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Vegetarian Food in Vietnam

Vietnam is a Buddhist country, and thus vegetarian food is extremely common, and it’s always delicious. Herbs and spices are ubiquitous, and they add an amazing flavor to a wide variety of greens, that can be stir-fried, boiled, deep-fried, or used to cook broth. Your taste buds will never be bored!

We also selected for you some outstanding restaurants with vegetarian options in Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh. The quality of their food is extremely high, and you will have the chance to taste some traditional Vietnamese dishes.

Check out our brief guide to learn more about vegetarian food in Vietnam!

Highlights

  • Good vegetarian food is really common all over Vietnam.
  • Buddhist cuisine uses a huge variety of greens, herbs and spices to create delicious dishes.
  • Veggies are usually stir-fried, boiled, or eaten raw.
  • In Ho Chi Minh, you will find “Uhm”, one of the best vegetarian restaurants of the country.
  • It is common to find vegetarian versions of the traditional dishes, like Pho or Banh Mi.

Vegetarian Food is Everywhere in Vietnam!

Of all the countries of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is probably the one with the largest choice of vegetarian options. Here is a quick guide to its flavors, ingredients, cooking methods, and dishes.

Flavors

Herbs and spices are an important part of every Vietnamese meal, and they will surely spice up your rice and your veggies. Coriander and green onion are ubiquitous, as well as chili, lemongrass, and coconut milk. All these herbs and spices, when used together in the right way, will give to your dishes a unique fresh and strong flavor.

Vegetables are also the base for a good variety of sauces: Turong, for example, made from fermented soybeans; or the sweet and salty hoisin sauce, made with sweet potatoes, sugar, soy beans, sesame seeds, salt, and garlic. Soy sauce is also commonly used.

Ingredients

The staple of Vietnamese cuisine is rice. Usually, Vietnamese people have rice to accompany the main dish and to mix it with sauces and dips, or it can be stir-fried with vegetables, herbs, and spices. Noodles are also popular, especially in soups.

Some of the most common vegetables include: eggplant, water spinach, radish, cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, bamboo shoots, and bokchoy. Pickled vegetables are the base for some characteristic dishes like DuaKieu (made with Allium Chinense and eaten during Tet festival) or DuaMon (made with carrot and white radish).

Fruit like papaya, mango, and jackfruit are used mostly for salads. Finally, another common ingredient for salads is tofu; an example is GoiDauHu, made with tofu, cabbage, mint, and soy sauce.

Cooking Methods

In Vietnam, it is common to eat raw vegetables and dipping them in a sauce. However, vegetarian dishes can be cooked with a wide variety of cooking methods. The most basic one is stir-frying: onion and garlic are put in warm oil, and then vegetables are added. Dishes like spring rolls, on the other hand, are deep-fried.

Food can be steamed in woven bamboo steamers or metal trays (a popular method to cook sticky rice). Many vegetables can be boiled, and people use the water after boiling to prepare vegetable soups. A fresh and extremely healthy way to prepare your dish is using rice paper to wrap all the ingredients and then dip this fresh wrap in your favorite sauce.

Common Vegetarian Dishes

Among the excellent Vietnamese street foods,Banh Miis the king. This amazing sandwich is usually made with a French baguette and many different ingredients. Vegetarian options are made with tofu or egg, and at some stalls you will find a cheese version.

For a vegetarian version of the most famous Vietnamese dish, Pho (a noodle soup with mint, lime, and soybeans), order a Pho Chay, and your broth will have no meat. Deep-fried spring rolls are delicious, and vegetarian ones will be stuffed with mushrooms, carrot, and tofu. Banh CuonChay are made with rice flour batter spread like a crepe and then stuffed with plenty of greens and spices.

Nom Du Du is a crunchy salad made with green papaya, carrots, peanuts, sesame seeds, basil, and coriander, all covered with a sweet and sour dressing of honey and rice vinegar.

For a quick snack, try the Bahn It Tran, a dumpling made of glutinous rice filled with beans, fried shallots, and spring onions.

Recommended Vegetarian Restaurants

We chose some restaurants in all the major Vietnamese cities,Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh, where you can find some delicious vegetarian food. They all offer excellent service, friendly staff, and dishes cooked with the freshest ingredients by the skillful hands of experienced chefs.

Blue Butterfly Restaurant in Hanoi

This lovely, small restaurant is located in the heart of the Old Quarter in Hanoi, and it is characterized by an extremely good atmosphere. The service is excellent, and the staff (fluent in English) will do everything to make you feel at home. The restaurant is on two floors, and sitting upstairs will give you a good view of the bustling street below.

Some of their best dishes are deep fried spring rolls, served with dips, herbs, and fresh rice vermicelli; or the Vietnamese rice pancake, with herbs and dumpling sauce. You can order à la carte or choose betweenfour different set menus. Most of the time, it is possible to ask for a vegetarian version of their dishes.

Location:69 Ma May Street, Hanoi 100000

Opening hours:8 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Home Hoi AnVietnamese Restaurant

Located inside a French townhouse, this restaurant, with its elegant and warm setting, tries to preserve the amazing culinary tradition of the city. The chef uses only the freshest ingredients, and everything is locally produced.

Their vegetarian dishes, coming mostly from the traditional Vietnamese cuisine, includecaramelized mushrooms in chili and garlic; stewed tofu with mushrooms in a clay pot; steamed seasonal vegetables with thick dipping sauce. Stir-fried morning glory with chili and garlic, and stir-fried organic mushrooms are two simple yet delicious dishes you cannot miss. You can also ask the waiter for a vegetarian version of the most popular Vietnamese dishes.

Location: 112 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ancient Town Hoi An, Hoi An

Opening hours: 1 – 11 p.m.

Hum Vegetarian, Lounge & Restaurant, in Ho Chi Minh City

The philosophy of this restaurant is to serve you only the freshest ingredients in order to nourish your body and your soul. The peaceful atmosphere of the restaurant mirrors this conception, and so does the healthiness of their dishes.

The restaurant, strictly vegetarian, selects its dishes according to their health benefits. You can start your meal with olives and fruit in chili sauce, then have a young ivory bamboo soup as appetizer. Some of their signature salads are the polysciasleaf salad and the floral salad, made with local flowers. Their delicious main courses see tofu in fermented bean sauce; steamed mushroom in coconut; stewed taro with red pepper, and much more.

You can also have rice based dishes with pineapple, magenta, or seaweed; and ask for some steamed or sauté veggies to enjoy as a side dish. Desserts are unique: sweets like black glutinous rice yogurt or bean curd in ginger caramel sauce are not to be found everywhere.

Location:2 ThiSách, BếnNghé, Quận 1, HồChí Minh

Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Den Long Home Cooked Vietnamese Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

Den Long is a restaurant characterized by fine décor and exquisite food. The serving size is smaller than at other places, reflecting the original concept of the restaurant, that is trying to recreate the experience of a Vietnamese homecooked meal. The waiter will help you choose the dishes for your needs, making sure that they suit your taste.

Only the freshest ingredients are used to cook these amazing and simple dishes, all coming from Vietnamese culinary tradition: fried rice, rice paper rolls, egg rolls, mango salad, and lots of vegetables. The small portioning is ideal for people who want to try many different dishes and share them with their loved ones.

Location:130 Nguyen Trai, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, HồChí Minh 700000

Opening hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Tips and Etiquette for Vegetarian Dining in Vietnam

Following some common etiquette rules is the right way to enjoy our vegetarian meal. Here is a quick guide about dining etiquette in Vietnam:

  • Do not stick your chopsticks into the rice, as it is seen as a sign of bad luck; and do not use your chopsticks to point at someone.
  • When having dinner with a lot of people, it is common to order several dishes for everyone to share. Do not dig inside the dish, just pick up some food randomly.Do not fill your plate from only one dish;give everyone the chance to taste every different dish.
  • Be polite and wait for everyone before starting your meal. Usually, if seniors are sitting at your table, wait for them before starting to eat.
  • Wait for everyone to finish their meal before leaving the table. Clearing the table and helping to wash the dishes will be extremely appreciated.

Vegetarian Dining in Vietnam with Asia Highlights

We know you cannot wait to taste this amazing food, the result of a millenarian tradition. Start planning your next trip to Vietnam now! Book with Asia Highlights, and our knowledgeable staff will craft for you the perfect itinerary, trying to satisfy all your needs and ensuring you and your loved ones a hassle-free trip.

Check out the following links and learn more about our tours:

9-Day Best of Vietnam with Mekong Delta

13-Day Vietnam Classic Wonders with Sapa

14-Day Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Tour