We went to Top Spot for dinner on our first night in Kuching, and returned on our last night because we liked it so much. Perched on the roof of a parking garage, Top Spot is a collection of competing seafood stands facing a sea of tables, a sort of massive food court. It was hard to know which one to choose; they all look more or less the same. In these situations I think it’s best to follow the crowd, and the crowd was at stall number 25, Bukit Mata.
The stands are a garish blur of neon, iridescent scales, bright glass eyes, stony pink and gray shells, and curtains of greens and long beans hanging from hooks along the top. Everything is sold by weight. A staffmember will help you choose your product(s), preparation (steamed, fried, grilled) and sauce (ginger and scallions, garlic and chilies).
There were bamboo clams – like small razor clams – steamed with ginger and scallions. Prawns were fried and peppery.
A massive oyster omelet arrived right out of the frying pan. Whole fish, grilled in banana leaves, was showered in minced raw garlic.
If that wasn’t enough, there was more on the table, along with sliced fresh chilis, sambal, and a box of tissues. (Not baby wipes.)
We had ferns, too, or midins. These curled stems are ubiquitous in Sarawak cooking, and taste as green as they look. They seem to be best when barely cooked, some of their crunch still intact, paired with the usual suspects of garlic and shallots.
An order of noodles turned out to be superfluous, something I thought I’d never, ever say about noodles. Some steamed rice was useful for cleaning our plates, but a meal here is really just about the seafood.
Go ahead and make a mess. You’ll see locals putting the shrimp shells and other scraps directly on the table. What you won’t see them doing is drinking: The population is mostly Muslim. But beer is available, and it’s nice and cold.
Also nice: The bill for three was 75 ringgit, or about $25 US.
Bukit Mata at Top Spot, Padungan road, atop the car park, Kuching, Malaysia
See more photos from Kuching on my Flickr stream.