“What’s the best thing about Malaysia?”
Without a doubt, Malaysian food would be one of the country’s highlights. Foods such as rice, noodles, and bread are dietary staples here and while the various food options tantalise the senses, it can be a little tricky for those with dietary restrictions, especially when getting gluten-free food. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a slice of pizza or indulge in some cake without any side effects?
What is gluten intolerance?
Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is a condition that causes a person to react after ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. A gluten-free diet is usually recommended for people who are allergic to gluten or those with celiac disease – a condition where the smaller intestines are damaged and cannot absorb nutrients such as fat, calcium, iron, and folate. This group of people (both those who are allergic and those with celiac disease) comprise just a tiny portion of the overall population (about 1% in the United States, for reference), yet many seem to feel that adopting a gluten-free diet is beneficial, though nutritionists largely disagree with that belief.
Generally, it may be a little difficult to find a restaurant or café that caters to the gluten intolerant; however, more and more eateries are starting to embrace dietary restricting menus. We’ve compiled a list of eateries that provide food options for the gluten-free community.
At Ashley’s, they strive to bring farmed goods right to the table, providing a healthy and delicious repertoire of local and Western cuisine. On their website, it says that all nuts and seeds served were sprouted to provide the best nutrition possible. “Ketogenic, bullet proof, gluten-free, and beyond,” is what they promise.
Address: 11, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru 59100, KL. (Near Bangsar Village)
Tel: +6017-325 3663
Open 7 days a week.
In a luxurious colonial setting, Manja offers fine fusion dishes where East meets West. While the menu isn’t extensive, each dish is bursting with local flavours. A review on their website indicates that dietary restrictions are taken into account, including gluten-free options.
Address: No.6 Lorong Raja Chulan, 50250, Kuala Lumpur, Old Malaya
Tel: +6012-373 7063
Open daily from 11.30am to 2pm, except Mondays.
Their aim is simple: to produce and serve healthy fast food options for people on the go. For people living in a fast-paced city, Kurin wants to cater to those who can’t afford to wait 25 minutes for a meal to be ready, but still strive to eat clean. Their menu consists of poke bowls, sandwiches, sushi boxes, and other high-protein dishes.
Address: Lot 5-10, NU Sentral Mall, 201 Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 4
50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6012-419 0316
Open daily from 9am to 7.30pm.
The Good Co.
This restaurant serves only plant-based products and uses fresh and organic meatless ingredients, ensuring that there are no preservatives, artificial colouring, or refined sugars in the food. From a healthy take on nasi lemak to vegan chicken rice, The Good Co. has a large selection of wholesome and healthy food from which to choose. It’s also known for serving Instagram-able food that almost looks too good to eat.
Address: 184, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2202 6536
Open daily 9am to 6pm.
The name of the place itself refers to the English translation of appam – a fermented rice pancake made with coconut milk, a popular dish here. Here, they offer variations on the traditional appam, using local ingredients. A particularly interesting dish is their take on nasi lemak, where the rice is substituted with the string hoppers. However, the restaurant is in the midst of being relocated so feel free to keep tabs on it on their Facebook page.
Alternatively, check out other gluten-free restaurants and products at the Gluten Free in Malaysia Facebook page.
Not sure if you are intolerant to gluten? Here are some of the symptoms:
- Diarrhoea, Constipation and Smelly Faeces
- Abdominal Pain
- Feeling Tired
- Skin Problems
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Iron-Deficiency Anaemia
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Leg or Arm Numbness
- Brain Fog
If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms above after eating gluten products, be sure to visit your doctor and get tested. It’s worth noting that genuine celiac disease, which is a hereditary autoimmune disorder, is quite uncommon – the gluten-free fad is largely just that, a fad. (One study suggested that 86% of all people who self-identified as gluten-sensitive could in fact tolerate it just fine.) But for those who genuinely are gluten intolerant, it’s perhaps a good thing that plenty of restaurants have gotten on board and are offering gluten-free options on their menus!