MINH HIEN $
Our first visit to Minh Hien with its indoor, outdoor feel was a delightful discovery. Dirt cheap and scrumptious (no MSG). On our second visit, both the food and staff were tired and without zest but the good days outweigh the bad at this vegetarian Mecca. And, remember, it’s as cheap as chips.
Roughly opposite the very popular Café 43 on Tran Cao Van and, with little in the way of front walls, it’s a nifty place to ogle passers-by. Further away from the entrance, substantial library shelves stuffed with Manga/Anime-style books surround basic seating.
We were there for lunch and were delighted by the classy offerings. Delicate pumpkin slices, firm yet succulent, with roasted peanuts as a superb textural contrast; pork-free Cau Lau noodles swimming alongside the freshest mint, salad vegetables and mushrooms imaginable; and sweet and sour straw mushrooms, moderately fired up with chili, accompanied by tomatoes, shallots, onion and pineapple (the pineapple making sense for a change). The passionfruit juice was perfect and the coffee solidly above average.
Most cafes at these prices are the Vietnamese equivalent of fast food joints but at Minh Hien there was an attention to detail that paid off. We vowed to return.
And we did but on the second visit, for dinner this time, we were disappointed. It felt as if we’d been ‘second guessed’ and the food had been ‘westernised’ and robbed of all piquancy — a little bland, watery and over-sweet.
On our third visit Minh Hien returned to solid form, so worry not. It’s place as one of Hoi An’s leading value-for-money restaurants, vegetarian or otherwise, is secure.
Updated March 2019