Here on Vegan Miam, Cici is taking us to her hometown to share Five Vegan Eats in Hanoi, Vietnam!
Cici was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam and has been vegan for two years. Having recently spent nearly five years studying in the UK, Cici is now back in Vietnam where she is focusing on vegan-related work whilst constantly striving to promote veganism in her homeland. In Vietnam it’s typical for people to partake in a vegetarian diet for religious reasons instead of concern for animals, but she hopes to raise awareness for animal welfare during her pursuit to promote veganism in Vietnam.
In September she will head off to South Africa for a month to participate in a volunteer project helping to reintroduce cheetahs to some of their natural habitats. She is eager to gain experience working with animals whilst also promoting veganism.
Be sure to follow her on Instagram so you can keep up with her and the cheetahs in South Africa, learn more about Hanoi and drool over some vegan eats from Hanoi and beyond.
First of all, I would like to thank Rika for including me on her blog!
Now, let’s see where and what to eat in Hanoi. I’m going to be honest, it’s not that easy to be vegan in this city as some of you may have imagined. I can’t say for other cities in Vietnam because I have never been to any when I’m vegan. Veganism and vegetarianism are unfamiliar concepts to most Vietnamese. Especially the idea that one commits to such lifestyles for life voluntarily is definitely not common. Some Vietnamese only go meat-free for a couple of days each month for religious reasons.
I became vegan when I was studying in England two years ago, but I moved back to Hanoi this summer after finishing my degree. Therefore, I must admit that I’m no expert in being vegan in Hanoi, however, I think, so far I can suggest at least five places.
Loving Hut (Thế Giới Chay)
Hà Nội (Hanoi)
Yep, thank goodness Hanoi has several Loving Hut outlets. There are two outlets in total in this capital city of Vietnam, but I have only been to this one (Thế Giới Chay). It’s Loving Hut, so you can rest assured that everything there is vegan. There are some vegan products available here though it’s more for those who live in Hanoi because some are frozen goods. Similar to most veggie places in Hanoi, this Loving Hut outlet serves Vietnamese food. This restaurant can be quite busy around lunchtime, but don’t worry, there are more seats upstairs. If you ever come with a group of friends, you may want to try order a few side dishes to eat with rice. It’s always fun to be able to try and share different dishes.
I’m addicted to their vegan “Bún Riêu” (Vietnamese ‘meat’ rice vermicelli soup)! Highly recommend you guys try this! Help yourself with some fresh salad leaves to cool down the hot soup!
The dipping sauce has an important role, so don’t forget to eat with it!
Every month according to the Lunar calendar (remember this! NOT normal calendar), on the 1st and 15th, they serve buffet with at least 24 different dishes. I haven’t tried it myself, but I mean, what can really go wrong here, huh? The price is 100,000VND per person.
I’ve already blogged about this place, so if you want to read that long post, click here.
Zenith Yoga Studio II & Café
Hà Nội (Hanoi)
Zenith Yoga Studio II & Café is a vegetarian eatery near the Old Quarter in the Hoan Kiem district. Ah I love this place. It’s small, but cozy. It’s an ideal place to hang out with friends while grabbing something light to munch on. As the name suggests, this is a yoga studio, but it’s upstairs, the café area is downstairs.
The food is prepared fresh using organic ingredients with minimum use of oil. Plus, there’s no MSG or additional additives in the food either. Since the cafe is vegetarian with raw and vegan offerings, I was told that all the food is vegan the last two times I was there. However, I usually double-check with them when I order by stating what vegans can’t eat just in case because I’m over-cautious just like that.
The burger bun is homemade, whole wheat with sesame, which is nice, but a bit dry and dense. My friend had the mushroom sandwich, which has avocado in it as well! Should have ordered that sandwich hmm..
A must-try! The “Zenith’s Tasty Taster Plate” includes Avocado Fresh Nem (“nem” = spring roll), Tofu-Wrapped Mushroom Bites, Chickpea and Mung Bean Falafel, Caramelized Zucchini and Black Bean Bites, Marinated Grilled Eggplant Antipasto, Semi-dried Herbed Tomatoes, Beetroot and Walnut Tabbouleh, Vegetable Sticks and Banh Da (which I don’t think was on our plate…), and Assorted Dips. And there are pitas on the side there as well. The assorted dips were the best! Their homemade pesto was great! The only thing I’m not keen on was the falafel because it was dry. The rest were so delicious!
They have a lunch deal as well where you can choose dish of the day (written on the board near the kitchen counter), a drink and a cookie for 150,000VND.
Oh, almost forgot, remember to take off your shoes when you come into the shop.
A photo for you to spot this place with ease.
I wrote about this café about two months ago, here is the link to that post.
Cơm Chay Mây Trắng (White Cloud Vegetarian Food)
Hà Nội (Hanoi)
Cơm Chay Mây Trắng is a small organic vegan restaurant, hidden away in West Lake Hanoi. The restaurant setup was nice, simple yet cozy: rustic bamboo chairs, open-air, etc.
Their dishes are healthy and prepared with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local farmers. The owner is very friendly. When I asked, she assured me that no animal products are used. Everything is vegan!
On the right, the dish with green and red bell peppers contains seitan, which is known as gluten on their menu, cooked with lemongrass and peppers. Many dishes on the menu use seitan.
You can just order the noodles and others. Alternatively, you can order a few main dishes and then have them with rice like I did that way you can try different things. I’m sure the owner will help if you have any difficulty ordering. However, keep in mind, it usually takes a while for the food to be served because the owner is also the cook and waitress. Yep, I went there recently for lunch and she waited our table as well.
To make it easy for you to find this place, here are the directions:
When you see the sign “Ngõ 12”, baam! You’re there. Turn right to where I put that “STOP” sign in the photo above. This restaurant is number 2, so it’s at the beginning of that road on the right hand side.
Trúc Lâm Trai
Hà Nội (Hanoi)
This restaurant is mostly vegan. Since there are dishes that still contain dairy products such as Nem Hải Sản i.e. Fried ‘Seafood’ Springrolls (contains mayonnaise) or Sữa Ngô i.e. Corn Milk (contain cow milk), it would be best to check with the waiter/waitress about the ingredients of the dish you want to order. It is especially a good idea to specify the dairy products vegan can’t have as they might only think you can’t use milk, but not products such as butter, mayonnaise etc. (Please refer to the ordering tips at the end of this post).
The dish on the right is salad called “Nộm Trúc Lâm”. Very refreshing, especially for a hot day in Hanoi.
Here they also have buffet with at least 30 dishes costing 136,000 VND per person. Similar to Loving Hut above, the buffet is also only available two days, the 1st and the 15th, of every month according to the Luna calendar. The serving time for this is 10:00 – 14:00.
Quán Chè Mười Sáu
Hà Nội (Hanoi)
Finally, let’s have some dessert. Why not try some Vietnamese dessert while you’re in the country?
This place has been around for probably decades now, 40 years or more maybe. It’s family-run and still a popular and reliable place for many Vietnamese. As you can see, it’s tiny, but very busy.
The small white balls at further end of the top shelf are called “bánh trôi”, which are made of glutinous rice flour and inside each of them is sugarcane. The ones on the second shelf served in bowls with sugar water, are called “bánh trôi chay” or “bánh chay”, which are made using the same flour as “bánh trôi”, but the filling is mung bean paste. The green on the plates is made with young rice, which explains the colour, and sugar.
“Thạch đen” is made of agar agar; “Chè đậu đen” = black bean dessert; “Xôi” = mung bean glutinous rice to be eaten with mung bean dessert; “Nước cốt dừa” = coconut milk; “Bánh chay” I’ve explained above; lastly, “Chè đậu xanh” = mung bean dessert.
You know bubble tea and the “pearls” in those drink? At this place, they make those “pearls” (“trân châu”) with tapioca flour and inside it has coconut “meat”, so all is good for vegans. When you order you can just tell them to put them in your dessert. Some more terms: “dừa nạo” = shredded coconut, “hạt sen” = lotus seeds, “vừng” = sesame seeds.
I think 99% of the dessert is vegan. The only thing I’m not entirely sure about is the colourful jelly thing. My mom did ask about it though and they said that it was made using rice or tapioca flour. I would say it might be 100% vegan.
The easiest way for you guys to order if you don’t speak Vietnamese is to look at the price chart above or just point at whatever you fancy. Don’t choose the last one on the chart on its own by the way because that’s just “xôi” (explained above) unless you want some extra or take away.
For example, this is “Chè đỗ đen sen” = black bean dessert with lotus seeds.
Dining Tips in Hanoi
I mentioned at the beginning that Hanoi isn’t a vegan-friendly place. Well, I guess not entirely. There are still vegetarian places to go to, but just be careful and let the waiter/waitress know what you can’t eat because some vegetarian restaurants that follow Buddhism may still use eggs and other animal products.
Moreover, personally, I would advise not to eat at non-vegetarian restaurants unless it’s a place where you can speak to the cook in Vietnamese or are able to make sure the waiter/waitress understands your needs. I’m Vietnamese, but still, I’m not confident enough to order at a non-vegetarian restaurant because even if the waiter/waitress understands me, I can never be sure that they cook my food using clean cooking tools, that aren’t used for other regular dishes, and prepare it away from other animal products. Like I said, I’m over-cautious when it comes to vegan food.
Also, it will be much easier for you to ask for address in Vietnamese, so copy and paste the restaurants’ addresses onto your Note or print them out, and show them to people or the taxi drivers, they should be able to help you.
Last but not least, here are some translations that you may find helpful.
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I hope you guys find this post helpful, especially if you are planning to visit Hanoi. Reading this post is one thing, but if you have other questions, although I’m no expert, I’d love to help. Just drop me an email or contact me via any social networks I’m on. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to make new vegan friends.
About Cici Tran
My name is Huyen-Nga Tran, but rarely do people call me by my real name. Just call me Cici. I’m from Hanoi, Vietnam. I became vegan two years ago while I was studying in England. Write me an email if you have any questions or just leave me a message at cici_tran(at)live.com.