My ex-student/lawyer friend, Louis, celebrated his birthday recently with his family at this restaurant in Kuching and he shared a few photographs of what he had on Facebook. ah^kam_koko’ was there too not too long ago and he had a post on it in his blog as well. Sigh!!! If only we had a similar eatery right here in Sibu too as everytime I had friends from the peninsula or abroad, I would love to let them try our own local ethnic cuisine but at best, there are a few places serving the Melanau’s umai (raw fish) and that’s about it.

For one thing, it is actually quite simple to cook except perhaps, the pansoh

pansoh manok @ The.Dyak Restaurant

…which is cooked in bamboo over an open fire. Inside, they usually have chicken or pork or wild boar (YUM! YUM!!!) but at times, they may use fish or prawns instead. My missus can cook this but instead of going through all the hassle, she would just use a claypot and needless to say, even though it is very nice, it just is not exactly the same.

I am able to whip up some of our kampung (village)-style dishes but I got them mostly from my mum and I guess she got it from her mum, my maternal grandma who was a Melanau but it certainly seems that there are some similarities between our cuisines. For instance, Louis had this asam (tamarind) tilapia cooked with terung Dayak/Iban (Dayak brinjal)…

Asam tilapia with terung Dayak @ The.Dyak Restaurant

…which I can also cook…..

STP's fish with terung Dayak
*recycled pic*

…be it with fish or prawns. It appears to me like they added a lot of asam keping (dried tamarind slices) with the sole intent of making it taste more sourish. Everyone’s complaining that these days, the terung Dayak is not sour at all and that leaves us with no choice but to add the tamarind slices in the soup…and our fresh chilies, more often than not, aren’t spicy hot either. What is the world coming to, I wonder?

Other than that, Louis had their daun bandong (tapioca leaves)…

Daun bandong @ The.Dyak Restaurant

I just realised recently that when we say “Bandong“, our West Malaysian friends would think that we’re talking about that place in Java, Indonesia when in fact, it is our local name for ubi kayu or tapioca, be it in Sarawak Malay, Melanau or Iban. I can buy that sometimes at my regular Malay food stall here but I wouldn’t say that theirs is very nice. They do not pound the leaves or shred them well so that makes them hard and quite tedious to chew. I did fry that with pumpkin for my friends who came to town not too long ago

STP's daun bandong with pumpkin
*recycled pic*

…and they all enjoyed it a lot.

In fact, I also cook the leaves in a soupy dish…

STP's daun bandong with ikan buris
*recycled pic*

…with fish, prawns or chicken plus ginger, serai (lemon grass), chili and belacan (dried prawn paste).

This, of course, is no stranger to everybody by now – the paku (jungle fern)…

paku @ The.Dyak Restaurant

…which is not that popular at the (Chinese) restaurants here compared to its distant cousin, the midin. It is cooked with santan (coconut milk) at a restaurant here but we usually fry it with udang kering (dried prawns) and belacan (dried prawn paste) but I guess it is up to the individual how he or she would like it done. Not too long ago, I fried it with salted fish and a bit of chili and belacan

STP's fried paku
*recycled pic*

…and it certainly was well-received by everyone who ate it.

Of course there are many other Dayak dishes that I may not be so familiar with and there are some that I would not touch myself – like the kasam or fermented preserved meat or fish as I am not too comfortable with the smell but I do know of people who would give an arm or a leg to be able to eat that. I read in the newspapers just the other day that some Dayak women’s association is working on a book with a collection of their ethnic recipes – I am certainly looking forward to that to see if there are other such yummy dishes that I may be able to whip up myself.

But the thing is that when one has guests in town, he or she would be busy taking them around and showing them the sights and bringing them to taste the best in town and would not want to be cooped up in the kitchen, cooking away these dishes for them to sample. That is why I do applaud the effort of the people in Kuching in opening a restaurant like this there and how I wish there can be one here in Sibu as well…

A special thank you to Louis for his kind permission to use some of his photos in the above post.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

24 thoughts on “Simplicity…”

  1. As a Sarawakian, I feel like I’m not exposed much to the local cuisines. I usually go for the foochow dishes. Many of the dishes featured here are new to me. I wouldn’t mind trying them. These dishes look so good! 🙂

    Hmmmmm…maybe I can cook and invite you over the next time you come home for the holidays. 😉

  2. Hi, all the dishes look so good but me jakunis have not eaten any of the above dishes.
    Have a nice week ahead, regards

    Ya…here, unless you pay a visit to the longhouses or you have friends who belong to one of those ethnic races, chances are you will find it hard to get to sample any of these. We used to get authentic pansoh during the Borneo Cultural Festival but they’ve discontinued the event.

  3. *PENGSAN* Big mistake!!! Came here while hungry and I saw my fav food here. The paku looks divine! 😦 I want that right now… but mana mau cari la, tengah tengah malam. *CRY*

    Over there? Waktu siang also can’t cari…. I wonder if they sell this anywhere in KL. @ Tiara’s Borneo Rainforest perhaps, with a name like that? Is it still in business?

  4. I see some dishes that I have not seen, esp the first one. That spicy looking paku dish looks so mouth-watering….mmmm. I love fish cooked in those sourish terung….very appetising. I wonder how the tapioca leaves dish taste like. Never tried before. Arthur, you can cook very well. Maybe you can open a shop and someone will blog about your food 😀

    Pansoh…not easily available here. Used to buy at my church’s charity fairs…expensive but nice! Worth it and at the same time, contribute to a good cause. Nah! Let me know when you’re coming home again – I can cook and invite you over…but not pansoh though, not in a bamboo. 😉

  5. you’re welcome STP. the food at that restaurant in kuching is not bad. i agree with you that we should have this kind of restaurant more. local cuisine should be made more available and be introduced to others who have yet to try it.
    local celebrity chef and international celebrity chef should promote it more. there have been shows on astro about it but not in details.
    when are we going makan again STP? Cheers!

    Next time you see any place selling pansoh, call me…and I’ll join you. Went to Sg Merah a few times…couldn’t find any place selling. Sakura, you said? Didn’t see anything there either… 😦

  6. those are surely the sarawakian dishes i have not tasted before, or at least i don’t remember tasted before.. went to Kuching like 10 years ago and i can only remember i had kolo mee and the paku pakis, haha!!

    I’m pretty sure you mean midin and not paku pakis…as midin is the one that is usually served in most restaurants. 10 years ago is a long long time – time to make another visit. How about coming to Sibu? 😉

  7. wow! the cooking method definitely not something i could find over here! =S or perhaps i haven’t discovered yet!
    but i still the paku the most! =DDD

    Come, come…plan a trip here. August 31st long weekend…and also Hari Raya Haji October 26th. I can cook these to let you try… 😉

  8. how does it taste? does it has strong fishy smell?
    I don’t like fishy smell .. i will run away .. LOL
    many authentic sarawak dishes…

    Fishy smell? What? The pansoh? It’s meat usually…but when it’s fish, with all the serai, kunyit, ginger, daun bungkang and so on, there would be that overwhelming fragrance of all these – none of the unpleasant smell left…like in assam laksa Penang of some of those Thai dishes.

    If you’re talking about the terung Dayak dish, I usually use prawns or freshwater river fish – the ikan buris…with its flesh so smooth, so sweet and so lemak. I may use those small fish or tengirri too, cheaper…and with the serai and the belacan, they’re nice too…or ikan bawal putih (white/silver pomfret). Never tried bawal hitam – that one usually has a stronger fishy smell – best fried or cook curry.

  9. From the first day I following your blog. I notice Kuching people eat lots of paku vege…Very rare to see in our local restaurant. But I know our Pasar Tani here got sell. Once a while my mum will cook it like kerabu or with sambal belacan..taste is so good.

    Yup, I used to see it at hotel buffets – the salad/ulam counter…always prepared as kerabu. Nicer with sambal belacan/udang kering or masak lemak…or in sayur rebus (boiled vegetables, kampong style). These things are plucked fresh from the jungle – no pesticides, no chemical fertilizers…really organic. Better than any of those farm-grown vegetables…and especially those imported ones – they spray chemicals to prevent them from turning bad during shipping.

  10. I have always craved for this kind of kampung style dishes,I remember when I was in kuching many years ago, staying in those kampung,(evangelising ma) I just loved the cooking, especially the friend ulat sago, best betul.

    Now, I am sure you can cook all that you have mentioned here and there aka kampung style

    That’s what’s good about it – there’s the beauty in the simplicity…and things are natural jungle produce, cheap and natural.

  11. I wanna try the ubi kayu pumpkin…look yummy…

    Daun, the leaves…and you can substitute the pumpkin with sweet potatoes, if you want. Also very nice…

  12. Wild boar pansoh is the best!

    I associate it with Gawai and (the defunct?) Sarawak Cultural Festival. 😉

    The Borneo Festival… I went the 1st year, the subsequent years, my missus went and bought home to eat. I can’t stand hot and crowded places – same reason why I never go to the pasar malam here… 😦

  13. I would love to try those dishes one day.I would rather go and makan these kind of food than Chinese food. Chinese food everywhere also can get and more or less would taste the same ( although Ruby is an!) but the authentic Melanau/dayak/Iban mana mau cari? Love your post today 🙂

    I told you you would love this post. True, very true – those Chinese dishes, the western ones, all the breads and cakes, the pizzas and the pastas, those can be found everywhere and elsewhere, a whole lot nicer than the pseudo-authentic ones that we have here. These, you can’t even get it if you come here…unless I cook for you. Coming soon? 😉

  14. If I am not wrong, the assm keping is the dry version of the dayak terung. It has the same taste. Have try your receipe for the ikan kembong soup. Yummy!!!….yummy!!!….

    Aha!!! So this is the 2nd recipe of mine that you’ve tried. Nice, eh? All this kampong-style cooking… 😉

  15. That’s a really unique dish.Thanks for sharing it here, now I’m this much more knowledgeable

    Nothing like experiencing it 1st hand. Come on over… 😉

  16. I am like Julia, i am from Sarawak, but not having any local cuisine. What to do, truthly and typical foo chow, only take chinese food! hahahahhahahhahahah

    I know. I would not bother to cook for you since you do not eat belacan. LOL!!! 😀

  17. You’re quite a good cook! Why don’t you do a STP’s Crazy Kitchen as part of your Sibu tour package?

    I would love to do that but then there wouldn’t be anybody to take them around. The big group that came the other day – they rented a car so I could leave them to their own devices to entertain themselves while I got the food ready – that was why I was able to get them to come for dinner at my house that night.

  18. Hope we have another opportunity to drop by your newly renovated house for a scrumptious meal! lol…

    When? When? Got your tickets yet? Just stay at my place next time – small groups of 3 or 4, no problem…save on hotel. 😉

  19. Tantalizing photos as always…

    Every time I see jungle fern in your photos, I want to try it. It looks yummy. We have bright greeny leafy vegetables here in the United States, but thus far I haven’t seen anything that resembles that. However, it does make me curious if the local ferns I see here are edible? I’ll have to research that. 😉

    Like NZ. It is even the country’s emblem. I wonder if theirs are edible…or at least, some of the species found there.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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