Sarawak’s sweetheart.

There is a cake shop in Penang known as the Sunflower Layer Cake Shop, and it is holed up in a down-to-earth double-storey terrace in Tanjung Bungah. When I was still staying in that area when I was in high school, I went to a Baptist church there, and every month they would have a birthday celebration for the church members of that particular month. My parents were in charge of the birthday cakes, and they would always get a 30kg cake from Sunflower.

There are two cakes that I will take without thinking twice: my mom’s homemade chocolate cake, and a split between Secret Recipe’s Oreo Cheesecake, or New York Baked Cheesecake. I like layer cakes. I think they are an art in the form of eatery. It is hard enough to bake a cake, but to bake it with a mix of two colours, that is like a chef’s rocket science. But. You know what they say: Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. That is why my mom does not bake the chocolate cake every weekend anymore, and I will only go have a slice at Secret Recipe’s in an empty stomach. And I have slowly laid off layered cakes after having to eat it every month for almost two years.

I was taken aback when I heard of the Sarawak Layered Cake. Only available in Sarawak, it is like a cross between Picasso and Anthony Bourdain. Whilst a normal day layer cake comes in brown and light brown, the Sarawak Layered Cake comes in all kinds of colours, all kinds of patterns, and all kinds of flavours. And I heard that some of these cakes, you can actually see different types of patterns forming with every single slice of the knife. Unbelievable? Believe it.

It is definitely a must-buy and a must-try for anyone visiting Sarawak. So, during my short stint to the state a month back, no matter how crammed up our schedule was, we made sure particularly to drop by a specialised store to get some home. Or at least try some.

We visited the Dayang Salhah Kek Lapis in Kampung Gersik, Kuching. It is just right across the river from the city centre, and a short boat ride away. The place has gained popularity amongst the locals, and because Hari Raya was just around the corner when we dropped by, the place was packed with people picking and choosing their favourite flavours. Heck, even our photographer, Yusman, emerged with a box – yes, a box – full of layer cakes. They sell the cakes at as cheap as RM10, much cheaper compared to some of those sold in the markets. My colleague spotted a small slice going at RM25 or more.

Now, I am not a fan of really sweet confectionaries. And especially if they are really colourful and bright, I would not even touch it. These cakes are reeking of Buncho poster paints, and call me a chicken, but I settled for colours and flavours that are edible on my usual day.

The Sarawak Layered Cake is moister and sweeter. Though it is a different kind of dessert to try out, it was not really a taste-imploding moment for me. In fact, the jelak moment – you know, the kind of moment when you felt like purging after having too much pasta or sweet stuff or just ate too much of something – came much quicker and I had to put away the cake. Guess I was not over the Sunflower debacle just yet. And a more colourful cousin from the East Coast is not going to change my mind either.

But I would not take my own word for it if I have not tried it myself. Some of my colleagues actually enjoyed the cake. So, if you are ever stopping by Sarawak, or having friends stopping by there, get some back as souvenirs, as it is quite a unique gift unavailable anywhere else in Malaysia, or the world. Try it yourself, and be the judge.

Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah
40 Kampung Gersik
Petra Jaya
93050 Kuching
Opens daily @ 8.30AM – 10PM
T: +6 082 445 040 / +6 082 371 348 / +6 019 877 7220
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