Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon): Saigon Vegan

     Up early in the morning, just before the heat caught up to the heavy air, Ani and I took a ride to Hanoi's airport for our flight with jetstar for our flight to Ho Chi Minh city. We were only planning to stay for one night and then head via train to Mui Ne!
     Saigon for some reason has always struck me as an exotic and famous location, a destination that everyone must go to. Maybe through films, twin references, or general word of mouth...Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) was in the stars.
     Jetstar is a very inexpensive air line that takes you essentially anywhere for more than decent prices...but you get what you pay for. Not the most comfortable of seats (though we lucked out with the roomy exit seats) and minimal service. Our several hour long flight was absent of water, tea, and coffee. Similar tot he China town buses going in between New York and Boston, it helps you get to where you want to go on a budget.
    Once we landed we wandered over to the backpackers district and went hostel to hostel, hotel to vacant rooms looking at spaces, bargaining prices...trying to find something decent, inexpensive and above all clean. I think we looked at maybe eight places before we settled on Hong Han Hotel, clean inside and a roomy space for $20 a night. Breakfast wa included and Ahn (brother) had great English and people skills, he honestly sealed the deal.
     The room had two comfy beds, air conditioning, cable tv, a fridge, clean bathroom, and a viranda/balcony where breakfast was going to be served. There was also free internet and skype access along with a super helpful staff. Tired and hungy...sold.

Address: 238 Bui Vien street, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
telephone: (84-8)-38-361-927 /39-203-336
our room! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     If you are planning on kicking it in Ho Chi Minh City, I HIGHLY recommend staying at Hong Han!!
     Bonus, next door was Saigon Vegan, a loving hut chain...working up an apetite (didn't eat since dinner the night before) we treated ourselves to a cruelty-free feast!
     We started with some ice-coffees while browsing the massive menu! This street was chalk full of vegan eateries but this place seemed to have the most options. My heart was set of some Vegan Pho...niente )O:
     We were the only people in this place, and it was cute, and definately different from Seoul Loving Huts. Open, a bit dusty and you went up a frail spiral staircase to eat on a blacony overlooking Bui Vien street.
     We started with two different spring rolls, one being the Bi Cuon (fresh with peel, tofu, and thyme) and the other being the Goi Cuon (fresh with mushrooms and vermicelli) each were 6,000 dong ($0.30) per piece. We bother enjoyed the Bi Cuon more (scallion poking out). It tasted fresher and the vegetables were distinctive. The tofu was creamy and blended very well with the vegetables, a simple honest roll!
The Bì cuốn (fresh with peel, tofu, and thyme) and the Gỏi cuốn (closer to you) photo taken by VeganBeats
     We also ordered the Com Chien Hat Sen, which is a fried rice with lotus seeds (50,000 dong= $2.50). The dish has a lot of rice (not so much my alley) but I loved the hidden chunks of shitakes, pressed tofu, peas (man I love my peas), and the generous portion of lotus seeds. This was my second time having lotus seeds and they're similar to chestnuts  smaller, smoother, and nutty. And I have to say, the tomatoes were so sweetly fresh!!
Com Chien Hat Sen, fried rice with lotus seeds (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     A random picking was the Goi Nam Bao Ngu Rau Ram, a mushroom with flagrant knotweed salad (40,000dong= $2.00). We both had no idea what the hell knotweed might be and my parts were all too curious. The salad was hidden underneath layers of rice cake crackers and had lots of vegan ham in it. I'm not into the fake meat deal, frankly it creeps me out, but the knotweeds were plentiful and measured up quite well in the spiced red-vinegar sauce. ...
Goi Nam Bao Ngu Rau Ram, a mushroom with flagrant knotweed salad (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     A little over a year ago, while in China I got into the spirit of hunting down veggies I've never seen or tasted before and tried playing around with them. One of these veggies was a wrinkled up warty green guy resembling a sick zucchini, bitter melon. I could never figure out what exactly I should do with it, I tried steaming, frying, even got desperate enough to batter it up and fry fail fail. I saw the Canh Kho Qua (bitter melon soup) and it was done. For only 35,000 dong ($1.55) I would be able (idealistically) get to crack the bitter melon code.
     It was served sliced thinly in a simple broth of water, soy sauce, and black pepper. A few mushrooms and softened creamed tofu were thrown in but it was very straight forward. Bitter melon sticks true to it's name, it's bitter and a bit starchy and directed for those that like a mixture of bitter and sour. I liked it, but I doubt I'll go running to buy more bitter melon.
Canh Kho Qua (bitter melon soup) photo taken by VeganBeats

 Nam Bao Ngu Sa Ot, fried mushrooms with chili and lemongrass (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Saigon Vegan is good, and inexpensive, so high high points. It is part of the Loving Hut chain so I'm already a bit off put by it, but overall, it was good and is great to eat at with friends. Loads of dishes, options, and a wide spread of preferences (steamed veggies, fried rolls, noodles, rice, soups, etc.)

But the that coffee^^*!~

Address: 240 Bui Vien Street District 1
Phone number: 383-726-86


  1. I wish I had seen this before I went to HCM ;)

  2. Hello Ani, hope youre doing great, im tyra, in saigon, are you still living here? Very glad to know more people from vegan community, im having a project called if youre interested , please stop by the site...