PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
To a Westerner, there’s something curious about vegetarian vendors who dish up products not only designed to taste like meat, but look like it as well. But for those vegetarian converts who secretly long for the feel of flesh between their teeth, realistic meat substitutes can apparently be quite comforting. Green Palace, on the alterna-lifestyle hub of King Street, combines Newtown’s favourite cuisine (Thai), with an animal-friendly, vegan philosophy.
Being completely vegan, the food at Green Palace lacks the salty pungency of fish sauce, so characteristic of Thai cuisine. That’s not to say the food at Green Palace isn’t tasty. Most dishes pack a flavoursome punch that will surprise even devoted carnivores. Dishes tend to be sweet and herbaceous, with a reasonable chilli kick where needed. The crispy “duck”, found in a refreshing chilli, lime and cucumber-based salad, is almost scarily convincing. It resembles dark, deep-fried duck skin, right down to having little dimples running along its surface. The taste and texture is also uncannily flesh-like – the only thing missing is the unhealthy fat! Also of note is a fine, tangy tom yum with lovely soft tofu and “prawn”, the pad thai, and the jungle curry of “chicken” and bamboo shoot. Cheap, tasty and with an added curiosity factor, Green Palace should please vegos, meat-eaters and those that don’t mind slightly unconventional Thai fare.
Fiona Davies, January 2008