Being a fussy eater, I was anxious about the Hoi An Street Eats add-on that we booked on our Journey to Angkor Wat group tour. I was nervous about what would lie in store on the night ahead, but my mind was quickly put to rest, and it ended up being one of the best nights of my time in Vietnam.
Late afternoon, we were met by eight Vietnamese drivers on eight brightly coloured vespas outside the hotel. After checking our helmets fitted, we sped off into the Hoi An sunset. The first stop was a beautiful secluded wooden shack in the residential streets on the outskirts of Hoi An, where we sat down for a refreshing welcome cocktail or two. This was the opportunity the guide took to carefully check any dietary requirements or anything in particular we wanted to try or not to try. It was this moment my mind was put at rest. I don’t eat seafood, and other members of the group spoke about allergies. The guide was very reassuring and informed us there would be plenty of options and dishes available to us. On finishing our drinks, we hopped onto the back of our bikes to head back out into the bustling streets of Hoi An.
Our next stop was a local restaurant, which prepared delicious dumplings for us to try. These dumplings are made here and shipped fresh to hotels and restaurants all over Central Vietnam. We had a short demonstration on how to make chicken and shrimp dumplings (mine just chicken!), which had us in fits of laughter once they presented ones they had “made earlier”. These obviously put ours to shame! This melt in the mouth speciality was the perfect introduction to the night ahead.
After finishing off a cold beer, we continued our culinary journey. There would be a further six stops at restaurants and street food vendors, each presenting us with their own specialties, all as delicious as the last. My personal favourite was a small street corner vendor, filled with locals. As we sat on low plastic stools, an old Vietnamese lady cooked up hundreds of “Vietnamese Pizza’s” (bite-sized, deep fried, rice paper cups with quails eggs and soy sauce).
We then moved on to the river’s edge, where we were surprised with a lantern lit cruise down the Thu Bom River, ending at a waterside local restaurant. We were presented with plate after plate of food and drink, giving me the opportunity to try dishes I had never imagined I would eat, and sample the locally made rice wine.
Our evening finished in a lively local bar and restaurant, with a sweet desert and farewell drink with our guide, before we were dropped back to the hotel with full tummies.
Not being a foodie myself, I was nervous about what to expect from the evening. But I can honestly say that this was one of my highlights from my time in Vietnam. I’ve come home having tried things I never thought I would, and loving things I’d never thought I’d like. The food was only one part of the tour. Whizzing around town on the back of a vespa, doing as the locals do; celebrating good food and sharing tables with families as they enjoyed their evening meal, and most importantly not feeling just like another tourist. If you’re heading to Vietnam anytime soon then I would thoroughly recommend this mouth-watering experience!