Kuching is quickly becoming a travel hot spot for many tourists visiting the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. With a rich history, plenty of nature-themed attractions and an exciting blend of cultures, this small city in the epicentre of Sarawak has a lot to offer.
Perhaps most significantly, Kuching has become known for its wide selection of local foods at affordable prices. Popular foodies like the late Anthony Bourdain was also known to love the specialty foods offered here. There is no doubt that Kuching is a must visit destination for the foodie at heart.
Many would argue that Carpenter Street is one of the most happening food places in Kuching. With lots of Sarawakian foods to offer in the oldest and busiest part of the city, food lovers flock here at all hours.
Here’s a list of food locations you absolutely must stop by at the busy Carpenter Street.
Lau Ya Keng
Perhaps the most reliable with the most options offered at one spot, Lau Ya Keng is a food court and a one-stop destination to fill your tummy at almost all hours. Open from 7am to 12 am, they sell all sorts of specialty Sarawakian foods like laksa and kolomee. To add to it all, the vendors here are incredibly warm and welcoming.
What to have here: Kolomee, Rice Porridge and Kueh Chap.
Cost: Roughly RM5 for each dish.
Thoughts: Noodles in the kolomee were chewy, smooth and bouncy, covered in a lovely thin, salty sauce with a strong shallot aroma. Topped with some sweet charsiu and savoury meatballs, the kolomee here was a fulfilling meal.
The rice porridge was perhaps my favourite thing to have for breakfast as it felt gentle on the stomach with a warm, soothing and light flavour. Mostly seasoned by the peppery meatballs and thick chunks of pork liver, it was an inviting burst of meaty flavour with every bite. The porridge here was also slightly different from the typical gruel-type porridge as whole bits of soft rice were still visible.
With plenty of chunks of tender pork swimming in a pool of broth and a scattering of wide noodles, the kueh chap here really shined. The meat fell apart in my mouth and the noodles were silky smooth which made slurping the broth so much more enjoyable. A very light herbal smell in the broth also made slurping it down feel so much more warming.
Aladin Chicken Rice
As the name suggests, this restaurant is popular for their chicken rice dish. Though unassuming on the outside, with a small entrance, partially obscured by food carts, the taste of their chicken rice is bound to stay with you forever. Unlike most chicken rice shops which offer only steamed or roasted chicken alongside a plate of fragrant rice, they also offer fried chicken for those who want a truly filling meal.
What to have here: Chicken rice.
Cost: RM5 per plate.
Thoughts: Though I did not manage to try out their fried chicken, their roasted chicken alone was sufficient enough to blow me away. The chicken meat was incredibly juicy and packed full of flavour while the skin was thin with a light crisp. My favourite thing however, was how flavourful and fragrant the rice was as it instantly hit me with an aroma of fried shallots, ginger and sesame oil. I could easily polish off a plate of the rice alone but the addition of the chicken just heightened the deliciousness of the dish. My partner and I enjoyed it so much, we had to order another plate to enjoy. If you love chicken rice, there is no doubt, you will fall in love with the ones offered here.
Though Room 67 is fairly new in Carpenter Street, our Grab driver highly recommended it. Room 67 pride themselves in providing herbal dishes and tonic soups to strengthen the body.
What to have here: Cordyceps with scallop stewed chicken soup.
Thoughts: Not a keen believer in Yin and Yang foods or Chinese herbal medicine, I thought I’d try this place out anyways. Initial thoughts of a strong, harsh and bitter tonic soup were washed away when I had a taste of the chicken soup here. It was surprisingly light with a faint herbal aroma and a hint of sweetness which helped combat the mild bitterness at the back of the throat. The chicken was also fall-off-the-bone tender and succulent while the mushrooms had a chewy and almost crunchy texture. All in all, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would and drank up every last bit of the soup.
Temple Cucur Pisang (banana fritters)
This small food cart located just in front of a temple and opposite Lao Ya Keng, is run by an elderly uncle and his niece. They are always on time, opening their small business at exactly 1pm. Lines will begin to form by that time and many locals will circle the street in their cars to place orders. Thus, it is very important to arrive on time to ensure you get your share of cucur pisang.
What to get here: Cucur pisang
Cost: RM0.60 per piece of cucur pisang
Thoughts: Though the uncle may seem grumpy at first, he’s actually more than happy to take your order and will even kindly tell you to stand in the shade so you don’t get too hot. If the tough love uncle isn’t enough to soften your heart then perhaps the cucur pisang will. The fritters here first gets dipped into a batter and deep fried. Then, it gets dipped once more and deep fried for a second time. It’s no wonder the crust has an immense crunch with a caramelised sweetness to it. The banana also gets well cooked from the double fry and turns into a soft, sweet and custardy goodness. Hands down, the best banana fritters I have ever had! It was so good, my partner and I had to revisit and place an order for 10 pieces before we left Kuching.
If the hustle and bustle, profound history and hidden street art isn’t already enough to attract you, then the delicious foods offered at Carpenter Street will surely tempt you.
Let’s hear it from you
Have you been to any of the locations mentioned here yet? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to Neue via Facebook or Instagram. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here.
Do you have a flair for the written word? If you believe you can make a fresh, meaningful and original contribution to Neue, you can get in touch with the Digital Editor of Neue by dropping an e-mail here.
Pack your bags and go
Planning your next trip to Kuching? Be sure to visit the Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) website here to book your tickets.
RB recommenced services to the capital of the east Malaysian state of Sarawak on December 28, 2018.
The Brunei national carrier first flew to Kuching on May 15, 1975 with its last flight on July 28, 2011 when the route was suspended.