“We decided to open a restaurant after realising the world doesn’t need more beauty salons,” explains Vu Ngoc Le and Hai Caspar Nguyen, co-founders of Veggie Castle. “We’re both vegan and were sick of eating at the same places every day so we saw an opportunity to do something interesting.”
Homemade food is the backbone of Veggie Castle. Everything is cooked the same day and their rotation system means that you could visit the venue every single day straight for two weeks and not eat the same dish twice in a row. “We opened Veggie Castle for selfish reasons”, Hai laughs. “We wanted to create a place where we would like to eat.”
Veggie Castle’s food is as bright and varied like their multi-coloured interior. The option of fresh salads is a novelty for a buffet of its kind, along with the wide selection of vegetables, an array of zingy tofu creations and last but not least, Hai’s personal favourite – corn fried patties. “A lot of our meals are twists on traditional Vietnamese meat dishes and we worked on trying to retain those same flavours, but in a vegetarian form. We learnt a lot simply through trial and error until we got it right.”
Vu and Hai have thought of every imaginable detail, including a heated food system that ensures that the dishes remain piping hot by the time they reach your plate. Rather than cooking a batch of food and it vanishing within the first stream of hungry visitors, the restaurant is also constantly replenishing the servings throughout eating hours, ensuring you won’t miss out on any of your favourite items if you happen to arrive a little later.
On top of coming up with new and improved dishes, Vu is also the mastermind behind the restaurant’s quirky and vibrant décor. “I almost wanted it to be a little mismatched to give it some character. All of our tables are sourced from a village outside of Hanoi that specialises in making furniture recycled from shipwrecked boats.” The two floors of the venue are also dotted with hand painted lamps that mimic stained glass windows, adding a rainbow-coloured tinge to the space’s atmosphere.
The couple have their eyes set on eventually expanding their venue into a vegan buffet empire, hopefully opening a few more restaurants in Hanoi in the same line. With meals fit for a king at a quarter of the price (VND70,000 per head) they are surely set to conquer the city in no time.
Veggie Castle is located at 7 Pho Yen Ninh, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.