Vegetarian, PURE and SIMPLE
TOFU, RICE NOODLES AND LOTS OF RAW VEGGIES TAKE CENTRE STAGE AT GAYSORN VILLAGE EATERIES
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.