Hoi An, Vietnam specialty restaurant
- Mr. Taster (in Vietnam)
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 :)
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!
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.
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.
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.