THE NOODLE HOUSE $$
The Noodle House on Bach Dang lives up to its name – it’s home to a huge variety of noodles, and dishes inspired by noodles.
With its central location, its bright ‘n’ airy interior and its pretty outside tables overlooking the Thu Bon River, it’s no wonder that the place seems to bustle at all times of day.
We visited on a Friday lunchtime and, having seen many restaurants in the Old Town sit vacant during the midday heat, a little buzz and atmosphere around us was a pleasant surprise.
We got stuck straight in, educating ourselves with the “Noodle Dictionary”. Having lived in Vietnam for quite some time – and eaten a lot of noodles – it was nonetheless really interesting to learn about the variety of noodles that go in one of those steaming bowls, and where they come from.
Although The Noodle House tempted us with its ‘tasting plates’ from 3 regions of Vietnam – Hanoi, Hoi An and Saigon – we decided to pick and mix a couple of dishes for ourselves.
Andy opted for the cao lầu spaghetti, more out of curiosity than anything else, while I chose chả cá Hanoi, one of the chef’s picks. To start, we ordered a round of nem bún and sipped on an ice-cold coconut for me, and a mojito for Andy – like I said, it was Friday lunchtime so why not?!
The nem bún arrived in pretty little woven creations, like miniature basket boats landing on our table. The contrast between the chewy bún vermicelli and the crispy spring rolls was lovely, and we enjoyed the ritual of gathering a little of each in our chopsticks before dipping in sweet chili sauce. (A messy ritual, but that was part of the fun!)
Almost immediately – perhaps a little too quickly?! – the cao lầu spaghetti and the chả cá Hanoi arrived, too. The former was quite a good copy of a carbonara – creamy and rich, with seafood instead of bacon, it satisfied any pasta cravings we might’ve had! And although it was perhaps too heavy for that time of day, it was nice to share.
The best part of the meal at The Noodle House though, was the chả cá Hanoi – char-grilled fish cooked in turmeric, with herbs and additional flavorings like fresh ginger, chili and turmeric served on the side. Oh, and a dollop of bún vermicelli, for good measure! The fish was tasty, the sauce was flavorsome and ever a fan of colorful plates, the presentation was bright and cheerful.
I can see why The Noodle House is popular with tourists. It’s not crazily expensive considering its setting – for instance, you’ll pay between 50–70,000 VND for a big bowl of phở – and it includes all the hits of Vietnamese noodle cuisine. So for visitors who are only here a little while, they can enjoy the flavors of the south, north and central Vietnam – all from a scenic riverside spot in the heart of Hoi An.
A great place to stop for lunch if you’re shopping for the day – and definitely worth stopping in for a sunset drink and early dinner over the river.