cooking classes

The Most Hands-On Cooking Experience in Hoi An - Hoi An Eco Cooking Class

While visiting Hoi An, or Vietnam in general, it would be silly to miss out on taking a cooking class. With so many to choose from, you may be wondering where to begin.

During my first trip to Hoi An, I spent a day at Green Bamboo Cooking School. This time, I wanted to try something different, so Andrew and I decided to go to the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. It shared some similarities with Green Bamboo Cooking school, but overall I think it gives guests a more hands-on cooking experience.

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WHAT TO EXPECT

Visiting The Market

Like my previous cooking class experience, the Hoi An Eco Cooking class begins with a trip to the Central Market. Here you’ll see the colorful lively market where many locals buy and sell their produce and other goods. If you’re a first timer at the market, it’s nice to go with a guide who can teach you a bit about the market and products sold there.

(Tip: Once you’ve been given the inside scoop, be sure to head to the Central Market on your own, and do it early! - before the parade of tourists comes through. You’ll see what I mean).

Bamboo Boating

After visiting the market, we drove to the cooking school which was conveniently located right beside the water in Cam Thanh Coconut Village.

Before the cooking begins, you’ll take a ride in a traditional coracle, better known as a bamboo boat, through the beautiful water coconut palm forest.

The local fisherman guiding your boat will teach you how to catch fish and purple crabs. He also attempted, with no success, to teach me how to properly paddle the boat… let’s just say I’ve been skipping arm day at the gym for way too long.

Hands-on Cooking Experience

After exploring the channels, you’ll return to the cooking school for quick refreshments. Then you’ll get down to business. You’ll be given an apron, a number, a chef’s hat, and full responsibility for everything you cook from then on. Everything we were to eat we had to make totally on our own, so if your cooking sucks, your food will suck… the head instructor’s words… not mine. No pressure.

We learned how to make rice milk, which we then used to carefully make rice paper. The whole process was so delicate and precise. We used our rice paper to make fresh spring rolls, which we dipped in a delicious sweet and sour fish sauce.

We cooked some of Vietnam’s famous Pho Bo (beef noodles), Aubergine with soy sauce, and a delicious banana flower salad. Then things got hot as we played with fire to fry up some Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes).

As each dish was finished, we placed it on a tray with our number, and, once everything was complete, sat down to a delicious and rewarding feast.

To end the day, everyone watched an incredible food art demonstration! Sadly, I didn’t manage to turn tomatoes into roses and carrots into flowers on my own. We were given special cooking tools, a mini cook book, and serious food comas to take home with us!


WHAT I LOVED

Unlike the Green Bamboo Cooking School, where each guest chose and prepared a single dish (but got to try a bit of everything), at the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class you prepare everything you eat on your own. Though it was a bit more fast-paced, I really enjoyed getting to learn more about each food and how it is made.

(Note: Since you were only responsible for preparing one dish at the Green Bamboo Cooking School, there was more time to relax and chat with the other travellers. If you’re looking for a more laid back experience, this may be a better choice for you).

I for one felt proud when I successfully prepared all of the dishes on my own… and even more proud when they actually tasted good. I also really enjoyed the Bamboo Boat ride - This was something Andrew and I wanted to do anyway, so it was great to get that experience and a cooking class all in one!

This class is also great for those with dietary restrictions. Even the vegetarians in the group were able to cook veggie-friendly versions of each dish (which is something you definitely won’t get at every cooking school)!

If a fun, hands on experience is what you’re after, then the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class is the perfect choice for you.

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BOOKING

To request a spot at in the class, head to hoianecocookingclass.com.

Note: I was a guest of the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


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What to Do in Hoi An - Green Bamboo Cooking School

 
 

If you’re making a trip to Vietnam, you have to visit the colorful, lantern lit city of Hoi An… and if you’re visiting Hoi An, you have to spend a day perfecting your culinary skills at Green Bamboo Cooking School.

Run by multilingual chef van out of the kitchen in her home, attending a class at Green Bamboo was one of the best things I did in Vietnam, and hands down one of the most memorable experiences of my entire trip.

If you’re looking for an authentic Vietnamese experience, or just want to make and eat a ton of delicious food, you’ve got to check it out.

 
 

 

You’ll start your day by being picked up from your hostel or hotel. Then everyone will head to the local market to meet Van. If you haven’t already chosen, you’ll select a meal to prepare from a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes. Everyone has to choose something different, but don’t worry if you don’t get your first choice – you’ll get to sample a bit of what everyone is making!

With rice hats on, the cooking class and I followed Van around the market learning about the different ingredients, and even getting to practice our Vietnamese by helping to purchase some of them – everything from rice, noodles, and veggies to fish, prawns & beef.

It was awesome taking in the sights and smells of the local market, and learning all about the different street foods and what various ingredients are used for. (I’m not going to lie – I was a bit hungover that morning and had to excuse myself from the meat purchasing portion of the market trip... the chopping of raw meet was a bit too much for my, already weak, stomach to handle).

 

 
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After we finished buying all of our ingredients, we headed to a small local coffee shop and had a cup of infamous Vietnamese drip coffee. If you haven't ever had authentic Vietnamese coffee, it is an absolute must. I will be returning to Vietnam one day… if only for another cup of delicious local coffee… it’s that good.

After recharging with a cup of coffee, we loaded up into the van and drove to Chef Van’s beautiful home to begin preparing our dishes in her spacious kitchen.


 I thought I was being pretty basic by choosing spring rolls, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have a newfound respect for those things. HOLY SHIT – they took ages to prep. Dicing prawns, pork, carrots, and other veggies was tedious, not to mention rolling them up once the ingredients were mixed, and frying them to perfection. It took so much more time and care than I thought, (and I will never complain about spring rolls taking a long time when I order them at a restaurant ever again).

Despite the wide variety of dishes being prepped, and the number of people in her kitchen, Van still did an awesome job of directing and assisting everyone. She was informative, candid, and made the class fun and comfortable for everyone, all while maintaining an impressive level of professionalism. Even me, the lone solo traveler, (with little to no cooking experience), felt at ease and welcome.

 

 
 

 

We drank beers as we cooked, and tried a bit of everyone’s dish as they were completed. By course 10, I was in the corner clutching my food baby. Everything was so good, and I didn’t want to let anything go to waste… but when we got to a fish curry by course 11, I physically could not keep the squid and octopus down (and opted for a napkin instead).

I DIDN’T spit out the squid because it was disgusting… I spat it out because I have literally never been so disgustingly full in my entire life... not even on American Thanksgiving. However, after a while… I did manage to free up enough room for the dragon fruit and shot of liquor we shared around Van’s kitchen table for dessert.

When the class was finished we each received a goodie bag filled with special Vietnamese cooking chopsticks, a julienne peeler, and a cookbook filled with all of Van’s recipes.

 

 
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Though I didn’t attend any other classes in Vietnam, I can’t imagine how any could possible compare to Green Bamboo Cooking School. After researching other cooking schools, Van’s was the only one I found that is run out of her home. Having the class in her cozy kitchen gave it a much more comfortable and authentic feel.

You may be thinking, "Well, that all sounds great, but how much is it?" Green Bamboo Cooking School is extremely affordable at just US$45 per person. This low price includes pick up and return to your hotel, the market experience, hands on participation in a guaranteed small class setting… not to mention drinks and the biggest, most delicious meal you’ll have in your life.

Whether you love cooking, food, learning new things, or just want a fun day out, Green Bamboo Cooking School will not disappoint, (and will undoubtedly make you love Vietnam even more).

 

 
 

Van's cooking class made my Hoi An trip so memorable, & I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

To reserve your spot, visit THe green Bamboo website, or email Van at van@greenbamboo-hoian.com.

Tell her Kirstie sent ya!