In my previous article – Where To Eat On Your Next Trip To Kuching? (Non-Halal) – I explored delicious foods that can be found along the popular and historic Carpenter Street where noodles are expertly tossed and banana fritters are fried to golden brown perfection.
However, there are just as many delicious foods on offer outside the bustling centre of Carpenter Street.
Keep reading to find out where many locals flock to for their fill of the beloved Laksa and a more recent food establishment that has begun to garner much attention.
Choon Hui Cafe
Like many popular food spots in Kuching, Choon Hui Cafe operates like a food court with several food carts and vendors serving under one roof. Being a cafe known to be frequented by the late Anthony Bourdain, this place is often packed with people. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive early before 11am.
What to have here: Laksa and popiah.
Cost: RM7 for a small Laksa and RM3.50 for the popiah.
Thoughts: The laksa broth was thick, almost gravy-like with a deep, prawn flavour and a pleasant warming spice to it. I loved how well-seasoned and fragrant with spices the broth was and found myself wanting to gulp spoonfuls of it. Though possibly on the salty side for some, I really enjoyed it and felt the thin noodles as well as the squeeze of lime juice helped to balance the strong flavours of the broth. The prawns sitting atop the noodles were also incredibly fresh and plump. Some of the best laksa noodles I’ve had and I highly recommend this spot!
While waiting for your laksa, there’s another food cart where you can place an order for some popiah. There’s plenty of crunchy vegetables like cabbage and carrots but mostly bangkuang (jicama) stuffed in a thin and chewy popiah skin. The popiah itself is rather simple where the vegetables are sauteed and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Make sure to dip the popiah in the sweet hoisin sauce for that sweet and salty flavour combination. Great as a snack or appetizer before the laksa.
Chong Choon Cafe
Similar to the previous cafe, Chong Choon also houses many vendors under one roof but the place is a little more food court style with canteen-like benches. Many people also flock here for the laksa so keep your eyes peeled for a vendor with the Poh Lam laksa sign.
What to have here: Laksa
Thoughts: Like most laksa offered in Kuching, the ones here had the signature fragrance and warm spice flavours. With a lighter and cleaner flavour in the broth, those who prefer a more mellow and less creamy taste may enjoy the laksa offered here. The noodles were on the thick side with a bouncy and smooth texture which makes for great slurping and doesn’t soak up the broth too quickly. Especially great for those who enjoy taking photos before eating.
333 Charcoal Fried Kway Teow
Though a little further away from the city area, this food stall is a must-visit for all kway teow lovers. Half the joy of dining here is watching the sparks fly as the chef skillfully tosses the noodles in a huge wok over hot charcoals.
What to have here: Salted egg fried kway teow
Cost: Roughly RM6
Thoughts: The kway teow noodles here had a thin, chewy texture and were covered in a fluffy and salty salted egg yolk coating. What I loved the most was the signature wok-hei flavour that comes from cooking with a wok on high heat. This meant that the noodles not only had a pleasant char to them but also had a wonderful smoky aroma. Scattered throughout the noodles, you can also find some chai poh (pickled vegetables) which adds both a salty and a crunchy bite. Not only did I get to enjoy the display of the chef’s skills but I also left with a full and happy tummy.
Rumah Asap/Smoke House
Rumah Asap is a fairly new food court that has recently become a hot spot for many locals. Most of the grab drivers here in Kuching will recommend dining here and it’s easy to see why from the large number of people that fill out the space during dinner time. Keep in mind that they are only open from 4pm onwards so make sure to arrive with an empty stomach in time for dinner.
What to have here: Bamboo chicken and stir fried midin (fiddlehead fern) with belacan.
Cost: Varies anywhere from RM5 to RM13 depending on the size of your dishes.
Tips for dining here: Almost any stall around the area serves stir fried midin with belacan, they’re all around the same price and are guaranteed to taste good. However, as a general rule, I would suggest to make your choices by looking at the freshness of the vegetables they have on display. Some stalls have vegetables that looked fresher than others and they will cook the bunch of vegetables that you pick out from the display. The bamboo chicken is only served at one stall and is called ayam pansuh so keep an eye out for the large ‘Pansuh‘ sign.
Thoughts: The midin we got were tender with a slight crunch and were not at all woody. I really enjoyed the strong savoury prawn flavour from the belacan and loved the slow building spiciness from the chilies.
Meanwhile, the bamboo chicken served here is different from the deep fried Thai-style bamboo chicken. Instead, it’s served like a type of soup dish with chicken pieces and tapioca leaves that have been stewed for hours. Expect some fall-off-the-bone tender chicken with a savoury and peppery soup. You’ll find yourself warming up instantly after drinking the soup and it’s incredibly addictive. Having some plain white rice on the side is a must to mellow the strong flavours from both these dishes. My partner and I found ourselves polishing off a plate of rice in no time! Highly recommend this spot if you love strong flavours that pair well with rice.
Be sure to venture outside the busy centre of Carpenter Street and reward yourself with these must-try delicious foods when you take your next trip to Kuching.
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