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Secret recipes are always the best recipes
Photography: Mike Poppe

On My Plate: Hoi An

Legendary handmade Hoi An noodles come together with the freshest herbs and greens to make the perfect simple dish. Insider’s tip: order two bowls. You will eat both, trust me.

Where: Trung Bac, 87 Tran Phu, Hoi An

What: Cao Lau. If you have been to Vietnam, you have heard of it. The noodles have been made for generations by a single family, who closely guard their secret, and for good reason. These noodles can be found all over the city, all made fresh that morning and shuttled out to the many outlets before sunrise. There are many variations, but the majority include grilled pork, fresh mint, sprouts, homemade fried croutons and a delicious sweet/spicy/savoury sauce. Yum. As long as it has the noodles, it is called Cao Lau, so feel free to try the many variations. Take your first bite and you are instantly transported to another realm. The pork is perfect, the croutons just the right amount of crunch. How can a bowl of noodles and greens taste so good? Why has this flavour never made it to my local Vietnamese restaurant back home? Well, the noodles are made with a specific water from a local well, and ash from a local tree. They can’t be reproduced anywhere else but here. And that’s just the way I like it.

Mike Poppe has various contacts in Vietnam on a constant quest for the authentic Cao Lau recipe. Shipping the well water and tree ash is going to be the tricky part.

Take your first bite and you are instantly transported to another realm.

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