Table Of Contents
- What Is Cao Lau Noodles?
- Cao Lau Noodles Hoi An’s Origin
- What Makes Cao Lau Noodle Hoi An So Special?
- Where To Enjoy The Best Cao Lau In Hoi An?
- Cao Lau Noodles Recipe
When mentioned to traditional Vietnamese cuisine, Cao Lau Noodles Hoi An is one of Hoi An’s specialties that is impossible to miss for foodies. In addition to White Rose Dumplings, Hoi An Chicken Rice, Phuong Bread, etc. Visitors to this poetic old town cannot ignore Cao Lau Hoi An – the “delicious delicacy” from the Nguyen Lords that only Hoi An has.
Hoi An is an ancient town in central Vietnam that attracts millions of visitors annually with its historical landmarks and beautiful scenery. Most especially, the Hoi An old town’s unique cuisine. In this article, Culture Pham Travel will delve into the history of Cao Lau Noodles and reveal where to enjoy the best Cao Lau in Hoi An.
If you want to enjoy the best Cao Lau Noodles and other Hoi An specialties, you can book our Hoi An Street Food Walking Tour. You may be interested in our Hoi An City Tour 1 Day, Hoi An Walking Tour By Night, Hoi An Basket Boat Tour, Jeep Tour To Explore Hoi An Countryside, and Jeep Tour To My Son Sanctuary.
What Is Cao Lau Noodles?
Cao Lau Noodles is a traditional Vietnamese dish from Hoi An, Quang Nam. It is considered a Hoi An specialty dish of the old town. This noodle dish has thick opaque yellow noodles eaten with crispy fried ram, char siu pork, fresh herbs, and raw vegetables.
What sets Cao Lau Noodles apart from other Vietnamese noodle dishes is the process of the noodles, which are made using water from a specific well in Hoi An called Ba Le. The water from this well is said to give the noodles their distinctive flavor. Moreover, noodles are mixed with ash from the local Melaleuca tree.
Cao Lau Noodles Hoi An’s Origin
The people of Hoi An said that Cao Lau had appeared here since the 17th century. Many Japanese and Chinese people arrived to this land to trade and dwell when Lord Nguyen decided to establish commerce at the port of Hoi An.
Since then, Cao Lau noodles Hoi An have also appeared as a typical culinary feature of the old town. However, Cao Lau Hoi An dish does not originate from China, nor is it a Japanese dish. It is the crystallization of many culinary cultures.
Perhaps, the name “Cao Lau” comes from the Chinese language – only delicious dishes. In the past, the rich people who came to the restaurants here used to sit on the upper floor hanging Hoi An lanterns. Thus, this dish is often brought upstairs for diners to enjoy.
The name “Cao Lau” means the dish is quintessentially delicious and is enjoyed on the upper floor. In other words, you can eat food while watching the beautiful scene of Hoi An street right from the upper floor. From that, people gradually called it “Cao Lau”. Hence, the name of specialty Cao Lau noodles is renowned today.
What Makes Cao Lau Noodle Hoi An So Special?
Cao Lau noodles Hoi An is not a vermicelli (Bún), nor is it a Phở. Although Quang noodles are quite similar to Cao Lau noodles, the processing method is extremely elaborate, and the taste is also different. Cao Lau has opaque yellow noodles eaten with pork belly, shrimp, pork skin herbs, and raw vegetables.
Only when you eat in Hoi An, you will feel the most delicious taste. Specifically, the processing of Cao Lau Hoi An is divided into two major steps as follows:
Wondrous Noodle Strands Making Process
Cao Lau noodle strands-making process briefly: Soak the rice in ash water --> grind the rice into a powder —> use a big cloth to remove the water --> knead the dough --> preliminary steaming --> roll and cut out the strands --> dry in the sunlight --> steamed.
The process of making Cao Lau noodles is complicated and multi-stage. Specifically, Hoi An people will soak rice in ash water. This ash water must be used from the burned ashes of wooden trees on Cham island so that the noodles have a characteristic brittle and dry consistency. Hoi An people will mix the ash with the water of the Ba Le well. Then, they decanted to get clear water for soaking the rice. After soaking, the rice will have an opaque yellow color.
Next, they will carefully filter it and grind it into a powder, in which the water used to grind rice must be taken from the water of the Ba Le ancient well. An ancient well in Minh An ward, Hoi An, is famous for its clear, cool, and alum-free water. Then, they used a cloth to repeatedly filter the ground flour mixture to keep the dough flexible and not dry. People here usually thinly roll the dough and steam it, then cut into small strands.
After cutting the strands, Cao Lau noodle strands are dried in the sunshine. When it dries, the starch layer in noodle strands will lose water and become crystalline. This form has a stiff structure similar to a film that helps Cao Lau strands retain their good shape after steaming. Therefore, Cao Lau noodles often have a slightly opaque color and are tougher than Quang noodles.
Delicious char siu pork and char siu sauce
Cao Lau Hoi An does not need broth, but the sauce for making char siu, meat, crispy fried dry ram, or pork rinds are indispensable. To make char siu, we must choose lean pork thighs. After buying, wash and marinate with spices and five flavors and then simmer.
After the meat is cooked, remove the meat and continue to add tomatoes, oil, and chopped onions to make the sauce. The pork rinds in the past were made from deep-fried pork skin, but today, many restaurants have replaced them with Cao Lau powder (called “ram”). To increase the deliciousness of the famous Cao Lau dish, the chef often adds a little pork skin, deep-fried dried Cao Lau, crushed roasted peanuts, raw vegetables in Tra Que herbs village, chili, etc.
Currently, in Quang Nam, this dish is also transformed into many different types such as Cao Lau Hoi An vegetarian and more. Hence, this delicious dish has made many visitors eat many times without getting bored.
Where To Enjoy The Best Cao Lau In Hoi An?
Numerous restaurants and street vendors serve Cao Lau Noodles in Hoi An, but not all have the same flavor. To experience the best Cao Lau Hoi An, you must look for a vendor that uses the traditional recipe and cooking methods. Among the best places to try Cao Lau Noodles in Hoi An as follow:
Cao Lau Hoi An Central North Restaurant
Address: No. 87 Tran Phu street, Hoi An city center
Opening hours: 7:30 am – 10:00 pm
Reference price: 40,000 – 60,000 VND/bowl
Located in an old house of more than 100 years of age in Hoi An ancient town, Trung Bac restaurant is a simple specialty restaurant and a place for you to feel more about the cultural values of Hoi An.
Cao Lau noodles here have many types for you to choose freely, such as pork, beef, shrimp, and chicken. With the enthusiasm and hospitality of the owner, you will love the Cao Lau dish and the people of Hoi here even more.
Ba Le Restaurant
Address: 49/3 Tran Hung Dao street, Minh An ward, Hoi An city
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00 am -> 8:30 pm; Saturday, Sunday: 6:30 am -> 8:30 pm
Reference price: 20,000 – 45,000 VND/bowl
The restaurant sells specialties of the Central region, such as Cao Lau noodles, Quang noodles, chicken rice, grilled meat, etc. Cao Lau here is famous for its soft and smooth pork marinated with rich spices and attractive chewy noodles.
This place attracts diners because of the extremely different way of preparing Cao Lau. Noodles made from grade 1 rice are soaked in melaleuca ash water to create a supple texture. Plus, use clear and pure Ba Le well water to cook with the freshest local ingredients to create a unique flavor that is hard to find anywhere else.
Cao Lau Ba Le is in an easy-to-find location with a light and cozy decorated space. Visitors can enjoy a delicious meal in indoor or outdoor spaces.
Miss Lien’s Restaurant
Address: No. 16 Thai Phien Street, Hoi An City, Quang Nam
Opening hours: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Reference price: 25,000 – 45,000 VND/bowl
This Cao Lau Hoi An restaurant has been selling for over 30 years from a small street vendor weaving through the old town. Now it is a simple but always crowded restaurant. Cao Lau noodles Co Lien has a strong flavor and is a typical restaurant for locals and tourists alike, so it often sells out early. Hence, remember to come early to enjoy this delicious dish!
Mrs. Be Restaurant
Address: inside the food court of Hoi An market, in Tran Phu ward, Hoi An city.
Opening hours: 2:00 am – 10:00 pm
Reference price: 20,000 – 45,000 VND/bowl
Cao Lau noodle stall Mrs. Be is a small stall in the Hoi An central market food court in the old town. You can ask the locals to help avoid the wrong stall!
A simple bowl of Cao Lau noodles with sliced soft and fragrant pork char siu, deep-fried pork skin with fried pork, peanuts, herbs and raw vegetables. All mixed with an ethereal char siu sauce, captivated all travelers from afar.
Mrs. Thanh Restaurant
Address: No. 26 Thai Phien Street, Hoi An city, Quang Nam
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Reference price: 30,000 – 45,000 VND/bowl
Cao Lau Thanh is a popular small restaurant but always clean and tidy. The bowl of Cao Lau noodles is full of char siu meat, fat, pork skin and fresh vegetables. It is like the sincerity and heart of the owner for tourists from far away visiting Hoi An.
Green Space Restaurant
Address: No. 687 Hai Ba Trung Street in the center of Hoi An city.
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 9:00 pm
Reference price: 30,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl
As a restaurant familiar to tourists who frequent Hoi An, Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh restaurant serves Cao Lau noodles at affordable prices with delicious tastes that awaken all your senses as soon as you enjoy it.
Vegetarian Cao Lau Tam Quang Minh restaurant
Address: No. 33 Ly Thai To Street, Son Phong Ward, Hoi An City
Opening hours: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Reference price: 15,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl
Tam Quang Minh has long been known as the best vegetarian Hoi An restaurant. Besides, vegetarian Cao Lau noodles still retain their characteristic flavor. In addition, this restaurant also sells pancakes, apple vermicelli, Quang noodles, etc., so you can comfortably enjoy the specialties here.
Cao Lau Noodles Recipe
How to make Cao Lau noodles and how Cao Lau Hoi An recipe? The way to cook Cao Lau noodles of Hoi An people is so meticulous and complicated. However, you can completely make this specialty dish at home with easy-to-find ingredients and extremely simple processing.
To minimize the process of cooking Cao Lau noodles, you can buy fresh or dried Cao Lau noodles and char siu sauce packs. So where to buy Cao Lau noodles? You can buy Cao Lau noodle strands and other ingredients at the Hoi An central market. Let’s refer to our Cao Lau recipe below:
Ingredients Of Cao Lau Hoi An
- Lean pork: 450g
- Dried Cao Lau noodles strands: 300g
- Deep-fried dry ram or pork rinds
- Five-spice powder: 1 pack
- Common spices: soup powder, pepper, sugar, seasoning powder
- Soy sauce: 3 spoons
- Cooking oil
- 1 minced garlic bulb
- Herbs and raw vegetables (basil, coriander, cress, bean sprouts, lettuce or endive, etc.)
Steps To Cook Cao Lau Noodles
Step 1: Soak the meat with diluted salt water for about 15 minutes, then wash with clean water. Cut the meat into large pieces, then marinate the meat with soup powder, pepper, sugar, five-broth spice powder, and seasoning powder. After about 1-2 hours, add minced garlic and soy sauce, and mix well.
Step 2: Put the meat in the oil pan, and fry both sides. Next, bring the meat marinade and water to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Turn the meat over to infuse the spices. An hour later, drain the gravy from the pan to another pot to use as chan (substitute for broth). For the meat in the pan, stir continuously until dry. Slice the meat thinly after letting it cool fully.
Step 4: Boiling the char siu sauce, and you can add more water if you want. However, Cao Lau Hoi An doesn’t need a lot of broth. It has to be a little richer to have the right taste.
Step 5: Soak Cao Cao noodles dry with warm water for 2-3 hours to soften. Before enjoying, take the noodles out of the basket, boil the water, and then put the noodles on the island for about 1 minute to be ready to use.
Step 6: Finally, put the bean sprouts in boiling water in a bowl. Next, add noodles, pork belly, fried dry ram, herbs and raw vegetables. Pour broth on top and enjoy. If you want spicy, you can cut a few chili slices or use crushed chili.
On the whole, Cao Lau Hoi An is not only a dish but also a typical specialty dish. It bears the culture of the local cuisine and evokes a prosperous time of the trade-port old town.
Coming to this dear land of Hoi An, do not forget to find yourself a Cao Lau restaurant to enjoy the unique flavor through the rustic and simple as the people here. Thus, you can enjoy this kind of Hoi An noodles with the above restaurants when traveling to Hoi An!
Cao Lau Noodles is a unique and delicious Vietnamese dish in the ancient town of Hoi An. Hence, Cao Lau noodle is a true Hoi An specialty that every foodie should try at least once. Alternatively, You can use the recipe that Culture Pham Travel provided to make Cao Lau Noodles at home and enjoy it.