Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi

Hai Yan, Chinese Seafood Restaurant, The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi 

Monica Tindall

Boasting the status of being the only fine dining Chinese restaurant on the island, Hai Yan at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi is a sight to behold.

A lagoon lined walkway lit with small lights leads the way to the entrance. At the reception, a giant chandelier composed of a multitude of lanterns dazzles with its enormity and brilliance. The sound of live Chinese ku zhen music marks our arrival and as we cross the threshold into the main dining room we are enveloped by Hai Yan’s beauty. Polished wooden chairs line white-clothed tables and red lanterns and ornamental wood carving panels drop from the ceiling. A mosaic floor, woven rugs and textured walls add further interest to the space, and when we eventually look up we’re taken by the towering triangular roof, typical of the architecture in the region.

Not long after we’re seated, petite bowls of pickled veggies and cashews are delivered, warding off hunger pangs long enough to browse the menu and make a decision for the evening’s meal. Small prisms of carrot and papaya are still crunchy, with a mild sweetness and tiny bit of tang, and the nuts too have a light coating, just sweet enough to be noticeable but not overly done.

Hai Yan, Langkawi
Dining Area
Cocktails at Hai Yan

As with the other food and beverage outlets at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, Hai Yan has its own signature beverages, handcrafted by master mixologist Miguel Fernandez from Ozone Bar in the sister property in Hong Kong. The house cocktail is the Silk Road (RM90), utilizing a base of Chinese rice wine, baiju, infused with orange. It’s topped up with elderflower syrup, jasmine tea and Campari and we think it a fine way to begin. The Jade Empire (RM40) provides an alcohol-free choice featuring green tea, coconut syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice and Three Cents ginger beer. Both are light, refreshing and open appetites making them well-suited as an aperitif.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
The Jade Empire and Silk Road

While the food menu at Hai Yan is not as comprehensive as commonly found in restaurants across Malaysia, there’s a wide enough selection to keep us studying for a while, but not too much to make us question the quality of what’s presented.

Live Fish at Hai Yan

As we entered hubby spotted fish tanks holding live dinner options and before I’ve even passed page one of the menu, he has had a walk around with the waitress, picked his catch and ordered a pomfret (market price) to be steamed Cantonese style with dried shrimp and coriander. It’s quite a lovely specimen and I swear hubby congratulates himself on his order with every mouthful.

Hai Yan, Langkawi
Pomfret

A 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, the Dog Point Section 94 (RM70) goes well with our seafood options. Not your usual sav blanc, this drop has a little more body and texture than those that currently flood the market. The nose has hints of toast, yeast and citrus all rolled into one. It fills the mouth with layers and lingers unhurriedly after swallowing. It’s a good choice – especially for the Cantonese steamed fish.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood Specialty

Wok-fried Andaman lobster with black bee honey pepper sauce (RM240) is one of Hai Yan’s signatures, and when it arrives it’s now my turn to applaud a good pick. It’s a beautiful pile of cut pieces of lobster red and glistening with the honey sauce. A seafood fork and finger bowl accompany the plate; a sign that there’s some work to be done here. At first, we gingerly dig in, not wanting to create too much of a mess. After the initial mouthful, however, all restraint is lost as we dive back in for more and more until it’s all gone. The sticky sauce and overall experience are similar to that of eating a great rack of barbecued ribs: finger-licking, bone/ shell-sucking good.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
Andaman Lobster
Vegetables

Rice and veggies balance out our seafood proteins. Lotus root is one of my favourite vegetables, and asparagus runs a close second so the Stir-fried asparagus with lotus root and black pepper (RM48) is an easy pick. The veggies are superbly cooked, only having had a brief encounter with the wok they remain crisp and sparsely coated in oil. A gentle sprinkling of pepper is all that is needed to bring out the natural flavour of the produce.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
Lotus Root and Asparagus
Rice

Egg white fried rice with dried scallop and fresh scallions (RM90) is another house signature. A generous mound is a plenty to share and the rice partnered with the seafood and egg white makes an all-white photo. Don’t let the pale shade fool you though, there’s plenty of flavour in this recipe especially thanks to the little bundles of intensity offered in the dried scallops.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
Egg White Fried Rice
Hai Yan Signature Dessert

Hai Yan signature freshly baked egg custard tart (RM68), is actually a trio of tarts: an original, one that’s caramelized and one that’s topped with bird’s nest with gold leaf. The two twists are interesting, but it’s the original with its buttery, flaky pastry and rich eggy centre that we fancy most.

Hai Yan, Chinese Restaurant, Langkawi
Egg Custard Tart

Service has been exceptional, the menu memorable and the overall ambience absolutely stunning. Hai Yan has made a fine impression as the first fine dining Chinese restaurant on the island and we give it two Yums-Up!

Hai Yan, Langkawi
Private Room

Reasons to visit: the only fine dining Chinese restaurant in Langkawi; great seafood options; good wine list; and, if you arrive early enough, magnificent sea views.

Hai Yan, Chinese Seafood Restaurant
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi
199 Jalan Pantai Kok
Kampung Teluk Nibong
07000 Langkawi, Kedah
Malaysia
+604 952 4888
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/langkawi

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12 Comments

  1. Classy place. Love the name of the cocktail.

    Ooh. Steamed white pomfret. I love it.

  2. Oh my! Live classical Chinese music. Awesome! Place looks great, love the thin layers in the pastry, those egg tarts.

  3. That pomfret couldn’t look more perfect 🙂

  4. It all look so good…Coffee is on

  5. Good to learn that there’s a Chinese fine dining restaurant in Langkawi!

  6. A nice place to enjoy a delicious meal and the classical music.

  7. Yum yum! The fish looks so yummy!
    Pomfret? I think it’s a trevally??

  8. Hello, sounds like a beautiful place with the walkway along the lagoon. The drink and food look delicious. I would like to try the lobster, yum! Thanks for your review. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  9. Looks really interesting, dear! Thanks a lot for sharing)

  10. I love fish but I don’t like the thought of choosing a live fish!

  11. Like the idea of having Live Chinese music. Awesome…
    Food looks yummy too..

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