Hoi An’s Best Vietnamese Restaurants
The dining possibilities in Hoi An are virtually endless. Meander around the Old Town and it won’t be long before the temptation of push carts selling banana pancakes or skewered calamari bathing in a spicy BBQ sauce sets in. Hostesses of Western-styled restaurants beckon you to dine in their establishments. Sometimes the displayed photos of their juicy burgers will even be enough to lure you in. But during your stay in Vietnam, it would almost be a crime to not indulge in some traditional cuisine at one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Hoi An.
The food here, like in most places, falls into several categories: street food, mid-range, high-end, Western and Vietnamese. So how do you choose? This article features some of Hidden’s favourite Vietnamese-style restaurants. They are moderately priced and highly-rated. In addition unlike most stalls lining the streets of Hoi An, they have four walls and a roof! No matter where you are staying in Hoi An, one of these suggestions is close by. Thus pointing you in the right direction for your foodie expedition.
Food is a big part of Hoi An’s culture and Hidden has covered this in-depth. So for additional food category recommendations, check out these Hidden’s other articles. Street Food, Best Restaurants in Hoi An, and Best Western Restaurants.
Vietnamese Food – A Quick Walk Down History Lane
Hoi An, which translates to “peaceful meeting place” sits on the northern bank of the Thu Bon River in the province of Quang Nam. The proximity to the ocean and its 34 km of waterways make it a prime location for fresh seafood. The population of Hoi An is about 83,000, many of whom live in fishing villages throughout the territory.
Other than the fresh seafood, a bounty of locally grown produce in areas such as Tra Que, lies just waiting to be devoured. The agricultural land in Hoi An is more limited today than in its past. However it still plays a vital economic role. Many of the dishes still being prepared today come from humble beginnings. Some of which can be traced back as far as the 16th century when Hoi An was a thriving port city with many cultural influences.
Must-Try Traditional Vietnamese Dishes
Some of the must-try traditional dishes unique to this area are cao lau, banh xeo, my quang, banh bao vac (white rose), and com ga (chicken rice). Cao Lau is a rice noodle and bbq pork dish special only to Hoi An because of the water that is used to make the noodle.The water comes from an ancient well hidden inside of the Old Town. Banh Xeo means crispy pancake and is usually eaten as a snack or appetiser. They are first filled with meat and/or shrimp then packed full of bean sprouts, onions and mushrooms.
My Quang is a Vietnamese turmeric noodle dish with a robust and flavourful broth made of bone stock and fish sauce. Banh Bao Vac dumplings are each made with rice dough and then filled with either shrimp or pork. Completing the process the dumplings are then steamed, making them appear as little white roses. Don’t be shy when it comes to trying the same meal in multiple places. A food stall might specialise in only one. While a restaurant can dish them all out with their own flair and twist.
Best Vietnamese Restaurant in the Old Town
Seashell by Nu Eatery
Seashell by Nu Eatery serves up Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist and is located just minutes away from its sister restaurant, Nu Eatery. Offering a small but inspired menu, it’s the ideal place for ordering several plates and sharing with friends.
The interior of the restaurant may be simple, but the flavours of its food are anything but. Steamed bao buns, both pork belly and tofu, are the signature bites here. At only 35,000 VND (1.50 USD) for two buns, the value is unbeatable. Truly, the entire menu is worth delving into. The grilled pineapple salad for 75,000 VND (3.20 USD) presented beautifully and was refreshing with a wonderful mix of texture.
Hidden Hint: Nu Eatery tends to have long lines due to its location by the Japanese Bridge. Guarantee yourself a seat, avoid the crowds and head over to Seashell which serves up the same tasty menu.
Any doubts we had about trying Seashell for the first time were put to ease before we even entered. While quickly glancing at the menu from the outside, diners exiting the restaurant attempted to persuade us to eat here with their glowing testimonials. “The food is amazing” they agreed, patting their bellies in unison. And after our first bite, we agreed too.
Best Hoi An Mainstay Vietnamese Restaurant
Morning Glory Original
It wouldn’t be a trip to Hoi An without a visit to one of the Old Town’s mainstays. This restaurant focuses on the authentic central coast cuisine of Vietnam. Ms. Vy, the owner of Morning Glory has really made a name for herself over the last decade as the ‘go to’ woman for anything Vietnamese cuisine related. She published her first cookbook in 2012 titled “Taste Vietnam: The Morning Glory Cookbook”.
Their reputation in Hoi An is merited. The food, themed off traditional street fare, is top-notch. Charmingly authentic surroundings with stalls set up surround the covered dining area. Therefore it feels like a very upmarket food court. The staff are slick and attentive. We were even given a personal tour of the entire restaurant, showing us how the “noodles were made with an antique machine” making it very special.
Com ga 75,000 VND (3.25 USD), white rose dumplings 65,000 VND (2.75 USD) and cao lau 65,000 VND (2.75 USD) which are all usually found on the streets of Hoi An are considered a specialty of the house here. The seafood and produce is selected daily from the local purveyors. Thus ensuring you receive the freshest meal possible. The ‘five elements’ of taste and five elements of texture (crispy, crunchy, chewy, soft, silky) are well sated here. For larger groups and those travelling as a family, this restaurant is a solid choice.
If you wish to learn more about the dishes that you had during your visit, Ms Vy also has a cooking school. The knowledge gained from these classes is a souvenir that will last for ages. Classes start for as little as 575,000 VND (25 USD).
Best Beachside Vietnamese Restaurant
Ixora Cafe & Dining
Situated just behind Hidden Beach, Ixora Cafe & Dining is our top pick for the best beachside Vietnamese restaurant in Hoi An. Relatively new to the scene, this hidden gem with a tropical chic vibe is making big waves. Ixora’s tagline is the spice of life and the unusual presentations they serve up add just that. Here you will find a variety of dishes to satisfy any palate without blowing your budget. The menu consists of local specialties, seafood dishes, fresh salads, noodle plates, and BBQ hot off the grill.
If you’re sauntering in off the beach, cool down with a cold-pressed juice 45,000 VND (1.95 USD) or an ice-blended coffee 50,000 VND (2.15 USD). Feeling famished? Hidden recommends you start your meal off with the Hoi An sampler. For just 120,000 VND (5.15 USD) treat your table to a mix of pork belly, fresh and fried spring rolls, dumplings, and pickled vegetables. Hidden’s pick for stand out entrees at the Ixora are the stuffed squid for 180,000 VND (7.75 USD) and the duck breast with orange sauce for 150,000 VND (6.45 USD). Note that the staff are happy to alter their dishes to accommodate any dietary restrictions.
When the crowds of the Old City relentlessly overwhelm your senses, grab your family, head to the beach and pull up a seat at this relaxing cafe. Indulge in some of their Vietnamese cuisine and allow the staff to show you the meaning of eating well.
Best Countryside Vietnamese Restaurant in Hoi An
Escape into the rural countryside of the Tra Que Village where Baby Mustard serves up traditional Vietnamese meals made from only the finest ingredients. Tuck under the bamboo roof and into it’s breezy open air dining room for a meal you won’t soon forget.
From your table, admire the views over the Ho River and the restaurant’s beautiful garden from which the produce used in their dishes originates. The herb with mint beef salad (xa lach cai con tron thit bo) for 85,000 VND (3.65 USD) is rich and flavourful. The tastes and smells are similar to a bolognese sauce. A flavour profile not usually found in this part of the world, making it that much more enjoyable.
Order the grilled chicken with lemongrass leaves (ga nuong xien) for 95,000 VND (4 USD). Then watch your dinner companion’s face light up when looking at your table. This dish is likely to be some of the best bbq chicken during your time in Hoi An thanks in part to its sweet and a little spicy marinade. Try not to fight over the last bite as the slight bit of char and pronounced lemongrass flavour send your taste buds clamouring for more.
Step away from the hustle and bustle of Hoi An’s Old Town to enjoy your meal with a bit of serenity at Baby Mustard. If you are looking for a more involved experience, sign up for their cooking class and learn the methods to create some of their signature dishes you can continue to enjoy long after the vacation ends.
Best Hoi An Family Run Vietnamese Restaurant
Wander off the beaten path down a quiet alley just 10 minutes from the city centre. The fragrant smells of this family’s home cooking soon delight your nose. Orivy’s quaint setting, welcoming family staff, and its carefully curated local dishes all contribute to making it one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Hoi An.
Every aspect involved in this restaurant is curated by the members of the family. For many years, the father has spent his days maneuvering up and down the river in search of the finest fish. What he doesn’t catch gets delivered by close friends and relatives of the family. Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, mother is preparing her signature brown rice and vegetables. All of which have been procured from the local Tra Que Village. Pull up a seat and it won’t be long before you are welcomed into the family. Take time and taste the years of experience in the “cooked with love” dishes that end up on your plate.
Hidden Hint: The restaurant does tend to get busy, especially in the evenings, so consider making reservations.
On the menu are most of the typical dishes popular in central Vietnam. Vegans and vegetarians take pleasure in the fact that Orivy has dedicated a section of their menu to suit your dietary requirements. Choosing between the many gastronomical delights here is no easy task. Hidden recommends you try a variety of flavours by ordering the set menu for 195,000 VND/person (8.40 USD). This gives you a choice between several appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Grandma’s grilled mackerel & banana leaf is a highly favoured main. Pair your meal with mother’s signature brown rice tea for 44,000 VND (1.90 USD), fresh-squeezed juice, or one of their reasonably priced cocktails.
If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful courtyard setting run by a friendly family serving up fresh local ingredients to enjoy an authentic Vietnamese meal, look no further than Orivy.
Best Hoi An Vietnamese Restaurant with a View
Come for the food and stay for the views. Hoa Hien Restaurant sits on the Thu Bon River and overlooks the Hoi An Memories Show. From your seat experience the sights of hundreds of illuminated ladies in traditional Ao Dai’s glide seamlessly across the river.
Hidden Hint: Hoi An Memories Show runs six days a week, closed on Tuesdays.
The interior of the restaurant is bright, colourful and airy with its floor to ceiling windows, brightly painted walls and furniture to match. The tropical garden brings you peace in nature while the porch allows for a gentle breeze that comes off the river.
The restaurant has all of the local Vietnamese favourites plus some house specialties. Hidden recommends their speciality com am phu (rice from hell) 100,000 VND (4.30 USD). This once street food for the poor in Hue has been elevated from hell to heaven. The dish has seven ingredients – three kinds of pork, shrimp, egg, cucumber and rice. The seven ingredients represent the seven steps to get into heaven under the Buddist religion.
Not too keen on toying with the afterlife on your plate? Then Hidden recommends local classics like the my quang or cao lau noodles with shrimp and vegetables each for 90,000 VND (3.90 USD). For the ultimate start to your meal, delve into Hoa Hien’s special seafood salad featuring squid, fish, kumquat, and lemongrass for 90,000 VND (3.90 USD). After you have finished your meal try a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and watch the Impression Show unfold.
Whether this is your first time in Vietnam or you have been living in the area for a while, get out and explore the local cuisine. Each restaurant and chef put their unique spin on the Vietnamese classics. The team at Hidden has experienced the true pleasure of exploring the city and finding the best Vietnamese restaurants Hoi An has to offer. But keep in mind this list is far from exhaustive!
Like us, we hope you take full advantage of your time in this foodie capital to taste the food, talk with the owners and learn about their families. With every restaurant you visit and every dish you consume, it is inevitable that a bit of the history and culture of Vietnam will escape your plate and leave its mark on your heart.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” – Anthony Bourdain