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5 Must-Eats in Sarawak

By Edited Sep 4, 2016 2 2
Credit: http://sarawak.attractionsinmalaysia.com/img/states/sarawak.jpg


Sarawak is one of the 13 states of Malaysia. It is located in East Malaysia together with Sabah and is sometimes referred to as Borneo. Its capital city is Kuching, which means cat. It has a population of about 750000 people including numerous indigenous tribes each with their own unique culture and dialect. You can definitely keep yourself entertained in Sarawak for at least a few days and the food list below should help get you started. 

1. Kolo Mee

This is a type of noodle dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Trust me, if you are anything at all like me, you will be eating then for all 3 meals! However, you might have to look harder for it for dinner as most shops tend to run out just after 12pm. Yes, that's how popular and tasty it is!

The best types are those with handmade egg noodles. Some serve it with pork, while the Muslim stalls serve it with beef or chicken. Those with pork tend to have a reddish sauce. Some Sarawakians request for soy sauce instead of the traditional red sauce to enhance the saltiness. Some Sarawakians prefer it dry. Please do not miss this dish when you are in Sarawak! It is not something that you can easily get in other parts of Malaysia and if you do manage to find it outside of Sarawak, it does not have that authentic taste at all.

kolo mee
Credit: own picture

Amazing pork kolo mee with handmade egg noodles!

2. Kek Lapis (Layered Cake)

The new generation of Sarawakians were introduced to western baking styles in the last 20th century. It is no longer the same as Indonesian layered cakes. The idea of layered cakes have been around in Sarawak for generations but young Sarawakians adopted this new baking technique and, using modern practices, are able to interlace each layer with various flavours. Each cake has to have at least 2 colours. The cake is firm and moist as the different layers are fastened together with types of jam, sugar or honey. Save some room in your suitcase to bring these unique and delicious cakes back to your friends and relatives! They are heavy to carry but they will be much appreciated.

dyg salhah
Credit: own picture

Endless variety of Kek Lapis for FREE tasting at Dayang Salhah! There are numerous shops to buy kek lapis from but the most famous one is Dayang Salhah. They also do online delivery of their cakes if you live in Malaysia.

kek lapis
Credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KNG-LAmarhs/UfAgv8KmP5I/AAAAAAAAAGk/7bwIW1PGVKg/s1600/55732692_1.jpg

Colourful unique gifts to take home!

3. Ikan Terubuk Masin (salted Toli Shad fish)

Head to any local fish market in Sarawak and the fish most on demand will be Ikan Terubuk. It is full of little criss-cross bones but those who know how are able to remove it well and you are left with a sweet tender fleshy fish. The fish can be cooked in all sorts of ways from grilled, baked or part of a curry. It is relatively expensive due to its high demand. As you leave the airport, you will see them being sold packed in bags, tied with string and ready for you to take unto the plane. You can even choose between those with roe and those without. Over-fishing in many South East Asian regions has led to a low supply and Sarawak is one of the few habitats left where these fish still thrive. 

ikan terubuk
Credit: own picture

Traditional way of displaying the fish - notice the electric fan on top to keep the flies away.

salted ikan terubuk
Credit: http://hungryc.com/2010/07/ikan-terubuk-masin-salted-terubuk-fish/

Ready to tickle your taste buds!

4. Teh C Peng or Teh Tiga Lapis (3 layered tea)

This is a wonderful combination of red tea, brown sugar and evaporated milk. It is a speciality found in most coffee shops in Sarawak. Other places in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur and Penang have tried to replicate it but, from my experience, they are too sweet. Only the authentic Sarawakian coffee shops do it right! In addition, coffee shops in Sarawak are also the most adventurous with it. Some have tried adding a fourth layer of pandan sugar or of black grass jelly. It is normally served with ice but I have come across some shops that do a nice froth on top with hot tea. Definitely a must try!

3 layer tea
Credit: own picture

3 layered tea at The Dyak restaurant in Kuching

5. Tuak (local rice wine)

Tuak is an alcoholic beverage made form palm sugar and yeast. It is used as a celebration drink by certain indigenous tribes of Sarawak such as the Dayaks and Ibans during weddings. Yeast is added to cooled sheets of glutinous rice. For sweeter rice wines, less yeast is added. This mixture is left to ferment for about one week. Palm sugar is mixed with boiled water and the resulting syrup is then added to taste. The tuak is ready to be served after being left to mature for another one week. Some people prefer to leave the drink to mature for longer. If properly stored, it can even be left to ferment for months or years. It can also be found in certain regions of Indonesia that are geographically close to Sarawak. Tuak is perfect after a heavy meal to aid digestion. It is also a great way to unwind after a long day of walking around seeing the sights in Sarawak. 

Credit: own picture

Tuak at The Dyak restaurant in Kuching

Lonely Planet Borneo (Regional Travel Guide)
Amazon Price: $30.15 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 4, 2016)
Attached here are 2 useful guide books to bring with you on your trip. When in Sarawak, don't forget to make a stop to see the Orangutan Monkeys, the cultural villages, the long houses, and the Mulu caves. Sarawak is not only known for food, but also for handicrafts and natural scenery. These books will help plan your trip and tell you other things not to be missed.
The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
Amazon Price: $34.26 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 4, 2016)


Oct 10, 2014 9:51pm
Malaysia is on my travel bucket list and I hope to visit sometime next year. Being a Chinese lover, I am always hungry for noodles and I love fish too. Thank you for this wonderful guide. Lovely pictures of toli shad and kolo mee!
Oct 10, 2014 10:21pm
Sarawak has many nice places to eat. But if you are a foodie and are planning a trip to Malaysia, then definitely add Penang to your itinerary. Penang is Malaysia's food capital :)
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