I come from the Kingdom of Sarawak. Not really. Sarawak is now one of the 13 states of Malaysia, but it hasn’t always been that way. Sarawak was part of the Brunei Sultanate, then under the governance of the White Rajahs (1842 – 1946, it was known then as the Kingdom of Sarawak), later ceded to the British after WWII (1946-1963, Crown Colony of Sarawak). Sarawak gained its independence on 22 July 1963 and became part of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
These changes in the governance of Sarawak happened not too long ago and my parents were born during these changes. Di was born into the Kingdom of Sarawak (though during WWII Borneo was under Japanese military rule) and Mi was born during the British rule, in the Crown Colony of Sarawak.
Sarawak certainly has an interesting history, but what ties Sarawakians together is our all-consuming love of the local cuisine. Being Foochow (a dialect from Southern China) adds another layer to this already melting pot of flavours. The Foochow have a rich history in Sarawak, and to my delight, has brought some of this history to Melbourne.
I was introduced to Kitchen Inn by a Kuching friend. This chain of eateries (Melbourne and Perth) serves up kampua (Foochow dry noodles) and kolo mee (Hokkein dry noodles). Oh, be still my beating heart! Kampua is equivalent to a staple food for Foochows, and kolo mee to Sarawak Hokkiens. These dishes are near impossible to find outside of Sarawak, even in West Malaysia. BL is from Kuala Trengganu by way of Kuala Lumpur, so these dishes were a mystery to him. Continue reading