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Thailand might not be the easiest place in the world to eat as a vegetarian – order a supposedly meat-free dish at a street stall and chances are it will still have fish sauce, and perhaps pork stock, thrown into the mix. But that’s not to say that Bangkok is entirely inaccessible for vegetarians – aside from the annual Vegetarian Festival that takes over the city, a growing number of restaurants caters to vegetarians and those of us who just want a break from our meat-filled diets, but don’t want to sacrifice flavour in the process.
Of course if you request a vegetarian food tour in Bangkok with Expique we can cater for your specific dietary requirements and offer the perfect food experience for you in Bangkok. However, for those who simply want a good meal, these are our pick of Bangkok’s best vegetarian restaurants.
This no-frills vegetarian restaurant is set on Tanao Road, a short walk from backpacker central Khaosan Road – it’s right behind the Burger King that provides a landmark at one end of the street, and yet at the same time it feels a world away. May Kaidee also runs popular cooking classes, and in the small interior you’ll find a menu centred on unpretentious and flavoursome Thai dishes adapted to leave out the fish sauce, monosodium glutamate and other animal products. Portions are generous and prices are reasonable; May Kaidee has another, newer branch in Chiang Mai, a second Bangkok branch that can accommodate large groups by reservation only, and now even locations in Phnom Penh and as far away as New York and Georgia!
Daily, 9am-10pm; 33 Samsen Road and 59 Tanao Road (Phra Athit or Thewet piers); www.maykaidee.com
Set in Ekkamai’s Bangkok Mediplex building, Khun Churn hails from Chiang Mai and makes it its mission to showcase what can be done with good-quality vegetables, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the usual Thai love for fake meats. With the focus firmly on Thai cuisine, the fresh summer spring rolls are a highlight, as is the nam prik noom chipotle-like green chilli dip that’s telling of the restaurant’s northern roots. The meatless take on a northeastern laab minced protein salad ais also popular. Prices are reasonable and service also gets the nod, making this elegant yet casual restaurant a well-located spot to load up on health-conscious vegetarian food.
Daily, 10am-8pm; Ground Floor, Bangkok Mediplex, Sukhumvit Road Soi 42 (BTS Ekkamai); www.facebook.com/KhunChurnVeggie/
Higher-end vegetarian dining is the order of the day at Anotai, run by a Cordon Bleu chef and encompassing a yoga studio too. Dishes are flavoursome and include a range of salads and pastas, as well as a particularly popular northeastern laab salad made with minced tofu. Meanwhile, you’ll struggle to go wrong with other Thai dishes like the yum pak waan, a salad of local Thai leafy greens. There is also a good selection of cakes and ice creams, just to prove that going veggie doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of the good things in life.
Thursday-Monday, 10am-9.30pm; 976/17 Soi Rama 9, Rim Khlong Sam Sen Road (MRT Rama 9); www.bit.ly/anotaibangkok
Luxury boutique hotel Ariyasom Villa is among our picks of unique places to stay in Bangkok, and this is one spot that stays true to its boutique tag. Housed in a 1940s villa and hidden from the downtown hustle and bustle just at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 1, the property also boasts an impressive vegetarian restaurant serving up a mix of Thai and international dishes. Pick from the likes of tofu satay, vegetarian dumplings and pomelo salad, or plump for something decadent like the faux-duck confit. A healthy adaptation of fried rice with black olives also gets our vote, but perhaps the showstopper is a tantalizing selection of European-style desserts including homely staples like bread and butter pudding and apple crumble.
Daily, 6.30am-10.30pm; Ariyasom Villa, 65 Sukhumvit Road Soi 1 (BTS Phloen Chit); www.ariyasom.com
This old establishment used to be located in Silom but a few years ago moved to it’s new location out of town on Rama 2 road. To this casual hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up a rotating menu of vegan dishes over rice in a canteen-style setting. Expect homely, unpretentious, keenly priced Thai cooking that sells out fast; most of the food sells out by mid-afternoon. The usual line-up of made-to-order Thai-style noodle dishes are also available, with adaptations made to suit dietary requirements.
This restaurant gets bonus points for its homely feel that gives the sense that you’re eating in someone’s living room, as well as for the fact that just about everything is made from scratch in-house. If you’re in the mood for a burger but want to stick to your vegetarian diet, Bonita’s tofu teriyaki burger is the way to go – and you’ll want a side of killer onion rings to go with it. Other notable dishes include a creamy Caesar salad, and raw courgette pasta that has a reputation as perhaps Bonita’s signature dish. The carrot cake is worth saving room for, too.
Vegan cheese is the order of the day at Barefood. This popup shop and communal space is first and foremost a purveyor of cheeses made from fermented cashews and other nuts. But it’s also a full-on restaurant focussed on plant-based foods and western cooking, serving up a rotating menu that features everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads, rice dishes, and pastas. Of course, you could always just indulge your inner cheese-lover (everyone has one, right?) and order up one of the tempting nut cheese platters, each of which comes complete with crackers and fruit.
Barefood Bangkok is located in increasingly trendy and pricey Ekkamai on the outskirts of downtown Bangkok (although meals here are fairly reasonably priced) and, as an extra twist, it also doubles up as a vintage furniture outlet from the same people behind Tuba, that other Ekkamai stalwart.
Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sukhumvit Soi 61 (BTS Ekkamai); 098-924-6995; www.facebook.com/barefoodbangkok
Now with five branches across Bangkok – two in Phrom Phong, and the others in Chitlom, Silom and Siam – Veganerie began life as a small vegan bakery, but is now an all-day joint with a particular preponderance of breakfast and brunch meals. The owners cite environmental as much as dietary concerns as the reason for launching the venture, which now puts on a full spread of vegan dishes that span a mix of western, Thai and fusion cooking. Decor throughout Veganerie’s branches is modern, bright and airy, with open kitchens playing an integral part alongside hanging plants that trail down from the ceiling.
Expect mostly health-conscious food here, incorporating a healthy dose of vegetables as well as a wide array of faux meat alternatives, but there are also a few more indulgent savoury and sweet plates to be discovered. Highlights of the all-day breakfast menu include pancakes, and crepes, ‘superfood’ breakfast bowls, smoothie bowls, and a specially designed ‘pre-workout’ collection of shakes, sandwiches, and salads. Elsewhere, choices run the gamut from burgers and pastas to rice bowls and roti-and-curry sets, plus ‘Buddha bowls’ (like the ‘raw pad thai’) and ‘zoodle’ salads, tempting pastries, cakes, and sundaes, and a full range of plant-based coffees, teas, herbal drinks, and juices.
Daily, 10am-10pm; EmQuartier shopping mall (BTS Phrom Phong), Sukhumvit Soi 24 (BTS Phrom Phong), Mercury Ville (BTS Chit Lom), and Siam Paragon (BTS Siam); 02-258-8489; www.veganerie.co.th
Hummus Boutique is one of those restaurants in Bangkok that’s creating a bit of a storm among the city’s foodies. Set in downtown Bangkok’s trendy and affluent Thonglor neighbourhood – also home to the likes of popular Bangkok vegetarian restaurant Broccoli Revolution – Hummus Boutique might be the new kid on the block, but the people behind it (the folks from Yenakart Road’s Mama Dolores) claim to have been making hummus the traditional way for more than two decades.
The small, cozy restaurant serves up an extensive and tantalising menu featuring just about every variation of standard hummus that you could imagine – and then some. Go for classic hummus, mushroom hummus, avocado hummus, cauliflower hummus, or plenty of other options – you get the idea! Also on offer are the likes of tabouli, dolmades, falafels, feta-stuffed aubergine, shakshuka, Greek and Arabic salads, and za’atar-dusted deep-fried bread. It’s all a recipe for wholesome, nourishing Mediterranean goodness.
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-11pm; 999 Sukhumvit Road (BTS Thonglor); 092-819-8131; www.hummusboutiquebkk.com
Just a short distance from traveller enclave Khaosan Road, Mango is a small but popular restaurant that’s a relatively new arrival on Bangkok’s vegetarian scene, but which is already pulling in the crowds. Mango is open daily from early until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and just about everything in between – it’s a relaxed joint that, as much as anything else, makes the perfect spot for a quick refuel between sightseeing stops in the historic old-town Phra Nakhon neighbourhood.
The menu comprises a mix of Thai and western dishes, and there’s as much a focus on healthy eating as on simple vegetarianism and veganism. That means you can expect to see the likes of health-conscious ‘Buddha bowls’ and tofu-loaded salads crop up, alongside Thai curries and soups and delicious falafel. But fret not if you’re in the mood for something comforting – there’s also a great range of vegan-friendly cakes. The restaurant also bills itself as an art gallery, but that’s stretching it a bit – there are a few large pieces adoring the walls of the dining area, but not much besides.
Daily, 10.30am-10.30pm; 13 Tanao Road (Phra Athit river boat pier); 093-353-9879; www.bit.ly/mangovegan
Another vegetarian restaurant worth hunting out on the hotspot that is Pan Road, Suananda Kitchen sits inside an Ayurveda-based wellness centre. Suananda serves up a mix of Indian and international vegetarian fare, but the Indian dishes make for the highlights of the menu. A selection of good-value set meals are available alongside and à la carte menu, and the restaurant itself is open-air. Teas and juices are also available, and the restaurant is perfectly placed if you’re popping in for a spot of yoga, meditation, massage, or other traditional ayurvedic treatments.
Monday-Saturday, 10.30am-6pm; 109/9 Pan Road (BTS Surasak); www.facebook.com/suanandakitchen
This trendy new arrival in Bangkok’s upscale Thong Lor neighbourhood sits right on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 49, in a striking building with an interior that combines high ceilings and plenty of ferns – there are also plans afoot to make use of the rooftop space for a bar. Food-wise, the focus here is on international vegetarian cuisine, and it turns the stereotype of bland veggie food on its head enough to tempt even meat-eaters. Expect everything from Thai somtum papaya salad to vegetable tempura, mezze platters and Vietnamese pho noodle soup. The juices and cakes mean you’ll do just as well stopping in for an afternoon breather as for a full-on dinner – and in the evenings the sin continues with the likes of a boozy vegetable mojito.
Daily, 7am-10pm; 899 Sukhumvit Road Soi 49 (BTS Thong Lor); www.bit.ly/broccolirevolution
Where are your favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok? Which are your must-eat dishes? Let us know in the comments!
All photos by respective venues.
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