Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast. Surrounded by turquoise sea, the interior of the main island is a mixture of picturesque paddy fields and jungle-clad hills. If you’re intent on carting off duty-free alcohol, cigarettes and chocolate, then this is the place to be. Still, nature lovers will find the island just as agreeable as the shoreline is fringed by powder-fine sand and swaying coconut trees.
1. Siti Fatimah
Possibly Langkawi’s most famous destination for Malay food – and it lives up to the rep. Come mid-morning, dozens of rich curries, grilled fish, dips, stir-fries and other Malay-style dishes are laid out in a self-service buffet. The flavours are strong and the prices low. It’s located on Jln Kampung Tok Senik; most taxi drivers know the place.
2. Red Tomato
Red Tomato is run by expats who crank out some of the best pizza on the island. It’s also a popular breakfast spot; options include eggs cooked how you like them and served with homemade bread.
Excellent service (the waiter folds your napkin on your lap) amid a beautiful open-air courtyard. The cuisine ranges from across Asia, looping from Malaysia through Thailand to China with fresh fish and seafood (including prawns the size of your hand) priced by weight.
At Bon Ton resort, Nam boasts a well-executed menu of fusion food, from chargrilled rack of lamb with roast pumpkin, mint salad, hummus and tomato jam, to a nine-dish sampler of Nonya cuisine. There are plenty of vegie options, and at night, amid Bon Ton’s starry jungle grounds, the setting is superb. Reservations recommended during peak season (December and January).
Lauded Japanese food, with seating in a cozy bungalow and on an open patio. The menu spans all that Japan is known for, but don’t forget to ask for the specials board, which often include dishes made with imported Japanese seafood. Reservations recommended.
6. Orkid Ria
The place to go on Pantai Cenang for Chinese-style seafood. Fat shrimp, fish and crabs are plucked straight from tanks out front, but it doesn’t come cheap.
7. Wonderland Food Store
Of the string of Chinese-style seafood restaurants just outside Kuah, Wonderland has been around longer than most and gets the best reviews. It’s an informal, open-air place where the food is both cheap and tasty.
Istanbul features a cosy dining room, friendly service and a menu that extends far beyond diner kebab. We loved the Adana lamb with eggplant dip that was filling and tasty, but if that doesn’t sate your appetite try the 1m long kebab served with rice, bread, a mixed mezzo plate, barbecue tomato and chili (RM250).
9. Troppo Co
A cafe with outside tables and inside, air-conditioned seating that serves real coffee and fruit smoothies, supplemented with a menu of hearty breakfast dishes and creative sandwiches on homemade bread
10. La Chocolatine
Excellent French desserts – croissants, tarts and éclairs – as well as light salads, sandwiches and quiches. Did we mention coffees, teas and real hot chocolate? A sophisticated, air-conditioned snack stop.