11 Vegetarian Vietnamese Dishes You Must Try

As a vegetarian, I have a constant mission during my travels – to explore the vegetarian side of any given cuisine. When I began my travels in Southeast Asia, people warned me that it would be difficult to find vegetarian food there. I thought no differently. But travel is indeed such a liberating experience. It reminds us, over and over again, that we know so little about this world. It breaks the stereotypes and prejudices that you grow up with and allows you to see the world in a totally different perspective. 

Food is one of the most important aspect of any culture. As a vegetarian, I do not want to miss out on this experience. However, every country I have been to so far has always surprised me on how many vegetarian options they have in their cuisine. Vietnam is no exception. There are plenty of vegetarian Vietnamese dishes to choose from. And the nicest thing is that if they don’t, they shall make it for you. 


Traveling in Vietnam was an amazing experience in itself. And one can’t travel well without good food. There was always a lot of food around me – In the night markets, in family dinners at homestays or hostels and on the streets. My search for vegetarian food took me to some interesting places and made me try a few authentic Vietnamese dishes. Here is the list of dishes I have relished upon during my travels. 



Where to Find Vegetarian food in Vietnam?


Most restaurants in Vietnam will be happy to modify their dishes to avoid meat per your request.  However, it is important to know that there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants across the country. They are generally known as Nhā Hāng Chay. Chay means vegetarian / Vegetables in Vietnamese. During the holy months or festivals, most of the Vietnamese Buddhists turn vegetarian and therefore you shall find these restaurants in almost every part of the country. They serve only vegetarian food. Tofu is a common replacement for meat. 

 

Apart from these places, most street vendors offer vegetarian Banh Mi. And as mentioned earlier, most of the restaurants are happy to customise their dishes to your taste and needs, unless they serve only pre-cooked meals. 



Top 11 Vegetarian Dishes –


1. Bún Bì 



Bun Bi is one of my favourite dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. The dish comes with a bowl full of rice noodles (bun) topped with shredded tofu (replacement for pork), vegetables and peanuts. It is normally served with tasty sauce as an alternate to fish sauce in the original meat version. Make sure to try this incredible dish at any of the Nhā Hāng Chays (Vegetarian restaurants) in Ho Chi Minh City. My preference - Dinh Y vegetarian restaurant. Go there for all the tasty vegetarian Vietnamese food. 


2. Bùn chả giò 



If Bun Bi is not filling enough for your appetite, choose Bùn chả giò which comes with rice noodles, egg/tofu spring rolls and sauce. Try one of these at Dinh Y vegetarian restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. 


3. Dau Sot Ca Chua 



Tofu lovers cannot miss eating Dau sot ca chua.  The dish is basically tofu cooked in tangy tomato sauce. It is often served with rice or bun (rice noodles). Apron Up restaurant at Hanoi is where I had this dish and would highly recommend the place for its interesting menu. You can also register for one of their cooking classes. 


4. Chả Giò or Nem Rán  



Vegetarian springs rolls are available almost everywhere in Vietnam. You can choose between fried spring rolls and fresh spring rolls.


5. Banh Mi 



It is impossible to miss a Banh Mi in Vietnam. It is literally everywhere. Every city, town or village will have at least one street vendor selling Banh Mi. Choose their vegetarian option or the egg Banh Mi if you do not eat meat. Most vendors are open to customising it with extra butter, cheese, vegetables or sauces.  I have had Banh Mi almost every single day during my travels in Vietnam. 


I would highly recommend Muse corner in Dalat, a small café run by an old couple. The Banh Mi here is simply delicious. Banh Mi Phuong in Hoi An is the most popular joint that attracts large queues almost entire day. Banh Mi 25 in Hanoi is a great place to taste some delicious varieties including those with avocado filling. At Hai Phong, Banh Mi Ngon was my favourite Banh Mi joint. The cost of one Banh Mi can vary anywhere from VND 10K to 40K depending on the place you are eating.


6. Pho 



Pho is a Vietnamese Soup that is often had during breakfast. This noodle soup can be served with meat or simply vegetables. Try these at Pho 2000 in Ho Chi Minh City. 


7. Cơm Chiên or Cơm Rang 



Vegetarian fried rice is available in most places. A simple meal that cannot go wrong if you like eating rice. 


8. Mi Xào  



If you are traveling in remote places of Vietnam, there is one thing you will always find as a food option - fried noodles. They are served plain or with scrambled eggs. 


9. Tào Phó Caramen 



People who have a sweet tooth like me, should try this delicious dessert called Tao Pho caramen – Silkened Tofu Pudding and Caramel. I enjoyed my dessert stops at this amazing food joint called Banh Mi Ngon at Hai phong. 


10. Xoi Vi 



This Pandan sticky rice cake cooked with some spices is another interesting dessert available almost everywhere. They are often sold in open markets and in sweet shops. The green colour and the flavour comes from the Pandan leaves. 


11. Banh Trang Nuong 



If you are visiting the monasteries in Dalat, you will find several women with a grill, ready to serve you these Grilled Rice paper snack topped with egg or cheese and vegetables. 


These are my pick of best vegetarian Vietnamese dishes. If you haven’t tried them already, make sure you do, the next time you are in Vietnam. Leave a comment on what other vegetarian food you have come across in Vietnam. 


Also Checkout - 8 Vietnamese Drinks You Must Try.


If you need help planning your travel to Vietnam, glance through my free Travel Guide to Vietnam

 

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