Kalm Bistro, A Vietnamese Restaurant in Gray, TN Offers Plant-Based Options!

5205 Bobby Hicks Hwy.
Gray, TN 37615
(423) 207-0888
Visit the website: KALM Bistro
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by Danielle Bussone

 

While visiting EarthFare in Johnson City, and cringing at the exorbitant prices of their organic produce (Don’t get me started…), Rich and I happened into a conversation with a fellow foodie. She told us about a Vietnamese restaurant a few miles away that offered a vegetarian menu. We were so excited to learn of this! We adore Vietnamese cuisine, and both of the restaurants that have recently opened up in the city had nothing we could eat that did not include shrimp paste or fish sauce. To our delight, there seems to be an upsurge of interest in East Tennessee of this exotic cuisine.

 

 

Kalm Bistro is a little gem of a restaurant nestled among several bright little stores in what appears to be a relatively new strip mall. Located In Gray, TN about a half mile off Interstate 26, exit 13, Kalm has only been open for a little more than a year. There is no sign from the street nor in the mall billboard, so you have to keep your eyes peeled to find it. This is a tee-niny little restaurant whose advertising has strictly been word-of-mouth.

 

 

Kalm Bistro does not open until noon, so we had to quell our excitement for another hour. We arrived at 12:04 and already most of the tables were filled. That’s a great sign that we were in for a treat! Kim, (who is co-owner of Kalm), greeted us immediately and showed us to our table. She handed us a menu which offered six vegetarian options, which as it turns out, were also vegan.

 

Kim, co-owner of Kalm Bistro

 

Kim has been interested in cooking since she was a little girl. Her dad, however, would never allow her into the kitchen for fear she would hurt herself with sharp knives. Her grandfather, however, recognized Kim’s love of cooking and convinced her father to allow her to attend cooking school when she was old enough. Eventually, she and her family started Kalm Bistro, the capital “K” in the name represents the “K” in her name, Kim.

 

 

So, let’s get to the food! We started with a spring roll. Comprised of fresh, crisp vegetables, aromatic herbs, rice noodles, and a slice of fried tofu, it is a combination of soft and crisp textures is complemented by a sweet and savory hoisin dipping sauce. YUM!

 

 

I ordered the Pho, a rice-noodle soup with an onion-based broth, generous slices of tofu, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and lime. This was a new broth flavor for me; I’ve come to realize that every Vietnamese chef makes his or her own special broth for Pho. This one had a lovely, delicate flavor which allowed the characteristics of the herbs to sing.

 

 

 

Rich ordered the ramen noodle dish. Its flavor is difficult to describe. It tasted to me like a light infusion of peanuts in a sauce with a little turmeric, but I may be completely off-base here. I can tell you though; it was delicious. The thin curly noodles were tossed with a variety of fresh, slightly crisp vegetables, fried tofu, and bean sprouts. The portions were generous and filling.

 

 

 

Discovering Kalm Bistro was one of those happy accidents that occur when discussing food with strangers. We will certainly be visiting Kalm Bistro again when returning to the Johnson City area.

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About!, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles, and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is the author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” and is a co-founder of the plant-based cooking blog, Time For Change Kitchen. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

2 Comments

  1. Nanette Rodgers

    Danielle,
    Thank you for your travel vsuggestions for eating healthy meals.
    The Sanctum on Ferncreek road in Orlando, Florida is the place to eat whole food plant strong meals. We go there every time we are in The Big O,
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Rich!
    NR

    • Thank you, Nanette. We’ll definitely put The Sanctum on our list of places to visit when we are in the Orlando area. Happy Thanksgiving! Danielle

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