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Van Hanh Vegetarian Restaurant

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 29 reviews )
Contact 503-788-0825

8446 SE Division St (at 82nd), Portland, Oregon, USA, 97266

Portland vegetarian restaurant serving Vietnamese cuisine. Owned and operated by a Buddhist nun with profits being used support their nearby temple. Makes its own mockmeats. Most dishes are vegan except a few containing milk (steamed buns have milk in the dough, a ranch dressing on the "chicken" salad, and Hershey's kisses chocolate in the candy dish at the counter). Basic decor. Open Mon 10:00am-9:00pm, Wed-Sat 10:00am-9:00pm, Sun 11:30am-9:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Asian, Vietnamese

Reviews (29)

First Review by infinitriet

Amazing food, great prices - Edit

This is my third visit to this awesome vegetarian & vegan restaurant, a consistently delightful experience. Don't be in a hurry, the food is made 1 meal at a time, but it is delicious. they make their own a mock meat in house and it's better than any I've ever bought at a store. English isn't a strong suit, but they are so dedicated to a pleasant experience that it all works out just fine. if I lived in Portland, I'd eat here every day!

Pros: Extremely affordable at $7.50-8.50, and you couldn

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VegSince12 06 Jun 2016 - I do live in Portland and wish I could eat here every day. The food is so amazing. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Lots of vegetables. I have NEVER had anything I didn't like, except for the bitter melon (but I had to at least try it--such a privilege to get to eat the authentic food of another culture). It can be a really long wait sometimes, but what I especially love is chatting with the other patrons while waiting. Asking what their favorites dishes are, how long they've been coming, etc. People are so happy to be there and DEDICATED--for good reason.

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Fantastic cuisine and cheap - Edit

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend special noodles with mock pork today. This is a simple place in regards to decor (with the exception of the huge, beautiful Buddha), but the delicious cuisine and amiable staff make me want to return even though it is far from my home. The vibes here are right and so is the price. It's got the cheapest dishes I've found at a vegan restaurant in the Portland area, but also some of the tastiest.

Pros: Delicious dishes, Amiable service, Cheap prices

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Home away from home! - Edit

I love this restaurant. I love the staff. I love the food. I understand that people could somehow not like it, but I feel the need to address concerns for those that might be deterred via an instruction manual. :-D
1) Walk in and smile at anyone there, greet them!
2) Head to the counter in front of you and grab an appropriate amount of menus and find a table.
3) Once you decide on menu items, go up to the counter, ring the bell, and order.
4) Bring a book or people you like to talk with and the time will seem short, you could also encourage those bewildered and fearful souls that wander in (I have met some amazing people here by breaking the invisible walls around my table).
5) Enjoy food that you will not get anywhere else, don't expect it to be a carbon-copy of a dish you had before.

The people that are serving you at Van Hahn are not employees, they are either nuns or volunteer laity from the temple. If you show them kindness, you will get it back from them, they are not financially obligated to treat you like the lord or lady of Downton Abbey. They do not work in the service industry, they are contributing to a humble cause. The place is humble as well, it would not be consistent with their lifestyle to waste money on a fancy bathroom remodel... you will notice most decor is repurposed like the rack advertising wine that they don't serve.

I would recommend the soups (pho, hue's spicy noodle, and sweet and sour are my rotation), the sushi rolls, potato rolls, chicken nuggets (when you're feeling trashy), green papaya salad (papaya is cut fresh, so it will take a minute), house special (my absolute favorite), spicy spare ribs, kung pao chicken (mmm, mmm, good), and really anything else you might want. Word of advice though, fried rice dishes are not what you think they are... the rice is brown and steamed, everything else is stir-fried.

The last thing to address is the mock meat level of the cuisine... I would recommend that you put on your thinking cap and infer from the description, which dishes will have the appropriate proportion of mock meats to vegetables.

Pros: Delicious, Unique, Addictive, Cheap!!!, Worthy Beneficiaries

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Best vegan restaurant in Portland--not typical! - Edit

I am a vegan in Portland and this is my favorite restaurant in town. It is also the top choice of several of my friends (both vegan and non-vegan, and both local and visiting). I even have two friends who make dedicated trips here every time they are in town! Van Hanh is a very special place. For one, the food is incredible, and extremely well priced for a) the quality and b) the portion sizes (you can always count on taking home leftovers). For another, everything is cooked by and service provided by Buddhist nuns, with all proceeds from the restaurant benefiting their temple in town. Yes, some dishes are mock-meat heavy, but the nun who cooks makes almost all of these mock meats from scratch (try the "House Special" for something out of this world!). Every dish I have tried here is either excellent or very good, and I've tried nearly every item on the menu, delighted always by the inventiveness and variety in the dishes, and the generosity of the staff. Personal favorites include the Flat Noodles, Sushi Rolls, House Special, Spicy Spare Ribs, Papaya Salad, Kung Pao Chicken (better than the mixed mock meat version), and Curried Vegetable. For those who are expecting typical (read: Western/American) service "standards" or predictable and popular Asian food fare on the menu, you will be disappointed. The staff are generally quiet, do not speak very much English, and are slower than a typical US restaurant. This is in large part because only one or two people work at a time, with one of them cooking everything from scratch. It is recommended that you either make the time that the food and overall experience deserve or call in for take out (and plan to wait for a bit for that, too). I would also mention that for those who live far from its location (just east of 82nd Ave on Division), that it is well worth the car/transit/bike ride! I have always seen and met such a wonderfully diverse mix of customers at Van Hanh--from a number of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including many Vietnamese--that shows how the food and atmosphere are appreciated by many. I have been here multiple times a month since I moved to Portland several years ago and have no plans of stopping. I hope others read this and give the restaurant a chance, so as to discover the many ways in which is it is delicious, affordable, and unique! A Portland gem, especially recommended for those who want to experience another side of Portland food options and culture--locals and travelers alike!

Pros: All vegan (maybe minor exceptions?), Unique/delicious/cheap food experience, Affordable prices help Buddhist temple

Cons: Sometimes service (but worth it!!!)

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Not very good !! - Edit

I went to this restaurant expecting good food after reading positive reviews. Not the case the food at best was mediocre. The service was horrible. They need to learn professional skills about running a restaurant, especially customer service. I understand that this is a non-profit restaurant but if they want support they need to improve.

Pros: good value, big portions

Cons: mediocre food, lousy service

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Sweet little vegan spot - Edit

I really love this place, and all the care that goes into it. I like the quirkiness, including the alkaline water that is served to everyone there.

In terms of food quality, the bowls are a pretty good bet (come with a spring roll), and all the soups are good. Some of the food is a little too gluten-reliant.

For those who haven't eaten there much, you may need to go up to the counter and make your presence (or needs) known, because they're busy in the back and don't readily come out.

I brought ten people out there for my birthday, and we shared like 8 dishes and people that it was weird and interesting, and it was an enjoyable experience.

Pros: Enjoyable staff, Authentic Experience, Hole-in-the-wall

Cons: You have to get their attention

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A Fun & Affordable Place to Eat - Edit

I've been to this place many times. Let's face it, it's one of the few truly vegan places around. And they're serving vegan food for the right reasons. I've ALWAYS enjoyed the food. It's affordable, has great hours, has a fun atmosphere and is in a convenient location.

Pros: Affordable, Ethical, Tasty

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good stuff - Edit

Tried it out yesterday. Very good food, although i didnt love the lemon grass chicken as much as other reviews did. Waitress was great, almost quiet n shy but i got a terrific vibe from her. Unreal how cheap it was. Cute decor.

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I really wanted to like this place. - Edit

Having satisfied my curiosity about Van Hahn's restaurant I can honestly say I won't be returning. Like other reviewers mentioned some of the servers were very friendly (but almost completely absent) although one was so very cold. I just don't understand why unfriendly people bother with public service jobs. The food sucked. Royally. The sauce was completely tasteless and was most likely made from the most non-vegan white sugar available. White flour, white sugar, white rice noodle. Yuk. Unhealthy and not even tasty enough to make it worth it. Everything was overpriced for what the quality was, which I was surprised about given the price rating on HappyCow.

Pros: Supports Buddhist nuns, Vegan?

Cons: Unhealthy, Poor service, Not tasty

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eirefox 07 Jun 2013 - I don't think they are unfriendly: I think they are silent and withdrawn for religious reasons. It's a religious/cultural thing. I think these women should be applauded for dedicating their lives to Spiritual Life / Ethical Life.

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  Contributions +14

Feel the LOVE in the food! - Edit

My wife and I can't say enough great things about this AA++ vegan dining experience. The owner is a Buddhist sister and prepares everything from the love in her heart. For a start, everything is made from scratch. We usually don't like mock meats at other restaurants as they taste so processed and not exactly "healthy." By contrast, the mock meats at Van Hahn are, in our opinion, the best in the business. And we've eaten at vegan restaurants from coast to coast. Everything she makes is fresh and not overdone. We get tired of other Asian restaurants that over use sugar and salt (and sometimes MSG). Not at Van Hahn. Like the owner/chef herself, the food is in balanced harmony.

The fact so many of her customers are Vietnamese is a testament to how great the food is. It's nice to see multi generational families and other sisters from her temple eating there. We always feel like we are transported into another dimension every time we visit. With all the vegan restaurants in Portland we also like, we go to Van Hahn mostly when visiting -- sometimes eating dinner there and going back the next day for lunch.

Last but not least, this restaurant is NON PROFIT! All the money you spend here goes to the Buddhist temple. We can't recall any other non profit vegan restaurant where your money goes directly towards promoting health, compassion and non violence. If it weren't for intense allergy symptoms triggered in the Willamette Valley, my wife and I would move back to the area and donate some of our own time working at this place. We hope others will support this business. The owner only has one day off a week and works very hard. We hope others at the temple and community will try to help her out as they can. It's a lot of work making everything herself from scratch.

If you are the only people there, you can count on quick service. If you see it's busy, expect to wait a little while as she only has two hands! FYI, the owner's English is somewhat limited (by her own admission) so please be keep this in mind. Please don't think she's being rude when she probably doesn't understand what you're saying. We find it helpful to point at the items we want.

This is Vietnamese style food. The Kung Pao sauce is Vietnamese style -- spicy and delicious. If you don't like hot chilies, you should go with dishes that have the Saigon sauce. If you like chilies, you will not likely find the Kung Pao sauce too hot.

Pros: Tasty, healthy food!, Generous, loving portions!, Generous, loving owner/chef!

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Good Soup - Great Price - Edit

The young lady seemed a bit confused that we were there. But we motioned to the table and she invited us to sit. She brought menus which we had to point at, because she spoke very little if any English. The food was amazing, however. I had Pho and my Wife had a stir fried dish. The flavors were incredible. The Pho was filled with varying faux meats, which I'm usually not a fan of, but this place pulled it off.

Pros: Good food, Inexpensive, Free parking

Cons: Very little english, the bathroom is upstairs

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Love this place! - Edit

A must have is the soup for 2...it is huge, with all sorts of great mockmeats. Other reviews have said the service isn't the greatest, but she doesn't speak a lot of English and most of the time the server is your cook too!

Pros: Mockmeats, healthy, good value

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Good food - Edit

I have been treated kindly by the ladies that work here. No, they don't speak good(or much English) but they have never messed up any of my orders. The steamed buns are my favorite food there as well as the "crispy chicken salad" though I have been told by a few people that most of the food there is NOT vegan. I am not sure how they fund this out. The Pho is also very good on a cold wet day. The restroom is kinda funky and thats the biggest complaint I have about this place.

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I love this place! The staff is very shy but very sweet too. The food is really well priced and absolutely delicious. The spare ribs ROCK. The lemongrass chik'n is FABULOUS, I could eat that stuff til I'm busted full. The glass noodle dish is delicious. Just thinking about this place seriously makes my mouth water.


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great experience - Edit

No, buddhists don't run around jumping for joy and nor do they have to smile at you, you aren't all that special.

Anyways, it's been my experience with south east asian people who own/operate resteraunts, is that there's just a cultural difference, and that is something you'd need to expect coming into this place. They probably won't say a word to you, and they are quite slow. Don't go in expecting to be in and out in 20 minutes, but their food is very good, and nicely priced. I believe they live in the house, so that explains the toothbrush. The Pho is great for rainy days, and the kung pao tofu is also really delicious. I give this place 4 stars, I've had nothing but positive experiences there. Id prefer them not talk to me, nor give me fake smiles and [censored].

Pros: Food, Price

Cons: Location

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Complete disappointment - Edit

The whole experience was negative. Didn't even get a smile from anyone - aren't Buddhists supposed to be happy and friendly? I ordered what was marked as their most popular dish, and it was an unrecognizable lump of gluten and grease. The bathroom upstairs was rather frightening and had a toothbrush on the sink. Would never go back.

Pros: Inexpensive

Cons: Unfriendly, Dirty, Greasy

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angelbrade 22 Feb 2013 - I think that you are a very negative person that would like fast food places rather than an original home made family type restaurant without judging the building and/or the people in it. I am not even a vegetarian but when I entered this humble house that is run by Buddhist nuns I was greeted with a smile (even though tey could not speak much English) because I came in with a smile on my face and gave a friendly greeting to them. (You know, like becomes like) I received the best service and the most delicious food for someone who is a meat eater. I feel bad for you that you could not enjoy it. Better go to McDonalds or Burgerking next time at least you don't have to smile to them. Just order drive through and pay. Good luck to you and God Bless.

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Sabrina 22 Feb 2013 - Thank you for your feedback. Perhaps I went there when they had a bad day? Perhaps I had high expectations because I was expecting a place like the peaceful buddhist restaurant that I support where I live? Or perhaps in hindsight the experience was marred by the stomach ache that stayed with me for hours after I ate the fried balls of gluten? Who knows. But if may I ask - how do you know I didn't smile and greet them warmly when I entered the restaurant? How do you know I wasn't kind to them? As an aspiring buddhist myself, and vegetarian of nearly twenty years, a couple of words of advice. Don't make assumptions. Don't judge. Be kind to all living things. So please, stop promoting cruelty and animal suffering by your eating animals.

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Kristerikal 22 Feb 2013 - This is an interesting conversation about how we interpret other people's mannerisms. I understand why Sabrina may have gotten this impression of rude behavior, but I think it has more to do with our different manner in the west. If the owner/chef is busy, she may not always smile or take time out to chit chat. Let's not forget that her basic English does not allow her to make quick chit chat in the first place. But I can tell you from my my experiences with her that she does not mean anything by what you may perceive as rude. If you were to stay long enough after people leave, she is much more likely to open up, smile more, and struggle with her English to try to have a conversation with you. This is what my wife and I have experienced on a number of occasions. Generally speaking, I find the manner of Asian people --whether from China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc-- to be somewhat different than the typical western standard. Sometimes they can appear to be shouting or barking at each other angrily, when they are actually just using a different tone to communicate. I would love for other Asians to get into this conversation and help us westerners understand these cultural differences better! My wife is Russian and I can also tell you that Russians often come off as very rude to westerners. Sometimes they really are rude, for sure! But I have spent enough time in Russia to know that this is mostly about people not opening themselves up emotionally in public. You don't see the same kind of friendly, familiar chit chat in the check out line in Russia, for instance. But one on one, you might actually find Russians friendlier than many westerners you know. They do have a more eastern style generosity once they know you, trust you, etc. Patience is a virtue, let's not forget!

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Outstanding Aura - Edit

This place couldn't be more heartwarming and belly satisfying! The nuns are such nice people, but be patient, they aren't fluent in English! If you like Vietnamese food, you'll adore this place.

The Vietnamese Crepe is a staple, made vegan, only on the weekends, but worth the wait! It's always busiest on weekends around lunch, so be patient.

The tasty Vietnamese dumplings are filled with a tasty but light mung bean filling, just be aware that the dough is a glutinous rice-based dough, so it's not your traditional dumpling! The best roll to get is the sushi roll: the combination of the seaweed, cilantro and peanut-y sauce is other-wordly! Egg rolls are also fabulous! If you want a fresh untraditional lettuce-filled salad, go for the papaya salad, it's sensational!

As for noodles, you can't miss a beat with the vegan yellow noodles or the flat noodles, the flavor is wonderful but simple, but very satisfying! All the noodles bowls are delicious, if you are familiar with this kind of fare. Unbelievably filling, great portions!

Entrees that are favorites include the green beans with mock chicken, Thu's spicy tofu, veggie fish and the fish and veggies plate (tasty ginger dipping sauce). All entrees come with your choice of rice, go for brown, yum!

Of course, if you're ultra-traditional, the soups will not let you down, classic-style pho for the vegan! Great on a cold and/or rainy day!

Wonderful atmosphere, reasonable prices and great portion sizes. Bring cash unless you spend over $15!

Pros: Noodles, Portions, Nuns

Cons: Location, Not organic

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Great food... sometimes! - Edit

I have only been here a few times and I have had such extremes in the experiences that I am not sure if I will go back. Actually I am sure to go back, but I am not as excited about the place as the first time I went there. It has AMAZING mock meats!!! That is the best part. And the prices are great. You get good portions for your money. Even my husband who is a voracious eater, went home satisfied. The service is super slow but it can be worth it if it is a good day. The first time I went we got the Pho and the Kung Pao mixed meats dish. They were both too good for words, especially the Kung Pao, full of a variety of fresh, perfectly cooked vegetables and of course, the mock meats were fabulous. The second time we went there, we just got some Buns, dumplings and Sushi rolls and Egg rolls to go. The dipping sauces were awesome, but the egg roll was even oilier than I've ever had at any other place and the Buns and dumplings were definitely microwaved while prewrapped in plastic. So first of all they are not made fresh and worst of all they are full of leached toxins from plastic wrap being microwaved. The Buns did taste pretty good aside from the sort of crustiness of the microwave. I wold highly recommend buying the buns to go(do not preorder them or they will heat them up for you, just get them at the pay counter)and steam them or heat them up yourself. I had never had Vietnamese dumplings before and I did not enjoy them. Very HEAVY but really filling if you want something cheap to fill your belly. The third time I went, we ate in and got more buns, tried the egg rolls and Kung pao mixed meats again. The egg roll was much better (less oily) but the Kung Pao had way less vegetable variety and also had a less variety of meats. I don't know what happened. I guess the just had less available that day or something. SO I will try it again to see if it is that the quality of the food has just gone downhill or if it was just a bad day. Overall, don't expect fast or friendly service and because of the language barrier, don't make any special request. Point to things in the menu and speak clearly and slowly. It is WONDERFUL to have a pure vegetarian vietnamese place in SE!!! I am praying that the first exerience I had there is repeated because that was one of the best meals I ever ate!!

Pros: Great Value, YUMMY Mock meats, Vegetarian PHO!

Cons: Slow service, language barrier

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A meal to ruin the night... - Edit

Maybe my friend and I picked the wrong selections but every part of our dinner from the apps to the main entree was dissappointing. Flavorless and tasted like it was re-heated in a microwave. I don't think I would give this place a second shot. In fact, I was sick just thinking about the meal. I tried to like it but it just was awful.

Cons: rude staff, long wait for take out, lacked flavor

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Yummy Food! - Edit

The food was excellent and the atmosphere was very quaint. The food is just incredible, the kung pao 'beef' is my favorite! You must try this restaurant, you cant beat the prices.

Pros: good food, nice atmosphere, menu prices really good

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Excellent! - Edit

I have been here a few times and I enjoyed it every time. The food seems to be really authentic except with faux meats. Lots of cilantro and traditional spices. The atmosphere is very humble (but clean) so don't go there for ambiance. The nuns are very reserved and I can see how some people might be surprised by that but they really are friendly. If you smile, they will smile back:) Not a great place if you have any special dietary questions because they really don't speak English. I like the idea that it's a non-profit and the food is so cheap!

Pros: Cheap, Tasty, Non-profit

Cons: Busy street, Communication problems

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Take out/don't stay in - Edit

Visiting Portland for the first time, we tried Van Hahn because of it's listing at Happy Cow. The atmosphere is abyssmal, the bathroom was frightening and did not have paper towels or even cotton towels, the servers did not seem to understand english. But the food was fairly good.
The jicama spring rolls were huge,delicious and cheap - because there were two of us sharing, they gave us 4 rolls instead of 3 and charged us a bit extra - they never asked but we didn't mind.
The Spicy spare ribs looked like coiled worms, had an excellent texture, but a strange taste (5 spice powder?) that we didn't enjoy. We ordered the curry vegetables with mock chicken. The mock chicken was the best we had ever had, my carniverous friend was impressed. The curry was just okay, I think that chinese and vietnamese curries just don't appeal to me as much as indian and thai curries do. For dessert I ordered one soft tofu/ginger/coconut dish for dessert, and they brought us two small dishes and charges us for two(communication can be a problem here). Once you stirred up the flavours in the dessert, it was nice like a rice pudding, but not everyone will enjoy the squishy soft tofu texture.
While we were there, many people came in to pick up their orders, and a large vietnamese family bought many containers of the mock meats which are available for sale. I always take it to be a good sign when customers favour a restaurant that serves their cultural foods. If we are ever in Portland again, we will pick up some dishes from this restaurant, but not eat in again. The prices (except for the tofu dessert) are exceptionally low.

Pros: cheap prices, big portions, excellent mock chicken

Cons: filthy bathrooms, abyssmal atmosphere, difficult to communicate

1 Response

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kindlizard 03 Sep 2009 - if the bathroom was that bad, imagine the kitchen...

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Absolutely Worth The Wait! - Edit

Van Hahn in SE Portland is a Vietnamese restaurant that features amazing mock meat dishes, fantastic appetizers, and excellent soups. The lemon grass tofu sticks are a must order item. The green papaya salad appears to no longer be on the menu, which is a real shame. The steamed buns are stuffed with a very tasty mix of shredded tofu, glass noodle, bean curd skin, and potato all in a barbeque sauce. The potato rolls have a similar mix of items, without the barbeque sauce, wrapped in lettuce and rice paper. Spicy noodle soup is perfect for rainy days; especially love the sesame crackers on top. Be advised that the restaurant is run by volunteers, service can be slow, seemingly indifferent at times, and occasionally your server will not be entirely comfortable speaking English. Don't be deterred by the location or the comments about the people who are staffing the restaurant, sit back and practice some patience, because the food is worth the wait!

Pros: Creative Food, Fantastic Flavors, Generous Portions

Cons: Location, Chilly in winter

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Creativity abounds - Edit

A top flight, if unusual vegetarian spot. The low key Buddhist nun who runs the place has created a menu of fascinating dishes. I'd highly recommend this unique place.

Don't expect extensive explanations; but use the written explanations and the pictures of the dishes hanging on the wall. Be adventurous.

Pros: creative menu, makes her own soy stuff, inexpensive, but delivers

Cons: simple atmosphere

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Worth a Try! - Edit

A friend recommended this restaurant, telling us not to miss the Green Papaya Salad -- but that item wasn't listed on the menus handed to us in the restaurant. Perhaps it is seasonal? Instead, we had spring rolls, which were fresh and tasty and accompanied by a good peanut sauce. We tried two main dishes. The Lemon Grass Tofu Sticks had an amazing consistency, like very tender meat on the bone. They tasted delicious -- although too salty. If you don't mind something reminiscent of real meat, you'll like this menu item. We also had Thai Fried Rice, which had a few veggies mixed in along with strips of fake meat, and a some large florets of broccoli alongside it. The fried rice had a hint of spiciness and a pretty good flavor -- nothing too exciting, but not bad, either. As for the service, it was efficient, but the waitress was dour at best. She never smiled, only mumbling the occasional reply to a question. No, she wasn't just the silent type -- she looked really unhappy to be there. The atmosphere at Van Hahn is very basic and plain, but that's fine -- you don't go expecting cloth napkins and lovely decor. Overall, I'd consider going back on occasion to sample some of their different dishes, and I give a moderate recommendation. Worth a try if you're in Portland, but don't come with sky-high expectations.

Pros: yummy fake meats, vegan options galore

Cons: salty, dour waitress

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Very Faux meat heavy - Edit

I have had nothing but unpleasant experiences here. Like I said in the title all of their meals seem to be very heavy on the faux meat. The women that work there have always seemed very unhappy. The ladies that work there never have spoken to me or the people I have been with. The last time I was there I never received half of my order and couldn't get it delivered. I am not all too anxious to return.

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Cheap and good. Vegan house-made mock-meats! - Edit

Through caution to the wind here, the mock meats are house-made and contain no dairy or casein, however they are deep fried. Even when it says seared, I think they are deep fried first. After returning from China I recognized the stuffed steamed buns - a deal and a meal in their own. I think they are $1.25ea and two would make a quick meal. The mock chicken was great. The atmophere and location are terrible, but for $5.95 - $6.95 you can't complain!

Pros: Cheap & Good portions, Brown rice by default!, Diverse menu!

Cons: Bad Location & atmosphere, meats are all deep fried, Can be slow

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