Kuching City & Damai Beach area anyone?
I have family in Kuching so I know the area quite well. Awesome food that I'm always craving! Make sure you try to local Sarawak specialties: laksa and kolo mee. Both are noodle dishes and can be found at any hawker center in Kuching.
At Damai your options are pretty much limited to the hotel restaurants. I haven't been to the Puri yet, but the old Damai Lagoon and Holiday Inn had pretty mediocre food. If you can, try and get the shuttle driver (or taxi, or rental car) to take you to Buntal Village. Just 15 minutes away, if that, and the back of the one road town is lined with seafood restaurants. It's a typical dinner getaway spot for locals in Kuching. The most famous is Lim Hock An, the very last restaurant on the road. Recommend this, or if you want even cheaper (just as good food), the restaurant just before Lim Hock An is fine too. Steamed pomfret is great, same with bamboo snails in garlic, local fern-like veggies (bi-ling, though probably the wrong spelling), tiger prawns in oats and butter. Look at the deli case of seafood and ask for recommendations.
Kuching itself is a rather smallist town, with limited large restaurants, so I'm wondering if any Chowhounds have discovered good choices at Damai Beach area.
I was last in Kuching for a gastronomic/gourmet long weekend a couple of years ago, and we rather enjoyed the native Sarawakian hawker foods, most of which are in Kuching South (the Chinese quarter of the city). If you happen to be in Kuching over the weekend, do try and make a trip to the unmissable Satok Weekend Market, where tribal people from the interiors of the tropical rainforests bring forth a paraphernalia Iof jungle produce for sale: edible sago grubs, jungle ferns, live catfish, wild orchids and delicious local layer cakes.
If you're game for some authentic Sarawakian hawker food, try these old faithfuls in Kuching:
1. Chong Choon Cafe, Jln Abel (Operating hours: 6.30am - 2pm for local Sarawak laksa, a delicous noodle dish in spicy soup, garnished with prawns, shredded chicken, omelette strips, coriander & beansprouts. Chong Choon Cafe also offers mee kolok (egg noodles in dark-soy/vinegar/lard dressing & roast meats), mee Jawa (yellow noodles in spicy-sweet gravy, topped with beef, fried beancurd/tofu & hard-boiled egg) and other local delicacies;
2. Hoe Peng Cafe, 927 G/F BDC Commercial Ctr, Tmn BDC Stampin for and Chinese-style roast meats. Operates 6:30am-9pm.
3. Stall next to the State Museum. The Sarawak State Museum is worth a visit for some of the most interesting archaeological collections in South-East Asia (including a roomful of shrunken human heads/skulls, vestiges of the headhunting Dayaks' tribal wars). The stall outside serves belachan beehoon, a spicy, pungent noodle dish, eaten with Chinese thousand-year-old eggs. Also offer rojak, a local fruit salad with a dark, strong-tasting sauce.
If you're less adventurous, you can seek out Chinese fine-dining at:
1. Lok Thian Restaurant, 318, 1st Flr, Bangunan Bee San, Jln Padungan Tel: 082-331310. It's one of the oldest & most popular Chinese restaurants in town, and specializes in all sorts of seafood. Steamed cod is good.
2. Li Garden Restaurant, L2-11, Hock Lee Ctr, Jln Datuk Abang Abd Rahim Tel: 082-340 785. Best Peking duck in Kuching.
3. Meisan Sichuan Restaurant, Holiday Inn Kuching, Jln Tuanku Abdul Rahman Tel: 082-424 708. My favorite Chinese restaurant in Kuching. Sicuan-style spicy fish is fabulous, so is the XO sauce scallops & crispy chicken with mango. Freshwater prawns were gigantic & extremely fresh & crisp.
For other types of food (Continental/Japanese/etc), try:
1. Jambu. 32 Crookshank Road, Tel: 082-235 292 (Closed Mon). Set in a sumptious colonial bungalow, it serves "modern Borneo" cuisine. Their fusion Sarawak laksa takes a local favorite but subsititutes rice noodles with pasta, and enriched with fresh cream. Dessert includes gula apung (a local caramel dessert) and the wild Andrew Zimmernish sago grubs.
2. Magenta, Lot 141 Jalan Nanas Tel: 082-237 878 (Closed Mon). Also set in a stately colonial manor, furnished with exotic Chinese antiques. Good selection of pasta & pizzas.
3. Steakhouse Restaurant, Hilton Kuching, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Tel: 082-248200. Only opens for dinner. Great fusion food - beef carpaccio with curry/rendang spices is delicious. The view of the Sarawak River, with Fort Margherita in the background, is fabulous.
4. Ristorante Beccari, Merdeka Palace Hotel, Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. Tel: 082-258-000. Best Italian food in town. Try their signature Panzerotti di Olive conAgnello al Tartufo.
5. Cafe Majestic. Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Tel: 082-247 777. Probably one of the better Japanese choices in town.
Do try & call ahead to the restaurants before you go, it's been a while since I was last there, in case any changes have occurred in the intervening months.