It’s not easy to find vegan or vegetarian-friendly places to dine in Bangkok — even seven years after we first published this article to lament the extra legwork it takes to locate vegetarian restaurants in the city, not a whole lot has changed.
This new plant-based cafe and eatery down Soi Sukhumvit 24, however, might help our city’s vegetarians and vegans look past sad, depressing salads or boring phad phak stir-fried vegetables.
Vistro Bangkok opened just last month inside a two-story shophouse that’s walkable from BTS Phrom Phong. It serves animal-free fare that’s inspired by several cuisines from around the world. With its convenient location and original offerings for non-meat eaters in town, it’s a solid place to find delicious vegan dishes that we would recommend both carnivores and herbivores to check it out.
Coconuts Bangkok recently met with all three of Vistro’s co-owners — Harsha Sethi, her husband Navin Sethi and head chef Stuart Nombluez — who are all vegans. The trio tells us that after finding that Bangkok has “limited options” in terms of vegan-friendly restaurants, they decided to open their own.
“We want people to know that vegan food can be exciting, fun and has a lot of textures,” said Harsha, the co-owner and pastry chef.
Inspired by the owners’ travels and multicultural backgrounds, the menu contains an impressively diverse list of culinary inspirations from countries around the globe — for instance, the Jackfruit Larb Taco, the Indonesian-style Ubud Gado Gado salad and the Hawaiian poke bowl. There’re even “Spaghetti Carbonada” pasta dish and char-grilled portobello mushroom steak.
Harsha said that the team is pretty “mindful” about the quality of ingredients used here, so the kitchen sources many of them from various other countries depending on where they can get the best quality possible. Cocoa nibs are from Bali, nutrient-rich blue spirulina is from Sweden, while the plant-based meat substitute is imported from Malaysia.
One of the appetizers we tried was the Vistro Dumplings (THB220). It comes with a pretty cool-looking layout of six dumplings soaked in a gyoza sauce made with chili oil and kombucha vinegar, the latter of which adds a refreshing dimension to each bite. The wonton wrappers are stuffed with a filling made with spring onions, tofu and sesame, which goes great with the sauce — especially when paired with its topping of crunchy, pea-sized soy proteins.
There’s also the Habibi Wrap (THB290), which came recommended by Harsha herself. The Mediterranean-inspired dish arrived with four rolls of wheat tortillas packed with double marinated chicken, iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and bell peppers that are drizzled with a mix of chimichurri and tzatziki sauces. Chimichurri is a blend of parsley, cilantro and fresh herbs while tzatziki is a creamy yogurt-based sauce with grated cucumbers and garlic — and we found that the two matched each other very well.
But then we had one that really impressed us: the Miang Kham Salad (THB270). It’s based on a Thai snack that has origins tracing back to the era of King Rama V. Here, it gets a twist by replacing the wild betel leaf with butterhead lettuce leaf, which makes it easier to scoop all the ingredients up. The one-bite appetizer delivers on an array of fresh flavors: crispy sweet and sour tofu, toasted coconut, crushed peanuts, lime, ginger and tamarind sauce. And, the original betel leaf is not totally left out: It’s thinly sliced and sprinkled onto the butterhead.
For the drinks, Vistro has plenty to choose from, too. Colorful rows of kombucha, made in-house and available in flavors such as pomegranate, strawberry and grape, passionfruit and ginger, go for THB160 per bottle. For those who need some caffeine to light up the day, the cafe serves coffee brewed from beans grown in Chiang Rai, including a Vistro Cold Brew (THB110), Salted Caramel Latte (THB130) and Bulletproof coffee (THB140).
In case you’re suffer a bad headache from drinking too much the previous night, then you might want to try a small bottle filled with a crimson concoction labeled “About Last Night.” It’s made in-house using aloe vera, carrot, beetroot, coconut water and lemon. “It’s a good hangover shot,” Harsha told us.
Harsha and her team also make pastries from scratch on a daily basis. They’re all plant-based, dairy-free and make use of nuts and superfoods. The sweeteners they use are all-natural — for instance using dates, coconuts or nectar syrup. Among a variety of desserts in the cake display cabinet is the Sticky Date (THB110) and Passionfruit Cheeze Cake (THB165), as well as the “donut of the day.” We tried the freshly baked Red Velvet Donut (THB85) topped with coconut yogurt butter cream, which we found mighty tasty.
The kitchen can also accommodate gluten-free diets for those who cannot tolerate the protein found in wheat, barley and rye — but only for certain menu items. We were also in support of the fact that Vistro recycles their drink bottles and uses biodegradable packages for take-out orders.
Note that all the prices at the restaurant already include a 7-percent VAT charge.
Vistro Bangkok is open from 11am through 9pm every day except Monday. It also serves a brunch menu (pancakes, french toasts, burritos, smoothie bowls and more) from 9am until 3pm on Sundays.
Vistro Bangkok is at 46/1 Soi Sukhumvit 24, Khlong Toei, Bangkok
Open 11am – 9pm daily, closed Mon
BTS: Phrom Phong
Phone: +6665 998 2201