Going on holiday without exploring the destination beyond the confines of the hotel, is a very big sin to me! (Even if it may be the ultimate 5 star realm of luxury!) Langkawi is bursting with attractions and things to do, including amazing hotels with great restaurants. During my trip there, one night we were lucky enough to be treated to a tantalising seafood dinner across the island at The Andaman Hotel’s signature seafood restaurant Jala.Setting off in a private luxury transfer from our hotel, we made our way to our dinner location. During the drive, we admired the flora and fauna with the wild green jungle passing by the window. Our chirpy driver provided a little tour and description of the island as we journeyed, telling us fascinating facts about the culture and environment. Progressing down a whiny path through a lush tropical rainforest, with monkeys leaping from tree to tree, we reached our destination.
The Andaman Hotel is a large hotel catering to a wide clientele ranging from weddings and families through to couples honeymooning. We arrived and indulged in a few cocktails at the beach bar adjacent to the restaurant. It was wonderfully relaxing to recline in one of their many bean bags dotted along the edge of the beach, cocktail in hand and toes in the sand, soaking up the picturesque remainder of the day. The afternoon sun set over the horizon, with the salty scent of the ocean lingering, the gentle sea breeze whistling through the palm trees and brushing past my skin, this really might be heaven
Once the sun had disappeared, we made our way (a mere 20 metres) next door to the adjoining Jala. The alfresco style restaurant is home to a sand covered floor, so we abandoned our shoes at the door and padded inside. Our splendid table at the front of the restaurant overlooked the beach, with the calm sound of the waves washing against the shore.
Jala is led by a local chef, with an encyclopaedia of knowledge on the best ways to cook fish and orchestrate amazing dishes. Each day local fisherman and suppliers deliver fresh catches to the restaurant, which are then placed on display atop a bed of ice. You can peruse all of the fish, hear detailed descriptions about them and where they originate from, and then have them prepared just as you like.
We began the meal with some warm and deliciously soft home baked bread served alongside pickles and dips. The bread was fluffy yet dense, and naughtily moreish. Complemented by a hummus dip and capsicum dip, we managed to polish this off surprisingly quickly!Enjoying some flutes of refreshing champagne, it wasn’t long before our entrees arrived to the table! Beautifully presented with gorgeous colours, the tastes jumped off the plate and had us begging for more! The Red Snapper was a dish of lightly cured fish presented elegantly to the table. Cooked in 65°C water, a little parcel of fish was accompanied by a smooth carrot ginger puree and cabbage roll, that united to create a delicious array of flavours.Our other choice, a fresh King Mackerel ceviche was gorgeously presented and proved just as exciting to the palate! Marinated in the exotic sounding ingredient of ‘Tiger’s milk’, this actually refers to the Peruvian term for the citrus based marinade that cures the seafood rather than the milk of a tiger (afterall, who could even get close enough to a tiger to milk it!?) The zesty marinade contained lime juice, sliced onion, chillies, salt, pepper and a dash of natural fish juice. Finished with little delicately diced pieces of avocado, the finely cut cubes of fresh fish lay in a creamy bed of coconut sauce, with everything pairing together swimmingly!
If you visit Jala, I highly recommend choosing a fish from the Daily Fresh Seafood selection, having it cooked to your liking, then picking a variety of sides and sauces from the diverse range available to accompany it. We examined each of the fish on display, ogling at some of the vibrant colours and interesting patterns embedded on their bodies. With the head chef having explained each of the fish available to us for that evening, we settled on his recommendation of the locally caught Chinese silver Pomfret. This fish embodies a meaty and flavourful texture, which we choose to be cooked in the signature marinade of turmeric, garlic, ginger and candlenut. Customisation is key with diners able to decide every element of their meal! One can choose their style of cooking from an extensive list including baked, grilled, steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried or poached. Isn’t it great when the hardest decision of the night is determining which of home-made sauces you would like for your fish?! The mixture of flavours often changes but today’s included Green Curry, Lemon Butter, Ginger Soy, Yellow Curry, Langkawi Green Chilli or the signature Jala Sauce. The final part of this fun process was determining which sides to have. Tonight, some of the options included Steamed Coconut Rice, Wantan Noodles with dark soy and Creamy Potato. Our choices were some lightly steamed buttered broccoli, fresh green beans, an amazing truffle linguini with beef and bacon bits and crumbed deep fried wedges of potato with black Cyprus salt. We had one half of the fish steamed, and the other lightly pan fried, served with the Jala Sauce consisting of turmeric, garlic, ginger and candlenut. Luckily the chef had filleted most of the fish, making it particularly easy for us to enjoy. Cooked absolutely flawlessly, the fish felt apart delicately into meaty little pieces proving incredibly mouth-watering.
Saving room for dessert is essential, with Jala’s fusion approach to sweet treats. The Chocolate and Banana dish was deliciously enjoyable and indulgent. A chocolate bar was presented with caramelised banana, roasted banana ice cream, banana cake and salty chocolate sauce. Attacking the chocolate bar with our spoons, it collapsed revealing smooth rich velvety liquid chocolate inside. The contrasting texture of the hardened shell, smooth liquid with its subtle salty sauce was scrumptious! The chocolate and banana components juxtaposed the sweet and salty, crunchy and soft to create a rich amalgamation of various elements uniting joyously together.
The Strawberry Reef is Jala’s signature dessert containing a pretty array of elements arranged on the plate. Two little bits of pistachio sponge cake sit alongside soft luscious coconut ice-cream with strawberry puree, sugar pickled strawberry, candy seaweed and sweet pistachios, all polished off with some sweet edible sand. It proved to be an interesting and unusual dish, very innovative and different with the separate parts all put together.
With our tummies full of food, we thanked the chef and welcoming staff for a lovely dinner! Gathering our shoes, we set off back to our waiting driver to make the journey back to our temporary home. We rid our feet of sand using their high-pressure air pump which proved to be a fun exercise in itself, then waddled to the car, falling asleep on the way home!
The Andaman Hotel
Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of The Andaman Langkawi