It’s often a surprise to people that Da Nang, famed for its long, lustrous coastline and fresh seafood, does in fact offer an impressive amount of options for vegetarians and even vegans. This is a pretty well- kept secret though as these eateries are often hard to find!
As well as offering fresh, fragrant and crunchy vegetables in wholesome dishes, Chay food also offers amazing mock-meat dishes. If you’ve never tried mock-meat before, Vietnam is a great place to try it for the first time. The Vietnamese love their meat dishes, particularly pork, yet many of them are Buddhist and must abstain from eating meat for at least two days a month, as well as on certain occasions, such as death anniversaries (when members of the family of a deceased person get together to honor their memory). To help them get their meaty-fix on these vegetarian days there are a huge array of very convincing mock meat dishes on offer at restaurants throughout Vietnam. Some restaurants only offer Chay food on the special vegetarian days, but there are also at least 20 dedicated Chay eateries in Da Nang, ranging from simple food stalls and small, laid-back local places, to fairly fancy and even Western-style restaurants.
Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, I highly recommend you try eating at one of these places. Chowing down on Chay (the word for Vietnamese Buddhist vegetarian/vegan food) with locals is a must-do experience for foodies who want to truly experience how unique and varied Vietnamese cuisine is!
Let me introduce you to a couple of my favorite veggie eateries that not many tourists know about. These places are hidden away from the main tourist streets and are very local style – you won’t find English menus at them! Both of them are vegan-friendly as they don’t any animal products in their dishes (though you may find milky drinks for sale).
And of course, if you want to delve deeper into the amazing vegetarian and vegan food on offer in Da Nang, book one of my Vegetarian/Vegan Tours!
Khai Tam Quan Chay, 352 Phan Chu Trinh (at Tue Tinh), Da Nang, Vietnam,
Open Mon-Sun 6:00am-2:00pm, Mon-Sun 4:00pm-8:00pm
This large, informal and traditional Vietnamese chay (Buddhist Vegetarian/Vegan) restaurant does the best vegan Banh Xeo (crispy savory pancake) in Da Nang! Banh Xeo is my favorite local dish – it’s a kind of savory, crispy pancake made from rice flour mixed with turmeric and coconut milk. A good Banh Xeo should be crispy, not too oily, filled with crunchy beansprouts, and served up with rice paper to roll it in. No Banh Xeo is complete without a generous side of fresh fragrant greens, which you also place inside the rice paper; and the last step is dunking your rice-paper wrapped Banh Xeo in tasty dipping sauce. Since it’s my fave local dish, I’ve tried the vegan version of Banh Xeo all over town, and for me, the one here is by far superior to anywhere else! What makes it so good is its super crunchiness and the flavorful peanut dipping sauce that’s served alongside it. The Hotpot here is also very good – a huge pot brimming with vegetables, tofu, mock meat and with noodles on the side. You can feast on these two dishes for just 90.000vnd for the two dishes, which is a bargain for so much food! This place is always packed with locals at lunchtime, which is always a good sign that they are serving, authentic, delicious and cheap food.
Since this restaurant is aimed at locals, not tourists, they offer a simple menu that’s only in Vietnamese and the staff don’t speak English. But it’s easy enough to find Banh Xeo and hotpot on the menu and you can either point to a few other items if you are feeling adventurous! This place is vegan-friendly as they don’t serve egg or milk in any of their menu items.
Thiên Ân, 69 Lê Độ Đà Nẵng
This is a great little place that offers a good selection of authentic Vietnamese Vegan Food. The Buddhist owner is very friendly and speaks some English. There is no menu, but the main dishes offered are shown on a board and also printed on a business card.
‘Com Dia’ with vegetables, tofu, mock meat and scrambled tofu.
Their main specialty is ‘Com Dia’ (dishes of the day and rice); you can choose from a selection of vegetable dishes, mock meat and even a mock scrambled egg made from tofu (which is really good). A plate of this with rice is 15-20,000vnd (depending how many selections you choose). They also specialize in ‘Banh Cuon’; steamed sheets of rice paper, stuffed with mock meat, wood-ear mushroom and crispy shallots, which is 20,000vnd for a big plateful; and Cao Lau (a famous Hoi An noodles dish) which I am a big fan of. Their version has a lovely tangy sauce, crispy tofu, mock meat and crunchy wontons – it’s really yummy and is also only 20,000vnd.
Cao Lau, a must-try dish at Thiên An