Apr 18 2013

Review: White Sail Cafe, Hoi An

Published by at 12:30 pm under Food


Sitting under a tangle of evergreen climbers, directly opposite a huge banyan tree on the busy street food area of Tran Cao Van Street  — take a left at the Tech Com bank on the corner of Tran Hung Dao — you’ll find Hoi An’s pretty White Sail Seafood Restaurant, serving up consistently good Vietnamese food.

The White Sail Cafe. Far from simple dining.

The White Sail Cafe. Far from simple dining.

A very simple little cafe-cum-restaurant, White Sail’s interior is tastefully decked out in new cafe-style seating intermingled with antique furniture, arranged to make the most of its ever-changing roadside view of one of the most popular street food areas outside of Hoi An town.

A must try! The delicious fried wonton.

A must try! The delicious fried wonton.

The menu is packed with well-priced Hoi An specialities, including a great selection of vegetarian options and — you’ve guessed it — seafood dishes ranging from tender pork stuffed squid, lemongrass and chilli steamed clams and some incredible slow-cooked claypot dishes, all cooked on the premises, with no MSG. We’ve been eating here since it first opened three years ago and unlike most things in the Western world the servings have got larger, and the food better. It’s got so good that it’s become the final stop on the pricey but well worth trying Taste of Hoi An street food tour.

Quang Nam's finest. Mi Quang noodle.

Quang Nam’s finest. Mi Quang noodle.

The Vietnamese staff are eager to practise their English with customers and have for the most part been part of the White Sail team since owner Thuan got too busy with other projects to oversee the restaurant on a full-time basis. They are a happy, loyal bunch serving up dishes to the Vietnamese standard; when it’s ready, serve it, so if you prefer your starters as starters remember to let them know.

Main courses come in at around $3.50 with set menus starting at $5 for four courses — the latter make great sharing plates for budget conscious travellers as servings are generous. Cold drinks come in at around a dollar which includes local beers and fresh juices. Probably the biggest blow out on the menu is the imported wine, priced from $4 a glass upwards.

Cafe Sua Da. Best taken before 14.00 if you prefer to sleep during the night.

Cafe sua da. Best taken before 14:00 if you prefer to sleep during the night.

By Hoi An standards the food is consistently fabulous and well priced –it’s certainly worth trading in the old town river views for. When we were there last, a couple had returned with their suitcases for their last White Sail meal before grabbing a taxi to the airport. The restaurant is great for families and fussy eaters, with the chef happy to adapt a meal to suit. It’s a comfortable spot with solos and couples of all ages, but with staff packing up around 22:00, late night revellers need to head elsewhere.

Other similar options would be the popular Miss Ly’s Cafe on Nguyen Hue or The Mermaid on Nguyen Thai Hoc, both within a two-minute walk from the central market. Both offer a similar standard of food to the White Sail, but with a slightly higher price tag.

White Sail Cafe
134 Tran Cao Van, Hoi An
T: (84) 9053 56177

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