The Best Cooking Classes In Hoi An
Existing within the picturesque city of Hoi An are some of the best cooking classes in the country. With culinary traditions dug deep, access to amazing seafood and organic produce, it’s no wonder why a plethora of cooking classes and schools have come into being. Attending a class will help you to better understand the Vietnamese food that you’ve come to love and is a great way to bring those dishes home with you. Click here for an introduction to the most popular Vietnamese dishes.
However, there are so many options for classes, that it can be quite tricky narrowing it down to find one that suits your interests, expectations and needs. So Hidden reviewed the most popular cooking schools and cheap cooking classes in Hoi An, breaking it down to make your decision easier.
Choosing a cooking class in Hoi An
Choosing the right class is all important; the choice depends on many variables. All of which change from person to person, and from family to family. For instance, perhaps you’re travelling with children and ensuring the class is enjoyable for the whole family is a high priority. Or are you a skilled cook seeking a class to step up your repertoire? Maybe you’re just looking for a light-hearted class to pick up a couple of local recipes. It’s also wise to consider your skill level and what you hope to achieve. Fortunately no matter your wants and needs, there is a class for you!
The Market Tour
The fundamental reason for attending a cooking class is to learn the dishes of the country that you’re in. However, a big part of the day and something to not overlook is the market tour. This portion may not be recognised as key. However seeing and touching the ingredients in their raw state helps you understand where and how the end product comes together. The markets in Hoi An are gastronomic wonderlands where you’re shown local produce, spices, and proteins used in everyday life in Vietnam.
Hoi An Central Market
The majority of cooking classes bring you through the Central Market in Hoi An’s Old Town. However while this market is still a significant part of Hoi An, the authentic charm is diminishing due to the volume of tourists. Also you may have already come here on your own time. But the one element that does stand out at the Central Market is their fish market. Because with the market being positioned on the water’s edge, boats can transport their goods straight to the market with ease. This results in a much larger variety and a higher quality of seafood available.
Hoi An Local Markets
However some Hoi An cooking classes forgo the Central Market altogether. Instead choosing to bring you to one of the local markets around the city. Because these markets tend to be smaller and have little to no tourists. However the standout feature of the local markets are the areas dedicated to the farmers. The farmers show up early with their fresh produce, and sell not only to customers but also to the larger produce stands at the market, who then add a markup. So every market has a section for the farmers, but the local ones are much larger. However expect to feel like you’re in the way regardless of where you stand. But this is all part of the fun.
Hidden Hint: Skip the market! If you’re on a time limit or have had your fill of markets and are just looking to cook, some schools give the option not to attend one. Especially if they don’t have anyone else attending that day, or you can join after the market tour is completed.
Hoi An’s Most Popular Cooking Classes: My Grandma’s Home Cooking
Run by the same people behind Heaven And Earth Tours, this is a great school to attend if you’re after a healthy combination of food and local culture. However they only have one class, aimed at novice cooks looking for an introduction to the local cuisine. But it’s a good class to consider if you’re travelling with a family. For instance there is wiggle room within class time if you need to tend to a young child, and they also have a wooden crib available.
Above all, what’s nice about My Grandma’s Home Cooking is the flexibility you get to plan the day. For instance there are morning and afternoon cooking classes for you to choose from, both of which exclude a Hoi An market tour. But If you are interested in touring the market, a trip to Central Market can be added on for 150,000 VND (6.50 USD) extra, along with an earlier start time for each class. In addition, if you’d like to forgo the boat ride back at the end of the class, you can instead arrange a guided 9-kilometre bike ride for 340,000 VND (15 USD). However this option is only available if you’ve booked the morning class due to timing.
Central Market Tour
If you’ve chosen to add the market tour to your day, expect a good amount of time at the stalls in the Central Market. Along with detailed explanations of the produce and vendors. So for the price point of the class, it’s a worthwhile addition to the day.
My Grandma’s Home Cooking School Setting
Located roughly 20-minutes away by boat on Duy Vinh, a very rural island south of Hoi An. The school is situated where Grandma’s home used to be. However Grandma felt that the space was too large for her and asked for a smaller home to be built at the back of the property. Therefore tables are set up in the yard with a dirt floor and a thatched roof. Chickens run around, and locals can be seen passing by, carrying out their daily business. In conclusion it’s a unique and homely setting to spend the day learning about the local cuisine.
The class isn’t difficult to follow. For instance some of the ingredients are pre-portioned by the friendly assistants for easy assembly. At your stations, you prepare four local dishes with the help of Grandma’s home recipes. But with your final dish, you’re served pumpkin soup and a dessert prepared by the staff. The class is pretty straightforward, so if you’re a strong cook, this will be an effortless day.
You are given a good quality colour booklet outlining the recipes from the day. It includes a section in the back showcasing the local fruits along with descriptions and facts.
in conclusion, the mix of food and culture is the real highlight of this cooking class, along with being able to customise the day to fit your needs slightly. So not only was the class itself enjoyable, but the interesting stories told by the instructor about the Hoi An area and local people really set it apart from other cooking classes.
Cooking Class Price: 600,000 VND (26 USD) – Child Price: 7 to 12-years-old if sharing parents’ cooking station 70% off. If wanting their own station, the price is 50% off. Children under 5 are free.
Menu: Banh Xeo, grilled pork brochettes, green papaya salad, clay pot fish. The clay pot fish is served with rice, soup and a dessert prepared by the assistants.
Red Bridge Cooking School
Red Bridge is a fantastic cooking school with classes led by professional chefs. The restaurant and cooking school is located east of Hoi An’s city centre on the riverbank. The open concept area is modern, clean, and spacious, with palm trees and a good atmosphere. They offer three class options to choose from, catering to all time frames and skill sets.
Hidden Hint: Red Bridge has a 20-metre swimming pool you can use if attending a half-day or deluxe class. It’s a great way to cool off after a fun day slaving in the kitchen.
Red Bridge Hoi An – Half-Day Cooking Class
With the half-day cooking class, you first receive a guided tour of the Hoi An Central Market in the Old Town. Next, a 25-minute boat ride will take you east along the river to the restaurant and cooking school. Here you see the many herbs and fruit trees in the Red Bridge garden before starting your class. They then walk you through the preparation of four local dishes and teach some decorative techniques with the produce.
If competent in the kitchen or a skilled chef, this class may seem rudimentary. It is, however, a good entry-level class for someone seeking a first approach to Vietnamese cooking.
Red Bridge Hoi An – Deluxe Day Cooking Class
This cooking class begins with a minivan ride to Hoi An’s Tra Que Organic Vegetable Village. Here you’re introduced to various plants and herbs used in Vietnamese cooking. Next, you head to a local market on the north side of Hoi An and visit some vendors and see a large section of where the farmers sell their goods. They point out a very local bánh xèo stall inside the market – worth checking out when you come back on your own time.
The day continues to the Red Bridge School where you create four dishes, one of which is pho. What’s nice about seeing pho on the menu is that the majority of cooking schools in Hoi An don’t include this iconic dish. Mainly due to the time that is required to develop the flavour of the stock. In the class, you only simmer the stock for three hours, but the instructor explains that this is the minimum amount of time to cook it. If you recreate the dish at home a longer cooking time yield a better result.
The Deluxe Day is a solid option for food enthusiasts interested in a comprehensive understanding of the Vietnamese dishes. That being said, this class is more than manageable for all skill levels with the help of the knowledgeable staff.
Hai Café Evening Cooking Class
This short evening cooking class takes place at Hai Café in Hoi An’s Old Town. Aimed at those looking to do a class that is quick and to the point. The hour and a half long class takes you through the preparation of a five-course meal. You prepare three of the five dishes yourself. The restaurant provides the other two dishes for you. Your instructor explains the local ingredients and demo the preparation before it’s your turn to whip up your Vietnamese dinner.
The Evening Cooking Class is perfect for people keen to roll a dinner out in Hoi An’s Old Town and a cooking class into one.
With each of the classes, you get copies of all the recipes and notes to take home with you. If having attended the Deluxe Day, you get a Red Bridge apron.
Price: Half Day: 782,000 VND (34 USD) – Deluxe Day: 1,288,000 VND (56 USD) – Evening Class: 506,000 VND (22 USD) – Child Price: Under 7 years old is free, above 7 is full price
Half-Day Class Menu: Fresh rice paper rolls of shrimp, banh xeo, seafood salad with mixed Vietnamese herbs served in half a pineapple, fresh noodles with chicken. (Vegetarian menu available). See website for other menus.
Tra Que Water Wheel Cooking Class
Tra Que Village, is a small island north of the city, known for its rich soils and organic produce farmed there. Water Wheel offers a number of interesting cooking class options set in this small Hoi An farming community. All include cycling at one point or another. Plots of organic herbs and vegetables, tended to by local farmers, surround the cooking school and restaurant. It’s a serene and tranquil environment to learn more about Vietnamese farming and cuisine. Running Tra Que Water Wheel are nine sisters and cousins, all with a high-level enthusiasm and fun-loving attitude.
Market Tour and Cycling
The day starts with one of the staff members meeting you with bicycles at your accommodation. From there you cycle the streets of Hoi An, working your way towards the Central Market. There you meet up with the other participants in the class and begin a guided tour. They lead you through the bustling market and introduce you to some local produce and vendors. Next, your guide takes your group on a 20-minute bike ride to the vegetable village. On your route north through the city the roads shrink in size just before opening into rice fields—it’s an incredibly scenic trip.
With such a large family team at Water Wheel, large groups and classes are possible to accommodate. With the attention necessary for nobody to feel left out. Tra Que Water Wheel is an open concept restaurant-style space that retains the very local vibe of the area.
The uncomplicated and simple food, coupled with straightforward cooking makes this an especially easy class to enjoy. The majority of the ingredients pre-portioned and prepped for students. You have have your own cooking station, but at some points, are partnered up to tackle a dish. If you’re a skilled cook or are wanting a more hands approach with the prep, this class will be somewhat lacking .
They give you a Certificate of Attendance in the style of a diploma, a printout of the recipes you used, and a kitchen utensil—in Hidden’s case a multi-purpose peeler.
Tra Que Water Wheel provides fun cooking classes in a scenic Hoi An setting. However, the required skill level here is lower than other schools. So we recommend this class for families looking for an enjoyable class where younger students may feel more at ease. Also if you are seeking a space that can accommodate larger groups.
Cooking Class Price: 690,000 VND (30 USD) – Child Price: Under 10 – 345,000 VND (15 USD)
Menu: Tam Huu spring rolls, banh xeo, papaya salad, grilled fish in banana leaves with rice, fruit in season. (Vegetarian menu available)
Vy’s Market Restaurant & Cooking School
“Taste Vietnam”, by Ms Vy’s company, includes Vy’s wide range of restaurants, cafes and cooking classes in Hoi An. Therefore they offer a number of varied food related tours and classes, all set at different skill levels. There are straight up cooking classes, ones that include bike tours and food-related activities around Hoi An, as well as tours including the manicured street food stalls at her restaurant. Read more about Ms Vy in our feature interview.
In this article, we discuss the Advanced Master Class.
Market Tour and Street Food Stations
After meeting at Vy’s Market Restaurant, you get a basket for your ingredients and go on a quick boat ride to the Central Market. Firstly you visit various stalls and vendors, and shop for ingredients as you go for your dishes later on. The last stop on the market tour is a dry goods stand where you look at spice packets and multiple roots and herbs. While there they show you different local cooking utensils and their uses, all available for purchase. After that, it’s a quick boat ride back to the restaurant.
Hidden Hint: You receive a Vietnamese utensil at the end of class. At the market, you can purchase one of the demoed tools for yourself. Ask your guide which utensil you’ll receive to avoid purchasing the same one.
In addtion to this is a tour of the Market Restaurant street food station. So you can sample some local treats and see the food preparation that goes into the dishes.
Located upstairs in a space designed for teaching. It’s clean, spacious, and organised cooking facility. Much like a classroom, with the teacher at the front and multiple tables for two. The class is fairly fast-paced class, the teacher demonstrates the procedure of the dish, and then you replicate it. Assistants walk around, removing bowls and cleaning as you go. But they don’t help much unless asked. Going through the dishes, you clean, cut, and prep the ingredients from the market. After each dish, there’s a short period of time to eat your creation before moving on to the next one.
The skill level needed for this class is a moderate level, aimed at people comfortable in a kitchen environment. You need to listen and then replicate the demonstrated dish by the teacher. The instructions are clear, and the recipes yield a tasty result. But if you happen to forget any of the measurements or instructions, the teacher is there to help.
At the end of the class, you get a printout of recipes of your created dishes. In addition to a Vietnamese kitchen utensil—in Hidden’s case, a local-style peeler.
Vy’s Cooking School offers a nice variety of classes catering to different needs and skill sets. But sometimes it can feel lacking in the personal touch. Instead its a very structured day, along with set time limits and multiple assistants. Therefore you don’t get to know your instructor well, and with that, you lose out on cultural nuances that you may find in other Hoi An cooking schools. However the instructors are knowledgeable, and the recipes are very good. Additionally, Vy’s Cooking School can accommodate large groups of people in a class and have the staff and facility to assist them properly.
Prices: Holiday Masterclass: 727,000 VND (32 USD) – Advanced Masterclass: 954,000 VND (42 USD) – Gourmet Class with Ms Lulu: 1,022,000 VND (45 USD)
Menu: Please see website.
Hidden’s Final Thoughts
In conclusion, with Hoi An having such an active local food scene, it makes this a fantastic location to attend a cooking class. So hopefully, this article has been able to help you find a class that suits your needs. At the very least maybe it’s raised some points in your mind you hadn’t yet considered about what you’re looking for. Above all, the most essential part of a cooking class is understanding the dish you’re cooking, to the point of being comfortable recreating it when you return home. So it doesn’t matter what you walk in with, as long as you walk out with more.