When I’m in Bangkok I eat a lot. I walk, I eat, I walk some more, and I eat some more. I never write about everywhere I dine because, well, there are too many places, but here are a few more spots I thought worth a mention.
The vegan menus at these restaurants consist of mainly Thai or Thai inspired dishes.
Na Aroon is the restaurant of a hotel and spa complex that happens to serve a mostly vegetarian menu. There is no meat on offer, but fish options are plentiful. All dishes are accurately marked as vegetarian or not vegetarian and the menu is large. It’s an upscale place with table service, open windows, and friendly service. Count on £10-15 per person for a 2-3 course meal with a drink. The restaurant isn’t necessarily where you would expect, so if you go and end up in an open-to-the-weather reading room then move on. Follow the respectable people in nice clothes who aren’t people like me.
Upon being seated I was given a complimentary snack of miang kham, a Thai street snack that comes wrapped in wild pepper leaves. Mostly I enjoyed watching the couple who came in after me poke at theirs unknowingly, but the miang itself was also enjoyable.
I ordered a dish of mee grob, which is a dish of crispy rice noodles stir fried with savoury seasonings and caramelised palm sugar syrup. This is an item all over Western menus that can either be good or bad, with little in between, but rest assured the version at Na Aroon falls into the former category.
Following that I enjoyed a large plate with a selection including som tam (papaya salad), khao niew (sticky rice), and gai yang (Thai grilled faux chicken), a combination of Isan Thai favourites. I was disappointed with the rice (too much black rice meant it wasn’t sticky enough), but aside from that it was a pretty stellar main. Mainly I was reminded about how much I miss garlic in most Thai vegan food. Most vegan eateries in Thailand follow a diet that also restricts the use of pungent ingredients like garlic and onion, but Na Aroon doesn’t follow that prescription. Thank goodness. Because I like garlic a lot.
Orange Cafe is sadly now closed.
If you are seeking difficult to find vegan supplements in Bangkok, please check out their parent company Bangkok Complementary Health Store.
My first impression of this small, quiet cafe was, well, I spotted the stacks of supplements and fake medicine for sale and had my doubts. The limited menu commanded my attention, however, and it took a long time for me to choose because everything looked worth a try. Not everything is vegan, but it is all vegetarian, and items are clearly marked.
Since this was my second lunch that hour, I opted only for the single dish of vegan yum naem khao tod, which is a salad of fried rice balls and fermented pork. The dish originates from Laos but is popular in Thailand, and the plant based variety has become a fast favourite of mine.
After that meal I regretted not prioritising another visit to Orange Cafe, but I will return during my next visit to Bangkok. Be aware that unlike many folks catering to Westerners, these guys take chilies seriously. Ask for none if you’re averse to spiciness (what’s wrong with you).
Bug and Bee has an expansive menu of food that would please most tastes. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but they do maintain a vegan menu that includes a decent selection of dishes (stir fries, noodles, some snacks). They offer soy milk for coffees and understand what vegan means. I wasn’t blown away by my meal, but the location on Silom (also in Siam Paragon) is good and it seems the menu would accommodate almost anyone. And everyone, because there are a billion floors.
I ordered the five mushrooms soy milk and shanghai noodles, a rich and salty broth of soy milk and stock packed with rice noodles and mushrooms. Suki sauce is served alongside this generously portioned dish. Tasty, but nothing I would rush back for. Also, I’m not posting a picture because if you saw the picture I have you would assume I ate a noisy broth of blur in the dark and you probably wouldn’t give Bug and Bee a fair chance.
Fresh soy milk is easily available in Thailand, and if you’ve never tried it then do so. You’ll see just how doctored the aseptic packaged stuff we buy at home is. One place that caught my eye, although I was too stuffed to sample what was on offer, was Soya Soyum, which is one floor below Veganerie in the Mercury Ville shopping centre. All of their menu items are dairy free and the only questionable ingredient in some menu items is honey. They serve soy fruit shakes and boba tea, as well as plain soy milk with toppings like beans (which are often used in sweet food in Asia). You have a choice of hot or cold and how much sugar is added.