Peter Cornish discovers amazing vegan comfort food at the Ben Thanh Street Food Market. Photos by Romain Garrigue.
There’s a good number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city now, most of them highlighting the health benefits of a plant-based diet, serving a selection of delicious, wholesome foods that make us feel good about our healthy life choices.
But there’s a new player on the scene that, while sticking with a 100% plant-based, organic, homemade, no chemicals, no additives menu, has opted for a comfort food route where healthy lifestyle choices of salads and quinoa take second place.This is about having your cake, eating it too, and enjoying every bite.
Herbivora Saigon was opened just a couple of months back by Liz Eddy, an American lady who exudes the benefits of a plant based diet, and practices what she preaches. Located in the food court on Thu Khoa Huan street just behind BenThanh Market, her small unit is found on the left hand side, half way up, tucked away on a corner.
The market food court is growing in popularity, with the selection of food stalls now including the first 100% vegan option. Communal, shared table seating at the front and back attracts tourists and locals alike, keen to try the choices of food on offer and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
Herbivora’s menu is not large, written on a couple of blackboards hung on the wall, and food is prepared offsite at a central kitchen. Liz also runs vegan cooking classes from the kitchen where you can learn to make some of the food Herbivora sells, including deliciously succulent brownies and some amazingly moist chocolate chip cookies. Yup, it’s not often I describe food as amazing, but these were. And 100% vegan too.
The order of the day is generously sized servings of American style comfort food. We’re talking cheese burgers, biscuits, mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chikin, pancakes, waffles, cheeze fries, voodoo fries, pop tarts, cookies, brownies and combos of all of the above, all from about VND45,000 to about VND170,000 and averaging around VND100,000 for burgers and fried chikin. Good value.
By the time this article is published the menu will have grown in size, with new options including vegan fish and chips. All the food is 100% vegan, organic and homemade, fresh, daily, including the buns, waffles, mayo and butter, and the burger has a gluten free option, in case you were wondering
While many of the ingredients are sourced locally, hard to find vegan products are brought in from the US and UK, including bio-degradable plates and cutlery. As well as being vegan, Liz is a keen environmentalist and believes in leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible, so everything she does with Herbivora Saigon follows this principle.
With plans to open a bistro in Go Vap, the food court restaurant is a convenient choice for vegans and vegetarians wanting to add a little comfort to their diet. Sure to become a popular spot quickly.