Bangkok Vegetarian Diaries - By Bhavna Kakkar
15th July 2015

Disclaimer - I have not visited each and every one mentioned in the list but all are recommendations  from close friends, family, fellow Foodies and a few factual references off the Internet. Bangkok is SO huge that it's impossible to make a concise diary therefore I am limiting myself to Vegetarian and Fine Dine and a few shopping destinations I visited on my trip last month - Bhavna Kakkar

Thailand is a haven for Foodies – Non-Vegetarian Foodies ! But contrary to popular belief there are options for vegetarians although one needs to do a bit of research, go through trial and error methods to find some gems. Bangkok is a great place for street food not exactly ideal for veggies as the smells are an overkill although dishes like Raw Papaya Salad, Tofu Curry and Pad Thai is often available but if you are one of those flexible vegetarians and don’t care for fish sauce in your food or a shrimp or two in your Pad Thai, then you will be able to enjoy street food in Thailand. Although a great option is local fruits that taste great, and you can't hope to have a healthier snack.

If you are a real foodie and want a feel of the local market, pick up some ingredients for cooking etc, pastes, bamboo-shoots, vegetables, and even head out to Or Tor Kor market for a taste of the local produce and also to soak in the ambience. Try the rose apple (known as Chompoo), a fruit that smells and tastes like rose water, Water Chestnuts on ice; Mangoes that are available everywhere in all forms, Pineapples, Durian, Dragon Fruit and lemonade bottles and smoothies available in joints strewn all over the city.

Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise and the food court’s are a great place for quick bite and give rest to those tired feet, with some fabulous options in local Thai as well as World cuisine. My recommendations will be Siam Paragon, Siam Centre, Pier 21 - Terminal, 21 Food Court, Fifth Food Avenue and Kou Asian (with vegetarian options) on the 6th Floor both in the very popular MBK Centre which has two food courts and an extensive selection of food items/pastes etc and Central Food Loft which is not inside a mall but gives you a real food experience with live cooking classes/counters, chefs giving demos, ideal for getting your Thai noodles customized to your taste or getting a fresh pasta made.

Face Bangkok offers a choice of Thai, Indian and Japanese cuisine, a good option for vegetarians. The Japanese restaurant Misaki in this restaurant offers an appetizing choice of vegetarian dishes and one can mix and match cuisines which is the best part of Face Bangkok, also it’s pretty centrally located in Sukhimvit. For Thai food though, try Lan Na Thai here. They also have Thai cooking classes, their website has all the details. Another completely vegetarian option is May Veggie Home in Asok, near Sukhumvit Road opposite Terminal 21. May Kaidee is a good place to enjoy absolutely delicious vegetarian fare and has two branches in Bangkok and a 3rd one in Chiang Mai just in case you are heading there too. There are many, many Indian restaurants - Dosa King (South Indian) Sri Ganesha Restaurant, Raas (Fine Dining North Indian), Eros Restaurant (Pure Jain), Saras (The name is a giveaway, serves Gujju and Rajasthani fare), Khana Khazana (North Indian) amongst others.

Some others with veggie options are Rasayana Raw Food Café, Bonita Café and Social Club, Govinda Italian Restaurant (It’s pure vegetarian Italian not Indo- Italian).

Now let’s talk some ‘Fine Dine’ - My first pit stop was Blue Elephant (see its detailed review here - ).  A must visit for an experiential taste of Royal Thai Cuisine. They also run a Culinary Academy and have cooking classes in the same premises.

                                   Blue Elephant

My second dinner at Celadon at The Sukhothai, located on South Sathorn Road, was a wonderful experience. Probably deserves a separate review as I savored the Chef’s tasting menu and learnt some more about Royal Thai Cuisine. Water Chestnuts and Snow Peas seemed to be the Chef’s favorite, as they popped up in almost all the dishes. And most of them were on the sweeter side. Celadon is one of the few Thai restaurants that offer an extensive array of set vegetarian menu.


                Celadon                                               Starters - Celadon

Also recommend Seven Spoons highly, serves Mediterranean vegetarian cuisine but it’s almost impossible to get a reservation there as it has very limited seating. I guess you could try if you stay for a longer time.

Saffron at the Banyan Tree has an exhaustive vegetarian menu. The interesting thing here is that they earmark the dishes that can be cooked for a vegetarian. The salad section is huge and they have experimental Pan Asian cuisine. The Vertigo Bar and Grill at the Banyan Tree is also a fun place for a night about town. Benjarong at Dusit Thani also restaurant specializes in 'royal' Thai cuisine. The restaurant also offers a choice in set menus.

Bangkok is also home to two of the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna recently announced in London. Gaggan run by Indian chef Gaggan Anand, is at No 10, known for ‘Progressive Indian Cuisine’, a fine example of Molecular Gastronomy (A longish review already posted here -) No 22 on the list is Nahm, highly acclaimed as the finest restaurant in Thailand for years now, serves Thai cuisine, thankfully not the ‘royal’ kind but spicy, fiery, a combination of street and classic food. I missed it this time as I had been hearing from friends in the region that the food quality has declined over the years but how wrong can a Michelin star restaurant with a chef like David Thomson go !

Bo.Lan, Lemongrass, Issaya and Sensi (more unique than fine dine) are great options in the fabulous dining category. Reservations recommended for all of the above and please check menu and prices before booking. Average set menu dinner between 4000 to 12000/16000 Baht for two people including alcohol.

Mezzaluna Bangkok at Tower Club at Lebua hotel is another recommendation although predominantly non-vegetarian but the restaurant is situated in the Dome – A MUST VISIT in Bangkok. Eat first and then go unless you plan your dinner at Mezzaluna, for a night about town and the best night views ever from the Sky Bar/Sirocco located in the same hotel. This is one stop every fun loving visitor to Bangkok must make.

                      Sirocco                                                   The Dome

Another fun place not in the fine dine category is Cabbages and Condoms, a set up that promotes safe sex and donates to the cause, humorous décor, Thai cuisine, well priced, peppy with decent food. Do not visit if you are with family or kids – might be a bit of a shocker !

Zuma at St Regis and Ku De Ta (Singapore fame, recommended by fellow Foodie Tanvee ) and Maggi Choo are great nightclubs to let your hair down.

Must visits - Jim Thomson stores for silk goods and also the museum with the same name, Chatuchak Market, Alexander La Mont, Lek Gallery for antiques, Haarn for creams, Platinum for dirt cheap clothes shopping and a Sarojni Nagar experience, Pratunam even cheaper but I almost fainted in the heat so malls are a better option. MBK for home goods, deal on clothes etc. although I preferred Siam Paragon and Emporium for a saner shopping experience. Asiatique near the Chayo Phraya river is a paradise for tourists and I loved it. You get the spa experience, momentoes for family, soaps, scarves, clothes priced nearly the same as Platinum etc, incense, you name it, you got it !!  Bangkok’s very own Dilli Haat with rides for kids and overproiced taxis. This is on the other side from Sukhimvit so you need to plan it with some time in hand. Also recommended are MK Chain of Steam boat restaurants.

                  Jim Thompson Musuem


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