While many of us love Bangkok for the fantastic weather, cheap cost of living, beautiful locals, and crazy nightlife, if you could only sell this amazing city on one aspect of its culture then it would surely be the food.
No one goes hungry in Bangkok for long, there is food on literally every street and side soi in the city, catering to ever budget imaginable from street hawkers serving simple soups, snacks, and fresh fruit, to the latest fusion feasting and extravagant fine dining. Eating your way across Bangkok city can be a journey through traditional tastes and exotic flavours, enjoyed in a number of unique and colourful settings.
Bangkok is also a very health conscious capital and there are lots of reasons for veggies to enjoy the anticipation of meal time. You’ll find a growing number of vegetarian restaurants in the city, from dedicated international eateries, to meat-free twists on traditional Thai menus. And we are not just talking simple tofu substitutions, some of Bangkok’s vegetarian restaurants are among the most exciting and imaginative diners in town.
Here are a few of the best vegetarian restaurants in Bangkok:
May Kaidee (Tanao Road)
A legend on the Bangkok veggie scene, May Kaidee is something of a meat-free Mecca for backpacking vegetarians passing through the capital. Despite its popularity the Tanao Road restaurant is a rather simple and modest affair, just one shop house wide, but with a very laidback and chilled vibe. The menu is pretty extensive with both vegetarian and vegan dishes covered, including veggie versions of all the classic Thai dishes, from sizzling Pad Thai to spicy Som Tam.
Such is the success of May Kaidee, it has a second location in Samsen Road. This restaurant also run their own vegetarian Thai cooking school with half day classes for those wanting in on their secret techniques and recipes.
Anotai (Rama 9)
It may not look much from the outside but this small eatery set in a tiny plaza near Rama 9 hospital, is actually a health resort in disguise. Part restaurant, part cafe, part yoga studio, Anotai is all about good, healthy living and great tasting food. The menu is a mix of Thai and Italian veggie dishes with a notable homemade dessert list for those looking for a little naughtiness. All ingredients used are said to be 100% organic, using TVP (texturized vegetable protein), made from vegetables grown their own plot outside Bangkok.
The owner, Anotai, is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who also runs her own cooking classes at the restaurant.
Govinda (Sukhumvit soi 22)
It may sound very Indian and spiritual, but Govinda is actually one of Bangkok’s finest vegetarian restaurants, specialising in Italian cuisine. In a very warm, rustic styled setting, Govinda adds a touch of visual nostalgia to their menu of trusty veggie and vegan dishes. Their menu is extensive and contains lots of high end, quality ingredients, you’ll soon forget that this is a totally meat-free eatery.
Govinda can be found on Sukhumvit Soi 22, a short distance from both Asoke and Phrom Phong BTS stations.
Aryaa’s (Sukhumvit soi 8)
Most of Bangkok’s Indian restaurants have a few vegetarian dishes on the menu, but there are only a handful of pure vegetarian Indian eateries about. Often overshadowed by their neighbour across Sukhumvit on soi 11/1 (Dosa King – who are also 100% veggie), Aryaa’s is a contemporary Indian restaurant, serving vegetarian versions of authentic Indian dishes, separated into northern and southern cuisine. Dishes from the south include Mysore Masala Dosa and Southern Style Thali, while northern highlights include Tandoori Roti and Vegetable Biryani.
The restaurant can be found near the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Soi 8, just under the Nana BTS Station, while up above in the BTS Station itself you’ll also find their small extension diner, serving all the same menu to hungry commuters.
Ethos (Tanao Road)
Another vegetarian cafeteria on the busy Tanao Road, Ethos is a bit of a hippy retreat, where diners sit on cushions, eating off low tables, often encouraged to use their fingers, to a back drop of world music and traveller’s chatter. The menu is pretty huge and not just focussed on one, or even a handful of cuisines; it’s almost like an around the world tour of vegetarian plates, making it easy to find something you’ll be drooling over. Not to be outdone, the drinks menu takes up another 10 whole pages.
At the back the restaurant you’ll find a Travel Library with a large selection of Lonely Planet books and other guides. Committed to the cause, the owners are also on a mission to connect travellers with a passion for sustainable living and organic agriculture projects, using a directory of contacts to help likeminded folk network.
By Kim Loe.