THE Kuching Festival’s annual food fair has become a popular fixture on the city’s calendar of events, a not-to-be-missed extravaganza of all kinds of things to eat.
This takes place for a month in the grounds of the Dewan Masyarakat at Jalan Padungan and draws hordes of visitors in search of a bite or two.
In fact, you are likely to consume more than just a few bites as the seemingly endless array of stalls tempt you with their distinct aromas and offerings.
A large number of stalls at the fair are those set up by various restaurants and food outlets. But it is also an occasion for budding foodpreneurs to unleash their creations on a public eager to try new things.
The novelties at this year’s fair, which runs from July 28 to Aug 20, include durian pizza, ice cream spring rolls and giant skewers of barbecued meat.
The fair seems to feature a strong “fried” theme, with stalls offering fried squid, fried potato, fried sio bee, fried mantou and even fried laksa. Oh, and add cheese to everything, so you have fried cheesy rolls, cheese meat balls and cheese sauce to accompany just about anything.
There is also a strong representation of regional and international cuisines, including Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Filipino, the ubiquitous Taiwan sausage, Austrian sausage and satay celup from Melaka.
But as always, there are local favourites to be found, from Sarawak laksa, oyster omelette and char kueh teow to indigenous cuisine.
I went with my family on Monday evening and we were struck by the packed stalls and people there. Yet this was apparently not considered a crowd compared to the huge numbers that visited on the weekend, according to a friend.
We decided to get a variety of dishes to share, including one of the new items on offer – chicken drumsticks stuffed with rice. There was a long queue at the stall so we figured it should be worth trying, but in the end it left us rather underwhelmed as the rice was a little on the dry side. But we enjoyed the barbecued three-layer pork, Teochew oyster omelette and fried squid rings.
Personally, despite the food novelties available, it is still the tried-and-tested dishes that tend to give the most satisfaction.
The fair appeared reasonably clean as there were many bins placed strategically around and council workers to tidy the tables. A number of visitors – including us – cleared away our own rubbish after eating. Hopefully, more will follow suit until this becomes a habit among festival goers.
It is not the cheapest place for a meal as prices have generally gone up. The cost can add up quickly, especially if you get some of the more pricey items from different stalls. But it can be a fun time of sampling different dishes and cuisines or even just getting food from your favourite restaurants at one go.
And parking continues to be a problem, what with the lack of public transport and sufficient space to accommodate visitors’ vehicles. Some people took to Uber to get there and back, a sensible option given how difficult it can be to look for a place to park.
Kuching folk have generally tolerated the congestion and parking difficulties over the years, but proper public transport with easy access to the venue would enhance the experience.
In the meantime, do be considerate in how you park and try not to litter so that everyone can enjoy the fair and its myriad food offerings.
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