I would like to share with you my favorite trio of restaurants in Langkawi, Malaysia’s most popular beach destination. Almost all tourists are self-styled restaurant critics. I am no different, except there is one caveat - I’m a vegetarian (97% vegan). While I’m not fussy, I am very conscious about the way the food is prepared - you know, minimal salt and oil etc. If the produce used in the restaurant is organic and grown locally, so much the better. Finding some decent vegetarian friendly restaurants in Cenang Beach, Langkawi’s liveliest resort area, was a little difficult as many of the restaurants specialize in the traditional Malay cuisine which is heavy on fish sauce, meat and seafood, however I did see a number of Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants that offered vegetarian entrees, and a lesser number of Chinese and Thai restaurants as well.
Be forewarned, there are some pseudo fancy Indian restaurants in the area, but menu prices looked a bit on the high side and judging from the lack of customers, the food at these places was probably mediocre at best!
My wholehearted recommendations are as follows:
**** Let’s hear the drumroll please!****
- The Oasis Pub and Restaurant
Located about 200 meters south of Underwater World, this small beachside café specializes in North Indian Tandoori and Western food. After sunset, the ambiance at the Oasis Beach Club is very special with large colored light bulbs and candlelights illuminating the outdoor dining area. Did I say romantic? At the Oasis, there’s a good selection of set Indian dinners – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian – and for Langkawi, entrée prices are fairly reasonable. The fact that I ate there two of the four nights that I stayed in Langkawi has to tell you something – the food was very tasty. Only negative thing that I can think was that the service can be somewhat indifferent.
- Red Tomato Café
Located just 50 meters north of AB Motel was RED TOMATO, this small rather eclectic café offers a variety of mostly Mediterranean and Western dishes. The ambiance is very tropical, funky and offbeat – a place where most western tourists feel comfortable and judging from the crowds that gather here for the early morning hours, this café is hands down the most popular place for breakfast in town. While I was having breakfast there one morning, Red Tomato was so busy that the Maitre-D was putting people on a waitlist. What did I have for breakfast? A large mixed fruit salad with yogurt and granola accompanied by some delicious organic coffee (not Nescafe, thank G-D) and a toasted baguette. Don’t miss out on their wonderful homemade bread and rolls!
The European lady who owns the place is a little quirky, but her Malay husband, Oli - by occupation, he is a building contractor in Langkawi - seems to be a really amiable gentleman. He even posed for a series of pictures for me. I didn’t have a chance to make it there for dinner, but the menu had some decent vegetarian options including some delicious sounding salads. Service can be a little bit spotty though and prices are a little on the high side for Langkawi. In addition, their free Wifi is very fast - a lot faster than the service I paid for at the AB Motel. Soymilk is available upon request for their mixed coffee drinks.
Owned by a middle-aged couple from Korea, Haroo is located on a side street directly opposite Underwater World. Haroo offers a very diverse dinner menu, but their breakfast offerings are rather standard - toast, eggs, hash brown and a small juice. The service is very good and the prices are very affordable. The one time I went there for dinner, I ordered a very delicious vegetarian curry dish, rice and a side of garlic bread. Hmm very tasty! The husband personally greets every guest that walks into the restaurant with a bow and a smile, while his wife mans the kitchen. Overall, this is probably my favorite restaurant in LANGKAWI as the husband and wife tandem are such gracious and humble hosts. Their daughter, who is very fluent in English, is quite artistic – see her tribute to chairs and coffee houses on the far wall. Excellent calligraphy. Highly recommended!