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Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - Part 1: Vegan Food

By 17:47 ,

It's been a few weeks since I've been to Vietnam, and I've finally found the time to edit photos and write this post! I was in Ho Chi Minh City with my family on 25th to 29th Dec 2014. We went there about 6 years ago but I couldn't remember much except that it was hot and there were lotsa motocycles. Well now it's still hot and there's still a lot of motorcycles lol. But now there's more cars and lesser people on each motorcycle - previously 3-4 people on a bike is common but now there's mostly just 1-2! Plus everyone wears helmets now. Colourful helmets.

Oh and it's not supposed to be so hot in December. It was warmer than how Singapore is normally. It's supposedly the hottest it's been in a few years. =.= In this picture above it looks cold because the motorcyclists are wrapped up right? But it's probably just to protect from the sun.

The currency is tricky because there's so many zeros.
50,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND) = 3 SGD 

Crossing the road is so scary! Like the motorcycles don't always follow the traffic lights?! And the traffic lights don't always correspond? There's a highway near where we stayed and there's like big trucks and containers. At first we couldn't figure out why we always seem to be in danger of being knocked down, but then we realised that the traffic light for the vehicles turn red like 10 secs after the pedestrian's traffic light turns green?! o_o So always check both sides! Well at least the motorcycles drive quite slowly and maneuver around people very well. My grandma has been there many times and she's never once seen a traffic accident.

They don't have a train transport network and I rarely see public buses. Just take a cab - make sure it runs by meter - and it's really cheap. There are many 7-seaters so it's fine even if you travel in large groups!

For this post I'll share about the food there! Before the trip I did some Googling and I thought that Vietnam isn't very vegan-friendly. Lotsa food have fish sauce, pho has meat in the soup base and vegetarian banh mi has egg. 

But it was surprisingly not that bad! Maybe because my relatives could explain to the waiter/waitress in Vietnamese... because English seems to be not very widely spoken there. Or maybe it's because I'm easily contented with bread, rice and coconuts heh.

People often eat banh mi or pho for breakfast. If it's a regular restaurant/cafe, then there won't be vegan versions of those. So just order baguette!

It looks so sad to just eat bread but they were the BEST BAGUETTES I'VE EVER EATEN. Like super crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!
They're really cheap too - about S$0.60 each when you get it from a bakery!

The coconuts there are also really cheap! And most of those I drank & ate were fresh.

There's also coffee places like these where people just drink coffee and chill. 

There were many grades of coffee and the price ranged from VND 12,000 to 45,000. This was during the last day and we wanted to clear our small notes but only the cheapest 3 grades were available. I got Number 2 (VND 15,000) while mum got Number 1 with milk (VND 15,000).

There were quite a lot of supermarkets where we stayed (my relatives' house in District 7). This Coop Mart was the largest one!

The total for all these was like S$9 I think! Quite cheap! (Lol sorry if my exclamations of cheap! are annoying you) Many things there are (much) cheaper than in Singapore. Not just food and clothes but houses, furniture and cars etc. too! 

So it was potatoes & bread & fruit for breakfast...

...and sweet potatoes as a snack to bring out hehe

The soymilk comes in packets like this! This one was interestingly corn-flavoured.

All the soymilks at the regular supermarkets have sugar. And I'm quite sure I didn't see any low-sugar ones.
You'll probably only be able to find unsweetened soymilk or other vegan mylk at specialty shops like this. This 'gourmet market' is kinda like Cold Storage!

We mostly ate out so here are 5 of the places we went to! Oh yeah, note that most restaurants charge for those wet wipes you find on the table. Leave it at a visible place and the waiter/waitress will collect it back when you ask for the bill. (apparently this is the case in Singapore too LOL I didn't know).

Also, most places have Wifi! Just ask for the password :)

Art Cafe Vegetarian Restaurant
This was the only fully-vegetarian restaurant we went to the whole trip. Read more about it in another post which I'll write soon!

The Sushi Bar
We ate here for dinner on the first night. Lol go Vietnam eat Jap food ^^"

I was pleasantly surprised that two pages on their menu was dedicated to vegetarian food! That's so much more veg-friendly than the Jap restaurants in Singapore. And they said that they don't use mayo. Yay! (But I'm not sure how true that is because 2 out of the 16 vegetarian sushis have a blob of something on top)

Oh yes and they serve a small dish of food and it's meat. -.-

I ordered a few rolls of sushi. This is Ume Shiso Maki/ Plum & perilla rolls (VND 28,000) and Natto Maki (VND 42,000). The last time I ate vegan sushi rolls that weren't made by me was... never?! o_o 

The ume rolls were nice and not too salty. I ordered the natto rolls because the day before I watched Ryan Higa's Natto Challenge LOL. It was my first time trying natto! I was slightly disgusted at the first bite but after that it got better haha ^^

I also got the Tomato (VND 35,000) the Vegetarian Roll (VND 43,000). The tomato one was so creative! They added basil too so it's really yummy! But I think my favourite would be the Vegetarian Roll because it's stuffed with so many things and generously coated in fragrant sesame seeds. And it's in a SQUARE oooh. Lol I'm a sucker for differently-shaped things. Almost the same price at the natto one but much more worth it!

I also got the Yama Gobo Maki/ Pickled burdock root rolls (VND 38,000). It tasted good but kinda boring as compared to the previous ones!

The rice in the sushi was like much softer and chewier than the rice that's normally in sushis here! It's no wonder, because Vietnam produces and exports rice. However, the Vietnam rice you buy outside of Vietnam isn't of the best quality, because they keep the good stuff to themselves and export the not-so-good-but-good-enough stuff (same goes for Thailand). So one good thing to buy in Vietnam is RICE. We brought back a few kilos LOL no kidding. I'm going to Bangkok in March and mum asked me to buy rice back too hahaha - Vietnam rice is soft and chewy while Thailand rice is fragrant.

Kichi Kichi
You can find this restaurant in Singapore too but I've never heard of it!

It's individual hotpots with the ingredients on a rotating belt. It was a buffet yay!

Included in the buffet is sushi and some other stuff. Seemed like nothing was vegan!

I don't know what my aunt said to the waiter (that didn't understand 'vegetarian') but I got a vegetarian set with a different soup from those on the menu.

I had another 14 plates hehe. The plates are colour-coded, which is handy since some items look weird and unidentifiable. Stick to yellow (noodles), green (veggies), blue (tofu) and grey (mushrooms) plates!

This purple thing comes in green too. What is it? ._.

Nathalie's Thai Restaurant
I didn't take a photo of the store front oops. They have 10 or more veg options that I'm quite sure are vegan too!
I had Green Curry with Vegetables (VND 90,000) and a bowl of GLUTINOUS RICE. Lol I ordered white rice but the waiter recommended glutinous rice so I got that haha. Their rice is already chewy so their glutinous rice is even chewier! It was enjoyably chewy and it went well with the curry but it was difficult to digest. I wouldn't recommend a bowl of glutinous rice at dinner heh

Hoang Ty (?)
I think this place specialises in Vietnamese rice rolls.

There wasn't any vegetarian mains so I got two desserts! It was a lotus seed one and a green bean + coconut one. I liked the green bean one most - I expected beans but this is made with split peas (kinda like tau suan). Dad got another one for himself too! Seems like they like to put their desserts in glasses.

But actually there was stuff for me to eat hehe! This is the table before the meat arrived.

Those white round things on the sliced starfruit at the plate on the left are sliced SEEDY BANANAS :O No wonder they tasted so familiar. They taste like really unripe & un-sweet bananas. Nope they're not plantains.

A pile of veggies! There were 5 types I think. One of them (that's hidden beneath) tasted like it should just be ornamental lol

Poor wrapping skills :x

Airport Food:
There's a small food court at the Ho Chi Minh City Airport but it's very vegan-unfriendly. Bring your own food!!

This was what I brought to the airport in Singapore! We were taking Tigerair. Bringing food onto budget planes is discouraged I think, but I've been eating fruits/veggies/nuts/bars in plain sight and no-one has stopped me hehe. I didn't expect them to have any vegan food but they have a Moroccan Vegetarian dish that's labelled vegan wow! Is it relatively new or have I just not noticed it before? I'd still rather bring my own food, but maybe I'll try that next time because it's good to show support for vegan options!

Phew that was a long post! Stay tuned for Part 2 sometime soon where I'll share about the markets, shopping & Cuchi Tunnels. Thanks for reading! :)

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