June 30, 2005

eating in Hoi An

so we've had some really enjoyable meals here in hoi an.

The first night we got here we ate at cafe des amis, a little french cafe on the river. it was a fixed price menu for 80k dong (about $5.30 USD.) it was a LOT of food served up in about 5 courses and we weren't able to finish it, but it was really good. we got to try both of the hoi an local specialty foods in one meal. the first was cau lau (more on this later) and the second was the white rose. (dumplings with assorted filling.)
another place we ate at a couple times was the Ba La Well resturant. it's named after (and is near by) the famous Ba La Well in the center of town. Hoi An is known for Cau Lau. Rice noodles that are similar to Japanese Udon noodles and are made with rice husks (so they are brown) and water from the Ba La Well (supposedly.) well, the Cau Lau here was really really good. basically you get a bowl of noodels with some slices or pork. there are also bean sprouts and a bunch of assorted greens (basil, lettuce, mint, etc) mixed in. there are tiny bits of crispy fried onion, and a little liquid that remains from when the port was cooked. i tried cau lau at about three different places in town and this place had the best one by far.
we also came back to this resturant the next day because their mail specialty dishes looked really good. they basically served an all you can eat, roll your own pork rolls. you get a large plate of mixed greens, a plate of rice paper, two types of roasted pork on skewers, spring rolls, special sauce, chili sauce (which you can mix with the special sauce), cucumbers, and optional spring rolls. you roll up whatever you want into the rice paper and dip it into the special sauce, and much away. it was really tasty. also, all you can eat in vietnam is a bit different that in the states. first off you only get charged by what you actually eat. what's left over on your table goes back into the community pile and will be served to the next patrons. so in the end me and ronda gorged ourselves for 60k dong. (About $4 USD.) of course 30k of the price was for the beer we drank with the meal.
another great place we went to twice here was Hong Phuc. Here they serve fish cooked with garlic and lemon grass wrapped in banana leaf. i had this dish twice. a bunch of other resturants in hoi an serve this same dish, but i really liked it here. i had tuna and ronda had red snapper. it was very very tasty. (and once again it had the tiny pieces of very fried onion that appear on lots of dishes here.)
The only meal i regret having was some Banh Mi with pork. (Banh Mi are basically french rolls which you can get plain or with filling.) back home in SF i love a place called Saigon sandwhiches which serves really good Banh Mi with chicken, pate, or pork. i hadn't seens any Banh Mi in vietnam yet which looked as good as the ones back home, but here in Hoi An i finally found a street vendor with what looked like the right set of ingredients to make Banh Mi the way i remember it from SF. (yes, this does sound backwords, i know, coming to vietnam to get vietnamese food like i remember from sf, sigh.) unfortunatly, while the banh mi tasted really good, i think the pork that was in it was bad. the same pork was sitting out in an open cart unrefregirated for an underermined amount of time. (i bought my banh mi in the morning and the same pork was sitting out there late at night when i walked by again, and it was still there the next day as well.) regardless, it disagreed strongly with me and i ended up nicknaming it Banh Mi Bum Pee.

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