Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery – Dining at a Buddhist Temple in Kuala Lumpur

Today we are going out for an unusual meal – vegan in a Buddhist temple. In principle, Southeast Asia is a paradise for vegans and vegetarians. Kuala Lumpur is no exception. There is a wide range of vegan and vegetarian restaurants and in many conventional restaurantsgood vegan and vegetarian options.

Where is the dining hall at Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur?

In the midst of Kuala Lumpur’s modern skyscrapers lies the small colourful Buddhist temple of the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery. It is located directly on the pedestrian bridge opposite the Avenue K shopping centre, not far from the Petronas Towers.

At first glance, the squiggly building with animal figures, lampignons and incense sticks in front of the entrance does not seem to fit at all into the otherwise rather straight street scene of the metropolis of millions. 

We enter the courtyard and are first confronted by a dozen off-road vehicles. Like all the other passers-by, we squeeze through the cars and pass the temple

on the left.

The Buddhist temple itself does not welcome tourists, in fact it is largely closed to tourists. After all, it is a place of devotion and meditation.

But we wouldn’t be properly dressed anyway. In a Buddhist temple, the legs should be covered up to above the knee and the arms a good bit above the shoulders. Moreover, one may only enter barefoot. We wear our normal clothes (shorts, T-shirt / top) in the dining hall like many other visitors and no one bothers – we don’t go into the temple itself. 

An elderly gentleman in scruffy sports clothes stands outside the temple, making sure everyone follows the rules. Occasionally he directs, more badly than good, bit confusing gestures of one of the numerous cars that stop here at lunchtime. In Kuala Lumpur, you quickly get used to being vigilant so as not to get run over.

What awaits travellers at the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur?

We have been here once before. The first time, we were completely overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the food hall that awaits us behind the temple. But today we already know what to expect. 

Two plans hang next to the washbasin at the entrance. One schematically shows the room. On it, each food station is labelled with a number. Next to it hangs a weekly plan with an overview of which dishes are offered at which stall today. Also next to it hangs a sign informing that all the food in this temple is vegan. Therefore, please do not bring any products containing meat, milk or eggs and eat them here. Also forbidden are onions and garlic and other types of leeks.This is presumably because these types of vegetables are stimulating and therefore make meditation more difficult. 

We have no food with us, of course, so we plunge straight into the fray. The dining hall is a large hall without partitions and largely open to the outside and up to the roof. It is not the least bit stylish but rather pragmatically furnished in the style of street kitchens. There are plastic vats in one corner, the walls are a strange colour, and plastic buckets generally seem to have a significant role in the whole cooking process. 

First we walk past the dish drop, where all visitors dutifully throw their cutlery into colourful buckets on the floor, clean the plates of coarse food residues and pile up the dishes. 

Then we come to two long tables on which numerous bowls of food are placed. At first glance, much of it looks like fish, duck or chicken. But even if it doesn’t look like it, all the food here really is vegan. One of the ladies who work here confirms this very proudly. The employees are almost exclusively older ladies. Some of them have shaved their heads, typical for Buddhism. Even when it is rush hour, they are all very friendly and answer questions in good English.

So we put various things colourfully mixed on our plates. A sign above the buffet asks not to take more than you can eat, to prevent food waste. This is a thought that should definitely be taken to heart, not only because it makes sense, but also to appreciate this place in its importance as a temple.

We continue walking past some stalls selling vegan curries and vegan dim sum. There are also soups in large vats in front of the cashier. Maybe not everything here looks quite hygienic to the fussy German eye, but all the food is well heated through. So we’re not worried (since Martina’s stay in hospital in Peru we know that you’re never completely safe anyway).
The vegan buffet at the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur

How much does vegan food cost at Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur?

We are fully loaded with a colourful plate of vegan food and pay directly at the cash register. 14 ringgit for two fully loaded plates we pay today. Last time we had less, it was only 9;50 ringgit. This equals only 1-2 euros per portion. 

How is the food at Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur?

The long silver tables with plastic stools are already very full. We sit down on two empty stools between the locals. The atmosphere in the hall is not a bit meditative. People from all social classes, religions and nations sit at the tables, many obviously on their lunch break from work and chatting or surfing on their mobile phones. However, no one should be shy of closeness here. Occasionally you even strike up a conversation with other guests.

The food is good, some of it perhaps a little unusual for the German palate. For example, what looks like duck is a kind of deep-fried puff pastry. The supposed chicken leg turns out to be tofu strips wrapped around a wooden skewer. A green vegetable turns out to be a kind of stuffed bitter gourd. We also miss a bit of the familiar flavours of Malaysian cuisine, which generally uses a lot of garlic, onion and leek. At the same time, our plate is a pure surprise bag. With many things we have no idea what they are. But most of them taste good. With the vegan chicken leg, we are a little strange about the cinnamon. 

After the meal, we dutifully clean up our plates and cutlery and leave. 

Although not everything looks like it, everything is
Eating at the Monastery absolutely vegetarian and vegan

Our verdict on vegan food at Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur?

The Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery is certainly one of the most unpretentious places to have lunch in Kuala Lumpur, but at the same time one of the most authentic. For vegans looking for authentic vegan food in Kuala Lumpur, the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery is a must-see place and a real experience. 

Opening hours:

  • Mo.-Fri. approx. 10:30-14:00

Address:

  • 161, Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, 55000, Malaysia
 

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