Playing chef with Red Bridge
As somewhat of a foodie and a cooking enthusiast, I was a little wary of signing up for a cooking class in Hoi An. I mean, there are just so many on offer – and I wanted to choose one that would allow me to actually cook instead of just sitting there like a spare turnip.
I’d been to classes before in other countries that involved adding a pre-mixed concoction into a preheated pan before being told to wait and presented with ‘my creation’ 20 minutes later.
So I didn’t want that.
Nor did I want to spend a lot of money – I am on a backpacker’s budget, after all! Unfortunately, that ruled Ms. Vy – and her supposedly very informative, practical classes – out.
A further scan of reviews revealed Red Bridge to be one of the top dogs in Hoi An’s cooking class circle. And, since they were the only ones out of the more established classes to offer an evening session, I decided to go with them.
I persuaded a friend to join me for the class at Red Bridge’s sister restaurant, Hai Cafe – a little garden oasis in the centre of town and the perfect backdrop for our evening.
Zoe had just arrived in Hoi An the day before and wanted a fun and different activity to do before leaving for Hanoi the following morning.
And we weren’t disappointed.
We arrived at 5.45pm for a welcome drink and to meet our fellow chefs – a Canadian couple and an English couple – plus the lady running the show, the effervescent Linh. The mood around our table in the back kitchen was exuberant and slightly nervous as we sized each other up.
As our first task of chopping up vegetables revealed, the level was definitely mixed. Because although I do love cooking, I’m also quite clumsy. And deftly dicing veg has never been my bag!
Fortunately, I was given the easy items that even I couldn’t mess up too badly.
So what about the cooking?
Actually, I didn’t quite have that feeling of satisfaction that I get after whipping up a meal because our involvement was fairly limited. We sat around a table watching Linh for most of the class – chopping up vegetables when needed and following her instructions to add a spoon of sugar here, a dash of oil there – before our efforts were added to a mixing bowl and transformed into the wonders on our plates later. She’d call ‘a helper’ up from time to time but I’m not really sure how much helping was going on!
And although we saw the fish being ceremoniously lowered onto the BBQ, we had no part in its cooking. Same goes for the spring rolls unfortunately; something I would’ve actually liked to cook but watched Linh demonstrate instead. Maybe it’s an insurance thing…too many wok-related accidents in the past?!
Still, we did get to prep all these dishes – wrapping the fish in banana leaves, carefully rolling up mixtures in rice paper to form spring rolls and so on. In this way, the class caters for all levels and doesn’t put undue pressure on anyone.
I had a great time at the Red Bridge Evening Cooking class. It didn’t exactly set my world on fire (probably a good thing!) in terms of the practical stuff but it was a really entertaining couple of hours. The price was good, the setting intimate, the company fun and the food? Delicious.
When? Daily, 6pm to 8pm
Where? Hai Cafe. Kitchen entrance: 98 Nguyen Thai Hoc; back garden entrance: 111 Tran Phu
How much? $20
Tel: +84 235 3862 210