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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Apr 11, 2023

First up on our travels through Malaysia was Penang. We headed to George Town, where we had an incredible few days checking out the local street art scene! So much of the graffiti is interactive, and many of them are really famous too. We loved that you never knew what would be around the corner - and for me, the fact that so many of the murals were of cats was an added bonus! We found the city to be super friendly - the tourist areas are pretty busy most of the time, and there's loads of really convenient places to stay so you're never too far away from the top things to see!

But one of the best things about Penang was the food. Surprisingly to us, the western favourite panang curry actually has nothing to do with Penang, the Malaysian state. But our dreams of tasting a famous local curry were not to be destroyed by this revelation, not at all! Because Penang is home to the famous Malaysian delicacy, Curry Mee: and of course, while we were in the city, we had to find and try a vegan version!

So tell us, what exactly is Curry Mee?

In its most simple form, Curry Mee is a spicy noodle soup. There are a few versions of Curry Mee in Southeast Asia - from the two neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Singapore. Penang is famous for its Curry Mee, with the capital city - George Town - being a real hub for this dish. The locals here love Curry Mee, and people travel from far and wide to try the dish here, in the city that does it best.

But what actually is it? Curry Mee uses rice vermicelli noodles in a coconut milk broth, along with a big dollop of sambal for that spicy kick. The dish always contains at least eight different spices. Although that sounds so far like it would be suitable for vegetarians and vegans, the toppings that are usually used make it most certainly not so! Typically, a traditional Curry Mee might be served with toppings including chicken, prawn, egg, lard, cockles, and even pig blood curd. The authentic recipe does also include vegan toppings of green beans, beansprouts and tofu too, but it is rare to find a version that omits the animal products entirely.

Obviously we were not going to try traditional, animal-based Curry Mee, but we also didn't want to leave George Town without trying the city's famous dish: so we set our sights on finding an entirely plant-based Curry Mee.

Where did we try vegan Curry Mee in Penang?

We headed to Pinxin Vegan Cuisine, an upmarket vegan restaurant located in George Town. This restaurant feels so warm and welcoming: their decor is fancy, but the leafy plants, soft lighting, golden accents and wooden details make it feel really inviting and cosy too. They've got lots of inspiring decals on their walls too, which entertained us as we were looking around!

We were really impressed by Pinxin's big menu of fully vegan meals: they have nasi lemak, lots of noodle, rice and soup dishes, specialities and snacks - and some incredible looking desserts. If we had had more time, we would have loved to sample more things across their menu! Another great thing is their ordering system: all you need to to is log onto their wi-fi (if you don't have Malaysian mobile data), scan the QR code and order directly from the menu. We ordered two portions of their Fiery Curry Mee, two free filtered waters, and a couple of iced teas too. Our orders were delivered quickly - and the staff were so friendly and kind, we really enjoyed talking to them after our meal!

So come on - tell us all about the Curry Mee! How did it taste?

This Fiery Curry Mee really lived up to its name: we were pleased to have that free filtered water because our mouths absolutely were on fire!

The dish was similar to the laksa that we tried in Singapore but more savoury. You could definitely tell that the dish was coconut milk based; it had some of the flavours common in a Thai red curry too, but it was a lot more flavoursome! The sambal (a spicy paste commonly added on the side of Malaysian dishes for an additional spice infusion) added more heat, but if you don't want this extra spice you could always spoon it out!

The Curry Mee was full of soft noodles, spongy tofu, and crunchy veggies: along with the creamy broth this made for a really delicious combination of textures that kept the dish exciting all the way to the very last mouthful! The tofu was some of the best that we've ever had - I was so sad once I'd finished all of my tofu that Mike gave me some of his too! The mushrooms were a little chewy, but that's just because we're used to western style closed cup mushrooms - but overall the vegetables tasted so fresh, crisp and flavoursome, and the mild flavour and delicate crunch of the beansprouts added something really special to this dish.

How much did this plant-based Curry Mee cost - and was it worth it?

Two vegan summer rolls with a slice of vegan sausage visible, with a dish of peanut dipping sauce in the background
Can you tell how spicy this is from the photo?

We paid RM19 per portion of Fiery Curry Mee: this is approximately £3.45, €3.96 or $4.31. We thought this was a really reasonable price for a dish with so many components, and so much flavour. I would pay that again just for that delicious tofu! It also felt quite cheap for such a beautiful, upmarket-looking restaurant: usually you pay a premium for vegan restaurants, and this one was one of the fanciest in Penang! We would really recommend paying them a visit!

Pinxin Vegan Cuisine is located at 38, Lebuh Tye Sin, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. The restaurant is open every day from 11am to 9pm.

Have you tried vegan Curry Mee in Malaysia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
George Town has surprises around every corner!

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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