After two months of self-education and experimentation, I have finally canceled my subscription of Veganism (kinda). Although I have been fully transformed from a political and nutritional stance, I must admit to myself that I am not a pioneer. I don’t want to support the dairy and meat industry, and yet it is for the sake of my flexibility and sanity that I don’t want to follow a 100% dogmatic, vegan lifestyle. It is within that context that I only have the greatest respect for people who have made a full transformation. Of course, even though I lack the self-discipline or emotional investment to identify fully as vegan, I want to highlight my convictions and support the movement in Berlin. Which brings me to Quy Nguyen, a vegan Vietnamese restaurant on Wiener Straße in Kreuzberg.
Unlike me, Berlin is a vegan pioneer. In those last two months I have had almost no issue finding great, affordable and delicious vegan food. Restaurants like The Bowl have made it easy to appreciate clean, raw food – without enforcing the vegan aspect of it, and thereby convincing even hardliner carnivores of their concept. And delivery companies like Fresh Parsnip support the notion of quick and convenient food that doesn’t harm our environment. But it’s not just restaurants fully dedicated to the cause, even the tiniest dump in Berlin usually has a real vegan option on the menu. At Quy Nguyen, my new favorite restaurant in Kreuzberg, the whole menu is dedicated to an exclusively vegan Vietnamese cuisine.
Now, I know that the concept of veganism tends to scare those who would rather stick to their meat eating habits. It’s okay, I’m not judging. I just want to let you know that regardless of the concept or the ingredients, Quy Nguyen is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve experienced in Berlin. I don’t want to speak for the authenticity of the food, but let me tell you something: I’ve been to Vietnam, and yet I’d prefer dinner at Quy Nguyen.
I used to go to Hamy for a “fast food Vietnamese” fix. While the food doesn’t taste particularly good or bad (I mean, it’s prepared in 5 minutes and costs 5 Euro and that’s exactly what it tastes like), it’s reliable. I think that’s what makes Hamy very successful: the food is consistent. Like a McDonalds Hamburger. You don’t have to like it, but you always know what it tastes like.
At Quy Nguyen, the food is consistent too, but it’s also consistently divine. Not despite being vegan; it’s good exactly because it’s vegan! There’s no mess, no grease, no unknown variables. Fast food is usually uncomfortable because you know corners have been cut to justify the price. You really can’t cut a lot of corners with vegan food, though. It’s not like you can smother your vegetables in tasty lard. So, how does vegan Vietnamese food hold up in food court?
Quy Ngyuen’s whole menu is insanely delicious. Always freshly prepared, clean, colorful and crisp. The vegetables are on point, the tofu is organic and wonderfully prepared, and everything on the menu could be re-created at home, which turns it into comfortable soul food.
There’s one problem with Quy Nguyen: the size of the restaurant is tiny, which made me go back and forth on writing this review. But if the space is tightly packed, then it deserves to be, as every dish is packed with flavors that people should know about. My favorites on the menu are Udon noodles that come in a bamboo basket with fresh vegetables, and Dau Xot Ca, a wonderful dish packed with delicious Tofu, mushrooms, fresh vegetables and rice. And obviously, you will still find the classics such as Banh Bao and summer rolls with a heavenly peanut-hoisin sauce.
Vegan Vietnamese food doesn’t lack flavor nor texture. The menu of Quy Nguyen does not have to resort to “fake cheeses” or meat substitutions fortunately, as Vietnamese food traditionally works very well without dairy or meats. Actually, if you didn’t know it was vegan, I don’t think you would notice.
There’s also another reason for why I love going to Quy Nguyen: it’s a “perfect middle” restaurant. I works for lunch and dinner, for take-out and for a nice date. The price range is absolutely adequate (from 6 to 10 Euro), and the meal sizes keep you full without empty fillers. Take my word for it: you won’t regret eating at Quy Nguyen.