Part of what kept me in Saigon for almost 2 weeks was all of the access to delicious vegan food! It’s not quite as abundant as Chiang Mai, and I’d later learn that the vegan selection in HCMC pales in comparison to Hoi An. But, I thoroughly enjoyed my first few tastes of Vietnamese vegan food as I ate my way through Ho Chi Minh City. In this guide, I’ve ranked the best vegan food in Saigon.
HOW TO ORDER VEGAN FOOD IN VIETNAMESE
GO ON A VEGAN STREET FOOD TOUR OF HCMC
It’s no secret that I’m a firm believer that the best way to get to know the local cuisine when you first arrive in a place is to go on a food tour. What’s better than going on a food tour is to do so from the back of a motorbike! I went on a terrifying yet exhilarating welcome to Vietnam when they sent me on a food tour with Vespa Adventures. Ho Chi Minh City has over 25 million motorbikes on the streets at any given moment!
Next, we went to the famous Banh Xeo Vietnamese Pancake spot. That’s literally the name of the place on Google Maps. Banh Xeo is a traditional rice flour pancakes that can be stuffed with everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. Although this place is seriously old-school they still made me a vegan version by preparing me a Banh Xeo with bean sprouts instead of the usual pork and shrimp mixture. The massive pancake isn’t sweet, it’s extremely savory and oily. Banh Xeo is typically served with a hodgepodge of herbs so toss in as many greens as you’d like to give it more flavor. An assortment of other rolls was served, but they all contained meat. My favorite part of the food tour was laughing with Tri as he laughed at us for how incorrectly we tried to eat things and how terrible our Vietnamese pronunciation was!
A GUIDE TO THE BEST VEGAN DISHES IN SAIGON
My absolute favorite spot to eat vegan food in Saigon was Prem Bistro (Google Maps). Prem, which means love in Sanskrit, is seriously gorgeous with hand-painted murals and traditional textiles decorating the serene setting. This spot was extra special for me as I got to share a meal here with my darling sister who came for a surprise visit to Vietnam. We caught up and lounged on the elaborate throw pillows as we caught up. I hadn’t brought my camera and seriously regret not having better pictures to share. They have an extensive menu of both local, western, and other Asian dishes. I couldn’t resist chowing down on the delicious Indian Palak tofu.
HUM VEGETARIAN CAFE
Although this place is quite affluent it’s still wildly affordable when compared to US prices. Dinner for 3 including appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks was less than $40. This is by far the most serene place for plant-based food in Saigon.
PI VEGETARIAN SAIGON
I washed everything down with a delightful mango, passionfruit, and coconut water juice which I, of course, drank with my reusable straw. I attended a Zero Waste Saigon event while in HCMC and was gifted a set of three straws including a rainbow metallic one that I’m obsessed with.
The Organic (Google Maps) was the first vegan restaurant I went to in Saigon and was a huge relief after struggling to find any vegetables while on the Vietnam Wine Tour. This was also the first place I had real pho! Now, a quick lesson, pho is pronounced like fur, without the r. So it’s said like fu-uh, not foe, which means prostitute. I don’t think a sex worker is what you’re after when you’re trying to order a bowl of Vietnam’s most famous noodles but to each their own. The pho was absolutely fantastic–it was packed full of veggies and the broth managed to be sour, sweet, and savory, all at the same time. I made a rookie mistake and just dumped in the bowl of greens. My server was horrified and tediously ripped them up and mixed them in properly. Oops.
Not only is Healthy Farm (Google Maps) the best place to get a healthy bespoke meal in Saigon, it’s also a vegan grocery store. Though the selection was mostly just fake meats and cups of noodles when I went it looks as if they’ve recently expanded into a massive cafeteria of vegan dishes! So many possibilities–I want to go back to try them all! When I went the set up was a bit more simple–you selected your veggies and noodles from the shelf (sadly, wrapped in plastic, which is so unnecessary) and then bring them over to the counter where they’d all be boiled together. You pay per ingredient you chose to make your own unique vegan Vietnamese noodle dish.
NHA HANG CHAY NAM THIEN DANG
I ate at this vegan spot in Saigon many times. My favorite dishes were the coconut meat salad and the fresh spring rolls. Spring rolls are a solid staple for any vegan in Saigon or traveling while vegan anywhere else in Vietnam. The ingredients are always fresh and the variety always vastly varies to include lots of yummy flavors. No matter what they’re always stuffed to the brim with herbs, usually include tofu, and are wrapped in fresh rice paper. Vegan Vietnamese spring rolls can also be deep fried! They also have vegan pizza at Nha Hang Chay Nam Thien Dang.
Loving Hut (Google Maps) is a PETA awarded vegan super restaurant in Saigon–there are also locations around the world! The dining hall seems very upscale but the prices are really reasonable. They have all the usual vegan Vietnamese dishes. I tried the braised mushroom and it was really great. At Loving Hut I ate flowers for the first time in my life beyond as garnish. I had a stir-fried dish made of just jasmine flowers and wow, it was yummy! Jasmine flower is earthy, crunchy, and sweet! I seriously suggest you try it sometime.
THE VINTAGE EMPORIUM
Sadly, this gorgeous cafe, which is uber popular for brunch, isn’t very vegan-friendly. However, The Vintage Emporium (Google Maps) does have excellent coffee and an array of vegan-friendly smoothies. I devoured mine which was made of avocado, kale, coconut water, and chia seeds. They get extra points for using aluminum straws. The two-story cafe is a great spot to work for the morning and there are many vegan restaurants close by in the cute neighborhood.
GREEN AROUND THE CORNER
XIAO BAN SOY
This chain hails from Singapore and is a haven for vegans in Saigon that are craving something sweet and creamy. While not quite ice cream Xiao Ban Soy (Google Maps) is a thick sugary pudding that is served up in a variety of ways. I opted to have the iced coffee version which pours espresso and even more soy milk over the pudding for a seriously luscious treat. They’ll even serve the drink in a paper cup if you make a special request.
THE ORGANIK HOUSE