Monday, October 06, 2008

I ate worms for dinner!?

Nine days ago, Celeste came down to Kuching to write about the local delicacies of the city. Wanting to impress my Penangite friend (and wishing to become the #1 illegal tourist guide in Kuching someday), I brought her together with her colleagues to taste the wonderful Sarawak Laksa, Kolok Mee and Belacan Mee Hoon. Not to forget the Sarawak Layered Cake as well, which a friend of theirs brought them to.

While they seem to be delighted with the aforementioned dishes, my friend was asking for Iban delicacies, particularly Pansoh Manok (Chicken in Bamboo). As a Sarawakian I am shameful to say that I NEVER had Iban food in my whole life. Oh, the disaster!

As it was during the Raya period, it was difficult to find a proper Iban restaurant. The ones that were recommended by the Sarawak Tourism Board wasn't open. Just as I was about to disappoint Celeste and her mates by telling her the bad news, I discovered this restaurant.

Sure, it was a pub rather than a restaurant, but Ruai Bar (located at Jalan Green Hill) do serve Iban food. You should see my face when the owner said "Yes, we do serve Pansoh Manok!".

So we sat down and I told the waiter to feed us with Pansoh Manok, Midin Belacan (Forest Fern with Shrimp Paste) and other meals that screamed Iban-ish.

The waiter could only smile and said something like "lat ah long" and "asam punjabi". I had no idea what the heck he was saying but I said OK to it.

What turned out was a big surprise. A big, big surprise.

The first dish of course was the Pansoh Manok and the Midin Belacan.

After all the day's hype on the Chicken in Bamboo, I was sadly let down by the taste of it. While the taste of the bamboo was there, it was too mild for me and the chicken tasted too plain for my liking. The midin belacan was not bad though; crunchy and slightly spicy, just the way I like it.

The talking moment though was this:

"Er...what the fuck is that?..."



Then it hit me. What the waiter meant was not "lat ah long" but "ULAT MULONG".

My initial thoughts were simply "finally, I'm doing a Fear Factor". Then almost immediately, I had to have a look on Celeste's face.

Oh it was a classic! If you could imagine the look of fear, anxiety, disgust and trauma all rolled into one then that was how she looked...

Yeap, just like that.

According to the owner, these sago grubs "taste like chicken". I could believe it seeing the way it was cooked; I mean, you can't go wrong with stir-fried cute-little-thing with dried chilies, onions, garlic and ginger yea?

So I had a go at it:


On my initial bite, I tasted the juicy insides of the grub, together the crunchy head. I was definitely not accustomed to the initial taste, but the aftertaste definitely has that chicken flavour to this extraordinary meat!

It took me three sago worms to get used to the taste, and I had five altogether. Not bad for a starter. And as for Celeste, she took all her courage and had one piece of grub while her colleagues chickened, or rather, wormed out.

I'm proud of you girl! If not how la you are going to be a food critic? :)

Anyway, there was another dish called "kasam ensabi" (Local Preserved Spinach) rather that I thought was "Asam Punjabi". I like that salty taste of the vegetable, but at that time we were still bemused over the Ulat Mulong that I've completely forgotten to take a photo of the kasam ensabi.

In the end, it was quite an pleasure for us to experience the forest food Iban people take for generations. It was a pity that they didn't have Tuak (rice wine) to go along with the unique taste of the sago worms.

I can't wait to bring the next victim, er, tourist to taste this very special dish!

"Oh I'm so cute, look at my fine hair around my ass!"

You may also read Celeste's review on Ulat Mulong from the upcoming issue of Virtual Malaysia.


Jasonmumbles said...

Thought you suppose to snap off the black thingy at the head first?

VHanded Cheepeng said...

reading this post make me almost vomit...

yomi said...

as sporting as i am, i will never ever put that into my mouth...
i dont think i will.... ever...
did you have tummy ache the next day???
you know i suffered from a tummy virus for 2 weeks! bad salmon~
and the doctor gave me bacterias to eat!
I'm already so OCD and he ask me eat bacterias! my gawd!!

Ah_Mike said...

jason: err...according to who wo? Cause the locals said you must eat the head to enjoy the full experience :)

vhanded: sorry about that bro. to me, at least it was worms, not some cockroaches.

yomi: HAHAHAHAHA! Nope, no tummy ache. Bad salmon?? where? sushi king gah?

ahlost said...

Yerrr ~~ *gelik*

Jasonmumbles said...

Err, that's what I did and what I was showed when I visit Kuching and they asked us to eat?

yomi said...

no la! not sushi king. haaha! the spring punya food bazaar!!

Ah_Mike said...

ahlost: sedap wei Rose~!

jason: then you got it right :) did you enjoyed it by the way?

yomi: ah, that explains. then again all the food quality at the Spring sucks. Except McDonald's ice-cream.

Funkye said...

walaoo eh sago worms.. i'll nvr try tat in my whole life....

jerine said...

OMFG!!!!! did you actually chew that thing? or you just slide it into your throat? if you slide it down it would probably wriggle up to your mouth again... yuks! yuks! yuks!!!!

ivan said...

wth man!!! i'm not going there!

a n n n a said...

haaa... this just answered my curiousity. Would love to try the sago worms one day. teehee.. got season one ka?

Ah_Mike said...

funkye: even if I offer you a full bottle of Chivas? :P

Jerine: Yeap, I chewed on it, just like chicken :) It's nice you know ;)

Ivan: Oh come on are you gonna be my partner for Amazing Race Asia la like that!?

Annna: Yes, finally someone who wants to try! A lady somemore...I like you already :) I was told the season was just over...but I will double check on that.

annna said...

A friend informed me that Sarawak Pavilion serves sago worm too. But not confirmed bout it yet. kekekeke