Kuching 2013 - The Dyak
Tribal food is having a bit of a renaissance in Kuching, and that is very much thanks to The Dyak which started the trend when it opened a couple of years ago - bringing food that is served normally in the villages to the city dwellers.
Right at the entrance to the restaurant is an impressive Orang Ulu painting depicting the "Tree of Life".
The minute you step inside the restaurant you know you are in for something different. The owner has decorated the restaurant with many rare photos of village life in Sarawak, and it is also filled with traditional design and crafts. Overall the ambiance is simple yet exotic.
The menu is cleverly curated - with some of the most popular local tribal dishes given the gourmet touch. You will need to be a pork lover as it is the main ingredient in many of the dishes. These are some of the must order dishes if you visit the restaurant.
Manuk Lulun - chicken cooked in a bamboo with ginger, lemon grass, wild ginger flower, onions and tapioca leaves. One of the most popular ethnic dishes in Sarawak, the Dyak version is one of the best.The soup is very flavourful, and the chicken pieces very tender.
Kari Jani - jungle pork curry with slices of pork belly cooked with local herbs and spices. This is my favourite dish at the restaurant as it is packed with natural flavours, and you can't find it any where else. In fact the flavours reminded me of a jungle curry dish I had in Chiang Mai which I loved.
Pusu Empikau - an interesting dish - anchovies stir-fried with onions, chili and fermented durian paste (tempoyak). More of a side dish, this is great with rice. Fresh durian is usually strong and pungent - but the fermentation process has mellowed out the flavour as well as releasing some umami flavours which go well with many savoury dishes - kind of like Parmesan cheese.
Jani Tunu - Char-Grilled Pork Belly. One for the pork lover. The meat is lightly marinated with salt and spices and grilled until golden brown. The caramelized bits on the skin and sides of the meat are addictive ! The spicy and tangy sambal sauce cuts through the fattiness of the pork nicely, bringing the dish to another level.
Paku Kubok Gulai Bungai Kechala. Paku is a local fern normally cooked with sambal belachan. Here it is stir-friend with chili and wild ginger flower.
The strongly flavoured food needs to be accompanied with lots of rice, and at The Dyak they serve rice from Bario - one of the highland regions in Sarawak. Bario Rice is reputed to be the best in Sarawak.
Since opening, The Dyak has consistently stayed at the top of Tripadvisor's list of restaurants in Kuching. It is a unique taste of Sarawakian cuisine not to be missed by visitors to Sarawak and locals alike.