Samui Wining & Dining
Vegging Out

A look at where you can find real vegetarian food around the island.

 

23Twenty years ago a spa was where women went for a suntan or to get their nails done. But over the last two decades our basic outlook has changed and a healthy lifestyle is now everybody’s aim. We’re all into well-being. Our kitchens are filled with stuff that shouts ‘low-cal’, ‘no cholesterol’ and ‘fat free’. We scan labels for the use of additives, colourings and preservatives. Battery farming using forced hormone-feeding is another red light, and any supermarket suspected of this will be immediately exposed on the internet. There’s now a whole list of requirements that intelligent and aware people are insisting upon when it comes to their diet. And many such folk are now committed vegetarians.

    However, as a nation, Thailand hasn’t yet quite fallen into line with these trends. As an aside: there’s not really much reason for them to do so. The Thai diet is a perfect balance of fresh vegetables (some of them raw or uncooked), fresh fruit, lean meats, fish, and zero animals fats. The only possible failing when it comes to Thai cuisine is that they do love to chuck sugar at everything, not to mention the odd dollop of MSG.

      But, be that as it may, if you’re a veggie and you’re here for just a couple of weeks, you’ll need to suss out one or two reliable eateries that you can visit. They do exist, and there are certainly more on the island than it’s within our scope to outline here. But even such international bastions of truth and integrity as Trip Advisor are mostly blank-paged when it comes to ‘Samui’ and ‘Vegetarian’. And so what follows are some of the venues where we know you’ll be happy. Some are more ascetic in their approach than others. Others have lean chicken breast and fish on the menu, too. But, one way or another, all of these are places with integrity – and a big selection of vegetarian dishes!

 

  Their airy and open signature
restaurant, Amala, is one of the
few dedicated vegetarian
restaurants on the island

 

      Prana Resorts & Spa is situated on the north coast, at the furthest end of Bang Rak, where it merges towards Bo Phut Beach. Their airy and open signature restaurant, Amala, is one of the few dedicated vegetarian restaurants on the island. And such is its reputation, that it was included in Thailand Tatler’s ‘Thailand’s Best Restaurants 2011’; a respected guide which features reviews of the nation’s top restaurants. It was originally set-up by the well-known chef, Jonny Goodall, an authority on the vegetarian aspects of Persian, Pakistani and Punjabi cuisines, who travelled all over Asia and the Middle East before coming here. The result of this is that the menu has surprising elements of fusion between all these cuisines, and with traditional Thai vegetables, herbs and spices being given a delicious new context.

       A b s o l u t e Sanctuary is to be found on the hillside at the most northern part of Chaweng Beach Road. This is one of the several residential spas on Samui which also feature a quality restaurant. Its excellent eatery, The Love Kitchen, not only enjoys a sweeping elevated view of the bay, but also boasts a super range of creative offerings, too. Dishes are lively and full of cross-cultural flavours, and range across all the veggie options. Plus the menu includes a selection of healthy fish, seafood and chicken-based dishes. They also have an unusual selection of healthy and yummy desserts, guaranteed not to damage your waistline. An up-market and refined spa-based restaurant with an impeccable reputation.

      The Spa Samui Resort is to be readily found in Lamai, located right on the ring-road towards the Chaweng side of the town. This is another haven of well-being and cleansing which offers accommodation to fit-in with its programs. Everything here is down to earth yet full of light-hearted integrity, and this includes the offerings at their Radiance Restaurant, too. This is more Thai-style than the others mentioned so far, with wooden beams supporting a thatched roof, and an open and breezy aspect. The stress is on the spiritual elements, and this is one of the few restaurants which feature raw, live veggie dishes. It’s all very easy-going and cheerful but they’re also open-ended enough to include several (healthy) meat and poultry dishes, just in case your partner keeps dreaming about those big golden ‘M’ logos. There are tables ‘inside’ and also out, overlooking the beach.

      Poppies Samui one of the prettiest boutique resorts on the island. The restaurant is superb, with an excellent range of Thai and international offerings, but it has evolved to cater for dedicated veggies, too. Such people have actually been known to break into a spontaneous jig when they see the whole page of lacto/ovo and vegan dishes. A further attraction is that there’s a substantial section of Thai-vegetarian dishes. These are established favourites that have been carefully adapted (no meat juices or animal fats) to fit the veggie mould. When you go, make it a Saturday. That’s when they have a whole evening of Thai classical music and dance, together with live artists and crafts stalls. It’s to be found towards the southern part of Chaweng Beach.

      These are the places that you’ll find marked on Google Maps with one of those orange pins. Yet there are others which are not quite so internationally acclaimed. There are probably dozens of these – small eateries up side streets and run by locals. They’re hard to track down, but part of your holiday fun might be in the discovery of such unknown gems. Or maybe not .

      And so here are one or two little whispers which have reached us, and which might be worth exploring. Lamai Veggie: an all-vegan restaurant, located a little north of the gas station and morning market. Jay Tamachad Vegetarian Restaurant: on the road north out of Chaweng. Thai Organic Life: to be found near Buddy’s Resort and opposite The Spa Samui Resort.

      There are undoubtedly more than these. But, then, it’s up to you to find them. Make it a holiday project if you want – search and locate! But most people who come here do so in order to take a break and ‘veg out’ for a while. And if that also happens to include eating-out, veggie-style, then we’d like to think that we’ve been able to help you on your way!

 

Rob De Wet


 


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