Lunch at MBK in Bangkok and the trip home

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Travel | 0 comments

On my last day in Bangkok, I was planning on a quick lunch at a small vegetarian restaurant in Banglamphu. Instead, a friend of mine was heading to MBK, one of Bangkok’s megamalls, for some shopping before she headed to the airport.  I had heard good things about Big Papa, a vegetarian food stall located inside of MBK’s international food court, and so I decided to join her for lunch and check that out instead.

 Bangkok traffic can be hideous and the taxi ride that should only have taken 10 mins dragged out to 30 and felt like it would never end.  As soon as we hit a BTS station, we jumped out and took the Skytrain one stop to the mall instead of trying to continue to fight the traffic. The Skytrain is great by the way – there’s no better way to get around in Bangkok, so if you can use it just do it.

 MBK is essentially a really big indoor market. There are six or so stories of small stalls selling everything from souvenirs to high-end electronics, as well as a few stores that are a bit more like department stores.  If you’re doing souvenir shopping, better to go elsewhere as it is a bit on the pricy side. It also has two food courts, both of which have vegetarian stalls. I checked out the international food court on the fifth floor, which had quite the variety of offerings including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian and Thai cuisine, among others.  As you enter the food court you are given an electronic card, which the vendors log your orders against, and then you pay for everything on the way out.  Big Papa offered about 20 Thai dishes that looked exclusively vegan.  After changing my mind a few times, I finally decided to try a cashew nut and tofu stirfry and the tofu satay. 

Big Papa Satay

Tofu Satay from Big Papa

 The tofu satay wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t choose it again. The tofu was sprinkled with turmeric and deep fried, but not particularly well, and it was a bit too greasy for my liking.  I was hoping for a peanut sauce to accompany it, and the sauce did vaguely taste peanutty, but the cumin in it overpowered the other flavors. The cashew nut stirfy was similarly okay, but it lacked the flavor of other food I had enjoyed during the week. In all, if you find yourself at MBK and want a quick vegan meal, Big Papa is a good option. But otherwise, don’t go out of your way for it.

Big Papa Lunch

Cashew Nut and Tofu Stirfry from Big Papa 

I did have a mango, passionfruit and papaya smoothie from another vendor that was absolutely delicious! Sap sap!

 

Mango, Passionfruit and Papaya Smoothie!

Mango, Passionfruit and Papaya Smoothie!

On the way out I picked up some Thai treats to take home with me: sesame peanuts, tom yam cashews, tamarind candy, and dried mango. 

My flight to Narita this morning departed Bangkok at 6am, which meant I had to leave my hotel for the airport at 3.  When I got up to get ready and pack I felt horrible and had a crushing headache from lack of sleep. I made myself a chocolate Plant Fusion protein shake with some soymilk I had bought in Bangkok and I drank a bunch of water.  Both helped to get me to the point where I felt human again.

 

Plant Fusion Protein Shake

Plant Fusion Protein Shake

At the airport I used the Baht I had left to pick up a few additional treats: some tasty sesame rice crackers, dried mangosteen, mulberry tea and a vegan (although not gluten free) mooncake for my partner.  Then I went to the Thai Airways lounge to hang out for a while before my flight.

When I went to board I was thrilled to learn that I had been upgraded to business for the leg from Bangkok to Tokyo. Last-minute upgrades usually mean that they bring the economy meal I had ordered up from the back and give me slightly better salads. For breakfast they served a pretty tasty eggplant ratatouille with mushrooms and overcooked broccoli, along with some beautiful fresh fruit.

Eating on the plane: Breakfast

Eating on the plane: Breakfast

The second meal I was served was a tomato, cucumber and lettuce sandwich with a piece of milk chocolate. So I sent it back and instead enjoyed a mangosteen that I had picked up from a street vendor the night before and an Ernest Eats granola bar.

Mangosteen

Heavenly mangosteen!

My flight was delayed getting into Narita because we had to circumvent a tropical storm.  So my hopes for a good long walk around the airport and some foodie shopping were dashed.  I did manage to pick up some mochi, brown rice green tea, and toasted green tea. Then I went for a brief visit to the ANA lounge to have some vegan sushi and rice balls for lunch.  

The kelp rice ball is my favorite – delicious!

The kelp rice ball is my favorite – delicious!

 My gate was at the other end of the terminal so after eating I started heading over there, stopping briefly in the United lounge along the way to see if I had managed to get an upgrade.  They told me that all of the business seats had been filled. I was disappointed, but did pick up a banana and fill up my water bottle with hot water so I could brew some of that delicious mulberry tea!

I raced to the gate, boarded and then just as we were about to depart, a flight attendant approached me and told me I had been upgraded after all! I harbor no guilty feelings for being thrilled that someone had missed the flight.

There are some business class rituals that I really like, like the pre-departure drinks, the hot towels, and the warm nuts they serve before the meal service. There is something that just feels and tastes so luxurious about warm almonds and cashews  (although I would never think of heating them up at home!).

Warm nuts

I love the warm almonds and cashews they serve in business class, along with my piping hot cup of green tea.

For dinner I had a salad with mixed greens, julienned pumpkin and tomatoes with a vinaigrette dressing, which I enjoyed.  Then I was served the same pasta dish as on my flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, so again I picked out the lentils and spinach, and left the rest. While everyone else was enjoying the cheese course, I had some grapes and of course I skipped the ice cream sundaes served for dessert.

Salad with julienned pumpkin

Salad with julienned pumpkin

The snacks available in business class during the flight were much more vegan and gluten-free friendly than those served in economy: fresh fruit and rice crackers were the standouts.

For breakfast I had fruit salad and sweet polenta served with stewed apples, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts. I don’t seem to have the same allergic reactions to stewed apples as I do fresh, but I don’t like to tempt fate at 30,000 feet in the air, so I removed the apples and sliced some banana over the polenta instead.  It was pretty good!

Apple Breakfast

From sweet cinnamon polenta and stewed apples to…

Banana Breakfast

Banana and sweet cinnamon polenta!

So that’s it for this trip. My jeans felt a bit tight this morning: I have been eating far more than I usually do and exercising far less. So I’m going to spend the next week doing a modified version of Somer McCowan’s green smoothie challenge to detox and get back on track. Green smoothies for breakfast and an afternoon snack, salads for lunch, hummus and veggies in between if I get hungry, and cardio daily. However, instead of soup, I will likely prepare a light cooked meal for dinner.  I guess you can expect a few new green smoothie recipes over the next week!

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