Visits to Hoi An City in central Vietnam are typically filled with entire days spent strolling through neatly manicured streets lined with faded yellow houses and colorful silk lanterns, but the neighborhoods surrounding the city’s UNESCO-recognized Ancient Town offer a wealth of eateries specializing in locally sourced vegetables and freshly caught seafood.
One of these eateries, The Field Restaurant in Cam Thanh Commune, has made its own mark on the city’s burgeoning culinary scene thanks to its focus on sustainability and unique design.
Diners are treated to a meal in one of the restaurant’s bamboo houses, a villa overlooking rice fields, or the bamboo gazebo on a lake, all of which offer stunning views of the city’s rice paddies and the Thu Bon River.
As part of their dedication to sustainability, The Field Restaurant avoids the use of plastic and disposable products.
Waste is also disposed of through composting and recycling.
|A view of The Field Restaurant located in Cam Thanh Commune, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Le Lan Loi, an environmental engineer who works at the restaurant, shared that her daily duties include managing the restaurant's recycling.
Depending on the type of organic waste, recyclable materials are made into fertilizer, dishwashing liquid, or floor cleaner. Used oil, in particular, is used to make soap.
Twice each year during harvest seasons, the restaurant holds a special event to invite locals and tourists to dine in the surrounding fields in a bid to promote its ethos of environmental and sustainable development.
Though an invitation to the event costs a minimum of US$1,000 and reservations must be made months in advance, the unique experience of having a seat at the party is nothing short of priceless.
|A bird eye's view of The Field Restaurant located in Cam Thanh Commune, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The basis of the event is the incorporation of the local farming community into Hoi An’s dining scene.
It literally could not get any more 'farm-to-table' than this: 38 farmers from the Vong Nhi Village, also in Cam Thanh Commune, supply the restaurant throughout the year with rice and other organic, pesticide-free produce.
When the harvest season comes, the restaurant rents a portion of the field from the farmers and transforms it into a dining area.
Visitors are then treated to delicious traditional dishes comprised of rice and vegetables grown on the same plot of land where they are eating.
Although the event is held on just a small part of the rice paddy, the farmers who work the land are paid 3-4 times the value of the crop.
|A bird eye's view at night of The Field Restaurant located in Cam Thanh Commune, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
“The party only lasts for a few days and after it is done the restaurant is removed to return the paddy to farmers," said Phan Xuan Thanh, president of the Quang Nam Tourism Association.
"We also pay farmers several times the value of their rice, while the farmers have the opportunity to present their farming techniques during the preparation of the party and get paid for it."
According to Thanh, despite the massive demand for a seat at the event, the restaurant only organizes two parties each year.
Those lucky enough to get an invitation are selected based on their knowledge of the environment and their dedication to sustainability.
“This party is about culture and the value of nature," Thanh explained.
"Every visitor should understand that their money is going toward supporting the farmers and the local environment.
"What they receive in return besides a meal is a wonderful story and atmosphere.”