Any visitor to Bangkok, Thailand, knows know how hard it is to diet or to watch what you eat. Food is everywhere in Bangkok and so cheap, unless you have incredible willpower, you soon find yourself eating high-calorie or high-fat food and there goes your diet. Take heart though. There are many restaurants offering healthy, low-fat, low-calorie food where you can still get a delicious meal at a cheap price.
Yum Saap – Yum Saap is a chain of Thai restaurants you’ll find in many malls in Bangkok. The restaurant serves traditional Thai food that’s cooked in an open-plan restaurant practically in front of you. It’s also a wonderful place to eat if you’re on a diet as portions aren’t too large and there are many healthy and low-fat choices on the menu.
Try the som tam (spicy papaya salad), as they make some of the best in the city, or stir-fried vegetables with an order of rice (just eat half the rice). The shrimp and melon salad is delicious (although very spicy, so ask for it less spicy if you can’t eat ‘Thai-style’) and there’s also a lychee and crabstick salad that’s too die for.
All of these dishes are loaded with vegetables or fruit and low-calorie, low-fat and healthy. Look for Yum Saap at malls such as MBK, Chatuchak mall and Central World Plaza.
May Kaidee – Located just off the well-known Khao San Road, May Kaidee is the most famous vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok. Serving low-fat, low-calorie and incredibly healthy food, May Kaidee is a favorite with Bangkokians and visitors. It’s a small shop but has a wonderful menu. Here, again, the som tam is wonderful.
Also try the fresh spring rolls, stir fried vegetables with brown rice, fruit salad with yoghurt, the vegetable salad with peanut sauce or the banana flower salad. All low-calorie, low-fat and delicious. The even better thing about May Kaidee is the prices. With dishes either 60 or 70 baht ($1.85-$2.15) you can afford to try several things.
The original May Kaidee is at 111 Rachadamnuen Rd., Banglampoo, near Khaosan Road, and is more like a small street stall. The second and new location is at 59 Rachadamnuen Rd., Banglampoo, near Khaosan Rd, just up the street from the original restaurant.
Mahboonkrong (MBK) Food Court – The best food court in Bangkok is on the top floor of Mahboonkrong (MBK) mall (the floor that’s below the movie theatre). With over 50 food stalls selling everything from vegetarian dishes to salads, from som tam to soups, noodles to rice dishes, there’s something for every diet here.
Try a bowl of noodles with fish balls or pork (there’s not much meat, so the calories are still low). One of the vegetarian stalls sells wonderful baked pumpkin, morning glory with brown rice and Thai-style spring rolls and, further up, you’ll find grilled chicken with sweet and sour sauce (just don’t eat too much sauce). Avoid the foods like pad thai (very high in fat and calories) and most of the curries made with coconut milk and you’ll find you can eat many low-fat, low-calorie foods here.
Japanese Restaurants (Fuji, Zen and Oishi) – Bangkok is home to some of the best Japanese chain restaurants in the world. Japanese food is also some of the healthiest (and low-fat, low-calorie) food available. If you’re on a diet and trying to watch what you eat, then eating at Fuji, Zen or Oishi is a good healthy choice.
All the restaurants are similar with similar dishes. Stay away from the foods heavy on rice and stick to dishes like the salmon steak set, the bento sashimi set (just avoid the fried foods that come with it), the seafood salad, the brown rice with salmon shioyaki, or the yose nabe (lots of fresh seafood and vegetables on a small portion of rice). You’ll find Fuji, Zen and Oishi in every mall in Bangkok as well as in stand-alone locations around the city.