Big Head Prawns of Tebakang

We finally found the restaurant we were looking for.

Jit Hin Restaurant, Tebakang

Jit Hin Restaurant, Tebakang

Way back in December of 2009, we drove out to Serian, a small town about 45 minutes’ drive from Kuching, to check out the local fruits they had on sale at the market. Our intention was to drive further out to the village of Tebakang to have lunch at a place highly recommended by our friend. But we couldn’t find the shop we were looking for.

The restaurant known as Jit Hin is famous for its huge prawns and wild meats. We always talked about going back with our friends, but it didn’t happen until just recently when we all decided to go during the Labor Day public holiday. One of our friends pre-ordered the prawns for the whole lot of us, and so we arranged to meet at the restaurant at 11 AM for lunch.

Past Mountains and Through Fields

The village of Tebakang is about an hour’s drive south of Kuching and close to the border with Indonesia. To get there, you drive to the Serian roundabout and take the 3 o’clock exit, then drive another 15 minutes through the idyllic landscape until you see the sign for Kampong Tebakang Melayu. Turn left and proceed until you hit the T-junction, then turn right. Follow the road until you hit a fork, then take the road going left.

You will soon encounter two rows of old wooden shophouses. Congratulations, you’ve arrived at Tebakang village! Jit Hin is at the far end of the sleepy row, next to the tiny police station.

Old Shophouse Row, Tebakang

Old shophouse row, Tebakang

When we arrived, the restaurant was already bustling with people. A large party was leaving just as we walked in. Our group were seated at two large tables inside.

Inside Jit Hin Restaurant, Tebakang

Inside Jit Hin Restaurant, Tebakang

The manager let us know what was available that day, then took our orders and relayed them back to the kitchen. The kitchen was a bustling hive of activity, with many people prepping the food or delivering finished dishes. At least two cooks manned the woks.

Jit Hin Chef Cooking Up a Dish

Jit Hin chef cooking up a dish

Lip-Smacking, Finger-Licking Good

First to come out was a soup and a platter of stir-fried midin (fiddlehead ferns). Then they started bringing out the platters of big head prawns. Almost everyone who comes to this restaurant comes for this particular dish. As you can see below, the prawns, covered in a thick, sweet tomato and onion sauce, are HUGE!

These prawns come whole, with the head still attached and the shells on. The only way to peel them is to use your hands. But that’s no problem, because you get to lick your fingers afterward. The prawns were very fresh and sweet, but the size of them made the meat a little tough.

Jit Hin Restaurant Big Head Prawns in Tomato Sauce

Jit Hin Restaurant Tebakang big head prawns

Foods Familiar and Strange

Besides the prawns, our friend also ordered many other dishes, some of them tried and true and some of them strange and new. The tried and true dishes were the fried chicken (upper right) and Teochew-style steamed sultan fish (lower left). Strange and new were terrapin turtle (upper left) and wild boar (lower right).

The fish was so fresh, sweet and delicious! The only problem was, it hadn’t been scaled before cooking (not a big deal). The fried chicken was nicely done.

The terrapin turtle dish was braised in soy sauce and tasted pretty much like soy sauce chicken. The only difference was, the turtle skin had the texture of braised pork skin with a lot of collagen. The wild boar dish was quite nice – it was the first dish to be finished off.

Terrapin, Fried Chicken, Steamed Sultan Fish, and Wild Boar

Jit Hin Restaurant Tebakang terapin fried chicken steamed fish pork belly

We ate, and ate, and ate until we were stuffed. Even so, we still took home leftovers. The bill for our party of 11 adults and 10 children came up to over 700 ringgit – quite a steep price due to the prawns being so expensive. Supply and demand, I guess.

And talk about demand! All throughout our lunch, people kept coming. There was never an empty table because, as soon as one party stood up to leave, another quickly took its place. Any restaurant in the city would be envious of this level of popularity.

Occupied Tables Outside Jit Hin Restaurant, Tebakang

Outside Jit Hin Restaurant Tebakang

Still Running

I appreciate that Jit Hin is still running strong, even as most of the other businesses in Tebakang have closed shop and moved to the bigger town of Serian. With a constant stream of customers like what I saw that day, I’d expect this restaurant could be around until Kingdom come.

As for me, though, I’m not sure I’d want to come back. The drive to Tebakang may be part of it’s allure, but Tebakang is too far a drive to go for expensive food that doesn’t make angels sing. For this, I’m rating Jit Hin Restaurant at 2.5 out of 5 stars.

I’m still looking for that place that combines good location, good food, and good value. Have you found a restaurant that fits? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Aloha, Nate

Jit Hin
Tebakang, Serian, Sarawak
Tel: 082-895154

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Other reviews of Jit Hin Restaurant by Ginger’s Doodle, Land of the Free and Brave, Expat Gourmand, Constant Craving and Mandarin Orange

10 thoughts on “Big Head Prawns of Tebakang”

  1. Although I’ve been to Tebakang many many moons ago, I’ve never been to this resto. It’d be strange and new for me, too, for the terrapin turtle dish. Love the whole steamed Sultan fish, and of course the crustaceans 😛 RM 700 is a lot of money, but shell-/sea-foods, as we all know, are on the high side. I crave for crabs here in EU, but they are just too expensive and I have never eaten crabs whole since I came to Belgium *sigh*

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post as it brought back memories of my Dad who took us once to this out of the way restaurant in Johor which specialised in Hakka food. The restaurant was a timber building by the road side with nothing else around it. After all that driving, finally we found the place, the food was yummy and made all that effort worthwhile.

  3. Ok ive been to Tebakang a few times and i may have passed the place but i never stopped… and now I SHALL!! thanks for the good review, now i know what ive been missing. wild boar! whoaaa…

    nice site btw. will follow!

  4. Dear Nate,

    These dishes look awesome and it’s something we definitely cannot find in Australia, especially those big fresh water prawns. But RM700 seems expensive even though your party was quite large.

    I am curious as to how much the prawns and steam fish would cost. I have tried the stir fried wild boar wtih ginger and shallots in KL and it is really awesome with great wok breath.

  5. Yeah, looks like a good neighborhood restaurant but not a destination place, huh? The turtle and boar do sound interesting, though. The shrimp looks amazing but also looks super fried, and I don’t eat deep-fried. But love the idea of a sweet tomato base.

  6. Those prawns are ginormous! Too bad they were a little tough. But what a fun experience to be able to try seafood in such a down-home and popular setting.

  7. looks like your foods there are xo yummy,,,,i wish i can taste it…but im here in da philippines…..

  8. OMG!! I totally love this restaurant! My dad loves to bring us here when he has free times to eat their famous big head prawn cook in tomato sauce. It’s a simple dish but it’s heavenly. I think Big Head Prawns taste better than Lobster. Sweeter. 🙂

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