Luk Yea Yen Vegetarian Restaurant (Nine Jade Emperor Festival) @ Lorong Selamat

The Nine Jade Emperor Festival (Kow Ong Yah in Hokkien) is a Taoist festival which is celebrated for 9 days during the 9th Lunar month. It is to celebrate the return of the spirit of the Gods to earth from Heaven. It is also believed that there will be rain during this period.

During this time the Taoist will visit temples to pray and observe strict vegetarian diet. And I do mean strict! Even the utensils used to prepare and cook the foods must not be tainted with meat. Therefore in some households it is common to have 2 sets of utensils. One for everyday use. And another, is brought out every year for the nine days of the Nine Jade Emperor Festival.

During this time of the year, you will see Penang dotted with many make shift stalls erected with the signature yellow color table cloths and banners. And the vegetarian restaurants will also be more crowded than usual.

My family doesn’t really observe the nine days of vegetarian diet but during this time, my grandpa would still like to have vegetarian food if possible. So we headed to the vegetarian shop at the corner of Macalister Road and Lorong Selamat.

Luk Yea Yan Vegetarian Restaurant
Luk Yea Yan Vegetarian Restaurant

The place was packed to the brim and we had to sit outside under the makeshift tent. Luk Yea Yan has a host of dishes served ‘economy rice’ style where you can pick and choose your dishes. And they also offer brown rice. We choose the usual vegetarian roast duck which is actually made up of beancurd skin and vegetarian mutton curry (made with soyabean and mushrooms). In fact most of the vegetarian ‘meat’ is made up of soyabean, beancurd skin and/or wheat gluten.

Vegetarian economy rice
Vegetarian economy rice
Vegetarian Mutton Curry
Vegetarian Mutton Curry

It never ceases to amaze me how creative the vegetarian food industry can be, coming up with all sorts of vegetarian versions of the meat dishes that we eat. And usually they taste really good too! We also had the ever favourite vegetarian satay which was lightly seasoned with tumeric and then fried.

Vegetarian Satay
Vegetarian Satay

We also had ‘popiah’ a more healthy alternative since it’s actually made up of vegetables. Since this is the vegetarian version, no eggs or crabmeat is added.

Another look at the popiah
Another look at the popiah

Finally, I spotted something interesting – Taiwan Dumpling. I cannot really taste what’s inside the dumpling but I’m guessing it must be stuffed with mushroom stalks. An interesting dish indeed as the dumpling is boiled and later a spicy sauce is drizzled on top. If you prefer it less spicy, ask for less sauce.

Taiwanese Dumpling
Taiwanese Dumpling

Luk Yea Yan also offers vegetarian spaghetti, vegetarian mee jawa and a host of other snacks and buns.

The Nine Jade Emperor Festival this year ends on Tuesday (Oct 7 2008) and there will be large processions to send the deities back home to Heaven.

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m not a fan of mock meat. Don’t really get it when the whole idea of being vegetarian is going without meat?? I have to admit I wouldn’t mind trying these, from the looks of the pictures. The dumplings look especially intriguing!

  2. oh I am so with you on the creative vegetarian food these days, in fact, the vegans seem to going all out on mock meat and stuffs too huh:p

    I’ve tried Luk Yea Yan some time ago; dinner ala carte and it was kinda pricey. I haven’t been there since but the Taiwan dumplings and the popiah looks nice…hmmm, I wanna go there to try soon!!:D

  3. I’ve always like Vegetarian Food though sometimes it tends to be rather oily.

    Another reasonably nice place to have Vegetarian food is Tze Chu-Lin along Burmah Road.

  4. arigato penangtuapui-san! 😛
    i used to help my late grandma make vegetarian roast duck… but was very young la so don’t really remember the recipe liao.

    ck lam – try liao must let me know if you like it!

    BBO – oh dear, hopefully they have improved on the taste. but nowadays vegetarian food is not cheap.

    J2Kfm – oh i have heard of vegetarian sushi! so far havent tried it though. 🙂

  5. 550ml jar of faith – yeah i know what you mean about being vegetarian and yet not actually eating veggie, but mock meat! my mum thinks the same way too. that’s why some ppl put on weight when they go vegetarian, because they end up eating lots of mock meat which is usually fried or cooked with a lot of oil!

    christy – i think its quite expensive too for mock meat. the satay was RM5 and the dumpling was RM6 if not mistaken.

    kaya meekoo – hey you’re right about tze chu lin! my aunt etc went there for dinner of the first day of the nine jade emperor festival. but too bad i didn’t join them, otherwise can do another review! lol

  6. i just talked to steven the other day about this restaurant. i said i want to bring him there to try out the vegetarian food, but after the kao ong yar. have u tried the jiu hu eng cai? they make it exactly the same as the real one. i like the satay and others vegetarian food that i cannot remember the name. this restaurant will be on my list for food review soon.

  7. they charge rm3 fr extra bowl of vegetarian ba ku teh soup. also the owner does not have good customer service!

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