Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Pavilion, Thai Restaurant, The Datai, Langkawi

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi

Thai Culinary Journey at The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi


Arriving at dusk, The Pavilion is alive with chatter from the jungle. A family of shy dusky leaf monkeys is nestled in a tree less than a metre from our table: we can almost reach out and touch them. Birds are calling, insects are chirping and the air is crisp following the afternoon tropical storm. It’s a remarkable location and we’re thankful for the chance to experience such natural beauty in such a luxurious setting.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Surrounded by Jungle
The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Table for Two
Award winning Thai cuisine is found in the open-walled Pavilion. Seeming to float at the same level as the rainforest canopy, this wooden stilt structure gifts views not only of verdant treetops, but too of calm Andaman Sea and further out to the Thai Tarutao islands.

Linking the not-too-distant archipelago to the current location are soft Thai tunes and gourmet Thai dishes that are just as much entertainment for the eyes as they are for the taste buds. The renowned freshness of this cuisine type and presentation in ceramic bowls and on hot plates is flaunted in every recipe.

Settling in, I order The Pavilion’s signature cocktail, the Ram Buh Thai (RM 45). White rum, egg white, lime juice and sugar syrup are blended together producing a white froth atop a sour reviving liquid. It resembles a Pisco Sour in both appearance and flavour. Thumbs up! Hubby goes with his predictable order of bubbly, a Barbier-Lemaire Prestige NV (RM 75), which keeps him happy as he sips from his flute feigning an air of sophistication.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Ram Buh Thai Cocktail
The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Champagne
We’re sipping and gawking at our incredible surrounds when an Amuse Bouche arrives reminding us that this location holds more allure than solely the environs. The lemongrass salad with anchovies wakes up our palates and leaves our tongues with a light tingle.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Amuse Bouche
The meal officially underway, we switch to drinking a Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012 from Rheinhessen (RM220 bottle). This versatile drop fares aptly across a variety of flavours and handles particularly well the zesty kick often found in Thai dishes. It mirrors some of the salads and starters with acidic flavours of lemon and lime, and produces welcome refreshment from the heavier saucy dishes cleansing our palates with a clean fruity finish.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Riesling
The Taste of Siam (RM75) demonstrates a cracking beginning as we get to sample a trio of starters. Adharn Thai Piseat Som Tam, brings young papaya salad in an edible cup. It’s tangy and reaches every nook of our mouths with its sharpness. It showcases the style of the restaurant, Thai cuisine from the south, which is less sweet and more spicy than recipes from the north.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
A Taste of Siam
Gai Hor Bai Toey, deep-fried pandanus wrapped chicken, is delicious! Meat from the chicken leg is marinated with oyster sauce, soya and pandan juice then sheathed in the leaves and deep-fried. The result is a charred exterior with moist succulent meat interior. It’s great on its own but dip the flesh in the ginger, soya and sesame seed sauce and our taste buds are doing a happy dance.

Poh Pia Goong, prawn spring rolls, are encased with crispy layers of pastry and stuffed to the edges with firm to the bite prawns. Another flawless example of a classic recipe executed to perfection.

Tom Yam Goong (RM42), spicy prawn soup with abalone mushrooms, is served in a bowl held in a metal tripod. For such a small bowl it’s packed with springy superbly cooked prawns, verdant coriander and a rich red liquid. Nostrils cleared, tongues and lips prickling, smiles on our faces, we’ve accepted and devoured the challenge to the very last drop.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Tom Yam Goong
The mains are about to arrive and hot ceramic plates are delivered to our places. It’s a small but important touch. When sharing dishes, food can get cold quite quickly, so the heated bases hold the warmth keeping our food hot for longer.

Pla Sam Rod (RM115), crispy fried snapper with three flavoured sauce, is presented on a long rectangular platter. Flaky white fillets are coated in a thin batter and crowned with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce. The moist fish is complemented wonderfully by the fruity sauce, and even though this is a large portion, not a bite is left at the end of the meal.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Pla Sam Rod 
Chu Che Goong Lai (RM95), deep-fried tiger prawns with kaffir lime leaf sauce are giant specimens. A decadent drizzle of coconut cream zig-zags the crest and is contrasted in colour and taste with vibrant pieces of the lime leaves. The curry is rich and flavoursome and we stretch the dish to its very last blob by soaking it up with the accompanying rice.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Chu Che Goong Lai 

A large pottery bowl holds Phad Phak Naam Man Hoi (RM36), stir-fried seasonal vegetables with oyster sauce. Their freshness makes a terrific break to the intensity of the sauces for the prawns and fish. 

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Phad Phak Naam Man Hoi
There are over a handful of desserts on the menu but I simply can’t resist the classic of mango sticky rice, Khaw Neow Mamuang (RM28). Ripe yellow mango is sided with sticky rice rich with coconut milk and given a savoury splash with sesame seeds. It’s an excellent ending to an incredible experience.

The Pavilion, The Datai, Langkawi
Khaw Neow Mamuang
If you’re ever on the island of Langkawi, be sure to visit. Heck, plan to visit Langkawi so that you can eat here: food and setting are worth the air tickets.

Reasons to visit: stunning location; authentic southern Thai cuisine.

The Pavilion
The Datai
Jalan Teluk Datai
07000 Pulau Langkawi
Kedah Darul Aman
Malaysia
+6 04 9500 500
Open 6:30pm – 11pm

Monday, 29 June 2015

Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia

Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Croissants and other pastries and breads are all made in house at The Datai

Scrumptious Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi


Breakfast in The Dining Room at The Datai Langkawi is one of the best, if not the best we've tried on the island. Everything is made from scratch and the chefs lift the average hotel buffet options to gourmet heights. More on The Datai will come in posts next week, but for now, here's a short photo journal of some of the mouth-watering delights found in the morning offerings. If you get a chance to start the day here, do it!

Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
One Morning's Selection
Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Coconut Pastry
Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Foie Gras and Baked Egg
Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Lobster Omelette
Breakfast at The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Peak Through The Window from Our Table at The Dining Room
Coffee

Wild Honey from the Surrounding Jungle
Eggs Benedict
French Toast with Truffle Butter
Lassi and Juices
Mangosteen - Yum!
Pan Au Chocolat
Pancakes
Breakfast Parfait
Home Made Pineapple and Ginger Jam
Chef Making Roti Canai to Order

The Dining Room
The Datai
Jalan Teluk Datai
07000 Pulau Langkawi
Kedah Darul Aman
Malaysia
+6 04 9500 500

Open 6:30pm – 11pm


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Best Value for Money Meals in Kuala Lumpur

It's hard to get the perfect balance when it comes to weighing up price point with quality of food these days. It seems there are excellent meals to be had for just as 'superb' prices, but also equally cheap meals to be had for below par ingredients. The Yum List has been busy hunting down restaurants where we feel you get a good quality meal for a fair price. There are a few. Here are our top three in:

Best Value for Money Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur


Madisons

best value meals kl
Madisons
Madison's proudly makes everything from scratch. Ingredients are carefully sourced and dishes are contemporary Australian in style. A set lunch of three courses here, which is available every day including weekends, will set you back just over RM40. For the quality of cuisine found in this hidden gem, that's an incredibly good deal.


Quivo

best value
Quivo
Prices, even in the food court, in Pavilion seem to be elevated above the rest of the city. To try to capture the crowds however there are a number of cheap lunch deals, which serve up equally cheap food. There is one standout however, that provides high quality recipes, 100% made in house, for affordable prices: Quivo. Excellent happy hour deals see wine priced at two for RM26, cocktails two for RM28, and a plate of four sliders with chunky crispy wedges for RM20. The rest of the menu too sees satisfying dishes at very reasonable price points.



best value restaurants in kl
La Cafe Memoire
Truly a great find in TTDI, the team at La Cafe Memoire also make everything themselves including, breads, to-die-for fettuccine and sauces. Expect to snap up delicious meals, such as a Smoked Duck Salad for RM9 and an enormous juicy Pork Chop for RM25, and still find plenty of cash left in your wallet.

Where have you found the best value for money meals in the city?

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Interview with Chef Somkeat Lok, The Datai Langkawi

datai langkawi
Chef Somkeat Lok

Interview with Chef Somkeat Lok, The Datai Langkawi


What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the Thai Chef for Pavilion Restaurant at The Datai Langkawi. I have loved cooking since I was young. I always watched my mom cooking at home and after I graduated from school, I joined the hotel industry and learned from there.


Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
I recently worked together with Celebrity Chef Martin Yan for his Taste of Malaysia cooking show at The Datai Langkawi. It gave me a great experience and memories for my career.


What the best / worst part of your job?
I love food and searching for ways to trigger as many sensorial aspects for the dining experience. I often go foraging around the resorts rainforest to search for spices and herbs to ensure a memorable experience for our guests. The worst part is when we face the problem of supply for fresh Thai herbs and spices on this island.


What your personal favourite meal / drink in Langkawi?
My favourite meal on this island is seafood pizza and iced coffee at Red Tomato Café, 
Pantai Cenang, Langkawi.


What’s one of the funniest things you seen behind the scenes?
I have not seen many outrageous things in my career, but years ago I did witness my former chef throw a dinner plate to a kitchen helper because he did not follow his instruction during work.


The perfect day off would be...
... traveling around Thailand, spending the day exploring, learning new cultures and food from the different areas of Thailand.


A day in the life of a chef is ...
At The Datai, I am in-charge of The Pavilion kitchen. In the morning I spend time searching for wild herbs and spices that I use in my menus, then I have a briefing with my executive chef, before I start the day’s food preparation. I also create the daily market list and ensure that all the products and food preparation is of perfect quality before it is served to our guests. After dinner service, the kitchen is cleaned by all the staff to maintain the proper cleanliness standards.


What do you do for fun?
I go swimming and enjoy dining at other restaurants in Langkawi.


What something you'd like guest to know about Thai Pavilion?
The Pavilion is one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in Langkawi, serving traditional Thai cuisine from all around Thailand.


What's your favourite food and wine pairing?
Traditional spicy grilled beef salad together with sauvignon blanc.


What your view on the Langkawi food scene?
Langkawi is an interesting place with a lot of potential. It is important for me personally as a chef to assist the local community in understanding the significance of sustainable food and protecting our environment.


What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
We are working on new menus and introducing a new concept of traditional Thai food using modern cooking techniques.

Check out some of Chef's dishes via this link.

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
To The Gulai House

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi


A magical Malay experience is found in The Gulai House, at The Datai Langkawi. The setting, a traditional Malay kampong house, blends almost organically amongst the encircling 10-million year old rainforest. Divided into various areas, there’s a larger dining section, intimate nooks veiled by flowing curtains, and secluded low tables with cushion seats for a romantic couple’s dining experience. Here we dine on Malay and Indian cuisine served by warm-hearted wait-staff uniformed in indigenous dress.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Restaurant in the Jungle
There are no walls in this traditional building and we can literally reach our arms out and touch the jungle. A ceiling fan provides a soft breeze, and warm lighting from lamps and flickering candles contribute to a peaceful atmosphere. Wildlife from the jungle are active and keep us smiling throughout the evening with chitter chatter building up to crescendos and then diminishing before intensifying yet again.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Floor Seating
The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Table for Two
The Malay custom begins with hand washing before every meal and we’re assisted with this, table side, by a waiter with a black ceramic jug and bowl. As we browse the menu we’re expecting some spice in the food to come so order a glass of Gewurztraminer, Reserve Personnelle, A. Kuentz 2011 (RM35). This sweet wine from Alsace tones down the kick, making it more tolerable to unaccustomed palates.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
French Riesling
Orders in, an amuse bouche of fried prawn with capitan sauce arrives. It’s bedded with shredded fresh vegetables and the coating is tasty, making a pleasant entry to our meal.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Amuse Bouche
Starters

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Mixed Appetizers
A sampling platter of Malaysian favourites enables guests to try a variety of dishes in one sitting. The classic Otak Otak, grilled fish and prawns cooked in banana leaf, is already opened for us, making it easy to eat. The filling is fresh and soft and a tangle of shredded veggies and a dripping of coconut cream on top complete the experience.

Sate ‘Gamelan’ of beef and chicken sports a taste of charcoal, clearly pulled hot off the grill. The peanut sauce pooled in a petite ceramic pot is chunky with nuts, not overly oily and only brandishes a mild heat – it’s a great initiation to satay, especially if you’re sensitive to spice.

Ketam Goreng Ranggup, deep-fried soft shell crab, seems to have been cooked together with curry leaf as we note a gentle curry flavour in the batter. Lastly, Kerabu Ayam, crunchy chicken mango salad, is cupped in a pastry chalice. Thin strips of raw vegetables, green mango and chicken are tossed in a light dressing. There’s a distinctive sour ending to this salad with the generous use of lime.

Soup

Sup Ketam Berserai (RM45) has been on the menu since the restaurant first opened in 1997. It’s ingrained as one of their signature dishes and they’ve been unable to remove it due to overwhelming request by guests. Local mangrove mud crab is fleshy and sweet, and combined with the lemongrass the broth proves a smooth mouth-filling loveliness. We can see why this recipe has remained unchanged for close to 20 years!

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Sup Ketam Berserai 

Mains

With the onset of the mains we switch to a red, also hailing from France. The Beaujolais-Village, Domaine Des Marrans 2010 (RM30 per glass) is a light drop and versatile enough to partner a variety of flavours.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
French Red Wine
Coming out number one in one of CNN’s readers’ poll of the 50 Most Delicious Foods in the World, Rendang Daging (RM80) is a must try! Strips of tenderloin beef are cooked for many hours and seasoned with blue ginger, lemongrass and grated coconut. It’s aromatic and incredibly flavourful.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Rendang Daging
Ayam Lemak Ulam Pegaga (RM75) sees chicken cooked with coconut cream, turmeric and centella. The centella herb, we learned on a nature walk with The Datai’s resident naturalist earlier in the day, is believed to have youth giving properties and is widely used in Chinese, Malay and Indian traditional medicine. The sauce is rich and creamy, and the meat is moist and tender.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Ayam Lemak Ulam Pegaga
Grilled fish with a spiced salad is presented in the Ikan Bakar Berulam (RM83). Local coral grouper is filleted, coated with a multitude of herbs and finely chopped vegetables and finally wrapped and baked in banana leaves. Served with a thick sweet soy and chili sauce on the side, it’s absolutely delicious and hubby declares it his favourite.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Ikan Bakar Berulam  
Balancing out the protein packed line up we have Sayur Campur Goreng Aneka (RM39) mixed wok fried veggies, Nasi Putih (RM12) steamed white rice, and crispy pappadams. The additional side plate of steamed veggies is not on the menu but comes with the meal, featuring lady fingers, long beans and banana blossoms ready for dipping in the sambal belacan (chili and shrimp paste sauce). It’s quite a refreshing contrast to the heavy mains.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Sayur Campur Goreng Aneka  
The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Accompaniments
In general we’ve found all of the dishes leniently spiced and with far less oil than what we’ve had in many Malaysian homes and restaurants. Cuts of meat have been of high quality with not a single piece of skin, bone or chewy sinew in sight. This is clearly top of the range Malaysian cuisine, and makes a favourable introduction for the uninitiated, but also for those who prefer to savour the complex flavours of each dish rather than be overwhelmed by spice and oil.

Dessert

A typically Malaysian finale of Cendol Pulut (RM28) seems especially appropriate in this climate. Shaved ice is drenched in coconut milk and mixed with palm sugar, sticky rice and red kidney beans. While my foreign taste buds have still not grown a love for corn and beans in dessert, the rice, sugar and coconut cream reminds me of rice pudding and both hubby and I clink spoons to the very bottom of the bowl.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
 Cendol Pulut  
For something equally delicious, and a signature of The Gulai House, we also try the house made ice cream (RM15 per scoop) served in an ice bowl. Our pandan scoop is velvety smooth and creamy – highly recommended.

The Gulai House, The Datai, Langkawi
Pandan Ice Cream in Ice Bowl
Reasons to visit: enchanting location in the jungle; delicious top-notch Malaysian cuisine made with quality ingredients; a unique experience in the heart of the rainforest.

Gulai House
The Datai
Jalan Teluk Datai
07000 Pulau Langkawi
Kedah Darul Aman
Malaysia
+6 04 9500 500
Open 6:30pm – 11pm