A Vegetarian Feast in Penang

While there are already a plethora of flavours in existence in Penang that will make your taste buds giddy with happiness, cater to even the most finicky of eaters and satiate any sort of craving, a rapidly growing population of vegetarians is causing a mushrooming of eateries serving meat-free dishes that are popular even among those with carnivorous tendencies. Here are a handful of places you can go to for vegetarian food while visiting Penang island and mainland.

Real Food
This place offers a casual yet chic ambience and serves organic, made from scratch dishes such as soups, pizza with either pesto or tomato base, burger, dumplings, pasta, rice and noodles. It’s a good place for vegan desserts as well and their ice creams and cakes are pretty popular especially when coupled with a cup of their really good coffee.
Where: Ground Floor of Straits Quay Mall on Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang in Tanjung Tokong.
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 10pm.

Annalakshmi Temple of Fine Arts
Run by volunteers and practising the pay-as-you-want policy for their buffet style Indian food at lunch time, you can expect curries, dhal, Indian flat bread, cooked vegetables and rice that possess comforting homemade flavours. During dinner time, their menu is switched to a la carte. This is also a non-profit organisation that promotes arts and culture to the community.
Where: 1 Babington Avenue just off Barack Road, close to Island Hospital.
Opening hours: Daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9.30pm. Closed on Monday.

Evergreen Vegetarian House
If you’re looking for choices, hit this place because they offer a myriad Chinese dishes from noodles, mock meat, vegetables and tofu cooked in every possible way, dumplings and more. You’ll be spoilt for choice. A good spot for breakfast too.
Where: 39A Cantonment Road in Pulau Tikus.
Opening hours: Daily from 7am to 9pm.

Luk Yea Yean
You’ll find quite a spread of Chinese vegetarian buffet here. However, if you’re not much in to the ‘economy rice’ style of piling your plate with rice and accompanying dishes, order from their extensive a la carte menu, they have pretty good laksa and other noodle dishes.
Where: 33 Lorong Madras, off Macalister Road.
Opening hours: Daily 7.30am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 9pm. Closed on Wednesday.

Lily’s Vegetarian Kitchen
They serve Nyonya, Chinese and western favourites consisting of mock meat, mainly organic vegetables and tofu. A bowl of their curry laksa preceded by popiah will right any wrong in your day. This restaurant is air-conditioned and a stone’s throw away from Luk Yea Yan vegetarian restaurant. It’s a good spot for breakfast too.
Where: 98 Noble House on Lorong Madras.
Opening hours: Daily from 8am to 9.30pm. Closed on Monday.

Street Gallery and Café
Just off the increasingly famous Armenian Street within George Town’s heritage site, within a row of shop houses that neighbours Khoo Kongsi is this little café serving a mix of local food and a smattering of western dishes such as veggie burger. It is also an art gallery that exhibits photographs as well as paintings.
Where: 1 Lebuh Cannon in George Town.
Opening hours: Daily from 12pm to 9pm and closed on Wednesday.

Sri Ananda Bhawan Pure Vegetarian
Little India has a host of Indian vegetarian places and this one’s a popular one that opens pretty early for breakfast. You can expect a variety of Indian roti coupled with dhal, nasi lemak and vadai with chutney. While lunch is banana leaf rice or rice with vegetables or dishes from their buffet.
Where: 55 Penang Street at Little India in George Town.
Opening hours: Daily from 7am to 11pm.

Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant
Besides their comfortable setting, like a majority of places in Penang’s Little India, this place serves typical south Indian food. Alongside curries to go with rice, there are a few sorts of poori and thosai suitable for a lighter meal too.
Where: 60 Penang Street at Little India in George Town.
Opening hours: Daily 8.30am to 10pm.

Water Drop Tea House
Its serene ambience will instantly relax you and is further enhanced by a tinkling, chanting soundtrack piped at low volume through a sound system. They have a daily rotating menu as well as an ala carte menu. What to try here is their nasi lemak, Vietnamese spring rolls that hold great texture, prosperity noodles and fried rice.
Where: 16 Jalan Penang in George Town.
Opening hours: Tue – Thur from 9am to 6pm; Fri and public holiday till 6pm. Closed on Monday.

Thali-NR Sweets Café 
This one may be a little hole-in-the-wall but it has a rather large choice of Indian food such as thali or rice with a variety of curries and vegetables. After 11am plus, there are over 20 other dishes to choose from on their menu. Indian roti, poori and such can be expected here as well as vadai that you dip into spicy but creamy coconut chutney. Give their Indian sweets counter a peek, you’ll be tempted.
Where: 75 Penang Street at Little india in George Town.
Opening hours: Daily from 7.30am to 10.30pm.


Promising dishes that are MSG-free and mostly organic, this place is within a shopping mall in Bayan Lepas, as well as Gurney Drive. Offering mainly Asian dishes, their chee cheong fun is quite good and on a local note, so is their nasi lemak. They serve a variety of noodles and green curry as well.
Where: 3F-10A in Queensbay Mall in Bayan Lepas & 3F-60 in Gurney Plaza on Persiaran Gurney
Opening hours: Daily from 10.30am to 10.30pm.

Beyond Veggie by Secret Recipe
Started by a local chain restaurant Secret Recipe that is famous for their cakes, Beyond Veggie offers a relief from local, spicy-heavy vegetarian dishes. On their menu are MSG-free sandwiches, pasta and pizza, and not to mention western desserts such as creamy cakes.
Where: 1-1-29 Elite Avenue on Jalan Mayang Pasir 3 in Bayan Baru.
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 10pm.

Aik Chong Vegetarian Restaurant

Sitting on a spot nearby the Nine Emperor Gods temple in Butterworth, this comfortable restaurant offers a buffet Chinese style ‘economy rice’ as well as noodles and crowd recommendation includes their curry ‘fish’ and fried ‘prawns’ coated in oats. For a western menu, step into its newer wing next door to enjoy a hotdog or ‘chicken’ chop with fries. All mock meat, of course.
Where: 6549 Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth.
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 11pm. Closed on Monday.

Greengreen CafeA health food store and vegetarian eatery rolled into one, they advocate healthy eating and their menu consists of nasi lemak made with cold pressed coconut oil, nasi ulam with plenty of finely chopped local herbs, mee jawa with slabs of fried tempe or fermented soya beans, fried rice and quite a few more choices. Couple them with a glass of fresh veggie juice. Simply lip-smacking.
Where: 49 Jalan Bukit Tambun at Taman Tambun Indah in Simpang Ampat.
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 6pm; weekends from 9am. Closed on Tuesday.

Image credit: Su Aziz