Red Bridge Cooking School @ Hoi An, Vietnam

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A magazine [Vietnam Pathfinder] that I picked up from a tourist office in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) mentioned Red Bridge as an exciting newcomer to the culinary scene in Hoi An. Unfortunately, the magazine didn't specify its address. I cycled around the Ancient Town of Hoi An for a couple of hours on my 2nd day in Hoi An but couldn't find it. On the 3rd day, I walked into Hai Cafe out of curiosity to check out the cooking lessons that they offered and found a flyer for Red Bridge Cooking School. Hai Cafe and Red Bridge are apparently sister restaurants. Red Bridge's lessons are held in the morning and require a minimum of 2 students to start a class. It was 10 am, I had missed the opportunity to attend the cooking class as lessons start at 8.15am.

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If you're not keen on cooking lessons but still want to check this place out, fret not as this place also functions as a regular restaurant. The school is only about 2 km from the city centre so it takes 5 minutes to get there by cab or 15 minutes by bicycle. They offer patrons a boat ride, which is free of charge and takes about 25 mins. Bicycles can be taken on the boat. The boat departs Hoi An's Ancient Town at 12pm everyday from Bach Dang Street, opposite #74, Cafe Can. Guests can call Red Bridge to arrange for the boat transfer if the 12pm pick-up doesn't match their schedule. 12pm was pretty good timing for me that day and it being my last full day in Hoi An, I wanted to check it out for lunch. I met LB briefly for a drink at a cafe before catching the boat ride. She decided not to join me as the brochure was not clear about whether there was a return boat trip & she didn't rent a bike because they were too big for her. LB is a very petite girl.

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The instructions on the flyer was to look out for a red boat. I found it pretty easily as it was the only red boat in sight and there was also a sign for the cooking school. The driver helped me to load my bicycle onto the boat. Darn, those rental bikes are really heavy!

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The flyer had recommended that we get our cameras ready as the cruise offered a glimpse of local river life. The view of the ancient town and the market was a great photo opportunity.

Boat Ride - Hoi An

The top 2 photos of the above montage shows some of the sights along the cruise. We stopped for a short while during the cruise to watch a couple in action. The husband cast the net as his wife manoeuvred the boat into position. It was interesting to see how both actions were so well-synchronized. The bottom 2 photos shows my bike with the driver behind and the view of Red Bridge as we approached it.

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This place looks really pretty! I loved the red bridge across the stream and the jetty with red poles!

Red Bridge

There was a bungalow next to the restaurant (it was at the other end of the red bridge) which I was told might be available for lease closer to Christmas. I started my meal with a Red Bridge Breeze, which consisted of Orange, Pineapple and Lemon Juice, @ VND20,000 (approximately USD1.25). It was made of fresh juice but was just a little too sweet for my taste. I think they must have added some grenadine syrup to the mix (judging from the colour and how sweet the drink was). As the weather was really gloomy (the rain clouds were fast approaching), the waitress, Ms. My, who attended to me suggested that I should order the Claypot Fish dish to help keep me warm on a rainy day. Aww....how sweet! The last picture in the montage is that of the Claypot Fish @ VND55,000 (approximately USD3.44).

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Here's a picture of some claypot fish on a bowl of hot steamed rice. The fish was cooked in Caramel Sauce, a basic Vietnamese sauce used to cook many savoury dishes. The flavour of the caramel sauce is sweet and savoury but with a hint of smokiness due to the caramelised sugar. As with almost all fish dishes that I've had in Vietnam, the fish was very fresh and the flesh was firm yet tender. This was the best version that I've ever had as it had the right balance of sweetness and saltiness. Most other places have sauces that are way too salty such that the saltiness overpowers the warm and smoky flavour of the caramelised sugar. The Claypot Fish here is a MUST-TRY!

Montage - Red Bridge

The lady in the montage above is Ms. My. She provided me with excellent and friendly service during my visit. I wish there were more service staff like her in Singapore. The top right picture in the montage is that of my starter, Vegetarian Soup with Sliced Tofu, Potato, Egg Whites & Vietnamese Herbs @ VND30,000. I was trying to eat a light meal and thought that vegetable soup might be a good idea. The soup was a little sweet but not exceedingly so. I noticed during my trip to Vietnam that most of their soups are little on the sweet side and in some cases, they were so sweet, I wondered if they should be re-classified as dessert instead. Thankfully for me, this was bearable and helped to warm my tummy while waiting for the fish. The puppy in the montage is called "Saigon" and was new to the place. What a cute little pooch! He's very shy though!

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After the meal, I crossed the bridge to the Swimming Pool (next to the bungalow). This is soo cool! They give patrons free use of the swimming pool with towels and showers provided. I didn't have my swimsuit with me and the weather was starting to get worse so I hung around for a short while snapping pictures.

It was a good thing that My had arranged for the boatman to take me back to town as it started to rain pretty heavily as we were leaving. I was thankful that I didn't have to cycle back to town in the pouring rain and also glad that My was afraid that I might get lost on my way back. Ha ha! It must have been my sleepy look that got her pretty worried. I was feeling drowsy after such a delicious and satisfying meal...with a toasty warm tummy... *stretch & yawn*

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Luckily for me, when I got back to the ancient town, the rain had subsided into a gentle drizzle. Here's the boatman waving goodbye but getting distracted by a friend of his shouting at him (probably making arrangements to do coffee) from the street.

Red Bridge
Restaurant, Cooking School, Swimming Pool & Bar
Thon 4, Cam Thanh,
Hoi An, Vietnam

Tel: +84 510 933-222
Mobile: +84 091 345-7029
Email: info@visithoian.com

Operating Hours:
Monday to Thursdays : 8 am to 5 pm (Dinner is available by special request)
Friday to Sunday : 8 am to 9 pm