Cao Lau - the quintessence of Hoi An food

The following is why a specialty in Hoi An called Cao Lau is interesting and unique: Hoi An was formerly an international port with a large number of traders. To keep an eye on their stores, they preferred to eat lunch or dinner at a high-rise restaurant. "Cao Lầu" is a Vietnamese name that means "high floor" in English. Cao Lau is unlike any other Vietnamese cuisine because it was frequently served to foreign tourists and may have been influenced by their preferences. No one knows who originated this cuisine, and the origins of Cao Lau remain a mystery to this day.


Cao Lau is made up of noodles of Cao Lau, grilled pork pieces, pork crackling, bean sprouts, lettuce, and herbs, then topped with a scoop of stock. Cao lau noodles are produced with care using fresh rice from the area. The dish cannot be replicated outside of town because the water used in it must be collected from a well at the neighboring Ba Le well, which is located at the end of an alley opposite 35 Phan Chau Trinh Street and was dug by the Cham people.

The lye liquid used to make the noodles is derived from Cham Island's lye trees. This water is then combined with ashes from specific trees to give it a distinct golden hue and a slightly firm texture. As a result, the noodles will be supple, long-lasting, and scented with special sweet additions.


Pork loin or trotter must be utilized to produce the Cao lau. Pork is marinated and fried before being roasted for an hour. After that, the dish is finished with the addition of fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt & pepper, thin crispy croutons, vegetables, bean sprouts, and spices, followed by the noodles and herbs. The thick, sesame-filled dry pancakes must be used. Bitter green cabbage and greasy coconut essence are other required ingredients.

A variety of pure local farm fresh mixed greens - fragrant mint, basil, Vietnamese fish leaf, rice paddy herb, crisp lettuce, and occasionally coriander from Tra Que Vegetable Village — will be heaped over or beside the pork, depending on the cook. Crisp bean sprouts will be hidden beneath the noodles, with crunchy deep-fried squares of Cao Lau dough sprinkled on top.


The next step is to merge all of the ingredients and completely mix in the chile jam and sweet, pungent broth made from the pork fat juices that have been sprinkled over the noodles. Following the noodles, the broth and pork are what genuinely distinguish one Cao Lau from the next.

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