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The joys of going 'jae'

Subtle vegetarian flavours wend their way through various meals at Rasayana Cafe

Published on October 12, 2007

The joys of going 'jae'

The annual vegetarian season is believed to be a chance for people to cleanse their body and soul from a normal diet that focuses on meat consumption. But if cleansing is the purpose of the vegetarian season, then why not visit a place that promises to physically clean your body with its special dishes prepared to preserve the natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes most destroyed by the typical heat-based cooking?

"We started out as a physical cleansing retreat where people come for a detoxification programme," explains Rasayana Retreat's owner, Varaporn Busarakamwongs. "And then while we were looking for a suitable diet to go with the cleansing rituals, I found out that a raw food scheme is a perfect choice not only because it nourishes the body fully with natural nutrients but also because the enzymes of raw food help cleanse and strengthen the body from the inside out."

As a part of the retreat compound, Rasayana Cafe is a small outdoor seating area under the shade of big trees. The menu is extensive for the size of the place, ranging from a concoction of fresh fruit juices and vegetables, appetisers, salads, cold soups, main dishes and desserts. Don't expect any fake meats here because all dishes are strictly prepared only from fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and flavoured with honey, sea salt, apple cider vinegar and natural soy sauce - seasonings believed to preserve the natural nutrients of the food and thus good for you.

"I first resorted to raw food cookbooks to learn about the whole idea," explains 31-year-old Varaporn. "But then, I began adapting the tastes to fit the local styles by increasing the levels of tasty fruits and vegetables and blend the ideas of cooking from around the world to create the menu."

There is no flour, no rice and no processed food in any of the dishes. Cooking is done with a dehydrating oven with the temperature kept below 42 degrees to preserve the natural nutrients. Varaporn says dehydrated fruits and vegetables are richer and sweeter in taste than normal fresh fruits and she then adds aromatic herbs like Italian basil and mints to make the dishes more delicious.

We tried their Mexican taco (Bt160) made from cups of dehydrated mixed vegetables filled with tangy fresh tomato salsa, garlic and young coconut shoots. This dish won the hearts of meat lovers like us. The crisp vegetable cups are sweet and thus they blend perfectly with the strong tastes of the salsa. We just loved the taco.

We then tried barley sushi (Bt140) which is a nori roll of softened barley rice, mixed vegetables served with mixed salad with tangy beet root and mustard dressing. For those who like the seaweed and the strong tastes of fresh vegetables, this plate might be your favourite.

If you are here for an actual cleansing, you can choose asterisked items prepared for the special purposes. But for us, we are in for a hearty meal and my companions, in fear of getting hungry later, the ordered the sun burger (Bt170), nut loaf (Bt170), Rasayana salad (Bt160) and the pesto pasta (Bt150). The sun burger and nut loaf are pretty similar with a nut-based loaf made from raw almonds, cashews and macadamias soaked, blended and flavoured with herbs served with a mixed-green salad dressed in tangy mustardy drips.

The salad is nothing fancy, but their mustard dressing is just wonderful. It is creamy and clings well to the leafy gardens giving the needed aromas to munch through yet another bite of vegetables.

Rasayana's desserts are something we looked forward to. Their key lime pie (Bt120) has such a misleading name because what we get is a frozen avocado blended with fresh lime and honey. But its ultra smooth and cold and sweet and tangy texture is a good reward for our plate-cleaning job along with their Strawberry Cream Mousse Pie (Bt120) made from fresh strawberry and raw almond crust.

Rasayana Cafe

Rasayana Retreat,

Soi Prommitr, Sukhumvit Soi 39

Daily, 9.30am to 7pm

(02) 662 4803-5

Sirin P Wongpanit  

The writer can be reached at www.ohsirin.blogspot.com.

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