Eat without meat

With the 10-day Vegetarian Festival, known as Tessakan Kin Jae, about to kick off next weekend, here's two plant-based fine-dining options

Pan-seared jicama with fermented mulberry gel on bean curd skin.

Front Room, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, 151 Ratchadamri Road. Call 02-846-8888. Open daily, 5.30-10pm. Most credit cards accepted.

  • Front Room
  • Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
  • 151 Ratchadamri Road
  • Call 02-846-8888
  • Open daily, 5.30-10pm
  • Most credit cards accepted

I had been wanting to review Front Room's vegetarian menu ever since my first visit to this Thai-inspired Nordic restaurant two years ago.

The delicious cuisine here is formulated by chef Rungthiwa "Fae" Chummongkhon, whose portfolio includes a 10-year career at several Michelin-rated restaurants in Europe, and has proved to me time and again truly original and awe-inspiring.

Similar to how the chef came up with her main menu, the veggie recipes (she offers both strictly vegan and simply meatless options) are crafted as meticulously and creatively as their meat counterparts, and with ingredients also reflecting the seasonal abundance.

Celebrating the rainy season, root vegetables take centre stage of the current listings.

Guests can choose to enjoy the vegetarian meal à la carte style, or as a multi-course dinner. The latter is priced at 2,700 baht per person for a seven-course; and 3,300 baht per person for a 10-course.

Should you request a vegan option, all the dishes served to you would contain no animal products or by-products.

For that, the complementary sourdough comes accompanied by vegan butter flavoured with house-brewed soy sauce.

Baked Jerusalem artichoke with salted celery root, chilli oil and vegetable gravy.

Pumpkin with morel and galangal sauce.

Of the tasting menu, the first course is represented by a series of bite-sized appetisers. They include spicy potato with kaffir lime zest; crispy pumpkin with asparagus salad; sunchoke and saffron; spiced pickled carrot and star fruit with rice powder.

Among the following courses are dishes such as caramelised tofu skin with jicama and fermented mulberry gel. The translucent white jicama is sliced and pan-seared to resemble a scallop and served on tortilla-like soybean curd skin with tasty plant-based sauce.

"The Root" is the title of a very flavourful dish that looks simply like a whole fresh carrot but is prepared with baked Jerusalem artichoke, salted celery root and micro carrot leaves. Drizzles of chilli oil and a pool of thick gravy, made with celery and apple juice, help lend a savoury touch and a hint of fieriness to the naturally sweet delicacy.

While "Shredded Rice Grain" features grilled flatbread topped with diced radish, droplets of vegan mayo and EVO pearls. The bread is accompanied by a bowl of piping hot, herb-fragrant vegetable consommé.

There are also the likes of baked beetroot and celeriac with crispy almond milk crepe and truffle crumbles, and a platter of pumpkin served with morel mushroom, cashew nuts, crispy deep-fried parsley and five-spice galangal sauce.

Wrapping the plant-based meal are delicate papaya terrine with dark chocolate sorbet and passion fruit granite, and a lovely selection of sweet nibs.

Advance reservations are recommended.

  • You & Mee
  • Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Ratchadamri Road
  • Call 02-254-6250
  • Open daily 11am-10.30pm
  • Most credit cards accepted

At Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, vegetarian cuisine is also a crucial part of its culinary offerings. No less than a 5% proportion of the menu for each dining outlet has to be vegan-friendly.

Lately the hotel's all-day dining street-food inspired Thai restaurant, You & Mee, has introduced an additional selection of dishes prepared with new veggie-forward protein alternative called OmniMeat.

The commercial name for a minced pork imitation product, OmniMeat is a made with mushroom, soy bean and grains. Yet the delicacy looks and tastes almost identical to pork.

The new ingredient allow a chef to expand beyond the usual meatless commodities, such as yen ta fo jay (vegetarian noodle soup with red sauce), gui chai (chive dumplings), tao-hu thord (deep-fried breaded bean curd) and pueak thord (taro fritters), which are already popular.

You & Mee restaurant. Photo: Melalin Mahavongtrakul

Diners can now find also a vegan rendition of classic pad kaprao moo, prepared with OmniMeat.

The plant-based protein is stir-fried with mushroom, hot basil, chillies and vegetarian oyster sauce and served with steamed rice (250 baht).

For more pungent a pleasure, there's a nice selection of yum (sour and spicy salad) and larb (spicy minced meat seasoned with herbs and roasted rice powder). All are prepared without animal products or byproducts including fish sauce.

Whether by the appearance or mouthfeel, we couldn't tell OmniMeat larb (240 baht) from its pork counterpart. The dish promises as much flavourful zest as does the ordinary rendering.

This same flavour profile can also be enjoyed in a crunchy larb tord (220 baht). Of it, the mock meat product is flavoured to a larb recipe before being shaped into a bite size and deep-fried until crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The delicacy is eaten with fresh vegetables as a starter.

Yum woon sen, or sour and spicy glass noodle salad (220 baht), can also be ordered here in vegan style, as does spicy tom yum noodle soup, which comes with tofu, beansprouts and OmniMeat in a subtly flavoured vegetable stock (250 baht).

Vegan burger with coconut-based cheddar, dairy-free mayonnaise and BeyondMeat patty. Photo: Melalin Mahavongtrakul

Those looking for a gourmet Western taste may want to check out Beyond Burger (450 baht), a vegan sandwich prepared with BeyondMeat, a plant-based, beef-like patty.

Served with your choice of French fries or garden salad on the side, this hotel's signature sandwich showcases on a house-made vegan brioche bun a juicy flame-grilled mock-meat patty together with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise, both made with coconut oil.

To add an interesting touch to the burger is a sweet, sour and spicy layer of som tam green papaya salad, which proved to intermingle perfectly with the American-style treat.

Meanwhile, to delight fans of German currywurst, there's Beyond Curry Sausage (290 baht), prepared according to a Bavarian recipe, with plant-based sausage and house-made sweet curry ketchup.

From now until this coming Monday, both the burger and the currywurst are on offer at promotional discounted prices. Get them at Beyond Meat Food Truck on a driveway between the Erawan Bangkok and Amarin Building from 10am-7pm. The special prices are 100 baht for the burger and 70 baht for the sausage.

After Monday, Sept 23, these plant-based dishes will be permanent at the hotel's Dining Room restaurant and Bar@494.

Yum woon sen with minced mock meat.

Noodle soup with mushroom and OmniMeat.