The Ramadan Food Experience
Hello everyone! If you follow my Instagram or Twitter you will probably know that I was back in sunny Kuching along with M. We were there for almost 2 weeks before going to China. I’ll write a post on China later.
We were fortunate enough to be back during the Ramadan period! This has always been a favorite period of mine so I was really glad M would get a chance to experience it. The excitement and fervor during this period as our Muslim friends prepare to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri provides a very different atmosphere as you go about town. This month-long period is coloured with an array of sights and smells to tickle your senses.
The best part about Ramadan IMO are the bazaars. In Kuching, food bazaars are in abundance. There is one in every other suburb with a large amount of vendors selling different types of food! We visited one of these bazaars twice during our trip.
Our bazaar of choice was located at Stutong. It is a pretty big bazaar and one could easily spend more than RM100 purchasing food. I would know – I did that .
The thing about the bazaars is that you have to be there early! This is to ensure that you can find a parking space and also to make sure that you don’t miss out. Of course you can always go back but since I had limited visits, I had to make the most of each visit. We arrived at 3.30pm each time and it was already starting to get really busy.
Here are some photos of the food available in the bazaar.
Glorious, glorious Murtabak. It is basically a prata stuffed with meat really….at least that what I think it is. But who cares! All you need to know is that it is AWESOME. The second time we went, we found Murtabak Rendang . That was even better albeit more expensive.
There was also Keropok Lekor which is a fish cracker snack. It is pretty common in Kuching now. Do give it a try if you see it! They are best hot and the vendors usually fry it on site.
This is where my spending got out of hand – the ‘lauk-pauk’ stalls. ‘Lauk- pauk’ means dishes and boy do the vendors out-do each other. There are all kinds of home-made dishes available such as curries, fried local veges, seafood etc. Here are my must buy ‘lauk-pauk’:
- Tempeh + Sambal Ikan Bilis
- Sayur Keladi
- Masak Hitam
- Masak Merah
- Terung Sambal
- Bubur Pedas
- Daun Ubi Goreng
- Botok Ikan
Erm, not sure if that list will make sense to everyone (probably not…). If you would like to try these dishes perhaps show the vendors this list or consult Mr Google? I would caution that some of these dishes are spicy though.
I love seeing these giant woks! Imagine carting these to the premises or having to stir it – must take alot of muscle to do that.
There are also plenty of drink stalls at the bazaar. Such as this one below:
They sell colourful iced drinks that will help combat the heat. You can take them home or have it on the go. My personal favourite is the first drink from the right. It is known as ‘Lai Ci Kang’ and the orange makes it superbly refreshing!
These are just some of the stalls we visited. I think my hands were too full to continue taking photos after this.
Below is our loot:
Now you know why I had to stop taking photographs . This was the first time we went and boy did we overdo it. We fared much better the second time as we exercised alot more self-control.
Our loot the second round. I know its still alot of food but hey, I only get to be in Kuching during Ramadan once every few years! Oh yes, this photo reminds me. You have to try Dabai (local olives) fried rice as well as the Grilled Sardines if you come across them. They are absolutely delicious.
At the risk of sounding like a glutton, another big thing about Ramadan in Kuching are the Ramadan Buffets. Not sure if this is prevalent in West Malaysia but it certainly is in Kuching! Come Ramadan, every eatery in Kuching will prepare a buffet. There is even a competition for the ‘Best Ramadan Buffet’ in the region.
In the spirit of introducing M to the full Ramadan experience, me and my family took him to the buffet that was dubbed the best in 2014. This was the buffet at the Borneo Convention Center Kuching. It was set up in their great hall and we were told that in one evening, they could serve up to 8,000 people . Imagine that! The cost per person was RM75 so we decided that we would have to eat our worth before we arrived.
This was what we were greeted with.
This was just a quarter of the food available. The hanging tables were the salad bar and surrounding it were the mains. Along the perimeter of the hall itself, ‘stalls’ serving an international selection of food were available. We were going to try bits of everything but after 6 rounds (yes, I managed 6 #dietfail), I surrendered. M only managed 4 rounds because he stuffed himself with rice and bread earlier on – pfftt, amateur. Everyone knows you shouldn’t eat bread at a buffet! Right?! Anwyho, I didn’t get to try everything and all it did was put me in a food coma quite literally. I got home and fell asleep almost immediately after a long time of rolling around due to stomach discomfort . Lesson to be learnt here is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to try everything. If you succeed, I salute you.
Anyway they served roast lamb at the buffet and all I could do was stare. Why? Because they served it like this:
Holy mama. Believe it or not, within the first hour of the buffet opening the maitre’d told us that they had gone through 6 of these! Poor lambs…but so delicious.
If you are looking for a buffet to try in Kuching, you have to try this! The food is scrumptious with a great selection and quality. You will definitely get your money’s worth here.
So there you have it. A food experience during Ramadan in Kuching. There is of course more to Ramadan than food but some things cannot be written into words. It is a feeling, an experience that one has to physically exist in to understand. Almost like how Christmas has that magical quality to it but you can’t really explain why. It is a combination of everything that makes the celebration what it is and that itself warrants a reason to experience Ramadan at least once in your lifetime.
Next time, I shall post about our Bako National Park adventure! Till then – .