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Saigon Vegan Guide: From the Far West to the Far East

Sep 17, 2020 | Asia, Destinations, Travel Tips, Vegan Travel | 0 comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Saigon vegan cafés and hole-in-the-wall restaurants are simply divine. From plant-based fusions of traditional Vietnamese coffee culture to pho sans flesh, Saigon is a vegan-friendly city for first timers and lifestyle changers alike.

In this virtual Saigon vegan food tour, I’ll share with you 7 restaurants you should try when visiting this Vietnamese city (even if you’re only in town for a few days, just like I was).

Chúc Ngon Miệng!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!

1 // Pho Chay Nhu

I admittedly knew less than I wanted to about Vietnamese culture when I first stepped foot in the country, but I’d known for years that pho is a staple noodle dish in the local diet.

Pho (pronounced “phuh”) comes with noodles, veggies, meat (or mock meat, for people like me), chili peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and broth.

It’s soothing, with notes of chunky vegetables and oyster mushrooms, then biting in its chili spice, whose seeds pack a lingering punch.

And, if you’re not convinced by everything I’ve said so far, it must be the first dish you try in Vietnam!

Luckily for me, I was staying at an adorable boarding house just a few steps away from Pho Chay Nhu, a vegan spot with the HappyCow seal of approval.

After a long travel day from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I was ready to dig into the largest bowl of pho I’d ever seen.

Tucked in a winding alley, Pho Chay Nhu offers exactly what I was looking for: vegan pho. Each table had a container of chopsticks and spoons, for digging out the contents of the pho and then for relishing in its savory broth.

Pro tip: The word “chay” means vegetarian/vegan in Vietnamese, and it is relatively easy to find food for vegans in this country.

Bowl of vegan pho noodle soup with mushrooms, green onion, carrots, and broth

2 // Veggie Saigon

Second only to pho in the Sarah L. Travels guidebook is a banh mi. If you’ve never heard of one, it’s a sandwich with protein (in my case, tofu), pickled veggies, chili peppers, cilantro, and a delicious, tangy sauce that ties it all together.

I loved having these for lunch after a morning of sightseeing in the sometimes-overwhelming Vietnamese sun!

Veggie Saigon is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, because of its expansive menu, friendly staff, relaxing atmosphere, and truly delish dishes. I paired my bahn mi with a Vietnamese milk tea made with a plant milk, and discovered that my favorite boba was right there in Saigon!

Vegan Banh Mi
Iced tea with brown tapioca boba on top

3 // Bookworm’s Coffee

If there is one thing you must experience while on your own Saigon vegan adventure, it is Vietnamese coffee culture!

Being a daily coffee drinker myself, a cup of local brew is first on my list in the morning. While I usually make myself a cup wherever I’m staying, Vietnam was an exception to this.

Coconut coffee and Vietnamese iced coffees with a delicious condensed milk (made dairy-free for people like me) are two of the best I’ve ever had!

When you’re in Saigon, head over to Bookworm’s Coffee. It’s a hole-in-the-wall spot that’s locally owned, serving British traditional fares and a full Vietnamese coffee menu. I got a coconut iced coffee, which was a welcome, refreshing treat after walking for over an hour in the blazing Vietnamese sun.

Be sure to try one of these before you leave Vietnam!

Iced coconut coffee

4 // Công Café

I could sing the praises of Công Café all day long.

It’s really that good.

I know, I know. Công is a chain, and I usually stay away from coffee chains (especially when traveling).

One of these was right around the corner from where I was staying in Saigon, and its storefront was so adorable that I couldn’t help myself but to try it out.

Let’s just say that Công became my office for a few days, with perfect views of the iconic Pink Church and delicious iced coffees with coconut condensed milk. Yum!

Cup of iced coffee with star drawn on top in latte art and vase of pink flowers in the background

5 // The Vegan Garden

Since I live as a nomad and have to get tasks for this blog and my other businesses done while I’m traveling, I don’t always get to eat outside of where I’m staying, or take a break to go out for dinner.

On one such night, I decided to try out Grab Eats. If you’ve never been to Asia or you’re not familiar with Grab, it’s a rideshare app similar to Uber. Headquartered and founded in Singapore, Grab caters to countries in Southeast Asia. It was available in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam while I was there in early 2020.

Not only is this the preferred route for solo travelers needing a taxi, since you can see the driver’s information and pay with your credit card, but it’s also great for food delivery!

While I was in my hotel room working and planning my train trip up to Da Nang, I ordered a veggie burger from The Vegan Garden through Grab Eats. Not only was it a great price, but it was also one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had!

Be sure to try The Vegan Garden in Saigon if you’re craving a veggie burger and some fries!

6 // Filthy Vegan

Throughout Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, you’ll find restaurants offering British cuisine. Filthy Vegan is a spot that offers British and American comfort food.

Based on raving HappyCow reviews, I ordered the hot dog. I wouldn’t necessarily get it again, and it’s not quite the texture I wanted. But, I would definitely go back to Filthy Vegan and try something else!

The owner was super friendly and had a great personality, to boot. Give this place a try and hang around to chat.

Veggie dog with ketchup and mustard drizzled on top and fries on the side

7 // Thien An Phat

On my way out of Saigon, I opted for the train. You see, the Reunification Line is iconic in Vietnam, and a great way to experience equal parts local culture and history. I’m also a fanatic train lover.

Train it is for this girl!

{Psst! If you’re not much of a train person, domestic flights in Vietnam are usually a great price!}

Since I was taking an overnight train to Da Nang, and I’m allergy-ridden, I knew I needed to plan my food out in advance. I had snacks with me, but I needed dinner.

I found Thien An Phat on HappyCow and it was conveniently near the train station. When I left my homestay, I hopped in a Grab and headed for this little restaurant for some takeaway noodles.

This was my first time ordering Cao Lau, which quickly became my favorite Vietnamese noodle dish!

Cao Lau has thick noodles, veggies, and usually beef (which for me was a mock meat) with deep-fried tofu. Instead of being full of broth like pho, cao lau has just a little bit of broth at the bottom of the bowl, but this broth is very, very rich.

Cao lau is by far my favorite of the two! Be sure to try some — many vegan spots in Vietnam offer a plant-based version of this local favorite.

• • •

I hope you enjoyed this little virtual Saigon vegan food tour, and that it helped you figure out which places to try in this city! Luckily for us, Saigon is full of vegan treasures — so much so, it can be overwhelming.

If you’re short on time, try the places on this list and focus on having fun. After all, that’s why you’re visiting Saigon in the first place!

When you take that first bite of a local dish, you’ll feel the fusion of flavors as they fight for dominance in your palate, scents swirling in the air, steam blowing around you from a rich broth.

Take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out. And savor.

Life is short. Moments like these are shorter. Abide in them while they last. ❤️

Pin this post and save it for later!

Bowl of vegan pho with text: 7 Vegan Restaurants You Must Try in Saigon

Hi, I’m Sarah

Welcome to my oasis! I am a writer and budding entrepreneur with a love for caffeine, capital gains, and seeing the world. If I’m not writing, you can find me reading a good book, trying out a new vegan recipe, or adding to my coffee mug collection. My goal in life? To see every country in the world. Come along for the ride!

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