Sarawak – the Land of the Hornbills – is known for its pepper produce, Bario rice, sago and pineapples. Despite the state’s rich indigenous population, ethic cuisine is hard to come by; the Kuching Waterfront is the state’s prime eating and drinking venue. Kuching’s food scene is dominated by coffee shops serving Chinese cuisine, that enjoy brisk business especially in the mornings. Jalan Padungan and Carpenter Street are the most frequented areas for hawker food while Open Air Market is home to good gourmet food eateries. Kuching is best known for its belacan beehoon – a spicy and tasty noodle dish with gravy made from belacan and prawn stock. Also be sure to sample the array of Sarawak desserts ranging from colourful layer cakes to kuih celolot. The famous Sarawak salted terubok fish can be found at weekend markets.
Chong Choon Café
Well known for the perpetually long queues, Chong Choon Hoon Café is popular for its Sarawak laksa. The dish usually runs out before noon so be sure to arrive early if you want to grab a bowl – topped with prawns and fried egg strips, the laksa gravy is deliciously thick and flavourful. Other dishes at this café include mee kolok – a variation of mee jawa that’s accompanied by sticks of satay.
- Opening Hours: 06:30 – 14:00
- Location: Jalan Abel
Chop Hing Huang
The dian mian hu dish – wok noodles – served here is especially fresh and delicious. The silky smooth noodles are boiled in a light and subtle soup topped with soy sauce, fried shallots, cuttlefish, black fungus and fish balls. The interior of this eatery is warm so not many diners linger – lunchtime is especially crowded, though you’ll also see plenty of punters during breakfast and supper.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 22:00 Monday – Saturday
- Location: 22, Jalan Blacksmith
Mas Corner Café 2000
Also situated in Sibu, Mas Corner Café is best known for its chau chai hung ann; this tom yam noodle dish is topped with chillies and salted vegetables. Each large bowl is accompanied with slices of pork or slivers of prawn and fish; alternatively you can sample a bowl of the lak kia mee – it’s one of the few indigenous dishes you can try in Kuching. It’s basically just yellow noodles fried with dark soy sauce, cabbage, egg and fish cake slices served with a dash of calamansi lime.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 13:30 and 18:00 – 22:00 Monday – Saturday
- Location: 17, Ground Floor Kampung Datu 3A
- Tel: +608 432 5015
Min Kong Café
Located along Bank Road in Sibu, Min Kong Café serves up an unusual bowl of prawn noodles – locals love it as each bowl is prepared separately (be prepared to wait) and comes with five fat freshwater prawns. The yellow noodles are thinner and the soup is sweet and tasty with just a dash of soy sauce. You should also try the man yu ngao – a dessert made from steamed ground peanuts and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
- Opening Hours: 07:30 – 14:00 and 17:30 – 22:00 Tuesday – Sunday
- Location: 13-15 Bank Road
- Tel: +608 432 0245
New Happy Café
New Happy Café serves up typical foochow cuisine – notable is the kampua mee (egg noodles tossed with lard and soy sauce and topped with sweetened pork slices). Also worth a bite is the prawn mee – the dish has a wonderfully robust taste due to the addition of red rice wine to the pork-based soup.
- Opening Hours: 06:30 – 16:00 Monday – Saturday; 06:30 – 13:00 Sunday
- Location: Lot 46, Lorong 1, Jalan Ang Cheng Ho
- Tel: +608 224 6051
Sin Kwang Heng
One of the only places in Kuching that stays open late, Sin Kwang Heng serves sio bee (siu mai); filled with sweet juicy meat, the bun is plump and fluffy. Most people who come here pack these buns to take away; be sure to wash it all down with the soya bean drink – it’s sweet but also milky and aromatic.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 24:00
- Location: Stall 30, Open Air Market, Lebuh Power (opposite Electra House)
Located in Sibu, the third largest town in Sarawak, this family-run eatery started out as a roadside vendor and is now located in the Sibu Central Market. The stall’s most popular dish is its rojak platter – cucumbers, tofu puffs, yam beans and pineapples topped with shrimp paste and chopped peanuts. Alternatively they also have kompia – a deep-fried bagel, dipped into a pot of braised pork and stuffed with savoury-sweet minced meat, which is prepared upon order thus ensuring it’s hot and crispy.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 20:00
- Location: Stall 17, Sibu Central Market, Channel Road
Stall at Tham’s Café
It’s certainly an experience to jostle your way through the crowds for the kuih kuih sold at this stall. Operated by a husband-and-wife team, the trading table is set up here as early as three in the afternoon, and there’s almost always a swarm of people already waiting. There’s a limited quantity of kuih – approximately ten types – available so be sure to grab what you want quickly. They also sell hot banana and sweet potato fritters and business is brisk – the stall ceases operating at about 17:00.
- Opening Hours: 15:00 – 18:00 Monday – Saturday
- Location: Lot 1306, Ground Floor, Centre Point, Jalan Melayu
Featuring a concise menu, this traditional steakhouse has soft lighting, calming music and excellent service. Its signature dish is the delicious pan-fried beef tenderloin and you should also try the thick and juicy chateaubriand. What’s more, Steakhouse is also known for a small yet tasty variety of desserts – be sure to sample the house special, flourless chocolate cake.
- Opening Hours: 18:00 – 22:00
- Location: Hilton Kuching, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, 93100
- Tel: +608 222 3888
With contemporary paintings lining the walls and historical bric-a-brac scattered around the eatery, The Junk is a dining venue with elegant yet cultural ambiance. Serving up a selection of western, Italian and fusion fare, the portions are generous; favourite dishes such as lamb shank, asparagus prawns and baked prawns are especially popular.
- Opening Hours: 18:00 – 23:00
- Location: 80, 82 & 84 Wayang Street, 93000 Kuching
- Tel: +6016 889 2044