Don’t Be A Racist

Bidayuh Cuisine Pansoh Manok and Terung Asam

Aroma Cafe Bidayuh Cuisine Pansoh Manok and Terung Asam

If you haven’t watched Namewee’s movie Nasi Lemak 2.0, go and watch it, preferably in a cinema and not at home via a pirated cd. But who am I kidding, I am sure most of us would just download it from BT. Seriously though, support our movie industry especially when it produces something that has half a chance of being decent. Hopefully this way, we might have Malaysian movies that are on par with the best of Hollywood. Although, truth be told, I’ll be happy with the Singaporean/Thai movie standards.

Anyway, Wee Meng Chee aka Namewee, is a Malaysian Hip Hop artist that infamously sang the Negarakuku song. The song is his rant on the various issues affecting us Malaysians and some others that were deemed racist. It definitely hit a raw nerve as we can see from the reactions of the public and the government.

It certainly affected an Utusan Malaysia writer as she has decided to boycott Nasi Lemak 2.0 because of the director and writer Namewee. Fair enough, it is her money so all the more power to her. Of course, Namewee being Namewee retaliated with a bleep filled rant of his own.

My own 2cents is she is absolutely correct to write what she did. It is her opinion and her opinion is that Namewee is a bigot and that his rant back to her is way off the mark. I do feel he is insensitive in that music video of his. But he has apologized and I would leave it at that. Of course, if you use the writer’s same criteria on herself or her paper for that matter, they should also be boycotted too! It was she who wrote an article where she seemed to equate the killing of Osama Bin Laden with the assassinations of Benazir Bhutto and Yitzhak Rabin. Makes you think doesn’t it.

In any case, if she had decided to watch the movie, she would have found it to be a very funny and entertaining movie. It still explore the issues that every Malaysian faces daily but it did not belittle any race or religion. Quite opposite in fact. It showed Namewee’s character to be a slight bigot. Not a racist but a food racist. *Spoiler Alert* There was a scene in the movie where he scolded his two staff for buying packets of nasi lemak. He called it unhygienic junk food and that they should eat and support Chinese cuisine. If that isn’t racist, I don’t know what is. * End of Spoiler *

The obvious segue now is to talk a nice nasi lemak. But I won’t. Instead I shall strive to be a equal opportunity food reviewer and I shall do this by reviewing TWO Bidayuh cuisine. Dayak cuisine in general is not widely available even in Kuching. It isn’t exactly something you would find in any kopi tiams. Aroma café is one of these rare shops that sells Bidayuh cuisine amongst other normal local fare.


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The first of these dishes is the Pansoh Manok (or Pansoh Ayam). This is basically chicken cooked in bamboo and with tapioca leaves (daun ubi). The taste of this dish is generally nice with a nice hint of bamboo but has a slightly bitter after taste. This might be due to the extremely large amounts of yam leaves in our dish. This should not stop you from trying as this is one of the more famous dayak dish (Both the Ibans and Bidayuh lay claim to this dish).

The second dish is less famous but definitely my favourite of the two, the terung asam. The terung asam or Terung Dayak (Solanum indicum L.) is a slightly sour fruit in the same family as the aubergine, tomatoes and potatoes. And surprisingly like the Cornish Pasties, the Terung Asam has also been given the Geographical Indication protection. The local Chinese way of cooking it is to cook it with ikan bilis. While the Bidayuh method does not have any ikan bilis it is equally delicious. The taste of the terung and the spices just creates something that is very addictive. The addition of chicken in this version is an additional plus but this may be because I’m somewhat of a carnivore!

All in all, this is a good place for us locals to truly try something really local. This is probably the next best thing to getting yourself invited to a dayak house for dinner. Or better still, bring a non-Sarawakian to eat here. Maybe someone should bring Namewee here. This way he can proof himself not to be a food racist.

Ps. There was an edit here because I mixed up tapioca leaves (daun ubi) with yam leaves (daun keladi). My bad and thanks for pointing it out!


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