Borneo is a cultural melting pot and its food is a reflection of this. With Chinese, Malay and indigenous Bornean influences, there’s a variety of things to try. Here, country expert James recommends the food you must try in Borneo and shares his favourite dishes…
A traditional dish throughout Malaysia, it consists of noodles and either fish, chicken or prawn in a coconut milk curry. I had a few of these but the best one was definitely at a local market in Kuching. The different regions in Malaysia have different takes on Laksa and there is a little bit of competitiveness between them as to who does it better. I can’t speak too specifically but between the two states in Malaysian Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah, I would say that Sarawak takes the title.
2. Curry Puff
Almost like a Malaysian Samosa, a Curry Puff is made from a slightly sweeter pastry and stuffed full of curry. I cannot describe how good these are – they’re so yummy! I first tasted this just after spending a few hours white water rafting and it was a delicious way to end a fun and energetic day.
3. Beef Rendang
Another classic Malaysian dish, you can have this meal either with beef or chicken (I think beef is the best though.) Spicy, fragrant and comforting, it’s originally from Indonesia although it spread through Malaysia due to its popularity. When I asked all my guides what the best food in Borneo is, pretty much all of them said Beef Rendang.
4. Kolo Mee
Particularly popular with Chinese communities this dry noodle dish is a popular meal. I often had it for breakfast and it was a lovely way to start the day. In Kuching, it’s served at the old fire station, now an open air market) and the place is buzzing at meal times – particularly at lunch.
5. Sarawak Layer Cake
Traditionally Sarawakian, the layer cakes are usually served for a special occasion but, in Kuching, you can try one at a baker regardless. Usually rectangular, they come in every flavour, colour and pattern under the sun. The one I sampled tasted exactly like Christmas cake which, as I was there in early December, really put me in the holiday spirit.
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