Another area in Hoi An where you find a concentration of street hawkers is at the riverside in front of the Hoi An Market. A lot of the fishing boats and tourist boats dock here, and right at the bank there are lots of stalls to feed the hungry boatmen.
It was here that we found a stall selling the 2 famous Hoi An noodle dishes - Mi Quang and Cao Lau. Cao Lau is supposedly only found in Hoi An - as the noodles are made with rice flour and water from the ancient Ba Le well, and lye ash from a particular type of tree grown on the nearby Cham islands. These special ingredients give the noodles their unique colour and texture. The noodles - which are a bit like Japanese udons, drenched in a light pork broth and topped with thin slices of pork and crispy fried noodle chips are very appetizing. Add in some of the chili jam on the tables if you want some spicy kick.
Mi Quang is a noodle dish that originates from the Quang Nam Province in Central Vietnam. Mi Quang noodles are flat - like fettuccini, and are made with alkaline water to give them their firm and slippery texture, and turmeric is sometimes added to give it the traditional yellow colour. The broth is aromatic chicken stock with probably some seafood. The noodles are topped with tender pork slices, crunchy deep fried noodle dough, quail eggs and fresh herbs.
The main difference between the 2 dishes are the noodles - Cao Lau noodles have quite a unique texture - firmer and more chewy and have a slightly smokey flavour from the lye ash used in the process, whereas Mi Quang is more like the traditional Asian noodles. Both are delicious and must try dishes in Hoi An.