Thursday, August 4, 2011

Discovering Kolo Mee (and other delights) in Kuching - Part 2

After my first bite of Kolo Mee I was like a young vampire initiated. I had gotten a taste I couldn't shake and hungered for more. Next time around was apt after a night out on the Kuching town post friend M's wedding, at the Swee Sen Cafe over in the 10th mile.

That's one thing I liked about Kuching. There's a plinth in the town centre which is the "zero" mile, and from that you have others demarking miles one, two, three etc. away from the town centre. Good landmark system if you ask me.

But back to Kolo Mee. There's clearly a man large-and-in-charge at Swee San Cafe who's got every order covered. They fly out faster than a McDonald's drive-thru!

Steam and bubbles from the broth, clatter from Chinese bowls and chopsticks and lots of sauce swirling. I love the rapid cacophony these coffeeshop owners produce when serving their customers a simple but delicious lunch.

Kolo Mee has a few versions: the most basic being the noodles with lardy and garlic sauce topped just with char siew. You can also have them with prawn wantons, meatballs, fresh prawn (as this uncle happened to have) and interestingly a red sauce. A by-product of making char siew, the barbequed juices are kept and can be ordered as another addition. It turns the noodles red and gives them a honeyed sweetness.

I still stick to the basic version. Cos if it ain't broke...!

Ferns are a speciality in Sarawak and in my humble opinion best stir-fried with a good strong belacan.

Us in West Malaysia are so missing out.

Just in case you were wondering if that's all I ate in Kuching, here were the other highlights:

Macarons & Coffee at Hilton's Caffe Cino

M had her fun-filled wedding at the Kuching Hilton and upon checking in these caught my eye. There's no stopping macaron infiltration all over the world is there? Caffe Cino is the Hilton's cafe and they do a fantastic flat white. Sadly the macarons missed the mark by a long way: too dry, crumbly and tasteless. Oh well.

"Korean" Pancake at The Heritage Restaurant

Absolutely nothing Korean about these, they are essentially doughnuts filled with red bean paste and dusted with sugar. Fluffy and light, the red bean paste is so smooth and subtlely sweet. I could easily eaten about five if I didn't have manners! The Heritage is an excellent restaurant serving traditional and special  Chinese dishes, other notables were the Shanghai-style Roast Duck, the "Fish Lip" soup and Worcester Sauce Spare Ribs. We had mega-food envy spying on the next table's meal: a huge fish completely deep fried!

And if still at The Heritage, you can't miss out on...

Midin and other Sarawakian Ferns

...Midin, a crunchy fern commonly eaten in Borneo. Harvested from the verdant rainforest or even the roadside, its skinny spears rise up, curling into wriggly hooks. Distinctively crunchy and somewhat asparagus-y it's usually cooked with belacan or ang shiew (Chinese Red Rice Wine).

You'll find a variety of edible ferns all over Borneo, another favourite it the softer, less crisp Paku. I was tempted at the Sunday Padawan market to bring back a bunch but they wouldn't have lasted the journey home. Ferns (particularly Midin) don't get exported in truckloads to the rest of Malaysia because it only lasts up to 6 hours after harvesting. Some research into cultivating it in the Peninsula please!

Oh Kuching!. It whetted my appetite for more of Borneo and has given me new appreciation of Malaysia outside KL. And I'll be forever yearning for more Kolo Mee till my next trip!

P.S. East Malaysia is also home of Tuak, the infamous rice wine alcohol brewed traditionally by indigenous tribes like the Ibans and Bidayuhs. Though failing to procure a bottle to take home, I revelled in the a few Tuak Mojitos from funky Junk Bar in Kuching Town. F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S!

Swee Sen Cafe
33, Kota Padawan,
93250 Kuching, Sarawak

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Caffe Cino, Hilton Kuching
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 
Kuching, Malaysia 93100
Tel: +608 222 3888

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The Heritage
Jalan Song Thian Cheok,
Kuching, Malaysia

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Junk Bar, Backstage
Wayang Street,
93000 Kuching, Malaysia
See their Facebook Page here


Su-Lin said...

How fabulous does kolo mee look?! I'm totally craving some even though I've never had it before!

Sean said...

tuak mojito?!? fly me over, airasia! :D
p.s. hotel macarons do tend to be terrible in malaysia. i wonder if it's because they're produced in bulk. it's eerie; the ones at kl's ritz-carlton totally match your description for the macarons in this post...

Hungry Female said...

Su-Lin: I can't believe I've only discovered it now myself. But many other KLites have never been to Kuching and therefore never tried it. We are TOTALLY missing out!

Sean: It's a Tuak-jito! A truly awesome Malaysian cocktail:) Yeah, those macarons made me shudder!

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I agree. Tried a macaron from a 5-star hotel in KL. Tasted chalk-y.

Hungry Female said...

Hey Bbabe! Yeah I might avoid them and just stick to what we know!

J2Kfm said...

Yeah, and I am one of those unlucky Westerners (West Malaysians?) who have yet to try the real deal. The mee kolo here just wont cut it huh?

Hungry Female said...

It just won't cut it! Just found Kolo Mee in Bangsar this weekend and it was so not the real deal. You need to get it at source:)

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Beautiful pics! Really enjoyed them.


Anonymous said...

kolo mee, tomato kueh tiao & midin are my fav food from kuching.