5 Gorgeous Days on Langkawi

Wow is Langkawi beautiful! I had the amazing opportunity to spend five days here in late February and early March. I was on an 11 day trip to Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen) to visit my Dad, and I’m so happy we made the pit stop here!

Beach at sunrise.

I flew Amsterdam to Singapore on KLM (12 hour flight) and then Air Asia from Singapore to Langkawi (1 hour flight). I’m going to admit I had MAJOR travel anxiety to fly with Air Asia. They’re a newer airline that is growing super fast and therefore means they don’t have the most experienced pilots – or the best safety history. Oh well, I guess I survived…

Flying in – look at the water!

We spent our five nights at Ambong Ambong, which is probably one of the most friendly and comfortable hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at. In fact, everyone on the island was SO friendly! It definitely was a highlight of the trip.

The beach just down the road from Ambong Ambong.

Ambong Ambong is located just a five minute walk from the beach but is built super steeply into a cliff. If you’re fit and don’t mind the exercise, it’s actually awesome. For those not as athletically inclined, they have on-demand cars to bring you up to your room.

One of the coolest things about the hotel? Free yoga 3x/week. That’s my type of vacation!

I LOVE hotel breakfasts, even if it has become more challenging since going plant based. I ate a lot of fruit, peanut butter toast, and black coffee here! But it still tastes so special maybe because I didn’t have to make it? 🙂

I ate/drank so many coconuts while there. Honestly probably the best treat of all! It’s expensive to get good coconut water in Amsterdam (meaning 100% coconut water with no added sugars), and don’t even think about finding good coconut meat. So, I definitely indulged on Langkawi! I’d often get at least two with dinner.

Another amazing thing about the island – I didn’t see one plastic straw the entire time I was there! Of course, there is still a lot of other plastic stuff – cling film, water bottles, utensils, but such a good step in the right direction. Langkawi felt like paradise, and I’d hate for over-tourism or waste/pollution to have a negative effect in the future.

Although I still had to work while visiting (we went Tuesday-Sunday), everything was definitely more relaxed! I called it “island style” 🙂 I lived in my tank tops and shorts and kept my beauty routine super low key – basically brushed teeth, brushed hair, sunscreen, my sunglasses, and then I was good to go! I spent most mornings exploring and at the beach and then worked in the afternoons when the sun was at its hottest.

One day we went to what I believe is one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island: Langkawi Sky Bridge. The view is INCREDIBLE – you can even see Thai islands! – but you have to go up a ridiculously steep cable car that certainly got my heart racing. It’s just rocks below you! But all in all, worth it for the amazing experience.

Thailand in the background!

The only downside – decent vegan food was hard to come by. I had two highlight meals. One from a Dutch owned cafe actually! YamYam had the best smoothies, soups, and coffee with soy milk! Second, Bon Ton, a hotel + restaurant that had the most amazing selection of vegan options for dinner.

My go-to vegan meal at YamYam.

And too quickly, it was time to go…on another Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur where we then caught a flight to Hong Kong. I cannot wait to return to this beautiful, relaxing, and friendly island in Malaysia!


Vegan Guide to London!

I lived in London from August 2017 to June 2018, and Let. Me. Tell. You. I spent probably 50% of my savings for graduate school on vegan restaurants. And I don’t regret a penny of it! (It certainly helped that I lived in a box with my partner to pay probably the cheapest rent one can find in London – alas, priorities!)

With the huge chunk of change I shelled out in those 11 months, I’m designating myself a “boots on the ground” expert in all things vegan in and around London . . . with the slight disclaimer that London is BIG and London is AMAZING for vegans. So, I’ve probably missed a worthy restaurant or two, but these were definitely my favorite.

Black Cat

This hole in the wall deep in East London is far and away my favorite vegan place in the city, with respect to its prices and food. It’s a community run venture and the vibe is incredibly laid back and authentic. The menu changes daily (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but they have a few standing items. Of those, their signature burger and chickpea pancake are to-die-for – pictured below!

Vegetable/Chickpea Pancake
Signature Burger
Falafel Bowl
Spaghetti + Garlic Bread

For filling portions and awesome flavor, I highly recommend Black Cat! Although it’s buried deeper in East London, it’s simple to take a bus from Angel or Shoreditch, or the Overground into Hackney Downs or Hackney Central.

Essential Vegan

I went to Essential Vegan a bit more often than I’d like to admit! So much so it became a joke between my partner and I, and we even laughed about it with the owners. We were definitely their best customers. However, take one bite of their delicious lasagne or cheese balls and you’ll know why I couldn’t stay away!

Essential Vegan is Brazilian inspired vegan food, and the owners are from Brazil, resulting in amazingly authentic and loved food. I feel like restaurants can so often leave you walking away feeling like you ingested too much oil or salt (even vegan ones!), but never Essential Vegan. It always tastes 100% homemade with simple ingredients – the kitchen is open from the dining room so you can watch your meal get made!

My personal favorite was the lasange and rizoles. Their mains switch out daily, so it’s always a surprise what you’ll be able to order. A few other notable items – the soup of the day, cheeseballs (as mentioned above), tofu salad, and cheesy quiche. My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

Lasagne
Salad + Cheesy Quiche + Cheese Balls
Soup of the Day

Located right in the heart of Shoreditch, this one can’t be missed.

The Canvas

If you couldn’t tell already, I lived in East London, and Shoreditch to be more specific – hence the plethora of restaurants there. But, East London is such an awesome place for vegans. It’s a more hipster and bohemian part of the city, catering to a younger crowd. So maybe, whether I lived there or not, these would be all East London restaurants anyway! I digress…

The Canvas is another community centered restaurant (catching the East London vibe here?) that is 100% vegan (they transitioned to this while I lived there!) and puts on amazing events for the community – think yoga, inspiring talks, and movie nights.

Since this was right down the street from my apartment, I found myself here often grabbing avocado toast for breakfast, or one of the many options for a quick lunch. Also, their dessert/To-Go bar deserves a notable mention of its own! Incredibly creative and something new everyday, it was so hard to turn down their delicious cakes and cupcakes.

Tofish & Chips

Avocado Toast
Mac and Cheese
Dessert + To-Go Bar

Located a short walk away from Shoreditch Overground or Aldgate East station. Card only! No cash.

The Gallery

Lo and behold, another East London gem! The Gallery is more tucked away into East London, similar to Black Cat, and located a short walk from Bethanal Green station. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was so happy this was only a 20 minute walk/8 minute bus ride from my school!

The Gallery has more standing items on their menu, which is good if you like to know what to expect. Personal favorites are their Chile Cheese Fries (filling enough for a main), any of their fresh pressed juices, or their pesto gnocchi!

Side note – one of the main employees here (hope he still works there!) has AWESOME taste in music. My partner and I were always bopping away whenever we ate here. It’s a really cozy yet fun and funky cafe.

Pesto Gnocchi
Tofu Satay Salad
Fresh pressed juices

Mildreds

Mildreds is a more typical, popular vegan restaurant with multiple locations around London, but just because it’s found commercial success does in no way mean they sacrifice on taste or freshness! I’ve personally only ever been to their location in Hackney (their one in central had an hours upon hours long waiting list whenever I tried to pop in). If you plan on visiting, I suggest getting there early on the weekends, or going on a more off day or time than peak lunch and dinner.

It’s pretty clear why they are so successful and popular! Though not 100% vegan, they offer a ton of choices, and I’ve never been disappointed. Expect your more traditional restaurant dishes (chips + guacamole, burger options, long dessert list) with an upscale and fresh twist.

Apologies – can’t remember the names of these dishes!

Cook Daily

An Asian Fusion pop-up shop that was WILDLY successful in Boxpark’s Shoreditch location, and what I just learned on my most recent trip back to London – moved to a permanent location in South Hackney. This place deserves it!

If you go, I have one recommendation above them all: Pad Thai with Puffed Chick’n. Now, I’ve had a lot of good vegan Pad Thai in my life, but this one takes the cake on punch, richness, and flavor.

100% vegan and offering 15+ Asian Fusion dishes plus the best spring rolls you’ll ever taste, Cook Daily was one of the first vegan spots I found and fell in love with in London.

Pad Thai

If Pad Thai isn’t your thing, I’ve never gone wrong with their other options either. Take their success as a hint that this place isn’t to be missed.

Paper & Cup

Just down the street from Essential Vegan is a tiny coffee shop that sells the most delicious vegan croissants – Paper & Cup. When I first moved to London and discovered these beauties, they only sold them two (maybe one?) day a week, much to my dismay when I found out on an “off” day! However, I think they took note in their popularity – or maybe the fact that my partner and I would buy up their entire supply if we saw them in stock – and have started offering them every day. Yay!

Paper & Cup actually outsources these cinnamon rolls to a local lady who makes these as a business. As a result, you can taste the homemade flavor.

Itadaki Zen

In my opinion, finding a decent vegan Japanese restaurant is hard! I’m not looking for simple avocado and cucumber rolls. I’m looking for reinvented dishes with flavor and zest. Itadaki Zen checks all of these boxes! My only regret here was finding this gem only a month before moving away.

Located a short walk away from Kings Cross station, it’s a very tiny restaurant! From my memory, I’d say five tables in total. We didn’t make a reservation (rookie mistake) but were fortunate enough to get there right at opening and snag the only unreserved table with promises to eat in 30 minutes or less! Totally worth it.

We ordered two bento boxes and this fried tofu to start. Delicious! With more time (and a bigger budget…) I’d love to go back and order more.

Tibits

Tibits was another early find in my move to London, and I have to give credit to my partner for taking me here for my birthday! It’s unique in that it’s an upscale buffet and you pay by weight. Tuesdays are 100% vegan, so those were always the days we attended (but on other days they still have a good selection of vegan options). Located a short walk from Oxford Street Station, it’s my preferable vegan spot when in Central.

Yorica

Yorica is unlike any other vegan ice cream place I’ve tried! A super funky vibe filled with a ton of (rice-based) vegn soft serve options – and sprinkles galore. The toppings are what make it the most memorable. Located closest to Tottenham Court Road Station.

Hope you enjoy!