Veg­e­tar­ian, PURE and SIM­PLE

TOFU, RICE NOO­DLES AND LOTS OF RAW VEG­GIES TAKE CEN­TRE STAGE AT GAYSORN VIL­LAGE EATER­IES

The Nation - - FRONT PAGE - KHETSIRIN PHOLDHAMPALIT

FROM A GLASS of cof­fee mixed with soy milk and red bean paste and Ja­panese-style tofu and mush­room roll with av­o­cado puree, to Western­style grilled pump­kin with car­rot puree, and Northern Thai favourite khao soi hed( curry noo­dle with mush­room), the restaurants and cafes in Gaysorn Vil­lage in down­town Bangkok are tak­ing veg­e­tar­ian dishes to an­other level as they mark the an­nual nine-day veg­e­tar­ian fes­ti­val.

Snap Cafe this year has in­tro­duced three new iced cof­fee and co­coa-based drinks mixed with soy milk, red bean and taro paste.

The shop uses cof­fee beans from Doi Chang in Thai­land’s Northern hills that are medium roasted to give a choco­latey and slightly acid af­ter­taste. The Tofu Cof­fee is a mix of espresso dou­ble shots and soy milk with the taro paste sink­ing to the bot­tom. It’s topped with soft diced tofu for a pud­ding-like tex­ture. There’s no need to add syrup – sim­ply stir the taro paste for a mildly sweet taste.

For a light and silky mouth­feel, try Red Bean Cof­fee – a ni­tro cold brew cof­fee mixed with soy milk and topped with red bean paste. If you want to avoid cof­fee, order the Co­coa, a mix of co­coa power and soy milk with red bean paste at the bot­tom and diced tofu and tofu skin on top. Each drink costs Bt140.

The cof­fee bar with a fu­sion twist is owned and run by cof­fee con­nois­seur Suponkid Na­vanop­pa­rat­sakul who draws on the clas­sic cock­tail bar to give Snap an in­ter­est­ing twist. Lo­cated on the first floor, it stands out with its white tiles, bar stools and comfy so­fas. A small se­lec­tion of cook­ies and sand­wiches is also avail­able.

“From con­ven­tional drinks of espresso, cap­puc­cino and latte, I try to mix cof­fee with other drinks like lemon juice, Thai tea, rice milk and tonic and top it with in­gre­di­ents like khao tan ( rice cracker), salted caramel and hazel­nut cookie,” says Suponkid.

Reg­u­lars of Sushi Mori will know they don’t have to wait for the veg­e­tar­ian fes­ti­val to try the res­tau­rant’s veg­gie op­tions, which make up eight of the more than 300 dishes of­fered in both tra­di­tional and fu­sion styles. For the fes­ti­val, which con­tin­ues un­til Wed­nes­day, 10 new dishes have been added, among them im­i­ta­tion crab stick and potato rolls.

“With our ex­ist­ing in­gre­di­ents, it’s easy for us to switch to veg­e­tar­ian. We cre­ate our own tofu that is mild, soft and creamy and a cream cheese al­ter­na­tive that has the same smooth but­tery taste as real cream cheese but is made from oils of al­mond and cashew nut. We also se­lect sup­pli­ers to pro­vide pre­mium veg­e­tar­ian sup­ple­ments such as im­i­ta­tion crab sticks and tex­tured veg­etable protein,” says co-owner Nacha He­trakul.

A re­fresh­ing ap­pe­tiser is Hiyashi Tofu Inaniwa Udon (Bt280) – a chilled chunk of soft tofu in sesame sauce, topped with av­o­cado slices and roasted sea­weed flakes.

Ya­sai Chi­rashi (Bt320) is a rice dish topped with a flavour­ful mix of soy­mar­i­nated mush­room, diced tofu, lo­tus root tem­pura, diced av­o­cado, sea­weed salad and sesame sauce.

Ya­sai Tama Roll (Bt320) is stuffed with tofu tem­pura and sauteed eringii mush­room and topped with av­o­cado slices, white sesame, grilled shi­take mush­room and pick­led veg­gies. It’s served on a bed of tem­pura flakes to­gether with av­o­cado puree and truf­fle sauce.

A long-time favourite res­tau­rant among well-heeled res­i­dents and tourists alike, Provence is pop­u­lar for its pre­mium del­i­ca­cies like boat noo­dles with rib-eye and khao soi (Northern-style curry noo­dle) with duck con­fit. Dur­ing the fes­ti­val, din­ers can still en­joy its flavour­ful khao soi but with tofu and mush­room (Bt220).

The curry is sea­soned for a well­bal­anced taste while the blanched noo­dles in yellow curry and the deep-fried noo­dles on top add dif­fer­ent tex­tures. Fif­teen serv­ings are avail­able per day. Also worth try­ing is Kanom Jeen Nam Ya (Bt235) – fresh rice noo­dles with a curry made from blended chilli, tofu, mush­room and tex­tured veg­etable protein. The platter is served with as­sorted, sea­sonal veg­eta­bles – fresh and blanched – such as chopped long bean, beansprout, cabbage, wa­ter morn­ing glory, cu­cum­ber and bit­ter gourd.

“We don’t use fer­mented noo­dles be­cause the yeast that comes out in the pro­duc­tion process is con­sid­ered by many as non-veg­e­tar­ian. Our main in­gre­di­ents for veg­e­tar­ian dishes are tofu, mush­rooms and veg­eta­bles and we don’t use er­satz meats like veg­e­tar­ian pork or chicken. The cook­ing uten­sils and din­ner­ware to cook and serve veg­e­tar­ian menus are also kept sep­a­rate from the reg­u­lar dishes,” says the man­ager Weena Than­nom­chuen.

Din­ers can en­joy over 10 veg­e­tar­ian dishes at Provence through­out this month.

Ger­many’s 1823 Tea Lounge by Ron­nefeldt is also par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­ti­val by of­fer­ing a three-course ve­gan lunch set for Bt330-plus un­til Wed­nes­day.

The set starts with Tomato Basil Soup with finely diced bell pep­per and zuc­chini, served with toasted gar­lic bread. For the main dish, a diner can choose from two op­tions; Fried Tofu and Mush­room, and Roasted Pump­kin.

The tofu dish of­fers two chunks of fried hard tofu with four kinds of fried and seared mush­room, namely nee­dle, eringii, shi­take and oys­ter. The sauce is savoury Oo­long tea made from fer­mented Da Hong Pao tea with full body and smoky taste.

The other op­tion is roasted Ja­panese pump­kin slices served with car­rot puree, pine nuts, beet­root and baby sor­rel leaves with bal­samic dress­ing. Com­ple­ment the meal with the dessert of Chilled Tofu Cream with Rasp­berry Coulis. Re­fill­able iced Oo­long tea is also in­cluded in the set.

For ca­sual din­ing and com­fort food, Kub Kao’ Kub Pla of­fers a range of 16 veg­e­tar­ian dishes to en­joy solo or with a friend un­til Wed­nes­day.

The ap­pe­tiser for shar­ing is Fried Oys­ter Mush­room (Bt185). The mush­room is finely shred­ded and bat­ter fried un­til golden brown, and driz­zled with tamarind sauce, fried dried chilli and kaf­fir lime leaves.

The much-loved dish of Lon Poo or crab­meat in soy­bean dip­ping and co­conut cream gets a makeover with tofu re­plac­ing the seafood and comes with as­sorted, sea­sonal veg­eta­bles such as white turmeric, pen­ny­wort, young leaves of bael fruit and cashew nuts (Bt220).

Other veg­e­tar­ian sin­gle dishes are Yen Ta Fo( noo­dle in sweet pink­ish-red soup with im­i­ta­tion meat, Bt195), Pad Mee Krached( stir-fried wa­ter mi­mosa with rice noo­dle and tofu, Bt200) and Sen Yai Rad Na (stir-fried wide rice noo­dle topped with gravy sauce and fried taro, Bt185).

Snap serves three new veg­e­tar­ian drinks; Tofu Cof­fee, Co­coa and Red Bean Cof­fee through­out this month.

All this month, Provence serves up Thai veg­e­tar­ian dishes in­clud­ing Khao Soi and Kanom Jeen Nam Ya.

1823 Tea Lounge by Ron­nefeldt presents a three-course ve­gan set: Tomato Basil Soup, a choice be­tween Fried Tofu and Mush­room and Roasted Pump­kin, and dessert of Tofu Cream with Rasp­berry Coulis.

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