Cao lau (also spelt as cau lao or cau lau) is a pork based noodle dish, from the Hoi An region of Vietnam. This dish is considered to be one of the finest gourmet dishes from the central regions of Vietnam. According to the An Hoians, the Cao Lau recipe cannot be replicated anywhere outside the town, because the unique taste of the dish is due to the use of the water from a ancient Cham well located just outside the town.
Cao Lau is a textural tour de force consisting of thin slices of soy-simmered pork, crispy fresh lettuce and herbs such as basil, cilantro and mint, and crackly squares of deep-fried dough, all resting on a tangle of bean sprouts and wide rice noodles. It's drizzled with just enough rich meat broth and served with sweet and hot chili jam and half a lime-like kalamansi, for squeezing. Though, not much is known about the origins and history of this recipe, the local chefs believe that Cao Lau is an ancient dish, which has also graced the royal table once. Since, the ingredients used in the preparation of Cao lau are exclusively found in Hoi An, the recipe was most probably developed in the kitchens of this very town. Cao Lau is rarely seen in menus outside Hoi An area.