Borneo Cultural Festival 2014

borneo cultural festival

The Borneo Cultural Festival is back! BCF 2014 is the latest iteration of this Sibu festival celebrating local Dayak/Iban and other native cultures. It’s our version of Kuching Festival and there’s a similar emphasis on food! The last time I went was when I was working here, during Borneo Cultural Festival 2008.

sellers

I went with my dad for the last two days and the layout is similar, with sections for Dayak cuisine, Malay cooking and Chinese food. I first wrote about Borneo Cultural Festival in 2003 when my blog was just over a year old (they had a beauty pageant for Miss Malaysian Chinese that year) and went again for BCF 2006 – check out the Borneo Cultural Festival category for full coverage!

bcf2014

Here is my photoblog for BCF 2014:

ayam pansoh

Ayam Pansuh is a Sarawakian dish that uses bamboo to cook chicken. The meat is stuffed into the tube with tapioca leaves and some water before being cooked over a charcoal fire. The bamboo is then cracked open and the water becomes the stock of this chicken dish. You can eat the tapioca leaves too!

beancurd sheet

This is a piece of tofu skin that’s been dipped in *real fish batter* before being deep fried. I’ve never quite had something like this before. It’s made of soybeans – basically a bean curd sheet that’s rehydrated and coated with fish. My dad loved it.

satay

12 different types of satay! There’s chicken skin, chicken heart, chicken liver, rabbit, beef, lamb, cockles, ostrich, and many other unusual proteins on skewers. No pork satay here though coz this is a halal stall. However, my favorite guilty pleasure is here in abundance – grilled chicken skin actually tastes wonderful, but you can’t eat too much of it or you’ll get sick of the ultra rich fat.

wife biscuits

Wife Cake comes in many different variants here. Besides the traditional lao por peng, there’s also “Husband Biscuits” (Biskut Suami) which uses star anise as a filling.

pulut panggang

Pulut Panggang makes an authentic appearance too! It’s glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves that’s been grilled over a charcoal BBQ, giving it the distinctive smoked flavor. I bought several of the beef and chicken filled ones and it was good.

potato twisters

I got potato twisters as well – a staple fair food. It’s a whole potato that’s been cut into spirals and this version uses a sweet batter to coat it before it’s deep fried and slathered with mayo and chilli sauce.

bcf2014 me

Awesome stuff.

ice cream cone

This is a very diluted soft serve ice cream cone. It’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla but it tastes horrible – akin to a penny pinching coffee shop being miserly with the cocoa powder. smirk

chess competition

Chinese chess competition that’s open to the public. It was played on one of the smaller stages in a tournament format.

best pavilion

This particular booth got Best of Show. The Chinese pavilions are usually very well decorated compared to the sparse Malay booths.

pavilions

Here’s another example.

chinese culture art

These pavilions are usually made by clan associations e.g. Heng Hua, Foochow etc but some of them are owned by more general groups like the Chinese Culture & Art Appreciation societies…

gula melaka puffs

…and they have the manpower from clan membership working inside too!

clan pavilions

The Chinese pavilions line the side facing the main road so it’s beautiful when you look in that way – the lights, the glitter, the jazz! (or rather, er-hu ;))

taiwanese food

There’s also a huge Taiwanese food trend in the stalls this year.

bcf

Music, dance and cultural performances are constantly done on the main stage – it’s also a major attraction besides the food.

sugar machine

Sugar twill machine that makes candy on a stick with CAD printing that you can choose – anything from your Chinese Zodiac (Rooster, Dragon, Snake etc) to intellectual property (Doraemon, Hello Kitty and the Disney character lineup). It’s very popular with kids.

sugar twill

(and the young-at-heart)

sibu pasar malam

The Sibu Pasar Malam Association also has a booth selling traditional night market fare.

UniqBun

Gardenia, Massimo and other commercial large-scale baking and distribution operations in KL don’t sell their RM 0.80 ready-to-eat cream filled buns here, so people often buy them in bulk at LCCT/KLIA2 before flying back. There’s now a Sibu company doing it – UniqBun.

cook-to-order

This is my favorite food of the Borneo Cultural Festival 2014. I award it my personal blue ribbon. ;) I even went back the next day with my dad to get some more. It’s cooked-to-order palm sugar balls filled with glutinous rice (pulut). It puffs into a ball when it’s deep fried and it’s a sweet treat at RM 1 each.

palm sugar balls

You just can’t argue with piping hot, deep-fried sweet balls of caramelized airy dough.

dabai sarawak

Oh, and it’s dabai season again! I like how this stall had samplers that has been blanched and marinated in soy sauce and sugar (the traditional way of preparing it). You can only get these in Sarawak. It’s called okana (black olives) but it’s not technically in the olive family. A delicious, seasonal local delicacy.

cultural performance

I quite enjoyed going to this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival with my dad. It didn’t run for a while due to politics but now that it’s back, I hope it’ll be an annual event. It wasn’t very packed on the last day due to the rain and some of the food items sells out fast since it starts at 5 pm but it’s a lot of fun!

food stalls

More importantly, BCF 2014 is a festival we can call our own! :)

McQuek’s Satay Steamboat Melaka

McQueks satay celup

You can probably guess from the boiling pot of satay celup sauce above that I’m in Melaka…and you’ll be right! I’m writing this from Dream Hotel (where all guests drift off happily into the warm embraces of sleep) – it’s a road trip planned earlier with Mel to go stuff ourselves silly in Melaka.

McQueks satay celup melaka

McQuek’s Sate Celup is not actually our first choice. We wanted to go to Capitol Satay Celup but for reasons unbeknownst to me, it’s closed. There’s a piece of paper on the metal shutters which presumably states the reason for that but not being able to read Chinese, I can’t tell you why it’s not open for business. :x

McQueks satay celup fridge

Thus, we checked the GPS and found a McQuek Satay Steamboat Recipe on it. It has parentheses that states it’s an outlet so we drove to the main McQuek Sate Celup. It’s quite a large establishment but also quite empty. I’m not sure if that’s coz today’s a weekday but it didn’t look very promising.

McQueks tvbs

They apparently have an appearance on TVBS but that doesn’t mean much – almost anyone and their grandma can be featured on TV or the papers these days, hell I’ve made my appearance more than once and I’m definitely not an authoritative voice on anything.

(well maybe on one topic, my pride will allow me that much, but it’s definitely not food ;))

satay celup selection

This is my selection from the fridge where the skewers of food is kept. The premise of satay celup is simple – you take what you want and when it’s time to pay the bill, the waiter comes over and counts the number of sticks you have on your table. I have to say though, I was not impressed by the meager selections they have – it’s less than half of what you’ll find at Ban Lee Siang.

satay celup ingredients

I also noticed the lack of perhaps the most important item – siham (clams). However, to be fair you can order it separately.

satay celup pricing

Behold my indulgence! It’s a full sized squid that has 11 (eleven – count ‘em) skewers in it, making it RM 6.60 for that alone. It is pretty good though. I also had my staples – quail century eggs, cuttlefish, mussels, Taiwanese sausage, quail eggs, and brinjal (eggplant) – a nod to my daily food pyramid adherence. *cough* ;)

satay celup peanuts

I like the fact that McQuek Satay Celup has excellent service – they promptly refill your communal pot of satay celup sauce – complete with a healthy sprinkling of ground peanuts. The people there are friendly too, asked where we were from and whether we enjoyed the food etc etc.

satay celup squid

However, the lack of selection coupled with the non-compliant price of RM 0.60 per stick makes me wonder if there’s a reason why this place is so devoid of customers.

McQueks squid eat

The problem with this is that the portions are small too – one (1) century quail egg with a miniscule bit of carrot on top is one satay. The “good” establishments like Ban Lee Siang and probably Capitol Satay Celup price theirs at RM 0.50. It’s the golden standard.

free cucumbers

Oh well, at least they have free cucumbers.

McQueks us

I can’t say that it’s the best satay celup I’ve ever had, it was very average, but no worries, tomorrow is another day and we plan to eat a lot of meals in Melaka. I can foresee at least 3-4 meals before we head back, there’s a reason we stayed at a crappy hotel – so we can eat more. ;)

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