Tioman Island is almost directly on the equator, and that means that the sun rises and sets almost at the same time every day, without variation. 7am to 7pm. Your circadian rhythms tune in very fast, and you no longer need an alarm clock to wake you, and your body tells you it's time to go to bed. It's a wonderful thing.
After a day of exploring and snorkeling, Dyann and I were ready for an evening libation and them some dinner.
After a long shower to get the dried salt off our bodies we were off to our favorite little spot for happy hour, The Beach Bar. A couple of cocktails in hand and it was time to watch the sun set on another amazing day in paradise.
Time to find some food.
Have I told you that the food at our little slice of heaven resort isn't that good? Well, now I am. It's not (blog on that topic to follow). Dyann and I could not suffer another evening of re-hashed food from warming dishes. The resort caters to their clientele, Chinese, Japanese, and European guests that have very specific palettes. The food at the resort reflects that. Most items are Chinese in nature and have the same bland flavor profile with a lack of cultural authenticity that screamed frozen food reheated in a microwave. It was sad. We came to Malaysia for the food and we were very disappointed at the resort.
We needed something better.
Something with flavor.
Something that screamed, "I'm in Southeast Asia!"
And so we took a gamble and headed outside the gates to a little open air restaurant right outside the resort and hoped for the best. If nothing else it had a killer view of the bay.
Most of the tables were filled, which we both saw as a good sign. We find a table on the sand and a nice old man brings us menus to look over. Quickly flipping to the back of the menu to the drink section, hunting for a potential wine list, I am denied! No alcoholic drinks whatsoever. Just tea, coffee and fresh juice. Dinner without wine? So far this place is not winning me over.
As is the case with just about every eatery on the island off the resort, there is no alcohol to be had. As Malaysia is predominantly an Islamic country, the laws follow suit and alcohol is not to be found.
Dyann and I order tea and start to browse through the menu. Interestingly the menu is sorted by proteins, Lobster, Prawns, Squid, Fish, Chicken, Beef, Deer Meat (?). Yes, deer meat.
Not going there tonight.
Didn't know there were deer on the island.
Skip the deer meat.
Back to our rule... 3 items. We go with a chicken dish, noodle dish and a vegetable dish.
This food had it all.
The chicken dish was out of the world. Nuggets of lightly battered fried chicken in a sweet and tangy chili broth, topped with quick pickled julienned vegetables. I could have grobbled up the whole plate had I not been sharing.
The rice noodles and beef came out next and were devine. Wide rice noodles in a velvety beef and oyster sauce with tender strips of peppered beef and crisp fresh onions and julienned carrots.
And finally the veggies arrived.
Crisp tender and perfectly prepared.
I love how they do food here. You order each plate by size (small, medium or large) and they arrive fresh as soon as they are done from the wok. Nothing sits. No heat lamps. Just extremely fresh food. Everything is done family style. It's like eating dinner in their home. Well, actually, we are eating dinner in their home.
Citra is a family restaurant. Everyone working here is part of the family, and they live here. Their house is an extension of the kitchen, and we are in essence eating on their back patio. This is how food should be.