Spent a few weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam in January, and I've been meaning to post since I returned. Just wanted to mention my 3 favorite spots.
Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi. Cha Ca is fish sauteed with fresh herbs, cooked over coals at your table. It is the only thing they serve at Cha Ca La Vong, and you wouldn't want anything else (I'm still dreaming about it 2 months later). The places is crowded and hot... but the food is to die for. I think it was about $4/person.
Ms. Ly's Cafeteria in Hoi An. I loved the food in Hoi An, and this was our favorite spot. Order Ms. Ly's special pork, and Ms. Ly's wantons. My boyfriend kept going back to order the wantons until Ms. Ly took him into the kitchen to show him how to make them. He'll be attempting the re-creation this weekend... I'm just hoping they will be half as good.
The cooking class at Mermaid Restaurant in Hoi An. Around the corner from Ms. Ly's is the Mermaid Restaurant. For $20, Mermaid restaurant offers a 4 hour cooking class. They start by taking you to the market, and talking to you about the basics of Vietnamese cooking. Then for each dish (about 6) they start with a demo, and then allow you to make it. You finish up with a HUGE lunch and they give you a great cookbook. Wonderful way to spend a 1/2 day. Pricey by Vietnam standards, but I thought it was a great deal. We learned to make fresh springrolls, fried pork springrolls, white roses (a hoi an specialty), banana flower salad, chicken with kaffir lime, and fish with spices grilled in banana leaf.