Vegan Guide to Malaysia

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OCTOBER 2022: Due to COVID we were unable to travel for nearly two years, which means it’s been impossible to update our vegan travel guides. Therefore we cannot be sure if the below restaurants are still open, so please contact them directly to check. As travel has now restarted we will be updating guides accordingly, but in the meantime please check out the excellent HappyCow, which you can find via the link at the bottom of this vegan guide.

Published April 2015

Here’s our Vegan Guide to Malaysia, a country with a fabulous mix of cultures where the food has influences from India, China and Europe creating some of the best vegan food in the world. We’ve spent a lot of time in Malaysia on our Vegan Food Quest to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world, mainly because it’s a total paradise for the food loving vegan traveller. If you’re looking for good vegan food in Malaysia and you can’t visit everywhere then our Vegan Food Quest top places to visit for exciting vegan food are Georgetown in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka (but the rest of the country is awesome too!).

Nasi Lemak

‘Nasi Lemak’ is Malaysia’s national dish and it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Translated ‘nasi lemak’ means ‘fatty rice’, not an appetising name, but it comes from the rice in this dish which is soaked in coconut milk before being steamed (and anyone who’s tried it will tell you it’s delicious!). The vegan version consists of rice, fried peanuts, cucumber, spicy tomato and chilli ‘sambal’ (tomatoes and chillies cooked and pounded together to make a spicy condiment) and vegetable side dishes or curries. Vegan variations can mainly be found in specialist restaurants but we also found a hawker stall in Malaka that did a vegan version and street vendors who were happy to just sell us the vegan parts of the dish without the animal products.

Vegan Food Quest favourite places for Nasi Lemak? Simple Life in Kuala Lumpur and Yummy Garden, our favourite food court in Malaysia (Jalan Ujong Pasir, Melaka).

vegan nasi lemak where the rice is cooked with turmeric, served with 5 spice braised tofu
vegan nasi lemak in Malaysia

Nasi Campur

Another dish found everywhere in Malaysia is ‘Nasi Campur’ (pronounced ‘nasi champur’), which translated means ‘mixed rice’, nasi campur restaurants are everywhere and the food on offer is displayed ‘buffet style’ where you can see and select what you want. You just have a look at what’s on offer, request steamed rice and either help yourself to dishes or someone will do it for you. You pay for what you eat and the vegan options are often the cheapest which makes it a great budget option.

Vegan Food Quest favourite place for Nasi Campur? Restoran Syed Ali (a 24 hour restaurant in Mersing, the jump off town for Tioman island).

vegan nasi campur restaurant in Mersing


No cuisine guide about Malaysia would be complete without mentioning laksa, a spicy noodle soup with ‘tofu puffs’ floating around. We had to find a vegetarian restaurant in order to get a vegan version of this in Malaysia and when we tasted it we were hooked. It’s one of those dishes with many regional varieties and secret recipes that have been handed down through generations so it often tastes different depending on where you eat it. The best we tried was tangy, sour, creamy, rich and spicy hot with chillies all at the same time, with hearty noodles and little tofu sponges soaking up the delicious soup, sometimes there’s even a few sprigs of fresh mint in there. Vegan Laksa really is vegan food from the gods.

Vegan Food Quest favourite places for Laksa are Be Lohas at KLIA2 (they have a branch in Kuala Lumpur too), Veggie Planet in Melaka, Water Lily Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

vegan laksa in Malaysia

Tahu Sumbat

‘Tahu Sumbat’ means ‘stuffed tofu’ and is a tasty little street food that you’ll find if you wander around markets and food courts; it’s made from fried tofu cubes which are then sliced open and stuffed with sliced cucumber and bean sprouts then drizzled with spicy chilli sauce.

Vegan Food Quest favourite place for ‘Tahu Sumbat’? our favourite food court in Malaysia called  Yummy Garden Food Court, Jalan Ujong Pasir, Melaka.

Tahu sumbat, or stuffed tofu in Malaysia

Indian food

It’s fair to say that when in Malaysia, we’ve eaten some of the best Indian food we’ve ever had, thanks to the well established Indian communities that can be found in places like Georgetown in Penang, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur. They all have ‘Little India’ areas of town where you can go and seek out a great vegan meal.

Banana Leaf Curries

Anywhere serving good ‘Banana Leaf Curries’ where you can get a banana leaf piled high with steamed rice, dhal and vegetable curries as well as poppadum and cucumber salad is to be cherished in our book.

Vegan Food Quest go to place for a banana leaf curry? Selvam Restoran in Melaka.

anana leaf piled high with tasty, spicy curries


Dosas are light, crispy pancakes made from fermented rice flour, filled with a spiced semi-mashed potato filling, served with sambar (lentil stew) and coconut chutney. Eat them morning, noon and night and don’t be shy with that delicious coconut chutney, spiced with curry leaves and mustard seeds. We could happily eat a masala dosa every day for the rest of our lives and never get bored of them.

Vegan Food Quest favourite spots for dosa are Woodlands Restaurant in Georgetown, Selvam Restoran in Melaka and Saravanaa Bhavan in Kuala Lumpur.

vegan Southern Indian Masala Dosa in Malaysia

Parippu Vadai

Parippu vadai are deep fried lentil cakes spiced with curry leaves, chilli and other spices. A popular Indian snack food often sold on the street, it’s common to find these vegan treats in Malaysia too (and common to find us stuffing our faces full of them if we see them).

Vegan Food Quest favourite place to score some parippu vadai? Just wander around Little India in Georgetown, Penang or Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur or go to Selvam Restoran in Melaka.

deep fried lentil cakes spiced with curry leaves, chilli and other spices


Popiah are spring rolls (either fried) or fresh, wrapped in a wheat flour pancake; it’s amazing to watch people making the fresh popiah ‘skins’. They are one of our favourite snacks and easily made vegan because you can see what’s being put in them and ask for any of the non-vegan ingredients to be left out (usualy egg, shrimp or meat or even lard, but also check any sauces that are added). The tastiest we had were filled with chilli sauce, hoisin sauce, lettuce, tofu, minced garlic, bean sprouts and stewed jicama (a delicious sweet turnip, but do check it hasn’t been cooked in any animal fat).

Vegan Food Quest favourite popiah? You’ll have to get off the beaten track and go to the local night market in Ujong Pasir, Melaka to find Baba Charlie Nyonya Kuih.

vegan popiah in Malaysia
Popiah are filling, delightful pancake rolls which can be made vegan

Mock Meat

Most places where there is a Chinese-Malay Buddhist population have an all vegan restaurant serving up mock meat versions of local dishes. You can find meat-free versions of Malaysian cuisine made with mock meat and tofu in abundance, as well as lots of spiced vegetable dishes, rice and noodles. No need to worry about any meat here and they’re usually really cheap too.

Vegan Food Quest favourite mock meat restaurant? Fu Guang Vegetarian Restaurant in the Cameron Highlands.

Mock meat vegan satay in Malaysia
Buddhist vegan buffet in Malaysia


‘Ondeh-Ondeh’ are little glutinous rice flour dumplings filled with ‘gula Melaka’, a dark palm sugar that turns into a delicious, runny treacle when the dumplings are cooked. After the dumplings are boiled in water, they are rolled in fresh coconut, all ready for you to pop into your mouth and wait for the explosion of warm treacly sweetness. Slightly chewy on the outside with an explosion of runny, treacly like paln sugar in the middle; we can’t resist eating ondeh-ondeh when we find them.

Vegan Food Quest favourite place for ondeh-ondeh? Baba Charlie Nyona Kuih at the night market in Ujong Pasir are the best but wander around Jonker Street market and you’ll find them too (although more expensive and not quite as good as Baba Charlie’s).

rice flour dumplings rolled in fresh coconut

Goreng Piseng

Fried food is never too far away from us here at the Vegan Food Quest and ‘Goreng Pisang’, or deep fried banana fritters often find their way to our mouths when we’re in Malaysia. Made with a batter of flour and water, these little fritters are really crunchy on the outside with sweet, soft banana on the inside. It’s great to watch them being cooked in huge vats and then eating them straight away when they are hot!

deep fried banana fritters


Another national obsession (just who does serve the best cendol in Malaysia?) ‘Cendol’ (pronounced ‘chen-dol’) is made from stewed, sweetened kidney beans, pandan flavoured glutinous rice noodles, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup which is all served over shaved ice, it has to be eaten to be believed and is seriously delicious.

Vegan Food Quest favourite place to get cendol? oooh I’ts a tough one! There’s a little cafe at 2 Lebuh Armenian opposite the famous ‘kids on bicycle street art’, we loved the cendol here and it was a great place to watch the world go by.

cendol is a must try vegan dessert if you visit Malaysia

Vegan Friendly Luxury Hotels and Resorts in Malaysia

Check out these ‘tried and tested’ vegan friendly luxury hotels and resorts in Malaysia that one of our team has stayed at. Each of them understood our request for plant based food and ensured that our experience as vegan guests was very enjoyable. We would always recommend contacting your hotel or resort in advance to advise them of your dietary choice, and then to follow this up upon check in by asking to speak with either the restaurant manager or member of the F&B team.

DoubleTree Johor Bahru
DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur
aerial view of swimming pool at Four Seasons Langkawi
Four Seasons Langkawi
Modern and glass fronted lap pool at Hotel Penaga
Hotel Penaga
One of the two pools at PARKROYAL Penang Resort
Park Royal Penang Resort
Renaissance Johor Bahru
The Danna
aerial view of The Westin Langkawi
The Westin Langkawi

Vegan Food Quest in Malaysia


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  1. Danial Ariff April 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Coming from a Malaysian, I never realized we had a good number of vegan options & they still look delicious to me!

    • Caryl April 16, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Thanks Daniel – that’s such a compliment as I feel like we’ve done vegan Malaysian food real justice! It really is an awesome country with some awesome food… just love it there. You have any top recommendations for visiting Malaysia?

      • Danial Ariff April 24, 2015 at 10:13 am - Reply

        You have the usual suspects like KL, Penang, Melaka, Cameron Highlands and the East Coast island but I did write about five alternative travel destinations in Malaysia if you feel like being a bit more adventurous.

        Do check it out!

        • PAUL April 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm - Reply

          HI Daniel
          Just had a look at your post and will certainly check out Balik Pulau next time in Penang!

        • Lea July 29, 2022 at 2:29 pm - Reply

          Wow so cool thank you :).
          We are planing to visit malaysia in october.
          Not sure about weather and where to go. We have to check
          Did you visit once in october?

          Where where the best places to eat vegan food. Did you find everywhere something?

          You know a spiritual area where is a lot of yoga, kirtan and things like that?

          Your blog is so intresting. Thank you

          • Vegan Food Quest August 3, 2022 at 9:20 am

            hi Lea. apologies for the delayed response, we’ve been ‘on the road’ for the last month in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Thank you for your kind comment about our blog, it’s always lovely to get positive feedback…We have bene in Malaysia during October a number of times and the weather is fine with mostly clear skies and no rain. This can vary of course, especially depending on your plans. In fact, we will be in Malaysia end of September, start of October ourselves, in Kuala Lumpur and Penang which are both super vegan friendly and two of our fav spots. KL has everything you would expect from a huge cosmopolitan city, whilst Penang (Georgetown specifically) boasts multiple culinary influences and you’ll find excellent vegan options there too! Safe travels and stay in touch, let us know what you decide and how you get on?

      • kyh September 11, 2019 at 3:20 pm - Reply

        That nasi campur with brinjals and sambal – be careful that sambal usually contains belacan (shrimp paste), and you would have to visit vegetarian stores for sambal without belacan.

        • Vegan Food Quest September 12, 2019 at 11:08 am - Reply

          thank you for your advice re belacan. it’s something we are aware of but it sometimes difficult to find restaurants that don’t use it. som even use a veggie belacan now which is amazing!

  2. Victoria April 30, 2015 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Oh man! I LOVED Parippu vadai! Also the deep fried banana in almost every SEA country is my go-to treat. 🙂

    • Vegan Food Quest May 1, 2015 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      hi victoria – you’re so right about vadai, they are just delicious and we can’t get enough of them! love the fried bananas to, in fact, anything fried and vegan is pretty good! we just have to limit our intake of friend snacks as i’m sure you will understand!

      happy travels 🙂

  3. Smitha March 2, 2017 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Going to Malaysia kl double tree next week and I will surely make a note of the names of vegan foods..was wondering if I will have to go raw. Now this blog seems promising. Do we get lemons ?

    • Vegan Food Quest March 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

      There’s plenty of cooked vegan food in KL as well as some great raw options. Not sure what you mean by your lemons question – sorry! Happy vegan travels 🙂

  4. Sea March 7, 2017 at 3:39 am - Reply

    thank you for this post! I was thinking of travelling to Malaysia and it’s a relief that there are vegan options that are easy to come by. It really puts me at ease knowing I won’t starve haha

    • Vegan Food Quest March 7, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      You definitely won’t stave in Malaysia – especially in KL, Georgetown and Melaka – these are the places where we found the best vegan food!
      Thanks for commenting, we’d love to know if you discover anything else during your trip so stay in touch.
      Happy Vegan Travels
      Caryl x

  5. Rishi Agarwal May 27, 2019 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    No proper vegetarian food available in Malaysia.

    • Vegan Food Quest May 28, 2019 at 2:47 am - Reply

      We are sorry but we do not understand your comment?
      There is vegan and vegetarian food everywhere in Malaysia…

  6. Ally August 13, 2019 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Love this blog. Honestly shows many people do care about the plant! And also my vegan tummy won’t go empty now when in Malaysia. Thanks

    • Vegan Food Quest August 14, 2019 at 1:45 am - Reply

      Thank you for loving our blog Ally! It’s great to hear from our readers that they enjoy what we create. You certainly won’t go hungry in Malaysia, there are lots of options especially in KL and Penang!!!

  7. Arbaz January 3, 2020 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    thanks for this post! I was considering venturing out to Malaysia and it’s a help that there are veggie lover choices that are anything but difficult to get a hold of. It truly comforts me knowing

  8. Geetha January 8, 2020 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Lots of vegan options these days, not when we were growing up in KL 35 years ago. But I am now a plant based chef and on a quest to include malaysian dishes veganized and at the same time making them as healthy as possible.

    • Vegan Food Quest January 10, 2020 at 12:49 am - Reply

      Hello Geetha. We just checked out the menus on your website and we’re hungry now! Keep up the good work…The change worldwide has been amazing especially in the last 5 years. We are big fans of Kl and have visited since 2001, the vegan options make it even more appealing now…

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