On and off, it’s great to stay away from all the rich fatty food and go for a total meatless meal to detoxify the body. Penang may be the food paradise of this region. However, most Penangites are also health conscious in general with more and more healthy cuisine outlets opening up to jump onto the healthy lifestyle trend. One of the latest around town would be the Coya Healthy Cuisine (Vegetarian House). Now, let’s understand a bit more on the differences between vegans and vegetarians. Vegans would eliminate all animal products from their diet which is inclusive of eggs and dairy products. They would also avoid any products made from animals. In general, those following a vegan lifestyle would avoid any products made from animals. On the other hand, we have the Vegetarians who would not consume any meat, fish or poultry but some tend to consume dairy products and eggs. We have the Lacto-Vegetarians whom would consume dairy products but not eggs, the Ovo-Vegetarians whom would consume eggs but not dairy products and the Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians whom would consume both eggs and dairy products. At Coya Healthy Cuisine, they would serve Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian dishes minus the usages of garlic, any bulb or leafy onions or gluten.
The restaurant would serve ala carte dishes as well as set meals for some of the dishes. Here’s how the set meal would look like with a main dishes, a bowl of white rice/noodles, 2 side dishes of the day, one dessert and one glass of traditional drink. There’s also the option of additional RM1.00 to exchange the white rice/noodles with brown rice for any of the meal.
One of their signature dishes would be the Hakka Style Smoked Pork Belly (客家燜腩肉 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set). You would be surprised at how real those pieces of pork belly were with the “fatty” layers. Those layers of “fat” were actually natural konjac flour (konnyaku/蒟蒻) while the “meaty” parts were actually soybean protein with added starch, grain spices, salt, etc. These pork belly pieces together with some Shitake mushrooms had been braised with soy sauce and spices to create that ideal earthly flavored pork belly stew which would be best taken with a hot bowl of steamed rice.
For those who love the taste of ginger and sesame oil, the Salted Vampire (Ginger with Salted Fish/ 姜絲炒咸鱼 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set) would also be nice with a hot bowl of steamed rice. Those little pieces of soy protein made “salted fish” combined with lots of julienned young ginger in soy based gravy with distinctive usage of sesame oil, can be real appetizing, though it might be a bit salty if taken by itself.
You can also try out their healthier version of Minced Meat Rice (素肉醬飯 – RM7.90 for ala-carte/RM12.90 for set). This dish has a bowl of hot steamed rice topped with protein rich “soya meat” cooked with their special sauce and garnished with a variety of fresh vegetables.
Alternatively, you can also opt for their handmade noodles – Xiang Chun Mee (香椿面 – RM7.90 for ala-carte/RM12.90 for set). It had a rather earthly and powdery textured noodles stir with some dark soy sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with some vegetables and soya protein made “barbeque pork (char siew)”.
I got curious when I spotted there was the Lion Heads (獅子頭 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set) in the menu. Lion Head or Lion’s Head as it’s normally known as originated from eastern China. It’s basically big “pork meatballs” cooked in many different styles. At Coya, the “meatballs” were stewed with napa cabbages (大白菜) in a flavorful soup stock made with napa cabbages, some salt and sugar to taste. Miraculously, those impromptu pepped up “meatballs” were delicious. Each deep fried “meatballs” contained frying flour, mashed bean curd, mushroom stems and soy protein. Since the usage of onions is prohibited in their cooking, the “meatballs” though delicious tend to lack a bit of sweetness. It would be great if some finely chopped water chestnuts or jicama be added in for that extra sweetness and crunch.
One unique soup you should take note of is the Night Blooming Cereus Herbal Soup (霸王花炖湯 – RM12.90 for ala-carte/RM18.90 for set). Scientifically known as Epiphyllum or with a common name of Queen of the Night/Dragon Flower, this Dragon Fruit like cactus plant would bloom flowers only at night. According to the Chinese belief, it also symbolizes great fortune. With the right concoction of ingredients, the tasty soup would be great to strengthen the lungs against flu related symptoms. However, this soup is not advisable to be consumed by those with hypertension. This soup had some bean curds, bean curd sticks, Chinese almond and wolfberries.
Another simple yet nourishing soup to have would be the Mint Leaves Egg Soup (薄荷蛋花湯 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set). Mint leaves are great alternative to treat respiratory disorders such as cold, cough and flu related headaches. The soup had some soy protein meatballs slices added in to enhance the flavor more.
For side dishes, you should not miss out their delicious Deep Fried Mushroom (炸香菇 – RM9.90). I find this dish to be rather appetizing considering that the mushroom slices were only dried shitake mushrooms. The chef did a great job in getting the best out of the mushrooms in texture and flavors. The deep fried batter coated mushroom slices were mild crispy with some sweet and sour sauce plus a little sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds. They were awesomely addictive. 🙂
Alternatively, there was also the Devil’s Eggs (魔鬼蛋 – RM4.90 for 3 eggs/RM7.90 for 6 eggs). The spicy curry with high hints of candlenuts, galangal and vinegar usages is from the Eurasian Kristang culinary tradition, a festive dish commonly found in Singapore and Malacca. If you need a hot and spicy punch in your palate of vegetarian dishes, this is one dish you should not miss out.
As for beverages, there are quite a few unique concoctions such as the Olive Tea (橄欖茶 – RM3.90), Mango Lassi (芒果拉西 – RM9.90), CC Lemonade (RM9.90), Carrot Julius (RM9.90), Herbal Mint Tea (薄荷夏枯草 – RM3.90), Nangka (Jackfruit) Lassi (木波羅拉西 – RM10.90) and more. I personally like both the lassi as they have the natural sweetness from the blended fruits and just the right smoothness. On the other hand, the traditional drinks have some unique options. The Olive Tea has the flavors almost similar to dried sour plum and the Herbal Mint Tea was rather refreshing on a hot day.
Overall, the dishes served here are more creative and flavorful than most of the healthy cuisine eateries on the market. The set meals can be real value for money. However, there are still some rooms for improvements for more options on less fried and less oily dishes. On top of that, it would be great if the restaurant could provide more spicy flavored dishes from other ethnic groups such as the Malays and Indians to pull in more diners. I guessed they might need to pick up one or two of my vegetarian dish recipes in my blog with a bit of tweaks to their liking~ 😛 Moreover, the restaurant also lacked the options for some desserts. It would be great if they have some Fruity Konnyaku Jelly or some home brewed bean soup to make the meal complete.
If you are coming from Komtar into Jalan Macalister, keep a look out for the fifth junction on your right. Turn right into Lorong Selamat. Drive on for another 400m and keep a look for the shop on your left. It’s just opposite the end of the Pangsapuri Jalan Zainal Abidin (with an open space padang) on your right nearing Jalan Burma. There would be at least 2 parking spaces in front of the premises.
Name: COYA HEALTHY CUISINE (VEGETARIAN HOUSE)
Address: 4A Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 2357, 012-486 4127 (Summer)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm (Closed on Monday)
GPS: 5.419108, 100.326188
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)