August 26, 2007
69 Phan Chu Trinh
Hoi An, Vietnam
Chicken with Bamboo Shoots
Sauteed Octopus with Onions, Scallions, and Tomatoes
Water Spinach Soup
Sweet Black Tapioca with Mung Beans
For our final dinner on the retreat, the staff headed to an eatery in the town of Hoi An called Pho Hoi. Our group was half an hour late for our reservation and by the time we arrived at the restaurant, our food was sitting on the tables getting cold. This was not an auspicious start. The meal was decent, but more or less unspectacular compared to the seriously good eats we’d been treated to earlier. I was considering not blogging about Pho Hoi at all, but there was one special dish that deserved some press—Cao Lầu.
Hoi An is known for Cao Lầu and every restaurant in town serves up their own version. In a country chock full of broth and noodle entrees, Cao Lầu is a real standout, especially for its unique noodles.
Rumor has it, Cao Lầu noodles can only be made with water from a specific well in Hoi An called Ba Le, which explains why I’ve never encountered this dish until now. The noodles are nothing short of stellar—they’re wheat-y, thick, and have some bite to them. The Cao Lầu is topped with shrimp and pork and garnished with mint, basil, bean sprouts and lettuce. A light soy sauce broth finishes the dish off.
Whereas most people visit Hoi An to get custom made clothes for cheap, Cao Lầu is what draws me to the town.