Bangkok Chinatown
Vegeterian Festival

As a vegetarian for the last nine years walking around Bangkok is sometimes a bit of a nightmare as the smell of those wonderful noodle stalls and grilled everythings is overwhelming but out o f the realms of my culinary options.

But then, once a year, in September , the whole country starts displaying small yellow flags which tell everybody the vegetarian festival is at hand, and the menus already contain new vegetarian options for the benefit of the festive herbivores.

It is nice to see such a solidarity in this Buddhist manifestation of compassionate nutrition and surprising to see how many join and become vegetarians if even for a week. One needs to understand the omnivore nature of Thai society and the passion for meat in any possible form to understand the sacrifice these meat lover make.

Every year, the main street of Chinatown is blocked for traffic and becomes a swarming river of hungry people, mostly pushing their way towards their favorite stalls, and some of the vendors are famous almost as folk heroes with people coming over from all over the satellites of Bangkok just to eat their dishes, which are available to the public just one week a year.


Whenever we go to join the masses I know exactly where the three stops around the tour will be, and the smells welcome us , lure us in to those small plastic chairs and metal tables for a gastronomic urban treat of international quality and fame. All fresh, all healthy, all tasty on the level that makes me drool as I write these words.

The opening and closing of the festival boast shows of Chinese Buddhist culture with dancing dragons and such and a wide array of thai performances ranging from the religious to the pure cabaret and musical entertainment for the now full and happy crowd.

Although the whole city is full of vegetarian food during that period, there is nothing like having the real thing sitting on the side walk of the busy street, with Chinese drums banging away and people stare at you and try to telepathically  make you chew faster and liberate the chair for them.

Not  to worry, we will not be long. I don’t like to haste when I eat, but the kao soi stand is right over there, I can see it from here, and then we still have to stop by the dessert stall and get some wonderful treats for the way home. It will be another year until I can enjoy it again.




Normally I am not a big fan of fake meats and tofu that looks like dead animals. But even I have to admit that some of these creations are magnificent in their ingenuity and art of culinary manipulation. My all time favorite are the fake beef grilled mushroom and the spicy Chinese vegetarian sausages. The texture is just right and even the aftertaste is perfect. As a guilty pleasure it is not bad for you at all.

A lot of people have a misconception about vegetarian food, and unfortunately a lot of chefs share the same infliction. For some reason  they all think that taste is made out of meat and try to create dishes that have absolutely no taste whatsoever as if spices and herbs are bacon or lard. This festival is a great opportunity to show how tasty vegetarian food can be, how comforting a good bowl of fake pork noodles can be, how so much better fresh and healthy food is. If you are in the area in September, don’t miss it.




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