Forget about pho, in Hoi An, Cao Lau rules. And what is Cao Lau? It is like a noodle soup without soup. Huh? Think thick white noodles, fresh herbs and slices of pork, and we’re on the same page. Crispy and chewy, fresh and delicious. You mix it all together before eating, so you get a little bit of everything with every heavenly mouthful.
The noodles, which are similar in taste and texture to Japanese udon noodles, are made with water from an ancient well outside the city. A special kind of ash(!) gives the noodles a hard-to-replicate flavor which explains why hardcore foodies would claim that you won’t find authentic Cao Lau anywhere else than in Hoi An.
When I was in Hoi An I had Cao Lau for breakfast every morning but just like Pho, Cao Lau is something you eat around the clock. I tried a lot of different kinds, and they were all delicious, but the one I had at Cafe 43 was my undisputed favorite. Cafe 43 is a cute little spot, located in a quiet part of Hoi An. The café has a solid fan base of traveling foodies, so it would be wrong to call it a hidden gem. It’s touristy, but in a backpacking way and the Cao Lau is so good you’ll regret it, if you don’t go.