Monday, March 6, 2017

[Travel/ Food Guide] Itinerary to Langkawi (兰卡威), Kedah (吉打).

One of the famous and most visited islands in Kedah- Langkawi, is known for its tourism and duty-free status. Alcohols, Cigarettes and Chocolates are typically tax-free in Langkawi (there are more of course), making it one of the most attractive reasons to visit the tropical island. Langkawi is also a melting pot for culture- not only the Malaysian culture but the international dining scene is getting more and more exciting here. There are quite a handful of good cafes to hunt for apart from getting your alcohol/ chocolate supplies and outdoor activities. Getting to Langkawi from Penang can be quite easy and convenient, travelers may opt to take the speed boat from Swettenham Pier Penang directly to the Jetty Point at Kuah Town or fly in from Penang to Langkawi International Airport

Eagle Square at Kuah Town

To get around the island, it is strongly recommended that you rent for a car or at least, motorcycle. The public transportation system is weak and the taxis tend to overcharge so it is definitely wiser to drive. Car hire companies can be easily found at Langkawi International Airport or the Jetty Point at Kuah Town. We hired a Suzuki SX4 for 2 days, at Rm 140 nett (excluding deposit). 

1) Seashells Chenang [Recommended]
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Laman Padi, Jalan Pantai Cenang, Mukim Kedawang, 07100, Langkawi, Kedah.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 604- 955 3582

Nasi Kukus Ayam Kampung (2 pax/ Rm 45)

ABC/ Ice Kacang (Rm 5.50)

One need not to travel far to Bali (Indonesia) just to enjoy the serene dining atmosphere; Seashells Chenang is one of its kind in Langkawi that offers paddy field view. Visitors can opt to dine in at the restaurant that offers the rice paddy view or to get nearer to nature by dining in at one of the huts surrounded by the paddy field. Not only that it offers breath-taking view and spectacular dining experience, the Malaysian cuisine offered is not shabby at all. 

Although there are only 4 types of dishes (Nasi Kukus with various types of meat- Beef/ Chicken/ Duck/ Lamb) available but every set comes with generous amount of sides. The serving portion for 2 diners could easily fit 3 diners; the aroma of the steamed rice was alluring, with traces of Kaffir Lime leaves, Ginger and Shalot Oil seen. The Rendang was equally delectable, though the marination of the Chicken could be bolder. The Rendang-sauce was rich and boldly flavored; but the Sambal stole the limelight. The two chili dips were lip-burning yet addictive; we had a fair share together with the crunchy greens. To combat the sultry tropical heat, it's always wise to cool down with a bowl of Ice Kacang/ ABC. 

2) Smiling Buffalo Cafe [Recommended]
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 965, Kuala Cenang, 07000, Langkawi, Kedah.
Business Hours: 8 am to 6 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 6017- 364 3319

Eggs poached in Tomato Sauce with sliced Sausages (Rm 20)

Pancakes served with Banana and Gula Melaka (Rm 13)

Visiting Smiling Buffalo Cafe is not easy, the cafe is shielded by greens. The narrow, winding road to the cafe is not for the faint-hearted but once you have made your way there, you will be welcomed by a wide, calm, piece of land covered in greens. The cafe is housed under one of the huts, with coconut trees and greenery encircling the cafe. Visitors will find this a great spot to read a book while enjoying the music of the nature generated by the soft breeze that blows across the paddy field.

Smiling Buffalo Cafe has a small menu that offers Western dishes with a Malaysian touch. One of their best sellers- Eggs poached in Tomato sauce with Chicken Sausages was delicious. It was served to us piping hot with an Egg swimming in the Tomato sauce. with traces of Tomatoes, Onions and Chicken Sausages. The flavors were well-balanced (not too sour nor sweet) and the Sausages provided some meaty bite to the dish; best enjoyed with Toast. For something sweet, the Malaysian-inspired sweet treat- Pancakes served with Banana and Gula Melaka might be an ideal way to end the meal. Live Band Performance is available in the evenings.

3) The Fat Frog [Recommended]
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Government Tax: No
Address: 90, East Estate, Jalan Padang Matsirat, 07000, Langkawi, Kedah.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 3 pm, 6 pm to 9:30 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact Number: 604- 955 1153

Tomato, Eggplant & Feta Quiche with Salad (Rm 20)

[Set Lunch] Tomato Basil Soup

[Set Lunch] Lemongrass Chicken Linguine (Rm 30)

Apple and Blackberry Crumble (Rm 12) with Vanilla Ice Cream (Rm 4)

If you are traveling from Kuah Town to Langkawi International Airport (via highway), chances of you passing by The Fat Frog are high but you might continue the journey without noticing its presence. The Fat Frog sits on a hill of a gold course, which has a lush expanse of green surrounding the cafe. When we turned into the parking lot, for a moment, we thought we were instantly teleported to the countryside of Australia (it sure looks like a vineyard).

It seems like the cafe is manned by expats and it offers a simple menu with plenty of home-cooked Western dishes. Notable dishes include Quiche, Pasta and Burger. The lunch menu with a soup, main course and a coffee/tea offers great values; the ala-carte menu is also reasonably priced. The Lemongrass Chicken Linguine was toothsome, the Pasta was meticulously seasoned and spiced; a touch of bird's eye Chilies was added to introduce a sleek spiciness to the dish. The grilled Chicken was equally succulent, complementing the noodle dish well.

It's not easy to find a good Quiche in Malaysia but The Fat Frog nailed it. The pastry skin was light, crispy and flaky while the inner filling was creamy, rich but not overly salted. The simple Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette cuts through the greasiness of the Quiche. Our palate was refreshed with every single bite of the Quiche followed by the Salad. We completed the meal with their Apple and Blackberry Crumble, topped with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. 

4) Boat Restaurant (船海鲜) [Not Recommended unless necessary]
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 2013, Jalan Pantai Tengah, Pantai Tengah, 07000, Langkawi, Kedah. *opposite to The Holiday Villa at Pantai Tengah*
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10:45 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 6012- 976 9813

Char Hor Fun (Rm 6/ small)

Gong Bao Squid (Rm 20/ medium)

Claypot Chicken (Rm 12/ small)

Stir Fried Beef with Ginger and Spring Onions (Rm 15/ small)

Stir Fried Mix Vegetables (Rm 10/ small)

If you have traditional Chinese taste buds, you might find a hard time in Langkawi. There are only a handful of Chinese restaurants outside of Kuah Town and Boat Restaurant is one of the highly commendable ones (by netizens). It might have served some of the best Chinese dishes in Langkawi but according to our standards... we beg to differ. We were first impressed by the variety offered but unfortunately, none of them were impressive.

Koay Teow was used on the Char Hor Fun and it lacked the quintessential "wok hei", we have tried asking for Sambal Belacan but to no avail (question: don't the Langkawians eat their Char Hor Fun with Sambal Belacan?). We had high expectations on the Gong Bao Squid (given that it is an island with rich supplies of Seafood) but again, it was a let down. The Squid was fresh but the sauce was a great disappointment. It was a sauce merely made up of Tomato Ketchup, the name of Gong Bao was a misnomer. The Claypot Chicken and Stir Fried Beef were equally uninspiring. This is unfortunately one of the worst meals we had in Langkawi. But again, it might not be that bad by Langkawi's standards but it did not meet our expectations. Try only if you are longing for Chinese food.

5) Jala Restaurant @ The Andaman Resort [Recommended]
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Government Tax: No
Address: The Andaman Resort, Jalan Teluk Datai, 070000, Langkawi, Kedah.
Business Hours: 6 pm to 10:30 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact Number: 604- 959 1088

Seafood Salad (Rm 48)

Octopus (Rm 52)

Grilled Golden Pomfret (Rm 35.50 per 100 grams) and Steamed Grouper (Rm 32 per 100 grams) with complimentary side dishes

Exotic Fruits in different texture (Rm 40)

Black Forest (Rm 40)

Perched along the long-crescent Datai Bay (also recognized as the 9th best beach in the world by National Geographic) at the Northwest tip of Langkawi Island and well-hidden in the tropical rain forest, The Andaman Resort is one of the best luxurious resorts in Langkawi. It's in-house restaurant Jala offers breath-taking panoramic view for its diners; like any other beachfront restaurants or bars, you can relax and enjoy the soothing sea breeze complemented by the sunset scenes while savoring the restaurant's finest offering. With a name like "Jala" (refers to fishing net in Malay), one would expect the restaurant to offer an incredible Seafood-dedicated menu.

The airy cafe has a relaxed atmosphere, with tables and chairs on the beach, allowing guests to kick back and relax with toes in the sand, so visiting the restaurant in smart casual would be wise. The prices commemorate with the top-notch service and the setting are of highest standards (although the setup was on sandy floor). The wise spenders would be glad to know that CIMB and Citibank Credit Card holders are entitled for 40% discounts on all food (excluding alcoholic drinks).

We had Golden Pomfret and Grouper with the former fish grilled and the latter one steamed. 4 types of side dishes will be served, complimentary to every order of fish. The Golden Pomfret was nicely grilled- crispy skin with smooth and soft texture. Steamed Grouper was equally good, if not better. The meat was firm and the fish oil complemented everything well. We'd recommend taking fishes with at least 1 kg and above, for better texture and higher fat content. The seasoning was minimal but diners whom prefer bolder flavors could ask for their home-made dips. Amongst the dips, the Langkawi Green Chili is preferred but mind you, it might leave a lip-burning sensation. 

We put a complete full stop to the meal by having their beautifully crafted desserts. The Black Forest has got an attractive Mushroom (Strawberry Mousse on top and White Chocolate with Lemon Curd filling as the Mushroom stem) sitting on the log, together with some Sponge and Cherry-Strawberry Ice Cream.

Great food, spectacular view and unique dining experience... making the one-hour drive from Kuah Town worthwhile! 

6) Night Market @ Padang Matsirat
Address: Kampung Padang Matsirat, Beras Terbakar, 07000, Langkawi, Kedah.
Business Hours: 6 pm to 10 pm. Opens on Sundays only.
*Opposite to the school at Padang Matsirat*
Direction: From the nearest roundabout from Langkawi International Airport, take the route to Beras Terbakar and go straight (even if you have hit the first traffic light, keep going straight). You will find a school on your left and the night market on your right shortly. This night market only opens on Sundays.

Fresh Fruits

Nasi Kandar



Fresh fishes on sale

Putu Buluh

One of the ways to experience the local culture would be to visit a local market. On every Sunday evening, make your way to Padang Matsirat, a short 5 minute drive from Langkawi International Airport will land you at Padang Matsirat's Night Market. It isn't a night market with great scale but good enough to find everything there, ranging from the local must eats to fresh local produce and freshest catch from the sea. Budget watchers should definitely hit this place as you might end up buying your dinner as cheap as Rm 2.50.

If you are renting a car, we'd recommend you to park your car at the school opposite to the night market. A fee or Rm 1 will be charged. 

Have Fun and Travel Safe in Langkawi! 

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