Penang, an island situated north of Malaysia (approximately 4 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur) often tops the list for must-try foods. Foodies, families, friends and tourists often travel from far and wide to tuck into popular local favourites such as Char Kuey Teow, Asam Laksa and more!
They sure score high on tastiness and flavour but health-wise, let’s just say that there are healthier options on the island. PurelyB recently went on a hunt for healthy places you could enjoy eating at, so here they are! We’re pretty sure the Penangites would approve!
1. My Armenian Café
This charming café prides itself in offering some vegan dishes including the lemon carrot cake and tofu salad with capsicum and walnuts. Even their beverages have soy options available! Meat eaters, worry not as you may enjoy the healthy chicken and tuna bagels or bacon with their breakfast combo. I had the gluten-free kiwi cheesecake which had a wonderfully creamy texture and a light cocoa powder base. The Mango Tango smoothie was a lovely respite from the overbearing sun, with lip-smacking mango and lime flavours.
Location: 96 & 98, Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown, Penang
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 8:00pm
2. Lily’s Vegetarian Kitchen
You won’t have to miss out on your local favourites as Lily’s Vegetarian Kitchen has them on their menu – ala vegetarian. Dishes they serve include fish head noodles (sounds yummier than its name!), laksa (noodles in a sour-spicy soup - both the Penang & Kelantanese variants), wan tan mee (wonton noodles), bak kut the (typically a meat dish cooked in a broth) and even nasi kandar (local mixed rice)!
I was of course hankering for some good ol’ char kuey teow, which is fried flat noodles. It came dished up spicy, with generous portions of bean sprouts and tofu. Most importantly, the noodles did not lack the wok fragrance that makes all the difference! Should you feel as hungry as a horse, you may even add noodles for just RM 1.50. Lily’s does desserts to complete your meal too. The crowd favourites are the organic tau fu fa (beancurd) and sweet almond tofu.
Location: 98, Noble House, Madras Lane, Georgetown, Penang
Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 9:30 pm (Closed on Mondays)
3. JanxDen Green Life
Located in a house near Gleneagles Hospital, this is a hot spot for the medical staff to have a healthy meal. A lot of unhealthy items are swapped out for healthier alternatives like olive oil instead of canola oil and konyaku jelly instead of gelatin, allowing customers to enjoy these guilt-free!
The mushroom chop, breaded with oats and served with a cream sauce was an indulgent change from the usual salad fanfare. However, I must highlight that their pesto pasta was bursting with fresh basil - every strand of pasta was well-coated with the green pesto. Do try their Pink Summer, which is a refreshing blend of watermelon and lychee.
Apart from that, their recommended dishes are nasi lemak, aglio olio pasta and a range of porridges (oat, green, and pumpkin). When it came to dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed the eggless peach cheesecake. With just the right amount of brown sugar, the tartness of the peach cuts through the creaminess well. The organic black sesame tau fu fa is 100% made in-house, and you can add brown sugar syrup on the side, depending on how sweet you want to go!
Location: 50, Jalan Chow Thye, Georgetown, Penang
Opening Hours: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)
Together with five other associates who are registered Homeopath Therapists and Nutritionists, Tan Yong Jen started Idealite from a home with a main focus on eating healthy and right. Starting out as a shop lot near Gurney Plaza, this chain has expanded to a few locations across the Penang island. There is no mock meat to be found here, instead they explore cuisines with dishes such as curry, pizza and even sushi. They claim their vegetables to be cleaned with an ozone machine. Recommended dishes are eryngii mushroom rice, signature nasi lemak and Hokkaido miso ramen.
27C, Jalan Gottlieb, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia 1-01-05, Ground Floor, E-Gate, Lebuh Tunku Kudin 2, Gelugor, Penang
3F-60, Gurney Plaza, Persiaran Gurney, Penang
9:00 am – 9:30 pm
11:00 am – 10:00 pm
10:00 am – 10:00 pm
5. Sushi Kitchen
Vegan Japanese food with no garlic or onions? Yes, you can find it in Penang! With its traditional tables, one will feel the unique ambience of the restaurant which avoids microwaves, white salt, white sugar, MSG, artificial colouring and preservatives. Notable mentions are the Happy Spicy Noodles, California Roll and Seaweed Fried Rice.
Locations: 2A-1, Jalan.Sungai Ara, Desa Ara Sungai Ara, Bayan Lepas, Penang
11:30am – 8:00pm (Monday – Thursday);
11:30am – 2:00pm; 6:00pm -10:00pm (Friday – Sunday)
(Closed on Tuesdays)