So you’re vegan (awesome!) and you’re on your way to Hoi An (also awesome! You’re really on a roll!). When you arrive in Vietnam, a beautiful country marinaded in fish sauce and boasting very little discrimination in the types (or parts) of animals on the menu, you might be wondering if you’ll have to subsist on a diet of plain white rice. Luckily, delicious plant-based options can be found almost everywhere 🙂
First, a couple of important pieces of info:
- Many Vietnamese eat vegetarian on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month. On these days, many restaurants and street stalls that normally sell meat will replace these items with veg options.
- Because of this link to vegetarianism, many restaurants advertise veg options on their signs and menus. Many dishes labeled vegetarian are actually vegan, just double check to be sure.
- The word for vegan is ‘chay’ (pronounced ‘chai’). Look for it on signs or use it to explain to your server that you’d like a meal that avoids all animal products (tell them you are ‘an chay’).
Pro Tip: Get the Happy Cow app. Not only can you search for veg-friendly restaurants in the area, but it also tells you when they are open (many places have quite limited hours) and links directly to your map app to help you get there.
Vegan and Vegan Friendly Restaurants
Disclaimer: I haven’t tried every restaurant or food stall in Hoi An, so I’m sure there are tons more options than the ones I’ve listed.
Map: Here’s a link to a map showing the locations of these restaurants.
Minh Hien (all vegetarian, very vegan friendly)
This was my favorite restaurant in Hoi An. It was conveniently located just a few minutes walk from my homestay and has delicious and super affordable food. Almost everything is vegan and, after eating through most of the menu, I never had a bad meal. Most days I ended up paying $2-4.
Karma Waters (100% vegan)
This is a vegan restaurant offering a range of dishes, both Vietnamese and international. There is an activist feel to it, with a bulletin board of info on the patio. They also offer extremely cheap vegan meals to the poor as a way of giving back to the community. The menu, though, is a bit on the expensive side ($4-8).
Annen – Vegetarian and Yoga (all vegetarian, vegan friendly)
As the name suggests, this is a vegetarian restaurant that also offers yoga classes. The sign outside the restaurant says ‘An Niem’ (I’m not sure why, but just a head’s up to avoid confusion) and the food pictured on their website (a variety of fresh, healthy salads) is not actually available. The real menu is a bit limited but the food is good.
Cay Me (not veg, but vegan friendly)
A colorful, beachy vibe gives this restaurant a lot of personality. The food was delicious, although the juice I ordered was extremely heavy on the ginger (but that could easily have been a one-off based on the person who made it). Located just a couple of blocks from the beach, this is a great place to park your bike for free (but actually buy something from them as a thank you) and avoid the aggressive ‘lot attendants’ as you get closer to the water.
An Lac (all vegetarian, vegan friendly)
This is a good place to get vegan pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. I had the pho from here every morning for breakfast and loved it. Very affordable at $1-2 for a meal.
Phi Ban Mi (not veg, but vegan friendly)
If you’re looking for delicious banh mi (also spelled banh my), this is a great place to go. Although the menu offers a full range of traditional (not veg) options, you can order the vegetarian version without cheese (and with avocado). You’ll get a hot baguette stuffed with tofu, herbs, and deliciousness for just $1.
Phi (the guy who owns/runs this restaurant) speaks good English and is very helpful. Whether you need to book a taxi, schedule a tour, or try to save an injured bird, he’s a great guy to know.
Jack’s Cat Cafe (all vegetarian, vegan friendly)
Jack’s Cat Cafe gets bonus points for the 60+ cats who join you for lunch. The food is primarily western and offers some hard to find items like vegan ice cream and vegan mayonnaise (used in the potato salad, coleslaw, and wraps). Prices are $3-5 for a meal.
Jim’s Snack Bar (not veg, but vegan friendly)
If you’re craving some western food, Jim’s is a great place to grab a burger and fries. Two of the burgers on the menu are vegan (a tikka burger made primarily of potatoes and veggies and a soy-based patty). When he found out I was vegan, Jim also mentioned that they offer a vegan wine as well.
Dua Viet (not veg, but vegan friendly)
Although the prices here are a little higher ($3-7) than the nearby Minh Hien, the food is delicious. Some of the portions are a bit small (watch out for the wontons on the main menu, they are definitely appetizer-sized), but still very good.
Tam Quang Minh (100% vegan)
This is definitely a local spot with very little English spoken. I don’t think I approached this correctly, as, in retrospect, it seems as though you were supposed to order as you entered the restaurant at a made-to-order counter. If, like me, you sit first, there is an English menu with pictures of your four choices. The prices were definitely cheap but the food was a bit greasy (maybe that’s how it was supposed to be?). There were people at other tables who had dinners that looked better than mine and were not pictured in my menu, so this could use a bit more exploration.
Nomad Cafe (all vegetarian, vegan friendly)
The menu here changes regularly, depending on what’s in season and available. I didn’t actually go here because it’s pretty pricey compared to other options in town ($4-9) but it looks good. They also offer yoga classes both in their studio and at the beach.
What Will You Be Eating
There are lots of vegan options available in Hoi An, although many do revolve around a few key ingredients. There will be a lot of rice and noodles, as well as tofu and mock meats. These can be sauteed with a variety of sauces (sweet and sour, lemongrass, chili), put in soup, or grilled in banana leaves. There’s also wonton soup, crispy pancakes (the common version of these is not vegan, so double check before you order), papaya salad, vegetable curry, fruit shakes, and white rose dumplings (a Hoi An specialty, the vegan version is stuffed with mushrooms). Pho and banh mi can be found everywhere. Mexican and Indian food are both available, as well as burgers and pizza. Plenty of choices to keep things interesting 🙂
Oreos are readily available at snack shops all over town. You can also snack on fresh fruit, sorbet, or chips…but seriously, Oreos.
If you want to take your vegan eating to the next level, consider joining one of the many cooking classes offered at restaurants around town. Although I didn’t take one, the general format seems to be that you pick several items from the restaurant menu, learn to make them in a class setting, and then get to enjoy them for dinner (or lunch). This is great because you can choose vegan options even at non-vegan restaurants. The cheapest class I saw was offered at Minh Hien ($15); I also saw them offered at Karma Waters ($40) and Dua Viet, as well as nearly every other restaurant in town.