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

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said