KUCHING (August 16): As the Kuching Festival Food Fair enters its final days, The Borneo Post takes a quick look at the tempting array of delectable options on offer at more than 260 stalls on the Kuching South City Council grounds in Padungan.
An intriguing trend that has been spotted among the booths this year is Blackpink’s vibrant presence – obviously not the real K-pop sensation! – with many food vendors inspired by the popular group and channeling their creativity into offering unique and delicious culinary offerings.
Standing out from the crowd is a huge ‘Blackpink’ stall selling taco sushi, running Tacos by Hanaya. Positioned at stop 198, it offers six different types of taco sushi, each with its own charming twist.
Jeremy, one of the booth operators, shared that the ‘Blackpink’ concept was inspired by the black unagi and pink dragon fruit sauce on his signature ‘Blackpink Taco’.
“The taco features a mix of cooked durian cheese, Japanese unagi, and a sweet dragon fruit glaze. Another flavor that pleases the audience is the ‘Ebi Tempura Mango Taco’ made from shrimp, mango slices and mango mayonnaise.”
While the concept of a ‘sushi taco’ isn’t entirely new, his approaches are ‘rejuvenation’ and ‘improvement,’ he said.
Interestingly, a neighboring stall called ‘BTS’ adds to the K-pop concept of the food festival. According to Jeremy, the counter is run by business associates but offers different types of food.
While the festival serves as a primary platform for their offerings, interested gourmets will soon have the opportunity to head to Hanaya, where the band will be taking place at the soon-to-be-opening MJC, Pine Square, in late September or early October.
Ethel Ping, one of Jeremy’s satisfied customers who tasted Hawaiian Smoked Duck tacos, confirmed the “irresistible appeal of the Blackpink brand.”
“Although I’m not a Blackpink fan or K-pop fan in general, the stall was really appealing so I tried one of their tacos.
“This is really good!” she exclaimed, adding that she was recommended by other customers to try the offerings at the Blackpink booth.
Ethel, who is also a vendor at the fair, shared that she explores the land in her spare time in search of interesting food.
Located at the ‘Chef’s Table’ of the Creative City of Gastronomy, Kuching, its counter offers fusion dishes such as ‘pansuh sio bee’ and ‘umai pai tee’.
Another standout stop, Suci & Juicy uses the sous vide method, a technique often reserved for fine dining establishments.
“Our best-selling product is our ‘Smoked Duck Bao’, which is also a bestseller at our counter at Wayne’s Cafe on Jalan Carpenter,” said Doein David, one of the operators.
He and his partner aim to introduce this cooking method to a wider audience in hopes of bridging the gap between gourmet food and street food culture.
Didik, a regular Suci & Juicy customer, said that he has visited the Kuching Festival Food Fair several times and will visit the stand each time.
“My favourite, of course, is the smoked duck ‘bao’. I highly recommend it to anyone who comes to the festival. And for those who haven’t been, you don’t know what you’re missing.
“If you’ve never had duck (meat) before, once you try it, you’ll never be the last to eat it,” he mocked.
Another stall with Blackpink-themed food is Cinde’s Kuih Topi. Run by owner Cinde under Cinde’s Snack, the counter serves the iconic ‘kuih penyaram’ – what else – with a pink sauce.
The stop is among those present at the Kuching City of Creative Gastronomy booth.
Speaking to The Borneo Post, owner Cinde said she tried this traditional ‘kuih’ for the first time in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
“There was an online challenge for those affected by the motion control order (MCO) to do my kuih penyaram, so I took part. I finally got better at doing that and eventually sold them out,” he said.
Besides the ‘classic’ kuih penyaram flavor, Cinde offers two new flavors special to the food festival: Nescafe Kopi-O and sesame.
“Those who can’t come to the food festival can find my counter at Dong Guan Food Court on Jalan Rock,” he added.
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