Deep into the Malaysian Borneo – Eat Like a Local - bananatree
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Deep into the Malaysian Borneo – Eat Like a Local

Malaysian food is extremely diverse – Malaysia is comprised of a number of different islands and regions, each with their own variations on Malaysian cuisine. The island of Borneo’s a perfect example – the Malaysian part only joined the rest of the country in 1963, and it still retains its long tradition of tribal dishes, putting an interesting spin on the typical Malaysian offering. But you don’t have to go all the way to Borneo to get a sense for what it’s like – a glance at the Banana Tree menu is enough to see the Bornean influenced dishes we’re serving up right here in the UK. Here’s a quick tour around the cuisine of Malaysian Borneo, and our recommendations for getting the same experience at Banana Tree.

Spiced Coconut Laksa

Laksa is eaten across Indochina, but Borneo’s Sarawak laksa adds a special twist on the spicy South East Asian soup. Unlike most laksa, in Borneo it doesn’t have any curry added to it, though as in other areas it does use coconut milk. Our Banana Tree Laksa isn’t based on any one national cuisine – it’s our own special recipe – but it’s a great way to get an idea of what laksa is like in Borneo. 

Borneo’s Distinctive Herbs and Spices

Like much of South East Asia, you can distinguish Bornean food by the herbs and spices interwoven in its many dishes. Typically, you’ll find a selection from chilli, turmeric, ginger (and galangal), coriander, lemongrass, cloves, cumin and cinnamon. All our dishes have that special taste you associate with Indochina, but we’d recommend our Lemongrass, Turmeric and Cashew stir fry for a tasty introduction to those distinctive flavours.

Malaysian Street Food

The street food’s one of the things that visitors will always rave about when they return from Borneo, and with good reason. There’s nothing quite like walking along a bustling Malaysian city, munching on some Indochinese treats. To get the same experience here in the UK, go for Banana Tree’s Kajang Grilled Satay sticks, made to an authentic recipe and packed with that characteristic Malaysian flavour.

The Seafood of Borneo

Fresh seafood is probably what Borneo’s most famous for in Malaysia. Lobsters, prawns, crabs and even jellyfish are all on offer in Borneo’s busy fish markets, and the famous Sarawak spices make for a distinctive taste that you won’t find elsewhere in Malaysia. Banana Tree recommends the Seafood Kari Santan Melayu for a Malaysian Bornean seafood dish – it’s made with prawns, tilapia fish, aubergine and tofu, and is cooked up with a traditional Malaysian red paste.

When you think of all the great dishes Borneo brings to the table, it’s no wonder that our latest competition winner, Libby, is looking forward to trying Bornean cuisine for herself on her upcoming holiday. Libby’s won an enticing 8-night trip to Malaysian Borneo, where she’ll be seeing the sights and visiting the island’s world-famous orangutans – and we’re sure she’ll be enjoying plenty of delectable Bornean food, too.

Borneo shouldn’t be forgotten in the story of Malaysian cuisine. It’s made a massive contribution to the national dishes, with its spices, street food and fresh seafood – next time you’re feeling like a Malaysian meal, give it a Bornean twist to make it extra special. Malaysian Borneo has much to offer the Western gourmand – so don’t let yourself leave it out when you’re approaching South East Asian food. With a host of Indochinese restaurants across the UK, including Malaysian restaurants in Soho, Angel, West Hampstead and more, Banana Tree should be your first destination for Malaysian food – pop along and try the tastes of Borneo for yourself!