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Eating My Way Through Malaysian Borneo

Noodles, cakes, fish, and more!

· Borneo,Malaysia,Food,Markets

There are so many amazing dishes to try in almost every corner of the world. In the Malaysian part of Borneo, Kuching is an awesome place to get your feast on...below are some of the local dishes that you should probably chomp on.


The signature dish of the area, and for good reason, it is pretty heavenly. A breakfast dish; the base consists of spicy/sour shrimp paste and coconut gravy. Then coriander, bean sprouts, prawns, chicken, noodles, and omelet strips are mixed in. It’s served with fresh limes and a ground chili seasoning for optional extra flavor.

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Kolok Mee

Delicious and cheap this dish is nicknamed “college noodles.” Though it's much better than the dried ramen noodles I consumed many a night in college. Yellow egg noodles are cooked with lard, garlic oil, and black vinegar to start. Then various meat objects such as pork, beef, or prawns are added to the dish, as well as spring onions and mustard greens.

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There are several types of edible jungle ferns available in Malaysia; ours was served sautéed with shrimp paste. They have a crunchy texture and crisp taste.

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Manok Pansoh

This dish we had the pleasure of making in the jungle, while on a hike. To cook this dish chicken, ginger, salt or oyster sauce, lemongrass, tapioca leaves, and shallots are all placed in a bamboo log. The top is then sealed with more tapioca leaves to hold in the steam while the log is cooked vertically over the fire. The result is a flavorful soup.

Bamboo Clams

Tube shaped clams (which resemble bamboo stalks) ours were cooked in a curry powder when cooked the tubes crack and open for easy eating.

Snack food

Lots of little snack foods are available from vendors and shops. One of my favorites was the tapioca chips. Made from died tapioca and then glazed with a sweet-chili sauce they were perfect to munch on while traveling around.

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Layer Cakes

Available in an assortment of colors and flavors, these are available from vendors all over the city. Samples are usually offered, so take advantage of trying a few before you buy.

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Chay Kuih

Radish cakes chopped up and fried with egg. I preferred this much better than the steamed radish cakes I’ve had.

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Kong Piah

Mini bagels filled with pork and a sweet teriyaki-like sauce, they are grilled slightly.

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Shaved Ice

Made with shaved ice and coconut milk, various jelly items, red beans, and other flavorings are added in.

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A dish featuring a little bit of everything: pineapple, pork, tofu, calamari, peanuts, and more.

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Chinese Steamboat

These restaurants offer a hybrid of BBQ and Hot Pot, for a set price you can go to a buffet of raw meats, vegetables, and frozen, pre-cooked fried items. At your table, you can make a soup out of vegetables and prawns, while cooking your meats on the outside grill. Ice cream is usually available; however, if you wait too long the only flavor left at the end of the meal is durian….

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Pepper is a major product of the area, so many of the dishes we ate featured it. There were also many products using pepper in them. One of these was pepper candies, minty yet spicy, they are surprisingly good, though I don’t suggest eating too many in a row.

Seafood Food Court

An overwhelming amount of food in one place! There were about 15 vendors all selling freshly caught seafood. First, you pick your table, then start with the selection of food. Here are your steps…

1) Grab a plate, and fill it up with the vegetables, tofu, and other sides you want. You will be given a price for it depending on weight. Then they’ll cook them for you, ours were in a clear sauce, and cashews were added in.

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2) Pick your seafood, there’s a list of price per unit depending on each type of fish. We went with a grouper fish and some bamboo clams.

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3) Pick your flavors, for the fish we were given options such as: grilled, steamed, sautéed, sweet and sour. We went with the last one, our fish was cleaned, breaded, and came out deliciously. For the clams, we had options like garlic, curry, etc.

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