Penang: New Vegan Finds

Hello hello! After a fairly long hiatus I’m back with some new content – but first a few belated travel posts. In keeping my blog an honest space, I want to be as open as possible about my life, flaws and all. Consistency has never been my strongest point, I either go all out or give nothing at all. It’s a terrible habit I’m trying to kick; after all one of the aims of this blog was to use it to self regulate my routine. Evidently it’s been something I’ve struggled with but after some time away and a few lovely comments from an anonymous reader (tq whoever you are), I’m back with a fresh perspective and more motivation to keep the posts rolling regularly.

A month ago I went back to Penang for Chinese New Year. My mom is from Penang so since we’ve moved to Asia, we head up north to see family almost every year. Because we were in South Africa during the start of CNY, we went back later than usual and unfortunately missed out on most of the festivities. However this meant we had more time to do other things or in my case, scour the little island for more vegan eats.

If you’ve been to Penang you probably know the vegan scene is buzzing. Although I won’t be listing all the places to eat, I wanted to highlight two new (very different) finds I stumbled upon and was super impressed with. Both places had only been open for about a month when I visited them and are entirely vegan, promoting healthy eating through their selective use of top quality ingredients.

PS, I lied in my last post when I said I’d learnt my lesson about not relying on my iPhone to take photos at restaurants… so again sorry about the quality.

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Pin Xin

As a vegan I’ve always been jealous of people raving about the street food in Penang. Most local goodies are usually made with seafood or meat as the base and are therefore not vegan-friendly. If you’re like me and crave local food done vegan and healthy, this ones for you. Not only is the entire restaurant vegan but they also only use natural ingredients with no MSG or artificial colouring, making almost everything (including noodles) from scratch!

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I couldn’t decide between the Signature Asam Laksa and Hokkein Mee (Rm6.80 each) so I ended up ordering both to share with my mom. Asam laksa is a spicy and sour noodle soup usually made with fish however their soup base was made with seaweed instead as well as bunga kantan extract, an ingredient with anti-diabetic benefits. The soup was fragrant and filled with fresh ingredients as well as thick rice noodles and totally won my mom over. She was super impressed and said it tasted really authentic.

Hokkien mee (or hae mee which literally means prawn noodles) is definitely one of most famous dishes from Penang. Usually egg noodles in a spicy, rich prawn broth with pork slices and fish cakes, this dish used a multigrain mix soup-base instead and was served with tofu, veg, and their handmade noodles. This was my favourite!! Perhaps it was all those years of not being able to have any when my aunt would bring some down from Penang, but the soup was full of flavour and felt really indulgent, despite all the ingredients being wholesome and healthy.

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We actually found this place when one of my mom’s friends brought us here to try their rojak platter (RM7.80, not pictured but was also very good) after having lunch at a nearby vegetarian cafe. I saw the noodles on their menu and dragged my mom back on our last day because I couldn’t leave without trying them.

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I cannot recommend this place enough – a really humble space with honest, authentic and super affordable food (look at those prices!) Priced at RM6.80 each, the bowls of noodles were a complete steal considering the quality of ingredients used and how good they were. Make sure you visit them if you’re ever in Penang, for now you can find them at the address listed below but they will be moving Abu Siti Lane in middle of May to a bigger and cosier cafe so like them on Facebook to stay updated. Definitely not one to miss!

FACEBOOK | 32, Jalan Moulmein, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town | 9AM-3:30PM, 5:30PM-9PM, closed Tues

 

Whole Wonder

If you walk out the gallery towards the main road at the Hin Bus Depot and turn left, you’ll find this cute little cafe and yoga studio, again proudly vegan and natural, but serving western food with local twists here and there. Alongside food you can enjoy cold-pressed juices, coffee, raw treats and smoothies made with freshly pressed almond milk.

With an array of dishes featuring items such as a superfood smoothie bowl in a papaya boat as well as a frequently changing wonder dish (quinoa briyani on the day we visited), there is a unifying emphasis on using home-made, natural ingredients. Expect top notch service and attention to detail in everything from the food to the unique interiors. You can sit on a swing seat and enjoy your drinks over their beautiful Spanish tiled countertops while watching the almond milk for your smoothie being made right in front of you!

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The Wake Me Up Wonder Mylkshake (RM15), made with almond milk, banana, a shot of espresso, date, vanilla and coconut oil topped with chia seeds was one of, if not the best smoothie I’ve ever had. It was creamy and rich in flavour and volume yet at the same time so refreshing and light. My mom still goes on about how amazing it was, so trust me when I say it was good. We also ordered the Wonder Wave Cold-Pressed Juice (RM13) made with celery, cucumber, spinach, ginger, parsley, lettuce, lemon and apple and both drinks were made fresh upon order.

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As usual my mom and I shared our food ordering the Naked Burger (RM27) and the Wholey Pizza (RM20). The intricate burger had a pumpkin, black bean and lentil patty on portobello mushrooms ‘buns’ with sprouts, grilled pineapple and tomato and a eggplant/sundried tomato spread. It also came with salad leaves and little tempeh chips on the side which was a nice touch to the dish. The crispy crust pizza was topped with zucchini, mushroom, oven roasted tomato, and sprouts on a tomato and basil spread and was incredibly flavourful. The freshness and flavours of the ingredients used really shone through on both dishes and leaving us feeling nourished without the usual after meal heaviness.

With room for dessert we ordered a raw lemon ‘cheesecake’ (RM12) and to this day I am still amazed by how smooth and creamy it was. I’ve had my fair share of raw cakes but the texture of this one was so smooth you could really concentrate on the zesty lemon flavour without being distracted by the grittiness some raw cakes tend to have. Overall it was an really enjoyable experience and I’m incredibly happy to see places like this popping up and thriving in Penang!

Facebook | 61, Jalan Gurdwara Penang 10300 (behind Hin Bus Depot) | 11am-8pm Wed-Sat, 11am-6pm Sunday, closed Mon & Tues

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Both these restaurants left me feeling jealous of how warmly welcomed veganism is becoming up in Penang, but hopeful that KL will follow in its footsteps. If you’re ever in Penang and find yourself looking for somewhere to eat, vegan or not give these places a go over your regular chain restaurants. It’s so important to support independent cafes especially when they’re working to provide top quality, healthy and wholesome experiences! xxx

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