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Lepau Restaurant Kuching · Waking the World to Sarawak Dayak Cuisine

Lepau is arguably Kuching's most well known restaurant now. It has been serving Sarawak cuisine for over a decade and featured in numerous media, including National Geographic.


Our local expert buddy Chai got our 6 day Kuching Sarawak driving holiday on a flying start with dinner at Lepau.

I mean Lepau is a great place to get initiated on Sarawak ethnic cuisine. Lepau's menu is a kind of "tribal fusion" as it has dishes curated from the cuisines of different tribes of Sarawak from Iban to Bidayuh, Kelabit, Kayan, Ulu, Melanau, and more.

Very interesting! (One visit is not enough.)

The dinner crowd situation on the Friday evening when we were at Lepau.

Lepau means "farm hut" in Sarawak Kayan tribe language.

We let Chai (left) the local expert do all the ordering. Chai is a food and heritage columnist with Sarawak Sinchew Daily News

Pansuh chicken (manok pansuh).

A soupy Iban and Bidayuh dish where chunks of chicken (or pork) are packed into a bamboo stem together with vegetables (tapioca leaves), herbs (lemongrass), aromatics (shallot, ginger flower) and seasonings, then cooked in open flames from heaps of burning wood and embers.

The chicken was soften by boiling in the bamboo stem and infused with a little savoury sweetness from all the ingredients it was packed with.

Not mind blowing but comforting, easy to like and enjoyable though the flavours were mild.

Great with purple rice.

Terung asam fish (terung dayak or sour eggplant).

This sour eggplant dish is a signature of Sarawak enjoyed throughout the state. Basically, it is a soupy vegetable stew with terung asam or sour eggplant as the main ingredient and complemented by various fish. We chose golden pomfret.

The sour taste from the fleshy eggplant dominated the dish with a bit of balancing savouriness and sweetness from seasoning, herbs, aromatics and the fish.

Daun ubi goreng or fried tapioca leaves.

Glad Chai ordered this as when I am on travel, I always make it a little point to eat as much local vegetables as possible (helps smooth the morning routine 🤭).

This is mashed tapioca leaves stir fried the Bidayuh way with tepus (wild ginger) which gave the savoury slightly green bitter tasting dish a subtle heat and stinging tingle.

Petai sambal.

I requested for this because everywhere I go in the Malaysia or Indonesia, I want to try their stinky bean dish 🤭

Tempoyak anchovies.


Okay..., I haven't acquired the taste for this 🤭 The Sarawak tempoyak or fermented durian meat is more zesty, sourish than the Peninsula Malaysia variety. There is a slight durian taste (in the Peninsula, the durian taste is more pronounced). The scattering of crispy fried anchovies add umami savoury balance to the sour and durian taste.

Three bundles of rice in leaves.

This is the famous purple rice from Sarawak's Bario highlands.

It's a lot of rice actually, but we finished everything (all three packs 🤭) because it went very well with the dishes.

The Kalabit tribe of Bario make it into Nuba Laya.

Bakas or jungle tree bark.

It has a slight woody taste and sweetened with sugar. The traditional Bidayuh drink is refreshing and easy to like.

Lepau is a great and delicious concept!

Our total bill came to RM150.

What a great way to start our 6 day Kuching Sarawak adventure.

The renaissance of Sarawak dayak cuisine spearheaded by restaurants such as Lepau has put Sarawak, and Kuching in particular, on the world culinary map. In 2021, Kuching joined fifty other cities in UNESCO'S Creative Cities Network as a Creative City of Gastronomy 👏 It's an accolade money cannot buy.

We can get Sarawak Dayak cuisine at Kantin at Jewel, Changi Airport 👈 click

I want to try more dayak cuisine in Sarawak!


Restaurant name: Lepau

Address: 99, Jalan Ban Hock, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Tel: +6012 884 5383

Hours: Lunch 11 am - 2 pm Dinner 6pm - 10 pm (Sun)

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Written by Tony Boey on 1 Feb 2024


  1. This one is a Muslim-friendly joint for native makanan. So no pork and no tuak! 😅


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