The instant you walk into the coffee shop, you will detect the awesome fragrance of the broth of the Sarawak laksa there – honestly, you just can’t possibly miss it.
Looking around, you may not be able to tell right away which stall the one selling it is because initially, I thought that was the drinks section, right beside the cashier’s counter and no, I did not see any photographs on display. Going a bit closer, you may be able to see the sign that tells you that there are the regular for RM6.00, another one for RM8.00 and the special for RM13.00 and I did see some prawns in a basin, already cleaned, ready for the cooking.
I did not know which one to choose but the guy kept persuading me to go for the one with the giant prawns (RM13.00)…
…for optimum satisfaction.
These were around the same size as the ones at Payung and my friend there told me that their estimate of the cost price was RM3.00 per prawn. These were farmed ones…
…those from the coastal areas where they have set up structures to rear prawns in their natural habitat, something like those kelongs where they rear fish elsewhere. They were very fresh, firm and succulent and very sweet so if we deduct RM6.00 for the two prawns, it was just a ringgit more than a bowl of the regular.
There were two or three fish balls, bits of those imitation crab sticks and tofu puffs in the bowl alongside the usual Sarawak laksa condiments, the shredded chicken and thinly-sliced omelette but I would be quite happy with just the bihun (rice vermicelli)…
…and the super delicious Sarawak laksa broth. Just one sip of the latter when it was served and I was completely blown away. It was like WOWWW!!!
I do not recall ever encountering anything this nice among all the celebrated favourites in Kuching. The closest I can recall would be the one at the airport restaurant/cafeteria (which used to be run by the people from the Supersonic Coffee House) a long long time ago at the old Kuching International Airport. There were no direct flights to KL at the time and I had to stop there in transit…and what I would do without fail then was to rush to the cafeteria, order the Sarawak laksa and enjoy it to the fullest and I would order some egg sandwiches to eat the bread soaked in the very lemak broth.
Yes, I know some Kuching folks did not like it because it was too lemak for their liking – it was like curry, they said and I, for one, would not think so. Personally, I am not crazy about curry mee, the broth just like what you will find in a meat curry dish nor am I a fan of the nyonya curry laksa, the renowned Katong laksa, for instance, which came across to me like our Malay masak lemak dishes – very strong on the santan, lacking in the taste and fragrances of whatever else in the broth.
As a matter of fact, it seems to me that Sibu folks, unlike the ones in Kuching, love their Sarawak laksa very lemak with a lot more santan and in this case, it was not just the coconut milk but the taste of the broth as a whole that won me over. Now I can’t wait to go back there for more.
Having said all that in praise of the laksa, I must say that I’m afraid I would not give it a perfect 10. There was no garnishing, no finely-chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) sprinkled on top. That would compliment the taste to some degree and would add a bit of colour to the somewhat unexciting presentation. In Kuching, they prefer daun ketumbar (coriander leaves), those that stink of bed bugs and even though I have acquired the taste for those, I still prefer to do without them, thank you very much.
The other disappointment was there was no belacan (dried prawn paste) dip. At places where they use the very nice Bintulu belacan, they would give you a bit, half a teaspoon or less but at other places where they use the cheap belacan, I would usually leave it by the side, untouched. I was thinking that perhaps they do not give any with their Sarawak laksa here but when I shared the photograph on Facebook, my ex-student (I think his office is around there) said that their “belacan sauce” is very nice!!! Humphhhh!!!! I shall demand for it the next time I drop by here again for the Sarawak laksa, you can bet on that!
They did give a calamansi lime…
…though and yes, I did squeeze a bit into the broth for the added acidity. The slight hint of its sourish taste and the fragrance of the lime sure brought the overall taste to a whole new level and made me love it all the more!!!
I should be going back there soon as I would want to bring my girl and the mum there to try. We’ll see!!!
e-CAFE (2.311913, 111.846213) is the first shop right behind Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada – the block a little to your left if you are coming out of the mall via the back entrance.