This is how they grow vegan eggs in Penang! Just kidding, I saw this on the jetty, I have no idea what it’s about.
When I planned my trip to Malaysia, everyone kept telling me I would love Penang, that Penang had the best food, and that Penang had great vegan options. While it certainly didn’t have the worst vegan food in Malaysia (looking at you, Perhentian Islands), it was far from the Vegan Paradise it was made out to be. That said, I did have some good meals in Penang. Here is what I ate:
- Sushi Kitchen. 12, Gat Lebuh Acheh, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. +60 17-402 8103
This was by far my favorite restaurant in Penang, I ate there twice, and would have eaten there a third time if they hadn’t been closed. It is a completely Plant Based Japanese Restaurant in Malaysia, run by a white woman. I really enjoyed both the noodle soups and the sushi I had there, and it was very affordable. I got the rainbow rolls, which have cucumber, cabbage, and carrot in them, and are covered with sesame seeds. They also have vegan mayo and something called G-Ken floss which is a vegan substitute for pork floss on most of their rolls. I ordered mine without any of that because those sound like two of the most disgusting foods in the world and I see no reason to create vegan substitutes for them. I also tried the Spirulina Ramen bowl for about RM 15, and the Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl for about RM 5. Both were very good healthy ramen bowls, but maybe a little light to be a full meal by themselves. Both times I went I had one bowl of ramen and shared an order of rolls with my friend, who is not vegan and was impressed by the ramen but not the rolls.
The atmosphere at Sushi Kitchen is low lighting with floor seating, but it’s a small quiet space. The walls are covered with graffiti. They serve hot or cold water in very tiny cups that come with free refills, but it’s a little bit annoying because you have to keep asking them to refill your shot glass sized cup. The second time I went there she just brought me a pitcher after I asked for a refill a few times.
Take Away: If you like Vegan Sushi or Vegan Ramen, do not miss Sushi Kitchen on your trip to Penang!
2. Luk Yea Yan Vegetarian Restaurant. 33, Lorong Madras, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. +60 4-228 1148
I found this place here: http://mostlyamelie.com/vegan-georgetown/ which is a blog I frequently consult for vegan guides to many south east asian cities. She seems to have much more of a taste for mock meats than I do but for the most part I find some good suggestions from her.
This place was a little hard to find, and a little bit of a walk from central Georgetown, it is where google maps says it is, but it doesn’t look like much and there are no other restaurants nearby. It’s just in an unmarked yellow building, and the only thing tipping me off to the existence of the vegetarian restaurant inside was a bunch of people chopping cabbage and eggplant in the back alley.
It’s your typical jai/chay (Buddhist Vegetarian) buffet, which isn’t my usual favorite type of eatery, but this was a pretty good one and was a bit less greasy than average. They have the buffet and they also make stuff to order. I got the Vegan Laksa because I figured I couldn’t go to Malaysia and try Laksa. It kind of reminded me of Thai Khao Soy because of all the herbs, crispy onions, chiles, and pickled things floating in it. The pineapple broth was a little bit sweeter than I like for a main dish, but I guess I should have expected that. The noodles seemed super fresh and the herbs were great. I believe it cost RM 7.
I also got a plateful of things from the buffet, there was a good pumpkin tofu dish, sweet papaya salad, and a really yummy and herby cucumber salad. I also tried the mock fish covered in seaweed because Mostly Amelie’s blog (link above) raved about it, but it wasn’t my thing at all, which kind of didn’t surprise me. The plate pictured above cost RM 6.
Take Away: One of the better Buddhist style eateries I’ve been to in South East Asia. If that appeals to you and you have the time, go here.
3. Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant. 60, Lebuh Penang, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. +60 4-263 9764.
Why is every pure Vegetarian Indian restaurant named Woodlands? I have googled this and I can’t find any explanation, I just found hundreds of Vegetarian Indian restaurants in dozens of countries that all have Woodlands in their name.
This place had a Thali set lunch, pictured above, which cost RM 8 if I remember correctly. I had them hold the buttermilk which came with the set, and they told me nothing had butter or ghee. I have no idea what any of these dishes were but they were all pretty decent, however they were not very warm. I think everything could have been drastically improved by reheating the food. So… get there early I guess?
Take Away: Typical South Indian Restaurant with Vegan options.
4. Wheeler’s Coffee. 67, Lorong Love, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. +60 4-261 3570.
This café had very good, albeit expensive, coffee and food. They had one vegan option on their sandwich menu, which was an avocado sandwich with pesto. It was supposed to have rocket on it and when I ordered it they told me sorry they were out of that sandwich because they were out of rocket. But I was not about to be deterred from eating at all because of one missing ingredient so I had them put lettuce instead. The pesto was good and the bread was fabulous! Fresh, soft sourdough. And the sandwich came with a side salad. The Americano was great, they had a few different types of brews available. And the café was really cute.
Take away: Great Coffee Shop with one vegan sandwich option. On the pricey side.
5. My Armenian Café. 96 & 98,, Lebuh Armenian, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. +60 11-3311 2991
I forgot to take a picture at this café, but they had soy milk available for coffee drinks, and they had Kombucha. I believe they had one Vegan Cake option, and for lunch food they had a tofu salad: marinated tofu, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and vinaigrette. The salad was delicious but pretty small. This place is attached to a souvenir shop, and has 4 or 5 tables in the café, which is open to the street and has lots of natural light.
6. Vegan real fruit Popsicles at a shop on Lebuh Canon, across from the Boy on a Chair street art.
That was the great Vegan Food I had in Penang, here’s a quick list of places I didn’t like:
Salad Bowl. Weird combinations of stuff in a salad with questionably vegan dressing. They were out of a lot of menu items. Very dark ambience.
Veggielicious Café. This place had an odd combo of burgers and Indian food. I had a mushroom veggie burger which was a grey reheated patty on a store-bought white untoasted bun. Then I got a vegan cupcake in hopes that it would redeem the meal and it was dry, unimpressive, and overpriced.
Enjoy your trip to Penang, and if you are looking for a place to stay, I highly recommend Vintage House. She only has two person rooms (some have one big bed, some with two twins) so it’s not good for solo travelers. The room was beautiful, clean, and well air conditioned, the host was so friendly and helpful, there was free laundry, coffee, and tea. It’s in a great location in George Town and a great value for the price.