Features 2 minutes 15 February 2019

Vegetarian Dining in Thailand

Benefiting both the world and our waistlines, vegetarian food is taking a firm hold in Bangkok

Vegetarian Thailand

The ubiquitous Tom Yam Kung with giant river prawns; pounded chili paste laden with dried seafood and served with steamed mackerel; and the fragrant and meaty Phat Krapao (meat and basil stir-fry), at first glance may mislead travellers to believe that Thailand (and Thai food) is all about animal protein. But as a Buddhist nation that participates in the Taoist Nine Emperor Gods Festival, known as thesakan kin je (Vegetarian Festival), vegetarian cuisine is not only a typical part of Thai culture, it is truly celebrated.

These festivities are predominant within the Thai-Chinese communities throughout the kingdom. In the capital city of Bangkok and especially in Yaowarat (Chinatown), restaurants proudly display yellow flags that read ‘je’ in Thai to signify that they offer vegetarian dishes. But you don’t have to wait only once a year to enjoy vegetarian food in the cosmopolitan capital of Thailand. Here are some spots that provide delicious meatless selections all year round.

Vegetarian festival in Phuket.
Vegetarian festival in Phuket.

Old Favourite
Khun Churn, originally from Chiang Mai, has been a vegetarian mainstay for over two decades. Noted for their extensive buffet that focuses on real vegetables rather than mock meat, the restaurant manages to feature over 100 vegetarian options on their menu. While these include Chinese and European fare, Khun Churn truly shines with a mouth-watering assortment of Northern Thai recipes like Khao Soi (wheat noodle curry) and Khanom Chin Nam Ngiao (tomato stew with rice noodles).

Khun Churn - Khao Soi.
Khun Churn - Khao Soi.

Breaking the Mold
“Bangkok is known for its street food and growing fine dining scene, but we wanted to be in the middle, a place where someone can come and eat something fast in a casual ambiance every day,” said Mr. Sakson Rouypirom, co-owner of Broccoli Revolution.

Broccoli Revolution- Charcoal Quinoa Burger.JPG

With modern casual cuisine, Broccoli Revolution takes inspiration from both the East and West. “We have dishes from all over the world, and especially Southeast Asia,” Mr. Sakson continues. “Our most popular Western dish would have to be the Broccoli Quinoa Charcoal burger with homemade healthy fries.”

Dining here not only ensures a meat-free and healthy meal, but benefits local communities as well. Revenue from Broccoli Revolution’s coffee, cold-pressed juice and mushrooms all go to benefiting non-profit organisations throughout Thailand.

Calming Classic
Located in AriyasomVilla - a renovated 1940’s Thai villa turned boutique hotel - Na Aroon serves classic Thai vegetarian food using seasonal ingredients prepared without MSG, food colouring or preservatives. The unique vegetarian options include Nam Prik Mafueang (starfruit chilli dip), Khao Ho Bai Bua (rice wrapped in lotus leaves), and Mi Krop (authentic Thai crispy rice noodles with caramelised palm sugar).

Vegan Hangout
With a strong focus on healthy cuisine, Veganerie Concept is a popular destination for Bangkok’s vegans. Everything here from appetisers to desserts contains no animal products. Be sure to sample their Thai-inspired dishes like Raw Phat Thai and Tom Yam Quinoa Bowl. Veganerie is also known for creating sweet treats like the Vegan Blueberry Cobbler Sundae and Ultimate Brownie Sundae that are created with no eggs or dairy products. An added benefit is that menus change daily, so you’ll always have something new to try.

Yum Som-O from Khun Churn.
Yum Som-O from Khun Churn.

A Star is Born
It may have taken the initial efforts of Alain Ducasse (Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, 3-Michelin Stars) and Alain Passard (L’Arpège, 3-Michelin Stars) to show the world that meatless menus have a place amongst Michelin’s rankings, but Thailand’s own roster is not wanting of our own plant-based hero - or in this case - heroine. Gaa (1 Michelin Star, 2019) headed by Chef Garima Arora features a full vegetarian tasting menu inspired by her connection to India and Thailand.

“My goal is to offer guests something no one has ever tasted before,” said Chef Garima. “My food is vegetarian - vegan. Jackfruit bread, for example, is something that stands out. It has so much umami; it’s so personal to me and being Indian, being creative with vegetables is second nature.”

Gaa - Corn Dish. Photo credit: Gaa.
Gaa - Corn Dish. Photo credit: Gaa.

The vegetarian selection in Bangkok is expanding in both quantity and quality. As an increasing number of restaurants provide delicious and creative dishes for the benefit of diners, Thailand once again proves itself as one of the world’s best and most diverse gastronomic destinations.

For more vegetarian options, see A Paradise for Longevity, a guide to health and wellness in Thailand.

Addresses:

Gaa (1 Michelin star)
68/4 Soi Lang Suan, Ploenchit Road Lumphini,
Pathumwan, Bangkok Tel. +66 (9) 1419 2424

Khun Churn
Bangkok Mediplex Building 42 Sukhumvit Rd., Phra
Khanong sub-district, Khlong Toei district, Bangkok, Tel.+66 (0) 2713 6599

Broccoli Revolution
899 Soi Sukhumvit 49, Khlong Ton Nuea sub-district, Watthana
district, Bangkok, Tel. +66 (0) 2662 5001

Na Aroon
AriyasomVilla, 65 Sukhumvit 1 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Watthana,
Bangkok 10110
Tel. 02 254 8880

Veganerie Concept
35 2 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Tan, Khet Khlong Toei,
Bangkok 10110
Tel. 02 258 8489

This article is brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand.

To know more about Tourism Authority of Thailand, please visit https://www.tourismthailand.org/

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