Leaving soon…

My ex-student, Xavier, contacted me to tell me that he would be leaving soon – the following week, in fact, to go back to the UK to continue his studies at Cambridge there. I had wanted to take him here once but they were having the week off at the time and we ended up elsewhere so this time around, I made sure that he could have the more authentic dim sum at this restaurant…

Good Happiness Restaurant, Sibu
*Archive photo*

…before going off. Another ex-student of mine, Lawrence, Xavier’s good friend and former classmate, was leaving in a few days for Miri to start work there and needless to say, we were delighted that he was able to join us as well that morning.

Of course, they would be able to get the same where they were going but for Xavier especially, what he would get there would probably cost an arm or a leg, especially after the conversion of our currencies. Anyway, I do think what they serve here is very good – as good as many of the better dim sum places that I’ve been to here, there and everywhere. They told me that the chef was from Shanghai but I am not too sure whether he is still around or not.

I ordered some of the items that I had had before, their char siew (barbecued pork) pao

Good Happiness char siew pao

…and the three-flavour siew mai (meat dumplings)…

Good Happiness siew mai

…and the har kao (prawn dumpling)…

Good Happiness har kao

Of course, I simply had to order that favourite of mine, the lau sar pao

Good Happiness lau sar pao

- the steamed buns with the salted egg custard filling. It turned out that Xavier had never tried these before…and he almost had all the filling on his shirt when he bit into it. LOL!!!

I asked for this…

Good Happiness prawn rolls

…because I thought Rose had it when she was here and I wanted to give it a try myself but when I checked her blog, it seems that this was not among the things that she had. Nonetheless, it was very good and if I’m not wrong, this is some kind of prawn roll wrapped in bean curd skin and deep-fried and served in its special sauce. I enjoyed it very much, lots of little prawns inside.

We also had their tomato kway teow

Good Happiness tomato kwayteow

I thought we could have that for a change as on my previous visits, I had ordered their Foochow-style fried noodles and even though theirs had never failed to please, I wanted something different this time around…and yes, they do it very well here and I would not mind having it again in future.

That was all that we had and though it did not look like we had a lot, we were very full after we had finished everything. Probably the kway teow and the buns were very filling and did not leave much tummy space for anything else. The bill came up to only RM38.50, inclusive of free flow of Chinese tea. Well, if anyone is interested in dropping by to give it a try and has no idea where this restaurant is, it is opposite SMK Deshon along Jalan Sena (2.308964,111.848674) and I would suggest that you come in from the Lot 9 side (opposite Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada) as the sinking swampy land has made the road atrociously uneven in parts on the Sibu Bus Terminal side.

After that delightful brunch, I took the boys here

Islamic Centre

…because they asked me about THE book and they did not know where (and how) they could get a copy.

They went up to the Sibu Resident’s Office on the 5th Floor to ask for it and after signing their names, they were given a copy each, no questions asked, and they left the place happily, book in hand…

Lawrence, Xavier & the book

They did say that it was a breeze and the people there were very nice and friendly.

Thanks so much for the very pleasant get-together, boys. All the best to the two of you in your undertakings ahead. Do take care, and God bless always.

Never try…

My friend, Lim, and his wife used to plant…A LOT and they would send some over to my house very regularly so we had had our fair share of it at the time and would never order that when eating out. It did not occur to me that my girl was away studying at the time, not at home, so she had never got to try it ever. She mentioned that to me after seeing it in THE book so that was why I took her here…

Y2K Cafe

…for this…

Y2K sweet potato leaves

- their sweet potato leaves. I positively remember ordering that with belacan (dried prawn paste) hay bee (dried prawns) but that was not what we got in the end. This is what they call ching chao or something like that – fried plain/clear with garlic which would allow one to taste the sweetness of the vegetable cooked this way. Thankfully, it was very nicely done and the best thing was that they picked all the young leaves – the old ones can be quite a task to chew and are not as nice.

This is their menu…

Y2K menu

…on the wall but I don’t think that’s an exhaustive list – mostly the noodles or fried rice and stuff like that when one drops by for breakfast or something light(er). They do have a lot more than just these and actually, we did drop by earlier in that one-week school break but the place was not open. My girl wanted their sweet and sour fish…

Y2K sweet and sour fish

…and theirs is her favourite in town and I would say yes, they do it pretty well here.

We also had their lemon chicken…

Y2K lemon chicken

…and one thing in their favour would be the fact that they use fresh lemon juice. I do know of some other places that probably use lemon essence for the purpose and one would see the sauce in a peculiar shade of yellow and no lemon slices at all…plus it comes nowhere near and does not taste as nice either.

We tried their salted vegetable tofu soup…

Y2K salted vegetable soup

…but at best, I thought it was just so-so, kind of bland and not sour enough.

The total came up to RM53.00 inclusive of rice and drinks for 3 persons and yes, this place is not known for being cheap unlike the one next door which is always overflowing with people, come dinnertime. The saving grace is that they do dish out some pretty good stuff and that is why we keep coming back for more.

If you have no idea where this is, it is in the far end of the Tunku Osman area, in the block to the far left of the blocks of shops where the Big Thumb Bakery is. In fact, if you walk out of the side gate of the Methodist Secondary School here…

MSS side gate

…you can go into this restaurant through the back entrance/kitchen.

Same day…

On that very same day, before we went to the church to attend my ex-student’s wedding, we had to go somewhere as we had a bit of business to see to…but that did not take very long and since we had almost an hour to kill, we dropped by here…

Kiaw Hin, Sibu

…for breakfast.

This coffee shop is beside the Methodist Book Room which is right next to the church where the wedding would be held. I used to drop by to buy the Sibu Foochow-style sio bee which, I think, are one of the better ones in town and my friend, Philip, in the US did try their paos (steamed buns) once and he said the one with the stewed pork was quite nice. However, what I gathered was that all the paos are made by some other people – they only make the sio bee and the chang

Kiaw Hin, Sibu - chang

…which I’ve also tried before and I did think it was nice too, by our local standard, that is.

However, I had never tried anything sold at the stalls at this coffee shop before but on one or two occasions, I did notice that their noodles were red in colour, something like my favourite in Kanowit so that day, I ordered the kolo mee

Kiaw Hin, Sibu - kolo mee

…from this stall…

Kiaw Hin, Sibu - stall

…and boy, was it red!!! Despite the colour, I thought it tasted really good, just like the real thing one can get in Kuching and can, in fact, rival a few that I have had at some places there and the best part is that it is not one of those kampua noodles here and there around town, disguised to look like kolo mee and sold at almost double the price. I wouldn’t mind dropping by here for this again though I wish they would tone down the colour a bit – I feel that is a little too red for comfort. Perhaps when I go here again, I would order the same, minus the red colour and see if it tastes as good, white.

Well, don’t just take my word for it. When I shared the photograph of these noodles on Facebook, my Kuching friend, Rose, quickly went to try and she liked it…and  the following weekend, she went again because the kids asked for it! They must have loved it a lot!!!

My girl did not want anything to eat so she just sampled a bit of my noodles and she too thought they were good and she also tried her mum’s pian sip

Kiaw Hin, Sibu - kolo mee

…which we liked as well.

Lunch was served after the wedding but we did not want to linger to mingle with the crowd so we left and stopped by here

My Chef Restaurant, Sibu

…for a light lunch since we already had breakfast…and we would be going for the wedding dinner in the evening. My missus ordered the fried noodles, wet (with sauce/gravy) thinking that she would be getting something like our Sibu Foochow-style fried noodles but no, it came out looking like this…

My Chef - fried noodles, wet

Thankfully, it tasted all right though it simply wasn’t what she had in mind.

My daughter had their fish head bihun once before when she and her mum dropped by and she loved it so she wanted that…

My Chef fish head bihun

…again. I tried a bit and I thought it was all right, just that the serving was rather huge and of course, she could not finish the whole lot – they could have cut down on the quantity and work a bit more on the quality.

I ordered their butter prawn rice…but later, they came back and told me that they had run out of seawater prawns…but I could have the same with the freshwater ones at RM25.00 a plate. No, thank you!!! I opted for their sweet and sour pork instead…

My Chef sweet & sour pork rice

…and yes, it was very nice. I would say this was very much nicer than  my missus’ fried noodles or my girl’s bihun.

After that quick lunch, we headed home for a nap and rested till it was time to get ready to go for the grand wedding banquet that evening…

Two together…

I went to Andrew’s wedding last Friday, 19th September – he and his siblings, an elder brother and two sisters, were all in my English language tuition class when they were in school…

Andrew & Sandra and family

It was indeed a very nice ceremony in one of the churches in town. The string quartet played a beautiful rendition of Canon in D on the violins as the father of the bride walked with his daughter, Sandra, into the church and up the aisle to give away her hand in marriage. What caught everyone by surprise was when the wedding rings were transported by air via an RC helicopter to the pastor at the altar – that was…different and very impressive though if I had been the coordinator of the event, I probably would arrange for some music to be played to add to the excitement – the theme song from one of those movies,  my favourite – the one from Godzilla perhaps.

Lunch was served but we decided to skip that and head on home. They gave away these door gifts to everyone who came – some homemade cookies in the very lovely mini-tins…

Door gifts, church wedding

…and that night, we went for the very lavish banquet, held at the grand ballroom in the leading hotel in town…

A & S 1

The wedding planner sure did a great job with the decor…

A & S 2

…all over the lobby and in the ballroom itself. There were more door gifts and I was wondering why they had the wedding cake in packs…

Door gift, banquet 1

…that resembled those complimentary pieces of soap in hotels. Actually, inside, one would find two pieces of (fridge) magnets, two pieces of a puzzle…

Door gift, banquet 2

…and that explained the jigsaw theme that they had for the wedding – two become one, the  perfect fit.

The menu for the dinner that night was very special, starting off with this very nice selection of starters…

Starters

…that I enjoyed so much until I realised what one of them was – pickled chicken feet! Eyewwwwww!!!!! LOL!!!

Oh dear!!! They were having those alternating coloured spotlights in the ballroom too that night so the photos of the dishes did not come out too well except for this giant bowl of chicken and fish maw plus dried scallop soup…

Soup

…and this one did not turn out too badly either – the deep-fried almond slice-coated scallops and the scallops with whatever in the middle…

Scallops

…and I managed to snap this one when one of those young friends of the groom at my table was taking a shot at it using her smartphone…

Duck

- my favourite at this place, their stuffed duck with the lor mai kai-like glutinous rice filling.

There was a jazz band from Kuching in attendance, playing all those romantic songs, oldies – English and Chinese, a bi-lingual emcee from KL…and this guest performer, James…

Violin solo

…sure stole the limelight with his very nice instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.

I also loved the song that they had picked for the video presentation of their wedding album…

The reception went on till very late and it was already way past 10 and there were still a couple of dishes yet to be served but we were feeling tired as it had been a long day and so we decided to leave a little earlier than most.

Thank you so very much for the invitation and our congratulations once again, Andrew & Sandra. May God shower His blessings abundantly upon the two of you in your life ahead…together as man and wife. Cheers!!!

Time to go…

All too soon, it was time for my Trengganu friends to pack up and go back home but not before we dropped by here to see them making  kompia and of course, they bought some to take back with them. After that, I drove them here for the kampua noodles, the white and also the black version…

RTM Cafe kampua, black & white

They thought they were good but they still liked the red kampua in Kanowit better.

I had the Sibu Foochow-style fried noodles…

RTM Cafe Sibu Foochow fried noodles

…and after that, we dropped by my regular Malay kuih stall here at Bandong so they could buy some of the kek lapis (layer cake) home – everybody’s favourite, the sisik ikan, but unfortunately, they had run out of the hati parek which is also very nice. In the end, I persuaded them to buy the Horlicks Honey cake too – it is, in fact, kek batek but instead of chocolate, they use Horlicks and honey to hold the biscuits together. I quite like that one and I hope they would too.

My friends wanted to stop by here to buy some of the out-of-this-world kompia that they had the day they arrived for their daughter-in-law but before that, I took them here

Sibu Islamic Centre

…to ask for a copy of the book

The book

…for the daughter-in-law and another one to replace the one that I gave to them from the few copies that I was given myself.

Perhaps some of you may still recall that sometime ago, I went out all over town with some friends of mine…

Teamwork

…to eateateateateateateateateat…and eat…but I was not at liberty at the time to reveal what it was all about. Actually, one of them was given this project by the Resident’s Office here to work on a book on the food in Sibu and he would be taking the photographs…

Photos

…and he roped me in and also another friend to write brief descriptions…

Descriptions

…of whatever he had shortlisted for the publication.

There are also some maps in the book…

Map

…and a glossary at the back…

Glossary

Finally, the book has been published and officially launched and is now made available to visitors/tourists…but one would have to go to the Sibu Resident’s Office on the 5th Floor of the newly-completed Islamic Centre, Jalan Awang Ramli Amit to ask for a copy. I hear they are not very strict with the distribution so anyone dropping by will be asked to write his or her name and where he or she is from and leave with a copy in hand…

I got one!

…though I wonder why any local would want to have one when they can just go out and look at the real thing…and enjoy eating it!

After having got what we wanted, we went on our way to get the kompia…and upon my friends’ insisting, I sent them to the airport and dropped them off there, a good four hours or so before their flight. I did suggest that they went to the Sugar Bun outlet there to try our very own Sarawak franchise and I strongly recommended the fish burger/sandwich that is anytime better than those available at the other better-known franchises. The missus had that and she loved it but the hubby went and had their cheeseburger and he said it was just so so. Cheeseburger??? I didn’t say anything about cheeseburgers! Tsk! Tsk! Their flight was on schedule and I guess they would have arrived before 5.00 p.m. but later, I gathered that they were waiting for the son to pick them up at KL Sentral and they only got back to their place by around 9.00 p.m. Gosh!!! That certainly was a very very long day.

Anyway, thanks again, my friends, for dropping by our little town – I certainly hope you two have no regrets over your decision to make the trip and come all the way and that you have had a more-than-delightful stay here. Well, they did say they had been to many places in the Asian and ASEAN region but this was the only place where they had chauffeured tours to some of the places of interest and nowhere else did they ever seem to be shovelling food into the mouth all day long! LOL!!! Do come again – still some places that you did not manage to visit and lots more delights that you have yet to try…and bring everybody along as well! In the meantime, take care, you two, and God bless always.

Keep it quiet…

I mentioned in my previous post that I told my Trengganu friends to go on and have breakfast on their own as I had something on and I would only be picking them up a while later at 9.00 a.m. Well, the truth was that it was my girl‘s birthday that day and I had wanted to hold some kind of celebration for her but she did not want anything of the sort and said that she would prefer to just keep it quiet. Of course, we HAD to have the usual customary practice of eating our Foochow mee sua or longevity noodles…

Mee sua
*Archive photo*

…with eggs first thing in the morning before we went out.

That night, we went for dinner here together with my Trengganu friends and I asked the boss beforehand to prepare for us his very special made-to-order ulam

Payung ulam

…with the three kinds of sambal (dip). Needless to say, we enjoyed that so so much – I think my missus was the one who loved it the most especially as the dips were a little on the spicy side. The fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) that came with it was really very good too – this is available on their menu but I think I only had that once before simply because there are too many nice things here that I would want to order and this has always been sidelined.

Since it was my girl’s birthday, I had to order her favourite – the Bangladeshi lamb curry (RM17.00)…

Payung Bangladeshi lamb curry

…and yes, it was absolutely superb as always.

My friends were impressed by the Payung rojak

Payung rojak

…and taken by surprise to learn that the leaves of the buah kedondong (umbra) were, in fact, edible. Like everyone else before them, they tried…and they loved it too!

They liked the otak-otak

Payung otak-otak

- anytime better than the fish-cake textured Muar (or the Singapore nyonya) version, they said but it seemed that they had not tried Penang’s so they were not in any position to compare. They did insist, however, that we should visit them in Trengganu someday so we would be able to try their version with whole fish inside and they were pretty sure we would love theirs too.

We also had the Kuching Hakka specialty, a must for Chinese ladies in confinement, the kacang ma chicken (RM16.00)…

Payung kacang ma chicken

…with a special request for extra white wine. I don’t think they were overwhelmed by it – in fact, when I first tried the dish, I did not think it was all that great either but eventually, I grew to love it more and more and now, I truly enjoy it a lot! I suppose it is some kind of an acquired taste which probably explains why it is not all that popular in the predominantly-Foochow town of Sibu.

This was what they loved the most that night – the one and only Payung mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung mushroom roll

…and while they were enjoying every bite of it and singing its praises, they were already making plans to try and make their own once they got back home to Trengganu. Yes, it IS that good!

We did get a cake for my girl for her birthday…

Melissa's birthday cake

…and we brought it along that night. I asked the staff to cut a slice for each of us for dessert and to enjoy the rest of it themselves.

Then, when I went to settle the bill for the delightful dinner, the boss told me that the ulam was on the house. Gee!!! Don’t you think that was so very nice of him? He said he enjoyed doing it and did not mind it one bit preparing that for us that evening.

Well, my only hope was that my friends, on their last night in Sibu, enjoyed that exotically-unique dinner that one would not be able to find anywhere else…and from the look of it, I do think I can safely say that they most certainly did and at the same time, we did get to celebrate my girl’s birthday as well…in a quiet kind of way, just as she had wanted it.

Blast from the past…

During my growing up years, there was a man whom we called Ah John. His house was around three doors away from ours and at a certain time each day, he would push his cart/trishaw with a canvas roof out, squeezing his rubber horn.  We would rush out to buy his kantong (ice balls) and sometimes, my mum would ask us to buy some of his rojak for lunch or dinner or just to enjoy. Eventually, he and his family moved away and I did hear of them having a stall at the junction of Hoe Ping Road but I never did go there to buy anything from them…and the last I heard they were running a stall at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor at the Sibu Central Market.

I had something on that morning so I told my Trengganu friends to go and have the Foochow longevity noodles, our mee sua in traditional red wine and ginger chicken soup, for breakfast at a stall at the coffee shop below the hotel where they were staying. The missus did and she loved it but despite my telling them that the Penang prawn noodles at that same stall were really very nice, the hubby went and had their curry mee instead…

Curry mee
*Archive photo*

He said it was very good, just that there were no cockles…and personally, I would love some pig’s blood too…plus they gave whole chicken pieces instead of the regular shredded bits.

We came at around 9.00 a.m. that morning to take them on a tour of the Sibu Central Market, reputed to be the biggest in the country and we spent a long time there. There were many things that caught their interest, things they would not find where they came from or anywhere in the peninsula and they did buy quite a bit to take back as well. They managed to get to sample our golden-coloured wild durian, the buah pakan/pakon that is not as sweet and mushy and they bought a kilo of our straight Rajang hay bee (dried prawns) and one whole long kiam hu (salted tenggiri/mackerel) – they said ours looked fresher and nicer…plus it was cheaper.

Having covered the whole of the ground floor – the dry and the wet sections and the jungle produce section, we proceeded to the hawker centre on the first floor where I spotted this stall…

Descendants of Ah John

I had been to this place a few times but somehow or other, I did not notice this stall there till this time around. Ah John’s daughter is the one running the stall now and after all these years, she could still recognise me! We stopped here for their ang tao cendol

Ah John ang tao cendol 1

…which I thought was all right…

Ah John ang tao cendol 2

…nothing sensational but we sure welcomed that after our long walk around the market on a blistering hot day.

After the tour of the market, I stopped by the Chinese Zodiac/Horoscope Park to let my friends go and take photographs (while we waited in the car) and then, we went to the Sibu Heritage Centre (which is air-conditioned)…

At the Sibu Heritage Centre

…so they could browse around the exhibition centre/museum there to gather some information about the history of Sibu, the cultures of the locals and everything else and they did drop by the handicraft and souvenir shop (where the things are cheaper than most, if not all, of the places in town…and do be prepared to bargain for discounts) and bought a few things from there…

Belian native handicraft
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

By the time we were through here, it was already lunchtime and I wanted to take them here for the char bee lau (fragrant root) pork trotters but the place was packed to the brim and since it was a hot day, we opted for a more comfortable air-conditioned place and landed here instead. I ordered our favourites, their butter scotch prawn balls…

Ruby butter scotch prawns

…and the fried chicken with Thai-style chili sauce…

Ruby Thai-style chciken

…the fried midin with belacan

Ruby midin with belacan

…their sea cucumber soup which I personally feel is the best in town, and their Foochow-style fried noodles…

Ruby Foochow fried noodles

We had 5 dishes for 5 people and the bill for just the food came up to only RM48.00. They enjoyed everything and in their opinion, they found the food here very much nicer than at the restaurant that I took them to on their first night in town. Gee!!! This was not in the itinerary that I had prepared! It sure was a good thing that there was a change in plan and we ended up here instead.

Next stop, dinner!