A chance to eat something different in Tanjung Rhu, but be prepared to wait for it.
Anyone staying in Tanjung Rhu will probably drop into Dawan Thai Kitchen at some point in their trip. After all, one cannot subsist on Scarborough Fish & Chips every day. Dawan is a popular place among the locals, and visitors will have to be patient to get a taste of the authentic, yummy and very cheap Thai cuisine served here.
This is a cash-only restaurant and the accounting seems very casual. When it’s time to pay, it’s clear that the cashier is adding up your items on the spot and will tell you the cost. Based on what I could see from the menu, we were charged an extra ringgit today. I didn’t bother to ask why as I wasn’t going to make a stink over RM1. On our second visit, our total came to RM2 cheaper than what I thought it would be. Either the menu prices are outdated, or the staff’s addition skills are rusty. The total cost of your meal shouldn’t be vastly different than what you expect, but it will be a bit of mystery until the very end.
Ambience & Amenities
Compared to many of the low key and downright hidden restaurants in Tanjung Rhu, Dawan is hard to miss with its prominent sign on Jalan Tanjung Rhu. It is only open in the late afternoon and evening. This is a true local joint, to the point that I’m not sure the staff knows much English if any. Don’t expect eloquent responses if you ask in English what a keng som is.
It’s very simple at Dawan Thai Kitchen with plastic furniture and scuffed floors. At least you will get a lot of fresh air while dining here, as the front is fully open to the street. Because of this, there is no air conditioning, just fans to cool down visitors.
There is a big empty slab of concrete space outside the restaurant that would make a serviceable patio, but this is the restaurant’s parking lot. Inside, there are about ten tables, maybe less if a big group comes and some tables are pushed together. It’s not a big place and it fills up quickly. The service can be extremely slow during the dinnertime rush since there are only a couple of cooks and the restaurant gets a ton of takeaway orders.
If you’re facing the restaurant, the toilets are down a pathway on the right. You should see a small sign on the wall. The path is on the outside of the building and goes around back. After potentially walking past some roaming chickens, the path will lead back into the building behind the kitchen’s storage area. There is a small single room that is actually not a bad toilet for what one would expect from a place like this. It’s a sitting toilet but with no paper. There is a small sink in the room with a tiny bar of soap, but no paper towels. There is also a handwashing sink at the front of the restaurant with liquid soap if you prefer.
Seafood is king on the Dawan Thai Kitchen menu. Langkawi is known for its fresh seafood and Dawan offers a variety of ways to enjoy squid, prawns and fish. Don’t miss the “Special Menu” near the back that will have more familiar comfort food like tom yum and pad thai. There’s even a very short list of western and breakfast options, the latter a strange offering considering the restaurant only opens at 3 pm. If you’re staying at the nearby De Balqis Beach Resort (5-minute drive or 15 minutes walk away) there will be a truncated takeaway menu available in your room. All of the food is halal friendly.
While both juices were fresh without fibrous, unblended bits, the Pineapple Juice (RM4, on right) was too sour and tasted like underripe pineapples. The Apple Juice (RM4, left) was sweet and much better. After having a taste, Mark regretted ordering the pineapple. I think this experience began an apple juice fascination for him that stayed around for the rest of the trip.
White rice doesn’t appear to be on the menu, but it’s RM2 for a standard bowl-sized serving. We ordered a plate of Kailan Ikan Masin (Kailan with Salted Fish, RM6) which was swimming in a garlicky sauce. There weren’t that many chunks of salted fish, but there was a strong fish taste. This dish was deceptively spicy, as there were green chillies that look exactly like kailan stalks.
I’m not a tom yam expert. I don’t usually order it since I don’t care for sour soups like assam. We ordered the Prawn Tom Yam Soup (RM10, Small) anyway since this was a supposedly authentic Thai restaurant. This had a manageable hint of spiciness and it did not taste too sour, which I liked. For a small-sized serving, this was a big bowl, enough to share between the both of us. There were lots of big chunks of ingredients including ginger, onions, carrots and 3-5 big prawns.
Dawan’s Prawn Pad Thai (RM10) has rounder noodles than the usual flat kind that you get in most other pad thais. It was almost like glass noodle style. This also wasn’t as sweet as other versions of this dish we’ve had (especially in KL) which is Mark’s main criticism of pad thai. I’m a pad thai lover, and Mark enjoyed this dish more than me! Just like the soup, this had lots of ingredients and 3 to 4 large prawns. For only RM10, this is great value and lots of food.
A big gripe about this place is the wait time. The first time we came at 5:30 pm and got our food within 15 minutes. The second time was around 7:30 pm, and that took close to an hour. Getting takeaway during peak hours won’t be any better, since dine-in guests get service priority. Come early to get quick service, or just make sure you’re not hangry and you have a pleasant conversation partner when you sit down.
We came here twice during our holiday. In small part because of the lack of better options in Tanjung Rhu, but also because we couldn’t get enough of the pad thai and fresh seafood. Everything is so cheap that I wanted to order a bundle of items to try but had to be talked down. Cheap, edible food is one thing, but Dawan has cheap tasty food. Dawan Thai Kitchen is a good option to introduce something other than Malaysian food or fish and chips into your vacation dinners.
Price for 2 Pax: RM37.00
Prawn Pad Thai: RM10.00
Prawn Tom Yam (Small): RM10.00
Kailan Ikan Masin: RM6.00
Nasi Putih: RM2.00
Apple Juice: RM4.00
Pineapple Juice: RM4.00
Service Fee/Calculation Error: RM1.00
Dawan Thai Kitchen
Address: 78, Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah
Opening Hours: Every day except Sunday, 3pm – 11pm. Closed on Sundays
Alcohol Served: No