22 Nguyen Hue Street, Hoi An
Miss Ly’s Mother has lived at this historic Hoi An location since 1949. They were one of the first family restaurants in old Hoi An. They established the restaurant in 1993 when there was only one hotel in Hoi An with all of eight rooms. In 2012 they expanded and opened Ly 2 in a separate family house next door to the original Miss Ly. Much has changed since those early days but Miss Ly’s Mother still lives in the house and Miss Ly still does most of the cooking.
Miss Ly uses only the finest quality ingredients, bought fresh every day. She believes that the best ingredients are essential for good health and they are the foundation for her fine Vietnamese cuisine. Miss Ly’s sister is a produce dealer and supplies the restaurant with beautiful vegetables and fruits, and they also buy directly from local farmers.
Due to Hoi An’s history as a major port city, their local cuisine is a mixture of many cultures over many cultures over many centuries and several dishes are unique to this area and unlike other Vietnamese food.
We had a few great meals at Miss Ly and the food lived up to her fresh and flavorful reputation . It is very popular so you need to either get there early or make a booking. The staff are very friendly and efficient. I favored the vegetarian fresh spring rolls and the chicken and papaya salad.
The Cargo Club
107 – 109 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An
The Cargo Club is owned by Miss Vy who also owns Mermaid, the first restaurant in Hoi An selling food to tourists and the infamous Morning Glory which housed her cooking school before Vy’s Market Place Restaurant started up (see previous blog).
The Cargo Club has an extensive menu with a Vietnamese section and a large European section which is nice as sometimes you just feel like something from a bit closer to home. They also have a bakery on the ground floor where you can buy bread, cakes and desserts. The food and service are of a high standard and we have never been disappointed here. The fresh spring rolls are delicious as is the Beef, Noodle and Herb Salad dish – I always get them to swap the beef for chicken and it is never a problem. On another visit to The Cargo Club I had the Falafels as a starter – delicious. I followed those up with the Chicken, Noodle & Herb Salad which I just can’t go past.They also do a fabulous scallop entree but this is dependent on them being able to get fresh scallops. They have a bit of a kick to them but Steve just can’t get enough of them.
106 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An
As mentioned above and in my previous blog, Morning Glory is the brainchild of Ms Vy who also owns Mermaid and Cargo. Morning Glory’s menu is a showcase of Ms Vy’s traditional and favorite Vietnamese dishes. The menu also has a selection of home remedies like “Firm up your Insides” which is a hot drink made from fresh orange juice, honey and salt – I really like the flavor so usually enjoy a cup every time I go there.
The crunchy tofu and fresh spring rolls are a couple of my favorite entrees followed by the chicken marinated in lime leaves. Steve’s absolute favorite is the crunchy pork belly with red rice – he can’t go past it when we dine at Morning Glory.
Hai Scout Cafe
99 Tran Phu, Hoi An
Hai Scout Cafe is located in the old Scout hall of Hoi An. It has a lovely outdoor setting area with a BBQ area at one end so you can see your meat being cooked.. They have an extensive menu with a number of BBQ options. They also do pizzas but they are not quite up to Good Morning Vietnam standards (see below). They do great Hoi An Chicken Rice and barbecued chicken with a rice noodle salad.. I have also tried the traditional Beef Pho or Soup – the flavors of the soup were lovely but the beef was very chewy so I didn’t eat much of that and have decided that despite the fact that the Pho is very good for you it is not for me. I did indulge in their ginger tea which was delicious and packed with lots of fresh ginger.
70 Le Loi
Serene Garden is tucked down an alley way on Lei Loi Street and the restaurant is set in an open courtyard – it doesn’t look flash but the food is actually very good. Steve and Paul fell in love with their scallops and onion entree and would go there for afternoon tea. Unfortunately we went there for dinner the other night and the scallops were not good at all – we tried to talk to the wait staff about them but it was lost in translation. The rest of our meals were up to the usual standard though.
My favorite dish is the green papaya salad with chicken served on shrimp crackers – it is so tasty! I usually have the Serene Garden Special Fried Rice as a main which is also very tasty with pineapple, veges and shrimp in it. They also do good fish and chips and a good stir fried chicken with cashew nuts. The mains aren’t huge but you definitely leave there feeling satisfied.
69 Tran Hung Dao
Triet is one of those quiet achievers – they have a nice menu with a great cocktail and shakes menu and the service is always friendly and efficient. I had a Coco Shake made with coconut and cacao and it didn’t disappoint. I also tried their fresh spring rolls which are very good although I am not sure about the mushroom they put in each one – it didn’t appeal to me visually.
Baby Mustard Restaurant
Hai Ba Trung, Hoi An
When I was looking at restaurants in Hoi An on Trip Advisor, Baby Mustard came up as number four. The only issue is that it is out of town so a bit more logistically challenging. We went there one night for dinner after being in town watching the rugby at the Sports Bar. The setting is lovely – it is an open air bamboo restaurant and you overlook their garden. The food was really good and all the ingredients were very fresh – you could see the women in the kitchen preparing everything from scratch.
Green Chilli Restaurant
122 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Green Chilli is Hoi An’s answer to Tex Mex. They serve Mexican food with a Vietnamese twist. The Chef is a real character and can often be seen at the front of the restaurant having a laugh with the patrons. We really enjoyed the Chicken Quesadilla and Chicken Burritos. They also do great friend spring rolls.
Good Morning Vietnam
102 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Strangely enough this is an Italian restaurant and boy do they do it well. They have an extensive Pizza and Pasta menu as well as a number of other delicious main courses. The Chef is Italian and is also a very friendly character who likes to chat with the patrons. They do a chicken, beef, sausage and vegetable skewer dish which Steve loves – he goes there for his meat fix. I go there for my pizza fix – the Vegeteriano Pizza is delicious! They also do great salads with lovely Italian dressings. Another big plus for this restaurant is the great wine list at reasonable prices.
Hoi An Roastery – Espresso & Coffee House
135 Tran Phu, Hoi An
I must say since our last visit to Hoi An in 2011 the number of cafe’s serving good coffee has increased dramatically. Hoi An Roastery only opened earlier this year but they do a great coffee – as good as any you would get in a cafe in Auckland. They have a fairly extensive drinks menu and the staff are very friendly and accommodating. Unfortunately they don’t do a soy, decaf latte but I have managed to struggle on with a standard latte : )
I have also tried the Ca Phe Sua (Da) which is the traditional Vietnamese Coffee with Condensed milk – see below under Highlands for more information. Hoi An Roastery serve it the traditional drip filter cup and you pour it over the ice yourself.
83 Tran Hung Dao
I first discovered Highlands Coffee in Ho Chi Min City back in 2011 – not only did they do great coffee but they also did great cafe food which is a nice change from Vietnamese food every now and then.
Highlands Coffee is a Vietnamese coffee shop chain and producer and distributor of coffee products, established in Hanoi by Vietnamese American David Thai in 1996. The founding of the Highlands Coffee company marked the first time an Overseas Vietnamese was able to register a private company within Vietnam. They have over 80 coffee shops across Vietnam. David Thai lived in Seattle and witnessed the Starbucks coffee chain grow from a small company to a multinational corporation – this was his inspiration.
Coffee production has been a major source of income for Vietnam since the early 20th century. It was first introduced by the French in 1857 and developed through the plantation system becoming a major economic force. In 2009, Vietnamese coffee exports were reported at 1.13 million tonnes with coffee being second only to rice in the value of agro-products exported from Vietnam. The 2013 / 2014 year produced a bumper crop which led to an over supply problem and a drop in revenue which saw many export firms fold.
Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil. The quality of the beans, however, has typically limited their marketability. Robusta coffee accounts for 97% of Vietnam’s total output – these beans are considered inferior to the Brazilian Arabica beans due to their bitterness. Vietnam is looking to increase it’s production of Arabica beans.
The Highlands Coffee shop in Hoi An does great coffee but they don’t have the food side of things as such – they do the famous Banh Mi and a range of cakes. My standard order when visiting Highlands is a Latte and a chicken Banh Mi and at NZD5.85 for both it is a great deal. The staff are very sweet and one of the young lads likes to try and converse with me. He delivers my love heart decorated coffee with a wide smile.
They also do the traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Ca phe da. At it’s simplest, Ca phe da is made with coarsely ground Vietnamese grown dark roasted coffee individually brewed with a small metal French drip filter into a cup containing about a quarter to half as much sweetened condensed milk, stirred and poured over ice. The coarse grind allows the use of the metal drip filter. I must say the Ca phe da’s are very delicious and very moorish!
The Little Menu Restaurant
12 Le Loi
The Little Menu Restaurant was another Trip Advisor find and it is up there with the likes of Morning Glory and Cargo in terms of food quality. And as there name says the menu is small but I think they offer a good range of traditional dishes with their own twist. They do a crispy duck spring roll and a pork meatball, rice noodles and herb salad dish. The pork meatballs are so flavourful.
Their white rose which is a type of shrimp dumpling made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose is very delicate in looks and flavour. They also do a tasting platter which includes white rose, fried spring rolls and crispy wontons – a great way to enjoy a selection of their entrees.
94 Le Loi St
CocoBox is a rustic cafe, juice bar and farm shop. They do a range of healthy smoothies, cold pressed juices and wholesome food. They also stock the best products made in Vietnam from organic Robusta coffee to homemade jams and honey as well as organic teas. This is my sort of place and I especially enjoyed their milkshake of the week which consisted of Vietnamese coffee, avocado, cinnamon, milk and honey. To accompany this I had some home made granola, organic yoghurt, fresh strawberries and banana. On another visit I tried the ham and cheese on rye bread – delicious. The only downside to CocoBox is that it is quite small and with it’s ever expanding popularity it is not always easy to get a seat on which to savour their treats which I beleive deserve a lot of savouring. On the plus side they do takeaways : )
9 Grains Bakery
441 Hai Ba Trung
I spotted this place as we drove into Hoi An on a regular basis and thought I must pay them a visit as the place looked very modern and inviting. It is about 1.5km from the centre of the Ancient Town which in the scheme of things in not far. As it turned out, Pandanus Spa, which became my go to spot for all things luxurious was just around the corner so a visit to the Spa was always preceeded with a visit to 9 Grains. I enjoyed a latte or two as well as the traditional Ca phe da. I also enjoyed their homemade muesli, yoghurt and honey. Laura especially enoyed their banana bread so I got some to enjoy beside the pool – not bad : )
Hoi An Sports Bar
61 Phan Chau
The Hoi An Sports Bar is the place to be for all things sport. We were able to watch our beloved All Blacks play three matches here on the big screen. This place became Steve’s, and Paul when he was here, home away from home. Many afternoon has been spent here playing pool and chatting with the owner, Gordon and his staff. During quiet times the staff enjoy a game of pool too so Steve was always a willing participant. They have the coldest beer in town – they keep it in the freezer and in 35 degree temperatures this goes down a treat. They do great bar food with their Nachos, Tacos and twice cooked French Fries topping the list. They also do the best chocolate milkshake in town – half chocolate icecrean, half chocolate milk. Very decadent and loaded with calories so saved for an extra special treat only!