Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Where to Stay in Langkawi?

A few of you have asked what places I'd recommend for accommodation in Langkawi.  Mostly we've always stayed on Pantai Cenang, as I like to be within walking distance of cafes and restaurants and right on the beach.  So, of the places I've visited so far, here is my personal low down:

Sunset Beach Resort - Super clean and simple rooms. Right on the beach with lush green gardens. Great location for restaurant / bar hopping and value for money.

Beach Garden Resort - Clean, simple accommodations merely footsteps to the beach. Reasonably priced with the added benefit of an awesome restaurant and hearty breakfasts.

Casa del Mar - Beautiful!  Thoughtful attention to details and shiny new facilities including bathtubs, i pod docking stations, flat screen TVs and balconies facing the sea. Classy, stylish and in an excellent location for exploring the rest of Pantai Cenang. Be prepared to pay highly for it though.

Frangipani - Very popular with expatriates and tourists from Europe. Nice pool and beach area but expect to pay tourist prices.

Sheraton Beach Resort - Stunning location with lush greenery, long beaches and rocky bays, full amenities and enormous rooms. It is getting a little old though and seems in need of an update. If you're a foodie, you definitely need to hire a car so that you can explore the island's other dining options - hotel food is way overpriced. Room prices are quite reasonable if you search for deals on the internet.

Other picks - While I haven't stayed at the following places myself I've visited friend's while they've enjoyed accommodations in these spots. All of them are a bit more than what I like to pay for a hotel room, but many people coming from the Western world find the expense quite reasonable.

Bon Ton/ Temple Tree - Traditional 100 year old homes, refurbished to maintain their charm but fully fitted with modern day conveniences. Food is good at Bon Ton but if you want more dining options you would need a car to explore.

Westin Beach Resort - Style and service as only the Westin knows how. If you spend that amount on a hotel room, plan to stay the whole time in the hotel to luxuriate in their facilities and get your money's worth.

The Andaman - Located on 'the other side' on one of the nicest and quietest beaches on the island. Tranquil, green and gorgeous. Another place where you should plan to maximize their resort facilities.

Would love to hear your opinions on places to stay in Langkawi too. Add a comment below if you have recommendations.

Where to Eat in Langkawi

The Cliff
The Cliff - Exquisite dining, spectacular views. Be sure to try the orange mojito. 

Red Tomato
Red Tomato - Wholesome meals and a quirky environment. European style home made breads.

Beach Garden
Beach Garden - Hearty German meals. Dine with the sand in your toes.

La Chocolatine
La Chocolatine - Chocolate and almonds croissants and real hot chocolate made with choc drops and milk.

L' Osteria - A little bit of Italian under the stars

Happy Hours - The hot spots are constantly changing but here are a few places to enjoy a few sundowners

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Red Tomato, Langkawi, Malaysia

House wine at only 10RM a glass.    Funky amicable atmosphere.

Smoked salmon sandwich.
Banana pancakes and vanilla ice cream.
Lightly toasted gluten free bread with aromatic seeds and a spiced cheese.

Eclectic, funky and so urbanly cool, Red Tomato is a happy place to hang out. Enter through a giant red door and enjoy the mish mash of furnishings including a red piano, chandelier, bird cages, toy trucks and a gigantic hot sauce bottle. After eating, head on upstairs to a comfy lounge area where you can pass the hours on wifi, sipping cool (or hot) drinks, reading magazines or connecting with other travelers. Popular with locals and travelers alike, Red Tomato deals out liberal platefuls of tasty cuisine with many healthy and gluten free choices. Fluffy, wholesome, home made bread is delicious on its own, as part of a sandwich or accompaniment to soup. While I usually shy away from the typical cardboard tasting gluten free breads I've come across, the slices at Red Tomato should be tried, gluten intolerant or not. Toasted slices of the slightly chewy loaf topped with their spicy cheese is delightful. Chatting with some regulars during our meal we soon found out that Red Tomato is known around town for their fresh salads, goulash and tomato soups, eggs benedict and filling pastas. A variety of drinks are available with wine starting from 10RM a glass and 50RM a bottle. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Red Tomato seems to be busy at any time of the day - a sure testament of a reliable eatery.

Red Tomato Restaurant and Lounge
5 Casa Fina Avenue
Pantai Cenang
07000 Langkawi
+6 04 955 4055

Monday, 27 February 2012

Ristr8to2 Coffee, Chiang Mai, Thailand

I love my coffee and if you do too and are visiting Chiang Mai, do visit Ristretto cafe.
You choose your coffee beans according to the world map and select the type of coffee you would like. Cappuccino, latte, mocha etc. I tried several; the Columbian, Ethiopian and the Costa Rica/Guatemala blend. All were fantastic.
Ristr8to2 Coffee, 15/3 Nimmanhemin Rd., Suthep, Muang, Chiangmai, Thailand 50200
Tel: 053-215278

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Cliff, Langkawi, Malaysia

The culmination of a foodie (and drinkie?) trip to Langkawi climaxed with lunch at The Cliff.  This stylish dining establishment juts out from the rocks at the end of Pantai Cenang offering a vibrant 180 degree beach panorama. Water action, colourful parasails, a dynamic mountainous backdrop and of course the glittering seascape provide natural entertainment for the eyes. The remainder of the senses are taken care of too with the hush of waves lapping the shore, the soft scent of the sea, the gentle tickle of the breeze, and of course the sapor of delicious food. Evidence of the top notch service (many staff members previously worked at The Four Seasons) is seen in the small details - cool scented hand towels, fresh floral table adornments, and flexibility to cater to customers individual preferences. Chic, contemporary and cultivated, The Cliff has brought a splash of class to Pantai Cenang.

With a more than adequate drink list and in prime position to luxuriate in breath taking sunsets, I don't know where you'd spend a finer few hours on the island. Their signature cocktail, the Fresh Orange Mojito - white rum and mint, jazzed up with fresh orange segments and a dash of triple sec - is the perfect refresher on a tropical get away. Happy Hours are from 3 - 6pm, but regular drink prices are reasonable at any time starting from 6RM for beer, 12RM for house wine and 18RM for cocktails. Separate bar and dining areas allow you to take your pick of sipping sites.

Humble and talented Chef Khairul is passionate about food and describes his menu as Malay Fusion with special attention to seafood.  We started our voyage with the Tiga Sekawan (Three Friends) - mini lobster, juicy baby octopus and deep fried crispy fillets of oat battered seabass in a finger lickingly good tamarind sauce. Our journey continued with the Sampan Besar (Big Boat) - a resplendent seafood platter: tender mussels aglio olio style with semi dried tomatoes and onion; light crispy deep fried soft shell crab; grilled fresh water prawns with a yellow tumeric curry sauce; paper thin slices of fried banana; grilled lobster with a delicate lemon caper & diced vege butter; deep fried seabass with a delectable tamarind sauce; all served on a generous bed of biryani rice packed with cashews and raisins and plentifully decorated with fresh herbs. This was a visual sensation - hence the four photos of the same dish above in a flailing attempt to capture its magnificence. Sized supposedly for two, but this dish could readily satisfy three or even four. Our cuisine cruise concluded with a Dessert Platter; smooth strawberry ice cream with almond crumble; tangy berry & citrus compotes with silky vanilla cream; a round chocolate brownie; and The Cliff cheesecake topped with apple strudel - towering high as the name might suggest.

A quick browse of the lunch menu shows dishes ranging between 22 and 68RM for lighter to heartier fare. While walking in for lunch is without hiccup, reservations are highly recommended for the evenings when the tables rapidly occupy. Celebrating its first birthday in February, The Cliff has fast grown a reputation for innovative twists on classic dishes and bold brilliant views. It's a dazzling spot to revitalize the senses in all forms. 

The Cliff
Restaurant and Bar
Lot 63 & 40 Jalan Pantai Cenang
07000 Pulau Langkawi
Kedah Darul Aman
+6 04 953 3228

Friday, 24 February 2012

Beach Garden Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia

* Sadly Beach Garden is currently closed

Beach Garden Resort has been around for years, well at least the nine that I've been living in Malaysia. It always comes well recommended by expatriates from KL who often pop up to the island for a weekend getaway. The restaurant is known for its hearty German fare and choice beach location. Our most recent visit was a Saturday night and we were entertained by a singer / guitarist playing lots of old rock tunes such as those from Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Stones, John Cougar Mellencamp and the Eagles. Wooden tables planted on the beach, but sheltered from inclement weather, allow guests to dine comfortably with the sand in their toes and coastal views. The place has a relaxed positive vibe and is positioned perfectly to enjoy the sunset. 

Pictured above is a buxom dinner typical of the meals Beach Garden is recognized for: tender Beef Roulades in red wine sauce that melted off the knife and dissolved on the tongue with red cabbage and a potato dumpling (36.50RM); mixed Antipasto Platter with thick fluffy slices of garlic bread, marinated veges, cheese, tomato encased tapenade, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives and roasted garlic (21.50RM); and a handsome slice of velvety textured Baileys Cheesecake (12.50RM). House wine starts from 12RM a glass and 60RM a bottle. I tried the red, a Nero D' Avola Lamura from Sicily - an intense red purple colour with soft red berry flavours - equally agreeable on its own or accompanied. Wine, cocktails and booze in general are offered at reasonable prices with Happy Hours between 3 and 6pm.

Breakfast is not pictured above, but is noteworthy for large servings, a venerable assorted bread basket, memorable pancakes and fresh juices. Seaside ambience, affordable imbibements and robust regale put The Beach Garden on The Yum List.  

Beach Garden Resort
Pantai Cenang
07000 Pulau Langkawi
+6 04 955 1363

* Sadly Beach Garden is currently closed

Thursday, 23 February 2012

La Chocolatine, Langkawi, Malaysia

La Chocolatine came recommended to us by a number of friends as serving the best pastries in town. Upon arrival in the late afternoon there was still a dribble of return expatriates purchasing their favourties for the day. We soon learned that one of the partners in the boulangerie is French. Apparently he insists that only French butter be used and that all recipes maintain their integrity with no adaptation for local taste buds, essentially keeping the authenticity of the products. We were very happy with a flaky moist seraphic Chocolate Almond Croissant and a curvaceous vibrant gold feather-like and buttery classic Croissant. Accompanied by Real Hot Chocolate (made with milk and melted chocolate - no powdery substitutes) the afternoon snack was a blissful pick me up. Also serving crepes, coffee, desserts and crusty bread, it could be a deserving place to return for a light European style breakky. 

La Chocolatine
Patisserie, Salon de The, Bistrot
3 Jalan Teluk Baru Pantai Tengah
07000 Langkawi
+6 04 955 8891

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Happy Hours in Langkawi, Malaysia

Chime, Sheraton Beach Resort, Teluk Nibong, +6 04 952 8000
Yellow Cafe, Pantai Cenang

The Brasserie, Pantai Cenang                                                                         The Cliff, Pantai Cenang

What better way to take advantage of Langkawi duty free island life than with happy hour cocktails on the beach? Some of the best views we came across are pictured above. First, the lovely Chime bar at Sheraton Beach Resort. Featuring a beautiful wooden boardwalk overlooking white sandy beaches and rocky bays, pool and sea vistas and a breezy outdoor lounge, it's an irenic spot for sundowners with two for one cocktails from 6 - 8pm. On Pantai Cenang, Yellow Cafe brings a laid back Phuketish feel to the area with hammocks, cheerful colours and swinging salsa tunes -  bargain booze from 4 - 6pm. For a more refined setting, the recently opened Brasserie brings in a little Miami ambience -  white clothed tables and umbrellas surrounded by green palms, also offering reduced drink prices from 4 - 6pm. The most sublime spot though, serving unrivaled cocktails, is The Cliff.  Jutting out from a rocky outcrop at the end of Pantai Cenang it showcases 180 degree views of the coastline and is prime property for viewing the sunset. The Orange Mojito is their signature cocktail and, in my opinion, unparalleled (at least on this trip). To create this grand concoction the base of a regular mojito with white rum and mint is jazzed up by a splash of triple sec and fresh orange segments. The Cliff offers three hours of affordable boozing pleasure from 3 - 6pm daily.