Travel Features > The Gastronome's Guide To Kuching

The Life Cafe - A Tea House in Old Kuching

by Wayne Tarman

Like Penang and Malacca, Kuching has a historic heart of narrow streets and 19th Century Chinese shophouses, which buzz with life as the inhabitants go about their daily business. Kuching's Main Bazaar area, which runs parallel to the Sarawak River, is the heart and soul of Old Kuching and undoubtedly one of city's greatest attractions. Most visitors will spend a few hours strolling around and soaking up the atmosphere and some people are lucky enough to chance upon the Life Cafe.

The Life Cafe is tucked away on Ewe Hai Street which runs on from Carpenter Street. Its convenient position - a short walk from most of Kuching's historic waterfront attractions - makes it the perfect place to rest tired feet, sample some food and drink and maybe write a few postcards. The cafe is housed in an old shophouse next to a Chinese temple. The owner has put some effort into creating a cosy atmosphere using the traditional Chinese tea house as a model.

Chinese Spicy
Life Cafe's Special Rice
©1997 life Cafe
The Life Cafe is one of the few restaurants in Kuching where vegetarians are well catered for. The mostly vegetarian menu consists of a range of rice and noodle dishes and healthy clear soups served with fragrant rice. A photo album showing the various dishes on offer is very useful for those who are not too sure of the dishes behind the names.

Dishes on offer include Clay Pot noodles, Black Pepper Vegie noodles (or rice), Chinese spicy special rice and some rather tasty pork or vegetarian dumplings. The dumplings make great side dishes. Take them fried or boiled are opt for a Vegetable or Pork Dumpling Soup. Other soups include Bitter Gourd & Pineapple Chicken soup and Mushroom Chicken Soup

Chinese Tea
(Leaves) Chinese Tea Series
(Personal cup or in Tea set ceremony)
©1997 life Cafe
Its on the drinks front where Life Cafe really comes into its own. There's an extensive range of speciality coffees, teas and juices. You'll find the usuals, for example Earl Grey and Chrysanthemum; some local specialities such as sago milk tea plus a selection of fruit teas such as mango, lychee, passion fruit, and lemon. The iced passion fruit tea is the perfect thirst quencher after a day of sight seeing in and around old Kuching. Not surprisingly there's also a whole host of hot Chinese teas served in traditional style.

Coffee lovers are well looked after with piping hot, iced or special ice-cream coffee specialities. There's a choice of coffees from around the world including Blue Mountain, Brazil, Columbia, Sumatra, Java, Sarawak coffee and more. Finally, if you need a juice fix you'll find the usual tropical favourites and a Honey Lime Juice which towers above the usual coffee shop version of this fresh lime drink.

The atmosphere and the presentation is what makes the Life Cafe different from other coffee shops and cafes in Kuching. Its a cosy, friendly place that oozes character. What's more its location makes it the perfect stopping off point if you are strolling around town discovering the charms of Old Kuching.

Life Cafe
No. 108 Ewe Hai Street
93000 Kuching
Tel: 082-411754
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm (Closed Sundays)

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