Vegan Food Quest – Veggin’ Out and About In Southeast Asia!

 

VIETNAM

A VEGAN CULINARY ADVENTURE!

by Caryl Eyers

 

 

And so another month on our Vegan Food Quest to find, eat, and write about the best vegan food in the world has ticked by. This installment of our regular column comes from Vietnam where we spent a month exploring Hoi An, in Central Vietnam as well as Nha Trang towards the South.

Last month we were wondering what Vietnam would have to offer traveling vegans (us), and looking back on our time in this amazing country we think it’s fair to say it offers us A LOT!

In Hoi An, vegan food was everywhere from local speciality dishes that can’t be found anywhere else in the country to vegan versions of some of the tastiest dishes to be found in Vietnamese cuisine. We discovered new ingredients and flavors like ‘fish mint’ (not really to our liking) and ‘fermented tofu’ (divided opinions, with one of us loving it and the other not being so keen). Our month was a vegan culinary adventure!

 

Cao Lau is a delicious noodle dish only made in Hoi An and we were really happy to have a vegan version.

Cao Lau is a delicious noodle dish only made in Hoi An and we were really happy to have a vegan version.

 

We fell in love with Vietnamese spring rolls, especially these made at the Kiman Hotel.

We fell in love with Vietnamese spring rolls, especially these made at the Kiman Hotel.

 

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a brilliant travel destination and we loved the time we spent there, cycling around the old town, drinking Vietnamese ‘drip coffee’ in riverside cafes or relaxing at the beach.

 

Perfect for relaxing after all that vegan eating.

Perfect for relaxing after all that vegan eating.

We spent a lot of time in our local Vietnamese Buddhist vegan restaurant, eating whatever the lovely Miss Lien and her family cooked for us including fried spring rolls, mushroom hot-pots and even the speciality of the house (only served twice a month) vegan ‘com ga’ which means ‘chicken rice,’ a clever meat free version.

The 'chicken' in this dish was made from seasoned flour and was a huge favourite with the locals.

The ‘chicken’ in this dish was made from seasoned flour and was a huge favourite with the locals.

The local market was an interesting place to explore with tons of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs on display. It was also a great place to pick up a snack and, after a bit of checking that our vegan requests were understood, we were presented with some delicious vegan ‘ban xeo’ rice flour pancakes.

Caryl at market eating Ban Xeo

Caryl at market eating Ban Xeo

After a disappointing start to our search in Ho Chi Minh City, we managed to find the most amazing vegan ‘banh mi’ by visiting a tiny shop in Hoi An, made famous by a visit from Anthony Bourdain. We charmed the very busy ladies at this very busy street side restaurant and they made us a plant-based version of their famed sandwich.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

One of the really surprising things we found about Vietnam was that some of their luxury resorts were not only out of this world spectacular but they were also really vegan friendly! We spent a couple of nights at The Nam Hai in Hoi An where we indulged in visits to the spa (which used natural vegan products!), lazed by the beachfront infinity pool and ate romantic luxury vegan dinners in our villa.

We also spent a few nights at An Lam Villas in Ninh Van Bay where our villa had its own private pool, a huge outdoor bathroom (with its own friendly lizard) and two indoor swings!

Caryl on swing at An Lam Villas enjoying the peaceful relaxation that a bit of vegan luxury brings.

Caryl on swing at An Lam Villas enjoying the peaceful relaxation that a bit of vegan luxury brings.

We ate delicious vietnamese food as well as some more Western inspired vegan food like a pickled beetroot salad served with rolls of soft caramelized pumpkin, crunchy walnut pieces and a star anise flavored beetroot syrup, that was divine.

An exquisite way to serve beetroot.

An exquisite way to serve beetroot.

And as if we weren’t spoiled enough, we got to spend our final few days in Vietnam in the amazing Six Senses Ninh Van Bay where our Rock Pool Villa had the most beautiful infinity pool overlooking the sea as well as our very own waterfront cave!

The view from the cave!

The view from the cave!

Our beautiful Rock Villa.

Our beautiful Rock Villa.

Again more fresh and delicious Vietnamese food was eaten but even more exciting for us was getting to eat a fabulous vegan dinner created by Anton Manganaro and Paul Merrett, renowned British chefs who were visiting Six Senses as part of the resort’s 10 Year anniversary celebrations.

Both chefs run successful restaurants in the UK, but aren’t vegan so we loved giving them the challenge to design a vegan menu (which they did very successfully!). We’ll definitely be paying them a visit when we’re back home!

Vegan arancini with smoked tomatoes and rocket oil: lovely.

Vegan arancini with smoked tomatoes and rocket oil: lovely.

We felt like our month in Vietnam really ended on a luxurious high where everything seemed to be about ultimate relaxation and luxury, not to mention the exceptional quality of vegan food. So it was with great excitement and renewed energy that we headed back to Thailand for the next leg of the Vegan Food Quest where the plan was to attend a Chinese Buddhist Festival where everybody spends 9 days eating only vegan food.

Now that’s our kind of festival!

Caryl Eyers has recently left her beloved home in England to brave new worlds in search of adventure and exotic vegan foods throughout Southeast Asia. Join Caryl as she goes Veggin’ Out and About through Southeast Asia! Check out Caryl’s blog!

2 Comments

  1. eileen eyers

    Caryl is my beautiful daughter-in-law. I really enjoy reading about her experiences on her quest to discover the best vegan food. Her articles and blog contain a wealth of information invaluable to other travellers. and for those of us stuck in ‘winter-is-nearly-upon-us England, we can take pleasure from the wonderful photos and descriptions of culinary delights in far-away lands.

    • Danielle Bussone

      Hi, Eileen! So glad to hear from you! Caryl is a valued member of our Veggin’ Out and About team. We are living vicariously through her travels in SE Asia and always look forward to her next installment.

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