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.
There are plenty of vegan food options in Saigon including cheap traditional eats such as spring rolls, braised tofu, noodle dishes, and curries. But, as with any major city, it’s also possible to find an assortment of vegan dishes of your favorite western dishes from pizza to veggie burgers. I’ve linked the location for all of the places where I ate vegan food in HCMC on Google Maps so be sure to save them before you go visit so you’ll always be able to find a plant-based meal.
HOW TO ORDER VEGAN FOOD IN VIETNAMESE
Chay means vegetarian in Vietnamese. There is no word for vegan in the language. I never really mastered how to properly say chay but it sounds more like gnaw-ai than chai tea. The most important phrase for you to learn is “I don’t eat” which is “Toi Khong an” in Vietnamese. Add on whatever animal-based product you’re trying to avoid. Bo means butter, sua means milk, trung means egg, and nuc mama means fish sauce.
Your safest bet as a vegan in Vietnam is to eat at vegetarian restaurants that are labeled as quan chay. These restaurants won’t use fish sauce, but some dishes may contain milk or egg so be sure to specify before you order. As silly as it may seem having a picture of a bottle of milk and an egg on your phone can be a major lifesaver! I do this and point to the pictures and say no when I’m having trouble communicating. In the same album, I keep screenshots of the local lingo from V Cards.
If you eat in a local establishment for vegan Buddhists there likely won’t be any egg or milk in the food, but there also won’t be any onion or garlic as Vietnamese Buddhists are just as strict as eating living organisms as Jain people are in India.
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!
The food tour isn’t traditionally vegan but my local guide, Tri, was happy to make adjustments to meet my dietary needs. I did the tour with my friend Nam of Laugh Travel Eats and don’t worry, she still got to eat loads of the seafood and meat that she loves! The street food tour is a great option for both meat and non-meat eaters and is sure to make any traveler have a very happy and very full tummy.
We zipped around during the aptly named Saigon After Dark Tour to taste some famous Vietnamese food and drinks. Our first food stop was at a famous seafood stall but not to worry, they gave me an assortment of veggies. Nothing was extremely out of the ordinary here–stir-fried morning glory, steamed corn, and squishy young tofu with fried onion. Vietnamese food may not be photo-worthy but it sure is tasty. Nam ate seafood and even frog legs!
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
The following places are arranged from my favorite to least favorite places to eat vegan food in Saigon. This is based on my own experience and perhaps at some places, I didn’t try the best dish so be your own judge and try out all of these Saigon places that serve up vegan eats.
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
For a luxurious vegan meal in Saigon head to Hum Vegetarian Cafe (Google Maps). The upscale cafe boasts a beautiful cafe that would fit right into the dining scene in New York City with impressive art installations and a tiny pond with a seated Buddha image. I was so overwhelmed with the menu here–there were so many unique renditions on typical Vietnamese dishes! I opted to have the pomelo salad and steamed mushrooms in a lotus leaf. Both were entirely heavenly! It’s usually very hard to find a vegan grapefruit (pomelo) salad as traditionally it calls for fish sauce and tiny shrimps so this was a real treat.
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
While I absolutely loved Pi Vegetarian Saigon (Google Maps) it’s ranked 3rd because the service was miserably slow. We went on a rainy afternoon right after the lunch rush hour so the restaurant was completely empty but it still took an hour for me to get my vegan bowl which was mostly just fresh chopped up veggies. It remains a mystery to me what took so long. I’d go back as these little balls are the most delicious thing ever. Even my meat-eating sister loved them and suggested we get a second round!
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.
Saigon Vegan (Google Maps) is a small locally run hole-in-the-wall that serves up over 100 dishes of vegan Vietnamese dishes for dirt cheap prices. My meat loving sister loved the wet noodle salad here so much she went back by herself to eat it again before her flight! If that doesn’t attest to how great the food was, I don’t know what will! Apparently, we devoured our food here to quickly to ever snap a photo–sorry not sorry.
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
Nha Hang Chay Nam Thien Dang (Google Maps) is a super local vegan place in Saigon was within walking distance from the darling Airbnb I stayed in for 11 days. Save $40 off your first booking of $75 (or €32 towards your first trip of €61) on Airbnb and by using my referral link.
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.
Buddha Chay (Google Maps) is a lovely vegan restaurant located in a quiet area well outside the tourist area of D1. The serene dark setting is reminiscent of a temple and funnily enough, there were several monks eating here. I had sought out Buddha Chay specifically to have jackfruit but sadly none was available the day I went so I settled for a cauliflower clay pot–never a bad idea! It was nice but because of the off-the-beaten-path location, I didn’t make it back to Buddha Chay twice.
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
This absolutely stunning cafe and zero waste shop is lovely but has a super limited menu which is the only reason why it falls lower on the list of best places for vegan food in Saigon. Green Around the Corner (Google Maps) is a hidden gem in Thao Dien. The plant-based smoothie is small, yet decadent with one of my all-time favorite ingredients which is ever-so-hard to find in Asia, Kale!
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.
L’Usine (Google Maps) is not the most vegan-friendly place in Saigon but the restaurant is oh so beautiful and has a darling shop so I was determined to find something veggie to chow down on as I worked here one afternoon. I ended up with their veggie Banh Mi which I altered slightly to fit within my dietary restrictions (no cheese, no butter). Most vegans in Saigon just get Banh Mi from street vendors but I find the plant-based options can be super limited. Banh Mi is basically just a sandwich using french bread.
I’m not one to ever turn down a vegan slice of pizza so I was super excited to try what many call the best vegan pizza in Saigon at Vicolo 1 (Google Maps). Just like most things with too much hype the vegan pizza was seriously disappointing. It was flavorless and reminded me of a microwave pizza. Not worth the carbs!
THE ORGANIK HOUSE
Another beautiful cafe that’s also a zero waste shop is The Organik House (Google Maps). This is the place I was most excited to go for vegan food in Saigon after seeing the vegan cheese platter on my friend Nicole of Vegan Nom Nom’s Instagram feed. To be fair, vegan cheese is very very very hard to master. The platter here was so bland and gross I couldn’t even finish it. The portion size was also absolutely tiny. They did have great coffee and smoothies, so just order anything but the vegan cheese platter!
Have you had any delicious vegan food in Saigon? Tell us about the most memorable meal in the comments.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.