Our (first ever) feature on ‘Thailand Travel Tales’ comes from Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi who shares some of the best vegan-friendly restaurants in Chiang Mai.
Today a friend and I were at the nicked named noodle soup restaurant. Having not been in Chiang Mai for a year, I was sad to see the yellow table mats had been replaced with sky blue ones but was more surprised by my answer to my friend’s question.
Friend: “What did you like about Chiang Mai the most?”
Me: “Other than the people, I really love the food.”
There’s so much to like about Chiang Mai from the:
- Relative affordability
But I chose food as the thing I like most?
Maybe the food poisoning from India was still messing with my mind. There’s no denying there are 100’s of quality restaurants all over Chiang Mai but that response came from me.
The antithesis of a foodie.
Nonetheless, here I am writing about my favourite spots to eat in Chiang Mai. Happily so.
The following restaurants aren’t new flash in the pan restaurants that open for six months before closing. These restaurants have all been open for at least three years and make up the majority of the meals I eat at in Chiang Mai.
Fortunately for you dear reader, they are located in the city, so regardless of where you stay in Chiang Mai, you won’t be too far away from one.
1. Mild Kitchen
Address: 24 Sri Poom Road Lane 1
I discovered this restaurant thanks to a weekly CouchSurfing meetup. The owners here are super friendly (a common theme with this list), laughing every time as I give them a nod for a wink on arrival. They know I’ll be wanting the Green Curry, Coconut Meat, Tofu & Veg with a serving of brown rice (85 baht). This saves me shaking the rattle which you’d normally do when you’re ready to order. To throw them off, sometimes I’ll get the avocado version that replaces the coconut meat.
It’s not the best green curry ever in my books. It’s slightly too soupy which you can see from the photo. Even after dumping my brown rice into the bowl, there’s still a soupiness to it. But that’s more than made up for in the amount of vegetables you get, and the addition of coconut meat which is different (different being good in this case).
The restaurant is located in a quiet lane and they don’t mind you hanging out here for a few hours with most of the seating covered outdoors.
2. Tien Sieng Vegetarian Foods
This is the noodle soup restaurant with the new sky blue table mats mentioned above.
I didn’t know the name of the shop until I looked it up on Google just now. It’ll always be called the noodle soup restaurant for me and my former housemates.
People here usually choose a serving of rice with vegetarian sides, but I’ve always gone with the noodle soup that’s hidden away in a vat at the counter closest to the window.
For 30 baht you get a big bowl of soup filled with noodles, a variety of mushrooms and a couple of soy-based meat products. For an extra 10 baht you can get a big bowl too.
They sometimes run out of the soup by lunchtime here, so it’s a good breakfast spot if you don’t need to go to one of Chiang Mai’s bazillion cafes for a western breaky.
3. Vege Food Restaurant
Address: Basement Floor, Maya Shopping Mall
“Mr Mushroom Ball!”
Not the most attractive nickname I’ve been given, but granted I eat so many mushroom balls from here, you can’t fault them. All three staff members at this restaurants are awesome as is their different dishes laid out in a buffet style.
Besides the mushroom balls, I mix things up here depending on what I feel that day (living on the edge). Depending on how many choices mushroom balls I get I pay somewhere between 40 – 60 baht, again, GREAT VALUE.
You’ll know you’re at the right place when you find the only vegetarian restaurant in the food court.
4. Ji-Yay Organic Restaurant
Address: Nimmarnhaemin Road Soi 8
Another restaurant I never knew the name of. To me it’s called Organic Vegetables, the words on the signboard above the entrance way.
Along with the food stall under Maya, this is the restaurant I frequent most in Chiang Mai. The shop doesn’t stand out as you walk along the soi lined with restaurants, but the ladies always make you smile as you walk in.
You’ll be given a menu (in English) and you write your own order on a pad of paper, old school style.
They use what everyone refers to as brown rice in Chiang Mai (but it’s more like red rice) and as you’ll gather in this post, I tend to stick to the same dishes at every restaurant.
Here I go with the green curry with tofu and vegetables (40 baht). There’s a good amount of curry to rice ratio, and other than sometimes being a few too many leaves, this is consistently a reliable green curry that tastes delicious and fills me up.
If I’m feeling super hungry I’ll get a potato soup too.
5. Burmese Restaurant
Address: Nimmarnhemin Road Soi 8
The tea leaf salad is straight up lit (yea I can’t I just typed that too). That’s the only reason you need to come here.
The tea leaf salad is made with fermented tea leaves, cabbage, tomato, garlic and broad beans. Accompanied with some lettuce and a couple cucumber slices, it’s a smaller dish even with rice (40 baht total).
So you may want to order a second dish, I’d recommend the tamarind salad or the eggplant curry. Or plot twist, you could eat here AND the organic vegetable restaurant above as it’s two doors down.
P.s. they do Thai food too.
6. The Salad Concept
Address: Nimmarnhemin Road Soi 13
As Allan described in his Nimman restaurant post, this place is weirdly popular. You can’t really fault the place with it’s prominent store location on Nimman (they have a second store by the Old Town) and consistency but it’s awkwardly popular.
They have a large menu (and seemingly larger number of staff) and the prices can creep up if you order a couple dishes and a delicious smoothie. But I keep things simple and order the salad set every time.
For the basic salad set (69 baht), you get a stack of leafy greens and your choice of five vegetables (I go with beetroot, asparagus, beans, mushrooms, pumpkin) and a sauce (Japanese soy sauce). Salad Concept is a good solid option anytime you want an injection of health.
7. Pa Fruit Shake
Where: 87 Bumrung Buri Road (Chiang Mai Gate Night Food Market)
When I rent a scooter, I make a run to visit Pa at her fruit shake stall (called Pa Fruit Shake) most evenings. You’ll find her awesome smile in the same spot from 5.15 p.m. behind a stack of fresh fruit.
The shake price will depend on the season, but for one flavour you’ll pay 20-25 baht and a mixed shake is 25 – 30 baht. With so many fruit shakes stands in Chiang Mai, I make the effort to go to Pa as her mixed fruit is simply outstanding. I’ve got no idea how she does it (other than visiting different markets to get the best fruit from each) but it’s simply amazing.
8. Imm Aim Vegetarian & Bike Cafe
Address: 7/3 Santirak Road
Yet another place where I choose the green curry. They moved to this new location a couple years ago, but otherwise, this is a classic Thai restaurant that’s super reliable.
You know you’ll be getting a good solid meal for a good price served by friendly people. If anything the portion the curry is too small for the portion of rice, but it’s not the end of the world.
They have a variety of healthy options too (hard to escape that fried food sometimes).
It’s 3 a.m. now and writing this gave me hunger pangs for a green curry from Mild.
If you aren’t sure if you should visit Chiang Mai, definitely try out some of these places. The food is worth it alone.
By Jub, a sports fanatic, cat loving, travel blogging, vegan from New Zealand. Who wasn’t one who devoured Nat Geo books growing up, drooling about the thought of travelling. Rather, he set off on a Working Holiday Visa to Canada, for no specific reason other than the thought of settling down was scary. And five years later he has just kept going, with that fear still in the back of his mind. Even in his beloved Chiang Mai where he continues to return to, time after time. To see more of Jub (and his fantastic cat t-shirts) you can find him over on Facebook.