Malaysia is one of the world’s top destinations for Muslim travellers. A growing number visit the ‘City of Cats’ in Sarawak for its colonial heritage and easy access to the jungle. Here are our favourite halal friendly restaurants in Kuching to sample the best of Sarawakian food.
Lot 1 Café sits next to the Dormani Hotel near Kuching City Mosque, serving halal-friendly Malay food. The local style restaurant, popular with those coming back from the mosque, offers ultra-affordable meals. Expect a selection of Sarawak-style fried rice and Malay curries. But our highlight in this halal restaurant in Kuching is the ayam penyet, a type of crushed succulent chicken with a generous portion of fragrant rice.
Located in the heart of Kuching’s Indian Muslim district, Jubilee Restaurant is one of the oldest halal restaurants in Kuching. After opening in 1974 and bringing their chef from Madras, they offer the usual Indian favourites in a hectic local style environment. Choose from a long list of fried rice or order the recommended nasi biryani (fried rice with chicken or lamb) for a more filling meal. Those looking for a light snack can get a roti canai or roti susu. Roti susu tastes like a sweet pancake covered in a thin layer of condensed milk.
Laksa is a type of noodle soup found throughout Malaysia. Sarawak Laksa holds the title as the most famous dish in the Bornean state. This local Kopitiam (coffee shop) always bursts with locals. We suggest Mom’s Laksa for first-time visitors who want to try the regional dish in the safe knowledge of its halal status. The vermicelli noodle dish comes with fresh prawns and shredded chicken in a hearty broth for just a few ringgits.
Sepinang Sari is a local favourite. The simple restaurant is both clean and cheap, with long queues of hungry locals waiting for their fix around lunch time. We suggest tasting their signature dish: Mi Sapi Haji Salleh (a Malay-style beef noodle soup) for a culinary treat. Try to avoid peak times: it might take 30 minutes for the food to arrive!
For a nasi kandar self-service buffet dining experience, check out Restoran Pelita. With more than 30 sides including a good selection of fresh vegetables, this is one of the best halal restaurants in Kuching for variety. If you’re unfamiliar with this style of dining, simply take a plate and fill it up with sides. You pay for what you take. Expect Indian and Malay food as well as local curries and Sarawak-style nasi goreng. A filling meal for one shouldn’t cost more than RM20 ($5).
While Babaganoush isn’t as central as most halal restaurants in Kuching, it does offer a classier dining experience at budget-friendly prices. The menu includes both Asian and Bornean favourites as well as lamb and crab dishes. Popular among local couples and families, this restaurant is an excellent place for a romantic evening. The fully air-conditioned space provides a high-end dining experience at surprisingly affordable prices.
Translated into English, Rumah Hijau means ‘green house’, which is fitting since the exterior walls are painted green. After opening in 2009, this family-owned restaurant cooks Malaysian and Sarawakian dishes catering to the local Kuchingites. Spicy dishes lack the prolonged burn of other places, allowing better access to some of their specialities. Order either the nasi ayam penyet (chicken and rice) or Malaysia’s national dish: nasi lemak. The busiest period is during lunch time when most of the tables inside the classy chic interior are taken.
As the name suggests, this is one of the few halal restaurants in Kuching with Sri Lankan food. Customers sit in open seating areas and choose from a variety of North Indian and Sri Lankan dishes arriving as huge portions. We suggest the lamb shank briyani, cheese naan with Ceylon tea and butter chicken curry. Vegetarian options are available too. If you’re hungry and want good sub-continent food, head to Ceylonese.
Another local favourite, The Kings Curry serves both north and south Indian dishes. With a comfortable interior, this is one of the top halal restaurants in Kuching for Sarawakian families. Expect decent sized portions, lots of biryani dishes on the menu and fast service. The must-try dish is the mouthwatering cheesy naan (a fluffy bread stuffed with melted cheese). From 10:30am to 10:00 Tues to Sun – closed on Monday
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and their cuisine has an international reputation for its rendang, spiciness and rice-based dishes. At Warung Nasi Kuning in Kuching, the best Indonesian food gets prepared by chefs from their homeland serving the expat population. For a plate of the spicy rendang with yellow rice, check out them out.