Travelling as a vegetarian can be challenging at times and requires more eating planning than meat-eaters need to do. Vietnam, with it’s love of pork, beef and fish sounds like it could cause a traveller of the vegetarian variety to go hungry. But with a little research, and exploration I discovered here some of the most delicious meals I’d experienced anywhere in the world.
They told us there would be nothing to eat as vegetarian in Vietnam. I was hesitant to believe them… but a nagging thought sat in the back of my mind in advance of going. Would we be stuck with peanut butter sandwiches while our travelling companions enjoyed the local cuisines?
Of course not!
‘Chay’ is the Vietnamese word for vegetarian – and where you find it, you will be in for a treat.
In no particular order, here’s are my top five experiences in some of the most popular locations:
hum… Vegetarian Cafe, Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon
Conveniently placed next to the war museum in Saigon, this is a beautiful cafe that is surprisingly peaceful considering the busy road outside. It’s not the cheapest, but really it is very reasonable for a western tourist. We loved the spring rolls, salads, tofu hot pot and the passion fruit cocktails!
Minh Hien – Hoi An
A little cycle ride out of town will take you to this slightly hidden gem of a vegetarian restaurant. We also took the daily cooking class, which I cannot recommend highly enough. You will choose three of your favourite recipes from the menu to learn to make. The recipes were surprisingly simple, while full of flavour. Do not miss the spiced pumpkin, tofu with tarragon and vegetarian pho!
Lien Hoa, Hue
This simple, cafe style restaurant was one of the best. I ate more than my belly could take and all for about £2.50! The staff don’t speak English and there is quite minimal written translation, but they still managed to help us pick a Vietnamese banquet. My advice is to take a risk and go with their recommendation if you can, oh and definitely try the crispy fried jackfruit.
Hoi An Market
Vegetarians like street food too – but it can be harder to find! In Hoi An, we found a brilliant market stall with lots of vegetarian options (From the main entrance to the market, walk along the left-hand-side and look out for the word ‘Chay’ on the menu and sign). Tofu noodles, and a guava juice for about £1 set us up for an afternoon of sightseeing.
Tu Bar, Con Son Island
When visiting the Con Dao islands, we were particularly nervous about finding something to eat because it’s so focused on fish. Tu Bar isn’t a vegetarian restaurant but if you tell the English speaking daughter of the owner that you are vegetarian they will create a tasty tofu option for you. Again, we over-indulged here, feasting on Tofu with Lemongrass, stir-fried green beans and rice.
… if you are stuck, you are more than likely to find a Chay Banh Mi. This is (usually) an omelette in some of the crusty french-style bread. A perfect breakfast!
Have you found any other vegetarian options in Vietnam? Please share them below!