The best Cao Lau Hoi An is a special dish that is not easy to find anywhere else. This kind of noodles includes a variety of ingredients mixed with the best spices from Vietnam. There are many places where you can enjoy this dish but we have found some significant ones for you.

If you are travelling around Vietnam, especially Hoi An, Da Nang, Cao Lau must be your first choice! In this blog post, we will introduce all about history, recipes, how to eat and the best Cao Lau Hoi An!

Cao Lau – a famous local dish in Hoi An

General information about Cao Lau noodles

History of Hoi An noodles

Cao Lau was created during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). Back in the 17th century when Nguyen Lord opened Hoi An trading port, Cao Lau noodles appeared for the first time. Despite the impact of Chinese and Japanese culture at that time, Cao Lau is not a dish from these two cuisines. It is a mixture of different cultures in Vietnam.

Cao Lau recipe creation

The unique noodle dish has its ingredients originating from local sources. This is the reason why the best Cao Lau Hoi An cannot be found anywhere else. 

Cao Lau noodles are made from water from the Cham wells, lye (a white ash produced from the burning of hardwood trees), and milled rice from the local fields. Originally, the cooks mixed these elements together to make the noodles. 

Only a few families know the original recipe

Cao Lau recipe consists of the special noodles, roasted pork slices, crackers, bean sprouts, herbs and greens. Only a few families know the ancient recipe and they have kept them across generations. Vegetarian alternatives of this dish are also available.

Story behind the best Cao Lau in Hoi An

There is a story behind the name of Cao Lau noodles. Cao Lau means “high floor” in Vietnamese which also indicates its superior. It is because restaurants serve the dish in the high storey previously, for those who could afford it. That is where the upper class of Hoi An people would sit and enjoy the meal. 

Overall, people consider these Hoi An noodles as the food for the rich people only. However, nowadays it is readily available for everyone regardless of their backgrounds. This social custom does not exist any longer but the name still remains.

Cao Lau noodles is now available everywhere and everyone can afford it

Cao Lau noodles during tourism time

Today when visiting Danang, particularly Hoi An, you can see restaurants and street food stalls selling Cao Lau everywhere. It has become a daily ordinary dish yet still keeps the excellent flavor of Cao Lau recipe reserved by generations of Hoianese people. 

We highly recommend you try these Hoi An noodles so that you can taste the specialty and feel the story of history and culture behind it!

How to cook the best Cao Lau Hoi An

Basically, there are five main ingredients that make up the famous Hoi An noodles. You can find how local people cook them as below:


The ingredient to make Cao Lau noodles is fresh new sticky rice. Rice is washed and soaked in a mixture of water and lye. After that, people grind it into a thick paste and place in cotton bags to remove any extra liquid. The cook then hand-kneads it before rolling out and slicing into noodles. 

Freshly made Cao Lau noodles

It is then cooked three times with firewood until tender and left on racks to dry. The water used to soak the rice must be obtained from the Cham wells located nearby, one of which is the Ba Le well.

Pork/Xa xiu

The shoulder cut or loin is marinated with spices such as fish sauce, pepper, sugar, garlic and especially star anise and cassia bark first. Then the chef stir-fries it to create caramelization. 

After that, the pork is sliced thin and cooked in the same way as Chinese “Char siu”. The result is the well-braised, thin, tender and juicy slices of meat with an eye-catching golden brown color. 


The pork stock left over by braising the meat with all of the spices and tastes is reduced down to make a flavorful sauce. 

The noodles are put on racks to dry

Unlike other Vietnamese noodle meals, the best Cao Lau Hoi An is not full of broth. Instead, several spoonfuls of this delicious gravy has enough flavor to complement rather than overpower the other ingredients.


To add a crispy texture to this dish, the best Cao Lau in Hoi An may be served with fried dough squares or smoky pork rinds as part of the noodle bowl. 

If it is the crisps from dough, the chef will make from the same dough with the noodles and deep fry them. If it is crispy pork rinds, people will remove all the fat from the skin, marinate and deep fry it until crispy. 

Sometimes, Cao Lau restaurants serve both of the crackers so, if you are fortunate, you will have both.

Vegetables and herbs

The basic but essential elements, as found in many Vietnamese cuisine dishes, are vegetables and herbs. The best Cao Lau Hoi An is not complete without them. 

Lettuce, bean sprouts, coriander, mint, fish mint, perilla, etc. are just some examples of greens and herbs in a bowl of the best Cao Lau in Hoi An.


First, put the noodles in the bottom of the bowl then nicely place slices of xa xiu on top of that. After that, add vegetables and some pork rinds as well as deep fried noodles. 

An eye-catching bowl of Hoi An noodles

Throw some fresh herbs on the above and pour several spoons of the special sauce all over the bowl. Now you have a delicious, stunning bowl of Hoi An noodles. 

How to eat the best Cao Lau in Hoi An like a local

Like many other Vietnamese noodle bowls, local people always add some spices into the bowl before eating. The added elements can be local-style chili paste, lemon juice from a piece of sliced lime, homemade garlic vinegar, etc. For those who like spicy taste, they add some freshly chopped chili for more flavor. 

Furthermore, many locals prefer street/pavement stalls and market courts to eat Cao Lau. However, others would like to eat in high-quality restaurants because of the exquisite noodles they serve.

Tips and costs 

Where to find the best Cao Lau Hoi An and its cost

Vietnamese people often say “Westerners eat with their eyes, Vietnamese with their stomachs”. Don’t be attracted too much by appearances, the greatest food is often found in the most basic setting! 

The special dish is a combination of 5 main ingredients

If you do not believe this, try our top picks of Hoi An restaurants dedicated to serving the best Cao Lau noodles in town.

Thanh Cao Lau Restaurant

Located at 26 Thai Phien Street, Hoi An, Thanh Cao Lau is very well-known for its Cao Lau recipe amongst local chefs. This place has no menu as it focuses only on Cao Lau noodles. This is really a local street food joint where simple metal stools and tables form the “restaurant”.

The pork here is tender and succulent, and the crackers fried in pork fat has a very tasty flavor. 

This Cao Lau bowl already comes with chili on top. So, for those who are not fond of chili paste, tell the restaurant owner “khong ot” which means “not spicy” when ordering your Cao Lau.

The simple Thanh Cao Lau restaurant that sells the best Hoi An noodles

The price of a Cao Lau bowl here is VND 30,000 ($1.25) which is very reasonable! The restaurant opens Monday to Sunday at 6 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. (or when the noodles are sold out).

Trung Bac Restaurant 

This Hoi An noodles restaurant is located at 87 Tran Phu Street, right at the heart of Hoi An ancient town. 

The restaurant has three generations of the owner’s family doing their business. The interior decoration has the traditional “Hoi An yellow”. It has the typical wooden chairs and glass tables. There is also a table outside on the pavement if you want to see the street while eating. 

The best Cao Lau Hoi An here contains the soft, juicy pork and the firm noodles. The broth seemed lighter than other restaurants’ but is still very tasty.

Trung Bac restaurant where you can find one of the best Cao Lau Hoi An

Trung Bac’s best Cao Lau in Hoi An costs VND 30,000 ($1.25) and the restaurant opens from 7.30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh

Located at 687 Hai Ba Trung Street near the Japanese Covered Bridge, Khong Gian Xanh restaurant offers one of the best Cao Lau Hoi An. The busiest time of the day here is in the late afternoon so visitors might have to wait longer for the noodles. 

Cao Lau noodles here come in large portions, and in many people’s opinion, is one of the best offerings. The dark sauce in this dish is bursting with rich pork flavor, and the meat is a bit thicker than others’. The chili paste is very appealing to those who would love to add some spoons into their bowls 

Cao Lau is a must-try dish when you visit Hoi An

Khong Gian Xanh’s Cao Lau’s price is VND 30,000 ($1.25). The restaurant opens daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Besides Hoi An noodles, this place also serves delicious Com ga (Chicken rice), Hoi An white rose, etc. 


Eating the best Cao Lau Hoi An should be on top of your “what to do in Hoi An” list while visiting the old town. It contains both an outstanding flavor and an interesting historical story behind it. We hope you enjoy your Hoi An noodles and your trip to this lovely city in Vietnam. All the best!