I visited Malaysia to attend a conference. I stayed 4 nights at the e-City Hotel in a neighbourhood called Subang Jaya in the State of Selangor, somewhere between downtown Kuala Lumpur and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I had several hours to spend before the opening of the conference and went looking for some real Malaysian food before getting stuck with conference meals for almost the rest of my stay. It proved to be tricky because I couldn’t really go anywhere since the hotel was surrounded by highways and because the quiet shopping mall adjacent to the hotel didn’t help either. A seemingly good Malaysian restaurant in the mall had closed their business even before I arrived in the country.
Across the street from the hotel lobby, however, were small shops and eateries, including this place called Heritage Kuching Noodle House. I thought I’d give it a try though the city of Kuching is in East Malaysia, in a completely different part of the country.
I ordered Sarawak-style laksa and Sarawak coffee. Sarawak laksa is arguably the most famous Sarawakian dish. Its soup is coconut milk- and belacan-based (belacan: shrimp paste) and its distinctive feature is the addition of omelette and chicken strips, prawns and coriander. I got mine served with lime and an extra chunk of sambal belacan. Needless to say, it was love at the first taste!
While I was still enjoying my laksa, the owner came over for a chat. I’d told her when placing my order that I was from Indonesia. Auntie Helen was a former educator. Her love of cooking led her to F&B business once she entered retirement. A native of Kuching, she said every food she served in the restaurant was homemade and that the ingredients were brought from Sarawak. We also talked about Indonesia and Malaysia, how they had developed and what was likely in store for the two neighbouring countries. Before I left, I promised her I’d come back for another shot at Sarawakian dish before boarding my flight back to Jakarta.
I returned to the restaurant 3 days later, partly because I wanted to try Sarawak’s equally famous kolo mee (or kolok mee) and I was done with conference meal. Auntie Helen’s son, Jason, was on a day off from work and was there to help his mother.
Kolo mee is basically a dry noodle dish served with minced meat, slices of barbecued char siew and garnished with crispy fried shallots. I got mine served with pak choy as well. My noodles kind of stuck together and personally I thought it wasn’t very different from char siew dry noodles I could find in Jakarta. So when the auntie asked, I told her I liked the laksa better.
I flew back to Jakarta a few hours later, feeling pleased to be able to find a lovely local eatery to escape from the boring hotel and conference catering. I’d love to go to Sarawak someday to have another go at Sarawak laksa and kolo mee in their birthplace. Shout-out to Auntie Helen!
Heritage Kuching Noodle House
B-08-GF @ OneCity
Jalan USJ 25/1A
47650 Subang Jaya