Travelling to Vietnam with food allergies can be hard. And it can often mean you have to succumb to “missing out” on cultural experiences, like popular cooking classes in Hoi An, because they aren’t able to cater to your allergies (and Sebastian has a whole laundry list of them: peanuts, sesame seeds, beans, peas, other nuts…).
Before we were headed to Hoi An, I researched a lot of Hoi An cooking classes. And trust me, there is a lot to choose. In fact, picking the best Hoi An cooking class can feel completely overwhelming.
But, with keeping in mind that we were travelling in Vietnam with a peanut allergy, I emailed A LOT of cooking classes to see if any of them were able to accommodate our allergies… and I received many non-responses and apologies. Then, I received a response from owner Mr. Kien at Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, who was happy to accommodate, confirmed a customized menu, and invited us to cook with him!
In ways, I looked for a Hoi An cooking class willing to settle on “whatever I could get.” Never did I expect to have such a truly wonderful, personal, hands-on, and authentic Vietnamese cooking experience. And I’m left with such wonderful memories and skills I can bring home to my own kitchen. I am so thrilled that Hoi An Eco Cooking Class invited us to spend this wonderful day with them.
See also: The perfect Hoi An City Guide for spending 5 days in Hoi An.
hoi an eco cooking class is the best hoi an cooking class.
read on to learn more!
Full Disclosure: I was invited to join this experience as a guest of Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
ABOUT HOI AN ECO COOKING CLASS
Hoi An Eco Cooking Class is a locally-owned family business that offers an immersive, hands-on cooking experience. Located in Cam Thanh Village, they operate the most beautiful, clean, and – most importantly – fun Vietnamese cooking experience. The husband and wife owners, and their team, are eager to engage and teach attendees their craft. The goal: To make us feel confident in returning home to make these wonderful traditional Vietnamese dishes for our family and friends.
Hoi An Eco Cooking Class : The Tour Details
an early morning start
Get an early start on your day with an 8:00 am pickup. The Hoi An Eco Cooking Class team will arrange an early morning hotel pickup, and you’ll be on your way. Be prepared to be gone for between 4.5 and 5 hours.
TIP: You may feel like skipping breakfast beforehand, since you’re heading to a cooking class. But don’t. You should have a small breakfast before you leave because you won’t be eating the food you cook until about four hours later.
First Stop: A Market Tour
On your way to the cooking school, you’ll make a stop at a local market. This spot feels much more authentic than the central market in Hoi An and you’ll be able to see the morning shopping routine of Hoi An’s locals. It’s a space that’s guaranteed to give you sensory overload, buzzing with people, sounds, and smells. And I loved getting to experience this.
While at the local markets, be smart and watch your bags (this was instructed by our guide). Also, if you’re tall like Sebastian, be prepared to duck the entire time because the ceiling is VERY low.
A quick pit stop: basket boat rides
One of the great things about this tour is that it offers a cooking class and bamboo boat ride. Visiting a local village and riding in the famous Hoi An bamboo basket boats is something that is on many cooking class itineraries in Hoi An. Here, you’ll hop in a large woven bamboo basket and a local paddles you through the coconut forest outside Hoi An. The views were beautiful and it was a cool experience getting to see how the locals fish.
onto the (most) fun stuff: cookin' up a storm
OKAY, this is where this tour gets reaaaal good. It’s time to do some cooking!
The entire cooking experience was hands-on and immersive, with Mr. Kien, his wife, and his staff guiding us every step of the way. When you arrive they have all the ingredients laid out, and instruct you on how to prepare the dishes.
One of my favourite parts was that we all cooked our own individual meals. This meant, we were enjoying the direct result of our hard work (and didn’t have other cooking class strangers preparing parts of our meal – which made everything feel very allergy safe and clean).
The menu includes seven unique dishes (which is more than most Hoi An cooking classes).
My favourite: bánh xèo (sizzling pancakes) and fresh spring rolls (paired with the best homemade fish sauce I have ever tasted)! Other dishes included: a fresh aubergine and tomato dish, pho, and banana leaf salad. All the ingredients were extra fresh, which made the dishes so insanely tasty.
The class has an immersive teaching component is extra fun, too. I love learning about other cultures, and their traditions, and Mr. Kien and his team were eager to teach us about the historic food traditions of Hoi An locals.
I particularly loved making our own rice paper over a hot fire (I have to admit, it’s easier than it looks). And learning how the locals have historically made their own rice milk.
Below, you’ll see us peeling rice, making rice paper, and manually churning rice milk.
After three hours of cooking, it is time to indulge. And I have to admit – I was impressed with myself. I mean, look at this spread. (Note that this is my dish which is why you see peanuts… Sebastian received a customized menu).
Ready to go? Here's How To Book!
Unfortunately, with such stiff cooking class competition, Mr. Kien and his team have faced some challenges with other cooking classes mimicking his business and tricking customers into booking with them (by using very similar business names). One of these is Hoi An Eco Cooking Tour. This is a common practice with many businesses in Vietnam, and something you should always be aware of when booking excursions.
In the case of Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, these other “imitation” classes have also placed pamphlets in many hotels (we saw them in ours) and are giving commissions to hotels for referrals. For this reason, do not book a cooking class through your hotel.
To book with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, send a message directly to Mr. Kien through his website link below (feel free to let him know I sent you!). Cost is 32 USD per person … and worth every single penny.
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And don’t forget to check out my other Vietnam content here, including my Hoi An Travel Guide.