When it comes to my favourite city in Vietnam, the picturesque (lantern city) Hoi An, proves to be dangerously addictive and ceaselessly charming; and when it comes to the best food, no one knows better than Ms. Vy herself. Set against the backdrop of the ancient town of Hoi An, the Morning Glory restaurant proves to be one of the most promising, buzzing and iconic food establishments in Hoi An (actually in the whole of Vietnam, if you ask for my opinion). Established by the Vietnamese food veteran Ms. V, the Morning Glory restaurant has been selling some of the most stellar preparations (owing to Ms. V’s traditional family recipes), and also runs a home-style, and authentic Vietnamese cooking school. While you might find a myriad “authentic” cooking schools in Hoi An with flyers and light pole advertisements all round, Ms. V’s Morning Glory school will most definitely teach you the “real stuff”, and could even transform you into a Vietnamese food expert.
While cruising through the heritage caves of Ha Long bay earlier this year, a supper at the Morning Glory restaurant, was a keen suggestion given to us by all our fellow travellers on the cruise. On arriving in Hoi An, half of my crew rented their individual bikes and took off to explore the beaches and get some tan on, while my boy friend and I (hopeless gluttons) decided to trek to the ancient town to finally sample the scrumptious plates at the Morning Glory restaurant. The journey of a charming and soulful meal began as soon as we entered the ancient town of Hoi An (also considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Of sunset, slow living, French-esque yellow walls, narrow alleyways, hot and steaming street food, flea markets, silk tailors, bicycles, beautiful flora, colourful lanterns, Vietnamese flags, laid back cafés, delectable eateries, bars and the many tourists; Hoi An’s quaint and scenic town effortlessly brings together charming elements like never before (Oh man… I’d run back a million times over)!
The Morning Glory restaurant and cooking school was established in 2006. As Ms Vy’s fifth hospitality establishment, Morning Glory restaurant is the cumulative result of Ms Vy’s endeavor to create a food venue where visitors could not only enjoy a gourmet Vietnamese dining experience, but could also see local Hoi An food specialties made first-hand in the open kitchen (you will see the open kitchen as soon as you enter the restaurant, right in the middle of the ground floor- it’s one hell of a fascinating spot, almost like the ultimate hot pot of flavours).
Our scrumptious meal at Ms. Vy’s delightful Vietnamese establishment started with an elaborate round of starters, which included: the traditional White Rose Dumplings (These iconic rice flour dumplings, originally from china, are filled with ground shrimps and are much lighter than the traditional ones), Fried Wontons with Crabmeat (open-faced crunchy tostada-like wontons topped with savoury crabmeat), Green Mango Salad with Shrimp and Chicken (shredded green mango, fresh herbs, red chillies and peanuts topped with shrimp and chicken, doused in an umami-rich fish sauce and soy dressing) and the deliciously intoxicating Hoi An Sunrise (this potent and incredibly tasty cocktail is a tropical mash-up of Cointreau, tequila, pineapple juice and palm sugar syrup. Confession: promise I was drunk after just one).
As we got half way through gobbling our first course, I requested our waitress to take our order for the mains. Before coming here, we were advised by many of our “foodie” friends to order the signature Pork belly with five spice and caramel sauce, and to our grave disappointment, this was out of stock, only to be available again during dinner service (well, I can’t even blame them, since we only arrived for our lunch at 4 p.m., while the rest of the town enjoyed their café sua da, with the view of the gorgeously hued Hoi An sunset). Moving on, we decided to go for the other pork belly dish on the menu (Vietnamese absolutely love their pork and know how to make it the best, most of them even cook their chicken and other meats in the pork fat, so you might find yourself with a uncommonness of cooking oil in Vietnam, but never ever pork fat). Apart from the quintessential porky treat, we opted for the much loved street food: “bun-cha”. The Crispy Roast Pork Belly was delicious and delectable as expected, served on a creamy bed of red rice risotto along with pickled beans sprout salad. The crackling/crispy pork cubes were kinda unreal; it almost felt like bitting into glass covered tender pork. Crunchy, crispy, tender, fatty, creamy, salty, sour, sweet: this winning dish had a mad play of textures and flavours happening. While we were still OD-ing on the porky goodness, soon came our final and much celebrated street food dish “bun cha” (noodles with meatballs). Hailing from the north region of Vietnam (this stuff is big in Hanoi), this exciting dish brings together simple yet complimenting flavours, and Mr’s V’s version of “bun cha” is made grilled meatballs, cold rice vermicelli, fresh Vietnamese herbs and sweet and tangy vinaigrette. Really I haven’t eaten anything so simple and so delicious, in a while.
As our immensely fulfilling meal came to an end, we still felt a bit dissatisfied about not getting to try the signature pork belly with five spice and caramel sauce and the other delicacies on the menu. So right before leaving, we got a reservation done for 9 p.m and informed the rest of our crew to join us (the more people on the table, the more we get to order and sample). And guess what, we were back again with our peeps for the dinner service, and devoured more than half of the dishes on the menu (including two portions of what we came back for– the ridiculously delicious Pork belly with five spice and caramel sauce).
The next time you’re in or around, you absolutely CANNOT afford to miss this gem of an eatery. This stuff is GOOOOOOOD. Bon appetite!