The Best Restaurants in Hoi An
Vietnamese food is well and truly globally loved. You will be hard-pressed to find a major city in the world without a Vietnamese restaurant or some variation of the food. But what about here in Vietnam? Hoi An is vying for its own place as a top destination in Asia for food lovers all over the world. Consequently the charming town of Hoi An is home to some of the best restaurants in the country.
Usually the capital Hanoi or the gargantuan Ho Chi Minh spring to mind when asked about Vietnamese food. You would not be wrong for identifying these two as foodie havens. Hoi An has fought hard to be another contender on the scene.
It is not only the buzzing atmosphere and gorgeous aesthetics which render Hoi An a culinary paradise. No, Hoi An has an abundance of top quality restaurants serving food from all over the globe. Whether you are after a glass of red wine and a pizza, fresh seafood or stunning sushi. Hoi An’s best restaurants cater to you and push the boundaries of modern Vietnamese cuisine. Hoi An’s restaurants literally have it all.
- Food in Hoi An – What’s the Big Deal?
- Finding the Best Restaurants in Hoi An
- Japanese Food
- Fine Dining
- Modern Vietnamese Food
- Street Food
- Hoi An Speciality Food
- Vegetarian Food
- Hidden’s Thoughts
Food in Hoi An – What’s the Big Deal?
Eating in Hoi An is an experience matched by few others. But it is not just the staggering variety of food and its quality which makes eating in Hoi An such an unforgettable experience. Any serious eaters and self-proclaimed foodies will tell you that often, the food makes up only half of the dining experience.
It is who you are eating with, where you are eating it, and the atmosphere you are in. Even the smaller stuff such as lighting, music and temperature can massively affect the experience of eating. And while it may sound a little hyperbolic, it certainly is the case for a great number of people.
This is what makes Hoi An such a special place for food. Whether you’re eating in a tranquil and rustic courtyard in the famous Old Town, packed into a tiny local place breaking bread with the town’s locals, or eating at the roadside watching locals and tourists alike pass by, there’s something in Hoi An for everyone.
You will be hard-pressed to find a town or city in Vietnam as beautiful as this one. So let the aesthetic charm of Hoi An seep into your dining experience, making it as unforgettable as it should be.
Finding the Best Restaurants in Hoi An
Travelling for many people is as much about the food as it is anything else. Therefore ensuring you make the right memories is imperative. That’s why we have researched and dug our way through the countless restaurants to compile this list of the best of them in Hoi An. No matter what you are in the mood to eat, this list will cover it! Whether it is cheap and cheerful food on the side of the road or a top-level dining experience you will never forget, have a read of Hidden’s list below and be in the know!
Japanese influence in Hoi An can be traced back to Hoi An’s days as a major trading port in the 16th century. Vietnam’s trading partners were many, but one of the strongest links developed in this period was that with Japan. As the ties between the country become stronger, the influence of Japan and its cuisine became more and more prominent in Hoi An. A lot has changed since then, but one thing is for sure, the delights of Japanese cuisine have stayed in Hoi An all this time.
Although both Asian and sharing some similarities, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine are really quite different. Though based ingredients such as rice and noodles are utilised by both and the importance of a hearty and rich broth is also shared, the similarities stop here. So dive into Japanese food – arguably the best in the world – in Hoi An to experience something truly special.
Best Japanese Restaurant in Hoi An: Wakaku
With Japanese food becoming so popular in Vietnam as of late, there is inevitably going to be stiff competition for this category. Yet Wakaku firmly wins this one. The elegant yet unpretentious restaurant is reasonably priced with an extensive menu ensuring there is something on offer for everyone.
Wakaku is one of two restaurants first opened to serve in-house diners in the five-star Hotel Royal Hoi An. But it is now a firm favourite with locals and travellers alike. Entering Wakaku really is akin to taking a breath of fresh air. Walking around Hoi An’s historic Old Town can take it out of you. The intense heat, noise, and packed streets take their toll. Wakaku presents itself as a very welcome break, an opportunity to escape the sometimes hectic Old Town.
With a calming and tranquil atmosphere, Wakaku stays true to the Japanese tradition of making it about more than just food. It’s the ceremony, it’s how the food is designed to make you feel. Well, walking into Wakaku this becomes clear immediately. With hints of design features from Hoi An – Hoi An’s infamous lanterns feature, but with a Japanese twist. Wakaku fully embraces its heritage to great effect.
The Food at Wakaku
But of course the most important factor is the food, and Wakaku has simply the best Japanese food around. With an extensive menu packed full of deeply flavorful dishes, there’s so much choice at Wakaku. Opt for the chef’s sushi set of the day. It’s available in all different portion sizes for your fix of fresh and clean sushi. Perhaps try Wakaku’s robatayaki, a selection of grilled meats and fish served with a rich and thick soy sauce. If you’re in the mood for something fried – a Japanese favourite all over the world – try the selection of tempura, battered and deep-fried vegetables and shrimp served with dipping sauce.
Fine dining may not be the first thing which comes to mind when thinking about food in Vietnam. Street food markets and side of the road restaurants packed with locals, yes. But not fine dining. While there is of course a lot to be said for eating like a local in restaurants and markets you would never find at home. However you should never miss the chance to experience fine dining in Vietnam and Hoi An especially.
Hoi An is a town with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fresh local produce grown in the outlying farms and fresh seafood caught a few miles off Hoi An’s coast. Hoi An catches it and grows it. What Vietnam’s top chefs can do with this produce is astonishing. It’s a town where creativity flows in abundance and nowhere better than the kitchen.
Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Hoi An: ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar
This is no more true than at ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar, where a passion for perfection rules supreme. The tasteful restaurant strikes the perfect balance between the modern and the traditional. This is reflected in both interior decor and the food on offer. Cosy and traditional wooden furnishings run throughout the restaurant, with more modern accents of copper dotted throughout.
With a fresh and uplifting atmosphere cultivated, there are perhaps no better restaurant settings than this. Diners have the option of dining indoors or outdoors. A breezy and cool terrace on the river provides the perfect option for cooler evenings. A roaring fire pit pays homage to the woodfired style of cooking championed in the restaurant.
The Food at ThirtySeven
ThirtySeven’s reputation is of course upheld by the astonishing quality of food and drinks on offer. As the name suggests, ThirtySeven’s food is cooked using the age-old technique of open fire cooking. From grilling to smoking and from Asado style open fire pits to slow-burning ovens. ThirtySeven utilises traditional cooking methods to create wonderfully modern flavours.
Cooking using only locally sourced woods, sugarcane and coconuts ensure an authentic, natural flavour is imparted on the food. Continuing ThirtySeven’s policy for using local ingredients wherever possible. Nibbles such as the lotus seed hummus provide a refreshing and delicious Vietnamese twist on the Moroccan classic. Being a grill house, ThirtySeven’s jewel is the range of Australian imported beef steaks. These are available in a range of cuts and with classic sauces, imparted with a Vietnamese twist.
If you’re in the mood for sharing, ThirtySeven also offers large plates and sharing plates. For example the baked lamb shoulder served with yoghurt dressing, red onion pickle and corn tortillas.
Hidden Hint: Avoid disappointment! Sharing plates need to be ordered 24 hours in advance.
The range of the menu is truly impressive. With a team of mixologists and selection of fine wines (and cigars), take an evening to indulge and spoil your taste buds.
Modern Vietnamese Food
While there is no shortage of international restaurants serving great food in Hoi An. Some of the town’s best food is, of course, Vietnamese. With recipes passed down through generations and dishes perfected over the years, while you’re in Hoi An be sure to fill your boots with Vietnamese food. You’ll probably never have better Vietnamese food again.
Classic Vietnamese dishes such as pho (the famed noodle soup), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles, fresh vegetables and noodles) and banh xeo (savoury crispy rice pancakes) are all must-tries. However more contemporary Vietnamese food has never been better. Contemporary Vietnamese food is pushing the boundaries of the cuisine, creating exciting new irresistible dishes.
This is no more true than in Hoi An. Here both traditional and contemporary Vietnamese foods maintain a stellar reputation. And it’s only growing.
Best Modern Vietnamese Restaurant in Hoi An: Nu Eatery
Nu Eatery is one such restaurant challenging the traditional Vietnamese cuisine with its kitchen creations. Located just past the Japanese Bridge in the heart of Hoi An’s Old Town, this often packed out restaurant cooks top quality, fresh ingredients. All imagined in ways which are simply brilliant.
Being situated in a small and traditional house is conducive to the lively and joyous atmosphere cultivated here. Though we must say the food plays an important role here too. Simple and fresh, the interior decor provides a comfortable space to dine in while taking none of the limelight from the food. Enjoy a view of the Old Town from the balcony seating area. Here away from the busy streets you can watch the setting sun dance off rooftops and filtering through trees.
With something of a cult following, Nu Eatery is an extremely popular destination. Queues out the door are common.
Hidden Hint: Book in advance to avoid a potentially long wait. Alternatively, Nu’s sister restaurant Seashell by Nu Eatery serves the same menu in a larger setting.
Though the menu is relatively small, it is packed full of those amazing Vietnamese flavours with little twists and contemporary renditions throughout. Oh, and Nu Eatery are famous for their pork bao (a steamed bun with pork filing). Thus laying claim to serving undeniably the best in town.
So if you’re in the mood for Vietnamese flavours and textures but want something a little different yet more familiar in taste, Nu Eatery has to be on your list.
Street food. It’s perhaps what first comes to mind when thinking of food in Vietnam and much of South-East Asia. That’s because it’s everywhere. You can’t walk down a street in Hoi An without being confronted by the various and enticing smells of street food carts. For many, street food is just something they will never find at home in the same calibre. The beauty of it is the flavour, it’s the price, and it’s how readily available it is.
But what separates Hoi An’s street food from that of other Vietnamese towns and cities? Well, it’s not just the different foods you will find in Hoi An. It’s where you eat them. There’s perhaps a no better way to spend an evening than exploring Hoi An’s unbelievably rich and varied Old Town than going from street food cart to street food cart sampling the best of what Hoi An has to offer. Whether you chow down on a bahn mi by the river or sit roadside and fill up on noodles. Eating street food provides an added dimension to meal times you just won’t find in any restaurant.
Best Street Food: Cao Lau
While Hoi An has an abundance of street food, there’s one standout dish: cao lau. A deliciously rich and deeply flavourful noodle dish. Cao lau stays true to Vietnam’s obsession with incredibly textured food.
Comprised of noodles, sliced pork, fresh and crisp herbs and crunchy fried squares of noodle. Cao lau is truly special. You can’t move for it in Hoi An. Translating to ‘high floor’, cao lau was originally a dish consumed only by the upper echelons of society. They sat on the higher floors of the restaurant, away from common folk. Now, everyone can afford a good bowl of cao lau. You’ll be thankful of that once you’ve tried it.
Don’t shy away from eating at some of the more rough and ready cau lau street stalls. The surroundings have almost no bearing on the flavour of the dish. In fact, you’re more likely to get a better cao lau from some of the worst looking places than the best. While cao lau is virtually everywhere, you may think the quality will vary greatly. While some restaurants sell particularly great cao lau, you will find that no matter where you choose to eat it, you’re presented with an unforgettable dish. If you do opt for a restaurant setting instead of on the street, or want to know more about the history of cao lau, check out our article. It has the best places we’ve found to eat cao lau (so far!).
Hoi An Speciality Food
Vietnam, in general, is of course well-loved for its cuisine amongst other things. Yet in such a competitive market Hoi An has managed to carve a name for itself on the world stage, and not only for cuisine. Inventive local delicacies such as cao lau, com ga (shredded chicken and rice), hen tron (minced clams), fried wontons, white rose dumplings and che (sweet soup) are to name but a few such local dishes putting Hoi An head and shoulders above the rest.
Ranging from sweet to savoury, these satisfying, quick, healthy and cheap dishes consistently prove their popularity with locals and tourists alike. Found in street markets, alleys, restaurants, eateries and roadside vendors with their distinctive plastic red chairs. There are unlimited opportunities to try something more unique than just a banh mi or pho.
To find out more about Hoi An’s speciality food, read our article on the best Hoi An local specialities.
Best Hoi An Speciality Food Restaurant: Hoa Hien
Located a five-minute cycle from the heart of Hoi An’s Old Town, overlooking the beautiful Thu Bon River. This signature restaurant offers an authentic culinary experience. Choosing from individual plates or a set menu, Hoa Hien allows you to delve further into Hoi An’s centuries-old cuisine. In addition while catching a glimpse of the Hoi An Impressions cultural show, colourful sight of bright lights and joyful music, from across the river.
Hoa Hien’s diverse menu includes all the aforementioned local dishes plus additional Vietnamese favourites such as salads, curries, soups, dumplings, spring rolls, barbecued meats and savoury pancakes. The restaurant staff are consistently praised, crediting the team for creating such a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere while simultaneously delivering knockout food.
The great advantage of Hoa Hien is that you can sample the multitude of Hoi An-centric dishes with your travelling companions all at once. This is impossible to do at food stalls as competition is so fierce that each stall tends to specialise in only one dish. Providing convenience as well as very reasonable prices in comparison to other restaurants located in the centre of the Old Town, Hoa Hien provides a charming insight into Hoi An’s food culture.
Although a traditionally meaty national cuisine, vegetarian dishes and restaurants are becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam. In Hoi An especially, there is a plethora of popular vegetarian and vegan restaurants to choose from. These tend to be significantly cheaper than other restaurants making for an added bonus.
The quality of vegetables in Hoi An is second to none, utilising fresh greens and herbs from the neighbouring Tra Que Vegetable Village. This 300-year-old picturesque vegetable village is where most of the vegetables seen in Hoi An’s bustling markets and heaving restaurants grow. The workers at Tra Que refrain from using harsh chemicals, toxins or even manure as fertiliser, favouring the use of an all-natural algae found exclusively in the villages’ lagoon. Famed for its clean and organic produce, the village is known for its lettuce, basil, coriander, houttuynia and flagrant knotweed. All of which are used in various speciality Hoi An dishes.
With an historic and sweet-scented vegetable village next door, there seems a no better place to eat some delicious vegetarian food than in Hoi An.
Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Hoi An: Quan Chay Ba Dam
Address: 71/20 Phan Chu Trinh – Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Daily
This is an amazing, family-run, vegan buffet-style restaurant. The ladies who work here are lovely but have limited English so it operates on a simple pointing system. You select from a wide variety of different vegetables, soy-meat options, rice and noodle soups. The dishes change slightly each day. So even if you are a frequent visitor you never tire of what’s on offer.
Hidden Hint: If they’re available, we recommend trying the seitan ‘chicken’ wings, they’re delicious!
Quan Chay Ba Dam’s value for money is what sets it apart from all the other vegetarian restaurants. These buffet-style plates cost 20,000 to 30,000 VND (1 – 1.15 USD) and the portions sizes are very generous. They even offer a free complimentary soup with your buffet plate!
This eatery is a little hard to find, located down a small alley in the town centre, but this is actually part of the appeal of the place. Hidden from most tourists, eating here is a much more local experience and explains why the price is so reasonable.
One thing to bear in mind is that Ba Dam closes relatively early so factor this into your evening plans. Also, the number of dishes on offer greatly decreases the closer you get to closing time, so if you want full reign over the buffet section getting there at least an hour before closing.
With the glistening East Vietnam Sea lapping at its shores, Hoi An offers the ultimate seafood experience for tourists. Hoi An’s Fish Market (that has actually relocated to Tranh Ha) is the perfect place to see Hoi An’s abundance of spectacular seafood. Opening at 5.a.m each morning, this market is a hive of activity, so manic that most fish will have been sold by 7.a.m. The market opens early because local fishermen leave their moorings as the sun sets and don’t return until first light, so they can sell their fresh fish straight from their boats in the early morning.
With the choice of crab, prawns, scallops, oysters, squid and much more at your fingertips, seafood in Hoi An is a must-try experience. Fortunately, Hoi An’s seafood is as cheap as it is fresh, meaning a seafood feast can be enjoyed on any budget at various restaurants through Hoi An.
Best Seafood Restaurant in Hoi An: Song Bien Xanh Floating Restaurant
Address: Luong Nhu Bich, Cam Nam – Hours: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Daily
Song Bien Xanh is a relatively new addition to Hoi An’s bustling restaurant scene, opening in January 2019. The family who runs this floating restaurant on Cam Nam Island used to be fishermen but now serve great local food on an old ferry boat. While simple in appearance, the seafood here is far from average. Follow the locals to this authentic ‘tourist free’ spot and enjoy its most popular dishes, grilled stingray in banana leaves and stir-fried prawns.
This unique setting is not only quirky but one-of-a-kind in Hoi An. From the upper deck of the boat you overlook the ancient houses of the Old Town, the market area and the river while dining. When it gets darker, the candle-lit pattern lanterns floating on the Thu Bon river only add to the rustic setting and cosy atmosphere.
Hidden Hint: Visit Song Bien Xanh at dusk so you can enjoy the magnificent view of the sun setting over the Old Town.
While pizza is not a food you typically associate with Hoi An, it is still readily available for those who want to indulge in a bit of western cuisine.
A word of warning, some pizza restaurants are far better than others. As a general rule, anywhere with really cheap pizza deals tends to disappoint. If you really want to satisfy a pizza craving it’s better to spend a bit more money and head to somewhere with a woodfired pizza oven. Boom Pizza, Good Morning Vietnam, Dingo Deli and Driftwood Cafe are all popular and well-reviewed pizza restaurants, though there are many more to choose from.
Best Pizza Restaurant in Hoi An: Artspace
Artspace is Hoi An’s first art and dining concept which aspires to take customers on a journey to the future of dining. This light and airy space offer a taste of luxury, with a stunning outdoor area complete with a wood-fired stone oven.
Boasting an innovative menu of modern western cuisine, locally caught seafood and 3D printed desserts, Artspace is a real gem in Hoi An’s food scene. Committed to using sustainable locally sourced ingredients and organic options where possible, you can be sure of a high-quality meal. Made from scratch using signature dough then cooked in a wood-fired stone oven, it is the wide selection of pizza that stands out on their menu.
The Pizza Menu at Artspace
Long-term favourites Hawaiian and pepperoni are on the menu, but dare to try some of their less traditional pizzas such as their banh mi pizza (which comes with a free ‘pho’ draught beer) or the Korean Gochujang pizza. If seafood is your thing, you should try the smoked salmon or Frutti di mare pizza which comes with shrimp, calamari and mussels.
Hidden Hint: Artspace has delicious coeliac-friendly gluten free pizza on offer
However, if none of this takes your fancy, you can even build your own pizza, selecting from eight different cheeses, four different crusts and a multitude of toppings. With vegetarian and vegan options available, in addition to half size pizzas for children Art Space seems to offer a pizza for everyone. The best part is all this comes at a reasonable price of 205,000 to 310,000 VND (9 – 13 USD) per pizza, with half-size pizzas costing 120,000 VND (5 USD).
While you’re visiting Vietnam and Hoi An specifically, you really must try as much Vietnamese food as possible. From the more traditional street food such as banh mi or pho, to local specialities in Hoi An, to more contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in one of the culinary capitals of the world. With such breadth of flavour, taste and texture, there is something for everyone in Vietnamese cuisine.
That isn’t to say that there is no international food of quality here. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Whether it’s a glass of wine and a pizza to take a break from the beer and noodles, outstanding cocktails and fine dining as a treat, or stunningly fresh and light sushi, whatever you’re after, Hoi An has it. More than that, Hoi An has it for every single budget and every way possible. Gorge on fresh seafood on the back of a boat or dine in riverside restaurant terraces. Eat in cosy traditional houses, or modern spaces packed with art, or ramble down through the Old Town’s streets tucking into street food.
We highly recommend visiting our featured restaurants because as we’ve said, there is little more disappointing than high expectations for bad food, especially when on what is for many a trip of a lifetime.