It is that time of the year again when Phuket reaches the holy season of the vegetarian festival when most of the locals can be seen wearing white and become vegan for nine days while the Masongs can be seen parading on the street and in the Chinese shrines every day. Whether you are vegetarian/vegan or simply enjoy trying something new, you will surely enjoy this festival for nine days straight.
One aspect of the Vegetarian Festival that I like is that people get very creative about food. It is interesting to explore the local cuisine from the street stalls to the fine dining restaurants and see how they magically make vegetarian dishes so attractive and flavorful. Here we have gathered our Top 5 must-try menus from five places across the island.
Nong J Vegetarian
First up, we would recommend a kind of appetizer at this little eatery located on Patiphat Road (heading to Rang Hill). The star here is their vegetarian chicken. Looking at it with a pair of untrained eyes, it looks close to a chicken breast cut and the texture of their perfectly deep-fried plant-based protein is crispy on the skin while still soft and moist on the inside. The seasoning is well-balanced and this is a great choice for a grab ‘n’ go entrée.
Location: 12 Patiphat Road, Talad Neua, Phuket Town, 83000 Phuket
This name is already popular among people who seek to eat local Phuket food. During the vegetarian festival, One Chan offers a special menu with a list of mouthwatering vegan dishes. What we would pick as a star this year would be their Ped Nam Daeng or Roasted Duck Meat, vegetarian style. The plant-based protein they use as a substitute to duck meat is cooked to perfection, giving a texture that lies to your palate, making you feel like you are really eating duck while the gravy made of soy and mushroom adds a mellow taste to the dish, served along Shiitake and Chinese kale that provides a great blend of texture.
Location: 48/1 Thepkasattri Road, Talad Yai, Phuket Town, 83000 Phuket
Khao Mok Jay Bang Niew
One of this year’s vegetarian festival “talk of the town” is Khao Mok Jay Bangniew. Being in business for more than three decades, they had the potential to transform a street food classic like Khao Mok into a vegetarian dish that is even more extraordinary than usual. The yellow rice steamed with herbs is aromatic and has a great texture while the protein replacing the traditional chicken is tender and rich in flavor. Together, they are just simply an awesome pair.
Location: about 50 meters away from Bang Niew Shrine, in Saphan Hin, Phuket Town
Yao Yen Ta Fo
During this vegetarian festival, Yao Yen Ta Fo presents a list of delicious plant-based dishes and what we would pick as the highlight is their mix deep-fried appetizer, which combines crispy tofu with bean sprout dough as well as two types of spring rolls; glass noodle stuffing and potato stuffing. We loved the crusty golden texture on the outside as well as the flavorful tenderness inside. The sweet red dipping sauce is a great combination for the fries.
Location: 45 Patiphat Road, Talat Neua, Phuket Town, 83000 Phuket
Tu Kab Khao Vegetarian
Tu Kab Khao is another well-known island’s treasure that is a bit more upscale than the previous entries and specializes in authentic, local cuisine. This year, the popular menu people line up to try out all day is their ‘Jee Jo’.
Jee Jo is a local snack, which can be described as a sesame ball. The golden crusty ball, covered in black or white sesame, has a selection of stuffing, including peanut paste, soy paste, and black bean paste. The Jee Jo’s dough is crisp, with a great aroma of sesame, while the inner dough is soft and slightly sticky, blending well with the tasteful stuffing and its unique character.
Location: 8 Phang Nga Road, Talat Yai, Phuket Town, 83000 Phuket