Island-Inspired Dining at Ikan Ikan Puts Four Seasons Resort Langkawi on the Culinary Map

Savour honest Malaysian cuisine by Chef Hairullizan and his team, served on the site of an erstwhile fishing village

May 26, 2022,
Langkawi, Malaysia

Warm, nostalgic and brimming with stories, Ikan Ikan invites diners on an extraordinary culinary adventure. The signature restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi embodies a fascinating journey, from a historical fishing village in the 1960s to the island’s most authentic culinary destination today.

Chef Hairullizan Mohdnoor, better known as Chef Panjang, bridges past and present to craft a remarkable selection of Malaysian specialties, woven with heritage flavours and island produce. Boasting chefs from around the country, his talented team has curated a regionally inspired menu to bring diners on a flavourful voyage, from Kedah and Perak to Melaka and Johor.

“Along with all-time favourites, we also make rare ancestral recipes. These are dishes cooked by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, the kind you will find only at the home of a close Malaysian friend,” explains Chef Panjang. “For visitors, and even for many local residents, Ikan Ikan is perhaps the only place where they can taste these flavours.”

The menu offers modern renditions of heirloom recipes from all 14 states of Malaysia. While the food itself is delightfully authentic and home-style, the presentation is fresh and contemporary: “Our younger team members bring in a millennial touch, making each plate Instagrammable!”

In keeping with Ikan Ikan’s residential setting and sharing-style portions, expect warm and intuitive hospitality from the service team, led by Restaurant Assistant Manager Nizam. “We take care of our guests like family, in true Malaysian style,” he says. “We love to share the stories behind each dish, from the ingredients to the lineage of the recipe.”

Rich Island Legacy

Gazing out at the Andaman Sea and cooled by coastal breezes, Ikan Ikan conjures the charm of a bygone era. What makes the dining experience even more special is the locale’s history: the restaurant sits on the site of what used to be a fisherman’s house. This stretch of beach was home to an anchovy fishing village in the 1960s until the fishermen migrated up the coast due to a shift in market demands.

“Some of our local team members have fond memories of playing here as kids,” says Nizam with a smile. “They even remember some of the old trees, including the beautiful mango just behind the restaurant.”

Ikan Ikan was always envisaged as an homage to its storied past. In fact, its name means “fish” in Malay. Existing trees were carefully preserved during construction, giving the restaurant its lush setting. The architecture was inspired by traditional Malaysian houses, built on raised platforms with verandas overlooking the yard. The imaginative design, led by the award-winning Bill Bensley, is threaded with island inspirations: fish-scale motifs cascade across the roof, tribal patterns dot the ceiling, and manual latch windows evoke nostalgia.

The breezy beachfront cabanas draw their inspiration from the fish-drying huts of yore. Here is the perfect spot to enjoy jewel-toned sunset views over a drink or two, before heading to the main dining room for dinner.

Ikan Ikan’s vibrant setting provides the ideal backdrop for Chef Panjang’s cuisine, which makes generous use of anchovies – “a quintessential Malaysian ingredient.” Langkawi is the country’s second-largest producer of anchovies, with a remarkable range of colours and varieties available. Savour these distinctive fish in specialties such as nasi goreng kampung (village-style fried rice).

Locally Sourced Ingredients

Every meal pops with homegrown flavours: lemongrass, torch ginger, galangal and so on. “Our goal is to showcase the abundance of Malaysian produce, so we prefer not to use imported ingredients,” notes Chef Panjang, adding that vegetables and seafood are also procured locally from independent fishermen and small farms.

In fact, Four Seasons guests can meet with local fishermen when they arrive at the Resort beach every evening with their catch. At night, one can occasionally spot flickering green lights on the horizon: these are the boats that supply Ikan Ikan with daily-fresh squid – the star of Langkawi’s best calamari.

Exceptional Culinary Team

A passionate custodian of local culinary traditions, Chef Panjang has been cooking ever since he was 10 years old: “it’s in my blood!”  If he has one intractable rule in the kitchen, it is that each dish must be made from scratch. Pastes and rubs, chutneys and dips, sambals and sauces – everything at Ikan Ikan is crafted fresh in small batches, using the finest local ingredients.

The team includes talented culinarians from across Malaysia, such as Chef Bob from Perak, whose rendang tok (slow-cooked beef in a dry curry) is unmissable, as well as Chef Black from Negeri Sembilan, whose deft understanding of spices is integral to the restaurant’s offerings.

For events and reservations, contact Ikan Ikan via the Four Seasons Chat.