Over the years, plant-based diets have evolved from being stodgy to sensational. In fact, veganism is reported to be the biggest food trends of 2018, according to a research by international food delivery service, Just Eat. And with the rise of ‘healthy eating’, consumers are looking for more diverse, healthy, gluten-free and plant-based vegan or vegetarian options.
Veganism is also associated with aspirational living. Vegan celebrities paved the way for this growing food trend as the likes of Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Liam Hemsworth and Jared Leto have made headlines about how veganism has changed their life.
In Malaysia, people who are vegan or with other dietary preferences might find eating a complete balanced meal difficult. From delicious street food to the irresistible nasi lemak, the ubiquitous love for every flavour possible in a single dish is something we struggle to give up, especially for health junkies and those seeking a change of lifestyle.
Vegan food is not just a boring, tasteless bowl of salad. It is experimental and creative; offering robust flavours and health benefits from a complex mix of ingredients and fresh produce. Grains, beans, root vegetables and herbs are used to introduce a great amount of fibre, vitamins and nutrients into a wholesome vegetarian meal.
We are not asking you to give up your meats, eggs and butter completely. But sometimes it is good to enjoy an alternative dining experience where you can actually taste the freshness and sweetness of vegetarian food. If you’re curious or planning to embrace a plant-based lifestyle, here are nine vegetarian restaurants in KL to get you started (and which your carnivore friends will love too).
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Indian cuisine is commonly associated with a vegetarian meal. Here, you can expect a unique take on the Gujarati cooking that has a very subtle taste; distinct from other Indian cuisines. The traditional thali comprises of roti, dhal, rice and a myriad choice of dishes – all available during their all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet on Sundays. The restaurant uses a great selection of ingredients to add depth to the typical vegetarian dishes. If you’re up for something different, sample the interesting taste of Indian spices when they are not cooked with proteins.
Ganga Cafe, 19 Lorong Kurau, Taman Bukit Pantai, Kuala Lumpur, 59100, Malaysia, +603 2282 2119.
If you think vegetarian dishes don’t make you full, think again. Rawsome offers hearty options chock full of fresh ingredients and a variety of grains for a fulfilling meal. Choose from at least 14 meat-free bowls with a choice of brown rice with quinoa, cauliflower rice or soba. Their version of nasi lemak comprises of coconut oil-infused quinoa, piquant chia seed sambal, and a healthy mix of raw vegetables and nuts (for that extra crunch). The BBQ tofu is also a treat – beautifully charred and perfectly paired with quinoa, hard-boiled egg (optional) and a side of greens. For small treats, try their colourful selection of chia seed puddings.
Rawsome, 7 Jalan Riong, Bangsar, 59000 KL, +6012 683 4943.
Goodness Greens offers yummy guilt-free meals for herbivores with its vegetarian and vegan food items. Get your healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients with their smoothie bowls that come in a variety of flavours and fresh ingredients from berries, tropical fruits, veggies and nuts. If you don’t feel like eating anything too heavy, these delicious smoothies are perfect as a meal on its own.
Goodness Greens TTDI, 32 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, +6018-368 3320
The combination of fresh plant-based ingredients with Mexican flavours is truly something you should at least try once. From burritos to tacos, pick your favourite filling that features classic Mexican choices including mushrooms, pico de gallo (a type of refreshing salsa), sweet beans and jalapeno. Try their vegan chili made with beans, lentils, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, vegan sour cream and cheese; served with a side of plantain crisps. Satisfy your sweet cravings with Sala’s vegan peanut butter and salted caramel brownie that is utterly moist and perfect for indulging.
Sala Mexican Vegan Restaurant, A-G-03A Galeria Hartamas, No. 21, Jalan 26a/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, +6012 391 8430
Tucked in uptown Bangsar, Ashley’s delivers one of the most unpretentious healthy plant-based meals with a great selection of gluten-free and dairy-free choices. Expect nothing less than interesting ingredients cooked creatively and in the most unexpected ways. They are not purely vegan (Ashley’s serves meat too) but their vegetarian meals are cooked separately and guarantee uncompromised flavours and freshness. First timers should try their Veggie Loaf and the Living Enchilada.
Ashley’s by Living Food, 11, GF Jalan Telawi 3, 59100 Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur, +6017 325 3663
If you fancy something more refined and different, Barat Mediterranean is the place to be. Redefining Western vegetarian dishes with Mediterranean flavours, savour the freshness of local produce including their cool Watermelon Gazpacho in a beautifully designed space. Besides a wide selection of tapas (perfect for sharing), sink your teeth in the yummy Golden Fried Cheese served with an aromatically spiced apple jam. For sweets, be sure to order the Peaches and Redcurrant in Brandy for its caramelised peach slices with bittersweet undertones.
Barat Mediterranean, 19 Lorong Kurau, Taman Bukit Pantai, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, +6010 288 2654
Everyone is looking for healthy vegan meals – free from MSG, excess salt and preservatives – but still falling under the ‘comfort food’ category. At Chef Low Organic Kitchen, you can sit back and enjoy a wide range of Asian dishes using organic tofu, fresh greens, brown rice and root veggies. Perfect for families and large groups, the restaurant offers unmistakable flavours that are as good as your usual meat dishes. (Credit: mostlyamelie.com)
Chef Low Organic Kitchen, C-G-43, Block Camilia, 10 Boulevard Sprint Highway, 47400 PJ, Selangor, +603 7725 7154
WTF is famed for their extensive menu but their signature sizzler platters — especially the Tava Masala Sizzler is highly recommended. If you’re not sure of what to order, take a chance at their ‘Something’, ‘Anything’ or ‘Everything’ – a house surprise of selected dishes of the day prepared by the cooks.
WTF, 8 Lorong Maarof, 59100 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, +6019 261 7070
If you’re in Mont Kiara, step into Real Food for a delightful treat of creative all-time favourites including pizza, burgers and cakes – all plant-based but packed with protein and healthy goodness. The thin-crust organic pizza comes with vibrant peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms. Fill the tummy with their signature lentil quinoa burger that is nicely glazed on the outside and flavourful throughout. Finish it off with their famous vegan-friendly blueberry cheesecake.
Real Food, G-11, 1 Mont Kiara, No. 1 Jalan Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, +603 6211 9078