Wednesday, March 25, 2015

cooking in hoi an, vietnam

if i can recommend one thing to do or see when traveling to vietnam, it would be to take a cooking class. we took one in hoi an, and it was amazing. the cooking class itself was phenomenal, i mean, who knew it was so easy to make rice paper? but the best part was the tour of the local market. they had everything: fruit, vegetables, meat, noodles, fish, and snacks. we learned about all of the strange new fruit we'd been eating -- the milk apple is amazing -- and saw the cleanest meat market ever. the tour of the market was followed by a quick boat ride to the school where we were greeted with a delicious glass of ginger tea. in addition to learning how to cook new dishes, we also learned some useful cooking tricks, like put a little bit of fish sauce in everything and stir fry vegetables in sesame or soy oil to keep them crisp. the whole experience was a fatty's dream and i'd do it again in a heart beat!






a quick guide to hoi an -- 

eat: vietnam is a super long country at over 2000 miles in length, so each part of the country has a distinct culinary style. in the north, noodle soups reign, and in the south it's all about the banh mi, but in the middle, in hoi an, their specialties are the banh bao (aka. white rose, steamed dumpling stuffed with shrimp), cao lau (flat noodles with pork slices in a broth), and banh xeo (fried pancakes rolled in rice paper). also, i recommend trying the very intriguing snow fungus with aloe vera sweet soup; the texture is weird as hell, but it's also weirdly delicious.

see: hoi an old town is a mix of modern and ancient, with over 15 different temples, assembly halls, old houses, and museums to visit. buy a ticket (120.000dong) at one of the information booths scattered throughout and choose 5 different venues to visit. we recommend walking around and checking out the options before diving in, but definitely check out the phuc kien assembly hall (or assembly hall of the fujian chinese congregation) and the japanese covered bridge.
(here are scanned copies of the three different maps we used: hoi an old quarter, around hoi an, & hoi an highlights.)

do: take a cooking class with red bridge cooking school! also, be sure to ride bikes through the rice fields to an bang beach and around the hoi an peninsula.

sleep: phuoc an hotel (they have bikes you can borrow!)

- you can't fly into hoi an, instead fly into danang and take a bus or a taxi to hoi an.
- if you visit during a full moon, the an hoi peninsula is lit up with gorgeous paper lanterns.

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