Pink House Garden

Pink House Garden sign advertising Gluten Free cake, vegetarian food, coffee & cake and opening time
Pink House Garden Sign

Pink House Garden, Chiang Mai:

  • Tempeh Laab + Salad with Peanut Sauce
  • Price: 95b + 70b
  • Score: 6/10
  • November 26th, 2016

Pink House Garden is a relatively new, undiscovered veggie restaurant in Chiang Mai. Although I think it will soon become a popular spot thanks to its beautiful setting.

I visited Pink House Garden on a saturday afternoon with a friend. She happens to live nearby and didn’t even know it existed. Going light on the rice dishes that day we chose two salad style dishes.

Plate of Tempeh Laab with a plate of Salad and bowl of Peanut sauce with Cinnamon Iced Tea
Tempeh Laab, Salad with Peanut Sauce and Cinnamon Tea

The first was spicy minced tempeh salad. This is a vegetarian version of the traditional Thai Laab dish. Laab is usually made with minced pork but has strong flavours of mint and chili.

Laab is actually one of my favourite dishes in Thailand but I don’t often find a veggie alternative. I’ve had mushroom laab before but this tempeh dish was something new, and I loved it. It was flavoursome and the minced tempeh texture was great. It was definitely my favourite of the two dishes. It had minced tempeh, mint, red onion, carrot, and just a little bit of chili. 

The second was Salad with Peanut Sauce. The Salad was a little bland. Mostly lettuce with a little bit of sweet potato, carrot and bell pepper sprinkled on top. But the peanut sauce was really good. It was pretty thick but incredibly tasty. If the salad had just a little more variety to it this would have been a great choice. But as it is I would only recommend it as a side dish and not a main.

We were also given a constant refill of cinnamon tea, (complementary), as we chatted for a few hours.

I was excited to try their vegan cakes as I’d heard excellent things about them. When we went they only had a gluten-free (not vegan) chocolate cake or an avocado-lemon cake. We had the avocado cake and it was pretty good but it didn’t blow my mind. Maybe I’d built it up too much in my head! That being said, I have heard great things from a few friends and seen some good looking pictures so maybe I’ll give it another try.

A slice of gluten free chocolate cake and vegan avocado-lemon drizzle cake with a glass of herbal tea
Amazing Vegan and Gluten Free cakes

The food we had isn’t the best in Chiang Mai. It’s more so the setting and the atmosphere at Pink House Garden that makes it worth a visit. A lovely open garden area with tables and chairs, or cushions and low tables to sit around. My friend and I were the only two people there when we went so it was quiet and relaxing too.


Pink House is also open late (10pm) and I imagine it would be a lovely place to enjoy an evening with some friends. 

Stepping stones leading up to a low table with pillows and curtains surrounding
Beautiful seating area inside Pink House Garden
Image of trees and garden with tables and seats in the background
Pink House Garden

    

ImmAim Vegetarian Bike Cafe

Image of sign reading ImmAim Vegetarian Cafe @ santitham
ImmAim Vegetarian Cafe

ImmAim Vegetarian Cafe, Chiang Mai:

  • Fresh Herbal Spring Rolls + Broccoli Ginger Stir Fry
  • Price: 65 baht +  60 baht
  • Score: 7/10
  • November 10th, 2016

ImmAim is a welcoming little cafe in the heart of Santitham neighbourhood (Northwest of the old city). Their menu is all vegetarian with many vegan options and most, if not all, can be adapted for vegans.

I live nearby so I work and eat there very often. Today I went for the Fresh Herbal Spring Rolls with a Pumpkin Dressing. This is sort of a light dish, great for sharing, or nice to order with another light meal as I did. So on top of that I also ordered the Broccoli and Ginger stir-fry as I was craving greens.

Image of herbal spring rolls on a plate with pumpkin dressing
Ok, so I dived right in and ate one before I remembered to take a picture – there are 8 rolls usually
Image of broccoli ginger stir-fry
Broccoli ginger stir-fry

 

The Herbal Spring Rolls are amazing. They are minty and fresh and the pumpkin dressing is really good. But it didn’t fill me up at all. I’ve never had the broccoli stir fry before so I thought I’d give it a try. I have to say that I thought it was a little light on broccoli and a little heavy on the ginger and pepper. But, I guess it’s intended as a healthy dish and so the taste reflects that. I’m not sure what sort of sauce it was in but it was pretty watery.

ImmAim is one of those places where I always feel like I ordered the wrong thing. They have so many good options I often see other people’s food arriving and wish I’d ordered that instead! I sort of did that today. I had a ravenous appetite. It was 4pm and I hadn’t eaten all day, yet I went for the light/healthy options. So, my feelings about both these dishes may have been different on a different day.

They can definitely deliver much better than this so I’ll be heading back there another time for sure. I would say that it’s still a little gem of a restaurant, I just picked the wrong options for me, so be careful! I did however have the banana mocha smoothie and it may possibly be the best smoothie I’ve had in a long time. That definitely hit the spot! The menu has smoothies, coffee, fresh juice and kombucha.

As a bike cafe, both the owner and the menu focuses on healthy options. They cook with little oil and even make a great healthy version of typical thai food such as Pad Thai. As it’s a little out of the old city too, I find the prices are much more reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

It’s a lovely relaxed place to sit and work or just hang out with friends. I often work there for a few hours and I see others doing the same. The owner, ‘O’ is so relaxed and welcoming. Despite my less than satisfied stomach on this particular day I do highly recommend this place. It’s well worth checking out.

 

Image of tables and chairs inside Immaim vegetarian restaurant
ImmAim seating area

Birds Nest Cafe

Image of Birds Nest restaurant sign
Birds Nest Restaurant Sign

Birds Nest Cafe, Chiang Mai:

  • Grilled Veggie Salad
  • Price: 120 baht
  • Score: 8/10
  • October 27th, 2016

I ended up eating at the Birds Nest Cafe today because the two other places along the way were closed. That’s not to say I don’t like Birds Nest, it was just further than I was hoping to walk in the heat.

I knew Birds Nest Cafe had veggie options and could probably make some vegan. As it turned out their menu is all vegetarian (but then has the option to add “free range organic chicken or pork” at an extra cost). So I guess they’re sort-of vegetarian. They also have a few vegan options.

I ordered their Grilled Veggie Salad. It doesn’t specify that it’s vegan on the menu but the ingredients listed were all vegan. I asked for no cheese just in case.

Plate with a bed of salad, red pepper, red onion, cashew nuts, tomato, green beans, grilled mushroom, and sesame seeds next to some cutlery and a glass of ginger tea
Grilled Veggie Salad at Birds Nest Cafe

The salad was a bed of leafy greens with red pepper, red onion, and grilled veggies, topped with cashew nuts and sesame seeds. The grilled vegetables are seasonal but I had tomato and green beans in mine. The veggies were actually pretty substantial. There was a lot of mushroom though and I’d have liked a few more different types of veg.

My salad came with a balsamic olive oil dressing but they also have a passion fruit dressing too. I think I poured too much oil on my salad so it was quite oily for me. But, I still really enjoyed it. I was really hot and really hungry. I wanted something light but filling and this did the trick and it tasted good.

The dish cost 120 baht which is pretty standard in Chiang Mai at the moment. It’s definitely more expensive than Thai food but Birds Nest tries to use organic vegetables as much as they can. Their food contains no preservatives, MSG or GMO and they try to support local farmers and stores. They also have a focus on homemade food (their bread, pita, bagels etc).

Birds Nest Cafe is a bit of a hippie cafe. You order and pay at the counter first. Then there are both tables and chairs to sit at, or Thai style mattresses to sit on the floor and eat at low tables. It can get a bit hot and sticky inside if it’s busy and others have claimed all the fans but usually there’s enough to go around. The wifi is pretty reliable too.

Comfortable tables and chairs in the downstairs area of Birds Nest cafe

Free Bird Cafe

Free Bird cafe sign and a large bird spray painted on the outside wall of the cafe in Chiang Mai
Free Bird Cafe Outside Wall

Free Bird Cafe, Chiang Mai:

  • Jok (rice porridge)
  • Price: 80 baht
  • Score: 9/10
  • October 24th, 2016

Free Bird Cafe is one of my go-to places to eat. I like their healthy menu and the food is always good. Their menu is vegetarian but with mostly vegan dishes.

Today for lunch I had jok. Jok is rice porridge which is a traditional dish in Thailand. It’s basically ground up, boiled rice where they leave a lot of the water in it. Kinda like creamy porridge oats. In fact, you may be familiar with Jok from the film the Hangover. If you recall the reference it’s usually somewhat bland but nutritious (like Stu).

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It was a dreary, rainy day in CM and I wanted to eat something warm and comforting. Rainy days make me homesick for England where it’s rainy most of the time. Porridge was just what I wanted.

Jok at Free Bird Cafe is made from boiled purple rice, instead of the usual white jasmine rice. Purple rice is my favourite and also pretty healthy.

So boiled purple rice is the main ingredient, mixed with some diced veggies and topped with pickled ginger, green onion and fried garlic, with a slice of lime on the side. It tasted really good.

A bowl of vegan jok containing brown rice, lime, pickled ginger and fried onions
A bowl of Vegan Jok at Free Bird Cafe

I’m a big fan of ginger and the ginger and garlic gave it way more taste than I was expecting. There were some carrots mixed in which I didn’t really like and left to the side. Carrots aside it was a really tasty dish. It was served piping hot and was a good portion size.

The Jok cost 80 baht which is one of the cheaper options at Free Bird Café. In a regular Thai place you’d probably pay 25-50 baht and it wouldn’t be vegan – just boiled rice and chicken or some other meat.

Free Bird Café has a lovely laid back atmosphere, there are plenty of fans around the place and big windows and open doors. There are also big tables at which you’ll see many people getting some work done on their laptops. The wifi is usually pretty reliable there too and there is never a feeling of being rushed out.  The staff often disappear into the back and just pop their head out to check if anyone wants their attention every now and then. You can easily while away a few hours here.

Large table with bench and stools inside free bird cafe
Free Bird Cafe large tables to work at
Several large tables, benches and stools to sit at inside free bird cafe
Seating area at Free Bird Cafe, second hand clothes and books for sale