Tuesday 12 January 2016

Lost in the Supermarket

One of my favourite things about travelling long term is the ability to stop and just breathe for a while. After a bout of travel fatigue brought on by some unexpected travel challenges Nick and I decided to come back to Thailand and to stop in Bangkok for a month. It's been great to get to know the city better and to live in a more chilled way rather than trying to cram as much exploring as possible into every single moment. We've even been to the movies! We have a favourite restaurant (more on that next week!), we've been meeting friends and Instagram buddies when they've been passing through the city, we've started learning Japanese and we've even had the time to start planning our next adventure(s). These are all challenging things to do when you're living life of perpetual movement! To enable us to do this without breaking the bank or driving ourselves crazy looking for last minute Priceline deals every day we've been Air B&B hopping all over the Sukhumvit BTS line. To help us save some cash for the next leg of our adventure we've also been eating in which I've loved. I don't always want to get my shit together to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day and we all know I'm not gonna be skipping a meal. Having a kitchen means that I can eat a proper breakfast in my PJ's - you have no idea how happy that makes me! My breakfasts range from soy yoghurts (you can pick these up at 7/eleven now!) and cereal to fried tofu or a big bowl of noodles but lunch tends to be where the fun comes in. I love wandering around supermarkets looking for exciting vegan products and having a kitchen with a fridge, freezer and cooking facilities means that so much more of the store is open for consideration.

The Gourmet Market chain is one of my favourite places to look for fun vegan food stuffs, their freezer sections are particularly interesting and my favourite location is the one inside the Terminal 21 Mall. Not only do they have some Amy's boxed meals, including the Daiya Mac & Cheese and the chocolate cake, but if you dig deep you can find all sorts of delicious dumplings. My favourites include the Taro Bao, the Shiitake Bao, the Tofu and Vegetable Crispy Dumplings and the Oishii Taro Gyoza which are totally a dessert dumpling. Genius. 

Tofu & Vegetable Dumplings

Aside from the Tofu and Veg dumplings which are a Korean import all of these have the Jay logo printed on the packet which makes picking up something vegan easy - just make sure you turn stuff over, you never know where the sticker will be lurking! 

Most of the Gourmet Market locations, Terminal 21 and Siam Paragon in particular, also hold a great selection of tofu, mock meats and noodles within their outlets including these Veggie Ramen noodles. They're very obviously packed full of chilli so I've never tried them but given how often Nick eats them I'll vouch for their deliciousness. They even have the Vegan Society logo on the back which isn't something I've spotted often in Asia.

Sometimes during this (almost) year of travelling something familiar and comforting is just what I've been in the market for, so to speak, and another place I became a fan of recently is Villa Market. This is just a straight up import store and almost everything is priced accordingly. If you're in the market for vegan salt and vinegar crisps, hummus, root beer or good olive oil then Villa Market is the place to go. Word of warning for Euro Vegan peeps, Villa Market also sell reasonably priced Vitalite but it isn't vegan. It's apparently a rip off brand and it contains milk!!

The two branches I've checked out are at Sukhumvit Soi 11, by Nana BTS station, and at 595 Sukhumvit Road which is in-between Asok and Phrom Phong BTS stations but closest to Phrom Phong. Phrom Phong BTS is serendipitously also right by EmQuartier Mall where you'll find Veganerie's smaller second location so you can load up on desserts to go with your fancy imported goodies! 

Villa Market is also the spot to visit if you just need some goddamn bread. I love Thailand but I also love bread and the vegan bread situation here is usually pretty dire. I spent an afternoon contacting everyone who makes bread in this city until I came across Maison Jean Philippe who make ridiculously good sourdough bread using only four ingredients. All of the loaves at Villa Market are vegan friendly and you'll be able to spot them as their name is stamped on the paper bag!

They also have a brand new retail store, located at The Commons in Thonglor (closet BTS stop Thong Lo), which sells much more bread as well as pastries and stuff so I'd check the vegan friendliness if you're paying them a visit. I haven't made it out to The Commons yet but I'm very tempted because they also sell Marou Chocolate, a Vietnamese Fair-trade certified bean to bar chocolate which looks epic. Finding Food Empowerment Project certified chocolate in this city is beyond challenging and the only kind I've found is from M&S. The one vegan bar they have in stock is a little on the sweet side for me, if I want sweeter chocolate I need it to be Vego bar sweet and my dark chocolate needs to be at least 70% plus. No middle ground!

The Villa Market location at 595 Sukhumvit Road is usually the better stocked of the two VM's I've checked out and the stock does vary between the two spots - I've never seen Earth Balance in the 595 location for example, only in the Soi 11 location (and it's £7 so I didn't buy it!), and the reverse is true with the Linda McCartney sausage rolls. Nick and I picked up a very silly combo of things to whip up a feast with over Xmas, it was fantastic!


  1. A month in Bangkok sounds dreamy! Have you tried the traditional Thai Massage School at What Pho? Not sure if its changed since I was there a few years ago but we loved it! http://www.veggienextdoor.com/bangkok-temples/

    I'm heating up a frozen meal of Amy's Thai Red Curry as I write this :)

    1. I haven't but I have to admit that I hate massages so I'll probably give it a miss! I'm glad to hear that you had a great experience there though.

  2. Ha! Sometimes, you do just need some goddamn bread. :-) Also, I love wandering around our local Asian markets (they're primarily Vietnamese, but they have products from other Asian countries and usually a Mexican aisle) and finding random vegan things, like frozen dumplings and weird veggie meats.

  3. I love that you contacted everyone who makes bread. You are my kind of bread lover. ;)
    Looks like there are some great finds over there.

  4. I always find trawling through the supermarkets abroad really interesting when I'm abroad - part of the joys of being in somewhere new. Especially when you get to dig out new dumplings and Amy's cakes. I'm amazed Paxo has made it to Thailand!

    1. Me too! It's always one of my favourite parts of travelling! One of the reasons I made my European Vegan zine was so that I'd be able to browse foreign supermarkets more easily!

  5. I love going in supermarkets - a lot of people don't understand! Friday as a treat I went to a supermarket in Barcelona I hadn't been to before - it was very exciting if not strange (they had frozen sushi! Frozen sushi!). Jojo I love that you wrote everyone asking about their bread - it's so hard travelling around Asia if you're a bread lover! So I think this is really useful information for vegan bread-lovers in Thailand. :)

  6. Oh Jojo, I love everything about this post!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE grocery shopping in other towns and other countries. I also love love love the chance to settle down while traveling. I can completely relate to the soothing joy of breakfast in your PJs in the middle of a traveling stint. It just feels sooo good.I also love your "sometimes you just need some goddamn bread" sentiment! ha ha ha. As you know, I too, am a bread LOVER. India doesn't have a lot of "loaves of bread," but at least they have good flat breads. When I was there last time, my roommate Jane was always ordering rice with her dinner but I was ALL IN for flatbreads, every time. I hope you're both well rested, and ready for the next new adventure! <3


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