Miss Ly's mother has lived on the premises since 1949 and a restaurant has been run from there since 1993, when there was just one 8 bedroom hotel in Hoi An.
Miss Ly still does most of the cooking (all msg free) and her sister is a fresh produce dealer who supplies the restaurant with fresh, local, organic products. Miss Ly's husband Nathan works front of house. A true family business.
Getting a Table
I had not had a reply to my earlier booking email and so just arrived for an early dinner.
Nathan found me a table on the street within 5 minutes. I picked a Miss Ly cocktail and sipped this refreshingly tart cocktail watching the world go by, while listening to Nathan helping departing customers with useful local information.
There are lots of appealing dishes on the menu but I went for the Vietnamese tasting menu, as it included the Hoi An signature dishes white rose rice dumplings and fried wontons but also cao lau, the Hoi An speciality I already loved at Hoi An Restaurant in Saigon. I opted for medium spiciness.
The white rose translucent rice dumplings were so light, with such mouthwatering balanced flavours. The chillis were not too hot, the toasted garlic & onions added moreish flavour & texture and there were refreshing bursts of citrus from the lemon.
Some of the most refined (and best) dumplings I have eaten and in such a divine 'sauce' that I wanted to lick the plate.
Next was the cao lau. The very large part fresh herbs (basil, coriander & mint) play in Miss Ly's version was the most noticeable difference with the Saigon version and added intoxicating flavours.
The thick ground rice noodles had a chewiness/substance absence from Vietnamese rice noodles, said to be, in part, caused by the water drawn from Hoi An's ancient wells.
The pork was drizzled with just enough rich meat broth and it was topped with a hot chilli jam and crackly squares of deep-fried dough 'croutons'. A perfect riot of delicious flavours and textures.
Grilled Pork Spring Rolls
I must begin by admitting I am not usually a fan of the non-deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls and regard this as the weaker of the 4 dishes. However, the spring rolls had a good taste and I adored the flavoursome peanut dipping sauce.
When I tried Hoi An flat wontons the day before they were burnt and the toppings lacked depth of flavour. Miss Ly's were in a completely different league.
The rich salsa-like prawn & pork topping was mind-blowingly good with the fresh coriander and the filled wontons were cooked to absolute perfection.
All through the meal the entirely female staff, who speak perfect English, were unfailingly cheerful & very helpful and fussed over Issy and 'the gang' at the end of the meal.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - a truly legendary Hoi An meal, with all these incredible flavours & textures. The charming & cheerful staff, food from heaven and the very reasonable bill, get Miss Ly Cafe 22 the extra 'teddy'. My tips: if you do not have a booking, arrive early and be ready for a wait; bring cash (they do not take cards); and speak to Nathan.