My First Attempt At Cooking Vietnamese Food

I’ve been busting to do a Vietnamese cooking course whilst in Vietnam but have always been put off by the cost. Frequenting Vietnamese markets regularly, I know the price of locally sourced ingredients (and that’s paying white-face tax), so I’ve been reluctant to fork out $60 upwards for a morning’s cooking experience. That said, I wanted to know how to prepare and recreate my favourite Vietnamese dishes in anticipation of my return back to the UK…

I was cycling on my way back from An Bang beach (in Hoi An) towards my hotel in the Old Town when I noticed a sign outside of a small restaurant saying, “Cooking Course: $10”

I was so astounded by the value I pulled in and spoke to the lovely My (a Vietnamese name pronounced “Me”), owner of the family restaurant and my head chef for the day. She advised me that I could choose two dishes from the menu to cook, but recommended the best two dishes would be her Nem (freshly made deep fried spring rolls) and fish wrapped in banana leaf. I accepted her recommendation and decided I would prefer to hold the private class the following morning at 11am in time for lunch.

It was great having a one-on-one lesson in My’s family home. She was really thorough in explaining the ingredients, how to select the best food at the market and was able to answer just about all questions I had on Vietnamese food and culture. The food turned out beautifully, and only set me back $10 for a 2 hour private class. Bargain!

To book a cooking course with My at the Bong Restaurant Eco Tour, click here.

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Hoi An: The Prettiest Town In Asia

Still unbeaten and still bloomin’ pretty, Hoi An remains my absolute favourite town in South East Asia. There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending the day on An Bang Beach, spending the evening perusing around the quaint Old Town with all the twinkling lanterns and in between the two cruising around on a push bicycle soaking up the market, the myriad tailor shops and spice fields.

Here are some snaps from my most recent retreat to Hoi An:

 

For more on my adventures in Hoi An, read thetravellingtapir.com/hoi-an

Hoi An, Vietnam

I have not found anywhere in Vietnam that is more beautiful than Hoi An. Following our adventures in Da Nang as part of our excursion to central Vietnam we revelled in a week of soaking up the sun, culture and tranquility which Hoi An offers it visitors.

Hoi An is best known for being a well-preserved ancient trade city: a real melting-pot of history and architectural influenced by the Chinese, Colonial-Frecnh and Japanese. While technically Hoi An is a city, it certainly has more of a town feel about it: buildings are no more than two stories high, the streets are narrow with canals carving through them and there is a strict curfews for cars and traffic in the evenings to allow pedestrians and tourists to enjoy walking around. Every evening the city erupts with lanterns which are simply spectacular and leave a magical spell over all those who visit.

 

More recently Hoi An has become the tailoring capital of Vietnam where you can have just about anything made for you. There is an abundance of shops who specialise in silk, cotton and leather – so come prepared with ideas of what you might like (otherwise you run the risk of getting a little carried away…) In terms of things to do there are plenty of choices depending on the purpose of your vacation. If its culture you’re after there are temples, the Traditional Theatre and the Kim Bong carpentry village as well as simply walking around the beautiful town. If you just want to chill out then there’s Ang Bang Beach and Cau Dai Beach which have spectacular ocean views, sandy beaches and shady palm trees – paradise! If you’re not staying in a  beach resort then you can park your push bike or moped at a family’s house who expect in return that you buy a few refreshments – this is a great deal though as they seem to own a secluded part of the beach and have high quality sun loungers for you to recline on. We rented mopeds from our host for $5 per day and rode out to the spice gardens and paddy fields. The area is especially luscious – the green of the spice gardens is so vivid it’s almost yellow. I cannot quite believe that a small town can offer such diversity in terms of beach, culture and tropical scenery!

When it comes to eating out there are plenty of authentic Vietnamese places to choose from, as well as some excellent Western establishments if you need that fix from home. One place we visited a couple of times was Paddy’s Irish Bar which offered Rum + Coke for 20K (80p) and a heavenly swimming pool – as well as top notch grub. We ate in different places every night, and were never disappointed by the food. If you’re planning to party, Hoi An isn’t exactly the place to go. There are a few bars in the town centre which have good happy hour deals (oh by the way happy hour lasts all night) and bar entertainment (i.e. snooker, table football etc.) but things wind down about midnight.

There is no better word to describe Hoi An than enchanting, and I feel that there is something for everyone who visits. Our stay would not have been complete without Ly and her family at the Ly Phuc homestay. I cannot express how gracious and accommodating they are, so please please take your business to them!

Ly Phuc Homestay, Hoi An

Hoi An has quickly become my favourite place in the entire world. Situated two-thirds up the east coast of Vietnam; Hoi An is an old and traditional ex-port town which has a relaxed, welcoming and authentic atmosphere. There will be more on the reasons why I have fallen in love with Hoi An in a different blog post, but what has contributed to the overall experience is staying with Ley and her family at the Ley Phuc Homestay.

We had been impressed by how highly the guesthouse had been recommended on Trip Advisor, and considering the price per night and the appearance of the room in the photos, it was a unanimous vote to spend our 4 nights with Ley and her family.

For 250,000 dong (£8 per night) we were delighted by the cleanliness and standard of the room (most comfortable bed in Vietnam to date and AC that actually works!). There was a second room which had a balcony and more of a ‘honeymoon’ feel about it, but it was a tad over the price we had budgeted – but there is always next time! Included in the price of the room is a complimentary breakfast and Ley’s friendly and reliable knowledge of Hoi An. I can highly recommend a banana pancake and coffee sitting under their dreamy canopy as one of the best ways to wake up.

Ley has a number of contacts who can offer you competitive deals on tours, cooking classes as well as transport in and out of Hoi An. My favourite day in Hoi An was certainly renting mopeds ($6 per day per bike) and exploring the countryside and beaches which surround the centre of town. 

In a short space of time you really feel a part of Ley’s wonderful family – which had 4 new additions 3 days prior to our arrival in the form of puppies! Ley and her mother are eager to please and are attentive to your needs -nothing beats a fresh mango being peeled and prepared for you when you get back from a day of beaching and bathing!

All in all I think it is important to stress that I’ve stayed in many hotels, hostels and guesthouses and usually don’t take the time to review everywhere that I visit on this blog, but I was so delighted with my stay at the Ley Phuc Homestay that I hope anyone travelling to Hoi An will take their business to Ley!