Ratings don’t usually lie. For ten days, we ate our way through some of the restaurants rated best in Hoi An, and the restaurant rated #3, Baby Mustard, had so far eluded us. The restaurant lay beyond walking distance from our hotel. Our commitment to trying good food prodded us to get on our bikes – our hotel’s loaners – and follow the directions we’d found on a Google map search.
Biking, we passed rice fields with egrets and fisherman in basket boats working on the water. Right after we rode over a bridge, we turned left down a narrow lane along the river. A sign appeared for Baby Mustard Cooking Class. Is this the restaurant? A young woman came over and said they did serve food and handed us menus. (A silent cheer passed between us!)
As we waited for the food, we watched the farmers of the Vegetable Village in their fields that border on Baby Mustard. We saw the cook go out and pick vegetables and herbs and head back to the kitchen. Were those for our lunch?
We started with cashew spring rolls, followed by a main course of shrimp with peppers, onions and cashews, a vegetable dish of morning glory with garlic, and a bowl of rice. With drinks and tip the total cost was $11.50. Was it worthy of the ranking as a top restaurant in Hoi An. You betcha!
We talked to our waitperson and host, Cao Nhu Nguyet, about her university studies in banking, farming, and restaurants. She took us on a tour of the extensive vegetable gardens by the restaurant and gave us a leaf to try from each variety. We recognized some as familiar, like Thai basil and lettuce, but others are dissimilar to the American vegetable by the same name, like spinach and mint. The tastiest? Baby mustard, of course.
Cao Nhu Nguyet knows her farming and knows about good food. We expect to hear great things about her career in the culinary world in the years to come. If you’re in Hoi An and want delicious, farm fresh food, you know where to go.