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Bangkok Offers Vegetarians On Any Size Budget Much More Then “Just Tofu”

Author: Anonym/Sunday, July 25, 2010/Categories: Guides

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Whether you are on a budget or money is no object, Bangkok is a foodie paradise offering a vast array of dining options for vegetarians that include a diet of more than just stir fried tofu. Bangkok is a great place to explore flavorful eateries, including Thai food, Chinese food, Indian & Middle Eastern food, Italian food, Japanese food, and Organic & Spa food.

For budget conscious individuals, finding cheap vegetation food is as easy as stepping out the door. Bangkok street food is quick, convenient, flavorful and inexpensive. Most street food vendors are willing to make Pad Thai without the shrimp (30-40Bht), and you never have to venture too far from any street corner before you run across the guy selling a variety of fresh seasonal fruit (pineapple, watermelon, dragon fruit, papaya) cut up in a bag and served with a stick (10Bht), or someone selling a fresh coconut with a straw in it. For some of the best Thai & Chinese street food head to Khao San Road and China Town for inexpensive and meatless dishes including falafel, stir fried rice & spicy egg or rice noodle dishes and vegetable egg rolls all for under 50Bht each.

For Indian and Middle Eastern food, head to Soi 3 in Nana. “Nasir Al Masri” is an Egyptian restaurant with chefs from N. Africa. They serve Arabic, Indian & Thai food and you should be prepared for a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s easy to forget that you are still in Bangkok as you dine among the Shisha smokers (decorative water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco) in this bright expanse of mirrors, chrome, marble and black & white checkered floors. But don’t let the over the top décor fool you, the food is excellent, and it’s vegetarian fare is some of the best in Bangkok. The service is good, with a knowledgeable and friendly staff, but if you are on a budget, be sure to decline the Evian water that they set on the table. Although the pickled vegetable plate is complementary, the Evian water is anything but, priced at more than 60Bht a bottle, it can add a considerable amount to your bill if you are not aware of this before-hand. The Eggplant Curry (70Bht) and Dal (80Bht) are some of he best around and perfectly complement the Butter Nan (30Bht) which is to die for. The Arabic rice dishes such as Saffron Rice with Nuts (60Bht) or the Vegetable Biryani (120Bht) also go really well with some Hummus or the Tahini Salad (80Bht). The Fried Mixed Vegetables and Fried Eggplant (80Bht) are so flavorful and comforting to eat and the Tabbouleh (120 B) makes one marvel at how such fresh and simple ingredients can be combined into such a majesty of flavor. What makes the food at Nasir Al Masri so refreshing is that all of the vegetarian fare boasts perfectly balanced flavor combinations, without using any chilies or overpowering spices.

One thing Bangkok has is more than it’s fair share of shopping centers and malls. Visitors and residents alike flock to these oases to escape the heat, and shop till they drop. What’s great about Bangkok is that no matter where you are in Bangkok (Bangna, Chidlom, or Changwattanna) your likely to find a shopping mall that will have several restaurants that offer great vegetarian fare. One best kept secret is that every mall in Bangkok has a Thai food court where you can find very inexpensive Thai food. You might have to ask around, but it is worth it if you are on a tight budget. If you are willing to spend a little bit more, nothing beats sitting down to a meal at one of the easy to find chain restaurants such as “Scoozi Italian Pizzeria” or “Fuji Japanese Restaurant.” With most dishes at Fuji priced at less than 200Bht, feel free to try the Tofu Steak, the Vegetable Tempura, or have them make you up a California Sushi Roll Platter. Fuji also has one of the best Miso Soups around and their Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salads are simply divine. For more hearty vegetarian fare, fill up on one of the hearty pasta dishes served at Scoozi. The Alfredo (220B) and the Quattro Formaggi -4 Cheeses (250B) are rich, creamy and decadent. They also serve fresh pizzas from a wood burning oven that are really quite a treat with their crispy, smoked crust and fresh quality toppings. Scoozi will also let you choose between white flour, organic flour or whole wheat flour crust for your pizza. They are baked fresh to order, and offer quality ingredients like buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh imported Italian basil and good quality olive oil. Pizza prices range from 245Bht- 400Bht. A nice one to try is the Vegetariana which comes with tomato sauce, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant & zucchini, but it’s really worth it to pay a bit extra and get them to add some buffalo mozzarella cheese to this pizza. Another chain restaurant in most Bangkok malls that is worth mentioning for vegetarians is “Sizzler Steak House”. It may go contrary to all instincts and preconceived notions, but you cannot beat the soup and salad bar at Sizzler for one of the freshest, highest quality salad bars in Bangkok. No one offers such a consistently good and well stocked salad bar than Sizzler. No matter what restaurant you go to, the quality standard is the same and they always keep the bar fully stocked and never “run out” of your favorite salads or toppings. They have tons of fresh ingredients including fresh pasta salads, potato salads, noodle salads, and fresh green salads, not to mention the fresh fruits and soups (pumpkin, cream of mushroom, Tom Yum) and light desserts that also come on this salad bar. With a shocking low price of less than 150Bht a person for “all you can eat”, there is no better bargain for great vegetarian food in the mall than Sizzler’s soup and salad bar.

Every once in a while, it is nice to pamper yourself and do something special. Tucked away on a small soi, about a 10 minute taxi ride from Emporium, is a place where you can have a truly unique food adventure. It is at the Rasayana Retreat ‘Raw Food Café”. Rasayana has 2 locations, one in Pattaya and one in Bangkok and the Bangkok location is truly an oasis where you feel hidden away from all the madness of city life and can begin to embrace tranquility and calmness from the moment you enter the property.

Although the Raw Food Movement is not a new one, it is still fairly under-represented In Thailand. The Raw Café at Rasayana is located in a beautiful teak wood garden and the moment you sit down you are presented with a drink menu that offers 25 fruit juices, vegetable juices, wheatgrass cocktails and fruits smoothies to choose from. Why not start out with a Cleansing Cocktail (85Bht) of ginger, beet, apple and carrot or a Wheatgrass Shot (70Bht)? Priced at 130Bht each, the Avocado Cream soup, Summer Tomato soup or the Beetroot soup are all really good starters. Keep in mind this is a raw food experience, so there is no salt or excess seasoning used in these meals, but what does come through is the pure essence of the foods you are eating, and they are expertly paired in flavor combinations that enhance the dinners overall eating experience. Entrees worth trying include the Live Pizza (170Bht) made with a flaxseed crust and topped with marinara sauce and vegetables, the Eggplant Lasagna (170Bht) made from marinated eggplant, zucchini, marinara, avocado sauce, or the Zesty Fettuccini & Red Sauce(150Bht) made with Marinated zucchini noodles topped with a fresh and spicy marinara sauce. Die hard vegans and organic food lovers should also know that all the vegetables at the Raw Café are sourced locally and although some are organic, some are not. Having a vegetarian raw food experience is probably not going to leave you stuffed to the gills, but then again that’s the whole point. It’s all about slowing down, detoxing and revitalizing, and a raw food experience when the food is so creatively prepared leaves you with the feeling that it was more than just a novelty vegetarian meal.

Anyone who thinks that vegetarian dining in Bangkok has nothing to offer but yet another predictable tofu and vegetable stir-fry, is not looking hard enough! Bangkok bustles with endless possibilities for vegetarian dining within any budget. So next time you are “out and about” in Bangkok, go vegetarian and discover what wonders await you!

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