Throughout Thailand and Vietnam there are plenty of opportunities to participate in group cooking classes where tourists can polish up their international culinary skills. In our search for something a little more low key and for closer interaction with local life we were delighted to come across Amy and the Ho Lo Quan restaurant.
We initially found Ho Lo Quan on TripAdvisor which was about 50 meters from our homestay. Amy is incredibly friendly and after a delicious home cooked meal and a long chat Amy explained she was able to offer us an authentic cooking class. From Amy’s entire menu we selected vegetable spring rolls, green papaya salad, soft shrimp rolls and fried shrimp with lemongrass to cook.
Our cooking day began at 07:30 when Amy made us a cup of Vietnamese coffee which certainly woke us up with its sweet strong almost nutty flavour. We were soon walking through the bustling streets of Hoi An where Amy stopped at various street food vendors and purchased our breakfast!
After sampling some local street food we reached the busy market and followed Amy as she selected the ingredients for our cooking class…
When we arrived back at Amy’s restaurant, her mother had prepared our cooking workspace with some further ingredients. We went into the back of the restaurant where we prepared the shrimps in Amy’s small but immaculate kitchen.
Amy and her mother have been preparing traditional food for many years. They have a varied menu with some local Hoi An dishes as well as Vietnamese food.
The finished meal was superb and we now have a few hot cooking tips up our sleeves!
Amy was born in Hoi An and explained that in the 1990’s the streets were so quiet there may have been one moped go past every 5 minutes. Tourism really started taking off around 2000 and Hoi An is now one of the most famous ‘must see’ places in Vietnam.
Many Vietnamese people are poor and work long hours to earn just enough money to pay for life’s essentials such as food, their homes and they have to pay for school for their children. They are also very family oriented and usually family members live and work together. Traditionally even after marriage, the son and his wife lives with his parents and the daughters move out and live with their in-laws.
Cooking with Amy and her mum was a real pleasure and one of the highlights of our trip to Hoi An. Amy speaks good English and it was fascinating to learn about the history and local culture of Hoi An while shopping and cooking. As well as a wonderful cultural experience for us it was lovely to directly support a small local hardworking business rather than pay for an established group tour and tour agent.