‘Vegetarian friendly’ restaurant and health food store

Mark Whitman
This attractive eating place and ‘shop’ combined does not get the seal of approval from committed vegetarians, let alone vegans, because it serves a number of dishes with meat or fish. They are small in number given the range of the menu and should you want a dish which includes meat (in the wonderful breakfast selection for example) that is easily left out.
They call the early day choices ‘The Breakfast Club’ and it is certainly worth making a visit, any time after 7.30 a.m. in the morning, to become a ‘member’. (I wonder if the name was inspired by the classic teen movie of that name. The director of it, John Hughes, died very recently and very young so let’s take it as little tribute to his engaging talent). Since they open so early they close at 9 p.m. and all day Sunday.
You will find this delightful venue towards the back of Soi 9, off Moon Muang Road. Heading on the one-way system from Thapae Gate with the moat on your right you will find soi 9 about one kilometre down, just before the bend. Turn left down the soi and you’ll find quite a large space with its own garden where you can eat, plus the interior section, also with tables and a mouth watering array of breads, cakes, vegetables, including great avocados, fruits, nuts and so on. The produce is organic with the emphasis on whole grain and wholewheat. Not necessarily the cheapest in town, but quality always demands a price.
The main menu is large and even discounting the numerous ‘breakfast club’ pages there is a wide choice of salads, soups, noodles, fried (brown) rice dishes and puddings. Unlike some veggie restaurants, they serve alcohol and list a few beers, though the fruit juices and other drinks take precedence. The service was especially friendly when I went there recently with a regular customer, Bennett Lerner, who keeps to a strict diet and says that he finds them especially accommodating, something not common to many restaurants, which are less sympathetic to special requests. He opted for brown rice and vegetables and I chose the tomato soup, followed by a spicy avocado salad, with a Singha beer on the side.
The soup came in a large bowl and was steaming hot. The taste proclaimed ‘home made’. Eat your heart out Mr. Heinz. The salad was spicy but not mind-blowing, with perfectly ripe avocado, firm tomatoes, buckwheat and a super dressing.
Since they cater mostly for farangs, locals and the many tourists in the area, the food is not especially spicy but this can easily be adjusted. Certainly there is no lack of taste and it is one of the dozens of vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai which have put paid to the old-fashioned notion that such food is bland or heavy. The days of a nut cutlet, watery lettuce and a stodgy dessert have long gone. This is a place where any health-conscious person, let alone a concerned veggie, will find very welcoming and even carnivores should be pleased by the choice and quality on offer and the laid- back atmosphere. And that is before the pleasant shock of the prices. Expect to pay around 150 baht a head for an excellent meal.
Blue Diamond is off Moon Muang Road, Soi 9. Phone 053-217-120.


Microwave Garlic Prawns

Garlic prawns are universally popular and using the microwave is a quick and easy way to present a mouthwatering starter for any meal.
If you have an asbestos mat to use or wire grid to put the heat proof cooking dish on then you can serve the prawns directly to the table from the microwave. Remember that microwaved food continues to cook for a minute or so after removal from the oven. Warn your guests that the prawns will be very hot.

Ingredients                                   serves 4
Prawns, shelled and deveined          500 gms
Cooking oil                                     2 tbspns
Garlic, minced                                2 cloves
Oyster sauce                                 3 tbspns
Soya sauce                                   2 tbspns
Lemon juice                                   1 tbspn
Coarsely ground black pepper          2 tspns

Cooking Method
Remove heads and tails from the prawns and with a sharp knife cut along the back of the body. Mix oil and garlic in a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce, soya sauce and lemon juice. Cover again and cook for 30 seconds on high. Pat prawns dry with paper towel, add to sauce in heatproof bowl and cook four minutes on high. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve on individual plates.