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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

CHECK OUT THIS INCREDIBLE VEGAN BUN CHA WE ATE IN HANOI, VIETNAM!

Updated: Apr 2, 2023


Welcome back to Hanoi! After the incredible vegan pho that we tried we were super excited to keep searching Hanoi for the best vegan food, and especially the best plant-based versions of traditional Vietnamese food. The great news for us was that Hanoi is incredible when it comes to vegan food, it was abundant and almost everything that we tried was incredible. Once we'd tried the classic north Vietnamese dish of pho we decided to get a bit more experimental, and search for another Vietnamese dish that calls Hanoi its home: bún chả. As you can see in the photo above, it got Mike very excited (and not just because Barak Obama is reportedly a big fan of the dish!) Read on, and watch the video below, to see how we found plant-based bún chả in Hanoi.



But wait. What actually is bún chả?

If you know Vietnamese, bún chả is basically how it sounds. For those of us who aren't so familiar with the language, bún means soft, white noodles, while chả refers to Vietnamese pork sausage. So essentially, this famous dish which originated in Hanoi and is traditionally eaten at noon, comprises of two main components: vermicelli rice noodles and pork or sausage. Often, the pork is served in the form of meatballs, and is served alongside a bowl of dipping sauce (beware! This often contains fish sauce!) and pickled vegetables. This is accompanied by plenty of green leaves and herbs, with chillis, sometimes garlic, and other garnishes.


Where did we try vegan bún chả in Hanoi?

When we found out about their fully vegan restaurant (and artisan tea house!) that had an impressive sounding bún chả on the menu, we travelled immediately to Thiên Trà Đạo. It took us a little bit of time to find, since the restaurant is down a side street that Google Maps makes a little confusing, but when we arrived at the restaurant we knew we'd found something special. Just look how beautiful and tranquil it is!

After taking off our shoes, we were led upstairs to the restaurant space. We immediately felt relaxed. The thoughtfully decorated restaurant space is full of soft hues of brown and natural grain wood tables - it felt beautifully minimalist. We were offered the choice floor or chair seating: Mike is very tall and finds it pretty hard to bend down to the floor so we chose the chairs, but the floor seating looked very inviting and had the privacy of its own little nook. Everything about this restaurant, even down to the quality of the menus felt welcoming and luxurious. Of course there was only one thing we were there to try though... so bring on the bún chả!


So come on - tell us all about the bún chả! How did it taste?

Having never experienced bún chả before, we really did not know what to expect. I thought it was going to be another kind of noodle soup dish... Mike was just excited at the prospect of vegan sausage! When our food was brought to our table we were already blown away: the presentation of the bún chả was neat and incredibly artistic. Needless to say, Thiên Trà Đạo's bún chả makes an incredible first impression.


Orbiting the central bowl of sweet, carrot-based dipping sauce was a generous portion of vermicelli rice noodles. To the left was a hearty pile of fresh greens, and to the right was THE MOST INCREDIBLE VEGAN SAUSAGE! Seriously, who knew that plant-based sausage could be this good? It was topped with fresh sliced chillis, seaweed, and spring onions. And wow. Just wow.


This dish was impeccable. We loved the fun of being able to dunk our noodles in the broth, and then mix and match each section of the plate. It was like a savoury grown up pick'n'mix and we did not want it to end. If there's one thing I cannot stress enough, it's that this is the place where we devoured some of the best vegan sausage of our lives. It makes us sad that we may never again experience this sausage and its delicious, crispy flavour. The vegan sausage was so peppery and flavoursome; the seaweed complemented it perfectly. But who am I kidding? This is all about the sausage. Its punchy flavour went really well with the sweetness of the sauce and the plain noodles; the soft texture of the noodles contrasted oh so well with the crisp, almost meatiness of the vegan sausage and the leafiness of the greens. The dish was made extra lively by the contrast of temperatures, the warm sausage and noodles balanced by the cool greens and sauce. This was a complex dish that surprised us: it was not something we were necessarily expecting to like that much, but it ended up being one of the highlights of our entire trip.


How much did this bún chả cost - and was it worth it?

At ₫55,000 per portion (approximately £1.91, €2.16 or $2.33) we were overwhelmed by the incredible value for money in this dish. We would have been happy to pay significantly more for this, it was so delicious, we wish we could have had it many more times before we left Hanoi, but we only found it towards the end of our visit. Honestly, my mouth is watering thinking about this bún chả - if only I could get it delivered worldwide!


Thiên Trà Đạo is located at 29 Ng. 26 P. Võ Văn Dũng, Chợ Dừa, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam. The restaurant is open every day of the week from 9am until 9pm, except for Sundays when it is closed.


Have you tried vegan bún chả in Vietnam? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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Train Street is a famous photo spot (but be really careful - it's dangerous too!)

Where should I stay?

Hanoi has so many places to stay, but if you want to be close to the action we'd recommend staying in the Old Quarter, where you'll find loads of choice regardless of the accommodation type you prefer.


Hanoi Little Town Hotel is situated in the heart of the city, with a beautiful French Colonial style of decoration, and friendly service that gets consistently high reviews from its guests. If you'd prefer the atmosphere and vibe of a hostel, Hanoi Buffalo Hostel offer both privates and dorm rooms - with a pool, free walking tours and the occasional free beer on offer too!


Tours & Experiences

There's a lot going on in Hanoi, and if you don't want to walk or take a motorcycle, this Hanoi Jeep Tour is a novel way to see some of the famous sights (Train Street and Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum to name just two!)

If that's not quite for you, or if you want to explore Vietnam a bit more widely, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?


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