Hat Yai is the place where all your vegan dreams come true. There are several little restaurants, all delicious and affordable. The most popular are right in the city centre.
If you are in Thailand for the first time, perhaps you are not aware of the Buddhist restaurants which offer pure vegan food. The only difference is that they might use honey in packaged food, so read the ingredients before buying any snacks. These restaurants follow the balance of ying and yang thus, apart from avoiding animal-based products, they also don’t usually use any garlic or onions. It’s the perfect food if you have food allergies or other ailments as they use very little or no oil and most dishes are made up of fresh veggies of different kind and size, fresh tofu as well as mock meat, fish and seafood. Be aware that their mock food is so similar to the original (aesthetically speaking) that some people might get a shock at first, just as I did! Another thing you need to know about Thai food, is that the food is very very spicy. In the South they use fresh red chilly peppers and even if you ask them to put only a little bit (neet noi), it may be too spicy (pet) for a foreigner (farang).
I eat vegan = Chan/Phom kin jee
Pronunciation: the i in kin is pronounced as the i in pitbull. The e in jee is pronounced as the e in elephant and the reason why is double is because the sound is rather long. If you are a woman use Chan, if you are a man use Phom; they both mean I.
No spicy = mai pet
The a in mai is pronounced as the a in marble in standard British English :-). The i is pronounced as I’ve mentioned above. The word pet sounds a lot like when you are talking about your cat or dog.
VEGAN in Thai and Chinese (Take a picture of this and show it to people)
Num Heng Vegetarian 1
Address: Shee Uthit 65/5
Has air conditioning, a large buffet, menu a la carte and a selection of buns (Chinese bread with different stuffing). Inexpensive unless you choose something fancy from the menu a la carte but still affordable. If you like spicy food don’t miss their Tom Yang Goong or Yan Mung Seng (glass noodle salad, top photo of this article). The buffet is available until the early afternoon. The restaurant is open everyday from 7 am to 9 pm. In the evening only the menu a la carte is available.
Address: Shee Uthit
When you are standing in front of the Num Heng Vegetarian restaurant, you will see that on the right side, attached to it, there is a very small shop which only sells 2 dishes: a vegan chicken soup and a traditional dish of vegan chicken with white rice. The food is inexpensive and the taste of the food is incredibly delicious. The place is quite humble, sparkling clean with a fan inside. The owner is a very friendly woman who speaks a few words of English. If you need protein or to chew big chunks of something, this is the right place. I enjoyed both the soup and the chicken rice. Her food is not spicy so you can add as much chilly as you want later on or black pepper if you prefer. She uses coriander, a delicious herb but some people don’t like it, if you don’t want any in your food, just point to it when she’s cooking and tell her you don’t want it kin medai (I can’t eat..).
It’s only open for lunch and sometimes in the afternoon.
Again, when you are standing in front of Num Heng Vegetarian, if you look on the left side of it, there is a short street. Walk about 30 metres and on the right you will see another cute little vegan restaurant offering a good buffet. One of their specialties is rice noodles that you can garnish with different vegetables (I suggest eggplants and lady’s fingers) to make it look like a plate of spaghetti with vegetable sauce. They don’t speak any English so use your finger to point to what you want. Very inexpensive but healthy and good. Num Heng Vegetarian 2
Address: Prachatipat Road 99/4
Owned by the same family of no.1. Inexpensive and with a big buffet, it’s a very popular place. Perhaps I didn’t go there on a good day, however they seemed very bitter to me and I never returned.
Restaurants a bit farther away from the city centre
Yu Jin Noodle Soup
Rattakan Road 176/33
This road is famous for its street market which offers fresh fruit and vegetables at very good prices. So if you feel like going for a walk, this is a must stop. The restaurant is not that easy to find so just pay attention to the vegan symbol. If you are coming from the city centre you will find it on your left. The owner only makes noodle soup but the soup is really really delicious. She has different types of rice noodles to choose from. No English spoken so here too you must point to what you want. Very inexpensive but clean and the owner, a woman, is rather friendly.
Address: Thanom Ruom Pattana, 206 (Big C extra area)
This place is very difficult to find unless you take a tuk tuk or a moto taxi. The family who owns it is incredibly friendly and they’ll do their best to try to speak English. The place is very small and humble but their food is great! They make home made noodles, home made tofu and soy milk. They don’t have a lot of veggies because they mainly make noodle soup and salapao (chinese buns staffed with mock meat or veggies). Very genuine food and excellent people. Inexpensive.
Address: Thanon Sripoovanart, soi 10
Near the Van station, Hat Yai and Asean Trade area. Cute little restaurant with good brown rice and a nice buffet. Sparkling clean, it seems new. Inexpensive.
Well, the good thing about Hat Yai is that if you walk around, you will find more of those little vegan places. If you are into raw food, have a look at the morning market (Kim Yong) then continue to Rattakan Road.