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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Apr 26, 2023

We headed to George Town in Penang as the first stop on our Malaysian adventure. This city is famous for its incredible street art: even if you've heard nothing about the city, you've probably seen some of this incredible, interactive graffiti somewhere in popular culture. On our first day we grabbed a street art map from the tourist information centre, and spent a really enjoyable day checking out these incredible murals (many of which are of cats; this made Kyra, who loves cats, very happy!)

But there's so much more to do in Penang too! Over the next few days we followed the famous jetties out into the water, and headed up to the Rainbow Skywalk for incredible views over the city. And what else is George Town (and Penang more generally) famous for? It's food of course!

Eating Vegan in George Town, Penang

"Malaysia has better food, especially in Penang." – Nigel Ng

We found Penang to be a really welcoming and hospitable place: and this extended to the restaurants we ate in too! Though there wasn't tonnes of choice for vegans, what there was turned out to be really delicious, and some of our favourite food memories of the trip. From an upmarket vegan restaurant, to a cheap and convenient local-style eatery, and a really cool and quirky cafe, we list our top places to eat in Penang below. Check out our video at the bottom of this page to see these great places for yourself!

1st: Pinxin Vegan Cuisine

38, Lebuh Tye Sin, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

For some of the best vegan flavours, in a beautiful, upmarket restaurant in Penang, you absolutely have to try Pinxin Vegan Cuisine. The restaurant is a little walk from the main tourist area, but it's housed in a beautiful colonial-style building, and is sure to wow you as soon as you step through the door. It's comfortable, it's modern, it's inviting - and that's before we even mention the food!

Pinxin was of course the place we headed to try Penang Curry Mee, a famous Malaysian dish beloved by the locals here. The flavours of this Curry Mee were extraordinary: really spicy, but very flavoursome too. The dish comprised of perfectly cooked noodles, fresh and crunchy vegetables, and crisp yet spongy tofu. Seriously, this tofu was some of the best I ate in the whole of Southeast Asia. I even stole a couple of Mike's tofu chunks when I'd eaten mine, I loved them so much! Besides Curry Mee, Pinxin had a big menu full of Malaysian classics; we wished we'd had time to try more! Noodle, rice, and soups are the headline dishes here, but there's plenty of variety if you fancy something else, too. Their desserts looked amazing, we were just too full!

There's no question that Pinxin was our favourite place to eat vegan in George Town: we loved that you could order on your mobile phone, and the food was so filling whilst also feeling really healthy and delicious. It was a little more on the expensive side though, compared to other options across George Town, so we would visit as more of a treat in the future. Our Fiery Curry Noodles cost RM19 per portion: this is approximately £3.45, €3.96 or $4.31. Well worth it for this taste of Penang, made vegan!

2nd: Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen

98, Lorong Madras, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

It was a little bit of a walk from our guesthouse to Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen so we were really hoping the food would be worth it: and wow, it absolutely was! This casual, local eatery has a buzzing atmosphere, with friendly and helpful staff to match. We couldn't believe how efficient the service was: tick your order off on the order form, take it to the cashier, and really soon your meal will be delivered hot and fresh to your table!

Now, we headed down to Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen to get our plant-based taste of the well-known local dish, Char Koay Teow. This dish, honestly, is one of my favourite things I ate in all of Malaysia. It was really spicy, but the hotness complemented the more dry, fried sauce really well! It coated the flat, slightly sticky rice noodles, the crunchy beansprouts, and the crisp tofu. There were so many textures and so much flavour: I could have kept eating this Char Koay Teow all night! Saying this though, I was full after one plate - the portion sizes are good, and we were both very satisfied with everything about our trip here!

It's worth noting that Lily's is a vegetarian restaurant, not a fully vegan one; however, they do not use eggs in their cooking, and everything that contains milk is clearly marked on the menu. You can always check with staff at the till, to make sure that what you're ordering will come fully plant-based! Their menu is packed full of veggie and vegan versions of traditional Malaysian food, and all for an incredibly cheap price! Our portions of Penang Char Koay Teow cost only RM70 each (approx. £1.28, €1.46, or $1.59) - you really can't get much better value, for so much flavour, than that!

3rd: Susu Vegan Mylk Bar

35, Pengkalan Weld, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, 10300

If you were to ask me what the coolest place we ate at in George Town was, Susu Vegan Mylk Bar would win, hands down! Just down the road from the famous jetties, in a cool, arty arcade, you'll find Susu. This really funky, retro cafe is situated up some stairs; when you get up there your eyes will be treated to an immersion in orange. If there's anything orange from the 60s, 70s and 80s, you're sure to find it here. From retro rugs and radios to old copies of the Beano and National Geographic, there's so much to keep you entertained during your visit. We spent ages just looking around! Susu was quiet and comfortable when we visited; we sat on the sofa, among what felt like a retro TV show set, and ordered our food from the friendly staff member (dressed fully in orange, obviously!)

This is a fairly small place, and the menu is limited - but entirely plant based. Initially the prices look a little high: but then you realise that the burgers are actually huge, more than big enough to share! We ordered the beetroot, cream cheese and avocado burger - with really no idea what to expect from this! It arrived a short while after, served in a big metal dish. This looked really special, and the burger was served open so that we really could see this burger's spectacularly colourful components! The charcoal bread was black, but surprisingly soft and doughy. The burger patty itself had strong beetroot tones with a nutty aftertaste. The avocado was mixed with the vegan cream cheese for a tasty, creamy and fresh paste. For us, the burger needed a bit of a stronger flavour, and we added some tomato ketchup to finish it off; we felt that maybe some ketchup, mustard, pickles, or even a slice of vegan cheese would have balanced the flavours and made this burger a real winner, but overall it was a tasty and wholesome eat. Our burger was served on a bed of salted crisps which complemented the flavours well.

When we saw Susu's dessert menu, we couldn't leave without trying their speciality cheesecakes. We both ordered a dark chocolate tofu cheesecake, and oh my goodness the presentation of these was really beautiful! This cheesecake was stunning and really indulgent: in fact, this was the most convincing vegan cheesecake I've tried. The biscuit base was incredible, but very filling! After the burger and crisps as well, I couldn't finish my full cheesecake, so Mike took one for the team and finished mine as well as his - let's just say we were both extraordinarily full, but it was very worth it!

Overall, we loved Susu Vegan Mylk Bar, and would really recommend it for a very different experience when visiting George Town. The cafe was relatively simple when it came to the food, but full of eccentricity when it came to the decor! It really was like stepping into a time machine back to the middle of the twentieth century. As we said, it looks expensive at first, but the full sized portions were enough to feed both of us (the mini portions are designed to feed one). They are so well presented too: this food, and the cafe itself, are incredibly instagrammable! Our beet avocado burger with cream cheese cost RM27 (approx. £4.91, €5.64 or $6.11) but that price for enough burger and crisps for two is a pretty good price! The cheesecakes cost RM18 per portion (approx. £3.27, €3.76 or $4.07) - this is a little bit more on the expensive side, but for its presentation, flavours and ingredients, it's so worth it.

Where is your favourite place to get plant-based food in Penang? Are there any new places or old favourites that we've missed? Leave us a comment to let us know (and others who might be visiting too!)


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Penang: a city that looks great from all angles!

Where should I stay?

The most popular hostel in George Town, Penang, is House of Journey. This place has plenty of clean and comfortable dorm rooms with a friendly and social vibe. It's really well located too!

For something unique, The 80's Guesthouse offer both dorm and private rooms within an old colonial shophouse that has been sympathetically updated to keep all the original features whilst adding modern amenities like rainfall showers.

Tours & Experiences

There's so much to see and do in George Town, a capital city with so much history, art, and culture in its beautifully preserved streets. To get the most out of your time here, why not try this private half-day tour, where an expert guide will show you jetties, temples, and give you some top insider tips for the rest of your time in the city. Or, if that's not for you, check out some of the top-rated Viator tours below!

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