When you first arrived by bus at Hoi An, as the bus station is near Hoi An market, you may hear some lilting voices from the sweet ladies in many street vendors. There are some sounds similar to “cow low”, curious much? What you had heard is actually Cao Lau, one of the best Hoi An street food.
Cao Lau is a delicacy created in Hoi An. This Hoi An specialty is loved by both local and foreign people. But it is hard to tell who was the real creator of Cao Lau. Hoi An Cao Lau has appeared since the 17th century when Nguyen Lord opened Hoi An Port. After that, many Chinese and Japanese people have come to Hoi An, they left many precious heritages, included many delicacies of Hoi An. However, Cao Lau is not a Chinese or Japanese dish. It is actually a mixture of different cultures in Vietnam.
The name “Cao Lau” also shows its superior. In the past, only the rich can get to the higher floor of a restaurant, and of course, they would order the best dishes. Thus, the name Cao Lau, which is literally translated into “high floor”, shows that this is an exclusive dish. Nowadays, common people could eat this best Hoi An street food on the ground, or anywhere they want. But the excellent flavor still remained the same as in the past.
Cao Lau is surprisingly unique! It is not like Pho, the iconic dish of Vietnam, or Bun Bo, the famous dish of Hue, the neighbor city. The dish is actually a mixture of salad, noodle, and toppings. The special feature of Cao Lau is its noodle. They can only make this noodle in Hoi An. It is because of the legend that only water from Ba Le well, a one-hundred-year-old well in Hoi An to knead the dough can make good noodle. Besides noodle, fresh green from gardens in Hoi An is also a plus. Toppings include well-marinated pork, peanuts, and bean sprouts making this Hoi An delicacy hard to resist, not to mention the authentic sauce which only the most experienced chef in Hoi An can make. All of these factors make Cao Lau one of the best Hoi An street food.
Cao Lau is available in every corner of Hoi An, yet, finding the best Cao Lau restaurants is not easy. While many fancy and famous restaurants serve Cao Lau, the best Cao Lau can only be found in local street food vendors or shabby single dish restaurants. The reason is only the cooks in these old restaurants know the original version of Cao Lau. Here are some of the best places to enjoy the real Cao Lau in Hoi An:
If you are going to Hoi An and want to try the best Hoi An street food, take the Hoi An street food tour. The passionate lady biker team will take you to not only the best Cao Lau vendors but also other kinds of Hoi An specialty.
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