Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pahn-Thai Restaurant, Langkawi

From The NST

Scenic setting at the restaurant.
Wong won a gold medal at the World
Chinese Golden Chef Competition.
MANY visitors to Langkawi make it a point to ride the cable car to Gunung Macinchang where they can enjoy an unbridled bird's eye view of the surrounding land, including the southernmost Thai islets of Tarutao.

This brings to mind a lovely restaurant that offers great Thai cuisine. No, you needn’t swim across the narrow straits or brave stinging jellyfish to get to Tarutao to satisfy your craving for Thai food. Indulging in such culinary pleasures is much easier than you think.

The Pahn-Thai Restaurant in Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort is just a 15-minute walk from the Oriental Village where the cable car is located.

Take a leisurely walk there in the evening as apart from enjoying the scenery along the way, you can also work up a healthy appetite. At the resort lobby, board an open-air van to get to the restaurant on the other side of the property.

The ride is an experience in itself and you can imagine yourself riding a tuk-tuk (taxi) in Thailand. Hold on tight as the driver manoeuvres along the meandering road but keep your eyes open for a picturesque view of chalets in a jungle setting.

Upon arrival, you will need to cross a bridge that connects the main path to a large house-like structure. Enjoy the cool evening sea breeze brushing against your face as you choose the best table for a good view of the glorious sunset.

Chefs On Hand
The menu is very diner-friendly. Look out for little chili icons next to the listings that denote the pedas (hot) level — very useful, especially for those not used to eating chili. Ask for recommendations. If you’re early, the chef himself may come along to help you decide.

Executive sous chef Wong Chin Yee heads a team of three Thai chefs in the kitchen. Wong won the individual hot dish category gold medal at the recent World Chinese Golden Chef Competition.

Thai chefs Hasadee Pooh Pra Khon, Anek Sae Thaw and Dutsadee Khueng Nok Khum have worked at renowned restaurants in Thailand and all over the world!

While waiting for the food to arrive, feel free to walk around and enjoy the famous Langkawi sunset. On a clear day, it is breathtaking to see the evening sky glow as the blazing ball of fire slowly makes its descent below the horizon.

What’s Special
The appetiser to try is Phla Goong or spicy Thai freshwater prawn. It’s not on the menu but the staff will not fail to recommend it to all diners. After all, it is the restaurant's signature dish.

The huge crustacean used is more than thrice the size of prawns we get at the market. Its pincers are gigantic, at least six inches long. Take a bite and you’re immediately stimulated by the liberal use of fragrant kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, lemon grass and a generous helping of tom yam paste. The prawns are succulent and fresh, almost as if they had just been caught.

Yum Som O, a pomelo salad with shrimps and minced chicken, has its origin in eastern Bangkok. In fact, every dish comes from a certain part of Thailand, so a meal here is like going on a Thai culinary adventure without travelling around the country.

Yum Som O, with only one chili icon, is unique as each bite causes the small pomelo sacs to burst and release the sourish juice to combine with the fish sauce and Thai palm sugar.

After this, move on to the southern provinces with Hor Mok Tha Lay or steamed seafood with chili mousse served in a young coconut. Southern Thai cuisine prominently features coconut milk. For this dish, not only is the milk used to cook the squid, prawn, mussels and fish but also the water from the young coconut as it adds to the aroma.

Next is the Chiang Mai-style Pla Kra Phong Yum Ma Muang Sud. Quite a mouthful to pronounce, this is basically deepfried seabass with a mixed mango salad on top. Eat it quickly or you’ll be disappointed. The moist salad, unfortunately, turns the crispiness of the fried fish into something leathery.

Those with a sweet tooth will adore the dessert selection. Top of the list is definitely Tub Tim Grab, a colourful dessert with yellow jackfruit, white santan and ruby red water chestnut.

Night Magic
At night, Pahn-Thai looks like a magical fairyland with its many small hurricane lamps lighting up the place and the walkway linking it to land. Viewed from afar at high tide, it appears to be floating in the Andaman Sea.

Located near the Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort's premier chalets on water, it was once a kelong where fishermen came to harvest the bountiful fish. Most of the original structure has been maintained and customers can see what a traditional kelong looks like.

Pahn-Thai Restaurant is open from 5pm to 10.30pm. Come early to enjoy Mother Nature's pre-dinner show of lights, at no extra cost. Reservations are a must. The restaurant is located at Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort, Burau Bay, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah. Tel: 04-959 1888, Fax: 04-959 1886, E-mail: resvn@b-langkawi.com.my, Website: www.berjayahotels-ressorts.com

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