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Thai Square: Vegan menu at flood-hit Upper Street restaurant proves animal-free eating isn’t just for January

PUBLISHED: 10:34 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:43 09 February 2018

Vegetable tempura from Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai Square

Vegetable tempura from Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai Square

Thai Square

The horribly named Veganuary may be over, but there’s still plenty on the menu at Thai Square for anyone who wants to cut out meat and dairy.

Thai Square in Upper Street has been refitted after the 2016 flooding. Picture: Thai SquareThai Square in Upper Street has been refitted after the 2016 flooding. Picture: Thai Square

That was the message at a special launch for the eastern-inspired chain’s vegan menu in Upper Street.

Thai Square was the last business to reopen after the devastating floods of December 2016 and has been completely refitted in the year since.

The array of tasty vegan options on its new menu is no surprise – the endless specialist pizza restaurants up the road in Stoke Newington serve as a reminder that what was once a niche diet primarily followed by committed activists and health obsessives is now big business.

Stir-fried broccoli is on the vegan menu at Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai SquareStir-fried broccoli is on the vegan menu at Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai Square

But it’s perhaps more pertinent that Thailand, with its large Buddhist population, has a very strong vegetarian history.

Fragrant, lemongrass-infused fried corn cakes, surprisingly light tempura and a delicious satay sauce were among the starters on offer.

Main courses included excellent spicy aubergine and green curry dishes, so anyone who still isn’t sold on tofu has lots to choose from.

A sweet and sour tofu dish at Thai Square. Picture: Thai SquareA sweet and sour tofu dish at Thai Square. Picture: Thai Square

Some around the table weren’t entirely convinced by the tom yum hed soup, which had a combative chilli kick to it but was dominated by the pungent oyster mushrooms.

And if we’re being picky, the stir fried bean curd was a little too greasy for my taste.

Everything else, though, was near perfect, including the fruit platter at the end. I don’t think I’d have managed anything more filling after so many taster courses.

Vegetable spring rolls form part of the vegan menu at Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai SquareVegetable spring rolls form part of the vegan menu at Thai Square in Upper Street. Picture: Thai Square

I’ve been vegan for eight years and it’s certainly got easier to eat out in that time. Which means I’d certainly consider going back to Thai Square, but it’s a welcome sign of the times that it’s far from the only vegan-friendly joint in Upper Street.

Traditionally it’s been left to small, specialist, independent cafes to cater for us, and that risks making veganism seem exclusive or privileged. Now, finally, it’s getting more common to see not only a vegan option on offer at chain restaurants like this one, but an entire vegan menu. Good on them.

Thai Square, 347-349 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0PD. 020 7704 2000

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