cuon thit nuong
Photo credit: cungphuot
Banh cuon thit nuong, or wet pancake rolled with grilled pork, is a common dish at restaurants that serve central region foods, including from Hue. However, while in Hoi An, you should check out street stalls along the Hoai River.
The dish is served on a tray consisting of a stack of wet rice pancakes, skewers of charcoal-grilled pork, a dish of fresh herbs and vegetables, and peanut sauce as a dip.
With this you can make the rolls by yourself. And do no worry that your rolling skills may be sloppy: who cares how it looks when the food is exceptionally good?
10. Banh xeo
Photo: Giang Vu
The fried rice pancake is not a must-eat in Hoi An but still worth checking out during a food tour. The “sizzling cake,” as it is known among English speakers, is quite popular there, especially during the rainy season.
Unlike its cousin in many other places, Hoi An banh xeo is mainly stuffed with shrimp rather than pork or beef. Other fillings are hulled mung bean and bean sprout. It is also smaller, especially when compared with the southern version.
Banh xeo is served hot with a lot of herbs and green vegetables.
Many foodies recommend Ba Le Well Restaurant at 45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street for good banh xeo.
11. Che bap
Photo credit: cungphuot
A food tour in Hoi An is never complete without sweet beverages, dessert soups and puddings that are collectively known as che in Vietnam. Che in the ancient town comes in small bowls that cost just a few cents at street stalls.
Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, make sure to check out the local sweet corn soup or che bap, especially the one made with corn grown in Cam Nam Ward, considered among the country’s best.
Che bap can be eaten hot, cold or with another sweet soup.