vegetarian louisville- asian/pacific foods


The picture above was unfortunately, not taken in Louisville, but in Hanoi, Vietnam last summer.  Fortunately, we have Vietnamese food in Louisville (at Vietnam Kitchen) that is every bit as good as the food I tried in Hanoi.

Vietnam Kitchen

Possibly THE BEST restaurant in town, regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not.  It’s friendly, it’s cheap, and it’s delicious.  If you have been here, chances are that you already have a favorite dish and you probably refer to it longingly by its menu number.  My favorite dish is M5, or, Mock Duck with Green Beans.  It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s absolutely delicious.  I also like to start with the Vietnamese crepe or the tofu spring rolls.  VK has an enormous selection of vegetarian dishes and many others can be prepared with meat analogs.  VK is located in the Iroquois neighborhood in the South End of Louisville.

Basa Modern Vietnamese

This place is expensive, but worth every penny.  The cuisine is French influenced Vietnamese.  The decor is crisp and modern with beautiful, large photographs of Vietnam landscapes and cityscapes decorating the walls. Though the vegetarian options are limited at Basa, they are some of the most exciting meals a vegetarian can have in Louisville.  I recommend starting off with a lychee or aloe coctail and then ordering the Japanese eggplant with noodles, garlic chips and wild mushroom ragout.  You won’t be disappointed.

Zen Garden

Louisville’s only all vegetarian restaurant is not only delicious, but is very well-intentioned.  Around Thanksgiving, Zen Garden opens its doors to guests who pay what they can at the door for a great meal.  The proceeds then go to various nonprofit organizations around the world.  My favorite dish at Zen Garden is Quang’s Traditional Noodles, a blend of yellow rice noodles, bean sprouts,  seitan, smoked tofu, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and puffed rice strips, with a tangy sauce and lemon wedges as garnish.  Basa and Zen Garden are located in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.

Simply Thai

Almost all of the traditional Thai dishes on the menu can be prepared vegetarian or vegan.  They don’t use fish sauce in the pad thai.  The owners of this restaurant used to be partners with a local health food store, so this place really understands vegan diets.  One of the tastiest Thai places in town.  I can’t help myself from ordering the Tofu Pad Thai every time I come here.  Thai Smile 5 is located in the St. Matthews neighborhood.

Thai Smile 5

Although the name gives the impression that this is a chain, cookie cutter establishment, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is a unique restaurant run by a family who take great pride in what they do.   The owners are very friendly and any item can be made vegetarian– the red and green curries are particularly good.  Thai Smile 5 is located in the Preston Highway area.

Mai’s Thai

Another family run Thai restaurant- this one across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  The family’s snapshots of Thailand are under the glass tables, and colorful kitschy crafts, posters, Buddhas, and wallhangings decorate the place.  The owner, Mai, is on a mission to raise money to restore the Buddhist temple in Thailand that she attended as a girl.  She has already raised $20,000 for it through the restaurant!  My favorite dish here is the Gua Teow Pad Keemow, which is Thai rice noodles stir friend with homemade basil paste, onions, chili, bean sprouts and green onions.  I also love their Sweet black rice with coconut creme for dessert.

 Red Pepper Chinese Restaurant

Ask for the “authentic Chinese menu” and you will be handed a list of very confusing sounding dishes (an entire vegetarian section included) with entertaining descriptions such as “bitter towel gourd.”  Stick with the eggplant dishes and the fried tofu if you want something delicious– or round up some friends and try a bunch of strange-sounding dishes served family-style.  Let me know if you find a particularly tasty dish.

Sari Sari

Louisville’s only Filipino restaurant has a few veggie-friendly dishes, which are going to be decidedly more unusual that your typical meal in town. Try the mung bean and coconut soup as an appetizer and the Pancit Canton for an entree, which is a noodle dish cooked with vegetables and served with fresh lime slices and jasmine rice. 

August Moon

Expensive, but tasty Malaysian and Chinese food with several veggie dishes.  This is a good place to take a date.  Try the Malaysian style curry with vegetables. 


In my opinion, the best Japanese food in town.  I rarely go elsewhere for Japanese. This is Louisville’s only “izakaya” dining, a combination of pub, sake bar and eatery. There is a variety of vegetarian sushi- my favorites are the roasted yellow pepper rolls, avocado rolls, and sweet bean curd rolls.  There’s also tempura and dozens of small plate dishes.  Try some of their excellent Japanese beer on tap or have a glass of sake.


1 Response to “vegetarian louisville- asian/pacific foods”

  1. 1 Jamie
    December 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    i ate at vietnam kitchen 5 times last week. i think it’s heaven. and it’s also less than 1 minute literally from my house!

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