Dinner in a Rice Paddy: Seashells Restaurant
A popular vlogger on Youtube sang praises about Seashells restaurant, and each morsel entering his mouth resulted in a delightful bliss with him closing his eyes and cherishing the bite as if a gift from heaven. I was sold. No matter what happens, come rain or shine, I’ll dine in this restaurant and experience the same euphoria.
The moment we step out of Langkawi’s tiny (but International!) airport, I announce that we are immediately having lunch at Seashells Restaurant. “Why don’t we check-in at the resort first?” reasoned Masood. I am all but dragging him to the restaurant as if my life depended on it.
Enter the restaurant’s name on Google Maps and you’ll be there in no time. The roads in Langkawi are quite easy to navigate. At three in the afternoon, we do not see a single car in the large parking lot where Seashells Restaurant is located. “If this place is so popular, why does it look deserted?” I thought.
A chubby white cat crosses my path as I walk towards the first main door that I see. I look up to see a man, his head bent down over his phone. He knows we are approaching but he does not acknowledge our presence. A signboard catches our attention and we follow it to the restaurant’s entrance and reception area.
A young man is busy preparing drinks. He looks up at us for a nano second and gets back to work. We peer over the empty reception desk and through a door beyond it, which appears to be leading to the kitchen. I hear pots and pans clanging. “Hello?” calls out Masood. The man at the beverage counter still ignores us and is occupied with preparing the drinks. Masood walks over to him and asks him if there’s someone who would take our order. He does not respond verbally. Instead, he hits the call bell with his palm and resumes his task.
A woman walks out the door and stands in front of us behind the reception counter. “Yes?” she says. We inform her that we’re here for lunch. She thrusts a large menu book in front of us. We don’t open it. “It’s our first time here and …” I start. “Ah, okay. We have chicken and lamb,” she says. “But we’re here for the grilled fish,” I say. “Sorry, no fish today,” she replies. I’m sure I look completely devastated, grief-stricken, and anguished for her mood changes and she’s suddenly all sympathetic toward me. “I’m really, really sorry, ma’am.” “But will you have fish tomorrow?” I ask. “Yes, maybe. You call first.”
We are unable to return for lunch the next day because of a morning trip to the mangroves that took five hours. Plus, they provide us with lunch. By the time we return to Seashells, it is almost dusk. And it’s raining. But I am not deterred.
We find the same guy preparing drinks. This time, we do not wait but ask him to call someone to talk our orders. Fortunately, there’s fish today. But they don’t grill – it’s either fried or steamed.
“We’d like to sit outside in one of the huts, please,” we request him. He tells us it’s raining and we’ll get wet. We tell him we don’t mind, to which he says something that I don’t remember but we agreed to sit indoors. It’s not bad, though. It’s an open dining space so we’re still sitting next to the rice paddy.
While waiting for the food to arrive, Masood borrows an umbrella from them and decide to explore the place.
Fresh juice: apple + orange + watermelon. Very fresh and delicious.
We order the Nasi Periuk Kukus.
According to the menu handed to us, this dish comprises of fish (either fried or steamed, your choice), steamed rice, salted eggs, crackers, onion soup, deep fried potato cake, fried bean curd (tofu), local green salad, shrimp paste, and sambal picit.
What we get: fried fish with steamed rice, crackers, onion soup, tofu, some raw vegetables, shrimp paste, and sambal picit. The cabbage and string beans are raw so I assume that I need to put them in the hot soup so that they’ll get a little soft. The soup is lukewarm. It doesn’t help the string beans nor the cabbage. We do not get the salted eggs or the deep fried potato cake.
The size of the fish is small but they are quite generous with the rice. We order chicken curry separately to eat with the rice.
Given the ambiance and the unique concept, it’s quite unfortunate that service is very poor and the quality of food needs improvement. I would only recommend this restaurant if you’re interested in the experience of eating in the middle of a rice paddy.