Opio Mezze Bar

Opio. Best International Restaurants in Hoi An

I’d only been to this Mecca of mezze food once, when it was perched over Tan Thanh beach. I remembered the food being great and thinking it was a shame when the place closed down – where would I get my baba ganoush fix from then on?

So, I was happy to hear that the two brothers behind Opio hadn’t disappeared – they were simply moving shop. ‘From the bliss of the beach to crazy party town on Cua Dai’ one of the brothers, Laith, informed us of this with a rueful grin when we visited for a late lunch recently.

According to Laith, the brothers had wanted to recreate their home country’s style of eating mezze food. Where people would pick at tasty dishes spread out on big tables on the sand, before going for a swim and maybe a little dancing … then stocking up on more mezze deliciousness again. That was their vision when they arrived in Hoi An – a great one, but unfortunately one that didn’t quite draw enough crowds at such a quiet spot.

Now on Cua Dai, you can’t miss Opio. Nor should you. It’s got absolute banging tunes, whether that’s chill-out stuff during the day or party beats at night. It’s got friendly hosts to welcome you and give you all the info you’ll need about what makes great Middle-Eastern cuisine. And it’s got those amazing, mouth-watering Lebanese dishes to act as the best kind of fuel for your evening.

Laith absolutely spoiled our small party of 3, with a welcome drink of bitter lemon and mint and then a huge selection of salads, dips and hot mezze from the menu. As we waited for these delights from the teeny kitchen, we agreed that our L-shaped pew, propped onto a corner of Cua Dai, provided ample people watching opportunities. It was great watching the world cycle, scoot and wander by while the festival vibes of a really great soundtrack made us all relax further.

When the food arrived, we had to move inside to a bigger table as there were simply too many bowls to fit! Always a fun complaint to have.

The dishes were beautiful, outside and in. The powerful homemade garlic aioli with juicy chicken shawarma was a winner for me, but then again, everything was. The different dips of hummus with avocado – ‘like a Lebanese guacamole’, Laith informed us – and the fiery muhammara (crushed red pepper and walnuts) were delicious. The baba ganoush was just as tasty as my favorite Lebanese restaurant at home. (It was my ‘go-to’ takeaway food. And now I may just have found my ‘go-to’ place here!)

The crunchy red slaw salad and the fattoush with bulgar made salads more exciting and flavorsome than I imagined they could be while the falafel was definitely the best I’ve had in Hoi An – or plenty of places, come to think about it!

Laith clearly has a passion for the flavors and intricacies of this food. He sat with us as we ate, regaling us with stories of three generations in the kitchen – his grandmother, preparing some dishes, his father (a chef), instructing them on others and he and his brother being made to pay attention, to ‘record the dishes in their brains’ – for which, he now admits, he is very grateful.

It isn’t easy to recreate a Lebanese kitchen in Hoi An. Laith still needs to import things like pomegranate molasses and certain spice mixes like zaator, for instance. But it’s worth it. Opio’s food is all about the flavor, and the brothers’ passion/commitment has paid off.

The new location had only been open 6 weeks at time of writing and I really hope the guys see a lot of success with it. They deserve to. It’s also worth noting that if you’re vegan or gluten-free, you can have 90% of the stuff on the menu. Bonus!

Enjoy the great food, company and music and tell your friends – Opio is the prime spot for your next get-together.

Hours | 12pm – 12am

Address | 399 Cua Dai

Facebook | @opiomezzebar

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