If you never learn another word in Malay, there’s one term you will become extremely familiar with during your time in Langkawi, and that is makan - to eat. Even if you accept every culinary opportunity your stomach can manage, the range and quality on offer mean you will still leave Langkawi with the feeling that you’ve missed out on some great eating experience.
Start the day with Nasi Lemak...
If you cannot decide what to eat in the morning, one of your breakfast choices is the classic Malaysian breakfast staple nasi lemak, rice steamed in coconut water. A version called nasi lemak bungku is topped with sambal, fried peanuts, ikan bilis, sliced cucumber, and hard-boiled egg and wrapped in banana leaves for sale by street vendors. The dish should cost you about RM1 to RM2 from a stall, depending on the amount of rice and the quantity of accompanying flavourings.
… Or Roti Canai
Another breakfast staple is roti canai, delicious Indian-influenced flat bread which is repeatedly rolled and folded to create a multi-layered flaky pancake that is typically served with a curry or dahl. The addition of a couple of eggs turns it into a great breakfast. Kedai Makan EIM Corner, in the village of Kuala Teriang, is an authentic local cafe that serves excellent nasi lemak, aneka goreng, curries, and tom yum soup - but their roti canai are exceptional.
Nasi Lemak goes well with a teh tarik (pulled tea), particularly if you need a dose of energy after a late night. Consisting of black tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk, teh tarik is made by pouring the mix back and forth repeatedly between two vessels from a height, resulting in a thick frothy top. Another popular pick-me-up is ais kacang
, a peculiar combination of beans, shaved ice, possibly some sweetcorn, and flavoured syrup and jelly.
Dining Out in Langkawi
When going out to eat in Langkawi, walk past many tourist restaurants on Patai Cenang and make your way to the small diners. There is a wonderful place behind the market in Pantai Cenang called Okay Boss!. The friendly owner, Mr. Bakaruddin from Melaka, is justifiably proud of his version of asam pedas, a hot native fish dish. For more upmarket fare, try the Bon Ton resort
's restaurant, The Nam, recommended for its superb versions of both Malay and Western dishes. Siti Fatimah
's Malay-style buffet offers equally good food. To be honest, possibly the best restaurant guide in Langkawi is your nose. Wherever you go, you will be greeted by the scents of tamarind, chili, and the myriad of diverse and delicious ingredients that make Langkawi cuisine one of the most fascinating and flavour some gastronomic experiences you will ever encounter.