It’s not easy being green… at least in this part of the world
Non-meat eaters are generally badly catered for in Thailand – unless you are fortunate enough to be around in September / October, when Chinese Buddhists celebrate their annual 9 day vegetarian festival. There are few, if any, pulses in Thai cuisine, while eggs are the only dairy product widely in use. Indeed, the choice of meals is so limited that after a two-week stay, you may never want to see an omelette or a plate of stir-fried vegetables again!
Here, we round up some of the best vegetarian options available in Krabi. If you still can’t find anything suitable, it is usually possible in Thai restaurants to order ‘off-menu’, or ask for a dish to be made without the meat. The magic words to use in this case are ‘kin a-haan jay‘ (I am a vegetarian) or to make it absolutely clear: ‘mai kin neua sat‘ (I don’t eat meat) and ‘mai kin plaa‘ (I don’t eat fish). To ask for vegetables to be used as a replacement, point to the dish you want and say ‘tong-kan baep nee, tae sai pak yang diaw’.
It is also worth noting that though there is an abundance of fresh vegetables in the Thai diet, most dishes will be seasoned with fish or oyster sauce. Curry pastes and some soups also contain shrimp paste. If you don’t want any animal products on your plate, say ‘mai sai nam plaa / nam man hawy / ka-pi’. Soy sauce is ‘nam si-yuu’.
Here is a useful list you can copy and print out and show in case your Thai is not being understood:
I am a vegetarian: ฉันกินอาหารเจ
I don’t eat meat: ฉันไม่กินเนื้อสัตว์
I don’t eat fish: ฉันไม่กินปลา
I don’t eat eggs: ฉันไม่กินไข่ไก่
I would like this dish, but only with vegetables: ขอประเภทนี้ แต่กรุณาใส่ผักอย่างเดียว
Please don’t use fish sauce, oyster sauce or shrimp paste: กรุณาอย่าใส่น้ำปลากะปิหรือน้ำมันหอย
Please use soy sauce only: กรุณาใส่ซีอิ๊วอย่างเดียว
This is, believe it or not, the only 100 per cent vegetarian restaurant in Krabi. Everything that is served here is ‘safe’ to eat, including the sauces and condiments. The restaurant is fairly basic and unassuming. It is run by a religious group that seems to adhere to the Linda McCartney school of thought, which says that vegetarians actually like the taste of meat, but don’t want blood to be shed in order to eat it. Thus most of the dishes are based around meat substitutes, some of which are a tiny bit too convincing, such as the ‘red pork’ and ‘salted fish’. Actual vegetables are quite poorly represented.
Most standard Thai noodle and rice dishes are available – try the rat-naa (noodles in a thick soup) or the fried rice. There is also a range of pre-prepared curries behind the counter – select what you want and it will be served over rice.
Pruksa Uthit Rd (Soi 10 end), Krabi Town. Open every day except Sun and religious holidays, 9am-5pm.
With perhaps the largest selection of fresh vegetables of any restaurant in Krabi, Ruen Mai is the perfect place for those who would like to sample the authentic tastes of Thailand, without the meat. There are several dishes using unusual local vegetables, worth trying out. The adventurous should not miss stir-fried s’taw (‘stinky beans’) in red curry paste, or the jungle vine pak mieng stewed in fresh coconut milk. The spicy salads are also a delight – try the wing bean or lemongrass options. Remember to point out to the staff that you don’t eat meat or fish: the enlightened and educated kitchen will let you order almost anything on the vast menu as a vegetarian dish.
Ruen Mai has the reputation of being the best Thai restaurant in the area, so it is a good choice for a mixed group of veggie and omnivorous diners. The garden setting is beautiful.
Klong Chilat Road, near Krabi Town. Open daily from 11am-9pm (last orders).
Ao Nang and Klong Muang both have several restaurants from the sub-continent; all are Halal and most will have a decent Indian vegetarian (i.e. vegan) section on their menu, with basics like dahl, palak paneer, aloo gobi and so on. If you actually hail from this area, or are at all familiar with Indian cooking, do ask for authentically spicy versions, otherwise you may end up with watered down, bland tourist curry.
For those who don’t like Thai food, or who are running out of ideas, there are always the classics to fall back on. While few Italians are vegetarian themselves, their diverse cuisine traditionally includes many non-meat dishes. In Krabi, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cucina italiana: the number of restaurants in Ao Nang alone has earned it the nickname of Little Italy.
The beach road here offers a range of pizza ‘n’ pasta type meals, of varying quality, as well as salads and olive and cheese plates.
If in Krabi Town, Viva Ristorante [Pruksa Uthit Rd] offers possibly the widest choice for vegetarians, with many sandwiches, soups and salads, as well their deservedly famous pizzas.
May & Mark
Although a bit of a backpacker ghetto after being featured in Lonely Planet, this cafe-restaurant in Krabi Town wins the best marks for effort in catering to veggies on a budget. There’s a wide selection of dishes – almost every section of the ‘round-the-world’ menu has vegetarian options, from the Thai green curry to the spaghetti – there’s even some meatless Mexican enchiladas.
The restaurant has a list of vegetarian ingredients that sound more familiar to westerners. As well as the beans in the Mexican food, many dishes use tofu in various forms and there’s also quite a wide selection of cheese, a rarity in this part of Thailand. Sandwiches are made with their own delicious sourdough bread.
Maharat Soi 10, Krabi Town. Open daily from 6.30am – 10pm (kitchen closes at 9pm).
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Last updated: October 24, 2016