{Review} Something indigenous @ The Dyak

This is Jani Tunu. A dish recommended by the Chef, it is three-layered fatty pork char-grilled and served with the master’s own blend of sambal and refreshing cucumbers. Mind the artery-clogging heart attack-inducing fatty bits yo. But what is the origin of this awesome creation? Sarawakian. Dayak. Yes, though I am not a Dayak myself, I am proud that there is finally an avenue to share the local delights of the Sarawakians. They say food warms the soul, I say food shares the culture.

It was one of my last dinners in Kuching before embarking on a new life as a working adult in Singapore and boy was I glad we made the decision to dine at The Dyak. Truly afraid of its immense popularity and full seats, we made a booking ahead of time while at the same time, pre-ordering the dishes. Firstly, I have nothing but glowing recommendations for the wait staff. Attentive and completely patient with our particularly fussy group of patrons, the service received a huge tick in the ‘Excellent’ column. Great service is just not commonplace in more affordable establishments in laid-back Kuching.

Upon ordering, the waitress kindly apologized and informed us that they only served red rice. No, it was not inconvenient for us, and no don’t worry, red rice is perfectly fine if not even better than the white variety! Cooked to perfection. And I don’t usually associate ‘perfection’ to rice. An avid brown rice consumer, I scrutinize my rice every single meal. Hah!

Introducing the Jani Empikau, a dish of three-layered pork sauteed with – gasp! – pickled durian. Slightly spicy with a subtle tang of durian, the Jani Empikau hits the spot bull’s eye. It is a heavy dish with a heap of grease and bags of flavour. I suggest sharing with quite a few people and having a big bowl of rice with this.

Mum thinks the Manuk Lulun tastes very much like a confinement dish. Familiar with Dayak customs and cuisine, grandma is sure that some confinement dishes in our great state has roots in indigenous cultures.

So the Manuk Lulun. The tender chicken is cooked with tapioca leaves in bamboo, hence exuding a subtle yet appealing aroma. Slices of ginger were present in the broth as well, giving it an extra kick. The consensus was greater than positive for this dish and a second helping was ordered almost immediately. Yum!

Like the popular Midin, paku is a type of edible jungle fern. The Paku Kubok Gulai Kenchala is a dish of jungle ferns sauteed with wild ginger flowers, chili and I suspect, dried shrimps. The taste is familiar, alike how you can get it from other food centres but I liked how the chef took extra effort in sourcing quality ingredients.

Veggie dish of the day night was the Daun Ubi Randau Guring. ‘Daun Ubi’ means ‘sweet potato leaves’, but the rest of the title eludes me. According to the menu, sweet potato leaves are sauteed with garlic, desiccated coconut and dried shrimps. The portion is small but oh so worth it. We had double portions of this, thank goodness. The smooth and slippery texture paired with the great aromas slides down the throat with no trouble. You know when vegetables are a hit when the meat-eater of the group was fighting for more!

The only disappointment was the unavailability of our Tilapia disheven though we have ordered for them the previous day. I caught the drift that they had no fish that fateful day. Nevertheless, we were all impressed by the entire package of The Dyak. A major ‘Must Try’ if you ever pop by our humble city or if you are residing in this lovely place I call home.