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Opt for a towering plate of Singaporean street noodles, meat optional.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Keeping to a regular schedule of Meatless Mondays can end up feeling repetitive. When it does, it's time to think outside the vegetarian pizza box. One possible antidote? Digging into a slew of flavorful Malaysian dishes at Chinatown hideaway Banana Leaf II.

The tiny café on Bellaire Boulevard welcomes guests to savor the melting pot of flavors that defines Malaysian cuisine. Meanwhile, from traditional stir-fried noodles to the spicy sambal chile paste used in many dishes, the menu is far more adventurous than your typical noodle house.

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Malaysian iced coffee helps to calm down dishes that pack a punch.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Mouthwatering meatless options include Banana Leaf vegetable rolls and the Malaysian Buddhist, a dish of stir-fried mixed vegetables with bean curd and shiitake. Mixed vegetable fried rice complement the many tofu dishes, while the curry noodle soup is a hearty choice loaded with fresh tofu in a spicy lemongrass and coconut-curry broth.

A bargain-priced lunch menu is available every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. when guests can score a combo plate for less than $8. Malaysian ice coffee is the beverage pairing of choice for many diners. It's especially great with the dessert peanut pancake.

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