For lunch we headed over to a popular Vietnamese restaurant (Mermaid) in Hoi An, Vietnam to try eating two very unique and local delicacies – Cao Lau (Noodles, pork and greens in a gravy sauce) and White Rose (shrimp dumplings sprinkled with roasted garlic). Both of these dishes are said to have originated from Hoi An – a city know for its culinary delights and cultural attractions.
Urban Legend has it that the unique taste of the Cao Lau comes from an unknown water source (from a Cham well) just outside of the city limits.
One of the most tantalizing features of this dish has to do with its udon style thick wheat noodles and five spice caramelized broth that accentuates the taste of the chewy pork and fresh greens.
On the other hand, White rose is safeguarded as a secret recipe held by only one family in Hoi An.
These delicious shrimp dumplings are made out of translucent white dough that is shaped to look like a rose and garnished by flakes of garlic and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
Known locally as Banh Bao Vac, the name ‘white rose’ was apparently given by the French. When examining the Vietnamese dish closely it’s easy to see how they came up with the name as the outer section certainly could resemble flower petals.
The stories of the secret well and highly guarded recipes certainly adds an element of allure to both dishes. How accurate either of these claims actually are is something I don’t personally know. What matters is that I found both dishes to be absolutely delicious and I ended up eating them both several times while staying in Hoi An.
Overall, we really enjoyed this meal which came close to $5 USD (100,000 Vietnamese Dong). When in Hoi An be sure to enjoy trying White Rose and Cao Lau.