Travelling Homebody - Favourite Vegetarian Restaurants in Hanoi

Insider guide to best vegetarian restaurants in Hanoi

It’s surprisingly easy to be vegetarian in Hanoi

Around five years ago, while I was still in Australia, I phased beef and lamb out of my diet. Pork (no more Soonta salads) went three years ago — just before I came to Hanoi. Duck, which I also loved, disappeared from my plate two years ago (mainly because it’s so bony and not tasty here), and chicken went recently. I do eat fish. And I still love, love, love my dairy.

I’m essentially a flexitarian, which is a common dietary variation in the West, but it often blows the mind of the Vietnamese here. Because it’s difficult to explain in Vietnamese, I say I’m a vegetarian. But you eat fish. Fish is a meat. How can you eat meat and be a vegetarian? Chi an chay mot chut, I say. Chi khong an thit bo, lon, ga, vit. Chi an ca. I’m a little bit vegetarian. I don’t eat beef or pork or chicken or duck. I eat fish. OK chi, they say. (And yes, I do speak a little Vietnamese.)

Given that meat is a staple of Vietnamese meals, there are decent vegetarian and vegan options in Hanoi. As an aside, pork is ubiquitous here — almost every dish has this meat in it. Vegetarians have to be vigilant and ask if there is pork in the dish, even if the menu says something is a mango salad and there is no mention of pork! Some vegetarian restaurants (in my opinion) are overrated and overpriced, some are surprisingly good and quite cheap. This list, which I will keep updated, are my three favourite vegetarian restaurants in Hanoi, and I eat at these places often.

Please note that some of these restaurants are vegan, but because I’m not, I can’t attest to how vegan they are (and why I’ve written this post from a vegetarian perspective rather than a vegan one).

Veggie Castle

Travelling Homebody - Favourite Vegetarian Restaurants in Hanoi - Veggie Castle

Dubbed the king of vegetarian restaurants by those who frequent it often, Veggie Castle is a hidden gem in Hanoi. While it’s a tad more expensive than Peace Vegan (below), the decor is lovely and, well, it feels like a restaurant.  It’s stylish, comfortable and inviting. And clean. Staff are friendly and professional.

There are more than 10 dishes to choose from, and they are very fresh, and the menu is always changing. Favourite dishes are the banh cuon (fresh spring rolls), nem (fried spring rolls), the mango salad, cauliflower (that tastes like it has been barbecued) and the banana fritters. The potatoes were also really good. If you want to pay extra for a drink (which is optional), the lemon and mint tea (for an extra VND30,000 or AUD$2.00) is delicious and refreshing, especially in the heat of Hanoi’s summer (it’s been a sweltering 40° at the time of writing this post).

If they had the fake meat that I love so much (which I have never seen there), Veggie Castle would be the perfect vegetarian restaurant as far as I’m concerned! I eat at Veggie Castle at least once per week.

Location: 7 Yen Ninh, Truc Bach and 19/275 Au Co, Quang An, Tay Ho (links to Google map)
Price: 70,000 + free tra da (iced Vietnamese tea) = AUD$4.00
Style: Buffet, including dessert
Opening hours: 11AM-2PM and 6:00PM-9.30PM daily
Photo credit: Veggie Castle

Thuc Duong Tinh Tam

Travelling Homebody - Favourite Vegetarian Restaurants in Hanoi

I have never eaten street bun cha, this typical Hanoian dish made famous Obama and Bourdain because well, pork. I have, however, eaten the vegan bun cha from Thuc Duong Tinh Tam (it used to be called Tinh Tam Tra) — and it was delicious. The “meat” was char-grilled with lemongrass and chilli, and had that meaty texture that I love. And it’s a dish I always order when I eat there.

I was first introduced to this restaurant when I reviewed them for the now defunct Word magazine, and because I was so impressed with the owners (Vy and her mother), the vibe (kind of Japanesey) and the food (fresh, organic and vegan, with recipes from Vy’s mother’s kitchen), I have returned on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, they recently moved to another district (further away from my home for this non-driving expat), so I haven’t been back for a while.

Apart from vegan spring rolls (so good!), soups, salads and “meat” dishes, Thuc Duong Tinh Tam also has a vegan jerky, which is yummy. While the restaurant is a la carte, I’ve not found it expensive. It usually costs me around VND100,000-120,000 ($6-$7) for a meal, including a drink and starter.

Location: 29/26 Vo Dan Dung, Dong Da (links to Google map)
Price: Prices start at around VND30,000 ($2.00) for starters and drinks.
Style: A la carte
Opening hours: 9AM-10PM daily
Photo credit: Thuc Duong Tinh Tam

Peace Vegan

Travelling Homebody - Favourite Vegetarian Restaurants in Hanoi - Peace Vegan

Located on lovely Nhat Chieu street, on the banks of West Lake in Tay Ho district, Peace Vegan is both a delicious and cheap option for vegetarians at lunch time. There is usually a good selection of around 10 dishes to choose from, plus rice and soup. My favourites are the fake meat because the texture and flavour are sooooooo good, the fried eggplant, pumpkin curry and the steamed okra. And the crinkle cut chips are quite good. There is also a crushed black sesame and salt condiment that I sprinkle over everything that an extra layer of scrumptiousness.

While the decor isn’t particularly spectacular, diners have a range of seating options: ground floor, upstairs or outside overlooking the lake. After your meal, make sure you take your dishes out the back to be washed. Apart from bringing your tea, there is no table service (but staff are local and friendly)! You can order other drinks from the separate drinks menu, but I don’t because free tea.

Location: 45 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho (links to Google map)
Price: VND40,000 + free tra da (iced Vietnamese tea) = AUD$2.50
Style: Buffet
Opening hours: 11.30AM-2.30PM daily (a la carte menu served at dinner)
Photo credit: Peace Vegan

Worthy mentions:

  • Loving Hut – vegan version of Vietnamese food
  • Hawaii Poke Bowl – Japanese-style poke bowl. If like the salmon and tuna but there are vegetarian options.
  • The Veg – another delicious and nutritious takeaway option
  • Au Lac – another vegan buffet with what seems like hundreds of options
  • Hanoi Taco Bar – delicious vegetarian nachos and quesadillas

If you live in Hanoi, or have recently visited, what are your favourite vegetarian restaurants?

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