Kuching Makanthon Guide 2016: street food, seafood and Dayak food

Cat Statue at beginning of Padungan Street near the round about. A must take photo for Kuching Marathon runners for memory! The car's vest changes every year as per the Kuching Marathon. :) Meow! Welcome to CAT CITY!

I told myself after writing Kuching Marathon 2016 race report (please click here to read the race report), I should also write about the delicious, great variety of Kuching food. Otherwise, I feel indebted to my wonderful Kuching friends and the warm and friendly people there. 

After coming here 2 times for Kuching Marathon and with my great local resident friend's guide, I think I have gained 2 kg (most recent trip) and some insights into what are the food that runners and travelers must eat when visiting Kuching. 

Hey - besides running Kuching marathon, what is better than having a Kuching Makanthon too, right? :)

In my recent trip, I was very fortunate to savior the best Kuching food - street food, seafood and Dayak food. Most of the stalls / restaurants are within walking distance or in close proximity of city center. And I have managed to makan-makan (eaten) most of the delicious food on foot by walking from the hotel, except 2 places.

1. Kuching street food

Kuching Street Food

Where is the capital street food of Malaysia? Of course majority will say Penang. :) 

But a friend of mine who came to Kuching for the first time for the marathon commented, "Kuching has so many food to eat! I have been eating a lot!" :) 

That shows Kuching also has its share to offer as a city with great variety of local street food.

Let me share with you a list of the more popular Kuching street food that I have tried before. If you are from Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia, you will get to taste some unique street food only found in Kuching. 

  1. Sarawak kolo mee
  2. Sarawak laksa
  3. Sarawak layered cake
  4. Pork satay
  5. Nasi lemak Ice cream
  6. Kuching Chinese kuih
  7. Kueh chap
  8. Ice kachang
  9. Braised pork rice
  10. Fried durian / chempedak kuih
  11. Green pea soup
  12. Home-made chocolate / pandan mantao (dumplings)
  13. Crispy fried banana
Of course, the list is not complete but it. And I shall add on into this food list in my next trip. :)

Where to makan-makan Kuching street food?

Just focus on 3 key areas below and you shall gain a few kilos! :)

i. Carpenter Street and Old Market

Carpenter Street and Old Market

You won't miss this! It's right behind and almost parallel with Jalan Main Bazaar facing the Kuching River.  

Another landmark: It's between Plaza Merdeka where runners will collect race kits and Wayang Street Chinese Temple

When you go to collect your race kits at Plaza Merdeka, do check out the race venue Padang Merdeka which is just outside. After which, you can start exploring delicious food of Kuching along the Carpenter Street and Old Market.

I love this part of Kuching - not only for the delicious food in coffee shops, cafes, etc, but also for the well-maintained old shop houses! You will feel as if the time has slowed down, and you have gone back to the past! 

Carpenter street has many reminiscences of Melaka - for its cleanliness, laid-back relaxing atmosphere and the old shop houses.

Hint hint: You will find raise pork rice, Sarawak laksa, pork satay, crispy fried bananas etc here. :) 

Go explore and enjoy!

ii. Padungan Street area

If you run full marathon, definitely you would be running along Jalan Padungan on your way back to finish line. :) That would be around 2 km or so from the finish line. 

Walk from the cat statue (many cats) near the Riverside shopping mall along Jalan Padungan all the way to another cat statue (one big cat wearing Kuching marathon vest) near the round about.

Kuching is a very nice, clean city reminding of Melaka. You will see no litters on the ground. 

You will see many coffee shops, restaurants and cafes along the stretch. There are a few local bakery shops too making freshly baked bread (especially in the early morning for the school children).

Don't rush as you explore the food along this street. Be adventurous! Perhaps you will find some gems! :)

iii. Kuching Festival Food Fair (古晋城市日美食节)@ Dewan Masyarakat, Jalan Padungan

I was told by my local friend that there is no pasar malam / night market in Kuching! Only recently, they have started the Pasar Tani on Fridays. But the Pasar Tani is not equivalent to the pasar malam night market that we can easily find in KL and Penang with lots of local street food to eat.

I was kind of in shock to hear this! But I guess this is the wonderful part of exploring local culture. Not all cities and states in Malaysia are alike! And we shall have open mind to learn more about local culture. And I was very happy about this discovery!! :)

Without the weekly pasar malam, the annual Kuching Festival Food Fair which is usually held for 3 weeks in a year starting from end July to 3rd week of August from 5 pm to 11 pm has become one of the most anticipated big event for the locals and visitors

And I really want to thank Kuching Marathon organizer for having the marathon in conjunction with Kuching Festival Food Fair. It gives us an opportunity to explore more of Kuching food. 

In fact, if you ran the full marathon this year, you would have run past this area on the way back to finish line. This is exactly where runners needed to make a small little left turn and make a u-turn out again. If I'm not mistaken, this is about 3 km from the finish line!

You can take a taxi there or walk there. :) After all, you have run past it before! :) Also a big excuse to eat more with > 100 food stalls spoilt for choices!!

My local friend told me that this year they had more than 12 types of ice cream by different stalls. And most of them are very creative - ranging from Nasi Lemak Ice Cream to Helium Ice Cream to Toilet Bowl Ice Cream, etc.

This place is best to come after marathon when you are super hungry!! haha!

2. Kuching Seafood

Seafood is fresh and cheap in Kuching. The best place to have seafood in Kuching will be at TOPSPOT Seafood Centre, which is at the rooftop of Bangunan UTC close to Pullman Hotel and Riverside Shopping Mall.

There are many seafood restaurants there and all are competitively priced. I have tried 2 and both turned out to be rather good. Just choose the one with most crowd. :) 

It' best to enjoy your seafood with fresh coconut drink, or sugar cane drinks (one stall selling with long queue), or fresh fruit juices. And of course, for those who drink, you can simply enjoy your seafood with beer too! 

3. Kuching Dayak Food

Thanks to my dear friend Ms Ooi whom I haven't met for more than 30 years since high school time in Kedah. She has been residing in Kuching for the last 14 years and she thought it would be best for us to catch up on our long lost times over an authentic Dayak food

I have never eaten Dayak food before. And I would also like to know more about Dayak - our beloved native people. Without much hesitation, I gladly accepted the reunion dinner over Dayak food! :)

For the benefits of all, according to Wikipedia, "The Dayak or Dyak are the native people of Borneo. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior of Borneo, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguising traits are readily identifiable. Dayak languages are categorized as part of the Austronesian languages in Asia."

I was very looking forward to catching up with my dear friend over Dayak food.
Ms Ooi and her staff brought us to this wonderful, nicely decorated restaurant called "the.Dyak" serving authentic Dayak food by Dayaks. Located at Panovel Commercial Complex at Jalan Simpang Tiga, it's not very far from the Kuching Festival Food Fair area.
The restaurant is nicely decorated with all the Dayak's photos, history, handicrafts, etc. I believe it's a rather popular restaurant in Kuching as it was full house when we were there.

My friend ordered 6 signature Dayak dishes served over kampung grown milled rice, followed by Tuak ice cream made with Bornean rice wine as dessert.

Here are the dishes (please refer to the photos above):

Top Row (
from left to right)

  1. Tempoyak -pickled savoury Durian
  2. Daun Ubi
  3. Daun Bandung Ubi Kayu
  4. BBQ 3 layered pork

Bottom Row (from left to right)

  1. Manuk Gulai Upa Kelapa
  2. Steam Tilapia with Daun Kunyit and Bunga Kantan
  3. Tuak Ice Cream

Let me tell you! The Dayak food is simply marvelous!! 

It has some similarities to Malay food yet it has its own uniqueness. I love the "Tempoyak - pickled savoury Durian" and fish dish "Steam Tilapia with Daun Kunyit and Bunga Kantan" the most. Very special and unique which I have not tried else where before. I also love the vegetable dishes (Daun ubi and daun bandung ubi kayu) for their home-cooked feel. Very very fresh and delicious!

And the tuak ice cream - the tuak ice cream - the tuak ice cream - wow! Ice cream made with Bornean rice wine? It's simply yummy!! But I don't dare to eat more than one due to its alcohol content. I don't want to get drunk over an ice cream! I will be the laughing stock of Kuching!! haha!

Where to get your authentic Dayak food?

Sub-lot 29, Ground Floor
Panovel Commercial Complex
Jalan Simpang Tiga,
Kuching 93300
12 pm  - 10 pm every day.
Closed on holidays and all Christian holidays.
Tel: +6082 234068

Kuching - the next food capital of Malaysia?

We all know that Penang is known for its delicious and great variety of street food, and Kuala Lumpur is known for its fine cuisines

How about Kuching? Potentially be the next food capital of Malaysia with its great variety of food choices - street food, seafood, and even with the natives' Dayak food? 

It is rather potential. And I can assure you that you will find some wonderful local dishes not regularly found in West Malaysia. What more - all the above mentioned food can be found mostly within walking distance in the city center, except the recommended Dayak restaurant and Kuching Festival Food Fair which are a short distances away.

So, if you want to cuti-cuti Malaysia, do head on to Kuching!! 

Besides running marathon, go have a makanthon there too! 

And even without running a marathon, it's still worth a trip to Kuching to savior the best food and explore the wonders of nature. 

Written on 2016.08.31 (Malaysia's 59th birthday)


No comments:

Post a Comment