Hoi An Chicken Rice Full Guide – A Must-Try Vietnam Dish

Hoi An stands out as a beloved destination in Vietnam, renowned for its enchanting allure and distinctive cuisine. Among the array of enticing dishes awaiting visitors, Hoi An chicken rice (Com ga Hoi An in Vietnamese) emerges as a must-try delicacy, drawing tourists with its irresistible flavors and cultural significance. 

When strolling through Hoi An, it’s impossible to miss the abundance of vendors serving up this local specialty. Some vendors operate throughout the day, while others only open in the evening or for a few hours. To guide you in your quest for the perfect Hoi An chicken rice, we’ve curated a list of the top restaurants specializing in this delectable dish. Dive into this article to discover more about Hoi An chicken rice and explore the best dining spots to satisfy your craving.

An overview of Hoi An chicken rice 

Chicken and rice are a classic culinary duo found across the globe. In the case of Hoi An chicken rice, this dish takes on a unique twist with a blend of herbs and textures that reflect Vietnamese cuisine. This comforting staple features flavorsome garden chickens, rice, shredded papaya, and an array of fresh herbs. 

Below is a collection of everything you need to know about the delicacy of Central Vietnam cuisine, from the history of the dish to the ingredients that make this unique and refreshing variation of chicken rice.

The 200 years history of Hoi An chicken rice  

Once renowned as a bustling trading port, Hoi An welcomed a diverse array of merchants, including Chinese traders who settled in the Quang Nam province, many hailing from Hainan Island in China, just northeast of Hoi An. With their arrival came culinary influences, including the Wen Cheng chicken dish, which became popular in the region.

Wen Cheng chicken is prepared using a method known as “white cutting,” where the chicken is gently poached in water with aromatic spices. After boiling, the heat is turned off, allowing the chicken to cook in the flavorful broth until tender. Once cooked, the chicken is removed from the broth and cut into pieces, often served with a dipping sauce of salt and spices. While rice is not traditionally served with this dish, it is a common accompaniment.

Hoi An chicken rice, or Com ga Hoi An, has been a staple in Central Vietnam for over two centuries, originating in Tam Ky, the capital of Quang Nam province. This version features golden-hued rice served with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and a side of innards in spicy sauce. Although Hoi An has its own adaptation of Com Ga, influenced by its burgeoning tourist trade, variations of this beloved dish are now enjoyed throughout Vietnam.

The ingredients that make a perfect  Hoi An chicken rice 

Certain dishes challenge chefs and diners not with extravagant presentations or exorbitant costs, but with their simplicity and reliance on impeccable execution. Chicken rice epitomizes this concept. With just four basic ingredients, any flaws are readily apparent, leaving no room for error in preparation or enjoyment.

The chicken meat 

In Hoi An chicken rice, chicken sourced from free-range birds roaming in country gardens is preferred. These birds, with their active lifestyle, have firmer and springier flesh, resulting in a more flavorful meat compared to factory-farmed counterparts, albeit slightly less tender.

To prepare the chicken, it’s first cleaned with salt and rinsed thoroughly with cold water before being simmered in a pot along with onions. Additional ingredients may vary according to the chef’s preference. Once cooked, the chicken is shredded into small pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, lime juice, and a dressing made from chicken broth. Sliced onions are then added on top, and the mixture is tossed together before serving.

The tumeric rice 

Rice is prepared in a pilaf-style, utilizing the flavorful broth obtained from simmering the chicken. Some chefs opt to sauté garlic or shallots and incorporate turmeric for a vibrant golden hue.

The cooked rice should embody qualities of softness, fluffiness, savory essence, and delightful aroma. Its richness is derived from the chicken fat present in the broth. It should neither be overly mushy nor dry and hard, and certainly not greasy, which would signify inadequate cooking techniques.

The slaw

Slaw, a refreshing addition to many dishes, features shredded green papaya for a delightful textural contrast. It can be served either directly on the plate or on a side plate for sharing. The papaya undergoes a soaking process to preserve its crispiness, then it’s delicately dressed with a mixture of sugar, salt, and lime. Sometimes, shredded carrot is added alongside the papaya to enhance the flavor and add a pop of color.

The broth 

Hoi An chicken rice is typically accompanied by a side of chicken broth. This savory broth is derived from simmering the chicken, resulting in a flavorful liquid with visible fat droplets on the surface and a golden hue from the chicken. If the broth appears clear, it likely wasn’t made using the cooking liquid from the chicken.

The herbs 

Hoi An chicken rice, like many Vietnamese dishes, relies heavily on the inclusion of herbs to enhance its flavor profile. Vietnamese mint is the predominant herb used, imparting both floral and medicinal notes to the dish. Occasionally, chefs may opt for peppermint, coriander, or a combination of herbs, each adding its own distinct flavor. The choice of herbs can significantly influence the overall taste of the dish, as their potent flavors play a crucial role in elevating the dish’s complexity and depth.

* Local tips:

  • When ordering com ga as a tourist, you’ll likely receive a more tailored version of the dish, omitting certain ingredients like congealed blood or intestines. Locals often enjoy a more authentic variation, known as Long ga, featuring these additions. If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t hesitate to ask for it.
  • Hoi An chicken rice typically comes with shredded chicken, though you can request a whole or half chicken or specific cuts like chicken thigh. Another common dish found at com ga establishments is goi ga, a chicken salad featuring tender chicken, onions, young banana, and a ginger-based dressing. Variations in name and ingredients exist across Vietnam.
  • Goi Ga is a staple dish in Vietnamese cuisine, often served at family gatherings or as an appetizer at social events. It pairs well with com ga or can serve as a refreshing alternative. However, be mindful of the price, as it can vary depending on the venue and portion size.

Where to find the best Hoi An chicken rice

Viland Travel’s top picks for savoring Hoi An chicken rice go beyond conventional restaurants and upscale establishments. Often, the most memorable dining experiences are found along the roadside or tucked away in charming alleys. Without delay, let’s explore Viland Travel’s favorite hidden gems for indulging in a delightful plate of Hoi An chicken rice.

Com Ga Ba Buoi

Address: 22 Phan Chu Trinh
Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday – Sunday 

Cost: 35,000 VND (1.50 USD)

Ba Buoi is one of Hoi An’s oldest eateries, serving locals and visitors since the 1950s. They specialize in Hoi An chicken rice, sticking to what they do best. The restaurant’s interior is painted in a vibrant teal, with limited seating space; one-third is allocated to the kitchen, while the rest is for diners. It’s common to share tables during busy times, fostering a communal dining experience.

Despite small portion sizes relative to the price, Ba Buoi maintains its reputation for quality Hoi An chicken rice. Unique touches, like the salt and pepper mix provided on each table, set it apart from other eateries. However, its popularity means it can get crowded, especially during peak hours, so it’s advisable to visit during off-peak times or be prepared to wait for a table. Temporary tables are sometimes set up outside to accommodate overflow crowds.

Com Ga TY

Address:  27 Phan Chu Trinh

Opening Hours: Evenings only until sold out

Cost: 30,000 VND (1.25 USD)

Located at the alley’s end, TY’s food cart discreetly indicates its presence. Follow the alley briefly until you reach the prominent “Com Ga TY” sign, where metal tables and plastic stools await both indoors and outside the family’s residence. Positioned away from the bustling street, the tranquil ambiance is enhanced by neighboring restaurant’s soothing music, making this spot a serene oasis in the city.

The plate served offers a well-rounded mix of components, accompanied by a flavorful soup, which may contain chicken giblets in local style. If preferred, you can request the soup without giblets.

Com Ga Phuc

Address: 136 Tran Cao Van 

Opening Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday – Sunday 

Cost: 35,000 VND (1.50 USD)

By day, the barren concrete patch transforms into Com Ga Phuc, where a husband-and-wife team sets up short ruby-red plastic stools and metal tables under a tarp canopy come evening. Dining here offers an authentic local experience, with motorbikes whizzing by and locals dropping in for takeaway dinners. While they don’t serve drinks, a drink stand just 20 meters away fills the gap.

The menu at Com Ga Phuc includes chicken porridge, chicken salad, and a pork rib and rice dish, alongside their signature chicken rice. Their version of Hoi An chicken rice features tomato, lettuce, and cucumber as garnishes, setting it apart. Moreover, the soup served with the meal boasts a bolder ginger flavor compared to other stalls, adding a unique touch to the dining experience.

Com Ga Hien

Address: 593 Hai Ba Trung 

Opening Hours: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday – Sunday 

Cost: 40,000 VND (1.70 USD)

A bustling hotspot in Hoi An, this eatery operates for just two and a half hours in the evening. Seating is limited to the sidewalk, creating a lively yet crowded atmosphere. Despite the chaos, the constant stream of patrons speaks to its popularity. At peak hours, a team of four diligently prepares plates for eager customers seated on stools or parked motorbikes.

One of the standout features of this establishment is its use of glutinous rice, which enhances the dish’s texture and richness. The Hoi An chicken rice variety adds a satisfying weightiness and denser mouthfeel, setting it apart from similar offerings in the area.

Long Com Ga Chicken Rice

Address: 53/16 Phan Chu Trinh

Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday – Sunday

Cost: 35,000 VND (1.50 USD)

Nestled within a winding alley, this restaurant-style Hoi An chicken rice stand might go unnoticed without proper signage. To locate it, veer away from the bustling street and navigate past rows of parked scooters. Adorned with vibrant lanterns, tinsel, and a canopy of vines, Long Com Ga offers comfortable wooden tables and chairs across three seating areas. Choose between a quiet front section, an air-conditioned midsection, or a larger rear area bustling with activity. This setup caters well to those seeking a relaxed dining experience with authentic street-side vibes, ideal for families with high chairs available.

The cuisine here is notably light and fresh, with a subtle flavor profile that sets it apart. Their signature sauce featuring quail eggs elevates the dish to new heights. An English menu is provided, offering a range of chicken options, a vegetarian salad, and various beverages. Don’t miss out on their delightful lotus seed milk, a refreshing choice that adds to the dining experience. While not exclusive to Long Com Ga, it’s certainly worth a try for its delicious taste.

Final thoughts

Now equipped with all the essential information about the finest com ga establishments in Hoi An, you’re ready to embark on a culinary adventure. While the individual components of the dish may seem ordinary, their combination and seasoning bring it to life. Don’t be deterred by modest seating, cozy spaces, or the absence of menus; these are hallmarks of the authentic eateries worth seeking out!

Viland Travel’s personalized tours offer a deeper exploration of Vietnam’s culinary legacy, uncovering the secrets behind an authentic Hoi An chicken rice. With meticulously crafted itineraries and insider insights, Viland Travel ensures that every aspect of your journey is tailored to deliver the most genuine and unforgettable experiences. Whether traversing bustling urban streets or tranquil countryside vistas, Viland Travel promises an immersive expedition through Vietnam’s rich and diverse culinary terrain.