Not many people seem to know this, but it’s actually really easy to be a vegetarian and vegan in Vietnam. Usually, the Vietnamese food consists of a lot of vegetables and tofu, so the staple food can often be made vegetarian. There’s also many Buddhists in the country that opt for vegetarian food, which is another reason why you can find so many vegetarian and vegan options. So if you’re traveling here, just make sure that you look for signs saying “chay”, that means that it’s vegetarian. Usually you ask for “com chay”, then the staff will know what you’re after. Although the food in the restaurants are delicious, you must go for the street food in Vietnam. It’s a trademark for the country and you’ll find some of the best food in Vietnam on the streets. So, if you’re ready, let’s go finding the best vegetarian Vietnamese street food!
Nom Du Du
If you thought papaya is just supposed to be eaten as a fruit, you’re wrong. Because here in Vietnam, they also make a whole salad out of it. The unripened green papaya is more of a vegetable than as a fruit. You can eat the papaya in soup or shredded in salads. The green papaya salad (nom du du) is one of the most fresh, healthy and delicious street food you can find. The locals love to eat it and so will you. The papaya is often mixed with other green herbs and mixed in a delicious rice vinegar sauce, topped with crushed roasted peanuts on top. If you want it to be fully vegetarian, you have to ask them to do it without any fish sauce though.
Steamed rice paper rolls
The steamed rice rolls might remind you a bit of crepes although the batter is much thinner, steamed, stuffed and then rolled up. But you also have the plain version, which usually consists of a tiny bit of onion only. The fillings can be anything from pork to mushrooms. For vegetarians, just keep a lookout on the ones filled with mushrooms or go for the plain ones – they’re very popular, even though there’s no filling. You dip the rice paper rolls in sauce and eat it with a salad on the side.
Vegetarian baguette sandwich
Who can go to Vietnam without having at least one banh mi? The French inspired Vietnamese baguette is one of the most popular dishes and street food you can find in the country and travelers especially loves it. It might sound simple – a baguette with filling – but it’s something else. The bread is crusty and warm, the fillings are a taste explosion and you can choose whatever you want in it. There’s pickled vegetables, eggs, herbs, pate, cheese, meat, everything! If you want it completely vegan, it’s definitely possible, but you might want to look for places that serves specifically vegan banh mi’s (there are those!). But if you’re going for vegetarian, you can find it in any banh mi shop.
The sticky rice in Vietnam can either be eaten as a dessert or something savory. It can either be topped with various herbs or something sweeter such as sugar, shredded coconut and roasted peanuts. The sticky rice is usually eaten as a side dish, but be warned – it can be quite filling!
Fried rice cake
Although this dish isn’t as popular as the others, it’s still as flavorful and delicious. It’s a streetfood with Chinese origins and consists of rice cakes that are fried until golden, then a whisked egg is added along with shallots, onions and some soy sauce. Everything is then tossed together and mixed in a big pan. Yum!
There’s plenty of other dishes to try in Vietnam, but if you don’t have a lot of time to spend there, go for these dishes – you will never go wrong then. What’s also good with Vietnam is that it’s a very affordable country to travel around in, so you can eat out as much as you want to without having to worry about spending all your money. It can even be much cheaper to dine out than dining in, especially if you opt for the street food.
You must also remember to apply for the Vietnam visa before you start your journey. Most nationalities are required to obtain a visa, although there are a few exceptions. It depends where you’re from. But if you must apply for a visa, it’s highly advisable to go for the Visa on Arrival. It’s an online visa and you can apply for it from wherever you are in the world. All you need is a computer, tablet or mobile phone with a stable internet connection. There’s also the option to go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. However, you’ll have to book an appointment with them then and bring all the documents there. This can be a bit more time consuming and complicated, therefore it’s recommended to go for the Visa on Arrival.
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