10 Must-Try Foods in Sibu: A Guide to Sarawak’s Culinary Heritage
For those who have never heard of Sibu, it is the third largest city in Sarawak after Kuching and Miri. Sarawak itself is the largest state in Malaysia. The city was an important trading port in the past and one of the gateways to Central Sarawak. But for this article, let's focus on its cuisine first...
As a meeting point for cultures and inhabited by diverse ethnicities, Sibu certainly inherits a rich culinary heritage. Sibu has long been a favorite destination for foodies. So, get ready to empty your stomach and forget your diet for a while while exploring Sibu and its surrounding areas (Mukah, Sarikei, Bintangor). Here are the top 10 foods (snacks, fruits, and main courses) that are worth recommending. Some of them are non-halal, but there are also Muslim-friendly ones. Please take note.
1. Mie Kampua (Non-halal)
One of the local delicacies of Sibu that is very easy to find in every corner of Sibu. The texture of the noodles is slightly thick and smooth. Usually served (optional) with shredded roasted pork and sprinkled with lots of condiments.
Price: RM 2.50-5
Recommended place: 101 Coffee Shop, Jalan Channel (next to Xing Kee Confectionery), Sibu. Meanwhile, the halal version of Mie Kampua can be found at Malay food outlets in Star Cineplex and YS Cafe.
2. Roti Bakar/ Roti Kahwin
Pau bread toasted over charcoal and served with a small spread of butter and either pandan or peanut jam. The bread is simple but its taste is unbeatable! It's a must-try. There is only one store in Sarikei.
Price: RM 1.80-4.50
Recommended place: Aik Seng Kopitiam, 21 Jalan Wharf, Sarikei.
This is also a typical Sibu dish that originated from the Foochow community. It is a type of bagel-like pastry with a hole in the middle. The surface is usually sprinkled with sesame seeds. Served in various variations. It can be eaten plain or sometimes filled (with meat). According to the story, this pastry used to be the ration of Chinese soldiers. The hole in the middle was supposedly used to hang it around the neck.
Price: Starting from RM 0.25
Recommended place: Xing Kee (63) Confectionery, Jalan Channel 10, Sibu.
This sushi-like dish is a Melanau specialty. Made from fresh fish, such as piranha or haruan. It is sliced small and served directly with a sprinkle of onions, chili, lime, and salt. It tastes even better when mixed with local sambal and sago grains. A must-try!
Price: RM 10-18
Recommended place: Mukah Fish Market
5. Tom Yam Udang Galah
One of the tom yam variations modified from Sibu's famous giant freshwater prawn noodles. Served in a coconut bowl filled with sour and spicy tom yam soup mixed with noodles and giant freshwater prawns from Sibu's rivers. It is guaranteed to be addictive.
Price: RM 35-37
Recommended place: Glory Cafe, 19 Jalan Bank, Sarikei.
Tumpik means pancakes. This is a Melanau snack made from sago flour and grated coconut that is baked. It tastes best when dipped in brown sugar.
Price: RM 2.50-4
Recommended place: Stall No. 15 (Hj. Abang Saini bin Abang Bantin), Pusat Penjaja Bintangor, Bintagor.
7. Manok (Ayam) Pansoh
One of the Iban Dayak's culinary delights, similar to the Manado's Ayam Bambu. Its unique way of cooking involves placing chicken pieces, lemongrass, tapioca, spices, and water into the hollow of a bamboo tube, then roasting until cooked (similar to the way lemang is cooked). It is then poured out and served. This dish is usually prepared for special occasions such as harvest celebrations. It is difficult to find in restaurants (unless specially ordered).
Recommended place: MyTrip tried it at a longhouse in Bawang Assan.
8. Si'et (Sago Worms)
These worms are taken from sago trees in the forest. If you're brave enough, give it a try. It can be eaten raw or cooked first. Don't be put off by its appearance. It's actually delicious, chewy, sour, and bland. It's also rich in protein and is even believed to reduce obesity and brighten the skin (who doesn't want that, right?).
A fruit that only grows on the island of Borneo. In Indonesia, it is known as kembayau and is a rare type of fruit because it is rarely cultivated, but it is easy to find in Sibu. The fruit is hard, black, and resembles an olive. Before eating, it is usually soaked in hot water until it becomes soft before it can be consumed. It can be eaten directly or mixed with soy sauce.
Price: RM 20 per kg (depending on the season)
Recommended place: Sibu Central Market.
10.Ding Bian Hu (Non-halal)
There are not many restaurants that sell this Foochow specialty usually eaten for breakfast. It is served in a bowl of thick broth with a mixture of fish balls, pork, mushrooms, fried onions, and hu (similar to sum sum porridge).
Price: RM 3.50-4.50
Recommended place: Chop Hing Huong, 2-40, Jalan Tukang Besi, Sibu.
I hope this helps!