A1 & A2 Perdana Quay,
Telaga Harbour,
Pantai Kok,
Tel: 0123294094

Far from the madding crowd, a Langkawi restaurant has set a high standard for little Spanish dishes.

AS most seasoned travellers to Langkawi are inclined to admit, a visit to this duty-free island is memorable because liquor is, well, cheap. Obviously, duty free extends to other goods too and the end result is that you?ll shop till the cows come home and hopefully still enjoy holiday activities by your beach resort. But if you lament that good food is last on your list, then my latest discovery might hopefully set things right.

Some companions and I rediscovered a sleepy enclave known as Perdana Quay and we chanced upon Tapaz. Jaded from our hotel food, the idea of small Spanish dishes seemed as refreshing as the breeze wafting into the harbour. As the location suggests, dining in Tapaz treats you to the view of some of Malaysia?s most exclusive seagoing toys. These are the private yachts belonging to a veritable who?s who list in Big Business.

Had the weather been unkind, we would have had no qualms dining inside. However, the restaurant allows the chance to relax directly over the water?s edge. Tapaz has a quaint, wooden feel but designed by someone with a contemporary view of dining. It is a small corner establishment and makes the most of its views with a wide open layout. A bar offers the chance for pre-dinner drinks where the tapas dishes also come in handy as bite-sized meals.

We decided, unsurprisingly, to start with the Tapas Collection. For a set price of RM90 (a 10% service charge is applicable on meals), it came with six recommended dishes, although we augmented our selection with a few add-ons.

We added a Salad Niçoise (RM28) which was nothing spectacular, but it was definitely served fresh and with a light lemon-olive oil dressing that didn’t swamp the dish.

Now, one should always start the tapas journey with the chicken liver paté, the gold standard for measuring a Tapas-serving establishment’s quality. Apparently, Tapaz did not disappoint with their version (also individually priced at RM18). It came with lots of fresh bread and was mouth-wateringly smooth and creamy, without being overly salty.

We also sampled the lightly grilled but huge Tiger Prawns (RM20). Lying in a bed of garlic butter, their freshness was evident as their skins came off effortlessly. Freshness is one thing but the fine taste definitely helped the dining.

The Lamb Sausage with Dijon Mustard (RM7) was average so we decided to try the Lamb Meatballs as well. The latter came on a bed of thyme jus and was deliciously tender. We didn’t ask if our Tapas Collection could be customised but it is worth noting that this dish was only an extra RM7.

The traditional Deep-fried Calamari came in a tangy pimento sauce that really added to the crispy “bite” we were enjoying. By this time, we had cancelled dinner reservations and proceeded with more dishes. The Salmon Steak arrived served with tzatziki sauce. This dish was prepared “smoked and grilled” – which imparted an interesting taste – while the tzatziki added a nice zest to it all.

We finished our meal with Feta Cheese (RM12) and a Hummus and Pita dip (RM8). For those with big appetites, there are other set meals that also feature seafood paella for two which comes served in the familiar large pan. There are also the usual kids’ meals and surprisingly, a few Asian dishes too.

As mentioned earlier, Tapaz has a sizeable bar and an equally sizeable wine list offering vintages from Italian, French and Australian varieties. As usual, it wouldn’t be a traditional Spanish establishment without a jug of Sangria (which was part of our set).

Succulent Lamb Meatballs in Thyme Jus.

In all, we were amazed that such a small outlet in Langkawi could feature a menu that more established kitchens in Kuala Lumpur would struggle to match. Judging by its location, Tapaz may cater for a more upscale clientele but it still comes at a price that is considered reasonable. We left in the evening just as a few expat couples and families began to trickle in and take our places. Even if you think the concept of “good taste” is subjective, you could go with the wisdom of the crowd. In this case, Tapaz seems to have set a standard.

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