Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai eatery dishes out cannabis leaf menu



Thai eatery dishes out cannabis leaf menu

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A worker examines cannabis plants from a crop being grown in Prachinburi province to be used in dishes at the Abhaibhubejhr Spa Cuisine restaurant. AFP

Thai eatery dishes out cannabis leaf menu

From spicy “happy” salads to soups sprinkled with cannabis shoots and deep-fried marijuana leaves – a Thai hospital restaurant has rolled out a weed-inspired menu which has curious customers flocking to sample its euphoria-inducing offerings.

Since becoming the first Southeast Asian country to legalise medical marijuana in 2018, Thailand has ploughed ahead on the extraction, distillation and marketing of cannabis oil – eager to capitalise on the multibillion-dollar industry.

The plant itself was finally removed from the country’s narcotics list last month, which means licensed providers – like hospitals – can now use its leaves, stems and roots in food.

This marks a return to Thailand’s culinary past, said doctor Pakakrong Kwankhao, who heads the Centre of Evidence-based Thai Traditional and Herbal Medicine in Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital.

“Putting cannabis leaves in the food is our culture,” she said. “In the past before cannabis was banned . . . we put small amounts as seasoning herbs and we also use it as a herbal remedy.”

Last week, the hospital’s wellness centre, which has a restaurant, introduced a new menu of Thai dishes offering a different sort of kick.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
This photo taken on Friday shows pork on bread with cannabis leaves laid out with ingredients at the Abhaibhubejhr Spa Cuisine restaurant in in Prachinburi province. AFP

In the restaurant’s bustling kitchen, a cook batters marijuana leaves and fries them to golden crispness, while another sprinkles them in a wok of minced meat with chili.

There are very small amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in fresh plants, but to avoid over-consumption, the restaurant has a five-leaf maximum limit per customer, said Pakakrong.

“If they have low tolerance, then they may choose the dish with just a half-leaf,” she said, warning that those who are pregnant or with certain health problems should avoid the weed-infused menu.

As for other interested foodies, “recent research found that this small amount can improve mood, focus and also creativity”, the doctor said.

She added that the restaurant hopes to expand its budding menu to include western fare.

For now, it draws a crowd during lunch, with diners snapping selfies while growing increasingly mirthful with each passing hour.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A customer eats a fried cannabis leaf at the Abhaibhubejhr Spa Cuisine restaurant in in Prachinburi province. AFP

“Are we laughing because of what we’ve eaten? I don’t think completely anyway,” said customer Thierry Martino, a French jewellery designer.

“The cannabis leaf which [the dish] is cooked with gives a little bit of bitterness,” he said, adding that his meal was “excellent”.

Arsala Chaocharoen said she was eating in the same way ancient Thais used to dine.

“They’ve put the cannabis leaves in my noodle soup and this is actually an old traditional knowledge of Thais,” said the 32-year-old pharmacist, before digging into her “joyfully happy spicy salad” – a dish of corn-battered leaves served with chili sauce.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in