Chay cuisine in Vietnam is a fantastic aspect to the food culture. We all know we should try to do our part eating healthier, and with a little more mindfulness about our effect on the earth and our own bodies. As a long-standing vegetarian, our editor Peter Cornish decided that he would compile a list of the Top vegetarian places to eat in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a ton of places to get a good vegetarian or vegan dish, and so look to this list as only a handful of highlights from a pretty gigantic selection scattered all throughout Saigon.

Am Thuc Chay Mani

Am Thuc Chay Mani is a lovely little restaurant with an intimate feel and a gold standard holder of Saigon’s vegetarian and vegan scene. Some say it’s a little hard to find, tucked down a small alley, but perseverance is rewarded once your food is placed on the table and you can tuck into a healthy and delicious meal.

Chay Mani prides itself on the 4 values brought to you with their mix of vegetarian and vegan food: 1. Quality. At Mani, they believe a vegetarian or vegan meal should be delicious as well as healthy. A full quality, nutritious vegetarian meal should give you enough energy to work and enjoy your daily life to the fullest, and this is apparent in the food they serve. 2. Safety. Ingredients are selected and prepared daily to ensure they only serve the freshest of food. 3. Thoughtfulness. At Mani, you’re treated like one of the family. Whether you eat in or dine out, you’ll always receive hot delicious food, just as you ordered. 4. Convenience. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu that changes daily, you can eat there at times convenient to you or order food to be delivered to your home or office.

Their lunch offer is ridiculously good value and popular among locals and expats, as well as tourists who have heard about the restaurant’s reputation before they arrive in Saigon. The stuffed tofu in tomato sauce is a favourite, as are the mushroom spring rolls and the crispy banh xeo pancakes, stuffed with delicious vegetables.

291/2 Vo Van Tan street, District 3. Ho Chi Minh City
08 3504 0825
facebook.com/comchaymani 

Chay Bong Sung

Chay Bong Sung is another great vegetarian and vegan restaurant that’s perhaps a little hard to find, but well worth the effort once you do. Tucked away down a quiet alley off Nguyen Du, just a few meters from Notre Dame Cathedral, you’ll find a flight of stairs that take you up in to a traditionally French styled villa. Climb these then on to the restaurant inside.

Like other restaurants in our Top 5, Bong Sung is quirky in its style, yet welcoming to its guests, and charming in its décor. As well as inside seating, there is an outside veranda with bohemian influences in its decoration. It offers a chilled, relaxed vibe for a quiet lunch, or perhaps a romantic tete a tete in the cool evening breeze.

The staff are attentive, friendly and hospitable, and are happy to advise you in English of your selection from the vegetarian and vegan menu. Portions tend to be on the generous side, with a mix of traditional Vietnamese vegetarian dishes offering a delicious blend of flavours and creatively combined ingredients.

Meals are often finished with the offer of a complimentary dessert and a delightful way to finish your meal. Best washed down with an ice-cold Vietnamese coffee, or one of their delicious smoothies.

86 Nguyen Du, District 1
08 3822 0377
facebook.com/nhahangchaybongsung

Here & Now

Here & Now is yet another vegetarian restaurant well worth the effort of finding. Located down a further small, quiet hem, away from the madness of the city centre, this is a place to relax away from the mayhem while enjoying more excellent vegetarian and vegan food.

The restaurant’s location was chosen so that this space was not just about the food, but a place where you can have an unforgettable dining experience in surroundings that encourage you to take a moment to savour. They layout is designed to make you feel at peace, relaxed, and content with the intent of letting your daily troubles face away.

As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by warm and welcoming music, accompanied by the gentle flow of waters coming from a small fish pond located in a tranquil corner. If people watching is your thing, sit down on street level and watch the world pass by. If you need a break from it all, head upstairs to enjoy the scene below from a distance.

The food is fresh and innovative, with menu items allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. Simple food, blending classic Asian cuisine with an ever-so-slightly modern twist, it offers a uniqueness that seems appreciated by both vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters.

89E, Nguyen Cong Hoan, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
0122 268 0069
facebook.com/herenowchay 

Kay Bistro

Kay Bistro is attempting to change the way people view vegetarian and vegan food, and you’re guaranteed it’s prepared with a passion that speaks for itself. Perhaps not the cheapest vegetarian restaurant in town, the food served at Kay vegan has an international taste to it, with fusions of Asia, Europe and South America offering something different as well as deliciously healthy. Who says vegetarian or vegan food is boring?

In addition to a menu that changes monthly, there are daily specials to ensure you never get bored of the choice. Whether it’s an organic vegetable soup, a European salad or a Mexican burrito wrap, tastes and textures are authentic and the menu choice is truly global. Ingredients are sourced both internationally and locally, providing flavours we are familiar with, and new ones for us to explore.

Owner manager, Nguyen Kim Chi, extols the virtues of a fully vegan diet, and the desire to share her culinary creations with both vegetarians and meat eaters.  Whether her ingredients are sourced, from abroad, from local organic farms, or her own organic garden, fresh and tasty is the order of the day and the full flavours truly come through. Her manner is friendly and welcoming and she is keen to change the perceptions of vegan and vegetarian food. Whether you’re an omnivore or a carnivore, you are guaranteed to leave feeling fulfilled and wanting to return for more.

84A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
090 395 8169
facebook.com/kayvegan 

Prem Bistro

If you ask a local for their recommendations of a good vegetarian or vegan restaurant, the chances are that they will mention Prem. As with other restaurants mentioned in our Top 5 list, this place stands out as much for its décor and ambience, as it does for the food it serves.

Born with a desire to share simple, delicious vegetarian and vegan food with other like-minded people, the restaurant’s name comes from the word for “love” in Sanskrit. The passion and feeling of the name is evident in the way the food is prepared, as well as the atmosphere and surroundings of the restaurant.

Mixing different styles of vegan and vegetarian food, this is a go-to place for many Westerners when yearning for a comforting, vegetarian taste from home. With a huge selection of menu items ranging from soups and salads, homemade veggie burgers, pizza and traditional Vietnamese food, there is plenty to please vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Although the staff might at times be a little on the relaxed side, it adds to the overall ambience of the place, and the general down-to-earth, homely vibe sought by the owners. A great place to head for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just for a smoothie as you update your Facebook status.

204 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
08 6279 9920
facebook.com/prembistro