Well for us, food & dining is of high priority when we plan our vacation in Langkawi. The range of choices and number of dining options in the island can be confusing. Unless you know and plan it in advance, likely that you will end up somewhere with great expectations and come out with regrets. It happened to us.
The fact is that there are plethora of family run restaurants and eateries that have come up in the island particularly in Pantai Cenang, Tengah and Kuah areas. While some of them are great, there are many that are sub-par although they may look flashy and inviting from outside.
The budget or cheap restaurants are usually shacks or eateries mostly serving local food, although there are exceptions. Many of them who do not have their own license to serve alcoholic beverages will let you walk in with your own drinks like beer if you take food there. These eateries are mostly visited by locals and backpackers.
But as I said before, if you know the ones which stand out from the rest and have made mini brands for themselves, you will find many returning tourists there as well.
The mid-range restaurants are usually stand-alone establishments. The good ones are run through generations by established islanders and their families who take delicate care in quality of food and service. While most specialize in specific cuisine, they also try to keep a range of popular and fusion dishes to cater to larger base of customers.
The upscale restaurants are mostly part of luxury resorts and hotels, and have specific themes. While they mainly rely on in-house customers, some have made their presence felt in a big way and attract many outside guests as well.
Most restaurants add a 10% service charge on the bill amount. While it is not necessary to tip in Langkawi, we always do so (about 10%) particularly when we receive great services. Most restaurants have a dress code of smart casual.
Being a top tourist destination of South East Asia, Langkawi has evolved and adapted to a wide range of cuisine. Seafood is most popular almost in all types of cuisine because it’s available in abundance and fresh.
Most popular cuisine in the island are traditional Malay dishes, and then followed by many Asian cuisine like Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese etc. Western preparations are also catching up well as many Europeans too visit the island. But the hot & spicy traditional Local Malay Food still remains on top of the list of favorites.
In my sections below, I have reviewed the best restaurants of Langkawi that we have come across over the years and during our many family vacations in the island. The reviews below are based on our own experiences as well as from the visitors who came back and shared their experience with me. While making assessments, I have considered the food quality, friendliness of service and overall ambience.
I have grouped the top restaurants against type of cuisine and also arranged them by price (i.e. budget, mid-range, upscale) so that you can pick up the one based on your day’s plan. With each entry, I have also indicated its location.
Langkawi Restaurants Serving Malay & Indian Cuisine
BNZ Sempoy’y Nasi Campur
(Category: Budget, Cuisine: Malay, Location: Padang Matsirat)
A very popular nasi campur eatery (rice mix, topped with meat, eggs, veg etc) located on the main road Jalan Padang Matsirat and close to the Masjid. It’s actually a stall serving wide range of Malay dishes at a very cheap price. The eatery has been a long time locals’ favorite.
Kak Yah Kondo
(Category: Budget, Cuisine: Malay, Location: Kuah)
This too is a local’s favorite. This restaurant which looks like an ordinary roadside eatery comes live in the evening and tables are laid out in the open next to the road. It’s located at the back of Kuah town and offers a range of Malay food including seafood, nasi campur, nasi ayam, laksa, roti canai and lot more. It serves Nescafe as well. Open for lunch and dinner. This is one place where you can come for food even at 1:30am.
Restoran Siti Fatimah
(Category: Budget, Cuisine: Malay, Location: Kuah)
This is another popular local restaurant patronized by the locals. They serve breakfast and lunch in buffet style. during lunch, over 50 different Malay dishes are offered. But you really need to come early, otherwise it will be all over. Some of the best dishes includes grilled or BBQ fish items or even the sambal fish.
Tomato Nasi Kandar
(Category: Budget, Cuisine: Indian & Malay, Location: Pantai Cenang)
Located at the busting center of Pantai Cenang, this restaurant also keeps bustling with tourists and local people for its cheap local and Indian Muslim fares. This place is known for its cheap and nice food. They also serve Tandoori items that are baked in earthen ovens as well as Malay dishes like the roti canai. Full of red plastic fiber chairs and tables, the restaurant uses up part of the sidewalk when it gets too crowded. The service is friendly. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are open round the clock.
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Malay/Nyonya/Australian, Location: Pantai Tengah)
Opened in April 2012, this is a relatively new restaurant run by three cousins. The restaurant is part of the La Pari Pari hotel which is located behind the Sun Mall block and therefore not easily noticeable from the main road. Keith is the Chef who has specialized in Australian fares and Malaysian cuisine especially the Nyonya’s recipes. Jeremy is the host and ensures an excellent service with an ever smiling face. The restaurant is open to all and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Cliff Restaurant & Bar
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Malay & Continental, Location: Pantai Cenang)
This restaurant probably has the best view of the Pantai Cennag beach and the water. Serving traditional Malay and Continental dishes, the restaurant is located on top of a rocky cliff that separates Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah beaches. It has a restaurant section, a cocktail lounge and an outdoor garden seating next to the water. The view of the sunset from here as you sip your cocktail can be an experience to remember.
Privilege Restaurant & Bar
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Malay & Fusion, Location: Pantai Kok)
Although the menu is not too elaborate, the chef Anuar Hassan really prepares some great Malay as well as Indian, Chinese and Nyonya dishes. He uses non-traditional ingredients, so don’t expect traditional Malay preparations. Some of their unique offerings include meaty lamb samosa with tangy mint pesto and wanton (broth) appetizers. Also do not miss out on the Lotus Root Salad, the 5 spice duck dish and the smoked banana ice cream. The restaurant is located on the first floor of Perdana Quay at Telaga Harbor. It serves lunch and dinner. The bar has an impressive menu of beverages, cocktails, beer and wine selections. The over all interior decor is one of the best in the island.
Ikan Ikan Restaurant
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Malay, Location: Tanjung Rhu)
This exclusive restaurant is part of the Four Seasons Resort. Ikan in Malay means fish. The restaurant which has a large open area teak deck with fish scale like roof serves great Malay preparations, especially seafood dishes. There is also a cocktail pavilion for alfresco dining and a private lounge here. The restaurant overlooks the wonderful ocean water on one side and lush gardens on the other. The ambience is ideal for a romantic dinner. The restaurant is open only for dinner though.
The Gulai House
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Indian & Malay, Location: Datai)
The restaurant belongs to The Datai Resort and located deep inside a dense rainforest on a slope of the hill and in a village like setting. The restaurant with its fully wooden & open house architecture with slanted roofs offers an amazing romantic ambience. If you are willing to go a little off the track and have money in your pocket, then this restaurant can offer you a very pleasant experience with its friendly and knowledgeable staff, classy ambience and a range of Indian and Malay dishes that are prepared to perfection. Open only for dinner.
Langkawi Restaurants Serving Asian & Western Cuisine
(Category: Budget, Cuisine: European, Location: Pantai Kok)
Formerly a small open style bistro located in a fishing village off the main road has now moved to a new location and become a modern bistro with a bar. The lady Coco is the host and her Irish boyfriend Steve is the head chef. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. You can enjoy some nice homemade food. There is a bar as well and the drinks are really cheap. Serves dinner and drinks until midnight.
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Asian & European, Location: Pantai Tengah)
Run by a couple, this is a wonderful open air restaurant nestled in a garden setting with many types of fruit trees all around and lily pond. The place is ideal for tranquil romantic dinner. Sheela herself has planted the trees and takes care of them. She looks after the Malaysian and other Asian preparations in the kitchen while Willy is the chef for all German and other European dishes. Very clean and the food price is very reasonable. There is a covered space in case it rains. The restaurant serves dinner.
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Mediterranean, Location: Pantai Cenang)
Located right at the Cenang beach behind Tomato Nasi Kandar and with wonderful view of the water, Brasserie serves a range of excellent Mediterranean dishes as well as great steaks. They prepare a variety of seafood items. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining. There is also an indoor space with a pool board, plasma TV etc for entertainment as you have cocktails. The bar offers happy hours. There is also live music on certain days of the week. Open for lunch and dinner.
Red Tomato Restaurant & Lounge
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Italian & Western, Location: Pantai Cenang)
This is a nice cozy restaurant located at the southern end of Pantai Cenang. Although it’s on the main road, the entrance is covered with plants and trees creating a nice outdoor patio for seating. It serves great Italian food including pizzas & pastas, as well as other European dishes. They also make great fresh fruit juices & milkshakes. The restaurant is famous for its hearty full western breakfast and thick tomato soup. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
L’Osteria X Temporarily closed
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Italian, Location: Pantai Tengah)
If you are looking for Italian food in a cozy laid back ambience, then this is one place definitely worth trying. Over the years, they have earned reputations with both locals and tourists. Many here are returning guests. They make great Pastas (including seafood and even oyster pastas), wood fired thin pizzas and several other authentic Italian dishes. The bar is also well stocked and service although not the best, is quite friendly. I have been here several times and continue to enjoy the ambience and the food.
Mangoes Bar & Grill
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Western/Steaks, Location: Pantai Kok)
Located off the main road and in garden setting, this is a great restaurant to enjoy an al fresco dining with wonderful view of the water. Michele overseas the preparations and her friendly staff take care of the service. Highlights are its steaks and ribs, as well as the salads, fried potatoes, and desserts. They serve dinner and newly introduced Sunday brunch.
The Loaf Bakery & Bistro
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Bakery & Western Dishes, Location: Pantai Kok)
This is an excellent bakery where wide range of bakery products are handmade in a Japanese style with the help of fresh local & imported ingredients. It’s located at the Perdana Quay and facing the Telaga Harbor marina. They also have an outlet at the Cenng Mall in Pantai Cenang. The Loaf also offers an excellent western menu for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Some of the popular items include the soups, salads, fries, pastas, steaks etc.
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Asian & Western, Location: Pantai Cenang)
This restaurant is located inside the Bon Ton Resort and known as one of the finest dining options in Cenang area with its eastern and western cuisine. The restaurant is setup in a lush garden setting amongst lots of greenery & plantations. Seating is alfresco (with roof cover). They also serve pasta and Tapas dishes as well as the local specialty Nyonya Platter (Malay & Chineese fusion dish). Although a little pricey, the interior decor and the ambience makes up for it. The cocktail list is impressive and so is the list of other beverages. Serves lunch and dinner with different menus.
La Sal Dining at Casa Del Mar
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Asian & Western, Location: Pantai Cenang)
This upscale restaurant is part of the Casa Del Mar Resort. Located right on the Pantai Cenang beach, the highlight of the restaurant is its beachside dining at the coconut groves with wonderful views of the sunset. The service is friendly and food is great. There is also a covered patio and inside dining. The selection of wine is very impressive. Serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Langkawi Restaurants Serving Japanese Cuisine
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Japanese/Malay, Location: Pantai Cenang)
Located inside the Laman Padi Rice Museum complex, this restaurant is a pleasant deviation from the many busy restaurants on the hectic Road Jalan Pantai Cenang. It’s located in a quiet & peaceful environment and surrounded by paddy fields, ponds and herbal gardens. The restaurant is run by a Japanese couple. You get authentic homemade Japanese food here as well as great Chinese, Malay & Thai dishes. This is one place where you get Steamboat – a traditional Chinese dish where meat & seafood are cooked right on your table. The restaurant is spacious. It serves lunch and dinner at very reasonable prices.
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Japanese, Location: Pantai Tengah)
Located in a forest setting, little up the hill and overlooking the sea, this is a very popular Japanese restaurant to both locals and tourists. You will see a bullock cart in front of the entrance. The chef Katsuji Takabayashi with experience in 5-star hotels, makes great Sushi, Shashimi dishes as well as charcoal grills, noodles and desserts. The menu has an exhaustive list of Japanese dishes. You can select your live seafood food from the in-house aquarium. The restaurant serves only dinner.
Langkawi Restaurants Serving Chinese & Thai Cuisine
Orkid Ria Seafood Restaurant
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Chinese/Seafood, Location: Pantai Cenang)
This restaurant runs full almost all the time despite its large seating capacity. They have several fish tanks right near the entrance and you can choose the days catch. However the live seafood costs a lot more than frozen seafood. service is fast and food is nice. They will prepare in any style you order- Malay, Thai, Chinese and even Western. Lobsters and tiger prawns are probably the fastest running items in this restaurant. They serve lunch and dinner.
Rose Tea Restaurant
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Thai, Location: Pantai Cenang)
Located on the Pantai Cenang Road and extending up to the beach, this restaurant serves excellent Thai food. You can dine indoor or al fresco with a wonderful water view. The menu is quite elaborate and includes dishes of chicken, beef, fish, prawn, lobsters, crab, squid etc. They also serve beer and wine.
7 Roof Restaurant
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Chinese & Seafood, Location: Padang Matsirat)
A great restaurant serving mainly Chinese and seafood dishes. They also have limited Malay items in the menu. The entire restaurant building is wooden finished and has a nice friendly ambience. The name comes from the seven triangular roofs. It’s setup in a nice garden setting.
(Category: Upscale, Cuisine: Thai, Location: Pantai Kok)
The restaurant is part of the Berjaya Resort. A pathway over the water leads to this Thai style restaurant which sits on stilts and right on the ocean water with wonderful view all around. Guests come here mainly for the awesome views of the sea, the sunset and the rainforest on the mountain slopes. The ambience is perfectly romantic. Although a bit pricey, the food is good too. Serves dinner.
Top Langkawi Restaurants Serving Turkish Cuisine
Ashkim Turkish Restaurant
(Category: Mid-Range, Cuisine: Turkish & Mediterranean, Location: Padang Matsirat)
This restaurant with bright colored interior is tucked right next to the Atma Alam Batik Art Center. Although relatively new, the restaurant serves great Turkish and Mediterranean dishes. Some of the favorites here includes the kebabs, the dips served with bread, chicken shish etc. It serves lunch and dinner. They also offer beer, wine and coffee. Serves lunch and dinner.
Update December 2014: Following restaurants received winners awards at the Langkawi Tourism Awards function held at Mahsuri International Exhibition Center, Langkawi in December organized by Langkawi Development Authority (LADA): Fish Farm Restaurant located at Kuah area received the Best Restaurant award and Best F&B Outlet went to The Gulai House, The Datai.
Great Restaurants By Location
(1) Restaurants in Pantai Cenang
(2) Restaurant in Pantai Tengah
(3) Restaurants in Pantai Kok
(4) Restaurants in Kuah
(5) Restaurants in Padang Matsirat
(6) Restaurants in Tanjung Rhu & Teluk Yu
(7) Restaurants in Datai Bay Area
(8) Restaurants in Air Hangat & Kilim Areas