Back to your roots…

This is the DBNA (Dayak Bidayuh National Association) Building…

DBNA Building

…at Jalan Kumpang, Taman Ridgeway (1.526511,110.347675) in Kuching. If you are unfamiliar with those names in the address, you can get there via Ong Tiang Swee Road – coming in either from Simpang Tiga or Rock Road till you get to the Sarawak Cheshire Home – that road to the right of the home is Jalan Kumpang and this place is just a short distance away on the left.

On my first night in Kuching, my cousins took me there for dinner, together with one auntie and the missus and children of one of them. The association has rented out a section of its premises to some people to run a restaurant serving their ethnic cuisine – the AwahCafe @DBNA…

Awah Cafe

– a simple, very spacious place, non-air conditioned and not very elaborately decorated though there are some evidences…

Awah Cafe stage

…of the cultural ethnicity…

Awah Cafe decor

…at this place including sections of their menu…

Awah Cafe menu

One of my cousins had called up to make the reservation and he had ordered all the dishes that he had tried before and enjoyed so that certainly saved us the trouble of having to go through the menu and trying to figure out what each  dish was and deciding on what we would want to have.

The lemon grass chicken…

Awah Cafe lemon grass chciken

…was very nice and I enjoyed this ethnic mixed vegetable dish…

Awah Cafe ethnic mixed vegetables

…very much.

The sambal sotong (squids)…

Sambal sotong

…was very well-received by all that night and the barbecued pork served with sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip)…

Awah Cafe barbecued pork

…as well.

I was beginning to wonder why those dishes did not seem all that familiar to me, nothing like the ethnic dishes that I am well-acquainted with and my guess was that these were probably more towards the Bidayuh cuisine. the ethnic race found mostly to the western section of the state of Sarawak, more towards those parts where Kuching is…while I am more familiar with the Iban cuisine or that of the Melanaus in central Sarawak. For instance, I had not had terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal) cooked with chicken…

Awah Juwe terung dayak chicken

…before. Normally, in its simplest form, we would cook it in soup with ikan pusu/bilis (dried anchovies), belacan (dried prawn paste) and serai (lemon grass) or we may choose to add fish or prawns to it. Otherwise, we can replace the anchovies with salai (smoked) fish or prawns.

The keli (catfish) with tempoyak (fermented durian)…

Awah Cafe keli with tempoyak

…was all right but it was very very sour – usually, when the tempoyak is sour, we would say that it is not very nice so probably, this was what was used in the cooking.

The local ethnic rice…

Awah Cafe local rice

…that was served with all the aforementioned dishes was probably the only thing that night that I know only too well.

That certainly was a delightful dinner, thanks to my cousins for the treat…and of course, it sure was great to get together with everybody once again.

Author: suituapui

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

30 thoughts on “Back to your roots…”

  1. Sambal BELAKAN!!! May gawddd!

    Yum yummmmm!!!! Would be great even if it is just boiled pork! Would have to resist going for a second plate of rice.

  2. Is that real greenery?

    Around the stage? Dunno…didn’t go closer to check. Shouldn’t be difficult to plant those orchids and plants – the place is not air-conditioned…all open by the sides, just have to water regularly…especially these days, so so so hot…and dry!

  3. A very nice ambiance. 🙂

    Ok, pretty basic and simple. Lots of other nicer ethnic places in the city, very much nicer…and I would say the same about the food too – unfortunately, none in Sibu where I live even though this is the area with the largest Iban population in the state, the most in number among all the races in Sarawak.

  4. Heard of this place when I moved back here. Know the road to it but never been there.

    Nice that you dined there and glad you enjoyed the food. Some of the dishes I never try before. Haha. Never really tasted Bidayuh dishes before actually.

    I’ve never tried either, different from the ethnic cuisine I have had elsewhere. Mostly nice, just the keli tempoyak wasn’t all that great nor the terung Dayak or maybe I am more used to those cooked a little differently. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Hehehehehe!!!!

  5. Lucky the menu has English translation.. Else, I won’t know what’s that, that Kuduos word.. From the list, I only know cangkuk manis and midin belacan.. Yummzz, all nice food, I like the sambal sotong and keli, very lemak-ky..

    The sotong was very nice…but it was just sotong with sambal, dunno how ethnic that woudl be, actually. The keli was a bit disappointing – I think they did not have good tempoyak. I dunno what kuduos means wither, probably in their Bidayuh language.

  6. I had some tempoyak before, though not many times but they were all sweet and spicy, with a hint of sourness. Good to know that sour ones are inferior ones

    Yes, and some would say that they’ve violated some pantang like making when they’re having their period – one of those things. The Chinese have that too when it comes to making their traditional wine. Good tempoyak would require good durians too – many of those commercial ones would used the not-so-good, cheaper durians…so their tempoyak would be inferior in quality.

  7. I have not been here myself but I heard good news about it. Now my friend has also been employed as one of the cook so Im happy! should stop by some day. Orang Sibu pun sudah mari. Hehe

    Yes, I beat you to it, eh? Ahhhh!!!! Now that your friend is working there, you should drop by sometime. May give you something extra special, who knows? 😉

  8. Was tempted by the barbecued pork….

    Very nice. Reminded me of something my mum used to cook.

  9. The menu, I was wondered what’s that language, okay is BM obviously, maybe my malay wasn’t that good, I only know the few words, lucky they’ve the English translation aside.

    I don’t even know if that’s Malay…and I would say my Malay is not too bad.

  10. A real richness of local cuisines and culture there. Wonderful.

    Yes. Too bad we do not have such places in Sibu where I live. There are a few in Kuching and I know of those in Miri and Bintulu as well. Real sad that nobody has ventured into this delightful ethnic cuisine here – more or more pseudo-authentic western places popping up here, there and everywhere.

  11. Much has been talked about this place. Call myself a local but I haven’t been to this place, hihihi. All the food looks great.

    Oh? It’s that well-known? First time hearing about it…and glad I was able to try. Not bad, nice…but I guess you would need to know what to order. Quite an elaborate menu, actually.

  12. The menu is quite hard to understand, LOL!

    It would be the same for me – best to just ask what is best in the house. They all speak English, no problem at all…unlike some places here, even at the western or whatever restaurants here. 😦

  13. It’s good that this restaurant serves ethnic food and everyone can get to know and state these dishes. If I have a chance, I would love to experience the east Malaysian ethnic cuisine.

    I do enjoy our own ethnic cuisine but of course, they would need to be things I don’t know how to cook or can cook but not so well. Anything that I can do better would get the thumbs down. 😀

  14. I guess I really don’t know how to order these food there and needed the staff to recommend their specialties. Nice traditional decors there!

    Yes, just ask the staff. Even if you know the names or can read the description of each dish, you will not be sure whether it suits you or not – you may not like it. Best to ask the staff – they are conversant in English and will suggest their popular dishes and you can pick from there – no need to go by the menu.

  15. These look very traditional kind of local dishes..I love the lemon grass chicken and sambal BBQ pork.

    Not really familiar with these, maybe Bidayuh. I’m more into Iban or Melanau ethnic dishes, not quite the same. Generally, pretty good though – nice change from the usual stuff.

  16. Love all the dishes ordered by your cousin there.. Havent tried any one of them before… Yes, very ethnic….

    Will have to wait till you make a trip over here…if ever! 😦

  17. barbecued pork with sambal belacan … y’know, i don’t think i’ve ever had that combination before! interesting … i’m a sambal belacan fan, but i usually connect it more with seafood dishes 🙂

    We have it like this at home all the time. Ooooo…braised pork leg with sambal belacan, absolutely out of this world!!! So good that I will even forget that I am eating all that fat! Muahahahahahaha!!!!! Try it with roast pork, good too (I know places in town here, serving it with cincaluk dip though)…and I love it even with boiled pork, plain. Bottom line, just can’t go wrong with sambal belacan.

  18. Reading the menu is learning a new dialect. Lucky have English translation

    Same as going to those restaurants serving cuisines of other countries – I would need to strain my eyes and read the fine print.

    This is the only section though – the rest in the extensive menu are all very familiar which I thought was kind of disappointing. I was expecting more of such unfamiliar dishes.

    I always found delight in reading the menu in Filipino restaurants and finding words that are very familiar – pancit, lumpia. manok…and here too – I’m sure you know timun and cangkok manis…and dowon…and midin belacan. Not all Greek to you, I’m sure.

  19. Nice read! Thank you for the recommendation 🙂

    Welcome, and thanks for dropping by & commenting. I enjoyed reading your blog too. Do come again. Will link you in my blogroll.

  20. Well “kuduos” literally means vegetable, “bi’ing” is belacan and “oyuak” is pork.
    Bidayuh actually pronounce Bidayue’h literally means “Bi'” people and dayue’h land. Just for information “dayak” also means blood.

    Thanks for dropping by and for the explanation. I had a Bidayuh housemate, my first posting in Kanowit in the late 70’s – from Serian side, Ta’ee, but I did not pick up much of the language other than a few words and phrases like ma’an songkoi, ngi’hup…and two of my cousins in Kuching married Bidayuh hubbies, one Serian side and the other Bau and their dialects are very different.

    1. U’re welcome, however all these dish doesn’t taste as good compare cooking using firewood miss that style of cooking. Bidayuh actually enjoy strong and spicy flavor, some dish you should try may and probably dislike.unpalatable for some:
      1. Grilled fish egg cake in turmeric/ginger leaf and wrap in banana leaf, heaven
      2. Grill upriver eels soup though rarely found these days.
      3. Young ginger salad with shred ginger leaf, shred young ginger ribosomes and shred lemongrass. Dress with grill belacan and crush/pound clii padi. Sort of nasi kerabuish except spicier and serve with steamy hot rice.
      4. Grilled brinjal paste with anchovies, cili and grill belacan.
      5. But the no.1 dish actually for bidayuh is fermented pork and fish both sour and umami. Umami fermented pork fat or fish(similar process as Japanese funazushi except the yis) usually ferment using yis and crush rice for fermentation its will either go totally foul or just right umami. We usually eat it raw with lime and cili padi or steam it on top of cooked rice. Though we will add a bit in other dishes for flavor. However these modern age of refrigeration most household will let it fermented/cook for 3 to 4 weeks in room temperature before refrigerated.

      Sorry for the long post, missing these dishes.

      That’s perfectly all right. Everything sounds so very interesting. I sure would love to try – anything ethnic and exotic, count me in! Not saying that I would like it all though – some I may like a lot, others I may skip the next time. I guess it boils down to one’s individual tastes. Like fermented wild boar or the Ibans’ kasam, I am just ok with it – can’t say I’m a fan. I would prefer wild boar fresh, anytime…cooked in the ways my family would cook it – not ruined with all the ginger, serai, lengkuas and sauces, the way they fry the meat outside. The delicious taste of the meat is completely drowned out.

      Do stick around! Would love to her from you again.

      1. See below for my rant:
        Yes, two type of fermentation,
        1. (tikasuom) – using cook rice that is when the pork, wild mustard and fish turn sourish.
        2. (kauk)-95%fat Using pound coarse uncooked rice and traditional yis which contain cinnamon and ginger highly antibiotic, The reason why probably age tuak taste like honey wine/mead. Perfect fermentation will produce pinkish meat and firm fat , closest taste i can think of ham for the meat and cheese for the fat with a hint of alcohol nyum..nyum. This dish still popular, some household with expertise and skill even starting to sell their craft it jars usually Rm 50 to RM60/jar of 200 to 300grams each, pricey indeed.
        well….this is highly specialize skill, not everyone can produce the perfect product.

        Ooooo….I love ham! They sell that? Do you? I sure would love to give it a try! I’m so into anything ethnic and exotic.

  21. hmmm, seems comforting for my Indonesian licking….
    never pairing pork with terasi or belacan before, tempting to try!!!

    Oh? We do it all the time, sure brings the taste and the enjoyment to a whole new level!

  22. Everything looks delicious!

    Yesterday, my daughter and I were visiting the BF and I made a nice pasta dish. They both took big second helpings. I’m unsure what I would call it, but I did make a salmon dish to accompany the meal. I have no idea what I’d call that dish either. It didn’t matter, they both inhaled what I prepared. 😉

    Salmon? Ooooo…my girl would love that! So expensive here. Bought one slab of it, the fillet – just one side of the fish and I paid around US40 (over RM120). But it was ok as long as it could make her happy and at least, that could last quite a while – cut it up into steaks of smaller sizes and let her pan-grill and enjoy. She loves pasta too, not really into our own local noodles. 😦

  23. I love tempoyak in soup, the sour the better

    Oh? If it’s masak kunyit, Tisa, I love it sour – add bua’ alung or terung Dayak. Hard to get the first one these days and the terung these days not sour, so I would add asam keeping instead to mak eit sour. Masak tempoyak, mine is not sour (usually if tempoyak is sour, we say it is not good) – just the fermented durian taste and fragrance…but mine is more to Melanau cooking. Different races, different tastes, different expectations, I guess.

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

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: