Vietnamese Cuisine: A Cooking Lesson in Hoi An

I’m not much of a cook and neither do I know much about food ingredients. Not to say that I don’t like cooking; I just don’t know many recipes. After I had my first few meals in Vietnam, I knew this had to be the place to take a cooking lesson. I’m in love with Vietnamese food and I found the perfect restaurant in Hoi An to do it in; White Lotus – part of a registered Non Government Organization called Project Indochina.

All profits from the White Lotus Restaurant go directly to Project Indochina aid programs in Vietnam. Project Indochina was founded in 2005 as a NGO in Vietnam and Cambodia and is incorporated and licensed as a charity in Australia.

The location of the restaurant is away from the busy hustling of Old Town making it a nice quiet and relaxing meal in a beautiful setting.

It’s a fairly priced restaurant. For the environment and food portions, you get a great bargain compared to most restaurants near the center. A starter, main course, dessert, and a large beer only cost us 325,000Dong ($16.50usd) for two people and the meals were setup wonderfully. For the first time in Vietnam, I actually got my starter meal before my main course. This was also one of the most delicious foods I’ve had in Vietnam.

In many popular and busy Vietnamese restaurants, you may end up waiting over an hour to three hours for your meal. They tend to pack as many people as possible even if they lack the resources and staff to serve guests. At White Lotus, it was as if they had read our minds before we even arrived; a true relief after so many nightmarish experiences of waiting hours for our food. The director of Project Indochina even came up to us at the end of our meal to make sure everything was okay.

Cooking Lesson in Hoi An

Cooking Lessons Course

Between Stephanie and me, we were allowed to pick three dishes. We decided to pick some of our favorite dishes in Vietnam.

  • Vietnamese Pancakes (Bánh bèo)
  • Spring Rolls (Chả giò or Nem rán)
  • Sautéed Chicken with Lemon Grass and Chili (Gà xào sả ớt)

Cooking Lesson in Hoi An

We arrived at 8:30am at the restaurant. A fresh cup of coffee was there waiting for us. Our chef, Mr. Tai, introduced himself as he led us to the markets to go shopping for ingredients. The market was like a zoo. There wasn’t much walking room and between us was a forest of fresh local vegetables. Mr. Tai walked us through and guided us the entire way on what we needed and even described a few vegetables I didn’t know of. There were also meat and fish sections.

We took a pleasant boat ride back to the restaurant and there waiting for us was a table setup ready for us to start cutting and cooking. Mr. Tai was kind and helpful during the whole lesson. Between each course, we took a break to eat our meals. His guidance got us cooking three delicious meals. There was only one moment where I had miserably failed; the pancake stuck to the pan and he had to go to the back to get a spatchula to get it out. Still, I was proud of making fire come out of the pan and pretending like I knew what I was doing for that moment.

Cooking Lesson in Hoi An

Our lessons ended at 12:30pm. The well designed private lesson and great staff made the experience well worth the $18usd each. It also helps to know that all profits go to a good cause.

My path to be a good chef may take a bit longer than I thought…

Location: 11 Phan Boi Shau st., Hoi An
Open daily from 8:30am until 10:30pm.

Cooking Lesson in Hoi An - Art of Backpacking and Twenty-SomethingTravel

I was not compensated for advertising the White Lotus Restaurant. I’m simply a fan and feel the need to recommend and share my experience.

  • http://www.journeyofatravelwriter.com Adam

    Vietnamese is some of our favorite food as well, and we’re still kicking ourselves for not taking a cooking class while there. I love to cook, and we took several in Thailand and one in India. Guess we’ll just have to go back. Sounds like a great experience, and the food in Hoi An was amongst our favorite in the entire country.

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      I’m kicking myself for not doing it in Thailand – so we’re even. I’m at the end of my trip in Vietnam at Hanoi and I still think the food in Hoi An has still been the best. Hanoi is a close 2nd, though.

  • http://www.journeyofatravelwriter.com Adam

    Vietnamese is some of our favorite food as well, and we’re still kicking ourselves for not taking a cooking class while there. I love to cook, and we took several in Thailand and one in India. Guess we’ll just have to go back. Sounds like a great experience, and the food in Hoi An was amongst our favorite in the entire country.

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      I’m kicking myself for not doing it in Thailand – so we’re even. I’m at the end of my trip in Vietnam at Hanoi and I still think the food in Hoi An has still been the best. Hanoi is a close 2nd, though.

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com/ Peter Heck

    What a great experience! Vietnamese dishes are some of my faves to prepare, so a cooking class in Vietnam sounds like a great idea to improve my skills. I will surely look this place up when I get there, it looks like you really enjoyed it. And we all make pancake mistakes don’t we? At least I still do… Cheers!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Thanks! It really was great. They have a large menu to pick from so you’ll have a blast. It took us awhile to pick only three dishes when we wanted to cook and eat the entire menu.

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Hey Pete! Crazy it’s been two years since you left that comment. Since you’ll be going to Vietnam, check this place out!

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com/ Peter Heck

    What a great experience! Vietnamese dishes are some of my faves to prepare, so a cooking class in Vietnam sounds like a great idea to improve my skills. I will surely look this place up when I get there, it looks like you really enjoyed it. And we all make pancake mistakes don’t we? At least I still do… Cheers!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Thanks! It really was great. They have a large menu to pick from so you’ll have a blast. It took us awhile to pick only three dishes when we wanted to cook and eat the entire menu.

  • JacknJillTravel

    That looks fun! Would love to take a cooking class one of these days.

  • JacknJillTravel

    That looks fun! Would love to take a cooking class one of these days.

  • http://fastforwardacademy.com/index-page-irs-enrolled-agent-exam-course.htm enrolled agent course

    I have never participated on a cooking class before but your post just made me interested about it. I think its a good way to learn their food culture.

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      So so worth it. Try it for sure.

  • http://fastforwardacademy.com/index-page-irs-enrolled-agent-exam-course.htm enrolled agent course

    I have never participated on a cooking class before but your post just made me interested about it. I think its a good way to learn their food culture.

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      So so worth it. Try it for sure.

  • http://www.livingthedreamrtw.com Jeremy

    Mmm. Love cooking classes AND Vietnamese food (my favorite in Asia I think). The green mango/papaya seafood salad is the absolute best to learn to cook I think :)

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Nice! I’ll have to look into that someday.

  • http://www.livingthedreamrtw.com Jeremy

    Mmm. Love cooking classes AND Vietnamese food (my favorite in Asia I think). The green mango/papaya seafood salad is the absolute best to learn to cook I think :)

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Nice! I’ll have to look into that someday.

  • http://www.travelfunnytravellight.blogspot.com Claire

    This looks awesome! Even cooler that you “cheffed” it yourself!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      It did give it that extra good taste knowing that I had cooked it myself.

  • http://www.travelfunnytravellight.blogspot.com Claire

    This looks awesome! Even cooler that you “cheffed” it yourself!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      It did give it that extra good taste knowing that I had cooked it myself.

  • Lara

    LOVED Hoi An and Vietnamese food in general. My husband’s mom is always introducing me to new foods but I didn’t realize how integrated food was in the culture until I travelled there with my family. It’s an art to many people. Vietnam
    http://www.bcliving.ca/adventures/roads-between-us-journey-vietnam

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Incredible video and story you have there! Thanks so much for commenting on here.

  • Lara

    LOVED Hoi An and Vietnamese food in general. My husband’s mom is always introducing me to new foods but I didn’t realize how integrated food was in the culture until I travelled there with my family. It’s an art to many people. Vietnam
    http://www.bcliving.ca/adventures/roads-between-us-journey-vietnam

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Incredible video and story you have there! Thanks so much for commenting on here.

  • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

    Hey Pete! Crazy it’s been two years since you left that comment. Since you’ll be going to Vietnam, check this place out!