When I went vegan in 2015, I didn’t think I’d eat Asam Laksa ever again.

But I did and it was LOVELY!

This Southeast Asian dish is loved by many.

It has a unique spicy fishy taste that satisfies our Umami tastebuds.

I had never been crazy about Asam Laksa but I did appreciate its taste. So I didn’t think I’d miss it very much.

Well, not until a trip to Penang in October 2019.

On this metropolis island, Asam Laksa is as common as Roti Canai in mamak stalls of Kuala Lumpur. It’s the thing here (besides Char Kuey Teow).

Unfortunately, most if not all Asam Laksa contain shrimp paste. That’s what gives it that fishy taste.

So when I accidentally found this vegetarian (technically vegan) cafe along the touristy Armenian Street, I was beyond happy!

Yun Shui Ge Nyoya Vegetarian Cafe

They had this huge banner outside showing pictures of the food that they have.

If it were not for their cafe sign, I wouldn’t have thought they had vegan or vegetarian food.

I saw the Asam Laksa and I knew I must taste it! They even had Che Cheong Fun and Rojak, which sadly I didn’t have enough tummies to try.

How did the Vegan Asam Laksa taste like?

Like how I remembered it!

It was ridiculously similar to the original one with shrimp paste. Except, of course, this didn’t contain shrimp paste. I forgot to ask what paste they used instead. I was too excited. But I’m guessing it was a vegan shrimp paste made of fermented soybeans, seaweed or miso.

RM8 Asam Laksa

How was the ambience like?

The cafe was clean and neat so it was comfortable to take a break from the heat outside, even though it didn’t have air conditioning.

It also felt peaceful.

Perhaps partly because it didn’t have dead animals and partly because it wasn’t bustling with a load of people.

There were people, mostly of Chinese descent, but only a handful at a time. I bet that their primary customers are vegetarians or predominantly plant-based.

It turns out that this cafe has been around for about 4 years!

I hope they continue to stay there as it is such a strategic location, smack in the middle of Armenian Street where many tourists would stroll through.

And if you crave some cold ice dessert after the main vegan meal, you can find a cendol cafe on the same street!

Healthy Vegan Lunch at Idealite Autocity

Penang consists of the island and the mainland.

Most tourists like me would stay on the island because that’s where most attractions and food are.

But I also got the chance to pop by the mainland, specifically to Juru Autocity, to have lunch with a fellow vegan friend.

When I knew I was going up to Penang, I texted said friend asking to meet up. He then suggested that we meet at this place called Idealite Autocity (Idealite is the name of the restaurant and Autocity is the name of the area).

Idealite is a vegetarian restaurant that serves healthy Chinese food.

It’s Penang’s equivalent of BMS Organics, except that Idealite doesn’t do mock meat. So they do have vegan food options.

Furthermore, the creation of each meal is aided by certified nutritionists who had also made meal plan suggestions for post-operation.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Japanese Quinoa Power Bowl

They all tasted very delicious!

This lovely vegan lunch made me appreciate Hericium a.k.a. lion’s mane mushroom even more 😊

Accidentally Vegan Food Along Chulia Street

On this visit, I stayed at the Container Hotel located at one end of Chulia Street. About a 7-minute walk from the hotel, there were a few restaurants and cafes serving vegan food options.

I found them through good ol’ HappyCow. I filter the tag to include only “Veg-Options”. The main reason was so that my cousin could also eat non-veg food. She dislikes most vegetables so to keep the peace I had to compromise.

Falafel Wrap with Hummus at Mr Shawerma

Falafel wrap with hummus

On our first night in Penang, we ate Middle-Eastern food. I LOVE MidEast food. Bless the chickpeas!

The wrap cost RM13 and it had a side of hummus. Heavenly!

Chocolate Croissant and Chelsea Bun at the Rainforest Bakery

HappyCow suggested Mugshot Cafe for some vegan bagels. I was really looking forward to it.

But when I asked, the waiter said they do not have vegan options BUT that I might try the bakery next door.

So I kept my hopes up (despite feeling a teeny bit disappointed that they didn’t have vegan bagels), crossed the entryway (the two cafes are apparently sister cafes), and asked whether they had anything vegan.

And there were! 3 types of pastry were vegan!

They had the normal Croissant, Chocolate Croissant (or pain au chocolat), and Chelsea Bun.

Chocolate Croissant (MYR 6.30)

I asked again and again whether they really had no dairy or eggs. The guy assured me that they don’t and further mentioned that he is also vegan.

I was so surprised!

Chelsea Bun (MYR 3.50)

More Vegan Food

Finding vegan food in restaurants that are not exclusively vegan isn’t that hard.

There are almost always vegan options (even if it’s just one) or you could modify the vegetarian option to make it vegan.

It’s not always ideal or completely nutritious but when travelling with non-vegans, you do have to compromise (not your vegan diet but rather the variety or lack thereof).

Banana Leaf at Sri Ananda Bahwan

I’m SO grateful that banana leaf rice is vegan by default. And it’s like the middle ground for both vegans and non-vegans because you can add any kind of side dish. Since this one didn’t include fried bitter gourd in their main spread, I asked for that as an add-on.

Vegan Rojak and Cendol Pulut at Gurney Drive

People would usually go to the food stalls at Gurney Drive as that’s where local fried food thrive.

I couldn’t find any proper meals that were vegan-friendly. Even if I could ask to modify them, I think they would cook them on the same pan without washing it first. So I didn’t even bother with the fried stuff.

Nevertheless, I found a stall that already had no-shrimp peanut sauce for the fruit rojak. It’s basically a bunch of fruits such as guava, mango and apples mixed with this dark spicy peanut sauce. The original one contains shrimp paste (or is it fish?). So I’m glad I found a vegan version.

I also got to taste some cendol pulut (glutinous rice on shaved ice coconut milk mix).

Travel tip: bring a small container or a collapsible one for when you go to hawker stalls that usually serve the food in plastic containers.

Share this post