Average: 3 (1 vote)

Much has changed on the Italian dining scene since we last reviewed Govinda eight years ago. Except for a few enduring classics, Italian food has either gone the way of fusion at cute Thai cafes, or been elevated to contemporary fireworks (or at least attempts) at high-end establishments. Largely gone are the little places with laid-back service, fuss-free dishes and unintimidating decor. That’s why Govinda tugs at our nostalgic heartstrings. We also like that its vegetarianism is almost an afterthought. Save the portrait of Lord Krishna, aka Govinda, on the second floor, it’s all shelves of Italian cookbooks and warm-colored walls. Even perusing the menu, you might not realize that Govinda serves an all-vegetarian, and partially lactose-free, menu—an impressive, unparalleled feat for Italian food in this town—so varied are their selections. There are special sections on risotto and gnocchi, both gluten-free, as well as homemade egg-free pasta—not too unusual in Italy, where eggs were once only for the rich. Not that this is poor man’s cuisine, as the dishes are chock-full of expensive ingredients. The insalate capricciosa has generous amounts of artichoke and fresh, non-lettuce greens, as well as lots of soy-based mozzarella. What could be a modest risotto is fancified—in one case with with generous helpings of porcini and saffron. On our last visit, we liked their homemade gnocchi, which were small and firm, and slathered in a sauce comprised of pumpkin, gorgonzola and crispy spears of asparagus. So, clearly, you get your money’s worth without the meat. All is not ecstasy, though. Expectedly, where Govinda fails to impress is in their brief menu of faux-meat entrees, where the flavors of the soy-meat are a huge distraction. Even the thick tomato cream sauce and plentiful mushrooms on our pollo ai funghi  could not neutralize the chewy consistency and processed flavor of the soy-chicken. But even though the rest of the food at Govinda may seem a little predictable, if well-done, they clearly fill a very unique niche­—and a required one, judging from their regular farang and Indian clientele. And their emphasis on variety and good use of ingredients make them worth revisiting when you feel a Wagyu-over load. Corkage B200.

Venue Details
Address: Govinda, 6/5 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-663-4970
Area: Phrom Phong
Cuisine: Italian, Vegetarian or Organic
Price Range: BB - BBBB
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 10:30am-2pm, 5-10:15pm; Mon 10:30am-2pm, 5-10:15pm
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