Where to eat vegan versions of your favourite Malaysian dishes

Healthier for you, better for the planet.

Mushroom Lah revamps the beloved rendang dish by using shiitake mushrooms as the main ingredient (Photo: Mushroom Lah)

Numerous food documentaries have lauded the goodness of going vegan as it's more environmentally sustainable since plant-based food systems require fewer resources than those that rely heavily on animal foods. 

While this list is not aimed at making you a convert overnight, it could be starting point for you to simply reduce your dependence on animals as a food source. Perhaps, even you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more delicious and varied your meals will be. 


Nasi Lemak
Eat it at: Sala KL

The idea of a nasi lemak sans crispy ikan bilis seems almost unthinkable. How else would you get that satisfying briny-salty crunch on a plate? The answer is mushroom ‘bilis’. Sala KL takes all the best parts of our national dish — the heat from the spicy sambal as well as fragrant coconut rice — and turns it into a staple you can indulge in without guilt. Although the dish lacks the requisite hard-boiled egg, the Tex-mex restaurant — which just opened a new outlet at The Row — makes up for it with spicy tempe and long beans for a slightly more balanced meal. 

A-G-3A Galeria Hartamas, No 21, Jalan 26a/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, KL. 011 1150 3606. Daily, 11am-2pm; 6-10pm. 


Eat it at: The Hungry Tapir

The first vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a full-service bar has been making its rounds on the ‘Gram for being one of the most photogenic dining spots in the city. Apart from camera-friendly aesthetics, the restaurant has a lot going for it, namely inventive and nutritious mains with a local twist. An all-time favourite is the Jungle Laksa, a bowl of rice vermicelli in rich coconut Nyonya broth served with eggplant, beansprouts, tofu puffs, crispy fuchuk and lashings of bunga kantan. It’s a dish that showcases Chef Kenny’s repertoire and culinary background since he comes from a Baba-Nyonya family. 

The Hungry Tapir, 135, Jalan Petaling, KL. 03 2022 2137. Sun, Tues-Thurs, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 11am-12am.


Tom Yum
Eat it at: Kanteen

It’s easy to overlook Kanteen’s plant-based menu since the restaurant is known for its hearty Big Breakfast, chicken chop and burgers after all. However, vegans can now look forward to an array of dining options including mac and cheese, char kuey teow and even quinoa nasi lemak. A specialty that should not be missed here is the vegan tom yum, which still entices with a rich, belly-warming broth suffused with lime and spices that will leave a tingle in your throat. For a cooling antidote, don’t leave the restaurant without sampling their Strawberry & Cream waffle. 

Various locations including Mont’Kiara Banyan, Lot GF2, No 28, Jalan Kiara, KL. 03 6206 2017. Daily, 8am-8pm.


Eat it at: The Ganga Café

Cooked with a blend of aromatic spices, biryani is a flavourful rice dish that's often loaded with marinated chicken, mutton or beef. The folks at Ganga Café have successfully made a meat-free version — a popular choice among herbivores visiting the vegetarian restaurant — but they are more than happy to accommodate your vegan requests. In fact, many of their Indian dishes are already or can be made vegan. If you’re looking for snacks, we highly recommend the crispy pani poori or vegan samosa, which is stuffed to the brim with spiced potato. 

19, Lorong Kurau, Bangsar KL. Whatsapp Sumon at 0169787001 for takeaways or delivery.  


Eat it at: Mushroom Lah

The rendang we all know and love (not the crispy kind) usually incorporates meat — most commonly beef or chicken — that is slow cooked in coconut milk and infused with rich spices. Mushroom Lah revamps this beloved staple by using shiitake mushrooms as the main ingredient, resulting in a rich, vegan-friendly dish that pairs incredibly well with steamed rice, ketupat or even congee. The rendang can be purchased in 250g to 4kg portions or for a limited time only, with a side of lemang by The Lemang Tong. Delivery is done on a weekly basis and slots get booked quickly, so place your orders early.

Whatsapp Aisya at 0103881770 to order.


Siew Pau
Eat it at: Loving Café

Veganising the well-loved siew pau or baked BBQ bun is no easy feat, but Loving Café may have cracked the code. Generously filled with juicy and flavourful BBQ vegetarian meat and encased in a buttery, flaky pastry, the vegan restaurant’s siew pau is 100% plant-based. Made fresh daily by Loving Café’s in-house pastry chef, these savoury buns are perfect for a midday pick-me-up or when you’re on the go. The restaurant also sells vegan cakes and other baked goods in addition to plant-based meals. 

23, Jalan 13/149l, Bandar Baru, Sri Petaling, KL. Whatsapp Chan at 0123138221 for takeaways or delivery. 



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