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CLOSED: Tamarind Cafe

  • Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 36 reviews )


Contact 04-9260580

80 Ma May Street (at Hang Bac), Hanoi, Vietnam,

Serves meat, vegan options available. Vegetarian friendly restaurant serving Hanoi since year 2000. Menu featuring both eastern as well as western cuisine. Also serving fresh fruit smoothies and coffee. Opens early for breakfast. Located in the Old Quarter, this cafe is a frequent hangout for foreign travelers and expats. Reported closed to HappyCow, Jan 2015.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, International, Organic, Juice bar, Beer/Wine, Non-veg

Reviews (36)

First Review by csbench

They Seem to Have Made Some Changes - Edit

Went here in November 2014 based on the Happy Cow listing and it appears to no longer be a vegetarian friendly restaurant. They must have changed the menu because there are hardly any vegetarian options. They did modify a dish from the menu to make it vegan for us but the food was sub-par and very overpriced. Definitely a tourist trap and would not recommend eating here vegetarian or not. Only plus is the staff was very friendly and it is in a easy to find location.
Updated from previous review on Monday December 01, 2014

Pros: Location, Friendly Staff

Cons: Overpriced, Bland Food, Lack of Veggie Options

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Overpriced poor quality food - Edit

We came here as it was convenient for lunch whilst in the old quarter. We had 2 drinks, sugar cane juice and pineapple juice, both were refreshing and sweet although not generous serves. The food was awful, we ordered tropical rice no egg and the mushroom steak/burger. The rice was nicely presented in a pineapple but tasted of nothing, it was greasy and bland. The mushroom burger was absolutely revolting, it's still repeating on me 4 hours later. The mushrooms weren't fully rehydrated and were gritty and tough, the sauce was garlicky slop and the veg had a distinctive burnt/smoked flavour. To add insult to injury, the bill came in at almost $25US!

Pros: Fresh juices, Loction

Cons: Poor quality food, Rip off

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Decent food by overpriced - Edit

Not a bad venue, quiet clean. Menu choices are quite large.

Quality of food is ok too - I had a clay pot dish which was quite nice.

But the prices are very high - 6 times the price you'd pay for the same dishes in a more Vietnamese orientated place.

Pros: Nice venue, Good choices

Cons: Very expensive

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poor food - Edit

i never like to give bad reviews of vegetarian places, there has to be some credit given for at least trying to offer vegans a place to go! but this place was a typical lonely planet place, crap. Oily and just poor food. Even the Vietnamese rolls (summer rolls) were just not nice, terribly put together, more stem than actual coriander leaves... etc etc. The service was typical asia; four people busily attending my table (which i normally dont mind), but it didnt work well here at all. The staff were actually really nice, and the place itself was clean, but the food and "the dining experience" was really poor. For good vegan food you really have to get away from the old quarter.

Pros: only "vegetarian" place in old quarter

Cons: bad food, confusing service, way too much cheap oils

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Reviewer Avatar

Poor Service Happy Cow Map Is Wrong - Edit

Not many vegan options, the place is not vegetarian as it serves meat. Waited 30 mins for my food only to be told they had ran out.

Pros: Nice Setting

Cons: Too much hassle to order vegan, most food includes

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Good tasting but ridiculously overpriced - Edit

We went there once during our stay in Hanoi to "treat" ourselves to some high class dining.
We took the "Zen Pasta", Vegetable Skewers and a Salad.
Everything tasted good but the price was extremely high. The Pasta was one of the most expensive things on the menu but it was tiny. It came in an already small bowl which was only half full. It was good nonetheless, just not for that price.
If everything were like half the price or less, I would recommend it.

Pros: Good taste

Cons: Really expensive

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Highly overrated, rip-off - Edit

Firstly, this place should better be categorised as "veg-friendly", because it's a shared location with a meat serving Indian restaurant. Secondly, the service is poor: the waiter started to clean the table while we were still eating. Thirdly, most importantly, the food was nothing special, the mushroom steak, for example, almost tasteless, served with a ridiculous 2.5 spoons full of rice plus three beans. The gratin was ok, but not worth the +130'000 dong. We left the place still hungry after paying more than 600'000 VND (for 2 starters, 3 main dishes, 2 beers, 1 juice). If you still want to go there, try the (tiny and expensive) spring rolls.

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Nice Food But Costly - Edit

A nice clean place. menu in English and English speaking staff. Meat and vegetarian dishes, but on separate menus. Very nice food, but very expensive. Over 300,000 for three dishes and two juices.

Pros: Clean, Nice Food, English Speaking Staff And Menu

Cons: Very Expensive

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Good food but pricy for Vietnam - Edit

The Tamarinc Cafe is a good option in old town Ha Noi to enjoy food in a clean atmosphere. They offer two menus, one is vegetarian only. Vegan dishes are highlighted.
It is pricy for Ha Noi, but we liked the food very much, though it is not vietnamese, but indian

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Some interesting choices - Edit

I really liked Tamarind. We even went there twice while it was not as good the second time, just because the of dishes we chose (they were still good though) the mushroom steak and the sesame falafel were both really good. Excellent spring rolls as well. Good choice if you are for something a little different than the standard Vietnamese food.

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Nice Place Good Food - Edit

I had read about this place on happycow, and ate here at twice on my past trip to Hanoi, Vietnam. Here's my Tamarind Cafe review.

Tamarind Cafe felt so different from the typical Vietnamese restaurants in town. The standards here were more "westernized" and felt "safer" to me. The space was clean and very beautifully decorated. The food was nicely presented and delicious (though not cheap). They even serve fresh squeezed juices, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Eating here made me feel like I was transported if for an hour from Vietnam to an international zone where people spoke multiple languages and enjoyed fine vegetarian cuisine.

Very good visit. Recommended.

Pros: good food, fresh pressed juices, nice ambiance

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Playing it safe - Edit

You can get a lot more for your money and a better understanding of Vietnamese cuisine. The food is so so and a bit on the pricey side. But the service is very good. The decor is nice, true what others said reminds you of being back in the West. Not that many vegan options, but those are clearly marked.

Pros: desserts, good service, good decor

Cons: few vegan options

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expensive, but good food - Edit

We ended up eating twice at Tamarind, mostly because it was close to our hotel, and we were in Hanoi over a local holiday, so almost every other veg restaurant was closed.

While it's true that many of their dishes contain egg or milk, it's not too difficult to figure out which are vegan. (The ones containing egg are noted on the menu, so you just have to ask to confirm that there are no milk ingredients.)

The sushi plate was very good (they can substitute the cheese-containing roll with a vegan alternative), the pho is fine, the noodle dishes are good, banh mi is fine (get it without butter). Portions are generally pretty small. Juices are excellent. I really enjoyed my mango avocado shake.

Prices are outrageous when compared to any other veg restaurant in Vietnam, but are typical when compared to veg restaurants in North America.

There are virtually no vegan western breakfast options, which is kind of baffling to me, but if you don't mind eating savory food for breakfast there are plenty of other options.

Pros: Nice ambience, Friendly staff

Cons: Many non-vegan menu items, No vegan breakfast

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need more vegan options - Edit

I visited this restaurant in the morning after a very long bus journey, and I have to say I was a little disappointed with the 'vegan' options. The only thing that was available for breakfast was bread and jam at 30,000 dong. Everything else has cheese or egg.

Pros: friendly staff, central location

Cons: not enough vegan options

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It was OK - Edit

First of all, very touristy--oriented towards the European/Australian/North American tourist, versus the other vegetarian restaurants in Hanoi. But then, it's in the middle of the tourist neighborhood. They did have some good dishes (I liked the sweet potato dish which had various flavors--garlic, peanut and wasabi), and some OK dishes (their pho is just OK). Somewhat creative menu. But--there are way too many egg/cheese dishes. Convenient location, but it's generally worth getting 1-2 km outside of this neighborhood for better vegetarian/vegan options.

Pros: convenient location, moderately creative menu

Cons: too many non-vegan items, pricey, touristy

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Best Vegetarian Cafe I have been too - Edit

After spending most of our trip in Hanoi eating Spinach and rice, we finally found this place. The food is amazing! You will be spoilt for choice on what to eat as there is so much to choose from and everything looks amazing

Pros: Good Range of food, Beautiful presentation, Relaxed

Cons: Cost is a bit more than most places

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Tasty food - Edit

We decided to do the tourist thing and visit Tamarind Restaurant. Food was tasty although the portions were small and double the price of other vegetarian restaurants in Hanoi. The menu was quite limiting compared to other vegetarian restaurants as they do not offer mock meats. All prices are quoted in US dollars although the bill is converted to Vietnamese dong at a rate very favourable to the restaurant.Decor is a notch above the opposition and maybe they think this justifies the high prices. Beer was also expensive.

Pros: Tasty food, Old Quarter location, Nice decor

Cons: US Dollar pricing, Limited menu

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A Rare Gem in Hanoi - Edit

In almost every city, there is that rare gem of a restaurant that does not serve dead animals. Tamarind Cafe is such in Hanoi. It is not for the backpackers or the penny pinchers or those looking for real pho, as some of the reviews below rant. IF you want real pho, go to a Vietnamese restaurant, not Tamarind. The food here is sublime, wholesome, delicious and saatvik. If these words mean anything to you with reference to food, you will eat here every day, as I did, during your stay in Hanoi. If not, this is not the place for you. The ambience is not the greatest, and while they do not commit the first cardinal sin of serving dead animals, they do commit the second i.e. allowing smokers to pollute the place. The menu is extensive, varied and creative. Yes it is expensive by Hanoi standards, but a bargain by Western standards. In any case, food this good does not have a price tag.

Pros: Wholesome, Service, Delicious

Cons: Smoking, Expensive

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Hit & miss - Edit

I understand the mixed reviews here. I've eaten at Tamarind Cafe about half a dozen times, with mixed experiences: everything is well presented, but some dishes are quite bland, while a few of them are creative and tasty. In terms of service, my experiences have also been mixed: a few of the servers are warm and attentive, while one or two have been a bit surly, and some in between.

Another issue is that Tamarind Cafe isn't particularly vegan-friendly. While lacto-vegetarians will find plenty to choose from, there are very few items that are vegan as-is, and just a few more that can easily be made vegan on request. Making matters worse, the menu doesn't make it clear which items are vegan or can be made vegan, so one has to ask the server and, unless you speak Vietnamese, it may be difficult to achieve satisfactory clarity about the ingredients (depending on how well your server speaks English or how willing s/he is to summon someone with greater fluency).

This is not a criticism but, just FYI, i'd have to agree with others who've noted that eating at Tamarind Cafe isn't a very Vietnamese experience (either in terms of food or ambience). This might be a good thing if you're craving something different, but if you're looking for authentic Vietnamese vegetarian food, you'd be much better off at one of Hanoi's many other veggie eateries. In fact, to be honest, i felt the Vietnamese items are among the least flavorful on the menu.

In short, if you know what to order, Tamarind Cafe might satisfy you, but whether or not it's worth the price tag is another question. My overall impression is that Tamarind Cafe offers the presentation and pricing of a fine dining restaurant but is quite inconsistent when it comes to flavor and service.

Pros: Fresh juices, A few creative dishes

Cons: Not very vegan-friendly, Inconsistent service and flavor

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the worst of hanoi - Edit

It's very difficult to find vegetarian restaurant in hanoi and Tamarind is in the right place. But how horrible are the vietnamese dishes! Not tasty, four times more expensive than everywhere else. Its only for people who don't know vietnamese Cuisine. It's a crime for me in vietnam to serve such a bad Pho!

Pros: Location

Cons: expensive, not tasty, horrible Pho

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Yummy food in dusty Hanoi! - Edit

We just returned from our first trip to Vietnam and this was one of the best restaurants we went to. It was completely filled with foreigners and the menu is 100% in English with US Dollars for prices. I ordered Fried Spring Rolls and Ma Po Dofu and the portions were huge. The food was beautifully plated and the chairs were roomy. Upstairs they have massages where I got a wonderful foot massage for the HUGE price of $7.50 for AN HOUR!!!! OMG!!! This restaurant is located in the old quarter of town and fortunately for us, our hotel was 100 yards away.

Pros: great menu, great food

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Solid Meal - Edit

Seems to me that a few of the reviews below are a bit harsh. This is not a GREAT restaurant, to be sure, but it was certainly worth visiting, even though the prices are high by Hanoi standards (but low by any Western standards). Was great to find a place with soy milk, and we enjoyed the meal overall. Smoothies and juices were varied and tasty, and the food was by and large good. The Thai vermicelli salad was certainly OK, and my veg pho soup was good, if a bit bland. The best meal was the spaghetti which was miles above the standard of other Hanoi "western" restos (we needed the spaghetti for my picky daughter!). Overall, if you don't care about the cost relative to other Hanoi offerings, you should enjoy a meal here, even if it's not a meal you'll remember forever. And a great place to relax.

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Looks better than it tastes! - Edit

What I remember about Tamarind is that the food tasted ok! I wasn't that impressed with the food. However the presentation was really nice. All in all I was disapointed with my visit to this cafe. One of the positives is that you can get Earl grey tea and soy milk. I was surprised to see that the menu is not wholly vegetarian and the prices are more than you might want to pay on a travellers budget! The staff were neither here nor there as far as service went - but it is comfy! They also sell cards and tasteful ceramics.

Pros: nice presentation, earl grey tea and soy milk

Cons: expensive, average food

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Good Quality food - Edit

We went here on our first night in Ha Noi and loved it. Lovely decor, lots of fans to keep us cool and friendly staff. Some of the english communication was a little difficult (my fault) so make sure you have a phrase book (only if you're vegan really as it's all veg)

We had the vermicelli thai salad to start, then tofu and eggplant hotpot with steamed rice, and Lasagne. Then had sticky rice with mango and coconut cream to finish which was absolutely divine. Good portion size. Reasonable prices.

Would definitely go back.

Pros: Yummy fresh food, Good ambience, Reasonable prices

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Relaxed atmosphere, food mediocre - Edit

As other reviews have noted, somewhat expensive by Vietnamese standards. Atmosphere is nice and relaxed, staff are laidback (perhaps too laidback as service can be slow), and you can sit reading the paper etc, for ages. Food is mediocre, we tried eggplant and tofu hotpot and green curry, both watery and lacking in flavour. Much better food available nearby. It is open early, which was very handy after the night train from Sapa landed us in Hanoi before dawn. The freshly squeezed juice was good, and breakfast is decent enough, reasonable omelettes and french toast.

Pros: atmosphere, breakfast is okay, good freshly squeezed juice

Cons: food bland, expensive by local standards

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My experience - Edit

Surely a bit expensive. Average meal with a single dish will cost you 5-6 dollors. Thus a bit costly for the backpacker traveller.Food was good. Menu has a lot of choice. Place has good decor and nice Chinese Caligraphy on its walls. Opens early but closes at 10pm. Staffs understand english well. As I dont eat eggs, they took care to prepare a certain dish "egg free" for me, which was described "with egg" in the menu. Lot of foreign guests are there. Location is good, quite close to the Hoan Kiem or Sword Lake. Overall experience good.

Pros: lot of variety to choose

Cons: costly

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Yum! - Edit

The reviews I read on here before dining @ Tamarind Cafe were right on -- its expensive by local standards, but worth treating yourself to. I didn't think the smoothies were very good, but the food was delicious and there are so many choices that it's hard not to order a few different things. I particularly liked the teriyaki tofu sandwich. There is also a travel agency inside and new massage place upstairs that is open til 10 pm, 100,000 dong for 30 mins. Would definitely recommend this place during your visit to Hanoi.

Pros: Extensive Menu, Central location, Nice ambiance

Cons: Expensive

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Worth treating yourself - Edit

There's no getting away from the fact that this restaurant is expensive but it is worth it for the quality and choice. We arrived in Hanoi having not had lunch that day and had a two course blow out at Tamarind - it cost us the equivalent of 332,000 dong (without any drinks) by far the most we have spent on a meal in our 4 weeks in Vietnam but it was all delicious. I particularly liked the eggplant and beancurd hotpot - I'm sure this would satisfy any meat eating friends needing persuasion on the tastes of veggie food. I also appreciated the magazines and books that were available for reading, a nice touch I haven't seen in that many cafes in Vietnam.

Pros: Delicious food, Extensive menu, Clean and attractive

Cons: Very expensive

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Perfectly OK - Edit

I ate here several times in July '08 & it was good. Nice ambience & staff & good food. Prices in USD didn't bother me, esp when I ate there my first day in Vietnam & was still totally confused by the dong exchange rate. Yes it is aimed at westerners & that can be a good thing. Sometimes it's nice to have a place that is more like what you are used to at home. Same as Asian people eating at Asian restaurants when they visit western countries.
Good luck to them.

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Appreciation for Quality by the owner - Edit

I am not a vegetarian, but I want to create the most flavorful vegetarian gourmet for all diners, anyone who appreciates good taste in food, in ambiance, and in service. Thanks to my amazing appetite and my background, I have tried eating the best food (in terms of flavors & quality) around the globe for the last 20 years. Being raised in a Taiwanese merchant's family(regular business dinner & banquets), lived in the US, worked in the fashion industry between Japan & Europe, and now based in the international gourmet city Bangkok, I have been fortunate enough to be explored to the best quality Chinese & other cuisines. At the end, I and my also well-traveled vegetarian business partner Sylvie, put together all the popular dishes from the places we visited in a meatless way. i want to share my pleasure eating tasty & quality food with my customers. That was why Tamarind Cafe was created to be better than others, and to cater to those who enjoy quality and a hassle-free experience in Hanoi. We train and pay our staff well, and have sent several young staff through universities. Many of them have been happily working with us for years, if not from the beginning of the business. The rents for both decent lodgings and commercial premises in Vietnam have increased markedly since 2000 and quality doesn't come cheap. To maintain a well-trained team of employees, a clean open kitchen, comfortable dining environment and most importantly, a well-prepared, innovative & health-conscious world vegetarian menu takes a significant investment in money and efforts. But seeing more and more carnivors enjoy eating vegetarian and vegetarians indulge themselves in our safe culinary heaven, we are proud to have created the Tamarind Cafe. Written by co-owner Luka

Pros: One of the Kind Gourmet , Cozy & Relaxing Ambiance, Helpful Staff

Cons: Not cheap enough for budget travelers, Smoking still available for one section

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Decent food but very Western - Edit

The reviews so far seem to be right on the mark. This place is very nicely decorated, air conditioned, comfortable, and has a huge menu. If this restaurant was in the US or Europe, it would be a perfectly good veggie restaurant with reasonable prices. However, for Vietnam, the prices are astronomical, and I agree completely with a previous reviewer that putting the prices in USD is absolutely absurd. Bottom line... this is a great place to go if you're European or American and want to feel like (and pay like) you're at home for an evening. The food is perfectly fine. However, you can pay 1/4 the price and get better food (and beer!) at dozens of other places.

Pros: Big menu, Comfortable

Cons: Not local, Doesn't put prices in local currency, Expensive

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