Posted by: Carolyn ODonnell | May 19, 2012

George Town: Lean, green, nourishing machine

Looks good, doesn’t it? Just like meat!

Noodles can make me sleepy, and sometimes I don’t want any gristly surprises, so that’s when I go in search of vegetables. They are good, mostly green in every way and your insides are grateful for them. We should all eat more vegetables. Yes, that means you, tubby unhealthy person waddling into KFC.

For a few months I have been rigorously testing the products at Ee Beng Vegetarian Food in George Town. Actually there is nothing rigorous about it, I’ve been hugely busy with vast tracts of copy and vastly lazy on the cooking and feeding front.

Ee Beng has stopped me from dying of malnutrition. Almost every day I eat there for lunch, and bring a little packed something home for supper. They have so many choices, you can do that. There is a steady stream of customers, some eating in, others appearing with plastic bags or tiffin boxes or Tupperware to scoop up some broccoli or crunchy soy nutty bits or mushroom protein chunks in sweet and sour sauce from the vegetarian buffet.

Enough choices to satisfy the most rabid carnivore

There are all kinds of clever dishes for the meatsick – ‘porklike’ slices in chilli, roast ‘fish’ and ‘drumsticks’. I’m a big fan of the fresh spinach, the aubergine/bean curry and eggy rolls in the sauce of the day. Then there is the tofu, small bits with veg, bigger chunks, large squares and huge triangles.

I tend to skip the rice, though around lunchtime intestinally friendly brown rice may be served, and there are noodles and soups if desired. A meal usually costs me around RM3, and in terms of nutrition for the price I haven’t found better value in Penang. Although there is a guy up the street selling chicken samosas from a cart if it’s all too healthy.

Full of plant material and virtue however, I feel entitled to another ice coffee, or perhaps some chocolate (but I’m keeping that to myself).

The Hokkien lessons aren’t going terribly well, but we’re still cheery

With a view to being even more robust and vital, health conscious, drinks containing pink guava, mulberry cholophyll and ginseng are available. The aloe vera juice was finished, so today I had Lo Hong Ko (home made, no colouring, RM1.60), which I’m told is a herbal tea. It was cold and sweet with a slight medicinal flavour, the chorophyll, amazingly for Malaysia, has no sugar in it at all.

Started 20 years ago by the Lim family, this is a friendly place. One of the cheery hostesses is trying to teach me Hokkien, and I can say hello, thank you, and recognise the word for three. Luckily I am better at eating than I am at linguistics.

Ee Beng Vegetarian Food
7am-8pm, Monday to Saturday
20 Lebuh Dickens
(04) 262 9161

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