Wednesday, January 16, 2008

BEST OF part 1

At last my masterpiece is OUT! I’ve been doing research and even put my health at risks in order to come up with this masterpiece. My masterpiece is entitled “Best Of”. Since starting doing my research for this culinary adventure, I had gained so many pounds until I can’t recognize the person looking at me in the mirror. These all for the sake of bringing out the best of Kuching’s delights. Here are my findings based on trials and lots of sweating.

Best Sarawak Laksa (The King of Breakfast)

1. Chong Choon Cafe, Abell Road. How can I describe the taste, one word, delicious! That’s how people will tell you when you ask them why they come here early in the morning and have to endure the staring eyes of people standing next to your table hoping you’ll finished soon so they can take you seat. They even got a branch now at Green Heights coffee shop but nothing can compare to the stuffy and crowded feeling of an old ‘kopitiam’.

2. Choon Yen, Bank Hock Road. Used to be the ultimate Laksa place in Kuching but losing out its steam lately. People still crowd this place in the early morning and the Laksa usually sold out by 10 am. Still known as the birthplace of Laksa eating in Kuching.

3. Madam Tang, Pertanak. The new and hip place for Laksa in Kuching. If you want comfortable and smiling services, this is the place to have your Laksa. Their soup is thicker than the usual fare and if you fancy prawns the size of your palm in your Laksa, this is the place. If you can’t get your fix of Laksa from the two places above, don’t fret cos Madam Tang opens til late. A new branch has opened up at Stutong to cater for people around that area.

Best Kolo Mee (The Queen of Breakfast)

1. Ta Wan Kung. Come here in the morning and you’ll know why people come from as far as Hong Kong to get their taste of Kuching. The smell of lard and fried onions will make your mouth salivates even before you sit down. This family business has been passed down by their father since he first started at the old Rex Theater. The younger brother got his own stall at Expert Food Court at Penrissen Road. Never trust halal version of Kolo Mee as they don’t come even close to those with heavy dose of the fragrant lards!

2. Oriental Park, behind the old Capitol Cinema. Family business since my grandparents time and they are the very few that roast their BBQ pork using the same old method. Just sit back and enjoy your bowl of Kolo Mee while watching the BBQ pork being roasted by the side over hot charcoal.

3. Batu Kawa old town, next to the roundabout. Even though Batu Kawa old town is 30 minutes drive from Kuching, people still come here as early as 7 am for their famous ‘Bak Ong Mee’. It’s an alternative version of ‘Kolo Mee’ with the additional fish balls, fish meats, pork strips, pork rolls and other meaty stuff. Make sure to bring your patience here since the waiting time is from 30 minutes to 1 hour for your food to be served. Be here early too since everything will be sold out by 10 in the morning.

Best Chicken Rice

1. Hock King, Bank Hock Road. The art towards a good plate of chicken rice lies on three principle. First one is tender and juicy chicken meat that literally melts in your mouth. Secondly, fragrant rice that is soft and yet full of rich texture of the chicken stock, butter and ginger combination. Lastly, the ever fragrant and spicy chili with garlic not forgetting the belacan combination. All these three are mastered by the people behind Hock King and the crowd during lunch time is the evidence of how good they are. If you can’t find a seat here, fret not. They just opened up a branch inside the Food Bazaar at tHe Spring.

2. Good Thumb Food Centre, Dogan Road, Batu Kawa. This place used to be called Big Mouth. But then the popular chicken rice stall there had a dispute with the landlord, so they moved next door and calls themselves Good Thumb. There’s rumor that the lady owner has a very good chopping skills not only on chicken meat but…… Regardless of what they're called, the chicken rice there is still hands down the best of the best in Kuching.

3. Fang Yuan, behind Hock Lee Centre. This place is known as ‘chow kei pern’ (smelly chicken rice) because of their origins. They used to be selling chicken rice at the shop near to the wet market at Main Bazaar and the smell of the rotten meat and vegetables there made their chicken rice smells even better! After they move to their current place, they even started serving at lunch time opposed to their nite only chicken rice last time. They are the only few chicken rice seller that serves up a good nutritious soup.

Best Belacan Beehoon

1. Padungan Belacan Beehoon at Song Kheng Hai Food Court, Jalan Padungan. This stall at Song Kheng Hai serves pretty mean Sotong Kangkung as well. Belacan Beehoon is one of Sarawak’s most legendary delicacies, although it can't reach Sarawak Laksa in terms of popularity. The process of making the gravy is very tedious hence it is not so easy to find Belacan Beehoon in Kuching and also because not a lot of people can stand its pungent smell.

2. Summer Pavilion, Museum garden. This place still serves Belacan Beehoon like in the olden days. My parents used to come here a lot when they were courting. Sitting there sipping a bowl of ‘Ice Kacang’ with Belacan Beehoon while watching the greeneries just calms down a stressed day.

Best Tomato Mee/Kueh Tiaw

1. ‘Se Xio’ at Hui Sing Garden hawker centre. Tomato Kueh Teow or Mee are distinctively Kuching. You can’t find it anywhere else other than Kuching. Some people mistaken it for fried noodles with tomato sauce hence the many failures in West Malaysian imitation. It is actually fried crispy noodle or stir fried kueh tiaw with tomato gravy just like what Italians spaghetti to them. The gravy must be cooked to perfection with many condiments and poured over the noodles. It would taste better if the kueh tiaw is slightly burnt to gives it a kick. Other than the usual style, this stall also serves normal fried kueh tiaw with tomato gravy poured on top.

2. Hap Hap Hin at Kenyalang Market. You can get Tomato Kueh Teow almost everywhere in Kuching, but only this stall does it to perfection. Come early, because they are so popular, they sometimes sold out before noon time.

Best Kueh Chap

1. Expert Food Court, Penrissen Road. We call it Kueh Chap. Other people call it "The Pig's Spare Parts Soup". Kueh Chap means pieces of flour dough that has the same texture as kue tiaw in herbal soup served with every imaginable internal organs of the pig. For people who can’t stand sights of pig’s organs floating around in your soup, you opted for lean pork meat and eggs instead.

2. Pertanak Market, 1st Floor. The stall located at the corner of the food section is frequent with ladies with basket after their morning shopping and also the many vendors around that area. Some people claim that the taste is still the same after so many years.

Those are some of the well known local delicacies that are unique and a must for all food lovers who wanted a taste of the locals. Some people might have different preferences and you are most welcome to give any comments and suggestions. There’ll be another 2 parts following this masterpiece as I intend to do it as a trilogy. Part 2 coming soon…….

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