Brown Grain Thai Restaurant

Brown Grain 1
Brown Grain
190 Timor St
VIC 3280
P: 03 5562 2576

We walked past Brown Grain on a hot day and swiped a take away menu from out front, later deciding it would be a good place to visit. Whilst Brown Grain are very willing to meet your dietary requirements as a vegan, there was a bit of a language barrier between me and the staff so I later submitted additional menu questions in writing to get confirmation of all the info I was seeking for my readers. Definitely visit this restaurant – but not without being armed with the info in this post!

Edit: I have been informed that Brown Grain have a separate gluten free menu. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to view it, so I can’t speak for what may or may not be suitable for vegans on it.

The restaurant was buzzing and is obviously popular with the locals. The decor was warm and inviting, though the chairs were hard and uncomfortable. We found the service to be absolutely stellar during the rush, but when it died down, I struggled to make eye contact with any of the wait staff and felt a little disgruntled by having to walk up to the counter twice only to be greeted by staff chatting amongst each other with their backs to me both times.

Brown Grain 2
#21, Larb Tofu

If you go for anything on the menu that’s a salad, request “no fish sauce” because all the dressings contain fish sauce; Brown Grain will be happy to subsitute soy sauce for you. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish. I think it might have been the pounded rice that was stuck to the tofu; it was gritty and horrible, like when you haven’t washed your salad greens properly. I also found the tofu to be a little too soft/silken and “eggy”, and I’m quite sure that the dressing was tossed with lemon juice, not lime, which is what the menu specified.

Brown Grain 3
Satay Tofu with Salad (on request – this was basically a “special meal” I made up from what I could see on the menu)

THIS. WAS. BRILLIANT. I loved it! I was a bit tofu-ed out by the end of it, but it was soooo good. The satay was thick and dreamy, and not too sweet.

We really wanted to sample some dessert from the menu, but both vegan options had sold out for the night. SADFACE. Even Mr. AA was disappointed – and he’s not big on desserts. The vegan options were: sweet pumpkin in coconut milk or banana in coconut milk. We weren’t willing to be defeated though, so we ordered this:

Brown Grain 4
Black Sticky Rice

FYI, the item on top is a coconut custard and it is NOT VEGAN. So if you order this, ask for no custard. I do recommend ordering it – I sampled spoonfuls of black sticky rice and syrup (that weren’t touching the custard, of course!) and it was divine.

Below are some menu photos and tips for ordering that I wish I’d known before visiting. If you can, give Brown Grain a heads up about your visit – they have now had to deal with me, so they’re prepared for anything! (Ha.)

Brown Grain 6

  • #6 Golden Tofu: Vegan.
  • Soups: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (they will use soy sauce instead). The soups do not contain any shrimp paste.
  • #21 Larb Tofu: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (dressing will be made with soy sauce instead).

Brown Grain 7

  • #26 Green Salad: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (dressing will be made with soy sauce instead).
  • Curries: all pastes are vegan (do not contain shrimp paste). Simply order the “vegetables and tofu” option.
  • Stir Fries: most are made with an oyster sauce base, but can be made vegan on request. Ask for no oyster sauce (stir fry will be made with soy sauce instead).

Brown Grain 5

  • The noodle section is a little harder to navigate. To be sure, specify no oyster sauce, fish sauce, eggs or egg noodles.

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Eating Out: Thai Food

Eating at a restaurant you’re unfamilliar with can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience if you’re vegan (or allergic to gluten!). Over time, I’ve learned to ask the “right” questions about ingredients by learning what goes into the dishes. This means looking up non-vegan recipes and reading labels of pre-made curry pastes etc. because while ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power and I’d much rather be in charge of what’s going into my body.

Below are some tips/a basic guide to get you through eating Thai food.

Bunja 3

1. Don’t assume people know what “vegan” is; chances are, you will have to explain it. Try not to patronise the wait staff – in most cases, they will do their best to help you out – but it pays to help yourself out too, because they can’t know everything, especially when put on the spot. Know your product; And if you don’t, refer to this guide!

2. If you need to eat gluten free, I’d recommend avoiding Thai restaurants altogether. You’ll have to ask if any of the dishes don’t contain soy sauce/kecap manis or can be made without these ingredients. If they’re a fairly modern restaurant, you may be in luck with tamari being on hand in the kitchen (though don’t count on it, as I’ve never been to a Thai restaurant that has it). Oyster sauce isn’t vegan and sometimes isn’t gluten free either, so that’s another ingredient worth asking about.

3. If you’re ordering from the curry or soup menu, ask if the menu item contains shrimp paste. This is a common ingredient in Thai curry pastes and tom yum soup paste. Even if the restaurant makes these pastes from scratch, they could still use shrimp paste. You should also check that the soups don’t contain any non-vegetable stock.

4. When eyeballing the salad menu, ask if the dressing contains fish sauce and if it does, could the dressing be made without it? Fish sauce is in a lot of Thai and Vietnamese dressings.

5. When it comes to stir fry, chances are there will be some oyster sauce in there. This applies to both Thai and Chinese food. If you’re cooking at home, you can substitute with mushroom oyster sauce but again, I haven’t been to a Thai restaurant that keeps this in the kitchen. I’ve ordered plenty of stir fries without the oyster sauce though, and they’re still damn fine!

6. Noodles dishes in Thai restaurants are generally made with rice noodles, though it’s always worth checking if it’s not specified on the menu (you don’t want to be served egg noodles!). Egg is something you will always find in “pad Thai” and sometimes other dishes. Oyster sauce is another ingredient you’ll have to ask about in noodle dishes.

7. You will just about always be safe to order a veg/tofu satay.

Bunja Thai

Bunja Thai
32 Pall Mall
Bendigo, VIC 3550
(03) 5441 8566

Bunja 1

If you’re a fan of Thai food, you need to get your butt over here, stat! Bunja has been around since 2006 and is in the old Colonial Bank building in Bendigo. The architecture both inside and out is impressive but I won’t bore you with my silly photos of it – check them on their website, or go and see it for yourself!

I only have a few photos to share with you below, but since I’ve tried most of the items on the menu, I can (and will) offer my comments on many of the dishes. Most of the items on the menu can be made vegan on request (all vegetarian curries are already vegan – this includes no shrimp paste or oyster sauce); they also cater to gluten free diets.

Dinner (both eat in & take-away) is available; they also offer a $12 lunch special which includes a curry, a stir fry, some plain rice, salad and a roti. The serves are decent but the lunch menu is set and no changes can be made for special dietary requirements so keep this in mind if you need to.

Bunja 3

This is the Pud Prik King – my favourite stir fry! It’s fiery but also refreshing because of the kaffir lime leaves. This has quickly become my favourite dish on the menu because it’s vegetable heavy and makes my gums tingle (yes, I dig that, haha) and doesn’t make me feel like a fat roly poly, even when I eat the whole serve – which, by the way, is very generous.

Bunja 4

This is the coconut rice which is creamy and sticky. It has shredded kaffir lime leaves & lemongrass in it and i’m a big fan of it… but it’s not quite as good as my home made version 😉

Bunja 6

This is the green curry (non-vegan photo).

Bunja 5

This is the roti with satay sauce (also not vegan – sorry!).

My menu notes:

    • Entrees: The vegetable popia tod (spring rolls) contain vegan ingredients, however they share a deep fryer with non-vegan items, so I’ll leave that one up to your discretion. Some people are more strict with their diets than others.
    • Soups: Unfortunately both the tom yum & tom kha soups contain shrimp paste. You can request these vegan, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as the vegan versions lack flavour in a big way (however if you’re not vegan and like hot & sour flavours, I suggest you jump on the tom yum soup). On the up side of this, I have a tom yum soup recipe on my back log to share with you in the future!
    • Curries: all of these are excellent and all are coconut milk based bar the jungle curry. The veg versions contain tofu which is cut into small cubes and is scarce. I like this; dishes that are overpowered by tofu are a huge turn off for me.
      The yellow curry (gang garee) is highly recommended if you’re not too adventurous. It’s sweet and contains potato!
      The massamun curry (gang massamun) is the next step up from this – it’s slightly spicier but still mild & familiar – it contains potato, pineapple and peanuts.
      The panang curry is similar in heat to the massamun curry but flavour-wise also contains basil and is heavier on other veg (not potatoes).
      The red curry (gang ped) is medium spicy. I often think of this one as “just right”; it’s my favourite of the curries and contains a good mix of veggies.
      The green curry (ganga keow wann) is spicy and always makes my nose run (in a good way!). As per the red curry, it contains a good mix of veg.
      The jungle curry (gang pah) is the first dish I ever tried at Bunja. It’s not coconut milk based and is very much like a soup-ish version of the pud prik king stir fry (pictured above).

Bunja 2

    • Stir Fries: these are my favourite part of the menu! As a general rule, these aren’t heavy in your belly – meaning you can eat your entire giant serve without feeling like you need to be rolled out of the restaurant!
      The Pud Ped Gatii is a stir fry version of the red curry. It has the same great flavours and vegetables, but isn’t swimming in quite as much liquid.
      The Pud King is fairly wimpy heat-wise, so if you’d prefer something sweet but not creamy, I’d recommend this.
      The Pud Beow Waan is a typical sweet & sour dish with pineapple and all! it’s nice, but not really my cup of tea.
      The Pud Bai Horapah is described in the menu as “not for the faint hearted” but my honest opinion is that it’s not the hottest stir fry on the menu – the pud prik king is. It also doesn’t have any kaffir lime in it, so it’s missing the refreshing feeling I really like.
      The Pud Satay is creamy, sweet and mild. It’s not too heavy on peanut flavour (though you can definitely taste it). This is one I’d definitely recommend to those who don’t like spice and aren’t too adventurous.
    • Dessert: I’ve only tried one thing from the dessert menu – it’s durian (tropical fruit) in a sticky coconut/rice pudding. It comes with ice-cream, which I give to Mr. AA. If you’ve never had durian before, you’re in for a shock. It stinks like onions but it tastes delicious. If you want to try something new and think you can get past the smell, TRY IT. Even if you don’t like it, at least you can say you’ve had it!


Also, just a quick note that’s not food related. The toilets are clean and well stocked! While there’s only one female cubicle, there’s a change room with nappies and complimentary sanitary items in case of emergency. Have you ever seen anything like it NOT in a hotel??

Bunja Thai Restaurant and Takeaway on Urbanspoon

Sweet Coconut Rice

Sweet Coconut Rice
Serves 4 as a side dish.

1.5 C Basmati Rice
1.5 C Water or Veg Stock
1 C Coconut Milk
2 TBSP Palm Sugar or Raw Sugar
5-6 Fresh or Frozen Kaffir Lime Leaves*

  • Combine all ingredients in a pot or rice cooker and simmer on low heat with lid on for approximately 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Discard kaffir lime leaves, fluff rice with a fork and serve with some toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander.

This rice is mild and sweet. Don’t serve it with a curry or a heavy stiry fry, or the flavours will just be drowned out! I like this best with Luke Nguyen’s crisp silken tofu.

*Kaffir lime leaves are primarily used in south east Asian cuisine; you can generally purchase them at Asian grocers and some health food stores.

(r)Adelaide: Vego To Go

I want to preface this with an apology about the shitty photos. I was traveling, excited to eat and on this occassion forgot to bring my camera along and had to take photos with my boss’ iPhone. Whoops… Nevertheless, I have plenty to say about my experience!

Vego To Go
Norwood Mall
Shp 12/The Parade
Norwood SA 5067


I’ve gotta tell you guys – when I walked in and saw this cabinet, I just about pissed my pants with excitement. There was a lot of variety and much of it was vegan. To top it off, anything that was vegan was very clearly labeled. This made me oh so happy! The only down side was that my brain switched to over drive and I had no idea what I wanted to order. It’s not often that I go out in public and am faced with more than two choices!

I started off with a rice ball (pictured below). This was about the size of my fist and came with a really yellow-y peanut sauce that got me thinking about all the different peanut sauces I’ve tried in my time. Everyone makes it different! This one was sweet and delicious and really complimented the rice ball which was fairly simple in flavour. On the inside, it seemed to be dotted with flakes or nori and what I suspect was red capsicum. It was GOOD.

Rice Ball

Next, I tried the vindaloo, which was recommended by the girl behind the counter. I’m always up for something fiery, so this excited me! As you can see, there was a variety of veggies in there and the dish was seriously packed with flavour – I loved it. The only let down, for me, was that when I order vindaloo, I expect to walk away with my mouth tingling. Unfortunately, my nose barely ran. I understand WHY they’re conservative with the heat, but I wish they weren’t. That being said, it really was delicious and I wouldn’t give it back.


This is my boss’ Thai green curry. I stole a piece of broccoli out of it, but I didn’t really taste the dish as a whole. What I can tell you is that it smelled great, it was vegan and my boss liked it (and he’s not even remotely veggo).

Thai Green Curry

Finally, these are the veggie balls (vegan) served with a vegetarian mint yoghurt dipping sauce. My co-worker ordered these and while I didn’t taste them, I was assured that they were great! These didn’t look like some kind of run-of-the mill potato-flour based thing – they had a really good variety of mixed veggies in them.

Veggie Balls

The serves at Vego To Go are really decent and won’t leave you hungry – but they will make you somehow want more! The food was really tasty, the labels were clear (from memory, I think GF items were also labeled) and the cutlery was made from bamboo. The only thing I didn’t really like was that it was a small shop which felt crowded even when it wasn’t full but I can’t really complain too much because we scored a quiet table in the corner. I’d just warn you that the set up is more like a take-away shop than a café.

If I hadn’t already planned to visit another place the next day, I would definitely have gone back to try more of the menu. I highly recommend the food here and will drop in again next time I’m in (r)Adelaide!