‘Gastronomy and I: My Favourite Dish’ Top 10 Articles (Adult) — John Lau Lee Yii

Ding Bian Hu and fish ball soup. Photo by John Lau Lee Yii

Ding Bian Hu’s symphonic flavours

Gastronomy has always been the heartbeat of our family, enriching our lives with flavours that echo through generations. Among our numerous culinary adventures, one dish stands out: Ding Bian Hu, especially from the iconic stall in Sibu, Sarawak.

Ding Bian Hu, a rice-based delicacy, is more than just a dish; it is a culinary heritage. Its preparation—a harmonious blend of rice batter and simmering broth—interweaves tradition and love. Key ingredients such as fish balls, black fungus, and dried squid add layers of complexity and richness.


Our culinary journey kicked off in December 2023, sparked by tales of the celebrated Ding Bian Hu stall in Sibu’s bustling market. Eager for an experience that would unite us, we embarked on a journey from Kuching to discover the secrets simmering within its aromatic pots.

The market hummed with life, a medley of sights, sounds, and aromas that tantalized our senses. Amid the sea of vendors, we found the famed stall, its modest exterior concealing the culinary treasures within. There, orchestrating the culinary ballet of Ding Bian Hu, stood a master chef, his hands a whirlwind of skill.

With a flourish, we ordered a bowl, eager to savour the magic crafted by his adept hands. As we tasted the first spoonful, a cascade of flavours danced on our palates, each note resonating with our shared history. The broth, rich and velvety, whispered tales of our ancestors.

The tender rice ribbons, accompanied by succulent mackerel fish balls, earthy black fungus, and the umami essence of dried squid, evoked a taste that truly hit home, capturing the essence of our heritage.

Captivated by the legacy behind the dish, we could not resist capturing the moment. We took a photo with a vibrant mural near the stall, depicting the owner making Ding Bian Hu.

The mural embodies the spirit of Sibu’s dynamic food culture. My children, posing in front of the mural, looked as if they were part of a living tradition. That photo, now a cherished keepsake, encapsulates the essence of our adventure and the bonds we formed.

Back in Kuching, our hearts sank upon hearing the news of the stall’s closure on May 25th. This beloved establishment, a cornerstone of Sibu’s culinary scene, served its last bowl of Ding Bian Hu. The closure marks the end of an era, leaving a void in the community and among those who cherished its unique flavours.

This bittersweet turn of events made us realise that the stall was a goldmine of culinary heritage. The Ding Bian Hu stall was not just a place to eat; it was a living tradition, a bridge between generations. Its closure is a reminder to cherish and preserve our culinary heritage, for these flavours weave the fabric of our shared history.

In the end, we understood that food connects us to our roots and each other in extraordinary ways. Through Ding Bian Hu, we discovered not just a meal, but a bridge to our past and a beacon for our future. — DayakDaily

John Lau Lee Yii from Kuching is recognised as one of the top ten writers (Adult Category) in the ‘Gastronomy and I: My Favourite Dish’ writing competition organised by DayakDaily and supported by the Sarawak Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, and Imperial Hotel Kuching.