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 Β 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!

Author: suituapui

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

24 thoughts on “Get ethnic…”

  1. Arthur, check out Groupon Kuching for a deal at Lepau. At Open Air, you missed the ice cream with gula apong where there is a long queue for it every night. For nicer beef noodles, try the stall at Green Hill kopitiam (opposite the old Rex cinema) and for nicer siew pau, try Kuching Siew Pau behind Hak Seng Huat (grocery store) at Rubber Rd. Have a blast in Kuching!

    Oops, I’ve gone back now…but no worries, will go again. Yes, I know about the gula apong apong ice cream but I read not very nice reviews in some blog or elsewhere despite the long queues….and yes, I do know about the Green Hill beef noodles – had that a few times before especially whenever I was staying at Harbour View, they say he’s related to Ah Mui. The Rubber Road siew pao – aren’t those what they told me once – not steamed but baked like the Kai Joo Lane ones? Somebody went and tried – said they’re not as nice at Kai Joo Lane’s. Watch out for the post on that coming up.

    1. The Phong sisters at Rubber Rd and the Kai Joo lane outfit (there are 2 there, so not sure which one) are siblings πŸ™‚

      For one thing, Rubber Road is definitely more accessible. I did heea they’re related in some way = can’t remember exactly now.

  2. Oh i would certainly love to visit this place, something special and uniquely to borneo, yes, every dish looks awesome!

    You must! No point coming here and eating what you can get back home.

  3. Oh. You have been to this place? You beat me to it. Haha.

    heard from a blogging friend it is a new place and they serve nice ethic food. Plan to go when I am back in Kuching in Sept

    It has been around for sometime now – did not manage to check it out on my last trip. Wanted to go for lunch but traffic was heavy, jam everywhere so we changed our plans. Glad I managed to do so this time around.

  4. Funny that we know more about the places outside of our country than the places inside our country. This means we have much to learn more about our native place. Aside from learning about other nations, we should learn more about our own.

    How very true! Even regarding food alone, many can name every Japanese, Italian or whatever dish but they don’t know their own local delights.

  5. I like the decoration of this place and the table cloth, different from others. Yes, agree with you that they should serve the drinks using mug from local pottery with all the dayak designs. That looks more matching than the jug. Food looks good especially ayam pansoh.

    You’ve tried this place before? Very nice, love it!

  6. That restaurant is certainly unique and it’s great to be able to sample ethnic food. I guess anyone from over here will have to go over to your place to experience this cuisine. Oh, you were a potential air steward? πŸ™‚

    Let’s say I was less than half my present size. Hehehehehehe!!!

  7. Actually I did not mind that very unauthentic jug, prefer glass container to pottery anytime for my drinks. Next time I’ll eat more petai, knowing its health benefits. Have a good trip to Bintulu, stay safe.

    Thanks. Just got back from a real heavy dinner. Eat…eat…eat! 😦

  8. yay for ayam pansoh … it’s such a delicious and wholesome preparation for chicken, ya. only available at a very few outlets in kl, and sometimes only for promotional periods πŸ™‚

  9. Seems like you are enjoying Dayak food lately. The place looks very traditional! It’s relaxing too!

    Yes, can’t get this in Sibu unless we cook our own.

  10. darn it! Petai……… tmw have to go pasar buy petai and cook liao

    I don’t crave, will eat…but will not go all out to look for it.

  11. wow.. the Sibu Food Mayor enjoyed this place so much and every dishes to the bits!! must be a very nice place with good food!! HE’LL BE BACK.. and please mind the apostrophe between HE and LL, that’s not omit-able~~ πŸ˜€

    I thought this was Bananaz’s comment – his usual style.

  12. We went there for the first time for lunch & quite a number of dishes on the menu were not available coz their stock ran out from the nite before & the delivery man have not arrive & its already past noon time. Hubby was not amused.

    Oh dear! Luckily we did not encounter anything like that. I would be fuming too!!!

  13. “Somewhere in the Caribbean?” HAHAHAHAHAHA !!! I like your answer.. I also don’t know where it is until I read your post !!!

    Hahahaha!!! See! I’m not the only one.

  14. Wow! You’re in Kuching! πŸ˜€

    Have fun mate. I haven’t seen this place last time I was here so it must be quite new…or rather I haven’t been to Kuching in a very long time.

    It looks like a very nice place though, good authentic food too!

    Yup, quite recent, definitely not there during your time. I’m in Bintulu now actually. πŸ˜€

  15. Sad to say I have never tried this cuisine even as a Sarawakian. Family is not adventurous enough to try anything not Chinese. All dishes look tasty!

    Hey! I’m in your hometown right now. Tried one of the places here selling this kind of “highlander” cuisine. VERY nice too. Will blog about it.

  16. The food you ordered here certainly look very good, I especially like the petai! The Dayak brinjal with smoked fish is really interesting and ethnic…certainly can’t find over here. The food, especially the rice must be so fragrant…to be cooked in a bamboo over charcoal fire πŸ˜‹

    All nice, not to be missed for anybody visiting the state/Kuching.

  17. 1st & last time I come to lepau! The food is not bad but the service is seriously lacking!!

    Was ok when we went, no complaints…but we were the only table in the house. πŸ˜€ A few other people came later – but not many, two tables, I think. Oh ya!!! If I remember there were Malay girls, probably away on leave for Hari Raya. Ya, food’s good but not as cheap as Patz, of course – upscale cafe prices… Cafe Ind here is closed all through Hari Raya – reopens for business today, Friday.

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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