When perusing TripAdvisor’s restaurant ratings for Bangkok, I noticed that the current top rated restaurant is…..vegan. And looks like a 1950s Midwestern living room. We hurried over to see what the fuss was all about, and found Bonita Cafe to be comfortable, tasty, and utterly adorable.
The decor in the tiny dining room is kitschy and inviting. Hanging off of a chair you’ll find old-school roller skates; on the far wall you’ll find a quilt of all 50 United States. The owners and chefs are a friendly Thai and Japanese couple who treat you like guests at their house, so we weren’t surprised to learn that the ‘Social Club’ arose because runners like to congregate at the cafe for drinks.
From the minimal menu, our host recommended against the veggie sushi rolls, which take a long time to prepare, and the vegan hot dog plate, which he described as ‘pretty plain’. We took his suggestions and ordered vegan carbonara pasta, a teriyaki burger, raw zucchini ‘pasta’ with tomato sauce, and Japanese curry. Other customer favorites we passed on included vegan pizza and a hot vegan bacon and cheese sandwich.
Cappellini carbonara was everyone’s favorite. The sauce was incredible – creamy and complex in flavor without being heavy or oily on our tongues. It turns out the secret ingredient is white miso, a sweeter, gentler version than standard red or brown miso.
We also really enjoyed the teriyaki burger, which was juicy and flavorful even with few condiments. The chips left a little something to be desired but that just helped us to stay on the healthy train.
Japanese curry with brown rice was the ultimate co-op hippie comfort food. Beans, carrots and other vegetables were cooked with a hearty brown sauce and served with brown rice. The plate was big but we managed to get through most of it.
After all that, raw zucchini spaghetti with tomato sauce was just sort of okay. The sauce was tasty enough but we could have done without the cream on top, and it turns out that cold shredded raw zucchini is about as satisfying as it sounds.
Does it deserve to be the #1 rated restaurant in Bangkok? Probably not. But Bonita Cafe is a welcome respite for vegetarian and vegan travelers, particularly if you’re craving comfort food, Americana, or just a break from fiery Thai chilis.
56/3 Pan Street (Surasak BTS Station)