Umai and other local delights @ Fisherman Restaurant

claypot tom yam prawns

I’ve been craving for umai lately and had the chance to eat it again for dinner with Arthur last night. Fisherman Restaurant is a popular local restaurant to bring visitors coz it has a lot of Melanau native delights like lokan, umai and ikan terubok. These are all Sarawakian dishes – they even have dabai (a local type of olive) when it’s in season.


Umai is a local version of ceviche. Fisherman Restaurant does it in a style that’s similar to umai jeb in Mukah. I’ve had it when I went to Mukah in 2008 – it’s very fresh fish (in this case white pomfret or ikan bawal putih) that’s been cured with lime and mixed with chopped onions and chillies.

sarawak prawn crackers

It’s delicious when you eat it with the prawn crackers they serve as an appetizer.

prawn crackers umai

(although it’s traditionally eaten with sago pearls)

individual prawn claypot

We also ordered an individual serving of large prawn in a mini claypot. These prawns are huge and used in big head prawn noodles. The prawn is cooked in an assam tom yam broth soup and it costs RM 20 per prawn. It’s worth it though coz they do it very well – the broth is flavorful and spicy and the prawn meat is firm and juicy and sweet.

paku santan

The fibre quota was fulfilled by paku santan. It’s a local fern cooked Melanau style in santan (coconut milk) and shrimp. I really liked this dish too, everything the cook sent out really hit the mark.

fisherman restaurant

That’s why Fisherman Restaurant is so popular despite being relatively decrepit – peeling paint on the walls, dated single-unit wall air conditioners, and a musty interior. There were a lot of people who came after us coz we went really early – the place was quite full. I do wish that they put some money into renovation though – it looks the same (except a bit more worn) as when I went in 2008!

fisherman restaurant sibu

This isn’t even the original restaurant – they were located at a different part of town at first and shifted to this place.

fisherman restaurant us

I have to say that the best dish of the night is the roast lamb with mint sauce. This is a newer dish that came to pass with the current generation (the son came back from New Zealand where he had his own restaurant and brought some recipes home) and it’s cooked really well. I have to say that it’s even slightly better than my late mom’s famous lamb (sorry ma). smirk

roast lamb mint

The roast lamb here is sliced generously thick and the meat is juicy. You’ll love this if you’re fond of the slightly gamey taste of lamb, and they don’t overcook it unlike other places. They have two sauces – the mint sauce and a garlic inspired Asian dip, the former is the one you want since the latter is uninspiring. It costs RM 50 for the dish with two large slabs of lamb, definitely a must-order if you visit.

thick lamb slabs

The bill for the two of us came up to RM 126.40 but the roasted lamb (RM 25 per slice) and the tom yam prawns (RM 20 per prawn) accounts for RM 90 so the dishes aren’t really that expensive if you don’t order the premium stuff. Thanks for dinner Arthur! It’s always good to catch up when I’m back home. 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Umai and other local delights @ Fisherman Restaurant”

  1. Oh dear, oh dear, these are all the food I like – paku, tom yam big prawn – and would like to try – umai. Is the roasted lamb tender? My teeth are not strong so can’t eat tough lamb meat but I like the gamey taste of lamb.

    • Yeah, it was quite tender! 🙂

      No need to worry about your teeth, they’ll be fine here. I love the taste of lamb too, but a lot of people don’t. I think it’s something you grow up with, we ate a lot of lamb as a kid (my late mom would cook her famous lamb) so I loved it.

      You should try umai if you come over to Sibu or Mukah – Mukah has a lot of different fish and you can watch them slice it themselves, it’s really a different experience!

  2. Most welcome, Huai Bin. At least you were able to appease your craving for umai and stuff while you’re home…and I enjoyed it very much too – loved the lamb especially! Consider it as a belated birthday treat…on my birthday. Thanks for the gifts from you and Yee Ling.

    • Yup, it was so good I polished everything off! 🙂

      I remember leaving not a single scrap on the table, much like the two visits I went to Ruby Restaurant with my dad. I loved the umai on the prawn crackers, that’s the best way to eat them. I had to drink lots of water when I got home though coz I ate so much. Haha.

      Yeah, the lamb is out of this world! Best I ever had, no question about it.

      Thanks for the birthday dinner mate and hope you enjoyed the gifts from us. Cheers!

    • Yeah, it’s one of my favorite places to eat! 🙂

      Unfortunately, my dad doesn’t like the food there and neither does my better half so I went with Arthur. The last time I was here was in 2008 and none of my friends like the food either. It’s actually quite good, you just need to be used to Melanau cooking.

    • Umai is like our version of ceviche! 🙂

      It’s pretty good, you have to try it when you’re here, it’s one of our local dishes! All the dishes here are local actually, it’s Melanau style cooking.

      My apologies, somehow your comment went to Spam and luckily I checked before I emptied the folder. This has happened at least once before recently too, with another new comment. I’m not sure what’s going on with Akismet. Now I have to check the Spam folder before I empty it.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Did you try the lokan? Not my favourite dish here, but a lot of people tend to come here for the lokan. But yes the umaiiiii … i remember the umai and the tom yam prawn here very much.

    • Yup, I tried the lokan last time I came! 🙂

      It’s famous but apparently there’s not so much lokan inside anymore (at least that’s what everyone says). I think the other dishes are better, especially the lamb and the prawns.

      I agree, the umai here is quite good, I like how they do it, and it goes very well with the prawn crackers they serve too!

    • Yeah, umai jeb is the best new creation since umai! 🙂

      Haha! I like how you just need to dip the raw fish in sambal, that makes it more like sashimi instead of ceviche, which is essentially what regular umai is.

      I don’t think Sibu has proper umai jeb though, still need to go to Mukah for that.

    • Nope, they’re different wild jungle ferns! 🙂

      It looks superficially similar but they’re different when you look closer or when you eat it. Paku is the one with the soft leafy sprouts (longer but curled in) while midin has hard leafy ends (shorter and in singles).

      Paku is also milder in flavor and texture than the crunchier and more intense midin.

      Yup, Fisherman is definitely the best authentic Melanau you can get in Sibu. I’ll show you the difference between midin and paku when you come over – you can only get midin in Sarawak but you can get paku in Peninsula Malaysia too.

  4. I love the large prawn!! All the food so delicious and I am sure it’s fresh from the water too based on the name of the restaurant. Great you have STP with you there! Sure the food is much more delicious with him around! hahah…

    • Yup, the prawn is delicious! 🙂

      It’s the big head prawn they use in the big head prawn noodles that Sibu people love. I just went to another place that Rowena told me about too – that’s twice since I came back that I had big prawn noodles (not cheap at RM 30+ per bowl).

      Big head prawns are something you can really only get here – the species we have is different and more intensely flavored, which is why it’s prized by the locals.

  5. My favourite would be the claypot prawns and roast lamb.. Errr I see garlic+cili padi, ngam meh? When I see garlic+cili padi, I think of bak kut teh.. Great to see STP there too, with his cute shirt, hehe..

    • Nope, the Asian inspired sauce didn’t work well with the lamb! 🙂

      We both much preferred the mint sauce! That’s so good it made the lamb the star of the night (other than the big head prawns – but everything was good here).

      Haha! Yeah, I like his shirt too!


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