Visit to Kuching’s Satok Market

Delia, a commenter on our post “Visit to a Kuching Pasar Malam” , suggested that we visit the Satok Market to see more varieties of food there. The Satok Market is the largest open market in Kuching, and is a major attraction for locals and tourists. Imagine this: you have blocks and blocks of shophouses in one district of the city. In between those blocks are parking spaces and roads. Now imagine that every weekend, all the parking spaces and roads are covered over with tarps and canopies, and vendors from all over Sarawak come to sell their wares.

Satok Market from the Footbridge

Satok Market from the footbridge

Even though the Satok Market is popularly known as the Sunday Market, it actually starts up on Saturday afternoon, runs all night, and shuts down on Sunday afternoon. Annie and I decided to go to see the Satok Market this past Saturday afternoon, shop a little, and pick up dinner from the Ramadan bazaar that was also being held at the market.

We drove toward the Waterfront district, turned in at Jalan Satok, and parked near the Wisma Satok mall. There’s a footbridge going from the mall over Jalan Satok to the actual market site. From there you can see just a small portion of the market, covered by canopies. Underneath the canopies, you will find vendors selling all manner of items. You can find clothes, shoes, toys, plants, kitchenware, books, magazines, and other household necessities.

Satok Market Under the Canopies

Satok Market under the canopies

There was a cacophony of voices as the vendors called out, hawking their wares. We were undeterred. We were here for the food.

Just as at the pasar malam, you can find all kinds of fruits imported from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, even the US. But nothing compares in freshness and quality like local fruits. These small bananas (pictured below) are small enough that you could probably eat the whole thing in one bite. But they have a pleasant, almost green apple tartness to them. We picked up a couple of bunches.

bananas

Another local fruit that we picked up was these jambu air or water apples. They are similar to the mountain apples I used to eat as a kid in Hawai’i. The sweetness of these water apples is muted, but the interesting thing is, there is no seed inside!

Jambu Air (Water Apple) Vendor

water apple vendor

There was a large section of the market devoted to fresh meat and fresh fish. Here and there you would also find a vendor displaying bags and bags of dried anchovies, shrimp, and other fishes. I never knew there were so many varieties of dried anchovies. Next time, I’m going to have to get some to make the sambal ikan bilis that will go along with our nasi lemak.

Bags of Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies)

bags of dried anchovies

We found lots of fresh turmeric root, large chili peppers, and petai (stinky beans) for sale. I like how the vendors lay everything out neatly piled on plates with their prices clearly marked. The freshness and quality (tomatoes notwithstanding) were as good as the best supermarkets in town, but half the prices.

turmeric, tomatoes, chiles, long beans, petai

As dusk approached, we made our way to the Ramadan Bazaar to pick up dinner. During Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from eating and drinking from sunup to sundown. You can imagine how hungry people must be by the end of the day. At the bazaar, you will find not just Malay food but halal foods from many other cultures, even Chinese!

The bazaar was crowded with folks buying food to take home for buka puasa – breaking fast. Take dozens of food vendors all boiling, frying, steaming and grilling, mix hundreds of people packed under heavy canopies, add tropical heat and humidity and what do you have? Instant sauna. We picked up our food and got out of there as quick as we could.

On the way back out of the market, we stopped at a stall where they were grilling chickens over a hot charcoal fire. The cook held skewers of butterflied chickens over the coals, letting the fat drip down and the flames singe the skin for some great charred flavor. Every so often, he would baste the birds with his special sauce, kept in a large can on the side of his grill. The aroma was impossible to resist.

Grilling chicken

As we departed the Satok Market and headed back over the footbridge, we saw rows of food stalls and tables running off into the distance. At each table was a family, but no one was eating yet. Everyone was waiting for the evening call to prayer, which signals the end of the day and the time to break the fast. I can admire their willpower in the face of such a diversity of food available.

Waiting for the call to break fast

There’s a lot more of Satok Market that I haven’t shared in this post. So many sights, smells and sounds remain to be told. But I suppose if I tried to do so, this post would be 4 times as long! So I condensed the images into this slideshow on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Visit to Satok Market

Aloha, Nate

13 Comments Post a Comment
  1. LoveAppleFarm says:

    >Wow, that is quite the farmers' market! I would love love love to take a good look at that in person. Hope you two are transitioning well to your new life! Cheers from hot and smokey (forest fires) California.

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    >This is better than watching "No Reservations''! ;)
    The market looks so amazing, with its colors, incredible variety, and wonderful freshness. Thanks for bringing it to life in your blog for the rest of us.

  3. Nate-n-Annie says:

    >@Cynthia – I wish you could come over and bring some heirloom tomatoes! Really missing out on them.

    @Carolyn – we've got much less snark than Bourdain ;-)

  4. Garlicpbo says:

    >amazing slide show – would love to go one day!

  5. ABowlOfMush says:

    >Fantastic pictures!!

  6. susie_loh says:

    >Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. sandrine says:

    >I enjoy reading your blog with all these Kuching adventures.
    As I am reading your pasar malam descriptions, many fond memories flashing back and big smile on my face.

    Thanks Nate & Annie!
    ~Sandrine

  8. Cherie says:

    >Love your blog and really enjoy seeing all of the interesting places. Better than tv. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. Nate-n-Annie says:

    >@all – thanks for your comments!

    @Garlicbpo – Malaysia is a lovely place. Make plans now!

    @ABowlofMush – thanks!

    @susie – you're welcome.

    @sandrine – I'm so glad that we could bring you a smile :D What's your favorite pasar malam / pasar tani memory?

    @Cherie – thank you so much!

  10. My Asian Kitchen says:

    >enjoy looking at the wet market especially the food,now make me miss home so much! btw,NaT your bahasa Malaysia is not bad,boleh tahan la! lol!

  11. Dorach says:

    >Being a Kuchingite, it is so much fun reading an outsider's take on Kuching like yours :)

  12. Marta says:

    >I just discovered your blog and I'm looking forward to reading more on Kuching. I visited Kuching in February and loved the food. We went to this market and were amazed at the diversity of food. We loved midin.

  13. Single Guy Ben says:

    >Wow, that market looks huge! And I've never heard of a temporary market open 24 hours! How cool. BTW, I loved mountain apples growing up in Hawaii too and I wish I could find something similar in California. That fruit looks very similar!

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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