Vegan Cao Lau in Vietnam

As promised after the completion of our mission to find a good vegan burger in Vietnam in our last post, today we’re back to eating traditional Vietnamese food, so traditional in fact that the dish we are posting about today can only be found in Hoi An, Central Vietnam. Today our Vegan Food Quest is revealing the delights of a local noodle salad dish that we are totally in love with: Vegan Cao Lau.

The reason that this dish is only made in Hoi An is because the noodles have to be made from water from one of the ancient Cham wells around the district. The noodles are quite fat, a bit like Japanese Udon noodles and make for a hearty meal.

The non-vegan version contains pork but our vegan Cao Lau had a sliced mock meat replacement that was great (we never cease to be amazed by the fake meat here!) and something that last week we thought was compressed, braised tofu skin but now realise that it’s actually a leaf of some sort.

Now we begin the search to find out what it is…


Anyone know what this is?!

Our vegan Cao Lau also had rich, finely diced mushrooms that had been cooked in dark, sweet soy and chilli; fresh salad leaves and herbs (including Vietnamese mint, coriander and the unusual ‘fish mint’) and the traditional croutons that are made from squares of rice noodle that have been dried and then deep fried.


Look at all the fresh ingredients just waiting for us…

Too add to the amazingness of this dish, there is a warm rich soy, chill and garlic dressing that soaks blissfully into everything in your bowl.


Herbs, noodles, croutons, mock meat, mystery compressed leaf thing and warm dressing all doing their job to make the most delicious vegan Cao Lau

Vegan Cao Lau is available at a few of the veggie places around town but our absolute favourite version was made for us by the Kiman Hotel who veganised their usual version for us (it always pays to ask!).

It was so packed full of flavour and so fresh and delicious that we were in total vegan heaven with every bite.

vegan mofo - small white logo


Check out a selection of other vegan travel blog posts…


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One Comment

  1. Helen May 27, 2022 at 6:45 am - Reply

    That looks like vietnamese “ham” (cha lua) which is typically wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. The leaf imparts flavour to it. The veg version is often made with tofu skin compressed together, then boiled in the leaf as well.

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