Bristol vs the world

A travel (and sometimes fashion) blog about exploring Bristol and the rest of the world, one post at a time.

Tag: Kuching waterfront

Food Friday: James Brooke Bistro & Cafe, Kuching

james brooke necesarry indulgences

A double post today – I spoil you, I know. But I wasn’t organised to get my last post up before today, and I felt I had to give you a sense of Kuching’s waterfront before telling you about James Brooke bistro, a pavilion-style, open-sided restaurant which overlooks the river from the Chinese History Museum end of Jalan Bazaar.

After spending two days eating in Singapore’s – tasty, but not hugely relaxing – hawker centres, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at a ‘proper’ restaurant. In my last post, you might have got an idea of how electric Kuching’s waterfront promenade is, especially after dark. So a restaurant overlooking it – close enough to observe some of the hustle and bustle, but set back enough to feel out-of-the-way – was immediately appealing.

The restaurant’s decor itself was equally attractive. The tables are surrounded by plants and an array of what looked like traditional crafts pieces, big and small.

Although you’ll probably find more authentic recipes in some of the city’s hawker centres, James Brooke bistro offers a Malaysian menu featuring typical rice and noodle dishes – which come as generous portions. These include their ‘special’, a Wild Borneo Laksa, as well as the traditional Sarawak Laksa; I can highly recommend the latter – rich, creamy and slightly spicy, but not overpoweringly so.

james brooke sarawak laksa necessary indulgences

(There are also more Western-style food options on offer, but these were more expensive. But as we both tried the – excellent – Malay dishes, I’m afraid I can’t offer an opinion on these.)

Although the restaurant was relatively busy, it wasn’t full. So we could eat and drink at a leisurely pace, enjoying the flavours in our food and drink and taking in the sites around us.

From memory, two main courses, a lime juice (the obsession continued…) and a beer came to about £10 – so while not cheap for Asia, it’s certainly good value for us Westerners.

If you don’t mind being a bit of a tourist (most of our fellow diners were also clearly holidaymakers. Or should that be ‘travellers’?), James Brooke bistro is the perfect place to try some Malay dishes while soaking up the magical Kuching nighttime.

james brookes modern nomad

James Brooke asiaforvisitors

PS. Wandering about the name? Find out more about James Brooke here

The Details
James Brooke Bistro & Cafe
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kuching – at the end of the waterfront promenade
Phone: 0145204007 (no website)
Booking: I’m not sure if it’s an option, but it didn’t seem to be necessary

Photographs
First interior photo, Sarawak Laksa: Necessary Indulgences
Exterior shot: Emre Bennett on Flickr
Second interior shot: Asia for Visitors

Kuching Waterfront

waterfront

Being a bit of a feline fanatic, it was inevitable that I’d feel a certain fondness for a city whose name – coincidentally, rather than intentionally – means ‘cat city’. They don’t let you forget it either – Kuching has so many cat statues that Lonely Planet lists them as one of its top sites of interest.

But there’s more to Sarawak’s capital than novelty roundabout decorations. And although many use Kuching just as a base for exploring the many nearby nature destinations, it’s worth spending a few days exploring the city itself. This is the first of a few planned posts about our time here, starting with the first place we (admittedly, probably like most visitors  to Kuching) really visited here, the Waterfront.

waterfront4

This stretch of pedestrianised pavement along Jalan Bazaar has multiple personalities. Until mid-afternoon, it’s restrained and gentle, in contrast to the strains of karaoke that, even before lunch, float across the river. The ideal spot for a quiet stroll and, at lunchtime, to sample some (cheap, tasty and, for some pieces, freshly made – we watched ours be chopped up) spring rolls, chilli sauce and fried bananas from the food carts.

Waterfront food

Sunset casts a spell here. The river is surrounded by mosques and their hauntingly beautiful Calls to Prayer collide on the breeze as sampan (boat) drivers glide across the water.

waterfront7

As darkness falls, a different kind of music takes over. Buskers playing every kind of instrument invade the pavements and draw huge crowds. Behind them, families, friends and couples promenade, while others line the walls and steps, chatting.

waterfront5

And that’s all without mentioning the changing view as you walk along – colourful stilt houses become the distinctive Astana government building which becomes mountains rising in the background.

waterfront2

All in all, not a bad introduction to the Bornean leg of our adventure.

waterfront view

All photos my own – please credit if using