Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant is the perfect place for curious people to get introduced to the multitude tastes and textures of vegetarian food. Located on Ranong Road, the historical commercial hub of Phuket Old Town, the restaurant can be spotted by its yellow signboard in the midst of similar-looking bric-a-brac shops selling caged birds, bamboo and wicker brooms, lottery tickets, chickens, firecrackers, gardening tools, clothes, and fireworks, amongst other unexpected items.
Vegetarianism has several different categories – ovo vegetarianism (eggs allowed), Lacto vegetarianism (dairy products allowed), fruitarianism (only fruits and nuts) just to name a few. At Ruam Jai, the specific food type is veganism: all dishes served here are 100% made from vegetables and fruits, with no eggs or milk or any animal parts added, and if you have never sampled vegetarian food before, get ready for a revelation!
Chinese shop-houses in general have a singular design, being narrow and long (in Phuket Old Town, a few houses have their front door on one street and the back door on the parallel street or vice-versa) and Ruamjai falls into this category. On both sides of the restaurant’s entrance stand food stalls displaying the dishes of the day; there’s no à-la-carte menu here, only readymade dishes.
The décor is pretty basic and some would say even Spartan: pale green walls, a white ceiling and light grey tiled-flooring, wooden tables covered with blue waterproof tablecloths and colourful plastic chairs, a cutlery stand (after the food stalls) with drinks and ice at the back of the room for customers to help themselves. Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant is not exactly the place to go for a romantic dinner (it’s actually closed in the evening!), rather it’s a practical and healthy dining choice mostly frequented at lunch by locals working in the area.
The talent of the vegetarian chefs here is undeniable: the dishes they prepare must not only taste good but also look appetizing. So many of the dishes served at Ruamjai (and at any other vegetarian restaurant in Thailand for that matter) are exact lookalikes of popular Thai dishes – green curry, phad krapao, tom ka, yellow curry – where meat or fish is replaced with a visual equivalent. So even though the food on your plate looks like a sausage or a chicken drumstick it’s actually a subtle mix of soya, vegetables, nuts and spices (each chef has his/her own recipes) which often has the same consistency as the original product. Just try a duck filet for instance, you’ll be fooled into thinking it’s the real thing!
On the beverage side, and as to be expected, Ruamjai does not serve alcohol, just water, soft drinks, and some delicious homemade juices such as soya milk and chrysanthemum juice. Summing up, Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant is a healthy choice for lunch if you’re visiting Phuket Old Town, and an excellent opportunity to discover what could be the future of food for our over-populated planet.
Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 15:00
- Location: 215 Ranong Road
- Tel: 076 222 821
- Price Range: A plate of rice with two vegetarian portions costs 40 baht