Li Bai is the signature Chinese restaurant at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers; located on the 2nd floor of this District 1 luxury hotel, it’s definitely a place to enjoy some great vegan food as they have a whole vegetarian and vegan menu to select from.
The atmosphere is laid back and friendly, but still has a an air of elegance with traditional music adding to the ambience; it’s contemporary in design but still has that traditional Chinese feel, making for an enjoyable evening and dining experience.
The Vegan Food:
Our meal started with a ‘Lotus Root and Bean Curd Skin Salad’, full of crispy fried tofu skin and lotus root, this sweet pickled salad was light and delicious. We were told that it’s often a dish served at celebrations and understandably so, because it was certainly worthy of a special occasion. The fired lotus root added toasty flavours and crisp textures balanced with the sweet pickled vegetables was a winning combinations for us.
‘Buddha Jumps Over The Wall’ is possibly one of the most intriguing menu descriptions we’ve come across on a our travels so we felt we had to try it. This soup is a Chinese delicacy known to include multiple, good quality ingredients, often taking days to prepare. It’s said to have such an amazing taste that it could entice a monk away from the monastery and his commitment to vegetarianism to eat it, hence the name which comes from the story of a monk who jumped over the monastery wall upon smelling the soup cooking.
Usually full of animal ingredients (sadly including shark’s fin in many places), it’s not something that we’d ever normally go near, but the Sheraton have a vegan version on the menu (as well as a commendable Starwood Group commitment to never serving shark’s fin in any of their properties).
Soups are always hard to photograph so you’ll just have to trust us when we tell you how good this one of Li Bai’s signature dishes is. A flavoursome broth, soft goji berries, snow fungus, vegan sausage, bamboo pith, taro, ginseng root, mushrooms, Chinese plum, slices of mock meat and gingko nuts; every mouthful was a surprise with a different treat for us.
‘Braised Vegetarian Chicken with Mushroom’ came next with subtle sesame and ginger flavours adding to the crunchy bok choy. The texture of the mushrooms and the flat compressed tofu skin was ‘meaty’ and the rich soy gravy went well with the light, juiciness of the bok choy.
The next dish we sampled was ‘Deep Fried Bean Curd Skin With Sweet And Sour Sauce’. We loved this colourful dish with it’s sweet crunchy fresh peppers and sprinkles of sesame. The smell of the tangy, sour sauce was enticing but the taste of the dish was even better. Sticky sweet and sour sauce covering soft doughy vegan chicken that had been wrapped around a crunchy lotus root to add another layer of texture; it was simply delicious.
The ‘Lemongrass Chilli Tofu’ a popular Vietnamese dish, was made up of deep fried tofu steaks covered in a seasoned lemongrass and chilli spice mix. The tofu was firm yet moist and bursting with the aromatic, but not too spicy flavours from the chilli lemongrass mix.
‘Braised Eggplant With Chilli Bean Sauce’ came to our table still sizzling in the pan. Soft aubergine that melted in the mouth with a rich sauce full of ginger and chilli flavours made it a delight to eat. It went particularly well with the ‘Vegetarian Fried Rice With Spinach’, a striking green rice dish, naturally coloured with spinach and full of crunchy fresh vegetables and diced up vegan ham.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Make a reservation at Li Bai for a vegan meal full of Chinese inspired treats. Get to try vegan versions of classic dishes or something a little new from a huge vegan menu where you’ll be spoiled for choice.
We were guests of Li Bai but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Level 2, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers.
88 Dong Khoi,
Ho Chi Minh City,
Telephone: +(84) (8) 3827 2828
Opening Hours: Lunch 1100-1430 & Dinner 1830-2200