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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Apr 3, 2023

If you've been following our story, you'll know that we left the lovely city of Huế and had to bypass Hội An entirely due to Typhoon Noru, which hit central Vietnam when we were there in September 2022. We flew earlier than planned to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) where the winds were a little blustery but we were safe from the worst of the storm. Our extra time in Ho Chi Minh City meant lots of extra time to discover and taste the very best of the plant-based cuisine on offer there - and there was some very impressive vegan food to be tasted!

Our top priority, when it came to food in Ho Chi Minh City, was trying a famous Vietnamese classic: summer rolls. Of course, it was always going to be a little more difficult to find a vegan version of this world-renowned dish, but we were confident that we'd be able to find plant-based summer rolls in Ho Chi Minh City... and we were not disappointed. Read on, then watch the video at the bottom of the page, to hear all about our experiences finding (and tasting) vegan summer rolls in Ho Chi Minh City.

So, what exactly are Summer Rolls? And what makes them different to spring rolls?

If you've not heard of Summer Rolls, the first thing to note is that they are also sometimes known as fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls, cold rolls, salad rolls, or rice paper rolls, depending on where you are in the world. In Vietnamese (specifically in the South), they are known as Gỏi cuốn.

Summer Rolls were invented in Vietnam, and differ to the Chinese spring roll that you may be more familiar with in several ways. Firstly, the outer wrap is made of a thin rice paper, giving it a stretchier, softer texture. Just like spring rolls, the wrap surrounds a range of meat or vegetable fillings. Rather than being fried and served hot though, Summer Rolls are served cold. It's easy to see where some of these alternative names come from: this gives them a fresher flavour, with the vegetables inside remaining cold and crunchy. It is certainly a much healthier dish! Summer Rolls are generally served as a starter, and are served with dips (usually either hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, or fish sauce).

Where did we try vegan Summer Rolls in Ho Chi Minh City?

Though Ho Chi Minh City had several excellent restaurants, these notably weren't quite as prevalent as in Hanoi. We narrowed down our options for vegan Summer Rolls to a couple of places, and ultimately chose Nhà hàng chay (Vegan Family Restaurant) because of its clear vegan menu and excellent range of plant-based dishes.

The restaurant was initially a little difficult to find: it is located down a side street off of the main road; keep an eye upwards and you'll see signs to follow (like in the first photo)! It didn't help us that we were looking for the restaurant in a super heavy rainstorm (the very outer fringes of Typhoon Noru), hence we are looking pretty damp and bedraggled in the photos!

A poster with photos of vegan celebrities
One of Vegan Family's famous vegans posters

When we found Vegan Family Restaurant we were made to feel very welcome straight away: if you haven't already guessed from the name, this restaurant feels very family friendly. It was fairly quiet when we arrived: the staff were attentive and service was quick. The restaurant itself feels modern, clean and vibrant - it got busier as we were finishing our meal, and the weather had settled down a bit. We always love to see when a restaurant is popular with locals, since this means that their food is well-regarded in terms of quality and price: this is always a good sign, and I'm pleased to say that this was the case with Vegan Family. We also really enjoyed reading some of their inspirational signs about famous vegans - I definitely learned a lot on my trip here, and not just about Summer Rolls!

So come on - tell us all about the Summer Rolls! How did they taste?

If you've been following our blogs, you'll know that we actually had a go at making Summer Rolls on our Hạ Long Bay cruise. So we kind of knew what Summer Rolls tasted like... but I can happily and honestly tell you that we were not prepared for how much nicer the real things were!

The presentation of the Summer Rolls was very good: the rolls were tightly wrapped so that they kept their form well even when bitten into; the transparency of the rice paper meant that even from the outside we could see how neatly and beautifully constructed these Summer Rolls were. There was even attention to detail in the peanut dip, with the nuts and spices arranged on top of the sauce providing visual appeal as well as extra texture and flavour when we dug in!

When you bite into a Summer Roll, you are treated to lots of different textures: the tough, slightly chewy rice paper gives way to the variety of crunchy vegetables and fillings. If you have dipped it into the sauce, this adds and extra element of texture, with further depth of flavour. We were really excited, too, that Vegan Family Restaurant's Summer Rolls include a slice of vegan sausage, a plant-based version of some of the traditional, meatier recipes. This was a welcome surprise, as we had expected that the only vegan Summer Rolls we'd be able to get our hands on would only contain salad vegetables.

Though I am a big fan of the indulgence of a spring roll, the Summer Rolls were definitely much lighter, fresher, and less filling: definitely more of a summer salad dish. Eating these Summer Rolls makes you feel good, and you could probably eat plenty without feeling too full - and you'd want to, too, since they are very tasty. The dip really enhanced the flavour with its own spicy kick - but really the best bit for us was the combination of textures, with the salad, vegan sausage and chewy mushrooms. Delicious!

How much did these Summer Rolls cost - and were they worth it?

Two vegan summer rolls with a slice of vegan sausage visible, with a dish of peanut dipping sauce in the background
The vegan summer rolls: check out how neat they are!

We'd really recommend a trip to Vegan Family Restaurant if you're in Ho Chi Minh City: both to try their excellent Summer Rolls, and their extensive and reasonably-priced menu of authentic Vietnamese classics. We discuss more of their dishes in our Top Places to Eat Vegan in Ho Chi Minh City blog. If you're in the mood for a light, summery starter (or even as a snack!) we'd really recommend trying Summer Rolls.

We paid ₫20,000 for two vegan Summer Rolls. This is approximately £0.70, €0.79 or $0.84. This price is amazing, we were really pleased and very happy to pay it. The ingredients are fresh and tasty, the presentation is very good, and that vegan sausage slice adds an extra touch of luxury to this tasty appetiser.

Nhà hàng chay (Vegan Family Restaurant) is located at 41 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam. The restaurant is open every day from 9am to 2pm, and then from 4pm to 9pm except for Sundays, when it is open from 3pm to 9pm.

Have you tried vegan Summer Rolls 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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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Some of the most popular trips from Ho Chi Minh City are Mekong Delta Tours

Where should I stay?

For a modern and funky hostel with clean dorm and private rooms, and a fun vibe (they even have a slide!) check out Meander Saigon, a popular place to stay in HCMC's District 1.

For a quieter option, that is still not too far from the action, Home Away Homestay is a clean and comfortable independent hotel with four different room types. The rooms have modern furnishings, and are designed to be a restful place for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city!

Tours & Experiences

One of the most popular things for tourists to do while in Ho Chi Minh City is taking a tour to the Mekong Delta. This very popular tour includes a chance to see some local villages and try exotic fruit, alongside the relaxing boat trip.

If this isn't for you, or you'd prefer to see more in the area of Ho Chi Minh City, why not check out the top rated Viator trips below.

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