Driver: Pagi nie pak cik baca kat paper, pukul 8.30 malam nanti sampai 9.30 malam TNB akan tutup bekalan elektrik. Tapi tak tau apa sebabnye. So skejap nanti satu pulau Langkawi akan gelap untuk satu jam. Saya dah suruh bini saya tutup semua peralatan eletrik. Takut nanti bila TNB bukak balik semua meletup hah! Ah boy tahu kenape tak?
[Translation: I read on the newspapers today that there's going to be a disruption on the island's electricity supply by TNB (local electricity provider). I've no idea why. So the entire island of Langkawi will be in darkness for an hour. I've asked my wife to switched everything off just in case a power surge may occur when TNB finally switched the powers back on again - destroying everything. Boy, do you know the reason behind this?]
Me: *looking puzzled at McCutie* Errr…how do you explain Earth Hour to the driver????
Our taxi driver picked us up from the hotel lobby and drove us to our dinner destination. He commented that the place we’re heading to was a good choice for dinner and many of his previous clients were very happy after their meal there. We were extremely excited upon hearing this.
Several miles into our journey, our driver was trying to inform us an impending interruption of electricity supply and how we would have to eat in the dark later. For the next 20-minutes we had a good time explaining to the Pak Cik (“uncle” in Malay), in what little Malay we could both muster, how Earth Hour was actually a global event – the biggest environmental demonstration in history – and how it was a choice for him to Vote Earth for a better tomorrow. All he had to do was just switch off his lights. Call it a language barrier, but we failed miserably. The Pak Cik rejoiced upon hearing that his electricity supply wasn’t going to be cut off and how he’ll call his family to tell them they could leave the light on and continue to watch TV. Sighs.
Just before we can pull out our Kamus Dewan Bahasa (Malay dictionary), our driver finally reduced his speed and made a turned into a dark alley. “Sudah sampai, ini-nye Bon Ton (“We’re here, this is Bon Ton).” We got out of our taxi and looked around. Apart from the bulb illuminating a statue at the main stairways in, it was pitch black all around. We walked through the entrance and made our way into its in-house restaurant, Nam. We were greeted by none other than its Australian owner, Narelle McMurtie. She apologized for the lack of lighting that evening and kindly seated us at the edge of the restaurant. She then introduced us to our friendly waitress for the evening.
It was 8.35pm. Earth Hour has begun. Most lights in the restaurant were turned off. Every table in the restaurant was lit by a single flickering candle inside a traditional glass lamp with wooden frame. Lucky for us, our table was located right under one of the very few spotlights left lighting up the restaurant’s ambiance (I would have cursed so bad if I couldn’t take any pictures). What Bon Ton lack of in the light, they made up in the darkness. As our eyes adjusted to the dark surroundings, a majestic view of the vast mangrove area (illuminated by none other than nature’s own bright crescent) was slowly revealed bit by bit before us.
For those who’ve not been here, this unique resort is a village comprising of several aged-and-dying traditional Malay timber houses which are saved and beautifully restored into luxurious lodging with very modern amenities by McMurtie. This rustic retreat is set within tranquil gardens, surrounded by a beautiful landscape of wetlands and mountain ranges, and is home to Langkawi’s most celebrated restaurant.
Our waitress (we never got to know her name) who was always smiling, brought our drinks, the refreshing Pineapple Mint Tea and Freshly Squeezed Watermelon Juice and proceeded to take our orders for the evening. Let’s call her “Little Miss Sunshine”. She was a breath of fresh air in our dining experience. This young bubbly Malay girl, must have not been more than 5’2″ in height and looked not a day older than 23-years, was the epitome of the phrase “service with a smile.” Not only was she always showing us her pearly whites, but her knowledge of the menu, her conversational skills and her sincerity just blew us away. Now if only all restaurants here in KL could employ people like that, we would all be a bunch of happy diners.
Little Miss Sunshine was happy to oblige to our special request of Garlic Bread with Parsley and 2-pieces of Duo Crispy Indian Style Samosa (Vegetable and Spinach & Cheese) served with Mint Relish which were usually served as Tapas from 5pm-7pm only. “How can I say ‘no’ to you when you give me a smile like that. You must always be able to get things your way because of your smile,” she said looking at McCutie. Swoons. The samosas were perfect from the crispy & flaky pastry skin right down to the stuffing and dip. It was a great way to start off the meal and get our appetite going.
As we looked out into the distant horizon, we saw a few flashes of lights moving quickly across the quiet night sky like falling stars. Airplanes were making their way in and out of Langkawi’s International Airport. We waited for a while and then came McCutie’s order of BBQ Perchik Marinated Chicken Breast with Mango & Cashew Nuts Salad & Glutinous Rice filled with Toasted Coconut. “It taste like the ones from Pasar Malam (night markets) but different. Actually everything here taste different, but delicious. You should try it,” our waitress recommended with a smile. Not the one to love chicken breast meat, I could see McCutie giving a pleasurable smile after just one bite into its tender meat. When McCutie tasted the Lemang with spicy coconut serunding, the dish was quickly declared a national treasure by our resident HRH Chicken King.
My order of Mixed Grill comprising of Creamy Chicken Tikka, Lamb Skewered Sosaties & Beef Kofta served with Yellow Rice & Spinach with Herb Yoghurt was not too far off the mark either. When asked in what style was the dish made, Little Miss Sunshine eloquently quipped, “Actually it’s hard to put my finger down on one single style. All of our dishes here are very mixed. Campur-campur one. Got Indian, Nyonya, Malay, Thai, and even Ang Moh (western) influences that makes our dishes uniquely Bon Ton.” Kudos to a well-trained staff I’d say. I have no complaints here except that I couldn’t stop eating. It was a huge platter I tell you.
Despite having to finish the huge portions for dinner, we were both game for some desserts. After all how often does one come here. As we swooned over the two desserts which arrived on our small table, the Gula Melaka (palm sugar) Ice cream was slowly melting into the divine Steamed Apple, Macadamia and Butterscotch Pudding with Apple & Ginger Compote. And just as we thought nothing could top that, a bite into the creamy Cinnamon & Toasted Almond Cheesecake with Pistachio and Honey Sauce on Fresh Mango left us breathless. A perfect symphony of Asian and Western ingredients. Granted that the flavours here are much skewed to the Western palette, but it’s always refreshing if not inspirational to see how a restaurant can reinvent something oh-so-familiar into a gorgeous new dish. I must sound very biased by now, but somehow even the cup of Flat White thereafter tasted perfect! Guess I’ve been Bon Ton-fied.
Now, here’s the catch (there’s always one isn’t it?). There’s a price to pay for every good dinning experience. And in this case, a dinner for two may just burn a hole in one’s pocket. It’s a little on the steep side, so be prepared to pay. Or you can just bring along a version of your McCutie who’s willing to foot the bill. Thanks baby!
Earth Hour has come and gone. And being Green could have just been another fad as the next Coach or LV handbag. But the simple, exotic and back-to-nature style & taste of Bon Ton is definitely here to stay. The memory of this wonderful meal will always play in my mind at the mere sound of someone muttering “Earth Hour.” Bon Ton, I’ll be back – perhaps even to stay on our next holiday. McCutie, quickly get another promotion so we can go celebrate again!
Bon Ton Restaurant & Resort
Pantai Cenang, 07000 Langkawi, Malaysia
Tel: 604 955 6787 / 3643
Operating Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm0
p/s: This monkey is pleased to announce that this is my 100th post! It took me almost two years to get to this point, but I’m excited to celebrate this milestone. I’ve never really been able to dedicated myself to any “hobby” for such a long period of time. And to all my readers, thanks for staying with me and being extremely patient with my long breaks in between posts. Cheers!