Zinc is the mother of all Mediterranean flavours in Sarawak and, just celebrating six years, it is still going strong. An open terrace with a double fronted bar, it is the ideal spot for a soothing glass of wine at sunset. An elegant yet quirky interior of open brickwork and enormous belian beams, it is the ideal spot for a refined dinner a deux. A private room upstairs dominated by the city’s longest dining table, it is the ideal spot for family groups and select parties for friends. Ambience aside, Zinc is a foodies’ paradise. These are people who prioritise quality and you get what you pay for. The bread is baked in house, the perfect accompaniment to lashings of olive oil and an array of sumptuous toppings: plump prawns swimming in garlic, tangy olives, fine cheeses and paper thin meat platters. Even a simple topping of tomato puree does the trick. Rabbit, snails, meaty mains, paella and plenty of pizzas round out the menu. You can even get a decent Negroni to round off your meal. All this ensures a dedicated crowd, looking for a little drop of luxury in laid-back Kuching style. So, sink straight into the Med at Zinc.
38 TABUAN ROAD
OPEN 6PM TO 12AM
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THE ROYAL CHAMBER
The Royal Chamber doesn’t feel like Kuching. True, it is housed across two adjoining shopfronts on Kuching’s most heritage street, where it elegantly retreats into its façade, understated except for the jutting circular sign. But the interior is all New Orleans; open mezzanines, exposed brick work and delicate wrought-iron railings. It is dominated by a double-height bar, stocked with every brand of whiskey, from the everyday to the eye-watering in price range, and when you arrive at the door, the first question is whether you have a reservation. In Kuching? Now, this is definitely a departure. If you are used to the laid-back Kuching life of rubber flip-flops and endless summer lounging, then you might wonder if you’ve come to the right place. Apparently the upstairs floors of plush sofas and even a pleasant roof garden are its premium lounge, apparently for premium people. But wait! They will still welcome you in. This is still Kuching, simply elevated. You can still sit on Jalan Ewe Hai and sip a beer with flip-flops on your feet. Elitist? A little. But still a Royal hit with the Kuching person on the street.
98 & 100 EWE HAI STREET
OPEN 2PM TO MIDNIGHT DAILY
John’s place is tucked away at the base of Green Hill, in the bustling centre of town. This is a kopitiam with a touch of class – sturdy ironwood tables, ambient lighting, affordable beer and simple coffeeshop fare – fresh, filling and incredibly flavoursome. It is ideal for the secret meet, set away from the road and screened behind a stand of shrubs, so everyone seems to meet here. Bands of golfing buddies mingle with dating couples and families out for an evening meal. In a time of social distancing SOPs, its giant tables allow for a comfortable seat among social but distanced friends. It can serve a decent plate of delicious Mee Mamak for the evening meal or support a slow afternoon of drinking with a snack of crispy chicken wings to line the stomach. No wonder so many people meet at John’s Place.
NO 5, JALAN GREEN HILL
OPEN DAILY FROM 11AM TO MIDNIGHT
The Junk is the mother of all outlets in Kuching. Restaurant, bar, club, live music venue, it is a warren of spaces tunneled out of four adjacent shophouses in a row of entertainment outlets where Junk was the pioneer. Its décor is a labour of love, filled with memorabilia collected over a lifetime so there is always something to look at even if you are not kept busy observing the crowd. Friday and Saturday nights are perpetually rammed to the rafters and there is something for everyone’s taste from local bands to lively DJ. Originally a restaurant, it is still a firm favourite for birthdays and special occasions or even just a mid-week slice of stone-baked pizza. Portions are enormous so prepare to share (and split the price) and then sit back and enjoy the atmosphere that is uniquely Junk.
80 WAYANG STREET
OPEN DAILY FROM 6PM EXCEPT TUESDAYS
DRUNK MONKEY OLD STREET BAR
This was the first of a crop of new hipster bars on Carpenter Street and has proven to have staying power thanks to its clean, industrial décor, laid back atmosphere and a huge range of whiskies and pretty decent house wine. The interior of the bar was smoke free long before the government caught up and you can relax here to classic tunes with a cool beer in hand. But the outside space really makes it. Located directly next to Kuching’s landmark Bishopsgate, this shady little enclave is ideal for a lazy Saturday afternoon or an easy night out chatting with friends. If you want a snack, you can order from a number of eateries nearby without ever leaving your table – the ultimate in effortless.
68 CARPENTER STREET
LAU YA KENG @ THE TEO CHEW TEMPLE
Unmissable, this food court is one of the oldest in Kuching, with many of the stallholders into their third generation. It runs full steam from morning to night serving up a wide variety of kopitiam classics. Little more than a vaulted space between two buildings, it belongs to the picturesque Teo Chew temple across the way. Now it is a temple to food: the laksa is top notch, the Tang Hoon soup (mung bean noodles with stuffed tofu) a healthy, light option and pork satay, a sweeter alternative to the halal original. Another big draw is the kueh chap stall, a rich broth with every part of the pig imaginable from ears to intestines. For a light snack, ask thoroughly modern Mollie for ngo hiang (almost unpronounceable but utterly delightful to the Western tongue). This minced pork sausage, wrapped in bean curd and then fried to a crisp is the perfect partner to a can of Tiger. See out the day here, staring at the Temple and sampling every Sarawak specialty.
19 LEBUH CARPENTER
OPEN DAILY 7AM UNTIL MIDNIGHT
LOCAL STREET FOOD
SNACKS & SWEETS
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