Mac ‘n cheese with a Thai twist, spicy Malaysian noodles, traditional lasagna and some gooey cinnamon buns – and all are vegan?
Defying the COVID-19 crunch to bring Bangkok fresh-yet-hearty vegan bites, a new diner popped up in the popular Silom area recently while the virus’ spread was peaking.
The brainchild of Mika Apichatsakol and her husband Gareth Sheehan, Bangkok City Diner opened its doors recently a few hundred meters from BTS Chong Nonsi. It serves vegan fusion dishes such as Vegan Laksa (THB220), Tom Yum Mac N Cheese (THB180) and Rustic Lasagna (THB240) – many described by Mika as their own “favorite comfort foods.”
“As vegans in Bangkok, we felt that there was still a gap in the market for vegan versions of certain comfort foods, done well,” Mika said. “Between my husband and I, we have several cultures – Thai, Japanese, US, and New Zealand – so we felt like we had something unique to bring to the table.”
And they’ve brought a lot to that table. Also on the menu are pasta dishes – Pasta Marinara (THB180), Pasta Basilico (THB180) – and a few desserts to satisfy the guilty sweet tooth: Cinnamon Rolls (THB80), Tiramisu (THB160) and Hot Cross Buns (THB100 for two pieces).
Mika, who works at a luxury lifestyle magazine, was vegetarian prior to going vegan three years ago. Her husband Gareth has practiced veganism for over 25 years.
After all those years, their timing may have been off. Just a few days after their diner opened, the government ordered all restaurants and food courts to close except for takeaway orders. This forced many restaurants to get by on food delivery, which can be much less profitable, some of which have not survived.
“The lockdown made it hard for us to keep staff, and so our operations had to be limited from what was initially planned. Being new and not being able to put ourselves on the map with a physical venue is quite hard as well – as you can imagine even the well-established, well-known restaurants are struggling,” Mika said.
With restaurants now being allowed to seat diners again under strict rules, Mika said they plan to welcome patrons soon and will add more dishes to the menu.
“We can’t wait to serve our vegan ramen; something we’re saving for dine-in. It features our made-from-scratch vegan egg,” Mika told Coconuts Bangkok.
Not only is the restaurant promoting animal welfare, it also sets a chunk of revenues aside for local, animal-related charities.
“COVID or not, we allocate 10% of our revenue to animals,” Mika said, adding that for now it is going directly to supplying their neighborhood strays with food. When the business grows further, Mika said, she would like to work with local animal services such as Paws Bangkok and CHSAThai.
Asked about the vegan dining scene in Bangkok, Mika thinks it’s growing but still has a ways to go.
“It’s showing lots of potential, and I think it’s not because more people are becoming vegan but because more people are becoming flexitarian, or open-minded to the benefits of eating more plant-based, and that’s a great thing!” she said.
Bangkok City Diner is located on Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road off lower Silom, just a few minutes walk from BTS Chong Nonsi. For now it only offers delivery. Call 084-720-1992 or visit its socials for more details.
42, Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Rd, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok
BTS Chong Nonsi
Phone: 084 720 1992