At The Datai, Langkawi, guests are spoiled for choices when it comes to dining. There are 5 F&B outlets in this sprawling rainforest property. The outlets each has its own charm, identity and unique offerings so food is never boring here. Executive Chef Richard Millar ensures that.
Originally from Australia, Richard has spent 15 years travelling and working at numerous luxury resorts in Indonesia, Fiji, Japan and China. I was told that once he joined The Datai last year, he quickly set off exploring the rainforest with the resident naturalist in search of indigenous herbs and spices that would help enhance his culinary creations. I’ve heard his signature 5-course chef tasting menu is quite legendary but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to try that. I did, however, meet up with Richard at The Dining Room during breakfast and he introduced me to his special and absolutely fabulous Foie Gras Chawan Mushi. Yes, we had that at breakfast! More about this later.
Now let’s re-live our dining experiences at The Datai…
THE LOBBY LOUNGE
The Lobby Lounge is usually the first F&B place that guests get acquainted with upon arriving at The Datai. Not surprising as this was where we were served some very refreshing welcome drinks and fluffy “kuih bahulu” (petite sponge cakes) complete with pineapple relish while waiting for the room registration process to complete.
This was also where I had my first glimpse of the picturesque panoramas of the emerald rainforest canopy merging into the jade-green Andaman Sea. Like me, guests will also be so enamoured by the beautiful lotus pond just beside it, where cute little green frogs frolic among the pretty pink lotus blooms.
View from the Lobby Lounge
The Lobby Lounge is excellent for all day-snacking, any-time cocktails, and evenings of live music, elegant canapés, refined wines and fine cigars.
THE DINING ROOM
We loved hanging out at The Dining Room with its casual relaxed ambience facing the pool and the rainforest beyond. It’s a place that we didn’t get tired of lingering, even when the last breakfast plate was cleared.
The breakfast spread may not be enormously extensive but what it served was adequate, with premium quality selections. Traditional banana-leaf wrapped nasi lemak, freshly baked croissants, pastries, breads are laid out with cheeses, salads, cereals, smoked meats and other hot dishes, both local and international favourites.
On one morning we were delighted to see roti canai being freshly made on-the-spot and I must tell you that the dhall curry and sambal were really good.
What topped our breakfast experience here was the discovery of Chef Millar’s special Foie Gras Chawan Mushi at the eggs station. Served in delicate cut-out egg shells, the smooth silky egg custard was so sublime that I shamelessly had 5 of them!
Besides the buffet items, guests can also order from a special breakfast a la carte menu. So we had lobster & coriander omelette, eggs benedict with smoked salmon & spinach and The Datai-style French Toast with truffle-whipped butter.
Oh did I mention that wines and bubblies are also served at breakfast here? Why not – it’s a vacation, after all!
The Dining Room is a versatile venue that transforms each evening into a romantic rendezvous. The illuminated sapphire blue pool reflects the night sky and sets the scene for a fine-dining evening menu of exquisite Malay and European cuisine. But like I said, we didn’t have a chance to check out the dinner menu here as the other F&B outlets beckoned.
THE BEACH CLUB
Adjacent to the beach and overlooking the azure blue pool, The Beach Club is a casual dining option for lunch or dinner. I could see this was a favourite spot among many of the guests as most of them would just hang out around the pool after breakfast. Food from the Beach Club can also be served by the poolside or in the restaurant itself.
Like the view?
From light Mediterranean snacks to wood-fire oven pizzas, seafood, local favourites and flavoursome salads, this open-air setting is ideal for casual dining or just chilling out. The bonus is the soothing sounds of waves breaking against the shore as you enjoy your meal. We had lunch here on two days and I still didn’t get tired of their food.
Our favourites here are their satay, steak, pizza and that Caesar Salad was amazing.
Thick chunks of tasty tender beef & chicken
The adjacent Beach Club Bar is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails and also caters to the nearby double sun-loungers and built-in beach daybeds, for a chilled-out ‘beach picnic’.
THE GULAI HOUSE
It’s best to hop onto one of the resort’s buggies to get to The Gulai House because the narrow road leading to it is long and convoluted. Situated in the heart of the rainforest, styled after a traditional Malay Kampung ‘village’ home, The Gulai House is really charming with its rustic, airy ambience and ever-present jungle symphony.
This award-winning restaurant serves traditional Malay and Indian cuisine amidst its warm wood-themed enclave with traditional lamps casting their golden hues across the teakwood beams.
The spacious restaurant offers a range of seating options, from an open-air dining area to secluded alcoves draped in organza featuring traditional low Malay tables and cushion seats on hand-woven pandan mats. Guests can opt to sit on these the “bersila” way (sitting on the floor with folded knees).
First things first: the moment we were seated, the service staff in traditional Malay dress, brought a small basin of water for us to wash our hands. It’s a ritual thats common among Malay kampung folks.
At the moment the menu at The Gulai House features a good balance of traditional Malay dishes and Indian cuisine. In time to come, more Malay dishes will be showcased.
We had a scrumptious dinner of ikan bakar (grilled fish), stir-fried prawns with vegetables, seafood in coconut curry, stir-fried kangkong, tandoori lamb and some super crispy roti pratha to mop up the curry.
Oh we also had this very tasty spicy crab soup with chunks of bouncy crabmeat! We were so full that we absolutely did not have any space for desserts at all.
When viewed from the poolside, The Pavilion looks like it’s suspended amongst the tropical treetops. Designed to appear floating in the rainforest canopy, The Pavilion is elevated on 30m stilts with far reaching views across the Andaman Sea to Thailand’s Tarutao islands.
Tables are decorated with orchids and flickering candles – just perfect for the gorgeous greenery provided by Mother Nature all round its wooden structure. There’s a definite “back to nature” feel about the place as all we could see around us were the lush leaves and branches of trees that had stood the test of time.
Many of the Thai dishes are cooked with freshly harvested herbs – lovely sniffs of lingering lemongrass, galangal and ginger flowers were apparent when the food was served. We shared a platter of appetisers, fried squids, roast duck red curry, fluffy fragrant Thai omelette and a plate of aromatic fried rice.
Guess what – we could still squeeze some space for the must-have Thai desserts of mango sticky rice and “thab tim krob” (water chestnuts in sweet coconut milk).
I heard that there are plans for an onsite organic garden and greenhouse at The Datai – with these, I can’t wait to see how its future culinary offerings would fare, definitely more deliciously decadent than ever.
For more information or reservation, visit www.thedatai.com, email [email protected] or call +604-9500-500.
Jalan Teluk Datai