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Hoi An, Vietnam specialty restaurant

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Mr. Taster (in Vietnam) Jun 7, 2006 10:16 AM

Alright hounds, this one's a real find. This is the kind of place we'd be raving about on the Los Angeles board if someone found it themselves.

I'm currently in Hoi An, Vietnam on a 6 month trip through Asia. Vietnam is typical of Asian countries in that each region has very specific special dishes that you cannot get outside of the area and Hoi An is no exception.

I'll end the suspense right now. The restaurant in question is called (unfortunately for westerners) DUNG, located at 38 Phan Chu Trinh Street just north of the Old Town section of Hoi An. Tel is (0)510.861755.

They prepare fantastic interpretations of Hoi An specialty food, which include the "white rose" which is basically a dumpling comprised of two small 2-inch diameter rounds of rice paper with a dime-sized lump of meat filling right in the center. The upshot of which is when the rice paper is steamed, the edges get soft and chewy and warp a little, making the dumpling look like a white flower. They are presented about 15 on a plate, topped with crunchy bits of toasty garlic and served with a sweet dipping sauce. When prepared well the texture is soft but slightly chewy, sweet from the sauce and crunchy/salty from the toasted garlic, savory from the meat (pork?) filling. Wonderful stuff, and 20,000 dong (about $1.25).

The next dish is cau lau, textured wheat noodles mixed with veggies, bits of toasted rice paper, slices of pork and a wonderful light sauce. You can find versions of it all over town but this one is by far the best we've found. Interesting trivia... supposedly true cau lau cannot be made outside of Hoi An as the water for the dish must come from the Ba Le well, an ancient water hole hidden away in surprising spot, behind some very suburban houses. Total price 10,000 dong (or about $0.75)

The next dish is not typical of Hoi An, but their variation was splendid. The pork omelette must have been made of 3 or 4 eggs. Browned on the outside (as omelettes are usually prepared in asia) but not crispy-- the interior thick and fluffy, intensely eggy, lightly salty with lovely chewy bits of pork and green onion to mix up the flavor and texture. (Total price for this dish 20,000 dong or $1.25 US)

I cannot say enough good things about this place. It's just a small family run spot, a little more upscale than your usual family run Vietnam joints (which are typically dark garages next to their house with rickety tables and plastic chairs) but the service is wonderful and the food utterly divine.

This is one for the record books, hounds :)

Mr. Taster

Link: http://www.travelpod.com/members/adam...

  1. s
    Silverjay Jun 7, 2006 10:57 AM

    Nice review and great tip. I traveled to Hoi An several years ago and it was one of my favorite destinations ever. Wish I had this tip when I was there, though I ate well...Hey, get some clothes made while you're there!..Happy travels!

    1. m
      Mr Grub Jun 7, 2006 12:15 PM

      FWIW, the estimable Tony Bourdain was so taken w Vietnam & its food that he announced his intent to take up to a year off & live in or about Hoi An.

      1. p
        Peter Cherches Jun 7, 2006 12:28 PM

        I was in Hoi An in 1996 and loved it. If Cafe Can is still around, you must try it. It's one of those places by the river, and you can order a 7 course seafood dinner that is amazing. Mr. Can was wonderful. It was so cheap then, but I'm sure things have changed a bit. I ate their twice, and actually rounded up a group of travelers I had met to have a big dinner party there.

        Link: http://petercherches.blogspot.com

        1. b
          Busk Jun 7, 2006 05:15 PM

          That's rocks. I must get posted to Vietnam.

          1. p
            pork_buns Mar 4, 2008 01:10 PM

            if you are in hoi an you must get yourself immediately to the mango rooms in the center of town. it's all organic and everything is delicious. the chef has traveled a lot and makes amazing variations on viet food. mick jagger even ate there.

            1. j
              jobielan Aug 11, 2008 08:02 AM

              Just ate at there and the food was delicious -- the rice paper of the white rose dumplings had just the right consistency. Thanks for the tip.

              1. f
                Fritz Aug 11, 2008 03:14 PM

                we were in Hoi An last month as well.
                We made it too Brothers, which was not as interesting as billed, though it wasn't bad.
                Cargo was much better, especially the pastries, ice cream and sorbet.

                1. m
                  Mici Jan 20, 2011 05:43 AM

                  I just found a great coffee in Hoi An.... A new delicatessen that just opened outside of the Ancient City, half way to the beach... My Lavazza Latte was heavenly, didn't try the food but it smelt delicious and this establishment is very clean with a spotless toilet.

                  1. JJBCooks Jun 1, 2011 04:08 PM

                    hey taster, we loved the food of Hoi An. We loved two restaurants. 1.mango rooms which is run by a chef named Duc who does variations on the traditional hoi an dishes you mentioned. but its inventive,delicious and right on the river. For more white rose and Cua Lau Try Van Loc a restaurant run by the family who lives upstairs. (toothbrushes in bathroom!!) its on #27Tran Pho street. spend some time in Hoi An and have clothes tailor made. Silk cashmere pants and shirts Wow

                    1. n
                      NLA Sep 25, 2011 05:43 PM

                      About to head out for another day of sampling Hoi An street food (and may try Dung in the process), but wanted to give a serious plug for a heavenly Banh Mi stall called Banh Mi Phuong, located on the outskirts of the central market. The stall was featured in Bourdain's No Reservations and for good reason. Mrs Phuong makes all the banh mi herself and is lovely and gracious. The baguette is crispy and fresh, the pate and meat perfectly contrasted with the chili sauce and herbs. We're going back to get banh mi to go on our way to the airport tonight. Can't recommend it enough. We also had dinner at Mango Rooms last night which was a reasonably solid meal but not truly Vietnamese; would have preferred something more authentic since we're only in the country for 2 weeks. Also kind of steep prices for Vietnam (although still cheap by NY standards) - $70 with tip for two three course meals, drinks and coffee.

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