LA BOCA RIA
A new kid on the block, La Boca Ria is tapping into the trend for Mediterranean food around Kuching, arguably kickstarted by Zinc. Open for lunch instead, you can now eat the Med all day round. La Boca Ria does it beautifully. It looks beautiful: the best mix of local design with Spanish flavour as antique Asian carved wood panels and salvaged wrought iron combine with colourful posters of Iberian destinations. It tastes beautiful: a full range of imported meats with a classic potato tortilla for breakfast, a plump pork burger for lunch, moist cakes and pastries with coffee and a silky, cinnamon-scented Crema Catalan for any time of the day. It is a cosy little café for the hipster coffeeshop crowd that punches well above its weight as a full-fledged restaurant. The owner has a Spanish husband, so authenticity is high. But test the Maitre-D’, who has an uncanny ability to remember an order, no matter the months that have passed by. In the end, Spanish culture and Malaysian are pretty similar, despite the distance. Fiestas, family and laid-back fun. La Boca Ria will certainly bring a smile to your lips and your stomach.
43B TABUAN ROAD
OPEN 9AM TO 5PM
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Ember has possibly the best meat in town. A bold suggestion, perhaps, but I’m feeling brave. Sourced from an organic farm, it is succulent and tender – a good thing too as Ember is all about the meat. A charcoal grill, its quality is equally in the cooking – sticky char siu with just that hint of bitter burn, crispy pork belly and the softest steamed chicken. Simply amazing and entirely affordable. The place is usually bursting at the seams with a lunchtime crowd, the narrow access road one in, one out. But it is entirely worth it, not just for the food but also for the ambience. Attached to an old house, it feels like you have dropped by for a quick bite in an old friend’s backyard of belian posts and marble-topped coffeeshop tables. Open on all sides, it is a breath of fresh barbecue scented air. Bask in its glow!
71 JALAN TABUAN
OPEN 11AM TO 3PM
TUESDAY TO FRIDAY
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
Lepau brings the flavours of the rainforest to the centre of the city. At one time, it was tricky to find this kind of cuisine in Kuching, reserved instead for a trip to the longhouse, but Lepau is one of the best in Kuching currently. Serving Kayan food, it depends on the freshest ingredients, sourced from the jungle – tempoyak, ferns, fish and chicken cooked in bamboo – its extensive menu does justice to Sarawak’s bounty. If nothing else, the local rice wrapped in leaves is a true Sarawak experience. Lepau understands its target market. It is decked out in intricate Kayan carving and hums to the lilting sound of the Sape, the full ethnic experience, except for pork, which is notably absent. But you can get a tipple of tuak! If you are visiting, this is the best place to ‘go native’ and if you live here and are long past due a trip up country, then try Lepau.
PERSIARAN BAN HOCK
OPEN DAILY FROM 10AM TO 2PM AND 5.30PM TO 9PM
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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