Vegetarian heaven

Vegetarian heaven

Bangkok Trading Post's plant-based dining menu moves to the top of the line

Vegetarian heaven

There's great news and, imaginably, sad news.

Last week, just in time for the Vegetarian Festival, I discovered a place for plant-based dining that I was very excited to spread the word about.

It was one of my favourite restaurants, Bangkok Trading Post, at 137 Pillars Suites & Residences in Sukhumvit 39.

Since my first visit in 2017, the all-day dining bistro secluded behind the hotel's gorgeous garden has never failed to impress.

To match its cosy design-centric setting, the food always proves magnificent whether it be for dine-in or takeaway.

Yet I did not imagine that its vegetarian offerings, which I was about to sample, could be one of the best I would come across.

In fact, a plant-based menu has for several months been the restaurant's much-treasured fixture.

The crowd-pleasing fare is rendered by the hotel's French executive chef Maxim Baile, who's greatly inspired by the modern-day demand for sustainable eating.

Thus, other than selections of all-day breakfast, pasta, pizza, noodles, sandwiches, and main meat and seafood dishes, the 70-item menu also features a plant-based section catering to diners who embrace a vegan diet or simply look for a health-conscious alternative. Although it lists only seven dishes, all of them were really well crafted.

The Cheesy Flower Garden Rolls (190 baht) that first arrived at my table looked like a typical plate of deep-fried spring rolls but were filled with plant-based meat, which could be impossible to tell that it was a faux variant, mushrooms and vegan cheese. Giving the crispy golden and addictive treat a sweet and sour enhancement was a tamarind dipping sauce.

The meat-free marriage of Italian risotto and Japanese katsudon.

I found the chef's vegan version of spicy meatball casserole (360 baht) much more palatable than many of the classics I've had.

Of it, chunky plant-based meatballs came drenched in rich tomato-harissa sauce and topped with elastic mozzarella-like vegan cheese under a slightly charred and crispy flame-baked pizza crust.

Also offering a delicious Italian taste profile but minus the fieriness of the chilli pepper is the porcini conchiglie pasta (450 baht). The dish showcases the soft but resilient, house-made shell pasta in tomato porcini sauce with plant-based croquettes and sprinkles of vegan cheese.

Next up was Verde Delightful Risotto (290 baht), a meat-free marriage between Italian risotto and Japanese katsudon. The Italian rice was cooked with diced butternut in fine green herb stock and served topped with deep-fried breaded mock pork cutlet and sundried tomatoes.

The spicy plant-based meatball casserole.

The imitation meat including the pork cutlets, burger beef patties, sausage and ground meat that are used in the dishes are gourmet-quality products by Meatly and Beyond Meat, two upscale plant-based protein brands.

For those who aren't in for mock meat, there are, of course, dishes made with simpler and natural ingredients on offer.

And no matter what the reason, you should never miss the jackfruit curry (430 baht) and the avocado hummus and nuts (360 baht).

Indeed, to skip others and bank simply on these two dishes would never be a regretful thing to do.

Served with rice and garden salad in a three-tier ceramic tiffin box, the jackfruit curry, which looks like a thick version of Thai gaeng kari, was concocted by the French chef with inspiration from a dish he had during his trip to Sri Lanka.

The Cheesy Flower Garden Rolls.

Immersed in the deep-heat curry -- a mixture of coconut milk, tamarind, onion, capsicum and spices -- were fleshy chunks of young jackfruit, a delicious substitute for shredded chicken meat.

The avocado hummus, meanwhile, is one of the best-selling items from the salad menu and served with pan-toasted pita breads.

Lending the smooth and silky green mash a nice crunch and zesty contrast were roasted pistachios, pine nuts, fresh pomegranates and baby arugula.

Super impressed by the plant-based lunch, we decided to sample the hotel's newly launched vegan afternoon tea, which is offered at the top-floor tearoom, Baan Borneo Club.

Dubbed "nature's opulence", it's a well-curated repertoire of 10 bite-size culinary creations that showcases European and Japanese flavours.

The best-selling avocado hummus with salad and pita bread.

The set encompasses delicacies such as avocado carpaccio with green peas tonka ganache on sesame cracker; parsnip cremeux with piquillos pepper on quinoa crunch; and mirin-marinated tofu sandwich with edamame and lemon confit. These were some the most heavenly afternoon tea items I ever had.

There are also seaweed tartare and pickles tart with Japanese beetroot pearls and truffle cashew nut cheese millefeuille with pine nuts and purple sweet potato.

On the sweet side, I was much delighted by chilled servings of coconut ganache on lemon meringue and pistachio mousse with orange coulis.

While red berry entremets with strawberry; blueberry-cheesecake macaron; almond praline on sponge biscuit; and dairy-free scone flavoured with Madagascar vanilla and apricot accompanied by strawberry jam, apricot-miso jam and chocolate cremeux were just lovely.

The porcini conchiglie pasta with with plant-based croquettes and vegan cheese.

The miniature desserts and finger food are served with a choice of premium tea blends, available both hot and cold, from Monsoon Tea, a northern Thai brand acclaimed for sustainably growing native tea in harmony with the forest.

The nature's opulence set is priced at 1,600 baht per two persons inclusive of a choice of tea and kombucha, or 2,000 baht per two persons with two glasses of sparkling wine.

To ensure the availability of the delicacies, among the best-tasting and most-meticulous afternoon tea goodies in town, a minimum one-day advance reservation is highly recommended.

While I was lingering on the culinary cloud nine provided to me by chef Baile, I learned that he was soon to move to another project, a high-profile international cooking school. So, should you wish to enjoy his marvellous vegetarian creations at 137 Pillars with him being around in person, you better hurry.

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