What is Cao Lau?
Cao Lau (which means high floor) is a prominent dish standing out from the list of the traditional delicacies in Hoi An and in Quang Nam provinces as well. For most dishes, the names can reveal part of the flavor and ingredients included in the dish, however, for Cao Lau, visitors will have no idea about the type of food as well as the flavor of dish when hearing the name of this dish.
There are some assumption that the name is originated from the old age when this was the specialty of the luxury restaurants with floors in the old time. The typical models of the restaurants like these are the high floor restaurants in the capital of Hanoi in early 20th century. Cao Lau is actually a type of noodle with yellow noodles combined with meat and shrimps served with salad and sauces.
The distinctiveness of the dish
Cao Lau is not only appealed to guests by its name but this is an exceptional dish with selected ingredients that create the impressive taste for every customer. At first sight, it looks like normal kinds of noodles, however, it has its own characteristics. The body of the noodles is in rectangular and wide but not like rice vermicelli, and another difference is the noodles are soak into ash water, and processed elaborately.
Particularly, the ashes should be created from the wood in Cu Lao Cham which is 16km away from Hoi An, so that the noodles can be at high quality. The rice for ground should be selected carefully as well, then when the rice is ground into liquid flour which is covered in a number of cloth bags for the water to run out, after that the flour is processed and cut into the shape of strings. The flour then is steamed for several times then dried out. Because of elaborate process, the noodles can be preserved for quite long time.
Cao Lau should be eaten when it is cool enough. When processing, the noodles are dipped for few seconds only so that it can keep the toughness and softness. There are three principal kinds of vegetables and twelve at all.
The dish is well designed with the yellow noodles, red shrimps, gray meatballs, and green vegetables. Moreover, because this dish is served with only a little bowl of sauces, so it should be well mixed before trying.
When enjoying, you can feel the crunchy noodles, with the fragrance of fish sauce, soy sauces and the slight fat of fried greases, the sweet of shrimp, of meatballs, and combined taste of salad. Nowaday, it will be a great opportunity to enjoy a bowl of Cao Lau in high floor restaurant while experiencing the life space of Hoi An which seems revealed in the bowl of Cao Lau.
Quintessence remains with lastingness
With the good reputation in Hoi An, Cao Lau has been able to travel to the far lands such as in France, in England, in Australia, and to some domestic cities such as Sai Gon, Hanoi, Quang Ngai, Da Nang. Nevertheless, a bowl of Cao Lau in these places can hardly convey all the flavor that persists in the Cao Lau in Hoi An. The reason for that may be the length of time and distance from the origination of the dish, ….
Visitors should once at least spend a trip to Hoi An to really feel and enjoy the small and ancient surroundings while enjoy a bowl of tasty Cao Lau in order to have a real feel of such great flavor of a traditional dish lasting for ages and feel the quintessence of Hoi An cuisine.