According to my experience the capital of Malaysia is one of the most vegetarian friendly cities in the world. When it comes to food, it is also one of the most interesting places where influences from China, India and Malaysia mix and compose amazing fusion cuisine. Moreover people are accustomed to the fact that everyone eats something different and some people have certain food restrictions. Nobody gives you a strange look when you ask for a dish without egg, mayo or other ingredient. Many people from India are vegetarians, Muslims do not eat pork, Chinese on the contrary love pork and all kinds of meat, and all of them co-exist peacefully and happily together.
Let me invite you for a trip to my favorite, when it comes to food experiences, city.
Everyone who knows me knows about my “little” obsession with Indian food. It would be logical to assume that the best Indian food can be found in Brickfields district – so called Little India, but no.. I found the best ever Indian restaurant near the Masjid Jamek station, near one of the cities landmarks – Jamek Mosque.
Sangeetha vegetarian restaurant on Jalan Leboh Ampang serves the best Aloo Gobi – cauliflower with potatoes in spicy gravy that I ever tried in my life, and believe I tried many of them.
Popular breakfast dish is Dosa – very thin “pancake” stuffed with Masala of your choice – potato with onion, spicy cauliflower and few others. It is served with set of fragrant sauce – dahl, coconut sauce, spicy tomato sauce and something green I unfortunately wasn’t able to identify. Yes, after this portion you definitely have enough strength for whole day of sightseeing.
Since I’m not much of a sweet-tooth I tried only few of their impressive desserts. I especially liked the balls made of mashed dates with cashew nuts, almonds, raisins and few other delicious additions.
Fortunately our eating times tend to be a bit peculiar, as during normal lunch or breakfast hours this place is so full that you have to wait in the line to get a table. No wonder.. whether we had a breakfast, lunch or dinner in Sangeetha we never spent more that 10$ for both of us. We always left so full that we kept promising each other that next time we will only take something small and we’re going to share it… yeah right!
I know that every blogger writing about food should be a fan of the street food, yet I used to be a little hesitant to try it, maybe because of few food allergies I have or maybe because I was never sure if what I would eat is really 100% vegetarian.
Anyway I gave it a try and I must tell you that Petaling Street and its’ surroundings should be on the bucket list of every foodie. I didn’t believe there would be vegetarian options in the China Town, where all the restaurants recommend the Chinese style duck, or noodles with chicken and egg, but not the first time in my life and obviously not the last one I was wrong. When you go out of the market from Petaling Street to Jalan Sultan you will see many booths offering wooden sticks with various ingredients. I was happy to see that apart from seafood and meats there was totally separate section with various vegetables.
So all you have to do is take a plate, pick the sticks with ingredients of your choice (young pok choi, broccoli, oyster mushrooms, okra, champignons or others) and take a seat by the table with a hole and pot in the middle. The waiter comes to the table and turns on the gas stove beneath the table, so in a while the water starts to boil. When I said I am a vegetarian the kind waiter immediately changed the water in our pot in case the meat was boiled in it before, it was not a problem at all. I can imagine what kind of look would I get back at home in the same situation… Now you can also order some rice, the sauces are already on the table – hot chilly, spicy peanut and thick, salty soy sauce.
When your vegetables are done – the waiter also gives you advice about it, so that you do not overcook anything – you just take the sticks out of the pot, place the veggies on the rice and pour the sauce on the top. Simple, but so tasty and crispy. And the dips do the job when it comes to seasoning, especially the peanut one is moreish, according to Greg… damn my allergies. After you finish your meal the waiter counts the sticks – different ingredients have different endings that indicate the price – veggies are of course the cheapest 🙂
The next day we felt a bit more adventurous and we decided to eat in a local Chinese restaurant further down Jalan Sultan street. The appearance certainly wasn’t appealing with stained yellow tablecloth put untidily on plastic tables and shaky red stools, but the fact that place was constantly busy with local people convinced us to give it a try. Menu of this place is quite impressive and consists of about 20 pages, one of which is fortunately dedicated to vegetarian food. Once again I forgot to make sure while ordering that my dish, which was Vege Singapore Style Rice Noodles did not contain the egg, and guess what.. Yes, it contained egg. The waitress was however so kind to replace the dish right away, and they didn’t even charge me for the first version.
Next day, as we came back to this place again, I tried the Sweet & Sour Tofu, which was crispy outside while soft inside, and it was seasoned perfectly. What was interesting is the fact that apart from inevitable soy sauce amongst the spices placed on the table you could also find fresh chopped garlic and chilly. The price for the most expensive vegetarian dish was about 2,80 $ and the portion of rice was around 0,50 $ and what is most important – everything was super tasty and left you wondering if maybe you still have some space in your stomach to try something more.
I’m not a fan of the markets like the one on Petaling Street, but we passed it few times on our way to Jalan Sultan. In one of the Chinese Rastaurants in the middle of the market I saw something that caught my eye – the stove with glass windows with weird bun-like shapes inside. It reminded me of the special steam-cooked dumplings that we prepare back at home in Poland, so I decided I must try them. When I came closer I realized they have the stuffing inside and several of them were vegetarian. I ordered Vege Bun and Red Beans Bun. The dough was very soft and tasty, but to my surprise it was a little sweet, even in the Vege Bun, which turned out to contain slightly spicy cabbage with mushrooms. The Red Beans Bun was a surprise too, as the stuffing was a dark, very sweet mash that looked like a jam – I guess that’s just not what I expected from the beans. Well, travelling teaches us a lot, and one of those things are certainly new flavor combinations – especially when you visit different continents.
There are also countless exotic fruits you can buy from the stalls on the markets and along roads: mango, rambuteen, infamous durian, which you can smell from far far away, various types of bananas and citruses. One thing is sure – vegetarians will not stay hungry in Kuala Lumpur.
If you enjoyed it please also check what veggies can eat in Bali 🙂