From seeing half a cow on the back of a moped in Sapa, to a whole crocodile roasting on a barbecue in Nha Trang, as a vegetarian, Vietnam was an eye opener. A country where vegetarianism is rare, (only devout Buddhists following a meat free diet), you’ll often find waiters asking ‘why?’ as you try to translate. Meat is the most important part of the meal, why on earth would you want to leave it out?
That said, in my five weeks round Vietnam, I’ve had some incredible food worth blogging about. For all those veggie (and vegan) backpackers, fed up of omelettes and fried rice, here are some of my favourite stops.
Hum – Ho Chi Minh City
A stones throw away from the War Museum, the food here is as beautiful as the restaurant’s interior. A completely vegetarian menu, the staff are more than happy to help as you deliberate between dishes. Not the cheapest if you are on a backpackers budget, but it’s definitely worth the price tag.
Joe’s – Mui Ne
You’ll find Joe’s mentioned in every guide book and travel blog and it’s not hard to see why. With live music, a sea view and some Western options on the menu, what more could you want? The tofu curry is spectacular and the potato skins are a much needed taste of home when the pho gets too much.
Lanterns – Nha Trang
With sea food restaurants everywhere you turn, on face value, if you don’t eat fish, Nha Trang is a nightmare. Not at Lanterns. A Vietnamese menu with a difference, you might have to queue, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
Mix – Nha Trang
You’ll feel like you’re cheating, eating Greek cuisine in Vietnam, but you won’t care once your food arrives. With fresh dips and salads to choose from, this is a vegetarians paradise (even if your boyfriend orders the ‘meat platter’). What’s more, the service is impeccable and the owner is lovely.
Hanoi Social Club – Hanoi
With the best coffee in Hanoi and vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options marked on the menu, the social club felt like a home away from home. After working my way through most of the veggie options, I can confirm, the quinoa and polenta porridge and the mango curry are to die for.
As the saying goes, if you don’t ask you don’t get and this definitely applies here. Most restaurants along the way are happy to make a meat-free alternative, even if it’s not on the menu, so have google translate handy. One last thing to watch out for is fish sauce, which seems to creep into a lot of vegetarian dishes throughout Vietnam!