Thai Express on Beach Road was one of the few Thai restaurants in Pattaya where I used to go to have some vegetarian Thai food. In December 2018, it was gone. In its place I saw another restaurant with the name ‘Basil Thai Kitchen.’ I went in and asked the staff. They told me that it was just the same Thai Express with a new name and a refreshed menu. That would be fine as long as the refreshed menu still had some vegetarian food! “Oh, yes, there is vegetarian food”, the lady at the counter told me. Well, nothing to worry then…
Basil Thai Kitchen is a chain of restaurants and their outlets can be found in different places and different cities in Thailand. So far I have seen them in Bangkok and Pattaya. This Pattaya outlet at Royal Garden Plaza opens everyday from 10.30am to 10.30pm.
Vegetarian Fare in the Old and the New Menu
Old Vegetarian Menu
The old menu had two veggie soups, one of which was Tom Yum Oyster Mushroom Soup (160 THB), vegetarian Phad Thai (180 THB), vegetarian noodles (140 THB), stir-fried vegetables (130 THB), and two different preparations of tofu (130 THB and 180 THB). The 180 THB variant of tofu came with rice and that made it a complete meal.
New Vegetarian Menu
The new vegetarian items on the menu looked different. There were a total of seven veggie items, two soups and five curries/noodles/rice, etc.
Tom Kha with Mushrooms – 160 THB
Tom Yum with Mushroom Trio – 160 THB
Phad Thai with Tofu & vegetables – 180 THB
Vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice – 160 THB
Basil Tofu and Eggplant in Roasted Chilli Sauce – 140 THB
Mushroom Trio Stir Fried in Garlic & Pepper – 140 THB
Green Curry with Tofu & Eggplant – 200 THB
A single serving of rice can be ordered at 50 THB along with any of the above dishes. The prices are subject to 7% government tax and 10% service charge.
Is It 100% vegetarian?
If you do not eat non-vegetarian food, even eggs, you should always ask this question when ordering “vegetarian” food in a Thai restaurant. Basil Thai Kitchen has two full pages of their menu dedicated to Vegetarian food. They must know what “vegetarian” means. But you can’t be sure because ‘vegetarian Phad Thai’ in many Thai kitchens would include eggs. In perhaps the best vegetarian Thai restaurant in Pattaya – Five Star J – some of the dishes also contain eggs but those are clearly marked in the menu. In Basil’s menu I could not see that so while ordering be sure to tell the staff that you do not want even eggs in the food. The next and even more important question should be of Shrimp Paste.
Shrimp Paste in Vegetarian Thai Curry?
Most of the commercially produced Thai curry paste contains shrimp paste. So when a regular Thai restaurant promises to make a “vegetarian Thai curry” for a customer, it is not actually vegetarian because the curry paste they use for the curry would contain shrimp paste. At Basil Thai Kitchen, the lone staff I spoke to said “no shrimp paste”. Also, it’s a chain of restaurants and if they want to have vegetarian food on their menu, why would they use shrimp paste. Just to be sure, I would carefully read the menu description to make sure there are no eggs mentioned and it would not hurt to ask the staff every time about shrimp paste. In Bangkok, I sometimes buy Thai cooking paste that does not contain shrimp paste. You may read about that here.
During my first visit to the restaurant – when it was Thai Express – I had ordered a take-away of ‘assorted mixed vegetables with mushroom.’ In thermocol packing, it looked like this:
It tasted ok and the total price was 165 THB (130 + 35 for rice), and at that time it included taxes and service charge. Now we need to pay those over and above the menu prices.
Anyway, it is always good to find vegetarian food in Pattaya. Also read: Vegan Food at Living Food Cafe Pattaya
Even Better Value in Bangkok
Here’s a bonus tip. If you are anywhere near the Nana / Asoke area of Bangkok, just head to the 5th floor food court of Terminal 21 Shopping Mall. There you will need to look for this counter that says “Vegetarian Food”. You will be surprised to know that a full meal of three vegetarian dishes and brown rice can be ordered here for just 40 THB. Read more about Vegetarian Food in Terminal 21 Bangkok here.