Veggie dining in Malaysia

I mentioned in my catch up post that I'd spent some time in Asia. Eating. and eating. and eating.
I had been assured that eating vegetarian in Asia wouldn't be that difficult because of the large numbers of buddhists. Buddhists eat vegetarian, so I'd just have to find out where they were eating. Although I was able to find a couple of all-vegetarian restaurants, most of the food I ate was just vaguely vegetarian. Green beans with bacon bits for example. They were at every Chinese restaurant we went to. Even Thai restaurants were difficult. Here in the states, Thai is one of my fall backs. I can order almost everything with tofu or just extra veggies. Not in China. Everything has meat and tofu was almost unheard of in these restaurants. I did have to do a fair bit of eating around the meat. In the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, we went to a Charcoal Steamboat restaurant (I've heard it is called Hot Pot elsewhere, though the photos I find for hot pot don't look like the charcoal steamboat). This blog post shows the charcoal steamboat (might have even been in the same restaurant!) As you can see, you put all of the meat and veggies into the broth and let it cook (I'll say it's an asian version of fondue). I was able to eat the bok choy and other greens, eggs and noodles, but it had all cooked with the meat as well. Not something I would eat in the states or if there were other options available. This was pretty typical in terms of eating around the meat.

So here is a short recap of dining in Malaysia.
Street food on Petaling Street was amazing. (Petaling Street is the Chinatown type area of Kuala Lumpur) So many amazing fruits. Including the rambutan:
Rambutan, dragon fruit, mango, jackfruit, melon, but no durian :-) Maybe its too smelly for street vendors. There were also folks selling meat on a stick, but why bother with that when you have such amazing fruits!
I did manage to find a buddhist restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. This is the best non-obtrusive shot my friend Nicole could get.
So here is the food. Everything in this restaurant is designed to look and taste like meat while remaining completely vegetarian. Not my idea of the best intent of vegetarian food (why pretend to be meat when veggies and fruits are so good?!), but this food was pretty good. There on my plate and on the silver platter was the fish. Tofu wrapped in seaweed and steamed with a very fishy sauce. In the brown sauce on the banana leaf was the "mutton" curry. In my opinion, the best on the table. The curry flavor was amazing! The "mutton" was bean curd. In the middle of the picture on the white plate with broccoli was the Chinese chicken dish. It was pretty good as well.

These two pictures show the difficulty with meat again, this time at an Indian restaurant for breakfast. The top photo with the dish which looks like a tortilla (Roti Chennai) was pretty good. One is able to specify the requested ingredients, I believe this day I had onion. It is served with lentils. Both good, vegetarian dishes. But the star as I'm led to believe is the platter in the top of the first photo, Nasi Lemak. Rice, roasted peanuts and a tomato/onion stew. Of course, the peanuts and stew are cooked with fish. Eat around it or not eat it at all?

I do have to say that Malaysia features some amazing beverages. After going to see the fireflies in the coastal Kuala Selangor area, we stopped for a drink/late dinner. The whole trip, I enjoyed tea, coffee, tea, fruit pulp drinks and...more tea! It was an amazing place.

On our way up to the Cameron Highlands, we stopped at rest area for a stretch of the legs and a snack. I certainly was spoiled with tea and snacks on a daily basis. I loved the snacks made with sticky rice and glutinous rice flour like those in the foreground here. Though in the background, you can see the other snacks offered: fish with chili sauce. No getting around it, but I'll stick with the veggie sweets!
And of course, durian is vegetarian, though not for everyone. This road side stand had fresh durian and the man cracked it open for us and we started in. I have to admit it did not smell nearly as bad as I'd expected! Though, the flavor was not to my liking. Fruits which taste milky apparently aren't my style.

Next post, veggie dining in China!


  1. FYI there are more than 1 veggie restaurants in KL, i have a list of at least four of them in the city .I just only took you to one because IMO the most unique food happened to be non vegetarian, and you said you would venture into meat for your trip so i didnt want you to miss out on them.

  2. of course there is more than one veggie restaurant in KL! your parents were fantastic in humoring me for that one night :-) we can't all eat vegetarian all the time!

  3. I'm envious you got to try Durian!

    Also that res taunt looks really intriguing- I'm glad I got the experience vicariously!

  4. willerbee, did you get to try durian when you were in china? i didn't see any in china, just in malaysia. do they have it there?

    have you had durian? weird....


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