‘Tempura Weed’: Thai Restaurant Rolls out Cannabis-Inspired Menu

May 29, 2021 | CULTURE, NEWS, TASTE, Thailand

Only a month after Thailand removed Cannabis from its list of narcotics, a restaurant has taken advantage of the relaxed law by rolling out a weed menu. The bustling restaurant only cooks with Cannabis leaves.

Southeast Asia is famous all over the globe for its notoriously strict drug laws. In countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, consuming and possessing marijuana equals an expensive fine or long jail time. As these countries continue their iron-clad drug policies, Thailand has chosen to break the mold and legalize marijuana.

Due to Thailand’s move to allow the use of marijuana, the industry has boomed. One restaurant located two hours from Bangkok is generating attention for rolling out Cannabis dishes.

About the Restaurant

Baan Lao Ruang or The Storytelling House is a quaint little restaurant headed by Chef Amara Akamanon. According to Amara, the goal of the restaurant is to educate people by introducing weed in a refreshing and moderate way. This will help eliminate the stigma that surrounds the plant.

Baan Lao Ruang is owned by Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, the first weed therapy clinic in Thailand.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Pui@Supannasa (@pui_supannasa)

In an interview with Vice Asia, Akamanon shared that the hospital took on this project with the hope of inspiring guests to develop brand new perspectives on weed, therefore lessening the stigma that it only contributes to laziness.

While you may expect the chef to have pushed for weed legalization in the past, she admitted that even when she was young, she never had a puff of marijuana.

“I was a proper lady. I heard about some of the boys trying it but not me.”

Whether you’re craving delectable curries, mango sticky rice, stir-fries, or Tom Yum, you’ll find it laced with what used to be a class five narcotic. Because no dish costs over 200 Thai Baht or $7, you can eat to your heart’s content.

“Your mood might improve. Maybe you’ll get the giggles. You will relax, sleeping better that night,” said the chef.

However, there is also a chance you may not feel its euphoric effects since Akamanon only uses cannabis leaves – a part of the plant that has a very small amount of THC, the compound that gets people high. According to the chef, what intrigued her to push for her Cannabis menu is its taste.

Eating her dishes, especially the famous tempura-fried Cannabis leaves, is similar to eating wheatgrass because of its earthy flavor. The leaves of cannabis are not the most pleasant food, but when it is added to other Thai food, it elevates the dish by adding more umami, which is a salty, sour, sweet, and bitter flavor all wrapped in one.

Akamanon also shared that she does not use MSG in her restaurant, and some customers commented that weed makes all her food taste better.

While you’d expect the younger generation to flock to her restaurants, Ban Lao Ruang mostly caters to older foodies. The restaurant oozes an airy vibe thanks to its fair share of natural light – definitely the farthest setup you’d expect from a Cannabis restaurant.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Janraem K. (@kjanraem3)

Marijuana Use in Thailand

Although smoking marijuana for recreational purposes is still banned in Thailand, Thai doctors have been prescribing cannabis oil to their patients since 2019. Hospitals even give out THC-rich oil to patients suffering from ailments due to chemotherapy.

Thai residents and visitors from other countries can now legally possess non-seed and non-flower parts of the plant for medicinal use, but only authorized facilities can grow it.

“I used to see ganja as illegal stuff no one should mess with. But more recently, Thai researchers have been allowed to ask, ‘Can this help people?’” said Dr. Waleerat Kraikosol.

The history of marijuana use in Thailand is rich. Before the marijuana ban in the 1980s, village medicine doctors and cooks doled out Cannabis. Noodle vendors even put marijuana in their broth.

Now that more people in Thailand are more open to using marijuana for medicinal purposes, do you think the same would be reflected in other Asian countries soon?