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Sarawak Tomato Mee & Fried Mani Cai Bee Hoon @ Joon Joon Kedai Kopi Kuching 云云茶餐室

Day 2 of our Kuching driving holiday, we set off at dawn for the old, historic mining town of Bau. The glowing sun was rising as we passed the famous arches of Jalan Padungan (where we stayed the night at Hotel Meritin - recommended cheap and good stay 👍 ).

Our first breakfast was at Joon Joon Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan. I highlighted first because we were going to have three breakfast stops 😱

Joon Joon is a typical laid back, off the social media radar, hyperlocal, traditional kopitiam, dingy shoplot eatery. But, don't worry, our expert local Chai who is Malaysia Sin Chew newspaper's Sarawak food and heritage columnist brought us here.

We were in good hands 👍 Our brief to him was "hidden gems only, no tourist traps" 😄

This was my first time having Sarawak mani cai fried bee hoon 马尼菜炒米粉. Over the next few days of our 6 day driving trip, I realised that this is a popular staple in Kuching. People here eat mani cai (sayur manis) a lot more than in Singapore or West Malaysia.

It's simply rice vermicelli stir fried with oil, garlic, sayur manis vegetable and eggs. A simple down-to-earth savoury, eggy, sweet staple. Not intended to wow anyone but to fill the stomach and charge people up with carbs in a pleasant, delicious way.

I love the subtly fibrous bite of sayur manis, I like eggs and bee hoon, so this dish is easy to appreciate. The savoury, eggy, sweet dish felt comforting and familiar even though, I was having it for the first time.

I will order this if I see it in the menu in Kuching or anywhere else. It is part of my Kuching memories now.

Next, ketchup kway teow, another humble staple from Kuching.

It is known by many names 茄汁面 tomato mee, 古晉炸麵 Kuching crispy fried noodle, 客家炸麵 Hakka crispy fried noodle or 客家茄汁面 Hakka tomato sauce noodle.

The names suggest that it is a Hakka fried noodle dish from Kuching with tomato sauce.

This morning we had fried hor fun topped with fish cake slices, char siew slices, minced pork, blanched pork slices, leafy greens smothered in a savoury sauce blended with tomato ketchup.

(Ingredients vary from stall to stall - other places may also have squid, prawn, fish slices, pork liver, chicken, etc. Tomato mee is still a relatively new dish and chefs are still tweaking it to suit their client base.)

The origin of the dish is unclear. The dish is most often made with crispy fried egg noodles i.e. yee meen 伊麵 which is Cantonese in origin. Another popular version, soy sauce / oyster sauce fried kway teow / hor fun 河粉 with wok hei also suggests its possible Cantonese inspiration.

The tomato sauce which defines the dish tastes savoury tangy sweet. It is made with ketchup, stock and thicken with starch.

It's quite an interesting, tasty dish though not mind blowing. 

Definitely must try, to add to your Kuching adventure story.


Restaurant name: Joon Joon Kedai Kopi Kuching 云云茶餐室

Address: 54, 7th Miles, Jalan Penrissen, Kota Sentosa, 93250 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Tel: +608 261 2468

Hours: 7am - 8pm

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Written by Tony Boey on 11 Feb 2024

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