Kedah & Perlis
Flavours are sweet and spicy in this region and, as the proverbial rice bowl of the country, here the grain is king. Cuisine in Kedah and Perlis owes much to the sea and to Malaysia’s northern neighbour, Thailand. On the mainland, stick to exploring local
NEW Rung Reang Thai Seafood
Jalan Kelubi, Jitra, Kedah
Kaeng Som, a sour and spicy Thai fish soup, is one of the most highly regarded dishes here. Come here on rainy evenings for some deliciously comforting Thai fare, with must-orders including crab fried rice, tom yam, Thai-style otak-otak (fish cakes) and coconut jelly – it sells out really fast.
Daily, 6pm–11pm. $$
Langkawi The Americas
3 Amigos Mexican Restaurant
Jalan Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 8646).
Sharing a kitchen with the Italian place next door might sound a little odd but don’t write off this Mexican restaurant as just another bad purveyor of inauthentic tacos just yet. They have a good range of dishes and, happily for vegetarians, a good selection of bean dishes – and they are not always easy to find in Malaysia. Be warned: they probably won’t give you guacamole, sour cream, or salsa with your meal. Like its Italian sister next door (see our listing for Viva Italia), service is a bit hit and miss.
Halal. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 11am–11.30pm. $$$
NEW Little Mexican Restaurant & Café
Jalan Pantai Cenang (04 955 2042).
Friendly vibes and excellent service make this lively joint a good place to bring the whole family. The owners worked closely with a chef from Mexico to get the most authentic flavours but the kitchen is willing to adjust the spice level if your stomach prefers something milder. There’s plenty to choose from on the humourtinged menu, including some solid vegetarian options. We tried the vegetarian chimichanga, a filling deepfried tortilla parcel of kidney beans, butter beans, onion and capsicum, spiced authentically and served with a small salad, a mound of Mexican rice, guacamole, sour cream and piquant salsa. The beef taco was somewhat less substantial overall but its beef filling was undeniably juicy and chunky. And while you’re enjoying good Mexican food, we recommend ordering some sangria – Little Mexican has a couple of varieties to choose from. The standard red sangria has a mellow, thin and fruity flavour but its turbocharged cousin, the sangria Mexicano, is enhanced with a shot of tequila and has much more bite.
Credit cards accepted. Daily, 12noon– 12midnight. $$$
3 Jalan Teluk Baru, Pantai Tengah, Langkawi (04 955 8891).
Run by an experienced (but rather aloof) French pastry chef, La Chocolatine offers tempting displays of buttery croissants, rich brioches, and zingy tarts as well as a small selection of light meals like salads and omelettes. Decorated with the usual prints of the Eiffel Tower and other knick-knacks, La Chocolatine boasts free WiFi and a quiet ambience in which to unwind. After feasting our eyes on all the sweet pastries, we tried the tarte au citron meringue and the croissant aux amandes. The perfect lemon meringue pie bursts with intense lemon flavour beneath a cloudlike meringue while the flakey almond croissant is pregnant with rich, sugary frangipane. It seems this boutique patisserie puts most of its effort into the baked goods, though: Coffee comes courtesy of a Nespresso Grands Crus machine and our cappuccinos were competent but nothing special. On our next trip, we’ll stick to the reportedly luscious hot chocolate, made with real chocolate melted into warm milk.
NEW The Loaf Lot C9 Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park (04 959 4866); Lot GF4C & GF4D Cenang Mall, Lot 2605 Jalan Pantai Cenang Mukim Kedawang (04 955 1641/www.theloaf.net).
Fresh baked loaves using Japanese techniques and local and imported ingredients, the bread at The Loaf is of great quality. But it’s not all pastries and coffee—there’s also an à la carte menu if your stomach is grumbling for something for substantial.
Halal. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 8am–11pm. $$
NEW Sun Café 8 SUNMALL, Jalan Teluk Baru, Pantai Tengah (04 955 8300/ sungrouplangkawi.com).
Part of a chain of restaurants, bars and a resort, Sun Café impresses with its quasi-colonial styling, friendly staff, and a delicious mix of western and local meals. Desserts in particular receive rave reviews: try the crêpe Suzette, the chocolate lava cake, or the crème brulée. This may sound odd but check out the bathroom – it’s quite beautifully designed and provokes many favourable comments from visitors to the café.
Credit cards accepted. Daily,12noon– 12midnight.
European & British
NEW Scarborough Fish 'n Chips
Lot 1388 Jalan Tanjung Rhu (012 352 2236).
Delivered piping hot and crispy from the kitchen in this small and unpretentious restaurant are quite possibly the best fish and chips in Langkawi. Enjoy an unobstructed view of the sea (and the dazzling pink Langkawi sunset if you arrive later) at
Tanjung Rhu as you chow down on such delights as pan-fried barracuda, deep-fried snow fish, or calamari paired with thick and crunchy hot chips and fresh salad. We were also very impressed by the satisfying, vegetarian friendly salad with its mound of freshly steamed vegetables, crisp salad leaves and flavourful tomato and onion dressing on the side. The chips might come from a freezer packet and the tables on the sand might be a little wonky but a meal at Scarborough, washed down with a cold beer or a cider, is our idea of a beach holiday.
Pork-free. Tue–Sun, 11am–9pm. $$
Mediterranean NEW The Brasserie Restaurant and Bar 27A Jalan Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 1927)
With breezy meals on the beach and classic cocktails, this swish restaurant and bar specialises in Mediterranean cuisine served in chilled, laidback style. Drop by on Sunday for the barbecue buffet or simply kick back with a glass of white sangria and watch the world go by. Most patrons swear by the juicy Australian steaks here but the sea bass also wins rave reviews.
Daily, 12noon–12midnight. $$$
Russian NEW USSR Restaurant Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park (04 956 1023/017 560 1486).
Russian food? In Langkawi, of all places? As a matter of fact, the restaurant is attracting some decent reviews. Dine on borscht, pelmeni, and beef stroganoff and wash it all down with some vodka or a Black Russian. It’s an odd bedfellow for the sunny marina but it kind of works.
Daily, 12noon–12midnight. $$
Spanish NEW Tapaz Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park (012 329 4094).
Run by the people behind the infinitely cool Tubotel in Pantai Cenang, Tapaz offers a menu of Mediterranean-style mains and tapas selections, perfect for munching alongside a bottle of wine in the afternoon sunshine at Telaga Harbour. Bright, colourful walls and seating and whimsical strings of fairy lights create a lovely atmosphere. The food is principally Spanish but you’ll find a selection of Greek, Italian, and Malaysian dishes. The sangria is especially popular and, in keeping with its island location, the restaurant serves a variety of fresh seafood dishes.
Daily, 11am–11pm. $$$
Indian Papadam Ria
Lot 1556, 1 Jalan Pantai Cenang (04 955 7775/www.langkawi-papadam-
Papadam Ria specialises in North and South Indian as well as Arabic cuisines. Friendly service and charming, romantic ambience create the setting for a feast of excellent Indian food. Great options for vegetarians.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted for bills above RM100. Free parking. Daily, 11am–11.30pm. $$
Tulsi Garden Lot 1 and 2 Sunmall, Jalan Pantai Tengah, Langkawi (04 955 3011).
A recent relocation has left the everpopular Tulsi Garden with a very swish outdoor eating area and bar. The friendly staff are happy to recommend dishes that range from authentic Indian curries, breads and biryanis to some simple western fare. Stick with the Indian menu. The Kashmiri naan is a mouth-watering blend of fruit and nuts within soft and moreish bread, which the makhani dhal complements well.
Halal. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 6pm–11.30pm. $$
Breakfast Bar Pantai Cenang (04 955 6533).
With a beach shack vibe, this is the perfect spot for when you’re craving a simple western-style breakfast. It’s great for dishes like scrambled eggs, toast with jam and butter, omelettes, and banana pancakes. Not fancy but if you must have your eggs on toast, this long-running Langkawi icon is a decent choice.
Halal. Daily, 7am–2.30pm. $
NEW Cactus Pantai Tengah (012 407 7928).
For a place whose primary mode of decoration is football jerseys, Cactus is a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Breakfasts here, whether local or western, are particular favourites among tourists. Prices here are affordable to match the rustic and laidback atmosphere. For dinner, try the popular fried barracuda in pepper sauce.
Halal. Credit cards accepted. $
NEW The Cliff Restaurant & Bar Lot 63 & 40, Jalan Pantai Cenang (04 953 3228/www.theclifflangkawi.com).
Literally clinging to the cliff and overlooking crowded Pantai Cenang, The Cliff is a great place to chill out with a cocktail for an afternoon. The bar, D’Reef, is stocked with a good selection of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails, including their very own concoctions. You can also dine on western and Malaysian dishes in the attractive terrace restaurant. Signature dishes include the ‘Cliff’ rendang tok and the seafood platter.
Halal. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 12.30–11pm. $$$
La Sal Casa del Mar, Mukim Kedawang, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 2388/www.casadelmar-langkawi.com/ la-sal-cocktail-bar).
Enjoy dinner on the beach at Casa del Mar’s La Sal. Stunning modern Asian and western cuisine complements the romantic atmosphere. The crispy softshell crab and the almost architectural deep-fried kataifi prawn dish stand out, as does the lime crème brulée.
Halal. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 7am–10.30pm. $$$$
Mangoes Bar & Grill
End of Jalan Kuala Teriang (017 589 8117/012 564 0307/ mangoeslangkawi.webs.com).
Mangoes is something of a local institution. The breezy restaurant is comfortably decorated with a vaguely nautical theme, reflecting owners Michele and Lutz’s interest in sailing. It’s situated amidst a tropical garden behind the mangroves of sleepy Kuala Teriang, affording it some lovely sunset views. Around the corner from the bar, a wall full of books (ready to be swapped) will delight hungry bookworms. Popular with locally residing expats and tourists alike, Mangoes is a cosy kind of place where everybody knows your name and it is suitable for small groups. Browse the menu while patting Honey the dog and you’ll find a variety of Western dishes like lasagne (meaty and vegetarian available), shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and bratwurst sausage. We’ve tried the vegetarian soups like pumpkin and ginger as well as the potato and leek, the vegetarian lasagne, and even the sumptuous Christmas spread. Every time the meal has been affordably priced and well prepared with good quality ingredients. Drop by early on Sunday for brunch and linger over a glass of bubbly as you decide between a modest eggs Benedict with creamy homemade Hollandaise or a breakfast platter blowout of eggs, hash brown, sausages, bacon (the real deal), beans and more. You know which we’d choose. There’s no kids’ menu but portions are generous so it’s possible to share or downsize the dishes for smaller stomachs.
Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Wed–Sat, 5pm–10pm; Sun, 11am–10pm. $$$
Nam Restaurant Bon Ton Restaurant & Resort, Pantai Cenang (04 955 3643/www. bontonresort.com.my).
Not far from the flight path of many an Air Asia take-off and on the banks of a swamp, Nam Restaurant might seem to be inauspiciously placed. However, its lush furnishings and traditional wooden architecture create a tranquil atmosphere evocative almost of a ‘Deep South’ bayou. Nam serves a mix of cuisines including Malaysian, Thai and Western and many of the dishes are presented as sumptuous platters, making it a good choice for special occasions and get-togethers. Alongside commendable negronis and whisky sours, for starters we tried the Indianstyle samosas. Crispy shells parcelled a curry vegetable filling and a spinach and feta filling, accompanied by a sweet chilli sauce and a mint sauce. While each was tasty in its own right, the combination of flavours on the plate was overall an unsuccessful one. This trend continued into my main, the vegetarian platter. From the roast pumpkin to the herb yoghurt and the eggplant and tomato jam, each item was full of flavour but overall the dish didn’t seem to hold together. My dining partner ordered the seared fillet of beef and found the meat cooked rare as requested and accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes. However, the dish overall carried an oddly dominant note of sweetness. Dessert rounded off the meal extravagantly. The chocolate tasting platter boasts a selection of rich treats including the intense and smooth chocolate marquise and the firm and sweet chocolate caramel tart, enough to defeat the most ardent of cacao lovers. With stomachs full, the perfect way to end the evening is to pat the well-behaved cats, residents of Bon Ton Resort’s sanctuary and rescue centre, that roam the restaurant in between long, languid naps on the floor and furnishings.
Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 11am–11pm. $$$
NEW Pia’s the Padi Jalan Ulu Melaka, Langkawi (012 493 3713).
Formerly known as Jimmy’s Café, this quiet and down-to-earth restaurant is surrounded by emerald padi fields, offering an authentic rural Malaysian experience. Chef Jimmy, his wife Pia and their family welcome guests with genuine warmth and hospitality and will happily tailor the meal to your tastes. The menu is eclectic but standout dishes include beef butter masala and the mango kulfi with ice cream for dessert. Contact them to find out about their cooking classes. Despite the homely and intimate sound of the place, Pia’s the Padi can actually accommodate groups up to 500.
Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Daily, 12noon–11pm.
Red Sky Restaurant and Bar 6 Casa Fina Avenue, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 8734).
The menu ranges from tex-mex and burgers to curry and mee so it’s a little hit and miss but the service is very friendly. Head upstairs to D’Upstairs Lounge for drinks and live music from Dianne Guerzo and Tristano Soliano, who will cheekily drop your name into a song if you let him (and even if you don’t) while he croons all the classics.
Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Daily, 11am–2am. $$$
Red Tomato Restaurant & Lounge 5 Casa Fina Avenue, Pantai Cenang (04 955 4055/www.
This colourful and funky restaurant is not an easy place to find; it’s shaded by trees so you have to brush up on your scouting skills. The website asks you to look out for the bright pink VW Beetle parked across the street from McDonald’s; sure enough, it’s a reliable signpost. The café serves some of the best and most affordable western food the island has to offer. A wide range of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and salads are shot through with a healthy variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Visit in the morning for one of the island’s most popular breakfast menus.
Halal. Child friendly. Daily, 9am– 10.30pm. $$$
NEW Sheela’s Pantai Tengah, Jalan Teluk Baru (04 955 2308/www.facebook.com/ sheelasrestaurant).
It’s the secluded, secret garden ambience that pulls in the diners here. Service with a smile and a good range of western and local dishes further make this one a good choice for couples on a romantic night out or families looking to relax over the regular roast dinner on Sundays. Bring a hearty appetite and a good dose of mosquito repellent.
Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Tue–Sun, 6pm–10pm. $$
NEW Tide The Westin Langkawi (04 960 8954).
This chilled-out and sophisticated beachside restaurant serves fresh seafood and a mix of Western and Asian favourites across the lunch and dinner menus. Dishes include pizzas, pastas, burgers, and sumptuous oriental set meals.
Halal. Child-friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 11am–11.30pm. $$$$
NEW Artisan’s Pizza 59 Bandar Baru Baron, Kuah (04 967 1232); Lot 1230 Pantai Cenang (04 955 1232); 2, Perdana Quay II, Telaga Harbour Park, Pantai Kok (04 959 1232/artisanspizza.com).
It’s not the most authentic pizza you’ll ever try but on the other hand where else can you try a chicken or beef satay pizza? There’s a selection of more authentic flavours as well as a locally inspired menu. There’s also a variety of pastas and other mains such as cheesebakes, omelettes, and even Hungarian goulash. Of course, they do deliver but we have heard reports of them refusing to deliver to hotel rooms.
Halal. Kuah, Daily, 11am–11pm; Pantai Cenang, Daily, 10am–2am; Telaga Harbour, Daily, 11am– 11.30pm. $$
Lot 2863, Padang Mek Siam, Jalan Pantai Tengah (04 955 2133).
L’Osteria often wins rave reviews for its romantic ambience and simple, well-made fare. Expect thin pizzas made from good yeasty dough topped sparingly with flavours, pasta cooked al dente and, overall, ingredients that are authentically Italian.
Credit cards accepted. Daily, 12noon– 12midnight. $$$
NEW Mare Blu B5-6, Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park (04 959 3830/www.mareblu. com.my).
Situated at the chic Perdana Quay, Mare Blu is a great no-fuss Italian option for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Look out over the sleepy and picturesque marina and marvel at the super yachts as you dine on thin, crispy pizza (we like the simple but well made margherita), rich pasta like the decadent ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola and radicchio sauce, or enjoy a delectable Italian dessert. Many ingredients are imported from Italy while others are bought direct and fresh from the local fishmonger.
Halal. Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Daily, 11am–10.30pm. $$$
Ristorante Viva Italia Jalan Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 8646).
Viva Italia shares a kitchen (and owner) with the somewhat less successful 3 Amigos next door. With a laidback vibe and chintzy checked tablecloths, this place at least offers a decent pizza with authentic flavours and ingredients – but we can’t vouch for the pasta dishes. Service is a bit hit and miss here too.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 8am–12midnight. $$$
Japanese & Korean
The Japanese Restaurant
Jalan Teluk Datai, The Andaman, Langkawi (04 959 1088/www. theandaman.com).
The Japanese Restaurant is an elegant and discreet combination of creamy white walls and dark wooden panels, which carve the space into a general seating area, two teppanyaki counters, and traditional private tatami rooms. Showcasing fresh seafood caught by local fishermen, the menu lists all the Japanese favourites. Our meal began with delicate pink slices of tuna sashimi and then began again when we ordered seconds. A healthy set menu of intriguing, fusion vegetarian dishes beckoned. Its salad was a crunchy stack of thinly sliced red cabbage, carrot, mango, capsicum, and asparagus, coated in a sweet sesame vinaigrette, a dish that bore no resemblance to the menu description but was pleasing to the palate nonetheless. This was followed by the unusual but tasty smoked heirloom tomato and ricotta sushi and the clean and cooling zaru somen with sweet dashi sake broth. By this time, my dining partner’s mains arrived:
addictive and evenly seasoned garlic fried rice, salted mackerel (reportedly cooked to moist tenderness) with radish and pickled ginger, and teppanyaki mixed vegetables. The set menu’s main was a surprisingly lush teppanyaki dish of mixed vegetables and silken tofu, each chunky slice maintaining an inner softness within its crisped skin. We ended the meal with another pleasant stroll away from the menu: dessert was a bowl of green tea ice cream, glutinous rice pieces and red bean paste rather than the foretold chilled red bean jelly with coconut ice cream.
Pork-free. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 7pm– 11pm. $$$
Unkaizan Japanese Restaurant Jalan Telok Baru, Pantai Tengah, Langkawi (04 955 4118/www. unkaizan.com).
The folks at Unkaizan guarantee one thing about their food: freshness. This beautifully built Japanese restaurant reputedly serves the best fish, seafood and meat available. The sushi and sashimi are definitely worth trying and the handmade udon noodle is another favourite here. For dessert, don’t pass up the homemade green tea ice cream. The restaurant sits on a hillside overlooking the south-western shore of Langkawi so it’s the perfect place from which to enjoy the sunset.
Pork-free. Child friendly. Free parking. Daily, 6pm–11pm. Closed every second Wed of the month. $$$$ Korean NEW Haroo Off Jalan Pantai Cenang (opp. Underwater World), Langkawi (04 955 1981).
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this whimsical little place is run by a Korean family. Friendly, smiling service and authentic Korean treats stand out here. Lovers of kimchi will lick their lips at the kimchi fried rice and kimchi soup but there’s also nourishing bowls of bibimbap to tempt you. What’s more, there’s reportedly a good selection of vegetarian and vegan food too.
Daily, 8.30am–10pm. $$$
The Gulai House
The Datai Langkawi, Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi (04 959 2500/www.thedatai. com/langkawi/gulai-house).
Romantically located in the heart of verdant rainforest, this rustic wooden kampung-style restaurant is a testament to Malaysian hospitality. The friendly service at The Gulai House begins from the moment you arrive: greeted by name, diners who have made a reservation will find that their place cards are leaves from the jungle, stylishly inscribed. The menu is dominated by Malay and Indian dishes including Punjabi butter chicken, beef rendang, ayam percik, and the humble and nourishing Bukhara dal with black urad lentils stewed with tomato, ginger and cream. Entrees here are particularly spectacular – try the campur-campur, a sampler of dishes such as soft-shell crab, satay and mango salad. We tried the vegetable pakoras, artfully presented in an open bamboo pipe on a plate scattered with spices. These crispy fritters were complemented well by cucumber raita and tamarind chutney. Standout mains include the aloo gobi masala and the succulent daging kambing rogan josh, but the highlight here has to be the superb jungle setting.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 6.30pm–11pm. $$$$
Haji Pak Ya Nasi Ayam Restaurant 82-98 Persiaran Mutiara 2, Pusat Perdagangan Kelana Mas (019 563 8320).
Haji Pak Ya Restaurant is famous for its chicken rice. Unlike other chicken rice restaurants, it serves up a dish with a difference; there’s no chilli sauce to accompany the rice. Sounds disappointing, but it's surprisingly delicious. The secret could be in the marinade but try as we might, we couldn’t pry the secret from Pak Ya. Come early, as the chicken rice is usually sold out by 2pm.
Halal. Free parking. $
Ikan-Ikan Restaurant Four Seasons Resort, Jalan Tanjung Rhu (04 950 8888/www.fourseasons. com).
On the beach overlooking the Andaman Sea, this atmospheric restaurant mimics the breezy comforts of a traditional Malaysian home.
The dark wooden, open-air pavilion plays host to authentic Malay cuisine, with spices toned down just slightly, perhaps to suit its predominantly international clientele. Seafood is king here: fresh and well prepared, the fish, crabs, lobsters and prawns burst with sweet and spicy flavours. Popular dishes include the fried red snapper with tamarind, honey and chilli sauce, and for dessert, the sticky honeycomb cake, served up with honeycomb cream and frozen honeycomb.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 6pm–10.30pm. $$$$
Privilege Restaurant & Bar B8, first floor, Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park, Langkawi (04 956 1188).
Modern Malaysian cuisine can be tough to find but it’s possible to find it at Privilege. Gracing the swanky Perdana Quay development at the picturesque Telaga Harbour, this small, contemporary restaurant serves up Malaysian dishes with a twist. Chef Anuar delights in using non-traditional ingredients and you’ll find such quirky offerings as ostrich rendang as well as Western dishes with a local twist such as the gula Melaka crème brulée.
Pork-free. Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Mon–Sat, 12noon–11pm. $$$$
Restoran Siti Fatimah Batu 5 1/4, Jalan Kampong Tok Senik, Kawasan Mata Air, Ulu Melaka, Langkawi (012 473 7430).
Frequented by both locals and tourists, Restoran Siti Fatimah offers authentic Malay-style mixed rice. The signature dishes, kerabu beronok and kerabu manga are local specialities that use sea cucumber and mangoes respectively. Dishes are served buffetstyle with a range of 50 to 60 dishes, known as masakan kampung Melayu. During peak seasons, it may even go up to over 70 dishes. A few of the many dishes served include ulam, fried ikan semilang, ayam masak lemak, stuffed scad, grilled fish flavoured in air asam, and gulai ikan talang masin. Go there as early as 11.30am as the good dishes sell out fast.
Halal. Child friendly. Free parking. $
Nyonya NEW fatCUPID 2273 Jalan Teluk Baru, Kampung Tasek Anak (04 955 1010/www. fatcupid.com.my).
Adjacent to La Pari-Pari, fatCUPID is the resort’s cosmopolitan restaurant, offering western and Nyonya dishes as dreamed up by its Aussie-trained chef, Keith. The Nyonya specialities include nasi ayam pontay (warmly recommended) and Nyonya laksa. If you’re in the mood for western faves, try out the beef burger, or fish and chips. The biggest draw here is the friendly and fun atmosphere, making fatCUPID an equally good spot for a sumptuous and sunny brunch or a chilled cocktail in the evening.
Pork-free. Free parking. Daily, 8am– 2pm, 5pm–late. $$$
Jalan Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 5528).
Situated just past Underwater World on the Pantai Cenang strip, Islandish is receiving good reviews for the freshness of its seafood and its friendly atmosphere. Popular dishes include the sweet and sour deep-fried red snapper, tom yam soup, and lemon chicken, all washed down with a mug of cold beer.
Halal. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 11am–11pm.
Jala Jalan Teluk Datai, The Andaman, Langkawi (04 959 1088/www. theandaman.com).
Cast off your shoes and enjoy the sensation of sand beneath your feet at The Andaman’s romantic seafood restaurant, which marries the beach and rainforest with fine dining. The fresh menu is dictated by the luck of local fishermen and Chef Rene Knudsen’s innovative recipes. Moreover, there are two ways to enjoy the Jala experience. As you enter the restaurant, on your left is an impressive display of seafood over ice. Indulge by choosing your seafood, the method of cooking, the sauces and seasoning, as well as your side dishes. Alternatively, take a seat at your table and pore over an à la carte menu, recently revamped and attractively written out on dark wood. Your meal will begin with fluffy and aromatic complimentary bread, served with three dips as well as the ‘herb collection’, an assortment of greens and vegetables that comes cleverly served in a flower pot with cream cheese covered by minced olive as the ‘soil’. We’ve tried the bright, smooth ‘pumpkin, pumpkin and pumpkin’ soup, the intensely flavoured vegetarian lasagna, and far too many of the desserts than is surely good for us (but our heart remains captivated by the tart calamansi pie which is served with moreish ice cream made from locally sourced buffalo milk). Signature dishes include the visually stunning Jalaksa, Chef Rene’s interpretation of the Malaysian classic, the spicy crab and black pasta, and garoupa with hoisin.
Pork-free. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Credit cards accepted. Tue–Sun, 6pm–10.30pm. $$$$
Orkid Ria Lot 1225, Jalan Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (04 955 4128).
Orkid Ria can get a little busy with the tourist crowd but it’s worth a visit for the excellence of its seafood and cooking. Choose your fish from one of the tanks or the trays of ice, then relax as it’s cooked to perfection.
Credit cards accepted. Daily, 12noon– 3pm, 6pm–11pm.
The Roof Restaurant Lot 1751, Kampung Kuala Teriang, Mukim Padang Matsirat (012 423 9889/012 429 5889).
The old Seven Roof Restaurant has undergone a refurbishment and name change but the menu remains. Food-wise, barbecued seafood such as lobster, and the perennial favourite chicken satay are very popular here. Bailer shell is the restaurant’s signature dish. It can be eaten stir fried, either with ginger and spring onions or with dried chilli.
Pork-free. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 12noon–10pm.
Teo Seafood Restaurant
30 Pusat Dagangan Kelana Mas, Kuah (04 966 5520).
An unpretentious little place with some of the best seafood on the island. But aside from big juicy lobsters and crabs, the crispy duck leaves many diners lusting for more. Be warned though, you might have a long wait for your dishes.
Free parking. Daily, 12noon–3pm, 6pm–11pm. $$$
The Datai Langkawi, Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi (04 959 2500/www. thedatai.com/langkawi/the-pavilion).
Serving scrumptious Thai food in the most beautiful of settings, The Pavilion is an open-air restaurant high up in the midst of the rainforest. Chef Donny Hemna uses a lot of Thai herbs from his own garden and keeps the cuisine light and healthy. Don't be surprised if you notice a shy dusky leaf monkey peering in from the trees as you enjoy your meal. We enjoyed the crisp and tangy young papaya salad, the flavoursome fried Chinese kale with yellow beans and garlic, the hearty massaman beef curry, and the fried banana dessert.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 6.30pm–11pm. $$$$ Vegetarian
NEW Revitacura Garden of Eva 35 Jalan Lubuk Semilang, Bukit Hantu (04 955 3991/019 447 0745/www. facebook.com/Revitacura).
This haphazard and colourful development at the base of the majestic Gunung Raya approaches healthy living as a mad science experiment. The kitchen and sustainable projects here are run by volunteers from around the world garnered through the Workaway website. All of the food is vegan and a good 50 percent of it is raw too. Dishes are ultimately dependent upon the skill and adventurousness of the volunteer chef. In addition to meals at the café, cooking classes, private events and even kids’ birthday parties can be arranged. Reservations are strongly recommended. It is requested that you give staff 24 hours’ notice prior to your visit. Since the food is all vegan, the café is essentially halal but there are dogs among the animals roaming around the property. An excellent playground for kids of all ages, the Garden of Eva holds regular events like Rumble in the Jungle (a bonfire music jam), Oktoberfest, and soon perhaps, even cinema nights. Plans are underway for an outdoor cinema that will screen classic movies.
Halal. Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 11am–3pm. Cooking classes every Friday or on request.
Arked Negara Padang Besar Padang Besar, near the Thai border.
Padang Besar is a prominent one-stop tourist’s destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. There’s a lot to be enjoyed here, from laksa Perlis and spicy grilled fish to ice creams flavoured with local fruits. You can choose to dine at hawker stalls or in a more formal setting. There are loads of choices and prices are pretty easy on the pocket.
Mai Café Herbal Kopitiam 9 & 10 Persiaran Tuanku Syed Putra, Jalan Kaki Bukit, Kangar (012 419 9772).
One of the few places to offer up western food in Perlis, Mai Café goes from strength to strength with its tourist- and local-pleasing menu. Mai Café offers great service and good food at reasonable prices.
Halal. Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Daily, 6pm–12midnight. $$
Laksa Kak Su
97 Jalan Siakap 1 (012 550 0365/019 511 1464).
The laksa beras here is so famous that it always receives praise from satisfied customers. Owned by Kak Su herself, the dish is made out of fresh and authentic rice noodles immersed in a sweet-sour fish gravy and is best enjoyed with pulut panggang udang wrapped in banana leaf.
Halal. Child friendly. Free parking. Closed on Tuesdays. $
Lynda Ikan Bakar 71 Jalan Siakap, Off Jalan Perlis (012 401 0966).
Sink your teeth into a variety of grilled or fried fish, crabs, squid, prawns and cockles and dip with sambal belacan or air asam. The grilled selections can also be eaten with plain rice, ulam petai rebus and tender green brinjals.
Halal. Free parking. Daily, 5pm–2am. $
Seafood Hai Thien Seafood Restaurant Jalan Jeti Baru (04 985 5149).
Feel the sea breeze on your face and watch the sun set as you dine here. The menu mostly features seafood cooked Chinese-style, although you’ll also find items like fried sotong and satay ayam.
Pork-free. Free parking. Daily, 5.30pm–11.30pm. $
Scarborough Fish 'n Chips
Mangoes Bar & Grill
Revitacura Garden of Eva