Guide to Eating Vegan in George Town

Guide to Eating Vegan in George Town

Like in much of Malaysia, finding vegan food in George Town, Penang is not especially difficult. With the abundance of Chinese and Indian food around the country, there’ll always be something you can eat. Indeed, George Town is known as the foodie capital of Malaysia, something of which the locals are quite proud. On more than one occasion, we had people recommending us places to eat and dishes to try and we found that our two weeks there was only just enough time to find all the best vegan eats!

This is the key used in this guide, which appears directly under the name of each establishment mentioned:

Which meals are catered for

  • breakfast: typically 08:00-10:00
  • lunch: typically 12:00-15:00
  • dinner: typically 18:00-21:00

The type of food served

  • serves meat / vegetarian / vegan / raw vegan

A rough price range (based on prices of mains)

  • cheap: up to RM10 (up to €2)
  • moderate: RM10-20 (€2-€4)
  • expensive: RM20+ (€4+)

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vegan george town pin2

Luk Yea Yan

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegan / cheap

A fully vegan restaurant, this place serves meat-free nyonya style cuisine (a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavours) which is very typical for the island. Their use of mock meat is rather extensive, and most of the time successful (we still salivate thinking of the amazing satay sticks!) but other times less so.

vegan_penang_luk_yea_yan_satay

We went for the laksa, which Amélie said was some of the best she tried in Malaysia, but it didn’t really do anything for us. The setting is simple, the service friendly (the guy taking our order sat down with us like an old friend joining us for dinner) and super fast.

vegan_penang_luk_yea_yan_laksa

Details

Real Food

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan / expensive

Quite a trek from the main town, this Singaporean chain inside the upmarket Straits Quay mall is definitely worth a visit for a high quality vegan meal. Everything is vegetarian, vegan options are clearly marked and all ingredients are organic. The food is a mix of western and Asian influenced cuisine.

vegan_penang_real_food_spaghetti

We enjoyed such dishes as spaghetti with vegan meatballs, a chickpea burger, steam dumplings and vermicelli noodles with stir fried vegetables. Most of their desserts are vegan, and they usually have a couple of raw vegan cakes too. The coconut ice-cream, while pricey, is divine and the smoothies and juices are super fresh and innovative. Service is a little confusing (do you order at the bar or do they take your oder at the table?) and our food came our at all different times, but the setting is nice and calm, despite being inside a generic shopping mall.

vegan_penang_real_food_raw_cake

Zab says they also served one of the best soy lattes he had in George Town, and the wifi was decent enough to get work done there too. They also organise an organic farmers market every third Sunday of the month from 4pm to 7pm outside their place at the marina.

Details

Evergreen Vegetarian House

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegan / cheap

Another Chinese all vegan eatery, this place has a buffet with a wide selection of dishes to choose from; you simply ask for a plate, fill it up, and they magically calculate what you need to pay at the counter (which will inevitable be very little). Drinks and desserts are ordered separately.

vegan_penang_evergreen_plate

The set up is very simple and staff speak only a little English, but for the variety and price, it is worth visiting if you are nearby. Some of the dishes were a bit of a mystery since they are not labeled, but everything we had tasted good and we left very full and satisfied.

vegan_penang_evergreen_buffet

Details

  • Address: 39A, Jalan Cantonment, 10250 George Town
  • Foursquare

The Leaf Healthy House

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegetarian, vegan / moderate

This cute little place has an extensive vegetarian menu, mostly Chinese in style but with some western dishes. All ingredients are organic and they do not add MSG and only use brown rice and brown sugar. Egg is not used, but some dishes and drinks contain dairy or honey, though this is clearly marked on the menu.

vegan_penang_healthy_leaf_rice

The setting is intimate and homely but not overly fancy. A good option for something a little special without being too extravagant.

vegan_penang_healthy_leaf_chia

Details

Idealite

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegetarian, vegan / moderate

A fast growing chain with restaurants all over Penang, this mostly Chinese and Malay style vegetarian restaurant focuses strongly on healthy eating. Egg is used, but clearly marked in the menu and can easily be removed form most dishes. No MSG, colourings, preservatives, canned foods, dairy products, mock meats, peanuts or coconut products are used in the preparation of their food and they offer some interesting vegetarian versions of Malaysian classics.

vegan_penang_idealite

The use of hericium mushrooms (also called monkey mushrooms) where most vegetarian places would use mock meat was unexpected and ingenious. I was told that diners often don’t believe that some of their dishes are vegetarian because of them, believing them to be meat! The one we visited had a bright and modern interior with lovely calming classical music playing and the staff were extremely friendly and helped us navigate the menu wonderfully.

vegan_penang_idealite_soup

Details

Jan x Den Greenlife Café

lunch, dinner / vegetarian, vegan / moderate

This vegetarian place clearly marks dairy when used on the menu, but not egg, though you can just ask the helpful staff and it can easily be omitted. Dishes are a mix of Chinese style, Malay and western food with a focus on healthy eating.

vegan_penang_janxden_spring_rolls

Ingredients are fresh and tasty and they don’t use MSG and only use brown sugar, sea salt and olive and sunflower oils. The setting is vibrant yet cosy, and service is fast even when they’re busy.

vegan_penang_janxden_pasta

Details

Lilly’s Vegetarian Kitchen

breakfast, lunch, dinner / vegetarian, vegan / cheap

This simple eatery serves up fast food with both Chinese and western style options. No egg is used in their menu, but some things contain dairy; just ask as the staff are helpful and knowledgeable (the man serving us quickly recognised that I was asking for vegan food from my questions).

vegan_penang_lily_dumpings

The mock meat options are satisfying and convincing enough to have us double guess whether they were in fact vegetarian! Great for something quick and comforting.

vegan_penang_lily_satay

Details

Sushi Kitchen

lunch, dinner (closed Tuesdays and 14:30-18:00 on weekends) / vegan / expensive

The only place we found that clearly advertises itself as fully vegan, this wonderful little Japanese eatery serves up some delicious soups, noodle dishes and, as the name suggests, sushi. All ingredients are organic and no MSG, white salt, white sugar, white soy, preservatives or artificial colourings are used. Seating is either in the traditional Japanese style (crossed legged on the floor) or on large, mostly communal tables.

vegan_penang_sushi_kitchen

There are free refills on green tea and everything is served with a big smile. Take a moment to read some of the charming messages left on the wall by previous visitors. It may also be the only overtly gay-friendly place we discovered in Malaysia which we inferred from the several rainbows around the place a sign on the door demonstrating their support of marriage equality.

vegan_penang_sushi_kitchen_rainbow

Details

My Armenian Café

breakfast, lunch / serves meat, vegetarian, vegan / moderate

This was the one place in downtown George Town that advertised vegan cake, so we had to investigate further! Attached to a souvenir shop and an art gallery, this is a nice little place to stop for a break while exploring the old town. They usually have a couple of vegan cakes and offer soy milk so that coffees, smoothies and even mocktails can be veganised. There is decent wifi too, but no air-conditioning and only three or four tables (otherwise, they would also be on my digital nomad guide). Just make sure to ask for no cream on the side of your vegan cake.

vegan_penang_armenian_cafe

Details

I’ve compiled all the places mentioned in this guide to a Foursquare list here that you can easily save.

You can also download this guide in the GPSMyCity app!

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