First prize winner in DayakDaily writing competition determined to continue honing skills

Tan after the writing competition prize-giving ceremony at Imperial Hotel on July 6, 2024.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, July 11: In the bustling city of Kuching, a young writer’s love for local cuisine earned her the top spot in DayakDaily’s ‘Gastronomy and I: My Favourite Dish’ writing competition.

Jasmine Tan Sze Min, the first prize winner in the adult category, shared her journey and passion for food in an exclusive interview with DayakDaily.


“I was very shocked at first,” Tan admitted when asked about her reaction to winning the competition.

Despite having confidence in her writing, she never expected to secure the first place.

“I thought it was good enough to get shortlisted. That’s what I felt really grateful about.”

Tan’s winning piece centred around her favourite dish, laksa, specifically from a coffee shop in Taman Hui Sing.

“It’s a place my family and I frequented a lot during my childhood, so it holds very deep memories for me,” the 20-year-old said.

Describing the unique appeal of this particular laksa, Tan highlighted the generous portions and the quality of the ingredients.

“The soup base is already a great foundation to start with. They give medium-sized prawns and a balanced portion of every ingredient, which left a good impression on me,” she said.

While laksa holds a special place in Tan’s heart, she also has a deep appreciation for the rich culinary heritage of Sarawak.

“There is a lot of good food in Sarawak. I almost wrote about gula apong ice cream, which also left a significant impression on me,” she revealed.

The first time she tried gula apong ice cream was when she was 13, and it became a cherished memory.

Tan credits her family for nurturing her love for literature and writing.

“My family exposed me to English movies, films, and storybooks. I sort of picked it up from there,” she explained.

Despite her natural shyness, Tan is determined to continue honing her writing skills and participating in competitions.

“I’m working hard to involve myself more in this kind of competition,” she said, aiming to bring these achievements into her future endeavours.

As we concluded the interview, Tan reflected on the shared joy and inspiration that food brings to people. Her story of laksa is not just about a dish but a narrative of family, culture, and the flavours that define her heritage. — DayakDaily