"people from Kuching love to eat.Sometimes we eat seven
times a day"
My phones just vibrated across the bedside table. Text : Damien "I'm parked up outside" It's about 8am and our newly aquatinted friend is here to take us on a food tour. This trip has been as much about food as it has about climbing and why not? The best way to gain a better understanding of a place and it's people can be through trying their food. We are poised ready for this momentous feeding frenzy, in fact we tried to eat less yesterday in preparation. When we first met Damien he said to us "people from Kuching love to eat. Sometimes we eat seven times a day". I laughed at him when he told me this and now I'm sat next to him grinning on the way to meal number one. Damien kindly ordered all the food all day making sure we got to try the best of everything. It's credit to Damien to say I did not dislike one thing that he chose. In fact he even got me try fish and like it! Now anyone who knows me knows I don't like fish at all!
Address: Jalan Padungan, Kuching, Sarawak (I don't have the full address sorry! But it's on this Main Street) it's not far from Beds Hostel, on the opposite side of the road.
Laksa, the king of breakfasts! Everyone is eating outside, down a little side street. This dish is in my mind the king of all the breakfasts I have tried on this trip and in my life. Although for the first 30 years I had weetabix so I'm not sure my opinion's worth much. Damien has taken us to one of the best places to try it and I've also tried it with Malcom and Eunice (our other friends/food advisors in Kuching). Both times were mind blowing. First of all to have a dish like this for breakfast in England is so alien. We are so set in our ways; toast, cereal or a full English. Apart from the odd occasion when there's a slice of pizza left from the drunken night before. In fact maybe this is where the people of Kuching get the philosophy of eating spicy food such as Laksa for breakfast? Maybe long ago after a heavy night out a headhunter tried his left over Laksa for breakfast? The rest is history. Ha ha I doubt it but I digress.
Laksa is served in a deep bowl and has a soup like consistency it contains prawns and chicken if you order the special. Hidden in the bottom of the soup are delicious noodles. On top are been sprouts and a slice of lime. It looks a little like a Thai red curry in colour and texture, the taste is different. My first mouthful of this amazing dish is like an awakening of tastebuds that have stood dormant for years, like a volcano erupting the taste is wondrous. The rest is a blur when I come to my bowl it is empty, everyone else is still about half way through theirs. "I'm guessing you liked that" Damien says laughing! He then offers me the rest of his. "Take this we will be eating a lot today I need to leave room". I can't even bring myself to say no and be polite. I take it and devour that too. If you are in Kuching try Laksa early in your trip. If you're like me you will have it everyday until you leave. It's important to try it in Kuching too other places make different versions that are not even close.
Sugar Cane Juice
Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre,Lorong 15, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia Kuching 93100
We are now sat outside a stall watching a man cleaning sugar canes and pressing them in a machine. Damien's brought us for a drink to cleanse the palate. Sarah had sugarcane and coconut, I had coconut lime and barley. They were served in large tanker type glasses, both were really delicious.
Banana Leaf buffet! This was really, really, really tasty! Probably my pick of the day although it's so hard to choose. Firstly a banana leaf is placed in front of you then the waitress starts to add various delicious treats around the edges. Pineapple chutney, fish curry, pickled veg, dhal spicy tofu and a popadom. A large helping of beautiful yellow biryani rice in the middle and a chicken curry served on the side. All the combinations of different flavours in this dish are mesmerising and after my first mouthful I look down at my banana leaf so grateful that there are loads more mouthfuls to come! We all had a beautifully thick mango lassi to wash it down. It's not a lie when I say I did not want this meal to end and if the waitress had offered me seconds I would have snapped her hand off. Me and Sarah both walked back to find this place later in our stay, it took us well over 1 hour in the searing heat. That's testament to how much we enjoyed the food. If you're in town don't miss it.
We had seen signs and stalls selling ABC all over the place and I was interested to try them. Damien took us to a place that's been making these for close to 50 years. The old dude that mixes them is like a mad scientist in his lab. Steeped in history this place seemed a great place to try my first ABC. An ABC is a heap of shaved ice served with numerous toppings such as red beans, creamy sweet corn, grass jelly, attap chee (palm nuts), etc. You can also add ice cream, fruits, peanuts, and/or raisins. Sound and looks delicious right? Especially in such a hot country! I have to say the overall taste of this ABC was quite strange. I think it's because I'm not used to the ingredients and not because it's bad tasting, I'm not sure I would have it again. Damien ordered Sarah a White Lady it has evaporated milk, grenadine syrup, mango syrup, lychee, longans, jellies and the occasional small slice of local fruits (jackfruit, mango).This one was really nice kinda sickly but damn tasty too. Sarah had one sip of this and gave it to me, she doesn't eat dessert so it was way too sweet for her. More for me! Damien had a Matterhorn, shaved ice, with cendol, grass jelly, lime and longan. This tastes a bit like a mojito without the alcohol and is the pick of the bunch. Damien swaps his for my ABC as he can see I'm not really enjoying it. All the time during this day Damien is just laughing as we cannot believe how much food he is taking us for!! We are laughing too as it's still early and we are full already! P.s it's been a few months now since we were in Kuching and I've actually started to crave the flavours in an ABC. So I finally tried another in Taiwan this time I enjoyed it so much more! I will definitely go back and try again in Kuching.
Address : Carpenter Street,China town, just after the archway entrance at the visitor information side. Opposite a covered outdoor searing area.
Banana, deep fried in a lift tempura batter! Sarah absolutely loved these coming from a person that doesn't eat sweet things it was indeed a real treat for her. Although possibly a new addiction at the same time.
Sio Bee No address for this one sorry
One last snack before we break for a rest. I was not a big fan of this little pork dumpling type snack although Damien and Sarah both enjoyed them. I think maybe on another day I might have been more receptive but we had eaten so many great things already these did just not come up to par. They were also a substitute because the satay lady had sold out. It was about 4pm now, Damien dropped us off at our place then said he would pick us back up a 7:30 for dinner. We laughed because we were so full. He was not joking.
Premier 101 Food Center Food Court, Malaysian Restaurant, and Coffee Shop Jalan Tun Jugah, 93350 Kuching, Sarawak
For dinner we went to a large open eating area. Loads of tables set up outside surrounded by hawker stalls! This place was buzzing! As Damien is ordering I walk past him on my way mooching around! I'm worried, he's at a seafood stall and I hate anything that comes from the sea, apart from fish fingers and fish from the chippy. He smiles then laughs his head off. He knows I hate seafood! Anyway I should trust him he's not been wrong all day.
Chicken wings - cooked over a BBQ and dripping with a delicious spicy sauce. Me and Sarah devour these so, so good!
Cha Kueh (Fried Carrot Cake)- First things first this dish has nothing to do with the sweet carrot cake we eat in the UK. Unfortunately I do not know the ingredients but I can say it's really tasty. Sarah loved it! I've tried to look on the web for more info but there seems to be so many variations of the dish I'm not sure which one we ate. Anyway try it you might like it, it's the dish that looks like a pizza in the photo above.
Stingray- Sorry I don't know the actual name of this dish but it was amazing! Finally I have found a fish that I like that is not covered in breadcrumbs or batter. This had the most delicious sauce on it and the fish was really meaty
Was there room for anything else? This question does not exist in my life when it concerns pudding. We head to a place that's open late for waffles. Now this dish is not a local dish but it's was awesome. I had a Belgium waffle topped with ice cream and Oreo! It was massive Damien shared it with me although I had the lions share!
Other food we tried and is not to be missed
This is also a breakfast dish and again it's awesome! It's thick porridge made with rice. Then on top they add minced pork chives and an optional chopped churro like a fried donut type bun. An egg is cracked underneath the porridge poaches it on it's way to the table! As you fish your spoon around in the porridge the yolk of the egg bursts sending yellow running through the white porridge! Yum, yum, yum! We had this over and over and it became a fight between Congee and Laksa every morning! I have tried this in China also but nowhere does it like Kuching, not even close. I would consider travelling back to Kuching to consume my own body weight in Congee and Laksa!!! Enough said I think! People say Penang is full of delicious food but in my view it doesn't even come close to what we tried in Kuching.