When residents in this district hear the words 'Dayung Kumang' they wonder it means.
With a laugh, Serian-born, Sarawakian Nor Ain Anne Allan, 30, shared with Bernama that the words mean 'woman or girl', in both the Bidayuh and Iban languages.
Nor Ain Anne, who is Iban, said the name of the restaurant, which was opened last year reflects her identity as someone who sells authentic Sarawakian food.
"Dayung Kumang is always an ice breaker with my customers because without fail they want to know what it means," she said when met at her restaurant at Jalan Wong Ah Jang here. The mother of two said she ventured into the business to promote and share the uniqueness of Sarawak cuisine such as ‘mi kolok’, ‘laksa sarawak’, crispy tomato noodles, ‘aruk rice with salted terubuk fish’ and ‘aruk dabai rice’ with the local people here, besides satisfying her cravings for these dishes.
What is more interesting is that her husband Amirul Asraf Ahmad Shohor, 32, who is a native of Kuantan, used to complain about the unavailability of ‘mi kolok’ for breakfast here, compared to when they visit his in-laws’ village.
Apart from ‘mi kolok’, Nor Ain Anne said another item on Dayung Kumang’s menu completing the Sarawakian taste is ‘ayam pansuh’, a dish of chicken and young tapioca leaves cooked in bamboo, which is a special item only available during the weekends due to its slow cooking process.
Nor Ain Anne said in addition to Sarawakians who live here, she also receives many local customers, even from nearby districts, who come to try the food which they may have only come across in magazines or the social media.
"Sarawak food is my bridge with the local customers here. They often ask what it tastes like before deciding what to order, besides some want to know how we (in Sarawak) eat the noodles, is it separately or mixed into the soup?
“These simple chats make us closer. They become regulars and are willing to try other dishes. We become friends over time as we meet often,” she said.
Nor Ain Anne said 'Dayung Kumang' also serves its signature drinks from the Land of the Hornbills, such as ‘teh c’, pandan layer tea and wheatgrass with grenadine syrup specially brought in from Sarawak.
"To give our customers the complete ambience, we have replicated the Sarawak kopitiam concept using authentic tableware and décor. The handicrafts such as woven mats, baskets and pua kumbu cloths displayed in the shop are from my family home in Sarawak," she said.
Nor Ain Anne said she was grateful for the help from her mother Christina Saing, 52, who lives in Kemaman, Terengganu and commutes daily to Kuantan, especially to ensure quality control and authentic taste.
However, Nor Ain Anne said due to family matters, she had to temporarily close the restaurant this month to return to Sarawak and was heartened to receive words of encouragement from customers.
"They encouraged and wished me well. Some wished me in person and others sent me messages and I was touched by their gestures. I used to hear people say food can be a bond of affection, now I am experiencing it.
"Dayung Kumang is not just a business to me but the beginning of a relationship. InsyaAllah we will return because we do not want to disappoint all our friends. If we are gone too long, too many people will miss ‘mi kolok’ for breakfast," she said.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency