The “Dietary-Preferences​”​ Component in Malaysia

I’ve been looking forward to Malaysia and Malaysian food. Malaysian food consists of three major cuisines: Malay, Indian and Chinese. I have chosen to structure this post differently compared to the other two about Cambodia and Vietnam. Instead of speaking about food in general I want to look at the three major cuisines one by one and will provide some information about restaurants and their location.

Malay food is not known to be overly vegetarian-friendly but I managed to find some tofu casseroles at a few Nasi Kandar places; buffet-like restaurants with pre-cooked meals. One example is the Waterfall café just outside of the botanical garden in George Town. I counted on having to eat rice only but to my surprise I discovered a tofu casserole here among the only four dishes they served. And let me tell you, it was delicious! Nasi Kandar places can be a little tricky as not all prepare food on the spot. If there is nothing that suits you, you might just have to go to the next place. Otherwise you will have no troubles finding fried rice, rice noodles or egg noodles with or without an additional portion of egg. The major cities are great for people following a plantbased diet, the minor ones and islands maybe not as much but more on that later.

I was thrilled to finally be able to indulge in Indian food and in KL we dove right into it. I don’t think that I have ever eaten as much Indian food in my life. I can barely count the amount of Dosas and Thalis I have gone through during our month in Malaysia. You can find Indian food almost everywhere or at least a part of its cuisine: Roti! Roti Canai is a popular breakfast item or midday snack. You have different fillings that are either savoury or sweet and the savoury ones are served with a meatless curry sauce. If you feel unsure you can always ask wheather the curry sauce contains any animal products but they usually don’t. I had a couple of Roti Canai with egg filling for breakfast. One of our favourites in Malaysia was Masala Dosa, a pancake-like flat, doughy dish made from rice flour and filled with potatoes and lots of spices, often served along three different sauces. This is one of those dishes that both Joel and I could enjoy together. In Geoge Town you can find amazing Indian restaurants as well. Here, I tried a dish called Idly for the first time when eating breakfast at Woodlands in Little India.

Chinese cuisine can be found in major cities or on bigger islands. Due to us staying in China Town in KL we were regular guests at the local food court. I had some soup with rice noodles and tofu there but am not quite certain that it was entirly vegetable based every time. This is actually a problem that you might encounter. Many consider vegetarian soup to be soup that contains vegetables, sometimes an egg but very often chicken powder or chicken broth. The same thing happened to me in George Town where I ordered a vegetarian soup at Red Garden food court. It contained chicken broth. In Sweden I would have returned my order but here it is a little more complicated. Most of the time you don’t want to get into a discussion with locals explaining what a vegetarian soup should contain. I mean, you could do that but I don’t think it would get you anywhere, at least not close to something to eat. You best and safest option is to speak to the staff and if you are not convinced, eat somewhere else. Food courts offer ahuge variety of food and you will probably find falafel or Indian food.

So, in general it has been easy to find food in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and George Town where no trouble at all. It was significantly more complicated on Perhentian Besar and in Kuala Tahan. You do find food and I think it is better in comparison to places in Cambodia and maybe even Vietnam of a similar size. If you are a vegetarian you can eat the usual, speaking fried rice and noodles or omelette. Morover, you can get vegetable curry, roti and vegetable soup. If you are a vegan, I warmely recommend to stock up on dried goods if you know that you are going to a remote area such as Kuala Tahan near the national park Taman Negara. On Perhentian Besar I ate one or two vegetable soups almost every day, sometimes with rice noodles. One place served tofu dishes when we were there: Flora Bay restaurant but this is the most expensive restaurant of those that were open for business. I suppose it might be easier between May and August, when business is in full swing but I would not count on it. Still, the food here was ok in general, but a little underwhelming which consequently led to me not even bothering to snap some pictures.

If you are gluten intolerant and vegan you will do ok, too. Bring some oatmeal (have I mentioned that I love this stuff?) for breakfast. I actually bought some iron supplements in KL because I’m running a little low on that looking at what I’ve eaten during the last couple of weeks. Better safe than sorry, right?

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