14 days with a purpose: eat great Vietnamese food

TripAdvisor listed 349 restaurants in Hoi An.  We calculated we could easily dine at a dozen restaurants over our 14-day stay.  Highly rated restaurants made our list and cost would have been a consideration, too, but in Vietnam most prices met our budget of less than $18 for a dinner for two.

We spotted this food pyramid painted on a school wall in Hoi An.

We spotted this food pyramid painted on a school wall in Hoi An.

We put our choices into five categories: The Best of the Best; Very, Very Good; We Loved These; A Notch Down But Still Worth A Trip; and We Think There Are Better:

The Best of the Best

Morning Glory

Visit 1: Cost for the 2 of us – 200,000 dong = $10 included tea and tonic water

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 5

Order: cabbage leaf parcels with shrimp mousse in broth, vegetable curry soup

Visit 2: Cost for the 2 of us – 220,000 dong = $10.05 included beer and Cham Island Sunset (non alcoholic fruit drink)

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 5

Order: Mi Quang noodles with prawns and mixed vegetables, pan-fried morning glory with garlic

The menu described the dishes in detail with notes on health benefits.  Cloth napkins and beautiful place settings sealed the deal.

Seedlings

Cost for the 2 of us – 240,000 dong = $11.48 included beer and soda

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 5

Order: Banana blossom salad with grilled marinated prawn, fried banana flower and coconut dressing; hot and sour fish soup

Who knew a salad could be so good?  Seedlings is a nonprofit with a great mission – and great food.  (Order the banana blossom salad!)

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Miss Ly’s Cafeteria

Cost for the 2 of us – 350,000 dong = $15.98 included wine and soda water

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 5

Order: Green papaya salad with crackers, vegetable spring rolls with tofu, vegetarian cau lau (thick rice noodles with vegetables)

The food, art, and wine exceeded expectations.

Very, Very Good

Mermaid  

Cost for the 2 of us – 150,000 dong = $7.15 included beer and bottled water

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 4

Order: Fried shrimp wontons with crab, tomato and onion topping and a pomelo and shrimp salad with crackers

We had just arrived in Hoi An and saw a crowd in Mermaid.  We were rhapsodic eating the wontons – one of the best dishes ever.

Fried shrimp wontons at Mermaid

Fried shrimp wontons at Mermaid

Ganesh

Cost for the 2 of us – 365,000 dong = $16.66 included red wine and a mango lassi

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 4

Order: Shrimp in a tomato and onion sauce, vegetables in a coconut curry sauce, onion kulcha

One of the three best Indian meals we’ve ever had.  The food was radiantly hot and flavorful. (You can dial up or down the how hot the spices are; we chose mild.)

The lassi was cool and refreshing.

The lassi was cool and refreshing.

We Loved These

Baby Mustard

Cost for the 2 of us – 220,000 dong = $10.05 included beer and soda water

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 3.5

Order: Cashew spring rolls, morning glory and garlic, main dish was shrimp with peppers, onions and cashews

The restaurant is a lovely thatch-covered patio overlooking the garden. The food was fresh, and we know because we watched the cook go out into the garden and gather some of the ingredients.

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Vegetables grew in fields bordering Baby Mustard

Minh Hien Quan Chay

Cost for the 2 of us – 150,000 dong = $9.13 included wine and tonic water

Food – 5; Atmosphere – 3

Order: White roses, traditional Hoi An savory pancakes, eggplant in banana leaves, fried tofu w/scallions, bok choy with mushrooms and bamboo shoots, rice

We would never have gone in, if not for the rave reviews.  We ate with friends from NZ, which was perfect for ordering more dishes and sharing.  The food was terrific, and we got a lesson in how to correctly prepare a Vietnamese pancake.

Streets

Cost for the 2 of us – 422,000 dong = $18.85 included red wine and a soda

Food – 4.75; Atmosphere – 4

Order: Pumpkin soup, vegetable tofu soup, claypot slow baked tuna with tomatoes, onions, and rice

The soups were excellent and piping hot, just the way we like it.  The waiter was one of the best in Hoi An.

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Looks like an artichoke but it’s known by many names: sweet-sop, sugar-apple, and custard-apple.

A Notch Down But Still Worth a Trip

3 Dragons

Cost for the 2 of us – 260,000 dong = $11.87 included 2 soda waters

Food – 4.5; Atmosphere – 3.5

Order: Vegetarian pizza, apple crumble with ice cream

A very good pizza with lots of roasted vegetables was a nice change of cuisine for one night.

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The riverside view was a bonus at Three Dragons – except when there’s flooding.

Little Menu

Cost for the 2 of us – 210,000 dong = $10 includes beer and soda water

Food – 4; Atmosphere – 4.5

Order: Mi Quang noodles with prawns and mixed vegetables, baby bok choy with mushrooms in sauce

We sat by the open front of the restaurant in a nice cool breeze.  Art graced the walls.  A good lunch for a hot day.

Bao Han

Cost for the 2 of us – 180,000 dong = $8.22 included beer and a soda

Food – 4; Atmosphere – 3.5

Order: Sweet and sour prawn soup, pumpkin soup, eggplant and spring onions in a claypot, rice, bananas

The family grows the rice, vegetables, and bananas.  No MSG is used.  Home-grown, homemade, and delicious.

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This may look like a red pepper but it’s a rose apple.

We Think There Are Better

Enjoy Hoi An

Cost for the 2 of us – 160,000 dong = $7.62 included beer and bottled water

Food – 3.5; Atmosphere – 4.5

Order: Vietnamese fried noodles with vegetables and pumpkin soup

We like vegetables and wondered why we didn’t see more in the vegetable dish.  The waiters enjoyed practicing their English conversing with the Westerners.

Ancient Faifo

Cost for the 2 of us – 260,000 dong = $11.87 included a beer and soda water

Food – 3; Atmosphere – 4.5

Order: (an appetizer of) Tempura mixed Vietnamese vegetables

We didn’t want to order a set meal so ordered an appetizer. It was only OK and the most expensive dish we’ve had yet in Vietnam.

 

October 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Vietnam and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 14 days with a purpose: eat great Vietnamese food

  1. Pingback: Our Best of the Best #2: favorite places to stay and cities for good food | simpletravelourway

  2. Cliff Mail says:

    I recalled this post and we have just been to Mermaid on our first night. Thanks for the summary.

  3. cindy knoke says:

    Yum! You will lose weight and feel better!

  4. Noony says:

    The sweet-sop is in my top 5 of Southeast Asian fruits. We call it maak kiep, and I never knew the English name. I used to save the hulls for their fantastic aroma.

  5. A lovely trip down a Vietnamese menu – one of my favourite cuisines and I love, love, love Hoi An!

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