Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Picky Vegetarian Hogger goes to Langkawi, Malaysia

This post would be part two of my Malaysia, 2016 travel. The first part of the Malaysia 2016 travel can be found here. Since it is comparatively more difficult to come across vegetarian food when one travels, I thought I'd give a detailed account of where and what I ate and whether or not it was worth it. One general piece of advice? If you are a vegetarian and a picky one at that (a la yours truly), fresh fruits will be your best friend.

After the rather filling but disappointing toast at Gemini Cafe at Penang Airport, we boarded our uneventful flight to Langkawi, which lasted about an hour. Honestly, Langkawi Airport is one of the best airports I've ever been to. One you land, you walk the length of the runway to the airport and the view right from the runway is breathtaking! The cherry on the cake would be the road that snakes around the airport, Jalan Kuala Muda through which we drove several times and even stopped over because to the left you have the glittering magnificent sea and to the right you see an aircraft landing, all while the sun bathes the sky in its dusky hues.

We rented a car in Langkawi and drove around to all the places. Public transport is not very easily available and cabs can get costly if you are on a tight budget. From the Airport to our first accommodation, D' Bedang Studio is a 7km ride, which cost us MYR 22/-. Like I said, cabs can get costly. On the other hand, we rented a car at MYR 60/- per day [MYR 240/- for 4 (four) days, excluding fuel. Fuel in Malaysia is dirt cheap at MYR 1.80/- per litre on the dates we travelled; that comes to INR 16.66/- per litre. True story.

D' Bedang Studio is very close to Cenang beach which became our daily mecca just to stroll around the avenue, visit the beach, visit Cenang mall (free Wi-Fi ftw) and also make purchases from the duty free stores there. The other place we stayed at in Langkawi was Desa Terrace. It was close to D' Bedang Studio, more on the main road, and at close proximity to Cenang beach. Both our accommodations were well maintained, clean, pocket friendly and had yummy views. All the above being said, I do think Langkawi is an over rated touristy spot in Malaysia. I am more in love with Penang rather than Langkawi, truth be told.

Now that I have given an overview on our stay in Langkawi, let's talk about the food there:

  1. When we first drove down to Cenang beach, we went to Old Town White Coffee at Cenang Mall because, coffee. I opted for the plain old White Coffee, the Plus One opted for the same with an addition of hazelnut flavour and peanut butter toast. While my coffee was the same old, the Plus One's coffee was actually rather disappointing since the hazelnut flavour was drowning out the strong coffee flavour. The peanut butter toast had to be the most disappointing. Imagine 4 slices of toast. Now imagine the crumbs removed. Not, imagine a tiny dollop of peanut butter toast applied on top of it. Dry, flaky, practically flavourless. Upon my return to India, my friend recommended a certain 'Kaya Toast' which is basically a combination of coconut, jam and butter on toast. It wasn't very appetising for me since I am not a coconut fan. Perhaps something you might like?
  2. I have mentioned in my earlier post that I do not like the taste of eggs. I just thing it is too pungent to my liking. On a subsequent visit to Old Town White Coffee at Cenang Mall, I opted for French toast and regular white coffee with an addition of cham (creamer). 
    I am a big fan of French toast at Cafe Max in Bangalore. It is just the right amount to toast, butter, eggs, milk, cinnamon, maple syrup and honey. Just, perfect.
    The French Toast at Old Town White Coffee had this thick layer of egg, with very little of milk, cinnamon, and honey. I was gagging on it and the Plus One ended up licking the plate. The coffee was a disaster at another level. Turns out I am not a fan of cham (or creamer). It dilutes the coffee and makes it un-drink-ably creamy. Do not opt for this if you are a strong coffee fanatic like moi.
  3. On the way to Langkawi Skybridge we stopped by Artisan's Pizza. We had a choice to make our own pizza, which we did! I am a big believer of pineapple-on-pizza. The toppings we opted for were cheese, pineapple, jalapenos, onions and black olives. Totally worth the prize. The staff was very, very friendly too. We really enjoyed ourselves here and made a mental note to return.
    The drive to Langkawi Skybridge is marvellous. Langkawi Skybridge itself, is a must-do on your itinerary. Yes, the entrance fee does lean on the costlier side, but the experience of walking on the Skybridge is simply fantastic. When we went, we were engulfed in monsoon clouds hitting us with strong winds and the occasional showers. The sky cleared up for just 20 seconds and we got a glimpse of some beautiful turquoise waters. The path to the Skybridge itself runs through forests, it is quiet, beautiful and doesn't attract a lot of fellow humans. So, do it!
    The Langkawi Skybridge has only one cafe at the top, called the Skybistro. Unfortunately I couldn't stomach a thing that was being prepared here so I skipped eating anything altogether except for my life-saving pears. Not to mention, the view from the Skybistro while you stuff your mouth is jaw dropping. Make sure not to drop any food.
  4. While in Langkawi (or Penang) for that matter, instant cup noodles might end up becoming your best friend. Don't get scared by the variety of fauna shown on the outside, it is perfectly edible inside. In the days of my naivety, I opted for one vegetarian cup noodles. It was noodles, with an addition of salt and pepper. That's it. The disappointment was all-engulfing for me. Upon the Plus One's insistence, I sniffed his cup noodles which had a picture of egg and something grey-black on it. Surprisingly, it smelled and tasted exactly like our regular Maggi. I think the packaging was yellow and red, I really do think it is worth it. The cost is also very reasonable at MYR 2-4 for one cup.
  5. For breakfast, we headed to Bread Story at Cenang. This is a decently sized store with a variety of breads! The aroma of freshly baked bread wafts in the store itself. They have a small area for seating with a beautiful view of baked goods stacked one upon the other. We opted for marble cake (delicious), vanilla cake (meh), Mango Sin (a round burger bun with a filling of mango cream - the taste of cream is overpowering), Garlic Stick (a long load of bread - full of all purpose flour - with a generous coating of butter, garlic and Dominos-like oregano, my favourite). The goods are a bit costlier than what they are worth. But, for one visit, it is all good.
  6. For a late lunch one other day, we stopped by Yasmin Shawarma, a Syrian Restaurant at Cenang. They had one vegetarian option on their menu - the Falafel Vegetarian, chickpea fried patty, cabbage, spicy kimchi with mayo. While they make the dish right in front of you and it is just drool-worthy to watch, when I bit into the roll, it was pungently spicy and I was instantly put of by the smell and taste of cabbage. One piece of wisdom - never have cabbage with rolls; I am a big advocate of lettuce over cabbage in burgers and rolls. Anyway, for the price (MYR 10/-), it was a total waste, while the Plus One really enjoyed it -_-
  7. I had mentioned in my earlier post that in Malaysia, fruits will be your best friends. You find huge, juicy and delicious pear, orange and apples here. I thoroughly enjoyed munching on fruits most of the time. There are not a lot of fresh fruit shops. There is one at Cenang (near Bread Story). In Penang we tried the dragon fruit (no great shakes) and an assortment of other fruits available in India as well. One piece of advice - the pear available here is to die for.
  8. We also headed to Kuah one fine day and after gawking in a touristy way at the massive Eagle at Eagle Square, we went to a mall close-by. We ended up at McDonald's for lack of eating options and alas, they had literally zero vegetarian options. We went for the next best thing then since both of us were starving at that point. We opted for the chicken burger combo, while I happily munched away at the french fries, the Plus One gulped down the chicken burger. A combination of chilli sauce and ketchup is wonderful with french fries. Suffice to say, McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks failed me at my hungriest.
  9. We read about night markets in Langkawi and decided to check them out. The deal with night markets is, the vendors are all more or less the same, only the location of the night market keepe changing every day of the week. The schedule is available in the link above. 
    The first one on the itinerary was the night market near Cenang. A night market in Langkawi sells practically everything, from clothes to fresh food to raw fish to shoes to toys to fresh groceries to freshly cooked meat. We weren't interested in purchasing anything but food here, so, we set off looking for vegetarian food for me and edible meat for the Plus One. We lucked out quite a bit in the vegetarian department, there was one stall which was selling exclusively potatoes including tornado potatoes, covered in a generous coating of salt, chilli powder and powdered cheese, potato wedges covered in lots of liquid cream and ketchup and even french fries. We opted for the first two and were not disappointed at all. Crispy on the outside and all potato-y goodness on the inside was the motto while making these dishes! There is one other dish called the 'Apam Balik' which is pancake batter [slightly sweet], poured out on a buttered skillet, wich is thick on the side but crumbly and crispy on the outside. The inside of this dish is given a generous addition of some more butter and coarsely ground peanuts. This is available at 50 sens a piece. A marvellous dessert at such cheap cost. Apam Balik is a must try when in Malaysia.
    One other night, we decided to visit the night market at Kuah, Langkawi. This time, in addition to the items mentioned above, we tried the vegetarian spring roll (pungent fish sauce/ fish oil smell and taste), vegetarian noodles (semolina turned to noodles with the fish sauce. fish oil), jelly juice (jelly is the flavour of the juice that was available; I am completely unaware of its origin, it tasted a bit like palm fruit or what we call in Tamil, nongu. I best like this culture of having chilled juices, whether originally flavoured or artificially, available at every nook and corner for as little as MYR 1-2/-. It really helps in dealing with the heat much better.) We also tried the local doughnut which was lightly flavoured, fluffy and just incredibly perfect enough to give Dunkin' Donuts a run for its money.
  10. On the last day, while at Langkawi Airport, we ended up eating the maggi noodles mentioned in point (4) above along with what was called 'Cafe Mocha', which was nothing but coffee with Milo in it. Blrgh. This was at LGK Cafe at Langkawi Airport. They did have some other unappetising-looking food, which was enough to make me run for my flight without delay.
    Did I mentioned, Milo as a chilled drink is a big thing here? As mentioned in point (9), along with other juices, even Milo is kept alongside, dunked in ice to quench that unbearable thirst!
Next post on our time spent in Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur! Stay tuned.

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