Bamboo Bee Chiang Mai
One of the things about Chiang Mai that you need to get used to as a Westerner is the relaxed, slow pace of this city. Things open late, they’ll be closed on random days, and you just have to accept that things won’t always go to your careful plans!
It took me three attempts to get to eat at Bamboo Bee with restaurant closures, but I finally made it to check out this restaurant that many people call the best vegetarian restaurant in Chiang Mai.
It’s a tiny little restaurant enclosed in a busy soi near Wat Chiang Man. It’s a bit like a tardis. Outside it looks like it could fit two people. Inside, there’s me, two American girls (who say literally every two words and I literally want to kill them), and a Thai couple. And the restaurant is only half full.
The restaurant though small, is very cute and cosy. Bumblebees and autumnal leaves hang from the ceiling, and there’s pretty Thai artwork adoring the walls. It’s stinking hot in the middle of summer, but the fan is on and blowing in my direction. That and an icy Chang soda makes me forget about the heat (and the literally’s).
I’ve been to bootcamp in the morning and cleaned a friends’ place in preparation for their AirBnB guests, so I am STARVING and decide to order a starter and a salad. I’m even considering a dessert after.
I can’t go past tod tahu – fried tofu, and get a plate of this to start. There are Western options a plenty on the menu, even though the focus is predominantly Thai. I decide to be a good farang, however, and order a Thai mixed salad as a main, even though the veggie burger does call to me!
The fried tofu is crispy outside, tender inside, just how fried tofu should be. The dressing is delicious, sweet and tangy and spicy all at the same time. It’s very thin though, and hard to get a good coating on your tofu which goeyer sauces have the benefit of. The tofu is covered in a generous garnishing of coriander which nicely complements the dressing.
My Thai mixed salad came out and I panicked a little. I had noticed mock meat on the menu, and hadn’t thought to ask if the salad would come with this. I am not a fan of mock meats, and haven’t really ever acquired a taste for them, despite consistently trying them. I decide to be brave and tuck in anyways – I have a relatively good knack for eating meals I don’t enjoy.
The salad itself has a lot of tomato, onion, and coriander, which I love. The dressing is one I find familiar in Thailand – sweet and yet spicy. It’s very tasty, and plentiful. There are two types of mock meat – one that looks and tastes similar to pork balls, and one that looks similar to maybe crispy chicken. The chicken one isn’t too bad. The pork one I can’t handle and move them to the sides. The poor chef explained that she doesn’t usually put the pork ones in, so obviously she was doing this as a nice little extra!
The salad was deceivingly large, so I couldn’t fit the dessert in. I’d been eyeing off the hot caramel banana. Next time I go, I think I’ll get a veggie stir fry to avoid the mock meat, and treat myself to that dessert.
Bamboo Bee Vegetarian Restaurant
Open every day from 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
177 Ratchaphakhinai Road
Chiang Mai, Thailand
+66 090 463 6583