Get ready for good food. The choices show a little more Western chic than you’ll get up and down the coast. Many visitors take a cooking course while in Hoi An – the best is at Red Bridge (see below), a quiet riverside spot reached by boat.

There are two types of trips to Hoi An: those that try this Swedish-run seafood restaurant’s massive ‘seafood platter’ and those that don’t. By all means opt for the former. The US$15 platter (minimum two people) is a delicious assault on the seas, with a stunning amount of food – fresh crab, tiger shrimp, squid, full fish, clams. The simple setting – two rooms with concrete floor and nearly cheesy nautical knick-knacks on the walls – is forgotten at first bite. You can also get a few Mediterranean specialties or a bowl of Hoi An’s famous cao lau (US$2), a bowl of thick rice noodles with pork rinds, pork and crispy rice paper.
Bach Dang St; open 10.30am-11pm Mon-Sat, 4-11pm Sun

This swingin’ two-floor spot goes for a fusion Vietnamese food, in a loungey, sometimes hot, traditional home facing the river. Go for the more intimate soft-cushion seats in the artful upstairs, with balcony seats and more of a breeze. Lots of shrimp, beef and chicken on the menu – all well prepared, and certainly a bit heavier than your average bowl of pho (perhaps it’s the Spanish owner’s influence). The ‘scent of green papaya’ salad (US$3) comes with shrimp, pineapple and mango dressing over papaya. The Exotic Dance is a garlic-marinated shrimp wrapped in a tender slice of beef (US$7). Heaps of wine and tropical drinks. You can enter from the riverside, but you need to park you bike on the Nguyen Thai Hoc St side.
111 Nguyen Thai Hoc St; open 9am-11pm daily

Hoi An’s best spot for cooking classes, the laid-back Red Bridge is reached by a 25-minute boat ride down-river to this peaceful place that serves lots of great seafood – the stir-fry squid served in a pineapple shell or seafood with crispy egg noodles is U$3. Most come to learn. Morning classes start at 8.15am and finish with a lunch; afternoon classes start at 1.30pm. Students get work stations with already prepped ingredients for various dishes. Afterwards you eat in the nice open patio where you can watch the river drift by and finish with a splash in the riverside pool nearby. It’s nice, but loses a little atmosphere when all the students are loitering about. Also consider student-free dinners Friday to Sunday nights. –> Book ahead your class as they often fill a day ahead. Either call or drop by the center’s Hai Scout Café (98 Nguyen Thai Hoc St). Classes are US$15 including a light meal. –> It’s possible to go by motorcycle – several turnoffs lead confusingly to the road, which runs parallel to the river. Head out on Cua Dai Rd and turn right about half way to the beach. Then ask. Boats leave from opposite 74 Bach Dang St at noon and 1.30pm daily, plus 5.30pm and 7.30pm Friday to Sunday.
Tel 0510-933-222, mobile 091-345-7029; Thon 4, Cam Thanh; open 10am-6pm Mon-Thu, 10am-9pm Fri-Sun

Reached by a free private boat from Bach Dang St on the river, this Dutch-run modern restaurant is a fun alternative, with plenty of seafood and Dutch dishes (!) as well as balcony seats looking back at the main Hoi An strip. Ask about their well-regarded bike tours of nearby villages.
Cam Nam Island; boats cross 9am-9pm

A few blocks up Le Loi St from the river, this mini chain is a fairly stylish place for a pizza place, and the pies are pretty good, some with rather creative names. A pizza is about US$4. There’s pasta too.
34 Le Loi St

For the sandwich-with-a-view or late-afternoon-chocolate-truffle-stop, Cargo’s your guy. Go right upstairs to the big open balcony. Plenty of baguettes (US$2-3) to choose from and Hoi An’s best bakery downstairs.
107-109 Nguyen Thai Hoc St

This two-floor spot – Hoi An’s longest-running Western-style bar/restaurant – gorgeously occupies an old building on Nguyen Thai Ho St. Even if you’re not hungry or the mid-priced Vietnamese/French menu, head up to the balcony for a mug of beer during the US$0.60 happy hour (4-9pm).
121 Tran Phu St