Monday, May 9, 2011

Kuching In 12 Hours, Part 2

Despite our hurry, we couldn't get to Choon Hui cafe before 11 am when they close and the other place for Kuching laksa as recommended by Kuching's golden blogger boy Kenny was Golden Arch at Golden Arch Mall. We got there but the laksa was all gone and they told us to get it from the cafe behind.

Kuching laksa, RM4/USD1.30. Big portion but not exceptional soup. Maybe we were too full. I think Chinese vermicelli (thicker, more breakable and in individual pieces) is more suitable for soup while Thai vermicelli (thin strands, not easily breakable and usually in a large uncut bundle) is better fried.

Boiled chicken and roasted pork with curry sauce on rice from Golden Arch Cafe RM4.50/USD1.40. Nah.

We sat alfresco behind Golden Arch Cafe. The pavement was uneven and broken, the floor dirty and the air smelt bad. A small roach came from under the table and explored our plates. Golden Arch Mall is such a nightmare, avoid it. It isn't even a mall. It's just two rows of crummy shop houses linked by an overhead shade.

Help came in the form of Greg and Nee, a couple I know through Nee's aunt, Linda. I hadn't intended to meet up with anyone in Kuching because of the lack of time but I messaged Nee for advice on where to eat Fuzhou ding bian hu. It turned out that everything I wanted to eat was in Sibu, the Fuzhou town of Sarawak. Kuching is a Hokkien town. But, true to Malaysians' reputation of being super hosts, Greg, Nee and Nee's bro Roger who was visiting from Melbourne made sure we were happy for the rest of the time that we were there. Greg and Nee are both university lecturers and busy Nee not only owns a cake shop but also became a mom two months ago to a beautiful baby girl.


Nee's cakes are made with the finest ingredients and baked at home with passion. Greg's creative masterpieces liven up the cafe walls.




I especially liked the banana choc mousse cake, the banana cheesecake and the double chocolate cake while Yi loved the Rocher chocolate cake. Oh, the cookies are addictive!

A friend said to me one day "Kuching people are so lucky! How come they get a place like Nee's but not us?" I agree. Every piece of Nee's beautiful cakes was awesome. Her cakes are perfect in texture and taste, rich yet not cloying and the sweetness level just right. I am inspired by this young woman who only started baking seriously less than 6 years ago. I'm sure that if her cake shop is in a city like KL, she'll have big investors knocking on her door.

Our dinner, hosted by Greg and Nee, was at Stall ABC on the rooftop of Permata Carpark, the place where the locals will without fail take their visitors. The rooftop is the place to go for good seafood dishes.

A thick seafood soup.

My favorite dish of the meal, very fresh and sweet baby razor clams in soy sauce and lemon grass. 

An oyster 'pizza', something new for us. I think this was the only dish I didn't like because the oysters were too fishy and the sauce too gooey.

Done very well if not too oily but then it was butter prawns.

This is midin, a jungle fern. It tastes like a cross between the pakis and sayur manis. Love it and wish we have it in KK.

I was probably wrong about Kuching being the second best place in Malaysia for food after Penang. I actually think that KK is better because whatever they have in Kuching, we have too in KK and more, maybe because there is a sizable Sarawakian community here but not the other way around. The upside to Kuching is the much lower cost of living and the city is less crime-prone.

Kuching reminds me of colonial KK: big trees, big old bungalow houses, a lot of land and greenery. I can imagine that growing up there must be fun and coming home to a place that hasn't changed much is comforting.  It does feel homey, even for me, and would I prefer to live in peaceful Kuching than chaotic KL. However, I didn't expect the city to be so far behind KK. Some say that Kuching is left behind because of its immigration policy. The state government is very careful about the people going into the state and although I am from the same country, I was only given 2 months' stay.  The official reason is to protect the state from unwanted people and influence but this protective stance is a double-edged sword as it isolates the state. That still doesn't explain Kuching's lack of progress because Sabah has the same immigration policy although not as stringently enforced. I think that there are political reasons in keeping Sarawakians in the backwaters.  While development is not always necessary for the better, the young and educated are not going back to Kuching because jobs are scarce. Every family that I know in Kuching has family members (some are whole families) who have emigrated. The same situation exists in KK but I'm guessing that it's not as bad as in Kuching.  Kuching should be a much better city given that Sarawak is the biggest and one of the most resource-endowed states in Malaysia. I may be wrong, but this is my impression of Kuching (Malay word for cat), the City of Cats.


p.s. The best Kuching laksa according to Nee is found at Chong Choon Cafe.


zamre said...

Kuching .. the best place.
Zamre Bin Ab. Wahab

malaymui said...

it's really interesting to read your view on my hometown :D. i will check out Nee's when i go back in June. I think everyone has their own favorite stall for Laksa, kuehchap and kolomee in Kuching...
Are you going to be around KK in mid June?

Chocolate Cookies & Candies said...

I was taken to the Golden Arches (or whatever it's called) but I can't say I was particularly impressed with the hygiene nor food. The laksa was bleh. There was hardly any meat, egg or prawns. I thought the little kopitiam near my aunt's place was better.

Speaking about Kuching, most of my classmates have left the city. Everyone I talked to said that there's no future for the Chinese there.

Blur Ting said...

I swear I have eaten the jungle fern in KK!! Loved it and never had a chance to eat it since.

the lunch guy said...

midin, we have a similar looking fern in the forests of America and it is called Fiddle Head Fern for the obvious reason that it resembles the scroll at the top of the neck. i have no idea if it tastes the same though.

they must be picked when they are yong and the ferns have not yet fully developed and uncurled.

when i was working in one country restaurant the locals would sell us many things that they had foraged from in the surrounding forests, fiddle heads were always a welcome treat.

simply sauteed with almond and shallots in butter, poached, shilled and used as a garnish for salads or made into a soup, they are a seasonal delight.

terri@adailyobsession said...

zamre: true kuching patriot

mmui: yes i will. call me!

ccc: i think even the natives are not getting jobs if the economy's not good. i am wondering if this migration thing is a kuching/sarawak chinese culture thing, you know, the grass is greener in the western countries kind of mentality where it's status thing to have family members overseas?

blurting: i think u mean the sayur manis shoots which are sabah's state veggie. we have pakis, which is a fern but the midin is different and does not 'pull the mouth' as much as the pakis.

lunchguy: ferns & fiddleheads have that 'pull of the mouth' sensation n taste but the midin is milder n crunchier. yes, they are delightful:)

Chocolate Cookies & Candies said...

Terri, I think it's more a case of the Chinese knowing that the only way to educate their kids is sending them overseas. It's just natural for the next generation just to remain at their country of residence once they've graduated.

Each year I got back to Malaysia, I just can't help feeling like a second class citizen. Call me bitter but I truly know how a Chinese is treated should your passport is stolen overseas. Don't think your own government is going to be too cheerful to assist you.

I also don't see any non-bumiputeras or Malays in any government positions. There are also blatant adverts that specify non-bumis or Malays need not apply. Unless one has a successful business in Malaysia, I really don't see a future for the next generation for the rest of us.

~ Kat said...

the razor clams looks delish! and I've never had jungle fern before so that's something I'll look forward to when I travel to an Asia country :)

terri@adailyobsession said...

zamre: kk's better lol

mm: i'll be around. call me, we eat seafood!

ccc: i think the futrue is bleak for all. of course natives n malays get the jobs in the govt but the bad economy affects all:(

if only malaysia is not about race and religion all the time, the country'll be the top in SEA because we are so blessed with resources, climate's good (crops can be grown year round)and the diff races are not antagonistic towards each other except for the govt's constant provocation.

blutting: i think it was sayur manis, sabah's state veg, that you ate.

lunchguy: yum, fried with almond and shallots in butter sound yum!

kaitlin: asia's so diverse n exciting:)

TeaLady said...

This ALL looks delicious.

curiositykills said...


u can get midin/ bidin in donggongon tamu. my parents went with my neighbour last week and they bought 6 packets. i told my colleagues about it and one lady from (tenom? or some town i dont rmber) said she has midin at home. im not sure if they are wild leaves/grass or she planted them.

my neighbour did explained that midin originates from sarawak :)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Again, your observations about Kuching are spot-on. Too bad you didn't get some good Sarawak laksa in Kuching. It's usually a breakfast dish. They say that if you find a breakfast laksa place still selling laksa at lunchtime, they must not be good.

Anonymous said...

Well, Kuching is the cleanest city in Malaysia as far as my eyes could see. Very modern and well plan. KK good in it's own right though but simply too small to be a city. Comparable to Miri i guess.

Anonymous said...

I love KK so much. I am from KL and trust me, I went to MIRI but it more like papar town for me( Small town nearby KK), no big shopping malls like KK do. I went to kuching but not as good as KK. The city is dead at night. While in KK you have more nightlife, people are alive just like KL and penang, shopping malls are everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Aiyo you went to the wrong place lah..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...