>> Uncle Fung Borneo Eatery | Eat the World Los Angeles

Thursday 19 September 2019

Uncle Fung Borneo Eatery


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (15 December 2023) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
Who could have guessed that an empire would be built around the cuisine of Borneo, an island shared by the nations of Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, where it is called Kalimantan. What started out as the easily identifiable Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine in Alhambra has branched south with three locations of Uncle Fung; this busy branch in Long Beach, and another two in the Orange County cities of Buena Park and Santa Ana.

To diners used to eating in restaurants offering the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, the menu here will look familiar. Dig in a bit deeper though and you will notice that many of the items have an added flare from Borneo, a specific type of curry, or the curly and elastic noodles enjoyed on what is the world's third largest island.

Roti prata ($4.25, above) might not be originally from Borneo, but it is enjoyed all throughout Malaysia and Singapore and here they serve it with that aforementioned Borneo island style curry. This bread of Indian descent brought by traders is made from flour and cooked on a flat top grill. Mornings in any city of Malaysia will bring the smells of this bread and curry to your window, making intense cravings begin right after waking up. It is delicious here at Uncle Fung.

And those curly and elastic noodles so popular in West Kalimantan and Borneo that they have become a feature in Jakarta as well? Those are the star of the show in the ridiculously good bowl of Hakka mee ($8.50, below). In it, the egg noodles are covered with barbecued pork and sliced fish cakes, scallions, shallots, and other vegetables. It comes served with what appears to be a simple broth, but which is amazing and savory in its own right, a broth that can stand all by itself. Don't dump this in, but rather take intermediate sips while enjoying the more complex array of tastes within the noodles.

Also well executed is their char kway teow ($10.99, below), a dish popular throughout the three nations of Borneo as well as mainland Malaysia and Singapore. The flat rice noodles are stir-fried in the Borneo style and also include two pieces of nice shrimp, more barbecued pork and sliced fish cakes, as well as egg and vegetables.

Besides the good ingredients, what makes this different than usual versions is just the hint of funkiness that it comes with, a pleasant addition to a normally very savory dish.

With the title of the island right in the name of the dish, it was impossible to turn down the Borneo rice plate ($9.50, below), a bed of rice with different toppings in each quadrant. A third portion of their good barbecued pork was joined by crispy fried chicken, thinly-sliced Chinese sausage, marinated hard-boiled egg, and cucumbers.

What made this dish especially memorable was the sauce spread over the meats and leeching down into the rice. It is likely the same complex spice marinade used with the pork, but the modest amount left an urge for more that was only satisfied by asking for an extra portion.

While the menu at the original Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine is a much deeper dive into the foods of the island, here at Uncle Fung there is a good introduction as well as very thoughtfully prepared favorites from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is currently a highlight of dining in Long Beach.


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