321 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, Hoi An
T: (0510) 624 1396
Moon Restaurant’s location, a few minutes’ walk outside Hoi An’s old town and river would for a regular restaurant be the kiss of death. What saves Moon is its stunning faded colonial magnificence — and the fact that it sits directly opposite one of the most visited attractions in Hoi An: Yaly Couture, one of the town’s many tailor shops.
Despite this, very few diners stop for more than a coffee between fittings and even fewer venture upstairs. If they did, this restaurant would be at the top of the must-see list — it’s old school Hoi An at its very best. Shabby chic faded paintwork in heritage colours provides the perfect backdrop to classic Hoi An antique furnishings and simple murals, while the grand balcony is framed by weathered shutters and the old yellow paintwork is pocked with moss. It’s a photographer’s dream Hoi An backdrop and a refreshing alternative to all the ‘pimped’ old-house restaurants and shops that seem to be the norm elsewhere.
What Moon Restaurant does share with all the other restaurants is its menu. It’s a familiar read of Hoi An classics plus Vietnamese and Western dishes that make it difficult to garner what they do best (hint: go somewhere else if you are craving Western food). What the chef here excels in here is actually off-menu variations. For vegetarians and fussy eaters, Moon restaurant is a dream, as the chef obviously enjoys a challenge and delivers.
On-menu Vietnamese dishes are good, though there are better elsewhere. The presentation is as beautiful as the venue, with the sort of dishes so stunningly presented that it feels a bit naughty tucking in. We ploughed through the pork stuffed squid, a Kiwi breakfast and vegetarian bahn xeo (the latter an off-menu variation and the best dish of them all). The service was slow which suits the time-forgot style of the surroundings, while staff were friendly and attentive. The cost of our meal (with soft drinks) came in at 260,000 VND with a 5% service charge that was clearly marked on the menu. This was good value for the size and quality of the servings.
Moon Restaurant is rarely busy so it’s a good option for a quiet bite to eat. The stairs are a bit rickety (the small, unrailed kind that make even the most able-bodied person feel like a geriatric attempting to climb down them), so families with small kids that like to rush around would probably feel more relaxed downstairs. Moon is quite unique in style and ambiance; for those who are charmed by unmessed with surroundings, Son Restaurant on the river along the Cua Dai Road is another place worth checking out.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 24th July, 2014.