At the risk of being as disappointing as Will Smith and as unfunny as Chris Rock, I am going to bare all right now (metaphorically, don’t run away) and admit that the title to this blog post is just clickbait. I am not going to add to the literal mountains of hot takes and analyses that have erupted after the slap that shook the Twitterverse. But since I am all about service-y journalism, I will helpfully link to them instead (I must admit the funniest take, to me, might have been the one about Will Smith’s tailoring).
But, no. Alas, I am only here to talk about my diet. I am trying, as best as I can without estranging myself from my family and friends, to stick to a plant-based or at least pescatarian diet with I am not “working” (in parentheses, because I rarely get paid for said “work”). It is a challenge because, in Bangkok at least, it holds you to a particular type of food: heavy on the salads, stews and “bowls”, and light on the junky, deep-fried stuff that made me love Thai food in the first place. Not to mention the fact that plant-based diets are usually something you can pursue when you are privileged enough to do so. I got you. No need to go all Goop-y on me.
So when my friend Jon told me about a vegan street food spot, I was extremely psyched. Like, Kate-Middleton-playing-the-bongos level of psyched. I am as fond of “habibi bowls” and “zoodles” as the next person, don’t get me wrong, but I missed the soul-soothing satisfaction of a good slurped noodle, a light scattering of deep-fried garlic, the crunch of a fried wonton garnish, and the simple pleasures of adding your own chili powder and pickled pepper splashes to the mix.
Which is what I got at Kaek Kao Kua (12 Sukhumvit Soi 27, 096-220-6587), a short-ish walk that’s long if you’re really hot down the road between the Radisson Blu Plaza and Carlton Hotels. There is a sign in the front that marks the restaurant/home that tells you to ring the bell and warns you off petting the dog (there is no need to ring the bell). If you miss the sign, don’t despair: there are usually Grab or Food Panda drivers waiting outside to show you the way.
When you make your way to the outdoor terrace that serves as the restaurant, you might need to poke your head into the front door to announce your arrival. There will likely be no one else there, unless Jon is hungry (say hi to Jon). I know it’s annoying and deeply lazy and cliched to say that this place is a “hidden gem”, but I have no other way to say it: this place is the very definition of a hidden gem. It reminds of the days when Jay Fai was empty because no one wanted to pay 350 baht for a bowl of guaythiew kua gai.
Which reminds me, this place also has vegan guaythiew kua gai:
Unlike a lot of “street” vegan places in Thailand (read: not Broccoli Revolution-priced), the food here is truly thoughtful, made with a lot of care. Which surprises me, since the menu is quite large. Besides the “OG soup noodles” (mushroom, morning glory, bean sprouts, and tofu at 79 baht), bamee moo dang (marinated soy protein with egg-free name at 89 baht), and guaythiew kua gai (I unfortunately have no idea of the price, I went with Jon who is a VVIP there), there’s a “kaki kee kui” (noodles with peanut butter, 79 baht) and “shabobo” (spicy-sour noodles at 79 baht). They also serve vegan takes on Sukhothai noodles, tom yum noodles, moo ping, and khao soy. I suspect they have more stuff, but I haven’t gone enough times to check. It’s a substantial menu.
It doesn’t end there. You can also customize your own noodles with extras like morning glory, bean sprouts, long beans, snow fungus, Chinese kale, various types of tofu, and various iterations of meat replacements. I cannot emphasize how big the menu really is. Which is why I felt a bit conflicted about writing about it; I really do enjoy having the pick of the table with the fan in my face. But at the risk of ceding my seat to someone else, take my advice: go here if you like plant-based street food. And don’t slap anyone in the face.