Walking around town our first day, Leandra was ready for a snack and steered us toward Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen. Just up the street from a row of tailor shops we found the small cart and attached kitchen with a small line out front. Within about 10 minutes she had her freshly made many-layered sandwich. Total cost – 20K dong (~$.90)
Later that evening we went to dinner at Morning Glory. I went for a passion fruit juice and Cao Lầu, a regional Vietnamese dish made with noodles, pork, and local greens that originated in Hoi An. It was quite light with a pleasant peanutiness, and the rice noodles were a bit chewier than wheat noodles. I pretty much ate it all! After seeing several orders come through while perusing the menu, Leandra ordered the fresh spring rolls with shrimp and was not disappointed. Morning Glory was quite busy, so we were glad we had made advance reservations.
While Leandra attended her cooking class, I was left to my own devices. That included a rich and crumbly brownie from Cargo Cafe patisserie, and a light lunch at Hai Cafe. I started with a lemon lime juice drink, then was tempted by the beef in lot leaf (Bo La Lot) which had a pleasant lemony ginger taste combined with the smokiness of grilled lot leaf and a medium spiciness. I hadn’t heard of it before but it was quite tasty. As a bonus, Hai Cafe did not charge a credit card surcharge.
For dinner we made reservations at Nu Eatery, a small restaurant down an alley that was well worth searching out. We split the pork buns to start, then Leandra ordered the sesame chicken, while Eric got the pork ragu that was incredibly flavorful, and just the right amount of spicy heat. After seeing the dessert list we couldn’t resist the coffee ice cream.
We were wandering around town in search of lunch but couldn’t decide where to go. We knew that Mermaid had the same owner as Cargo and Morning Glory, so we decided to try their restaurant on the farther side of town. Eric got the beef rice noodle bowl (very limey, with peanuts too) and a pineapple shake, while Leandra ordered the Cau Lok bowl and a local Larue beer. Our food was OK, but service was middling – it wasn’t a problem of language, but rather they were incredibly indifferent, especially considering it was 3p. This was quite surprising given the other restaurants in the group, and we wouldn’t recommend going to this one.
Given the service we skipped dessert there and instead picked up a chocolate passion fruit cake at Cargo for takeaway – it was amazing!
For our final dinner we made a reservation at Secret Garden. Tucked away down a back alley, you would never expect a restaurant much less the beautifully landscaped outdoor space. We were seated outside near one of the ponds. I ordered a lime juice and the chicken curry, which was really tasty. The potatoes were cooked perfectly, spiced but not spicy. Leandra ordered the local specialty “white rose” appetizer (a shrimp dumpling), then the beef curry. Two items to note- Secret Garden has a rather large wine list, and an overall swankier air with nice presentation and service. Of course, it was also the most expensive meal of Hoi An, but not bad by US costs and completely worth it. Also, we found that the online menu is not accurate at all, as they have many more items.