Travel Features > The Gastronome's Guide To Kuching
Introducing the Steamboat
Anybody who has spent more than a day or two in Kuching cannot
fail to have noticed busy restaurants packed with groups of people
seated around bubbling cauldrons. Although they appear to be re-enacting
the witches scene from Macbeth, their behaviour is in fact entirely
innocent. They are merely enjoying one of Sarawak's favourite
specialities, the Steamboat.
- What is a Steamboat?
- The Steamboat is a simple, healthy and delicious cooking method
found throughout China and Southeast Asia. It is sometimes referred
to as fondue chinoise. It consists of a large cast-iron cooking
pot and some kind of heat source, usually a gas ring.
- How Does it Work?
- The steamboat is simplicity itself. The cooking pot is filled
with water, and herbs and spices are added to give flavour. The
water is heated with a gas burner, and when it is boiling the
main ingredients are added, and cooked briefly until they are
- What Ingredients are Used?
- This method is ideal for cooking many types of fish, prawns, shellfish,
glass noodles (tang hoon), leafy vegetables and pre-cooked ingredients
such as fish and prawn-balls.
- Why is the Steamboat so Popular?
- Two reasons. Firstly, taste: the ingredients are quickly and freshly
cooked, exactly the way you like them, and as the cooking water
absorbs the flavour of the ingredients, it transforms itself into
a delicious seafood soup. Secondly, you cook it yourself, so it's
- What Makes Kuching Steamboats So Different ?
- Most places have an all-you-can-eat policy, where you can help
yourself to as many ingredients as you like, as many times as
- Kuching steamboats are fitted with a barbecue plate, so you can
barbecue delicious marinated beef, lamb and fish to accompany
- Value for money - generally around RM 12 to RM 15 per person.
- It's a great way to celebrate birthdays, family anniversaries,
- The friendly atmosphere and pleasant surroundings (you're in Sarawak,
- Where Can I Try It?
- There are good steamboat restaurants all over town. Some of the
most popular places in the city centre include Hornbill's Corner
Cafe (Ban Hock Road), Red Eastern Cafe (behind Hornbill's) and
the Riverside Majestic Hotel (unusual Thai-style steamboat). Most
seafood restaurants will be happy to prepare a steamboat to order.