Get ethnic…

I tried googling and if I am not wrong, the name of this place…

Lepau, Kuching 1

…is in our Sarawak own ethnic Kayan/Kenyah language, meaning  a rice barn or a hut in the (rice) field and this was where Philip and I went for dinner on our first night in Kuching.

I gathered that the proprietor of this place is a Kayan lady and true to its name, this unique restaurant serving our local native cuisine is housed in some kind of a hut-like structure located at Ban Hock Road, right next to the Grand Supreme Hotel. Upon arrival, I was indeed very impressed by the mere sight of the very authentic tribal decor of the place…

Lepau, Kuching 2

…which was very nicely done…

Lepau, Kuching 3

…though I did feel that a little bit more of it might lead to an overkill – sometimes, more can be a little bit too much.

They stuck loyally to the theme or concept right down to the ashtray and they even used a notepad holder for their tissue paper…

Ashtray & tissue holder

…though this one was rather faded and worn out but it was all right as it could still serve the purpose intended.

They even name their tables after places in the Miri/Baram region of the state…

Long San

…where you would find most of these Sarawak’s ethnic groups.

If I may digress a bit, this reminded me of the time when I went for an interview for a cabin crew post with a local airline and the interviewer asked me where Long Sheridan was. I had heard of Long Island and the Seychelles but I did not know exactly where they were and I just replied, “Somewhere in the Caribbean?” The interviewer just smiled. In the plane on my way back to Sibu, I was flipping through the in-flight magazine and lo and behold! There it was!!! Right there in the map of Sarawak…to the east of the state. It was actually one of the destinations covered under the airline’s rural air services. The moral of the story – if you are going for an interview, make sure you go very well-prepared. LOL!!!

Now, back to this restaurant that we went to, they even have this special place where they would cook their pansoh (cooked in bamboo) dishes…

Pansoh stove 1

…over some hot burning charcoal…

Pansoh stove 2

Now that surely is as authentic as authentic can get!

This, however, stuck out like a sore thumb – their air bandung

Air Bandung

…which was served in this nice-looking jug kind of glass but I guess if they had served it in one of those mugs from our local Sarawak potteries, it might come across as kind of cliche, what do you think?

Of course, above all else, what would be most important is the food. We asked for their native rice and it came wrapped in some kind of leaf like this…

Native rice 1

Ahhhhhh!!!! That was what they used at the ayam penyet place here that I frequent quite regularly but these days, they have switched to banana leaves instead.

The rice in itself…

Native rice 2

…was so good…and so were the dishes that I ordered from their menu.

The ayam pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo)…

Ayam pansoh

…was perfectly done and so very delicious. This was the first time Philip was having this and he loved it a lot.

He also tried petai

 Petai with prawns

…for the first time that night, just one, and I could guess that it did not really tickle his fancy as he did not have any more after that. Truth be told, I never liked those stinky beans till quite recently myself and the way they did it, very spicy and nice, was different from what we are more familiar with – the nyonya-style sambal udang with petai…and between the two, I think I would much rather go for the nyonya version.

The daun bandong (tapioca leaves)…

Daun bandong

…was great – I enjoyed that very much and the terung Dayak with salai ikan (Dayak brinjal with smoked fish)…

Terung Dayak with salai ikan

…was so so good. I do recall having this before but I did not quite enjoy it as I was kind of put off by the smoked taste of the salai ikan but they do it so very well here. There was just a hint of it and it gave the soup a very special taste and fragrance.

The bill came up to RM63.00 inclusive of drinks…and I certainly would want to drop by again to try the other dishes on their menu that I did not get to order that night, for instance, those dishes cooked with tempoyak (fermented durian). So, as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, I’LL BE BACK!