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There’s good news and bad news for vegetarians in Vietnam. The bad news is that no Vietnamese dishes are naturally vegetarian, so hunting down street eats is a challenge if you want something more than a laughing cow cheese banh mi. The good news is that many Buddhists in Vietnam eat vegetarian food for at least two days a month. This means that there are many vegetarian restaurants, and for two days at full and new moons (30th/1st and 14th/15th days of the lunar calendar), you can even find street stalls selling meat-free dishes.
The key word to learn is “chay”, which means vegetarian. You can use it to explain your dietary requirements in restaurants (“Tôi ãn chay” means “I’m a vegetarian”) or look for the sign “Com chay” or “Quan chay” outside vegetarian restaurants. You can find vegetarian restaurants on Happy Cow.
The downside for us to vegetarian restaurants in Vietnam is that most use a lot of fake meat, which we don’t like.
That said, it was easy to be vegetarian in Hoi An, and we found a few restaurants we really enjoyed.
Note: The current exchange rate is approximately $1 = 22,000 VND and £1 = 31,000 VND.
The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Hoi An
1) Minh Hien
Minh Hien was our absolute favourite restaurant in Hoi An and we visited countless times. They have a large menu, don’t use mock meat, and everything was much more flavourful than at other vegetarian restaurants in Vietnam. You can try meat-free versions of local classics like white rose dumplings and cau lau noodles (the four-course Set Meal 1 for 99,000 VND is a good way to try them), but our favourite dishes were the fried tofu in lemongrass and chile and the sautéed pumpkin with peanuts. The dishes cooked in banana leaves are also very tasty, and if you are a mushroom fan, try them braised in black pepper.
The food is reasonably priced, although portions can be a little small, so we usually shared three dishes. Drinks are inexpensive—a glass of fresh beer is only 3000 VND ($0.15)!
We also took their cooking class to learn how to make our favourite dishes. They were surprisingly quick and simple, and we learnt that the flavour comes from their spicy mushroom stock. We managed to replicate the dishes at home successfully, which isn’t always the case with cooking classes.
Classes run for 2-3 hours at 11am and 4pm and cost $15. You can choose what to cook from the menu—one dish per person, plus one extra (so four of us made five dishes). The classes are very informal, with a mix of demonstration and participation, and you have to write down the recipes yourself. For a more professional experience, you might prefer one of the cooking schools (which all cater to vegetarians), but we liked learning Minh Hien’s secrets.
Cost for a Main Dish: 30-60,000 VND.
Details: 50 Tran Cao Van (main branch) and 30a Đinh Tiên Hoàng (new branch).
Website: Minh Hien.
P&B is a friendly vegetarian restaurant near An Bang beach. Every day of the week there’s a different menu—you can choose a single dish or a four-course set menu from just 85,000 VND. We like the Thursday menu, which includes crispy wontons topped with a tomatoey mushroom mixture and bun cha rice noodle salad with lettuce, herbs, fried spring rolls, and a tasty dressing. They are one of the few places that serve red rice. The cakes and western dishes aren’t as good.
Cost for a Main Dish: 40-90,000 VND.
Details: Nguyễn Phan Vinh close to main entrance of An Bang beach. Closed Tuesdays.
Website: P&B Vegetarian Facebook.
3) Karma Waters (Sadly, now permanently closed)
Karma Waters has a healthy, vegan menu of Vietnamese, Indian, and international dishes. We liked the dahl, vegetable noodles, and tofu banh mi. They also have red rice. I would have liked to try one of the many Vietnamese salads.
Cost for a Main Dish: 40-60,000 VND for most dishes. 80-150,000 VND for Indian.
Details: 213 Nguyen Duy Hieu.
Annan has a small menu of Vietnamese dishes. The fried tofu with tomato sauce and the mango and passionfruit smoothie were good, but the morning glory in garlic was a bit bland. They also have yoga classes, but the teacher was away when we were in town (don’t trust the schedule on their website).
Cost for a Main Dish: 30-45,000 VND.
Details: 320 Nguyen Duy Hieu.
5) An Nhu
This is one of the many cheap vegetarian restaurants that are empty most of the time and packed with locals on full/new moon days. They all have fairly standard menus of spring rolls, banh xeo, noodle soups, hot pots, and rice with a selection of vegetables and fake meat. As meals start from 20,000 VND, they are good value, but we didn’t find the food very exciting.
An Nhu was my favourite of the cheap eateries. We had the spring rolls and the hot pot packed with noodles, vegetables and tofu (thankfully no fake meat).
Cost for a Main Dish: 20-40,000 VND.
Details: 516 Hai Bà Trưng.
Website: Happy Cow listing.
6) Jack’s Cat Cafe
Jack’s serves creative sandwiches and salads in a pleasant garden where over 50 rescued cats roam. It’s a casual, friendly place, perfect for a relaxing afternoon playing with the cute cats. It’s a great cause and they are always looking for volunteers if you have a few weeks to spare.
It’s a bit hidden and there’s no sign. Go to 12 Le Hong Phong and walk down the side road opposite it. Jack’s is the first big house on the right. Look for the high chicken wire fencing around the building. Press the blue doorbell to be let in.
Cost for a Main Dish: 60-70,000 VND.
Details: 12 Le Hong Phong (see directions above). 11 am – 3 pm. Closed Thursdays.
Website: Jack’s Cat Cafe Facebook.
Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Hoi An
We mostly stuck to vegetarian restaurants in Hoi An as there are so many, but if you want to visit a restaurant with meat eaters, here are a few places we liked.
7) Morning Glory
Morning Glory is one of the most popular restaurants in Hoi An. It’s a huge and busy place that seemed touristy, but the food is really good. The vegetarian dishes are described as side dishes, but the portions are quite large and three dishes between us was plenty. The fried eggplant with garlic and chile was especially tasty.
Cost for a Main Dish: 65,000 VND.
Details: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc.
Website: Morning Glory.
8) Banh My Phuong
Anthony Bourdain’s favourite banh mi place always has a queue. It’s not listed on the menu but ask for “banh mi chay” with “đậuphụ” (tofu) and you’ll get a crispy baguette stuffed with spicy tofu and salad. Although I asked in Vietnamese, the lady spoke English and understood not to use fish sauce.
Cost for a Main Dish: 20,000 VND.
Details: 2B Phan Châu Trinh.
Website: TripAdvisor listing.
International Restaurants in Hoi An
For a break from Vietnamese food, these were our favourite spots. They aren’t entirely vegetarian but have meat-free options.
Our favourite Indian restaurant in Hoi An. It’s always busy so book in advance or arrive before 6pm (they open at 5.30pm). There are lots of vegetarian dishes. We liked the onion bhajis, vegetable samosas, chana masala, and aloo gobi mattar.
Cost for a Main Dish: 80,000 VND.
Details: 24 Tran Hung Dao.
10) Good Morning Vietnam
Our favourite pizza in town (although Luna D’Autunno at An Bang Beach is also good). It’s nothing special, but if you’ve been in Asia for a while, it satisfies the pizza craving. It has a convenient location in the ancient city, and you get a complimentary appetiser and homemade limoncello.
Cost for a Main Dish: 120,000 VND for a Margherita pizza.
Details: 11 Lê Lợi, Phường Minh An
Website: Good Morning Vietnam.
11) Hola Taco
Hola Taco only has one vegetarian taco, but it’s delicious—spicy black beans, corn and pepper salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage, queso fresco, and pickled shallots. The guacamole and chips are also great.
Cost for a Main Dish: 85,000 VND.
Details: 5 Phan Chau Trinh. Monday-Saturday 12 – 9.30pm.
Website: Hola Taco Facebook.
12) Dingo Deli
If you are craving Western food, head to Dingo Deli. It’s run by a friendly Australian couple, and you can find cakes, bread, and imported products in the shop and meals from breakfast to dinner in the restaurant. We found most of the vegetarian dishes (bean burrito, veggie burger, lasagna) average and stodgy, but we enjoyed the coffee, juices, cakes, potato wedges, and huge create-your-own sandwiches with a choice of many types of bread and interesting toppings. The Wi-Fi is fast and there are some comfy couches, so it’s a good place to work. It’s easy to spend a fortune in here, though!
Cost for a Main Dish: 120,000 VND for a create-your-own sandwich.
Details: 277 Cua Dai Road.
Website: Dingo Deli.
Sweet Treats in Hoi An
Cargo Club – Rich but delicious cakes and a nice river view from the terrace.Dingo Deli – Good cakes and treats such as apple crumble, chocolate cupcakes, and fudge.Boulevard Gelato – Good gelato, especially the white chocolate.Local stalls – You can find local sweets at stalls in the old town, but we’re not a fan of Asian desserts. The “mango cake” was a particular disappointment, as it’s made from sticky rice and peanuts (apparently it’s shaped like a mango). Still, desserts are a vegetarian’s best chance to eat street food.
Hoi An Vegetarian Restaurant Map
Vegetarian restaurants are in red, vegetarian-friendly in blue, international in green, and sweet treats in orange.
For more ideas, see the many listings on Happy Cow and the Vegan Food Quest’s vegan guide to Hoi An, which includes more of the cheap local places that we didn’t enjoy as much (they like mock meat).
Although Hoi An couldn’t compete with foodie heaven Ubud (where we’d come from), it was easy to be vegetarian and eating out is very affordable. What are your favourite vegetarian restaurants in Hoi An?
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If you’d like to stay in town longer, see my guide to finding a house to rent in Hoi An.