There are only a handful of them, but Bonita Café and Social Club may well be the most inviting organic vegan restaurant in town. Run by a Thai-Japanese couple, this small, living roomlike café has become a meeting spot for the runners of Lower Silom and prides itself as a genuine social club. Among the kitsch clutter of decorative plates and cookbooks (more reminiscent of a hoarding grandmother than anything you’d find at a trendy flea market), they sell Muteki running shoes imported from Japan (starting B1,800).
But the real focus is on the concise menu of Western-style vegetarian and vegan dishes, including some gluten-free and raw options. This is comfort food that’s also relatively guilt-free, starting with the perfectly-executed onion rings (B90): crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and leaving barely a trace of oil on the serving basket’s paper-towel lining.
There are a few instances of mock meat, like the faux bacon chips of the Caesar salad (B140), but they are avoidable and not really necessary since the crisp greens and surprisingly creamy dressing do the heavy lifting. The most intriguing dish, and perhaps the high point of the place, is the raw zucchini “pasta” (B180), which comprises uncooked shredded zucchini, a chunky and slightly spicy tomato sauce, topped with a fluffy pureed cashew cream. Fresh and crunchy, it’s far from the watery mess you may have feared.
In comparison, the teriyaki burger (B200) is a little plain. The wholewheat bun is soft yet firm, but the sweet sauce does not add enough life to the dry onion and tofu patty. We do enjoy the small side of lightly roasted potato.
Be sure to leave room for dessert. Apart from a wonderfully dense carrot cake (B130), we’re taken with the chocolate mousse (B100). Sugar-free and glutenfree, it’s served up as two balls that resemble scoops of chocolate ice cream in appearance and temperature. The texture, though, is something else: rich without being overly heavy. More reasons to visit include the soft wholewheat pancakes and the long, long list of drinks: shakes, sodas, “Datorade,” coffees and many more made with soya milk imported from the US.
This is slow food, with everything homemade (bar the ketchup—now there’s an idea) and cooked-to-order. Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, Bonita is the kind of place that delivers a refreshing, natural high.