Celebrate the festive spirit of Gawai this week with a very special box by Cafe Chef Wan that promises a soulful, sumptuous spread from Borneo.
The Gawai Festival Platter is available for takeouts and delivery until Sunday, 6 June 2021, showcasing rare produce from East Malaysia.
Its once-a-year offerings beautifully bring the delicacies of longhouses to KL, from tuhau prawns to fish umai to bambangan chicken, latok to linopod to layer cake.
If you're seeking a unique taste of traditional indigenous flavours from Sarawak and Sabah, order Cafe Chef Wan's Gawai Festival Platter at trysmartbite.com/restaurants/cafe-chef-wan
(RM138+ for a box that serves three persons).
It's extremely uncommon for a restaurant in Peninsular Malaysia to use tuhau as an ingredient.
The shoots of tuhau - a wild ginger from the jungles of Sabah - lend a pickled sharpness and subtle spiciness to the Gawai Festival Platter's stir-fried plump prawns.
If you love aromatically cooked seafood, such as prawns in a garlicky sauce, take your taste buds on a tongue-tingling culinary adventure with these tuhau prawns.
Known as umai to the Melanau community to Sarawak and hinava to Sabah's Kadazan-Dusun people, this fish-based preparation is popular for communal occasions like Sabah's Pesta Kaamatan harvest festival.
Cafe Chef Wan marinates fresh mackerel with lime juice and young mango, infusing a ceviche-like zest to its firm, luscious flesh. A lovely marriage of fish and fruit, spiked with onions and chillies for a nice kick.
Bambangan is a fruit that's seldom seen in Semenanjung, since it's native exclusively to Borneo.
Sometimes compared to mango, this wild fruit has a bright sweetness that makes it a mouthwatering marinade for grilled chicken. The Gawai Festival Platter's boneless chicken thigh remains moist, juicy and flavoursome even after delivery, served with pineapples and cucumber chunks.
To pair with the protein, Latok is seaweed that's nicknamed Sabah's famous 'sea grapes' or 'green caviar,' popping in the mouth with a refreshing brininess. Rich in calcium, potassium and other minerals, it's a fun, playful ingredient, complete with a spicy lime juice dip.
If you've heard of leaf-wrapped Linopod and been curious to try it, here's your chance.
Steamed rice mashed with yam, bundled in banana leaves, with a fragrant stickiness and alluring natural colours - it's the perfect carbohydrate companion piece for the platter.
Laksa Sarawak is nearly synonymous with the Land of Hornbills - Cafe Chef Wan does justice to the culinary pride of Kuching in this platter, with an authentically rich, thick gravy of prawns and coconut that's potently addictive, rounded out with thin rice noodles, large prawns, chicken, cucumber, omelette and bean sprouts. A bowl of this practically transports you to Sarawak.
Save the Amplang to snack on later when you feel peckish.
These Sabahan savoury fish crackers have a punchy taste that might remind some of Kelantan's keropok lekor, reincarnated in crispy balls instead of chewy fish sausages. A favourite souvenir for many, not only in Sabah but neighbouring Indonesia's Kalimantan.
Dessert is a duo of delights - the Sarawak Layer Cake surfaces in two distinct flavours, one vibrantly striped and as ravishing as a rainbow, with hints of chocolate and nuts, the other like Borneo's equivalent of a red velvet cake, creamy and kind of cheesy.
Order from Cafe Chef Wan: trysmartbite.com/restaurants/cafe-chef-wan