Hoi An Part 3: Food and Things
Much of our focus was the next meal - where to go and what to eat. The choice here was immense. Sadly, as we reached Hoi An, I felt unwell, I'd skip a meal or eat a dry roll while the others munched away. Finally I stayed in bed (it was unsafe for me to be further than 3m from the bathroom). So, over to you, Tim.
"Tim, what did you like to have for breakfast?"
"Pho – It’s a steamy noodle soup made from rice noodles with bone broth and fresh herbs. I had beef (Pho Bo), but you can get chicken or vegetarian occasionally. My favourite was at Café 43 where we sat on the veranda undercover while it poured with rain. We were lucky as it only rained on and off that day and a little bit on another morning. Not that it mattered, the temperature is a comfortable 26 degrees.
And of course, a coffee to go with it. The coffee in Vietnam is delicious. It is thick with a slight chocolate hint in the background. I prefer it black, whereas you, Lindsey love coconut coffee.
One morning we took Hetty and Max for their first Egg Coffee. The café said that it would take at least 10 minutes to make, immediately we guessed these would be good. When we made Egg Coffee on our Cookery Class in Hanoi, we had to whisk the yolks and other ingredients for 10 minutes.
When Hetty and Max’s coffee came out, it looked delicious, and the presentation was delightful. At first, Max wasn’t too keen as he has an aversion to eggs; it was pretty brave of him to try one. After he vigorously stirred the mixture around, bringing the coffee to the surface, he enjoyed it more. Hetty loved hers."
"Tim, and for lunch?"
"Often we went for a Banh Mi. It’s a fresh crusty baguette, the influence of the French, filled with various fillings. The first one we went to was at Banh My Phuong and known as the King of Banh Mi. It was made famous as the American chef Anthony Bourdain who allegedly said “The best Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich in the World is in Hoi An” had a photo of himself eating one outside this establishment.
While you sipped your herbal tea, the three of us stuffed ourselves with the Classic which had Pork, Pate, Chicken, Beef, fresh herbs, lettuce, chilli and pickled carrots. It was simple yet delicious.
We also tried one at the Queen of Banh Mi - Madam Khanh’s café. There were just five choices, Mixed, Vegetarian, Pork and Ham, Chicken and Fried Egg. But pages upon pages for drinks of fresh juice to smoothies, coffee and tea.
You had a dry roll, which you said you enjoyed immensely while I decided to go for the chicken version and Hetty and Max had the Mixed (no egg for Max). We preferred the ambience here, quieter, the other one was rather manic, but the King had the edge on the food."
"Did you eat any snacks?"
"We did buy a packet of sesame cakes from Mr Thieu, which was a 15cm flat round rice cake covered with black sesame paste and coated with peanuts. You didn’t miss anything, Lindsey, it was like cardboard with some peanuts.
We did nearly buy a frog on a stick to try, but after haggling, and walking away, hoping the stall seller would reduce the price, we were disappointed that she didn’t budge.
Hetty bought some Rambutan, or Chom Chom as they are called here in Vietnam, which means “messy hair”. They are like large succulent lychees. Also, she bought some Mangosteen, but I didn’t try any. We must – it’s regarded as one of the most delicious fruits in the world."
"And for Dinner, Tim?"
"Well, our first evening was at Streets, where they train young people culinary and hospitality skills. That was delicious. There were two meals we wanted to try; White Rose Dumplings, small chewy dumplings with meat stuffed inside two pieces of rice paper. If you have a vivid imagination, it looks like a white rose. The other meal is Cao Lau, which is a noodle dish from Hoi An. It usually consists of slices of beef and greens on a bed of thick rice noodles. And we had both here in Streets.
After that, while you, Lindsey was tucked up in bed, Hetty, Max and I trawled the streets in the evening to find the best Cao Lau, including eating on rickety stalls down an alleyway, recommended by our Host. It was by far the favourite meal, and we ended up eating Cao Lau for breakfast, lunch and dinner!"
"What else, apart from eating, did you do?"
"We strolled along the tiny corridors of some markets, with items piled high and stall holders trying to entice us to buy. There’s quite a few in Hoi An, Food, Fabric and the Night Market (where we saw the frogs on sticks). Along the river, there are many lantern boats for rides which look beautiful. Hetty and Max went on one and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. What a romantic couple they are. They also bought a lantern to float on the water and make a wish. We hope their dreams come true.
On Hetty and Max’s last day, we went to the beach, and of course, built sand sculptures. We sent a photo of each to you to ask which one you liked the best: Sponge Bob’s Home? A Snowman, which local children thought was a Super Snowman, and a Palm Tree. I am so glad you chose the Palm Tree. Hurrah! That was mine.
It rained a bit, so we found a bar with a Pool table and played a few games, and I won again - a winning streak. Hetty and Max had fun in the kids' play area on the swings and then when we passed by a shop with the same material as Max's hat, he decided to have an outfit, but, just like in the tailors' just couldn't find the material he liked.
During one evening we went to a bar, had a cocktail. Max and I played pool doubles with a Frenchman with a jaunty scarf and a local woman, who was the size of the cue stick!" ("Tim, cheeky").
"Another evening we sat by the waterfront, drinking Larue Beer for 75p and playing Monopoly Deal. Hetty was the champion, then moved on to a bar on a boat for more cocktails. It was beautiful by the river watching the lanterns on the boats and along the water. A lovely romantic atmosphere for Hetty and Max and the gooseberry! Get better soon, Lindsey, please!"
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