Vegan viands

Some of us like to sink our teeth into a nice juicy steak, while others can’t wait to nibble on a dish of crunchy vegetables. An increasing number of people these days are turning their dietary habits to vegetarianism for reasons of health, animal protection and religious beliefs.

Humans are naturally carnivorous creatures, but since Roman times, many forms of vegetarian have evolved - part vegetarians, who eat fish or certain kinds of meat, those who include or exclude dairy products and others who stick to purely vegetables.

But no matter what category you might come into, or whether or not you are indeed vegetarian, Khun Churn cooks up some of the best vegetarian food in Chiang Mai.

Tucked away in Soi 7, off Nimmanhaemin Road, diners at Khun Churn can choose where to sit from three eating areas. On the ground floor of a small Thai style house, an air-conditioned dining room has been decked out with homely wooden furniture and simple pictures on the wall. And outside, floodlit shrubbery surrounds tables and chairs in a partially covered garden.

The atmosphere in this rustic restaurant is relaxed and informal, and friendly waitresses are eager to guide their customers through an exciting menu. As health is a criterion of eating vegetarian food, alcohol is off the list, but there is a large selection of fruit juices including roselle, passion, star, penny leaves and carrot, all accompanied by a jar of sweet syrup.

While some of the main dishes consist of fresh crisp vegetables, others are made to resemble meat dishes. As a carnivore myself, I was delighted with the vegetarian chicken – deep fried and served in thin slices with sweet sauce. If no one had told me, I could have sworn it was meat.

The same must be said for the yum moo your, with its mushroom sausage that tastes just like pork, and yum pla duk fu – crispy mushroom that could be fish, covered in hot sour sauce.

And for a fruity delight try yum som o – pomelo salad mixed in lime juice with deep fried coconut and shallot, sugar and chili powder.

The menu at Khun Churn is vast, with fair sized portions ranging from Bt25 to Bt45 per dish. There’s deep fried tofu, carrot and spring roll, and a host of curries with or without coconut milk. And what about a vegetable sharks fin soup or fried white radish cake with egg and bean sprout.

Unfortunately, there are no desserts on the menu, but diners can round off their meal with another fruit juice, an herbal brew or jasmine tea with dried plum.

Khun Churn can be found at 120/2 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 7, Chiang Mai. It is open for lunch from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm, which includes a buffet between 11 am and 2.30 pm. Dinner time is from 5 pm to 9 pm, and the restaurant is closed on the 16th of every month.

For further information telephone 053 224124 or visit www.khunchurn.th.gs.