Lemon Farm is a grocery store chain in Bangkok that sells “organic” and “natural” produce and other products. I’m making a point of using “” here because as far as I know, there is no agreed upon standard for organic produce here in Thailand. There is however a great demand for these kind of products, and most grocery stores in Bangkok have a section with products labelled as “safe” or “green” or “healthy”. I think that more often than not, these labels are simply slapped on products, along with an increase in price, without any real regard to how their produced. Regardless of this, the produce at Lemon Farm is good, although slightly more expensive than elsewhere. I’ve been shopping there for years, and like the free-range eggs and formalin-free fish. I also like to buy products that are made by small community organizations and government programs.
A new Lemon Farm opened near my house recently, and we stopped by for lunch. Every branch of Lemon Farm has a small cafe serving a few mostly vegetarian dishes. One of these, khao yam is a southern Thai dish, and takes the form of a “salad” of rice and fresh herbs. The version served at Lemon Farm is not a traditional one, but rather an “herbal” take on the dish, with some unusual additions such as carrot, sesame and brown rice:
The dish traditionally also includes puffed rice, shredded green mango, pomelo, thinly-sliced lemon grass, green beans and “wing beans”, dried shrimp, grated coconut, and oh yeah, a bit of rice. The whole lot is topped with a type of southern fish sauce called budu that has been simmered with palm sugar and even more fresh herbs. The best part is mixing all these different ingredients into one big delicious mess:
Despite the unorthodox additions, it is an excellent khao yam, just as good, or even better, than anything you’ll get in the south.
The cafe also has khanom jeen, fermented rice noodles served with a curry sauce:
Normally the curry sauce is made from fish (usually plaa chon, snakehead fish), but this being “health” restaurant, the noodles are made from brown rice, and they’ve substituted the fish with mushrooms. Like khao yam, you also mix a variety of fresh herbs and veggies into the dish:
Despite the lack of fish, it was actually a pretty good khanom jeen by any standards.