Âu Lạc 2 – 530 Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street ; District 7, Bình Thuận Ward
Âu Lạc 2 is our next Veggie Venue blog entry. This eatery is larger and more modern than most Com Chay eateries, yet cheaper and more informal than most vegetarian restaurants. We might say that this place is somewhere between eatery/cafeteria and restaurant. The prices are moderate to low — depending on what you are comparing them to. Probably most would consider these prices to be low, but in the world of veggie eateries in the city, we would probably classify it as moderate/affordable.
This place has modern, almost trendy, white tables and chairs. The venue has a clean and roomy environment. It is located on a large, busy street in east D7. The menu had many pages. Therefore, I didn’t bother to take pics of the whole menu. Also, I chose not to order from the menu, instead taking the standard Com Chay dish with soup… only adding the vegan version of “those thingies” that they wrap in banana leaves. (Sorry, I forgot the name of this — it’s Banh-something.) The menu did not have an English translation at the time of the writing of this blog entry. As you find in most Com Chay eateries, the “buffet” here is not self-service but you can often point at what you want and don’t want.
I can recommend this cafeteria-restaurant for people who are already passing through the area (eastern district 7 near the Nguyen Van Quy Highway).
This new veggie venue is not of my creation. This is a blog entry taken from Steven McGrath’s blog called “Channel Steve”. Steve (a.k.a. RockPortrait) is a well-known and respected ex-pat blogger in VietNam. He was kind enough to let me repost his post on Saigon Vegetarian. Here is the link to his Blog:
and here is the link to the original posting:
and here is the pasted entry:
I was lucky enough to be invited to eat at the newly opened vegetarian restaurant, Thien Y, in Binh Thanh district. It’s owned by the family of one of the VAS students.
I wasn’t expecting much, being a meat eater, but the food, decor, cleanliness and ambience in this place blew me away. They used mushrooms in place of meat to create dishes like sweet & sour pork, and the difference was almost indistinguishable.
To top it all off, six dishes and two drinks came to a gob-smacking 200,000VND (just under $10). Well worth a taxi ride to this north-eastern district.
Address of Thien Y is:
36 Tran Quy Cap
P.11, Q. Binh Thanh
Tel: 0913 916 036
Photo 1 is a soup that updates and outdoes the ever so popular Sup Cua (crab soup).
Photo 2 is a dish with assorted mushrooms, so tasty with perfectly crispy greens and carrots.
Here is a little map of D4-Saigon and its Cơm Chay eateries. There might be a few left that I haven’t discovered, but there can’t be many more than this (July 2011), because I have really searched hard by foot, bicycle, xe om — you name it. I have not included the cafes and restaurants that have some veggie items (or even veggie pages). For sake of map clarity, only the true vegan/veggie places of the vietnamese variety have been included. More info about these eateries are in the “Veggie Venue” list tab.
This is a new place that just opened in May 2011. You should try it. Menu still in Vietnamese only right now, but they may add an english one. You should be able to find a waiter to help you though. Moderate/very reasonable pricing. Good food and friendly owner and waiters. Room for larger groups.
There are various things on the menu including Thai dishes, etc. It is a Vegan Restaurant. This place is very new and clean. The prices are under control and when we went as a group with people from Couchsurfing.org , there was still a 20% discount going on back then as well. If you decide to go with a group, consider calling a reservation and maybe they might be ready to give you a group discount. They even have vietnamese beer.
- 124-126 Nguyễn Cư Trinh; District 1, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward
(August 2011): Now they have delivery! You can even order by the net: http://www.eat.vn/en/hoakhai (Districts 1,3,4, and 5 at the moment) from 7:15 am to 22:00 pm everyday
Veggie Venue 5 – “Ngoc Tho” ; 175/9 Pham Ngu Lao, district 1
This place has been reviewed by a lot of travelers. I suggest you do a search on “Ngoc Tho, 175/9 Pham Ngu Lao”, and read some of the blogs and reviews. A pretty good one to help give you an idea is: http://ilovemyveg.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html
When I took my table, there was only one other table with diners. By the time I finished, all the tables were full — I suspect with people on their way home from work. The service was friendly, and the food was middle-priced and very tasty. I wanted to try so many things, but stuck to bean tacos and a small clay-pot of steamed/fried vegetables. I am sure I will be stopping by this place pretty often. The location is right in there on a drivable side-alley off of Pham Ngu Lao. That’s the same alley that has Le Pub and another veggie spot. “Ngoc Tho” is the one that is NOT across from Le Pub, but rather a bit closer to Pham Ngu Lao Street proper.
I plan to try the fried mushrooms next time! I heard good things about them.
The pics of what I ate will be added here shortly.
Veggie Venue 4 – Quan An “Thien Tan” ; 17-19 Ton Dan Street, district 4, ward 13
This eatery is at the top of Ton Dan street in D4. To give you an idea, the closest bridge (cau) is Khanh Hoi, which connects D1 with D4 at the Vung Tao ferry port. This is not a strictly veggie place but the vegetarian section is big and has plenty of choices, so i decided to tell you about this place.
I have eaten here 2 times so far and I plan to eat here often. It isn’t too far from my place, the portions are big, the prices are good, the selection is big, and the staff is friendly. They have a menu translated into english, but for some reason, they didnt includ the Chay section, so I have sort of translated it for you here below. (prices are from now — May 2011). Sorry for the lack of diacritical marks, but you can see them in the photo.
Cac Mon Chay (Vegetarian Dishes)
- hu tiu xao 35,000
- stirred-fried big rice noodles
- mi xao gion 35,000
- stir-fried deep-fried-noodles with mushrooms & vegetables
- mi xao mem 35,000
- stir-fried noodles with mushrooms & vegetables
- bun gao xao thap cam 35,000
- stir-fried thin-dry-rice noodles
- mien xao thap cam 40,000
- stir-fried thin-dry-rice noodle jumble
- com chien duong chao 33,000
- Chinese fried rice 1
- com xao thap cam 35,000
- Chinese fried rice 2
- do xao thap cam 35,000
- stir-fried mixed vegetables (no noodle) – would have meat on a normal menu
- cai thia xao 16,000
- stir-fried Chinese cabbage
- bong cai xao 22,000
- stir-fried Vietnamese cauliflower
- rau muong xao 16,000
- stir-fried water spinach
- nam thap cam xao 35,000
- stir-fried mushroom
Here are the condiments they have out on all the tables. The tables and condiments are kept clean. There is an air-conditioned room too. Sometimes the A/C room is open and sometimes it isn’t. You may be surprised as you entrer the eatery, that you walk through the kitchen to get inside. Below, are pics of the first 2 dishes that I ate here (2nd and 5th on the Chay page of the menu), and the other pic is the “Rau” (vegetables) page.
Phap Quang: 31 Ton That Thuyet; District 4, Ward 18
I found another veggie spot (Com Chay) in district 4. This one, called Phap Quang, is in the southeast corner of this triangular-island district of SaiGon that we call simply “District 4” (Quan.4/Q.4). This street is the southern border of the district – running the full length of the canal along the longest side of the D4 triangle. This locale is quite close to the southeast corner… just a bit before the bridge in the corner and the 2 little parks found there.
This was the second time I have eaten here. The first time I was here, I didn’t have my phone with me (and therefore no camera). This place is really cheap (15,000 dong for a nice sized plate and a small soup). The first time I came here, it was midday and she must have given me 3 cold Vietnamese teas. This time, I was there at dusk and it was much cooler. She didn’t bring any tea and she must have seen that I was kinda in a rush and I had all of my dogs with me, so they set up a table for me on the sidewalk. If I had asked for a tea, of course I would have gotten one. This place isn’t the cleanest and the food mostly tastes average, but it is Com Chay and it is cheap (and I felt good after both meals). The fake meat reminds me of real meat so much, that I don’t like it too much… but I tell myself it isn’t meat and surely it doesn’t have meat broth added to it. surely they would do that.
Overall, I recommend it for the price, the soup, the tea, the serving size, and the fast service. Weak points: main courses are, let’s say “average” and this locale might be a BIT “ghetto” for some. The Com Chay in D4 that you can find in an earlier entry on SaiGon Vegetarian (located on Huang Dieu Street), seems to have a little bigger selection, is less “ghetto”, and is only a bit more expensive (still very cheap). That place on Huang Dieu Street is also pretty much in the middle of D4 and not far from the bridges to D1. I plan on frequent both of these eateries.
My name is Glenn. I only recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City and I am sure there are many local vietnamese as well as ex-pats who know more about vegetarianism here than I do. Nevertheless, I hope you find my present and future escapades and info gathering about being vegetarian in Saigon (and VietNam as a whole) to be informative — whether you’re a tourist passing through, someone new in town, or a long-term resident that just doesn’t have the time to figure this stuff out for yourself, or even simply a vegetarian interested in Asia.
My 20+ years as a vegetarian (borderline Vegan), and my geographic approach may help make this blog worth following for you — whether you are a veggie, or a food-lover in Vietnam, or someone simply interested in all topics vietnamese, or even a geographer… or maybe even just an old friend of mine.
I plan to have 4 main types of blog entries here:
1) Reviews plus info and photos about places to eat in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) — this means vegetarian restaurants and stands/bars as well as regular places with large veggie sections on their menus. Many of these reviews will be of “Com Chay” food bars — the cheap no-meat streetside cafe/bars of sort.
2) Discussion and description of the cuisine, vegetables, ingredients, cooking, etc.
3) My experiences here as a vegetarian — including pointers of how to eat here and what you need to know to keep your veggie diet a veggie diet.
4) Data lists which i will update and add to as i find out more (including from comments from my readers! One of these lists will be a list of vegetarian restaurants and Com Chay locales. This list, I think, will be an important one. I hope you will help me with it if you are a vegetarian in SaiGon!