I’m that person who goes to places and sees nothing (count me as the only person to visit Phuket island and not see a single beach).
Of course it’s not possible to see nothing, but as far as the big attractions go I’ve seen enough temples to last a lifetime and I’d be happy to never ride in a tuk tuk again. All I want to do is eat, wander, and then eat some more.
Khorat, or Nakhon Ratchasima, isn’t frequented by tourists. English comes at a premium and there’s little in the way of top dollar attractions, but it has a few nice vegan eateries and a branch of True Coffee (they have soy milk, and unlike Starbucks their coffee tastes like, well, coffee).
Firstly, I owe thanks to Renegade Travels for their tips on vegetarian restaurants in Khorat — it’s a must read if you plan to travel to this city. All I can offer are some further photos and descriptions of the food I ate.
My favourite stop by far, and the restaurant that garnered the most of my attention, Ming Ter is tiny and tasty. There are more options on offer than it appears, so if the soups and faux noodles being hawked at the front of the shop don’t appeal then you can order off menu.
There’s a sign on the wall listing other options, and it translates as follows:
Left column, from top to bottom: Chinese olive fried rice, shrimp paste fried rice, gaprow with rice, fish with chili sauce and rice, stewed pork with rice, chinese broccoli with rice, American fried rice (with ketchup), prawn fried rice, drunken (meaning with peppercorn and basil) fried rice.
Right column, from top to bottom: salted fish fried rice, pad thai, fried noodles, suki (with soup or dry), pad see ew, rad na, drunken fried mama noodles, and green curry spaghetti.
But stop the clocks and order the vegan Khao Man Gai (chicken rice). That meal made my entire trip to Khorat worthwhile. Mildly flavoured rice cooked in a salty broth with texturally outstanding faux chicken. The sauce is a spicy ginger soy dressing that will make every bite taste like nothing else in the world exists.
Jguanjin is not far from Ming Ter and is a typical shophouse style restaurant. Pick a couple of dishes and they will be served to you with rice.
I chose gaprow (soy protein and holy basil stir fry) and something green that the owner smiled at, which I took as a recommendation and said I’d take it. Good choice. There’s some spice in here, but they will let you know before you burn your tongue off by accident.
Not far from the train station (maybe a ten minute walk) is a petrol station with this veggie eatery attached, so you can watch cars being washed while you slurp your tom yum. Inside is a large selection of already cooked foods which you can select to eat with rice (a thali style platter with three dishes is a good option), or you can order cooked foods. There are photos on the walls of some of the dishes on offer.
I ordered a vegan pork and pumpkin dish with Thai basil, which was outstanding. The faux pork Thais use is, hands down, one of the greatest mock meats I have ever tried, and the combination of pumpkin and bai horapha is genius. I’m not a fan of the anise-y flavour in cooked foods (outside of green curry), but for once I had to bite my tongue on that sentiment.
The noodle dish is pad woon sen, or stir fried glass noodles. Always a safe bet for those averse to chili, this is a fairly plain dish that can be dressed with various table condiments if it isn’t exciting enough.
Finally, the gai pad kun chai, or stir fried chicken with Chinese celery, is also a fairly mellow dish so long as you don’t mind the sharpness of that particular vegetable. Again, this is a safe bet if you dislike spicy food.
A second shop with plenty of vegan goods as well as toiletries and a million types of tea is next door, but not everything is vegan.
Nakhon Ratchasima for vegans
While Khorat has some excellent vegan options and is a lovely city to wander, the only absolute standout was the vegan chicken rice at Ming Ter. I would not return to the city for its vegan food alone, but it is a nice place to spend a couple of days doing not much.