Hoi An in Vietnam is a beautiful place to spend a few days, wandering its picturesque winding streets, hanging out on the long stretches of white sandy beach, or cycling through the surrounding paddy fields. One of the other pleasures of a visit here is all the fabulous Hoi An restaurants.
Well known as an epicenter for foodies, Hoi An is renowned for its fabulous street food specialties, and the town is brimming with quaint little restaurants. You just need to take a walk through the Central Hoi An Market to appreciate how beautifully fresh all the fruit and vegetables are for Hoi An’s best restaurants to work with.
For unforgettable Hoi An food moments, I definitely recommend heading to the Central Market and sitting down with the locals to enjoy a bowl of piping hot Cau Lau; fighting through the masses to bag yourself a scrumptious Banh Mi at Banh Mi Phuong; and taking a load off in a coffee shop to partake in a Vietnamese coffee.
But if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial and refined, then there are plenty of good places to eat in Hoi An, so here is our pick of some of the best restaurants in Hoi An, Vietnam.
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I always like to have at least one meal at Morning Glory when I visit Hoi An. Many will argue that Morning Glory Hoi An has become a victim of its own success – and it is true that its reputation of serving up the best food in Hoi An means that the Morning Glory restaurant is now a popular stop-off for tour groups. But the food speaks for itself, and is the reason I think this is one of the best restaurants in Hoi An.
Named after the ubiquitous vegetable that graces menus around Vietnam, the Morning Glory menu is centred around Hoi An street food specialties, and family classics. Cao Lau and My Quang noodles are featured alongside White Rose dumplings and Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes), while more gourmet dishes include Pork Belly with Five Spice and Caramel Sauce and family favourites Smoky Eggplant with Minced Pork and Fresh Mackerel in Banana Leaf. All the dishes are freshly prepared in the central show kitchen, adding to the bustle of this laid-back cozy restaurant.
Across the road from Morning Glory is another of top restaurants in Hoi An – the bright and cheerful Mango Rooms Hoi An. Helmed by Vietnamese American chef Tran Duc, the Mango Rooms specializes in Vietnamese fusion cuisine, offering all the classics with an inventive twist, indicative of Tran Duc’s international career.
So, dishes such as La Cubana – bite-size tender beef seasoned with garlic, pepper, soy and cumin, flame-broiled with Cuban rum and served with Latino-style mango salsa – rubs shoulders with Imperial Mango spring rolls and ‘Indochina Diva’ – Vietnamese/Japanese vegetable tempura.
The festive atmosphere makes this Hoi An restaurant a fun and breezy place to hang out, with its green and yellow walls, brightly coloured furniture and cushions, and patterned floor tiles. The best seat in the house is at the front of the restaurant, where you can lounge on cushions around a low table, and admire the views of the Thu Bon River out the window.
Sticking with the mango theme, and riding on his success of making the Mango Rooms one of the best places to eat in Hoi An, chef Tran Duc has now opened another restaurant across the river called Mango Mango. The main advantage that Mango Mango Hoi An has over its sister restaurant is its location. Residing across the river right opposite the Japanese Bridge, gives Mango Mango an unrivalled perspective of Hoi An’s old town – particularly impressive if you manage to bag an upstairs table on the terrace at night.
While chef Tran Duc sticks to the traditional essence of Vietnamese cuisine, incorporating the five essential elements of sour, bitter, sweet, salty, and spicy, it is obvious that he likes to have fun with his cooking. The menu of inventive modern Vietnamese dishes is littered with quirky names such as Rocking Rolls, Lord of the Squid Rings and Peekin’ Duckling, while his sense of adventure is evident in the dish Flying Phoenix – duck with passionfruit and chocolate. Don’t forget to start your meal with a cocktail or two – Passion in Love, with vodka, passionfruit and watermelon is sure to start your meal at this Hoi An restaurant with a bang!
For my birthday this year, we were planning to treat ourselves to a meal at La Maison 1888 (see below). However, best laid plans and all that – my daughter had a croup attack the night before and, not wanting to leave her with a babysitter, we instead opted for an early family dinner at the Secret Garden. And it certainly wasn’t a disappointment as a second-choice option.
The Secret Garden is just that – secret. It’s not the kind of restaurant you are going to stumble upon; you need to be ‘in-the-know’ to find it – and even then, we nearly turned back thinking we had taken a wrong turn. But trust your instinct and follow the alleyway next to 60 Le Loi, and you will come across a special little oasis tucked in behind the wall at the end.
There’s a huge menu of solid Vietnamese classics on offer here, but what really makes this Hoi An restaurant special is its beautiful garden setting. White linen covered tables are scattered throughout the open-air restaurant and around the leafy courtyard, with subtle lanterns highlighting the fishponds and tinkling water fountains. Secret Garden also runs a cooking school.
Visit the Secret Garden website here
And here’s another a bit further afield…
La Maison 1888
La Maison 1888 is actually in Danang, inside the stunning Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. I wanted to include it on my list here, as many people visiting Hoi An actually stay in one of the beachside resorts on the Danang strip, making La Maison 1888 around a 30-minute drive (it would probably be closer to an hour from Hoi An). For a special occasion, it is certainly worth the trip.
La Maison 1888 is renowned as one of the best restaurants in Vietnam, and is the first restaurant in Vietnam to feature a Michelin-starred chef. Michel Roux from Le Gavroche in London was originally at the helm, and he has recently made way for esteemed French chef Pierre Gagnaire, so you know you are in for some spectacular French fine-dining cuisine. We feasted on Blue Crab Velouté, Pan-Fried Lobster Medallions and Roasted Challan Duck, and knew that this would be a meal to be remembered.
If you are looking for ideas on where to eat in Hoi An or Danang for a special occasion, this would be it. The setting is nothing short of fabulous, and La Maison 1888 was named in the Architectural Digest top ten list of the most beautiful new restaurants. The restaurant is reached via a funicular from the hotel lobby, a fun way to arrive at this stunning ‘antique’ colonial French mansion, resplendent with black and white floor tiles, leafy tropical plants and lavish furnishings.
Children under 12 are not permitted in the restaurant, so book a babysitter and enjoy a very special date night at La Maison 1888.
Looking for more Hoi An food inspiration? See our post on the Hoi An Food Tour we took while we were in town, to learn more about some of the local delicacies and best street food in Hoi An, including Anthony Bourdain’s recommendation on where to get the best banh mi in Hoi An.
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