Island Bound, Gastronomy Abound
Updated: Nov 1, 2022
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi (TRCL) is a beautiful getaway that takes only an hour and a half from KL to resort. And with a commitment to gastronomy as one of its key tenets, it’s an easy recommendation to anyone looking to luxuriously bask in sea and sun, with a glass of champagne in hand and fine eats to follow suit.
Getting to the hotel is effortless, a mere 15-minute or so ride from Langkawi airport. The location is grand but secluded, occupying a nice chunk of land that manages to feel intimate despite its convenient location. First timers like me will undoubtedly enjoy the preview of what’s to come when they first arrive at the check-in canopy-like lobby area, which cleverly partly reveals the resort and its connection with nature. Before you go off to explore your room and the rest of your idyllic time here, I highly recommend stopping here to smell the roses, figuratively speaking of course.
I stayed in the three-storey apartment-esque rainforest room that was to put it bluntly, incredibly plush. It had just the right mix of nature, modern design touches and humanity. For me, at least. I like my nature enhanced by modernity.
Check out the video below for a quick tour of the room I stayed in.
My hotel room was a true highlight. The veranda outside was an amazing place to kick back at midnight, play some sweet tunes, and either bask in the splendour of nature at the crack of night or talk about topics near and dear to the heart. The bed was soft and inviting, the bathtub magnificent and the comfort level clocking in at 11. I haven't even left my room to explore the rest of the hotel grounds and I already knew that I would be terribly spoiled over the course of the next two days.
The Main Event
Fortunately, a two-night stay at the resort was just a prelude to the main event – a special gastronomy weekend dining event that saw the hotel's F&B outlets welcoming chef Deepanker Khosla of Haoma, chef Johnson Wong of Gēn and Giovanni Magliaro of Reka:Bar.
Guests had the chance to indulge in Neo-indian cuisine at The Beach Grill, the resort's seaside all-day restaurant, that stems from chef Deepanker's deep understanding of his culinary roots and passion for sustainable cooking.
Take a look at the card I prepared below to see what chef Deepanker and his Haoma team cooked up.
Chef Johnson, on the other hand, served a degustation menu based on Malaysian cuisine, melding local ingredients together to create a modern interpretation of local flavours.
When the sun set, TRCL guests could taste the masterful creations of Reka:Bar’s Giovanni at Horizon, the resort‘s bar that boasts a picturesque view. A real treat for cocktail fans, Giovanni hosted a masterclass at RM180 nett (inclusive of two cocktails).
This gastronomy super group assembly was the first but all important step for the hotel to take as it commits to improving its image as not just a holiday resort, but a holiday resort with a focus on providing gastronomic experience.
The Media Preview
I was invited to the resort as part of the media group for this press trip. The press had the chance to have an open round table-like discussion with the chefs, which was insightful and entertaining, at the resort’s gorgeous Chinese restaurant Hai Yan. A special preview dinner arranged for the media was also in store, where all four chefs (including the hotel’s own executive chef) prepared a lavish feast involving their respective signatures. Reka:Bar was on hand to prepare a cocktail pairing experience, taking the whole affair from a 9 to a 10.
The media dinner started off incredibly, beginning with a sunset cocktail reception at Hai Yan’s sunset deck. An array of delicious Chinese appetisers were served, paired with an incredibly refreshing classic – a French 75 – made of gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar and champagne.
As natural light began to fade, we were ushered into Hai Yan’s most lavish private dining room, where Reka:Bar had set up a makeshift bar to prepare tonight‘s drinks. The first few dishes came from the hotel‘s kitchen team with a heavy seafood emphasis – marine salt ice cream, fried devilled crab and freshly caught local grouper.
To balance these briny, salty and rich flavours, Reka wisely opted to pair two light, fruity and green cocktails. The first of the two was paired with the ice cream and the crab – Wine? Not. It was a devilishly cool concept for a cocktail that uses vodka, parsley distillate, Mancino bianco ambrato, passionfruit and coconut kefir, celtic salt, and mango parmesan crisps to mimic the taste and sensation of white wine.
The second drink, Better Together, uses gin, chalong bay, tio pepe, papaya and tomato, basil, calamari juice and fruit leather to make for a strong concoction. This drinks balances the flavours of Cameron Highland heirloom tomato, a Mediterranean remix of asam pedas and black olive soil found in the sauce used for the fish.
Gēn brought their signature roast duck to the table, this time roselle taking the spotlight as the balancing agent in the dish. It was delicious, paired delightfully with Reka’s strawberry feels made of Campari, Diplmatico Mantuano Rum, pineapple, coconut, 3D strawberry and cacao mist.
The Haoma team followed up with a wagyu rib eye qorma served with sheermal bread, a hearty, spiced treat. The mixture of textures and transfer of flavours between the beef and the bread was such a delight to eat.
Such a bold flavoured dish deserved an equally bold drink and was paired with a mango twist on my favourite cocktail, the negroni. Reka’s Mango…Going…Gone features gin, Mancino rosso amaranto, cynar, Campari, semai cacao husk, mango, vanilla yogurt and banana peel gel.
The resort’s culinary team closed the meal with a tualang honey chocolate cake served with pineapple, vanilla, and soursop sorbet. Once again the Reka team knocked it out of the park by ending dinner with a somewhat sweet concoction – (C)loud and Clear. This cocktail, delicious as it may be, contains a dizzying array of ingredients: Michter’s bourbon, Diplomatico Planas rum, Gonzalez Byass Pedro Ximenez, salted caramel, oolong milk tea, citrus, and matcha cloud.
Despite the decadent feast the media was treated to, there was one more surprise.
Once the meal was done, we were led once more to Hai Yan’s outdoor deck and treated to a grand reveal of Louis XIII and the sound of crashing waves. For those unaware of this five-figure cognac, Louis XIII’s Classic decanter has remained the ultimate expression of the maison since 1874, an exquisite blend sourced from Grande Champagne terroir, the first cru of the Cognac region.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, may be on the high end of the spectrum when it comes to luxury island resort retreats but the service and experience holiday seekers get is well worth the trip and money.
As the hotel doubles down on its commitment to gastronomy, it’s easier to recommend the resort to those looking for good food on premises.
Breakfast is a delicious affair, especially when you’re seated outside in the al fresco dining pavilion at Langkawi Kitchen, the resort’s all-day dining restaurant. Malaysian classics, morning prosecco, and a smorgasbord of savoury and sweet treats ensures breakfast also remains the best part of the day.
Hai Yan‘s pork-free dim sum and array of modern classic Chinese fare is also a great choice for lunch and dinner. Especially sunset dinners with your significant other or family.
The Beach Grill, the hotel’s beachside freshly-caught seafood-focused restaurant, also serves up modern delights with a local-Mediterranean flavour.
Besides seemingly spoilt for choice, adventure seekers can also look forward to future collaborations with local and international chefs and restaurants as part of the hotel’s gastronomy push.