Let me start with a clarification – Chamlong’s isn’t actually located inside Chatuchak Market, but close by. To get there you need to cross the big (8-or-so-lane-big) road that runs along Entrance 1 of the Market. Chamlong’s is located directly behind the (large, ugly, unmissable) In Square shopping mall opposite Entrance 1. To get there, you can duck through the small furniture market to the right of the mall. It doesn’t help that the facade of Chamlong’s is nondescript, and all signage is in Thai. But keep your eyes peeled and you should be able to spot some food stalls and feel the laid-back veggie vibes. Failing that, the two reviews at the bottom of this post provide more detailed directions.
Chamlong’s Asoke Vegetarian Restaurant is a must-go place for vegetarians and vegans in Bangkok. It’s a local food court and health-food shop run by the Santi Asoke Buddhist Organisation. It’s 100% vegetarian, and offers an incredible variety of Thai and Thai-Chinese dishes. Like many food courts in Thailand, it operates a coupon system. Portions are quite small, but very cheap.
Inside it’s spacious, languid and breezy. It attracts an eclectic mix of (mostly) locals and the occasional farang. Very little English is spoken, but the stallholders are friendly and a bit of pointing and smiling can usually get you what you want. Or what you think you want.
Chamlong’s Asoke Vegetarian Restaurant
Behind In Square shopping mall, 511 Kamphaeng Phet 2, Chatuchak
Open 06:00-14:00 Tuesday-Friday; 06:00-15:00 Saturday-Sunday; CLOSED Monday
Straw mushrooms on a stick – about as close to satay as a vegetarian can get! These were good mushrooms – dense, meaty and, rather surprisingly, cold. They probably would have been nicer if grilled. But the mushrooms were actually just a distraction, for the star performer was the dip. Coriander, chilli, vinegar and sugar, ground together to form a little pool of nirvana. Incredibly fragrant and refreshing. I would happily quaff this stuff for breakfast.
I like flavours that are clean and simple. Really, I do. But unmarinated tofu and bean sprouts, loosely wrapped in popiah skin, takes blandness to a whole new level. The dipping sauce was thick and sweet and, although the taste of tamarind and sesame was perceptible, it also lacked flavour. Nice cucumber, though.
Possibly the best phad thai I have ever eaten. Immensely fresh and fragrant, this dish loads up on coriander, lime, peanut and sugar, and downplays the oil and spice. The noodles were drier than usual, and the taste seemed more authentic than the greased-up versions that are sold on the street. A burst of freshness came with every bite – just look at the amount of the foliage on the plate!
Shameful naming, I know. If anyone can help me identify this dish, I will gladly update the sub-header. Spicy and sweet, the main flavours of the curry were peanut, galangal, kaffir lime and basil, with grated red onion and galangal providing the texture. The noodles were complemented by bean sprouts, cabbage and basil. Warm and delicious, whatever it is!
I have a soft spot for vegetarian char siew, so much so that this was actually the first dish I ordered. Great colours – the vibrant red and deep green looked really appetising. Unfortunately the mock meat was quite tough and the glaze was overly sweet – it had very little of the tanginess that separates good char siew from its more lacklustre counterparts. The kai lan did, however, have a nice crunch to it.
Devilishly difficult to find, Chamlong’s is well worth hunting down. With the sheer variety of exclusively vegetarian dishes on offer – all well-made and well-priced – it’s hard to think of a better way to get to know Thai vegetarian food. Go, go, go!