Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bhan Thai

I'm starting a new post series on veg options at Memphis restaurants. I've blogged about a few local vegan dining options in the past, but I've decided to start labeling them "Bluff City Vegan Eats" (fyi: Memphis is called the "Bluff City" because it sits on the Chickasaw Bluffs of the Mississippi River). And I'll start tagging these posts to make them easily searchable for veg visitors.

The "Bluff City Eats" series won't be posted with any regularity, just whenever I eat out and deem the meal worthy of sharing. Last night, my boyfriend and I had dinner at Bhan Thai, a hip Thai joint on the edge of Midtown (full disclosure: the boyfriend is a server there).

For the longest time, I avoided this place because I'd heard that all their dishes contained fish sauce, which is sadly the case for so many Thai restaurants. But now I have the inside scoop. Many dishes can be made vegan upon request, and the staff is uber-happy to accommodate. Last night, I ordered the Cashew Nut with Tofu:

A generous portion of firm, crispy cubes of fried tofu meet crunchy cashews, carrot strips, bell pepper, and onion in a spicy garlic sauce. The dish is served with sticky white rice, a delicious indulgence I only allow myself to eat when dining out.

I washed my dinner down with a Singha Thai beer:

I typically opt for darker brews, but there's just something magical about a pale ale served with Asian cuisine. Plus, I had to keep it real with an authentic Thai beer.

In the warm spring and summer days, scoring a seat on Bhan Thai's courtyard patio is a must. Unfortunately, the patio was closed Wednesday night due to an impending storm.

Bhan Thai is located 1324 Peabody Avenue in Memphis. Here's their website.

Note to vegans: Avoid the curries, as these cannot be made without fish sauce, and the soups are prepared with nasty chicken stock (I'll never understand why restaurants use chicken stock when they could use veggie stock to accommodate everyone). From what I've been told, almost everything else on the menu can be made vegan upon request.

One more thing: I've posted a Memphis vegan dining guide on the right side on the page, complete with a list of veg-friendly restaurants and my favorite suggested menu items.


Anonymous said...

I agree, I don't understand why restaurants use meat broth for vegetable soups. I remember getting so frustrated once at a deli because the Minestrone, Lentil, and Broccoli soups were all not vegetarian.

Belle said...

I think this is a great idea! I've been curious about bhan Thai so now I'll definitely have to check it out!

I don't understand the use of chicken broth either. There's usually one veg option for soup and they always seem to be out of it.

T said...

Thanks for all the specifics, these are usually lacking from restaurant reviews. Sounds like a great eatery!

jessy said...

i think dan and i are gonna have to have thai foods for dinner tonight, Bianca! your cashew nut with tofu totally has me craving some. the thai place we enjoy is awesome and leaves out the fish sauce when requested as well, but they do use chicken stock for the soups - even the "vegetarian" bean curd soup. what the hell?! i've brought it up several times that it's not veggie if it's got chicken stock, but i don't think they're too keen on changing it. sadface. so awesome on some rock'n thai foods and a delicious thai beer to wash it all down. that's one tasty 'n satisfying meal, fo 'sho!

p.s. - sorry about mislabeling your black-eyed pea burgers (i have corrected it). i totally didn't realize the mistake until you left a comment about 'em. i actually used a mix of black-eyed peas and kidney beans since i didn't have as many black-eyed peas as i thought i did. next time we make your burgers we'll do 'em up with just the black-eyed peas for authenticity. :) i'll leave comments this weekend on the site with my gluten-free tweaks. thanks again for letting me test for you, Bianca!

Sarah @ See Sarah Eat said...

Thanks for sharing this! If I'm ever in Memphis, I will be looking to you for tips :)

Heymeejeel said...

First off: LOVE YOUR BLOG! I live in FL and am newly embracing the wonderful world of vegan, but I am originally from AR, so I love your southern spin and can't wait for your cookbook.

I also love the darker beers, and am disheartened that a lot of them are made with totally unnecessary animal junk. Thankfully there's Barnivore and "an app for that", but I didn't find this one listed. Is it vegan friendly? I'm sure it is.

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry forEVER, (or so it seems) I am glad you are spreading the word that it's important to ASK about the menu and not just take it at face value. It once took me 2 years to convince the "chef" (KM) to use veg stock instead of chx in the "vegetarian" dishes. He thought it was the lack of the physical "meat" that made it "veg". You'd be surprised how prevalent this rational is in the industry.

Keep up the great work, and I look forward to the cookbook. I bet it's gonna be great gift to give.

The Voracious Vegan said...

That dish looks AWESOME! I want to go out to eat there, I think I'd order that tofu for sure. And UGHG, why do restaurants do that??! Veggie stock tastes just as good and then the dish is appropriate for veggies and non-veggies! So frustrating.

reners said...

Hey Bianca, just want to say that I adore your blog and it's delightful food! This may be a silly question (i'm new to the blogospere) but how do i subscribe or follow you?

reners said...

Actually, don't worry I just figured out how to follow you!! I am a dork!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog--but I was checking on lists of vegan beers today at, and it said Singha wasn't vegan-friendly (I used to think Guiness was, too, I've seen that used in some vegan recipes before...maybe they changed their process and now use isinglass). Maybe you know more about this, but just thought I would throw it out there! Keep it crunk! ;)

Bianca said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for that tip. It very well may be un-vegan. When it comes to beer, I usually just assume its vegan until I hear otherwise since the majority of beers are. But there are those crazy companies that use isanglas for no reason (like Guinness!). I'll avoid Singha in the future. It was tasty, but I won't miss it.