13 Delightful Foods from Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival 2012

By Mark Wiens 2 Comments
Thailand Vegetarian Festival 2012
Thailand Vegetarian Festival 2012

Though last year in 2011 I ate vegetarian for the entire nine days, this year during the festival I only ate vegetarian for one day.

But even though I didn’t commit to the vegetarian cleanse in 2012, I did have a few vegetarian meals and also went to Yaowarat Chinatown one day for some exploration (I you missed the vegetarian festival videos, watch them here).

Pictured below are a few of my favorite vegetarian Thai food dishes I ate in 2012 during the annual Thailand Vegetarian Festival 2012.

Vegetarian Salad
Vegetarian Salad

1. Vegetarian Salad

A nice little bagged street salad that included lettuce, cucumber slices, tomatoes, thin slices of tofu, and a half of a boiled egg. The highlight was the peanut chili dressing which was absolutely excellent.

Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls

2. Spring Rolls

From the songthaew spring roll truck, these glass noodle stuffed deep fried springs rolls were fresh and crispy.

Stir Fried Melon Leaves
Stir Fried Melon Leaves

3. Stir Fried Melon Leaves

Yord mara (or melon leaves), is one of my favorite vegetables in the world, even when it’s not the vegetarian festival. One night for dinner I enjoyed an all jay meal that included this marvelous plate of melon leaves stir fried with little pebbles of protein.

Glass Noodle Salad
Glass Noodle Salad

4. Glass Noodle Salad

The vegetarian version of yam woon sen is alright, but I’ll have to say that it doesn’t work too well as a vegetarian dish. Perhaps it’s because of all the rubbery squid and shrimp that I wasn’t overly impressed. I’m a bit more of a fan of the yam woon sen at Rod Ded that includes genuine seafood and pork.

Stir Fried Glass Noodles
Stir Fried Glass Noodles

5. Stir Fried Glass Noodles

Mixed with cabbage and mushrooms and flavored with soy sauce, the pad woon sen stir fried version of glass noodles were fantastic.

Thailand vegetarian festival in Bangkok
Pad Mee Leung Jay

6. Pad Mee Leung Jay

I’m not sure exaclty what these noodles are made from, but they are specifically created for the vegetarian festival and known and yellow jay noodles.

Stir fried with assorted vegetables and garnished with chili flakes and a few spoons of vinegar, this plate of pad mee leung went down nicely.

Stewed Cabbage
Stewed Cabbage

7. Stewed Cabbage

One of my favorite plain tasting Thai vegetarian dishes is stewed cabbage. The cabbage is boiled so long, it actually melts in your mouth when you eat it – it falls aparts like baby food. Over rice, it’s incredibly comforting.

Stewed Tofu and Bean Curd
Stewed Tofu and Bean Curd

8. Stewed Tofu and Bean Curd

Being half Chinese and having spent some time in China eating ma la tong, for as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of bean curd known in Cantonese as “foo jook.”

Mixed with tofu, the foo jook was in a salty broth that tasted a little cinnamony and really flavorful. This was one of my favorite dishes during the festival.

Thai Fruit Salad
Thai Fruit Salad

9. Tam Ponlamai – Thai Fruit Salad

I’ve always enjoyed som tam ponlamai, the mixed fruit version of green papaya salad. Something about spicy, peanut laced chunks of guava, apple, and pineapple is so attractive and so taste bud awakening.

Thailand vegetarian festival
Tao Hoo Pad Kra Pao

10. Pad Kra Pao Tao Hoo

Of course, a normal Thai basil chicken is one of the more common and widely available dishes in Bangkok, but during the vegetarian festival, it’s possible to order it with tofu instead. The tofu was firm, almost like Indian paneer cheese rather than the soft egg tofu as is common in Thailand.

Stir fried with fragrant holy basil and chillies, this was a vegetarian winner!

Ewkuay - Deep Fried Dumpling
Ewkuay – Deep Fried Dumpling

11. Ewkuay – Deep Fried Dumpling

Known as ewkuay, these little dumplings were very similar to Korean hotteok, but in different shape. The wrapper is a glutinous rice flour that becomes extremely crunchy on the outside yet a little sticky and gooey at the same time. Within the ballon shaped dumpling was a vegetable medley of cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms.

Peanut Candy
Peanut Candy

12. Peanut Candy

If you watched the vegetarian festival videos, you probably remember the two guys alternating hits with big wooden hammers to crush the peanuts.

The result is a candy that tastes remarkably similar to a nutty Butterfinger candy bar. It’s sweet, and though I can only handle a few nibbles (because of its sweetness), it really is fresh and good.

Durian Mooncake
Durian Mooncake

13. Durian Mooncake

Ok, the durian mooncake wasn’t actually part of the Thai vegetarian festival, but I did eat it during the festival, and it is vegetarian so I decided I’d include it on this list.

As soon as I sliced this baby open, it released an aroma of glory that filled my apartment. It was rich, thick like a durian fruit roll-up, and with a cup of coffee, it was insanely good!

So that wraps things up for this year, that was the extent of my vegetarian dining.

Did you have any vegetarian meals during the festival?



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  • Jamie

    4 years ago

    I really must write more about the food next year rather than the piercings, rituals, firecrackers and processions! I stuck to the Jae diet from 15th – 23rd October this year and got some really good food in Phuket Town, pity they don’t make it year round … most restaurants just do the special food during the festival and then switch back to regular meals. One restaurant near my work at Karon Beach does a great vegetarian yentafo during the festival : http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiemonk/8096365046/

    Cheers for the article!
    Jamie, Phuket

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Jamie,
      Yum, that yentafo looks great! I hope to make it down to Phuket one of these years to see all the rituals that revolve around the festival. My girlfriend and I searched all around and she asked many people if there were any piercing rituals in Bangkok and there aren’t much – therefore the festival in Bangkok is mostly about the food. But both the food and the rituals make it a really interesting festival!