Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sarawak - Food Hunt

Woww.. One more year has gone by just like that and its 2016. I have to say I started my 2016 amazingly by making a trip to Sarawak located in the island of Borneo. Of all places, why did I choose Sarawak to start off?

Well, main reason being was to visit a best friend of mine whom I met in Melbourne when I first studied there. She was the friend whom I shared my three years life abroad, we laugh, shop, eat, cry, walk, run together, most importantly gain weight together as well. Every 3 month holiday during summer in university, the most we see each other in Malaysia is once. However, its only been 25 days since I last saw her, we've already met each other twice because this summer is difference. We have graduated and for every chance we get, we would try to meet up. In my three years there, she tells me the food wonders Sarawak has to offered and this time, I finally got to taste it for my own and ohh my.. it was delicious. So, here's me and Rebecca with the city signature cat...

Between two good friends, you know how they say good friends is when you make each other better person in the world, well for the both of us, we only learn the worse from each other, all the bad habits and nonsense things we both do. That's how we define our friendship. Welllll, maybe we did learn a good one or two thing but we just can't think of what it is yet. 

Not to mention, she has the most heart warming family everrrr. Her parents and sister are so welcoming that they make you feel homely immediately.BIG THANK YOU to Rebecca and her awesome family to make my stay in Sarawak a memorable and amazing one. There would definitely be a second trip there soon. 

The city is called Kuching, in Malay it means cat. However, this does not means the city is full of cats. However, there were many theory why it was called Kuching. Some say it was name after cats when James Brooke first step in, some say it was derived by the word mata kucing. Another theory was in chinese it is known as "Ku"(古) - Old and "Ching"(井) - Well or "old well" (古井).

Before I forget, I did not go there alone but with a group of friends. Two of us from KL flew there and another two more girls flew from Singapore. So, it was a group of 5 girls exploring the place and food there and trust me, we were more than satisfy.

We landed there on the 20th January in the afternoon at 1pm and immediately went food hunting straight. Here's the list of the food we had and the food you MUST eat in Sarawak! 

Day 1

1. Madam Tang's Cafe, Wisma Nation Horizon
Sarawak Laksa 

From the looks of it, it look like the combination colour of the penang asam laksa and KL side of laksa. Do note that, it taste nothing like it. Its just simply delicious. It seem that the soup flavours comes from the prawn head that they cooked it with. Now, I am craving for the laksa everyday. Lucky, Rebecca parents got me the laksa paste so I can try it back home here to satisfy cravings for the time being before making my next trip there.
Banana Cheese Fritters
This is the banana cheese fritter Rebecca has been telling me about and finally got to try it. It was so good that me and Aleqiu insist on dapaoing back on the last day in Sarawak and ate it in the airport. 

2. Song Kheng Hai Food Court

Kong Piah, donut looking bun with sweet sauce pork meat in it

I've never tried this before but the first time was a charm already. The bun was crispy outside and inside soft with the mixture of the filling in it, it was just PERFECT. It might look like a simple bun with filling but the taste is flavorful. Only two hours in Sarawak and I am already loving it. 

Because we were all too full, Rebecca decided to take us for a walk near the river and Carpenter Street. I guess this post will be all about the food and then will put out the places to visit in another post. 

3. Carpenter Street
Around 5pm, we decided to get coffee near Carpenter Street. I am not a fan of coffee but my friends were and trust me, if you really want that kick of coffee, this is the place you should go too. The taste was extremely strong and I believe that coffee lover would love it. 

3. TopSpot Seafood Centre 
Dinner timeeeee.....and we hadddddd *drumrolls* seafood. Lotsa lotsa seafood, make me tummy happy happy. So this place is located at the top floor of a building so you can get the city view while eating there. Its a seafood hawker Centre at the top floor. The seafood we ordered from was the Bukit Mata Seafood Centre. Rebecca dad ordered a massive amount of food enough to feed at least 15 people but we only had 8 people. So here comes the photooossss
 Black Pepper Prawn - Super yummyyyyyyyy
 Curry Bamboo Lala - I named that myself because its like bamboo and its texture like lala. However, this dish was my favorite dish of the night. Even though it was spicy but it was flavourful and it wasn't overcook. 
Sweet and Sour Fish - The fish was so fresh and totally love the sauce as well. 
Fried Oyster / Fried Ou Jian - I bet not many people have seen this before but it's the Sarawak way of cooking. 
Salted Egg Crab 
Aunty said it was deep fried so it makes it super crispy. It was easy to eat as well as the shell was easier to peeled.  

For the vegetables, they have the traditional bidin cooked with sambal belacan, followed by paku vege and cangkuk manja which was said to be squeeze dried. I love the cangkuk manis as it was so much more different than the usual vegetables we eat. The other two were good too but a little bit too spicy for me.

This plate is a mix vegetables plate where you picked all the vegetables you want and they would cooked it for you! Something different again! Sarawak hasn't stop surprising me yet.

Not only the food is flavorful and the seafood is fresh, the price is reasonable as well. I would say it was cheap because there is no way you can get delicious food like this for a price of around RM300. We had fish, prawns, oyster, crabs and bamboo lala. Sarawak is like a food heaven for me now, overtaking my love for penang food. 

4. 101 Food Centre (Round 1)
It was raining quite heavily after we left the dinner place so Rebecca took us around the city in the car. However, we stop by 101 Food Centre to dapao some dessert back home to eat while we mahjong. 
My flavorful Mochi - Strawberry, Mango, Original, Pandan, Black Sesame 
So many many flavor and my favorite was the strawberry and the mango. The texture was also really nice, soft and fluffy, just the way it should be, 

My obsession with banana fritters. Had to get them, banana fritters with oreo crumbs and banana fritters with chocolate milk (bottom).

Wrapped up Day 1 of Food Hunting. Proceeding to Day 2. On our second day, we focused more on sightseeing in the afternoon but morning and night we continue our food hunting adventure. So started off my morning with a heavy meal of the Sarawak Kolo Mee and........my tomato crispy noodles.

Day 2

1. Ah Kong Kolo Mee - Bau, Sarawak
Morning brekkie next to Teck Hua Furniture. Started my morning with a good meal and then off to our sighting seeing place!
Teh C Special with Pandan Layer at the bottom.  
 Sarawak Kolo Mee - not your typical Kolo Mee you get, totally love the noodle texture!
Tomato crispy noodles - Favourite dish of the Day and my entire trip. I am a big fan of tomato and trust me, when I first heard tomato noodles, I was like hmm interesting.. Now that I've tried it, its delicious. For me, if you never tried the tomato noodles, you have not been doing real food hunting in Sarawak. 

2. Expert Kopitiam, 老行家
After a long day of sight seeing, we were all really hungry so we head back to Kuching to have an early dinner. More like dinner Round 1 before heading to 101 Food Centre for round 2 again. Here, we had another time Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee and my friends said that it was even better than Madam Tang. For me, I prefer Madam Tang probably it was less spicy but both were equally flavorful. 
Lai Chi Kang and Teh C Special 5 Layer !! 
 Another Sarawak Special - Cha Kueh, totally love this dish and a MUST TRY. My friend told me that the 101 Food Centre Cha Kueh is much better but it was closed when we were there. THIS WAS ALREADY SO GOOD AND NOW STILL GOT BETTER ONE?!?!?!
Fried Gyoza with the Vinegar sauce  
Kolo Mee

3. 101 Food Centre Round 2
After meal 1, we went to 101 Food Centre to meet Rebecca's parents in the food centre. As usual, even after being so full, I had to try more food there. 
Red Wine Mee Sua - It was so good that even after being so full, I actually finished the bowl. 
The actual story was that we were suppose to share, the 5 of us, somehow they all took only a mouth each and when it was my turn, the bowl look exactly the same as it came. Anyway, it was so good that I didn't mind finishing the whole bowl.  
We dapao the famous Curry Bread back home for late night supper. This was amazingly good as well. The curry is in the bread and the bread texture was soft and fluffy and dipping it into the curry with potato, it blends so well that for every bite you take, you want more of it.

NOTE : The Cha Kueh here is one of the best! Didn't get to try it as it was closed for 4 days which was the time I was there. Better luck next time for me.

4. Sunny Hills Ice Cream
After every meal, we always have another stomach space to fulfill and it's called the dessert stomach. So we headed for this place which is a school canteen that sells the finest and soft ice cream ever. Its even finer than the ice cream I've eaten in Melbourne. 
The flavor of the day was Corn so we had the mixture of corn and vanilla. It was so fine and taste so good. Different days had different flavor so there is a variety there. Finally tried the famous Sunny Hill Ice Cream in Sarawak, the one everyone talks about and it was not disappointing at all. If I studied in the school, I am pretty sure all my allowance would be invested in this store every recess hour.

Right after dessert, we took some time off to rest our tummy and went for a good massage. After the massage we headed to the last stop of the day, we had Kueh Chap!

5. Bintawa Kueh Chap
This dish is a Teochew dish if kuey teow in dark soy sauce served with pig offal and braised boiled egg. It is also served with yao char kwai which you can deep in the sauce. Yum yummmm.. Something new and it actually taste pretty good. 
After this meal, we finally head home for another session of Mahjong. Since it was also the last night for Siew and Rachel, we decided not to go to bed so early. They had to leave for Singapore earlier because they had something on back home. 

Day 3

1. Pitcher Plant Rice
Heard of pitcher plant? The plants that gobble up insects. Here's how it looks like after being collected to prepare it to cooked the glutinous rice with salt and coconut milk
Ta daaa.. The after product of the pitcher plant where the rice has been cooked in it.  Seem pretty small but it was extremely filling. I love the fragrance of the rice cooked in it. Glutinous rice is actually one of my favorite kind of rice and having to eat it differently was a good experience especially in a pitcher plant.

 2. Ah Kong Kolo Mee
My 4 mornings brekkie in Sarawak starts in this very store. Every morning I would get to try different things. On Day 3 menu was fried noodles and tomato fried chicken. And yes, by now you would realize, I love tomatos and I love bananas! 

Tomato Fried Chicken - This was from another hawker stall in Bau which I can't remember the name but oh myyyy.. I totally love it, so much better than yao yao bing and definitely better than Gami in Melbourne. I wanted to dapao back to KL on the last day but it was so rushing that I forgot about it. Oh wells..fried chicken..I WILL BE BACK

3.  Hai Tian Lou Restaurant  海天楼   
The food here was fantastic as well. I fell in love with the bidin here. Not sure how it was cooked with but I called it Salad Bidin. It has the sweet and sour sauce taste in it which make me instantly fall for it. 
Then we had spinach noodle, noodle made of spinach. It was so good so good so goodddddd. Every meal I have in Sarawak amaze me and all of them taste so good. 
Another good dish sort of peking duck but slightly different. The duck here was slice thicker than the normal peking duck that we usually have.  

4. Pork Satay 
Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce!!!! Normally the one we get are golden sauce stay but this is black satay something like BBQ sauce but their local BBQ sauce. Something different once again but also super good. 

5. Hui Sing Hawker Centre
Before heading back to Bau, we had our supper in this hawker Centre. Tried the sweet fried noodles there and Sarsi Cincau there. Sarsi Cincau! So creative and it taste so good. So did the fried noodles! We were so full but me and Aleqiu still finish a whole plate of it. This noodle is indeed delicious and its sweet.

Day 4

 1. Tomato Kuey Teow

Tomato dish again..yayyyy..it taste so good even with a different noodle. I could eat this everyday and not get bored. Every morning now I wake up, the first thing I think of is the tomato noodles in Sarawak. 

Today was another day of sight seeing of markets and different area of Sarawak so not really so much of food hunting but still quite a lot.

2. Lunch at Local Restaurant in Bau
Ginger Kampung Chicken 
Wild Boar Meat - It actually taste much tender than pork and was really mouth watering. 
Fresh Prawn Dish again! This was so good and my favourite dish for the meal!
Fishie Fish - Love the meat of this fish, similar to Patin Fish but not it. Not sure what wish it was but it was equally good.

I realize that every corner of Sarawak has its hidden gem for food. So far, there was nothing that I wasn't satisfy with. The food was good, places were educational and interesting and I would say 5 days 4 nights was not enough. There was so much more to try and visit. 

3. Tampui
This is the Sarawak version of Mangosteen but its called "Tampui". Me and Aleqiu love it so much we brought all the way back to KL. Another name for it is Baccaurea macrocarpa usually grown in Borneo. The meat texture of the fruit is very similar to the mangosteen but mangosteen was more meat. It sweet and sour and every biji make you want more!

4. Ka Chang Ma / Kacang Beh
Apparently this dish is good for pregnant women after giving birth due to the nutrients it gives you. It has alcohol in it cooked with herbs. The first mouth was a bit weird but as I eat it, it taste better. This is a dish with benefit as it is extremely good for the ladies. 

5. Siniawan Night Market
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there would be a night market in this town called Siniawan. In this very street, the houses are more than a hundred years old. There would all kind of food there such as Ka Chang Ma, Chai Ke, Sarawak Laksa, more seafood dishes and so on... 
The street looks like this with lantern decoration. The picture was taken the night before which was pretty late so it look empty. The second night I went there were so many people there. There were people everywhere. My favorite food there was the Yau Cha Kwai which has all kind of filling. There was peanut butter, pork floss with mayo, butter, kaya and another two more. My favorite was the Kaya Yau Cha Kwai. We ate it two nights in a row and even order more after finishing.
Looks good eh! Taste even better! The people of Sarawak are really creative as they can come out with all kind of fantastic and creative food. 

Day 5
Last day in Sarawak. There wasn't much food hunting as we head off to the cultural village but of course brekkie in the morning with the tomato crispy noodles and tomato fried chicken was mandatory. We mostly tried what we love most on the last day because we might need to wait a bit more longer before we could try it again. However, we still did manage to try another kind of noodles.

Its an improvise version of bimbimbap except replace the rice with the noodles. The sauce is also different, the Sarawak style sauce. However, it was still so good.

1. Life Cafe, Wisma Nation Horizon 
Next to Madam Tang cafe, lies another good cafe called the Life Cafe. This is where I ate the noodle which I called thte bimbimbap noodles. 
Tadaaaa.. Looks good eh but I forgot to take the after mix photo!  
Milo Milk Tea! MILO MILK TEA! Milo + Milk Tea 

Another new drink invention and also my last drink there before leaving for the airport. The combination was pretty good and smooth. However, it taste better when it is hot so I would recommend hot if you were to try it.

That's a wrap of my food hunt in Sarawak. Rebecca say there is so much more food there but we need to come back another time to explore again. OH and not to forget SARAWAK KEK LAPIS

Rebecca had it ordered for us. It's home made without any preservatives! Thumbs up! Because it's healthy. I ordered a couple of flavors - pandan, original, coffee, horlicks, and samcha! 

Had so much good food for the past few days. Till we meet again Sarawak! :)


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