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[Vietnam] Hoi An or Hue?

Lina Jan 30, 2010 02:17 AM

I'm in Nha Trang and can easily go to either Hoi An or Hue, but not both.

From a foodie perspective, is either more exciting than the other?

  1. Sam Fujisaka Jan 30, 2010 04:08 AM

    I really like Hue. Especially eating at the big market across the river. Day after day.

    1. Pata_Negra Jan 30, 2010 10:53 AM

      love Nha Trang! fresh seafood barbie by the sea with litres of 'fresh beer' in a jerrycan all afternoon long for almost next to nothing... fond memories!

      although i got off the train in Hue just to eat Bun Bo Hue but ever since i've been dreaming about going back to Hue and staying put for at least 2 weeks just to eat! Hoi An is fine and extremely touristy but i'd still vote for Hue in terms of food. should you decide to go to Hue do try both local food and 'imperial cuisine'. [don't care for the latter, coarse dining is my style :) ]

      4 Replies
      1. re: Pata_Negra
        Lina Jan 30, 2010 10:18 PM

        Yum. Think I'll head to Hue, then. I was leaning that way anyway.

        Pata_Negra, I'd love to get more info on Nha Trang eats. I haven't been able to find anything good! I started a separate thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/684453

        1. re: Lina
          Pata_Negra Jan 31, 2010 02:38 AM

          how can you not find anything good to eat in VN? lol... i could take a year to eat everything there. go to busy restaurants (preferably around lunch time) and just look at what people eat and order :)

          was there back in january 2005 without doing any food research prior. i wandered round checking out what people ate in busy restaurants. at the market i tried things that looked good. i think every afternoon i went to this bbq and beer place [sorry no idea where but it faced the sea and was much farther from the main tourist street/area] for seafood bbq and 'fresh beer'. never saw any tourists and they didn't charge us tourist price.

          1. re: Pata_Negra
            el jefe Jan 31, 2010 06:38 AM

            That sounds sort of like Lac Canh in Nha Trang, 44 Nguyen Binh Kiem. It's in most guidebooks. It is very popular with Vietnamese tourists, it's often full of big groups. And while very few independent western tourists ever venture there, it does get tour bus groups on occasion. I know. Whenever I've gotten the job as tour guide in VN, Lac Canh is a required stop.

            It's famous for its grill-your-own seafood. That's not my favorite style. When I go out to eat, I'd like someone else to cook my food for me. But it is very, very popular.

            I read your other post, Lina, and I have to agree. I haven't found much that I like in Nha Trang.

            As for Hue vs Hoi An, that's a tough call based on food alone. Both cities are touristy but both have some very good restaurants and the food is different in both places.

          2. re: Lina
            p
            Peter Cherches Jan 31, 2010 06:26 AM

            Mind you I was there 14 years ago, but Hoi An had a lot more charm than Hue and lots of wonderful riverside seafood restaurants. I hated Nha Trang--relentless touts and hawkers on the beach, no chance for peace.

            I quickly learned in Vietnam to avoid chicken and beef (both very tough and flavorless). Seafood is fantastic and pork was always reliable.

            http://petercherches.blogspot.com

        2. debbieann Jan 31, 2010 10:02 PM

          there is a GREAT dish in Hue - we ate it twice and I can't stop thinking about it. Com Hen.
          here is the photo:
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/4...

          11a Truong Dinh, Hue phone: +84 (0)9 1764 5227

          course in Hoi An there is Cao Lao - all the info is on eating asia, and there is a fantastic but very expensive for Vietnam place for clams and crab that Hesser and Bourdain like.

          1. s
            Simon Feb 1, 2010 04:10 AM

            Hue...

            Hoi An is a touristy dump...

            13 Replies
            1. re: Simon
              p
              Peter Cherches Feb 5, 2010 09:57 AM

              I'm sure it's changed considerably since I was there 13 years ago--the signs were already there that it was about to happen...

              1. re: Simon
                greedygirl Feb 9, 2010 08:57 AM

                While I don't think it's a dump, I was disappointed by Hoi An. In the words of some friends, it has "died of tourism". I imagine it was great twenty years ago. Hue is interesting, but it rained and rained and rained while we were there, which detracted somewhat from the experience! My favourite city by far in Vietnam (of those I visited) was Ho Chi Minh.

                1. re: greedygirl
                  Lina Feb 9, 2010 09:55 AM

                  That's a great way to describe it. I'm in Hoi An now, and I haven't been to a place where the locals were so blatantly hateful unless I am spending money. I've stayed at three hotels and at all of them they are very nice and smiley until I tell them I won't be booking tours or onward travel through them and then after that they don't bother looking at me or just scowl. Food situation is okay, but it's all very overpriced. Haven't been too impressed with anything yet, but will check in later with some reviews.

                  1. re: Lina
                    greedygirl Feb 9, 2010 10:42 AM

                    Best place we found was a tiny place on the waterfront. Can't remember what it's called, but not fancy at all. Will see if I can ferret out the name.

                    1. re: Lina
                      el jefe Feb 10, 2010 12:58 AM

                      Lina,
                      I've found that those comments apply to just about every touristy city in VN, not just Hoi An. I've worked in the tourist industry in VN and I've been told by locals that I must be rich from all the kickbacks I receive. (I don't get any, but I'm definitely the exception.) If you're part of a big tour group you're usually fine but independent tourists are looked at as walking ATM machines by most locals. I've had people try to sell me stray dogs and have been ripped off more times than I can count. I've had some amazing food over the years but I don't know if I can stand going back.

                      1. re: el jefe
                        Lina Feb 10, 2010 06:21 PM

                        Yes, that's been my experience so far as well. Any non-touristy cities I should look at?

                        1. re: Lina
                          el jefe Feb 11, 2010 01:34 AM

                          I can't think of any in Vietnam.

                          Are you going to Laos next? When do you get to northern Thailand?

                          1. re: el jefe
                            Lina Feb 18, 2010 08:42 PM

                            Sorry, I am terrible about noticing responses! I'd like to go to Laos next but am waiting to find a cheap fare out of here (Hanoi). Everything is booked up because of Tet. Are you in Chiang Mai?

                            1. re: Lina
                              el jefe Feb 18, 2010 09:24 PM

                              Yes, I'm in Chiang Mai now, but I'm leaving for Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. I'll be back here in late March.
                              Maybe someone reading this thread can help me. There has never been a single post about Sri Lanka on the South Asia Board.

                              1. re: el jefe
                                greedygirl Feb 19, 2010 01:55 AM

                                I was in Sri Lanka a few years ago now! Where are you going?

                                1. re: greedygirl
                                  el jefe Feb 21, 2010 02:47 AM

                                  It's a 3 1/2 week trip so we're going almost everywhere, except Colombo and Jaffna. I'm most interested in recs for places we'll be spending more than one night -- Kandy, Galle, Negombo and Dambulla.
                                  I posted this on the South Asia board where I didn't get any replies. Probably best if you replied there -- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/686987

                          2. re: Lina
                            Sam Fujisaka Feb 11, 2010 02:03 AM

                            Go to Canh Tho in the delta.

                          3. re: el jefe
                            s
                            Simon Feb 11, 2010 07:09 PM

                            that's too bad...while i disliked Hoi An, i found Hanoi and Hue very pleasant, and met lots of nice people in both places...

                    2. anthonyrza Feb 1, 2010 06:25 AM

                      HUE! Eat the com hen right on the river, there's a few casual restaurants serving up bowls for 5.000VND. Fantastic!!

                      http://globaleats.blogspot.com/search...

                      Also try some Mi Quang will in the central provinces.

                      1. fadedfoodie Feb 2, 2010 05:54 AM

                        As much as I enjoyed the beach at Hoi An, I found the food wanting. Head to Saigon for Vietnamese food with a flair.

                        1. lotusculinarytravel Feb 5, 2010 03:25 PM

                          I agree with el jefe, Lac Canh is can't-miss in Nha Trang. We stumbled upon it a few years ago and loved grilling our own seafood as much as watching the Vietnamese in high-celebratory mode. One of our favorite memories in Vietnam. And don't miss the experience of the Nha Trang fish market at dawn.
                          http://travel.nytimes.com/2005/04/10/...

                          1. c
                            ChowLover132 Feb 9, 2010 06:50 PM

                            Hue has the better food and there's a little restaurant that has some amazing fruit smoothies for cheap there too (I don't remember the name, but I think it was listed in the Rough Guide we had when my friends and I went). Plus, since you're already in a beach town and I don't think hoi An is supposed to be better than Nha Trang beach-wise, you may want to check out Hue, since there's a much more historic feel. We visited the imperial palace and also took a trip down the river, stopping at one spot to get some guys with motorbikes to take us to one of the tombs.

                            1. e
                              eeejo Feb 15, 2010 10:47 PM

                              finding delicious grub in vietnam is often as simple as finding a street corner filled with locals stuffing their faces, but it sounds like that won't be the case in hoi an... assuming that we have to pass through on the way to better things, can someone please give recommendations for non-touristy, non-crappy food there?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: eeejo
                                Lina Feb 18, 2010 08:51 PM

                                I ended up going to Hoi An as well. There is a lot of great street food in and around the market.

                                Look for the cao lau vender that Robyn and Dave at Eatingasia recommend: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/.m/eati...

                                You can find her by her sign. I tried the dish at four or five other places in town and this one was easily the best (and the cheapest). I also got a good banh mi outside the market in the evening.

                                For restaurants Cafe Amis is interesting and worth a visit. 130k for a prix fixe meal of 4-6 courses. You choose meat, seafood or vegetarian and then they surprise you with the rest.

                                Mermaid Cafe was pretty good. I'd still prefer street food but it's nice to hit up a restaurant now and again.

                                And for expensive western food, I hate to admit it but I had a tantrum one night and went to Good Morning, Vietnam. If you are having a pasta craving, though, it's worth it, it was really good! And the chef is actually Italian (he was wandering around) if that counts for anything.

                                I ended up eating a lot of meals at "Khu Am Thuc -- Area for Eating and Drinking" near the market. It's about 20 tables all lined up outside, you won't miss it. Pretty decent casual dining and very inexpensive.

                                1. re: Lina
                                  greedygirl Feb 19, 2010 01:57 AM

                                  You can actually get good Western food in Vietnam - especially French, as you'd expect. We went to a couple of nice French restaurants in Nah Trang and HCMC and even had a pretty decent pizza one night when we didn't feel like Asian food!

                              2. n
                                nabarund Mar 16, 2011 04:10 AM

                                there is a fantastic Mexican-Vietnamese fusion place in Hoi An called Mango Rooms (http://www.mangorooms.com/). It really works well, without forcing flavors together that shouldn't be together. loved it when i went in feb 2010. would go back to Hoi An just for this.

                                That said, I find myself in Hue right now. will try com hen and Bun Bo Hue...any others?

                                (Also in Hoi An, the brunch at the Life Resort is in a great old building overlooking the river and quite a decent spread...great for a long languid brunch with a book.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nabarund
                                  n
                                  nabarund Mar 17, 2011 11:42 AM

                                  OMG. Com hen was amazing. Thanks everyone for the suggestion. You can see the evidence here:
                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/29015275...

                                  The place was off of Le Loi over the small river/stream and to the right coming from "downtown" Hue, on Han Mac Tu. I had two bowls for the equivalent of USD $0.75. WOW, so tasty,

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