Food

Searching for authentic Sarawak eats? Head to Kelana Jaya's Rustic Borneo Kitchen


Searching for authentic Sarawak eats? Head to Kelana Jaya's Rustic Borneo Kitchen

The crowd favourite at Rustic Borneo Kitchen is the fragrant Sarawak ‘laksa’ that you can slurp up the broth till the last drop. – Pictures by Lee Khang Yi

By Lee Khang Yi

Monday, 15 Aug 2022 10:51 AM MYT

PETALING JAYA, Aug 15 — At the family-run Rustic Borneo Kitchen, you feel connected to Kuching through their menu of Sarawak favourites.

You will find mainstays of Sarawak cuisine like Sarawak laksa, kolo mee, tomato fried noodles and three-layer tea. You also have lesser known (at least within the Klang Valley) items such as mani chai bee hoon and cha chu mee which they describe as mee goreng basah.

Adventurous eaters will be drawn to their fried tee mee or taugeh mee. There’s also a salad chicken rice. Both items had me scratching my head though as I’m new to these dishes which are typically enjoyed in Kuching only.

The fried noodles are said to have a slight sweet edge, thanks to the use of gula apong, the palm sugar harvested from nipah palms. I can imagine that it’s probably a harmony of sweet and savoury flavours on the tongue.

The salad chicken rice looks like a killer comfort food combination of fried chicken, fragrant butter rice and a salad made with sliced cabbage and carrots . What’s unique is they serve it with a dollop of thousand island dressing and baked beans.

Be different and go for 'kolo mee pok' for 'al dente' curly noodles topped with minced meat and 'char siu' slices.

Be different and go for ‘kolo mee pok’ for ‘al dente’ curly noodles topped with minced meat and ‘char siu’ slices.

I didn’t manage to try the two items this round but the descriptions definitely made me want to return for a taste.

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At Rustic Borneo Kitchen, the crowd favourite is their Sarawak laksa. Expect to fork out RM9.50 for a regular portion. For a big portion, it is priced at RM11.50.

This version is all about the flavourful broth. It straddles a fine line where it’s satisfying and slurp worthy but not too rich so you feel you cannot finish it all. It’s served with omelette strips, prawns, chicken and blanched bean sprouts. There’s also a sambal on the side for more flavour if you so desire.

Don’t miss out on their kolo mee, as it’s an excellent rendition. You get a choice of different noodles, from the thin egg noodles to mee pok. There’s also a red and white version. Just note the difference is in the colour and the red version has a slight sweetish taste.

I was ecstatic to see that they had mee pok! Those curly, thicker strands are my go-to noodles. This version didn’t disappoint as the strands were al dente and delicious when tossed with the fragrant sauce given flavour by lard.

The 'mani chai bee hoon' is a huge portion of wholesome noodles fried with dried shrimp, mani vegetables and egg.

The ‘mani chai bee hoon’ is a huge portion of wholesome noodles fried with dried shrimp, mani vegetables and egg.

One could happily slurp just the noodles for a satisfying meal. It didn’t really need the minced meat and char siu slices. The noodles are also served with pickled red chillies, just like they do in Sarawak.The kolo mee is RM7.50 for a small portion and RM8.50 for a big one.

I’ve a penchant for mani chai bee hoon (RM9 for a small portion) too, having tasted this unique fried bee hoon with the vegetables before.

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You get a huge portion that can easily be shared between two people. On its own, the thick bee hoon fried with dried shrimps, mani chai vegetables and omelette has a light taste.

You need dollops of the fragrant sambal belacan with the fried noodles to amp up the flavour so ask for more.

It’s hard to pick favourites here as I have so many. Another item I like is the tomato fried noodles. Here, there’s a choice of crispy mee, kuey teow and yellow mee. I always order crispy mee, if I spy it on the menu and this version is really well executed.

Crunch down on this awesome crispy tomato mee that is not too sweet but appetising for a satisfying meal.

Crunch down on this awesome crispy tomato mee that is not too sweet but appetising for a satisfying meal.

The thin egg noodles retained their crunch. You get a contrast of textures with the softened strands soaked in that slightly sweet tomato sauce. A small portion is priced at RM9.50 and the large portion is RM10.50.

There’s also their homemade wantan or kiaw, served dry or with soup (RM8 for a small portion, RM10 for a large portion). These are dainty dumplings but delicious with the silky skin and pork stuffing.

I also sampled their three-layer tea (RM3.50) which was very good. You get the fragrance of the gula Melaka syrup when mixed with the milk tea. It’s also not too sweet, hence it’s lovely to drink.

I spied 3 Masam too on the menu, which is a combination of lime, lemon and sour plum that is unique to Sarawak. That’s definitely on the list for the next visit.

Even though they just opened here in April, Rustic Borneo Kitchen has had a following since their days at I-Tea House at NZX Ara Damansara where they started in July 2020.

Alvin Yap who started this venture cut his teeth at various F&B outfits such as Friendscino, Fullhouse and Nam Heong.

The current menu may not feature his signature Western items but he still cooks them up for his catering business. At this place which used to house the Seventh Mile Kitchen that also served Sarawak favourites, you can see Alvin’s family taking up an active role; his father is the one frying up the noodles.

My only gripe about this place would be the lack of parking. You can try parking at the nearby multi-storey car parks or look for a space, a little further from the restaurant.

They do offer delivery services via Foodpanda and Lalamove, if you’re not willing to deal with the parking situation.

The place has a homestyle vibe as it is run by Alvin Yap and his family.

The place has a homestyle vibe as it is run by Alvin Yap and his family.

Rustic Borneo Kitchen, RG24, Kelana Sentral Apartment, Jalan SS6/12, Off Jalan Bahagia, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya. Open: 7am to 3.30pm. Closed on Monday. Tel:+018-3894966. Facebook: @MrKimJio Instagram:@rusticborneokitchen





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