Vegan in Penang – The Cheap Way

Penang is famous for its food scene – with a mix of cuisines, the most prominent being Malay, Chinese and Indian, no foodie is left disappointed. Lucky for us, the same goes for vegans!

Finding a vegan or vegan-friendly restaurant is the easiest it’s ever been – Happy Cow and Go Veggie Malaysia offer plenty of options to choose from. But if you want to experience Penang’s food like a local and save some ringgits, keep reading. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite vegan meals found in Georgetown that will make your stomach and your wallet sing!

2 Ringgit Noodles

They use plastic-lined paper but you can bring your own food box.

This is how the place is know among and locals and travellers but I believe its actual name is PG Vegetarian and they serve different types of vegetarian noodles (thin glass noodles, thick rice noodles, wheat noodles and more). There are 3 portion sizes on offer, the biggest costing only 2 Ringgit (€0.45). Once you’ve picked your noodles, you go to the extras. My favourite is the tofu – one whole block is only 1 Ringgit and serves as a delicious source of protein. There are also fried vegetable patties at the same price and sometimes other extras such as eggs (for the non-vegans). Free toppings they offer are chilly sauce, dried chillies and crunchy bread pieces (I think). The 3 Ringgit noodle and tofu portion is big enough to fill you up and costs your wallet only €0.65. They are also happy to put the food in your own container and save on waste.

Price: MYR 2 for noodles and MYR 1 per topping
Address: Kimberly Street 92D
Opening hours: 5pm – 11pm (closed on Wednesdays)
Sustainability: Take away is served in plastic-lined paper so bring your own box. They have wooden single-use chopsticks in plastic wrappers.

Indian Curry and Chapati

To my knowledge, this place doesn’t have a name. The person who introduced me to it referred to it as the 1 Ringgit Chapati Place (there seems to be a theme to the names) and that’s what I’ve been calling it. Once again, the name is pretty accurate – they sell chapatis for 1 Ringgit each and a bowl of vegetable curry is the same price. They don’t bring you cutlery so you either have to eat with your hands, like the locals do, or bring your own reusable cutlery. Don’t expect a luxury experience but be prepared for delicious, warm and fluffy chapati and flavourful curry that’s not too spicy. You can also take it away but make sure you have your own tupperware as otherwise they put everything (even the curry) in plastic bags.

Price: MYR 1 per item. 2 curries and 3 chapatis makes a pretty filling meal
Address: Lebuh Queen Street – opposite the Lebuh Queen Indian temple. Walk down Lebuh China and turn left down Lebuh Queen. Walk past the corner restaurant and you’ll see a few scattered tables and a silver street food stall.
Opening hours: 5:30pm till late
Sustainability: Reusable plates and cutlery. Plastic straws in cold drinks so make sure they’re aware you don’t want one.

Thali-NR Sweets Cafe

Don’t let the name deceive you – Thali Sweets Cafe serves a large variety of savoury dishes. From vegetable biryani, banana leaf rice and various curries, you are spoilt for choice. It is generally cheaper to go for the pre-made Thali dishes (prices range from MYR 5.50 to 12.50) but you can also pick and choose your dishes from the buffet and they’re charged by scoop (veggie meats tend to be quite expensive so keep that in mind). Some of the staff knows what vegan means but it’s always safer to specify you don’t want anything with milk/ghee. There is also a vegan option in the sweets fridge – the Kaju Pista roll – make sure you try it as it’s one of the tastiest sweets I’ve ever had!

Price: From MYR 5.50 +
Address: 75, Lebuh Penang, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm (every day)
Sustainability: Reusable plates and cutlery. Plastic straws in cold drinks.

Asia Cafe

This is a coffee shop that also offers vegetarian food until about 2/3pm (or until they sell out). They have 2 different “stalls” – one serving noodle dishes and one serving rice with a choice of sides from the buffet-type counter. Normally there are several vegetable dishes, tofu, veggie-meats and spring rolls. My favourite by far was the teriyaki-style chicken. I’d recommend asking for a price in advance. They’re likely to just say “it depends” but at least you’re making them aware that you’re pay attention.

Price: MYR 5 for noodles and varies for rice depending on the number of sides. We’ve been charged between MYR 4 and 7.50
Address: Asia Cafe, Pitt Street, George Town, Penang – located at the junction of Market Lane and the service road of Pitt Street
Opening Hours: Not sure what the exact opening hours are but I have been there as early as 11am and as late as 1pm without them selling out. It will always depend on how busy they are tho.
Sustainability: Reusable plates and cutlery. Plastic straws in cold drinks.

EE Beng Vegetarian Food

This is a self-serve buffet place but unlike most buffets we’re used to, here they charge per item as opposed to per weight. This means, you can get as much of 1 dish as you can fit on a plate and you’ll get charged a set price. However, if you’re like me and your appetite is bigger than your stomach, you’ll end up paying around MYR 10 for 2 bites of everything… They also tend to just look at your plate and make up a price so make sure you keep track of what you get and notice if you’re being overcharged. It’s a vegetarian place with mostly vegan options but make sure you ask if you’re not certain something is vegan.

Price: Per item, can be very cheap if you only take 2/3/4 dishes
Address: 40, Lebuh Dickens, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: Closes at 8pm
Sustainability: Reusable plates and cutlery. Plastic straws in cold drinks.

Those were my favorite affordable vegan-friendly food joints in George Town. Now Christine and I are enjoying sunny Thailand but I can’t help but reminisce about the delicious food of Malaysia.

Have you been to Penang? Do you have any foodie secrets about the island?

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