Feb 01 2013
With its heavy use of fish sauce and meaty stocks, and its one-wok-fits-all approach, strict vegetarians may struggle for variety in Vietnam. But Hanoi’s Lean and Green is a purely vegetarian restaurant, which will appeal to both meat and non-meat eaters.
Lean and Green is located on Trang Tien, minutes from the southern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake. The decor is exactly what you’d expect from somewhere called Lean and Green: it’s simple, fresh and… white, quite different from the traditional style of restaurant more commonly found around town. It’s not cosy but is comfortable enough for dining — more so than its predecessor on Phan Boi Chau where bamboo chairs were the order of the day. Seating is available on two levels.
Staff are welcoming and all smiles, and service is efficient, but the level of English spoken is variable. The menu, however, is in both English and Vietnamese, so pointing at items to clarify your order is a good idea.
Menu items include vegetable-based dishes, such as the highly recommended salads, a wide range of tofu dishes and faux meat and seafood (made of soy). For those of you who have never tried this, it is reasonably meaty in terms of appearance and texture, although the taste isn’t quite there. Still, for meat eaters it’s a good substitute when covered in tasty sauce and for vegetarians it provides a very wide menu choice.
As well as the salads, spring rolls come recommended and the tofu fried with lemongrass and chilli is tasty and different from the usual style of tofu, as it’s been thinly sliced before frying and is hence more crispy. The beef in sate sauce is another good choice. We haven’t tried them yet but noodle dishes, including pho, are also available.
Food is all delicious and reasonably priced — on a par with other eat-in Vietnamese restaurants or bia hoi joints — but some portions are on the small side so be prepared to order extras or a big pile of steamed rice.
Wash everything down with a drink — the standard selection of beers and soft drinks is available. Presumably vegetarian.
Along with old-timer Tamarind on Ma May, Lean and Green is the most conveniently located vegetarian restaurant for Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter, but if you are venturing further afield you could try Com Chay Ha Thanh, off Kim Ma street; Com Chay Ho Tay, next to Commune; or White Cloud Vegetarian Restaurant in the West Lake area. Note that com chay means vegetarian food.
Lean and Green Vegetarian Restaurant
15B Trang Thi Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
T: (04) 3936 8462
House 116, Alley 166, Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3726 3381 Com Chay Ho Tay 22 Ven Ho, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3759 2807 White Cloud Vegetarian Restaurant House 2, Alley 12 Dang Thai Mai Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
T: (04) 6258 1622
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