Just before it gets dark…

I made it a point to go and take my Trengganu friends out at around 5.00 p.m. just before it got dark (it gets darker here earlier than in the peninsula) so it would not be that hot and I could show them around some of the places of interest in town like the Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park and the Sungai Merah (Red River)…

The Bates @ Sg Merah

…the Sibu Town Square and the Tua Pek Kong temple with its seven-storey pagoda…

Tua Pek Kong pagoda

…and the jetty to see the floating grocery stores…

Floating grocery stores, Sibu
*Archive photo*

…and also the park right behind the temple (I did not even know they have such a nice place there)…

Tua Pek Kong park

…before we dropped by this restaurant for the Melanau raw fish delicacy, the umai

Fisherman Restaurant umai

…their very special paku (jungle fern) with santan (coconut milk)…

Fisherman Restaurant paku with santan

…and of course, we just had to order the midin, fried with belacan

Fisherman Restaurant midin belacan

…since this is not available in the peninsula.

They had run out of the shells so another specialty of the house, the lokan, was not available and we had their ngor hiang (five fragrances)/lor bak instead…

Fisherman Restaurant ngor hiang

…and I would say that it  was really very very good unlike some that we can get around here, either at the shops or the stalls.

The Thai guy there insisted that we should try one of his special Thai delights and we agreed upon the Thai seafood salad…

Fisherman Restaurant Thai seafood salad

…which was so very good, simply out of this world, but it sure did not come cheap – RM40.00 and even though the serving was HUGE probably enough for a table of 10, I certainly would think twice about ordering that again unless I go in one big group.

Excluding that, the rest of the dishes and the Mukah keropok that we were served upon arrival as starters…

Fisherman Restaurant Mukah keropok

…and the rice and drinks for five came up to around RM60 only so as a whole, I would not think it was too expensive.

Everyone enjoyed everything to the max and again, there was a bit too much for us to finish so we had to tapao a bit of the food home. My friend insisted on picking up the tab for this round and would not take no for an answer so in the end, dinner that night was a treat from our visitors. Sigh!!! Thanks, Martin & Grace – I thought that could have waited till we go over to Kuala Trengganu and then you two can pay for everything. Wink! Wink!

Let’s go round again…

On the first day of my Trengganu friends’ visit, I took them to Kanowit, less than an hour’s drive away, and needless to say, I had to bring them to enjoy my favourite “red kampua” noodles

Kanowit red kampua

…for our breakfast. I certainly would not miss that every time I drop by Kanowit and they thought it was really so very nice…and other than that, I also ordered a bowl of pian sip soup…

Kanowit pian sip soup

…for them to try. Action speaks louder than words, so they say…and even before they had finished the first bowl, they had asked for a second one – it was that good and they really enjoyed it so much.

After having had our fill, we walked around the town and also the market where I bought them some lenggeng to try, the yellow ones…

Lenggeng
*My friend’s photographs on Facebook*

These are our local wild version of the longan or mata kucing and that afternoon, back in Sibu, I managed to get some of the green variety (inset) at twice the price and like me, they liked these more as they were not as sweet and the flesh was very much thicker.

After that, we headed to the nearby Iban longhouse at Rantau Kemeding…

Rantau Kemding 1

…which was really very long…

Rantau Kemeding 2

…and they had a great time walking around the place and talking to the people who were around at the time. I was thrilled to bits when I was able to get one lady to part with a bottle of her top quality own-made tuak (Dayak rice wine) to take home.

On the way back to the town, we stopped by the St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Church…

St Francis Xavier's Church, Kanowit

…after which, we proceeded straight back to Sibu. They were somewhat envious that even a tiny one-road town like Kanowit has a very nice and impressive church like this one while they do not even have a decent place where they come from. In their own words, they have been “wandering in the desert” all these years.

It was almost 1.00 p.m. when we got back into Sibu town and as we were still quite full from breakfast, we agreed to go for something light here. My friends had had Sarawak laksa before when they were in Kuching once and they said that they did not like it. I found out that they had it at a hotel where they were staying – no wonder!!! What can anyone expect from hotel food? At best, it may be all right but more often than not, it is never anything near the real thing.

I insisted that they tried the one here…

Thomson Corner Sarawak laksa

…and it came as no surprise at all that it changed their minds completely. They loved it!!!

They did not really like the oven-toasted kompia with minced meat filling…

Thomson Corner kompia

…not after those heavenly deep-fried ones that they had the day before when they had just arrived.

They thought the pian sip, dry…

Thomson Corner pian sip

…came nowhere near what they had in Kanowit and I must say that I would agree with them on this.

They found the sotong kangkong

Thomson Corner sotong kangkong

…different from the ones in the peninsula which would come with rojak sauce while the ones here would have their own special sauce and they quite enjoyed it. Other than these, they also tried the ang tao cendol and they were of the opinion that it wasn’t too bad.

After that, I sent them back to the hotel for a nap and a good rest before we headed out again in the evening for a tour of some places of interest in Sibu and also for dinner.

Taste this…

On their first night in Sibu, we took our visitors, my old friends from Trengganu, out for dinner here, together with my friends, Lim and his missus and children, and I wanted to let them taste our local Foochow cuisine so I ordered the ang chao pork belly…

Ming Mei Shi ang chao pork belly

…which I thought was good but did not come near what my missus would usually dish out at home.

We also had the Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

…which were nicer than when I tapao-ed some home on one occasion some time ago. Maybe like most things. it is usually best to eat it on the spot at the restaurant itself and having it at home, somehow it may not taste quite the same.

We also had the mani chai/cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Ming Mei Shi cangkuk manis with egg

…and of course, the midin with Foochow red wine was simply a must…

Ming Mei Shi midin with Foochow red wine

…as they do not have this wild jungle fern in the peninsula and it is the favourite of many, locals and visitors alike.

Upon the suggestion of the lady boss, I agreed to give their kampua noodles…

Ming Mei Shi kampua mee

…a try and I would say it was indeed very nice except that I thought that whole mountain of it was really a little bit too much – perhaps, half of that amount would do especially when we had so many other things to eat.

Then, there was the Foochow-style tofu soup with canned oysters…

Ming Mei Shi Foochow tofu soup with canned oysters

…and other than all the above, I did order a couple of dishes that were not quintessentially Foochow. The fried pumpkin in salted egg batter…

Ming Mei Sgi salted egg pumpkin

…stole the show and was everybody’s favourite that night.

I asked for the  creamy butter prawn balls but I think they got the order wrong so we had these instead…

Ming Mei Shi butter prawns

…which did not really matter as they were pretty good as well.

Of course, there are many nice dishes here, maybe a lot nicer than these, but I wanted my friends to sample some of our local Foochow cuisine so that was why I ended up selecting most of what I picked that night. They also got to try some dabai that we brought from home – of course, they were not so nice as they were those that we had been keeping for them in the freezer, not the fresh ones from the market…but at least, they got to sample some.

The servings that night were extremely huge so much so that we could not finish everything and had to tapao some home. The bill for 7 adults and 3 children, 10 altogether, came up to RM210.00, inclusive of rice and drinks. I thought that was all right, not too expensive for all the eight dishes for so many people. Most importantly, my friends enjoyed themselves…and they had the opportunity to try some of our local Foochow delights during their visit to our little town.

After dinner, we took them on a tour of our pasar malam (night market) before calling it a day.

What I got…

My friend, Rose, went back to Kuching to attend her brother’s wedding and to feast on all the culinary delights there that she missed so much and when she came back to Sibu, she called me so she could pass me these…

Rubber Road sio pao

- the sio pao from some place at Rubber Road. Some people told me that they’re related to those at Kai Joo Lane, my favourite but all this while, I had not got to try the ones from here…or not that I can recall.

She also gave me one yam puff…

Rubber Road, yam puff

…from the same place to try.

I would say I was not too fond of the pastry that sure was a lot different from the ones we would usually get at those dim sum places and inside, it looked like this…

Rubber Road, yam puff inside

…the meat filling surrounded by the yam paste and the pastry skin on the outside. It sure was no puff pastry and it would not fare too well  if I were to pass it off as shortcrust either.

The meat filling was the same in the sio pao

Rubber Road sio pao, inside

…and in my honest opinion, I still prefer my favourite from Kai Joo Lane a lot. The pastry from there has a lot more of the buttery fragrance and the filling is very much tastier. I thought these were rather too heavy on the msg…even though as a whole, I would say they were not too bad – pretty close but no, I did not think they were all quite there.

But thank you all the same, Rose – it certainly was so sweet and thoughtful of you to go through all that trouble getting those and carting them all the way back to Sibu to let me try. I certainly appreciate that very much…and talking about thank you’s, a BIG thank you also to Mun who sent me these Danish butter cookies…

Butter cookies from Mun

I was just about to doze off for my afternoon nap yesterday when the poslaju van came honking at my gate and what a pleasant surprise that was!!! Oooo….I love the tin so much, so very very nice!!! It was dented a bit by the side but I just had to push it inside out and it all went back into place very nicely after that. Just two of the cookies did not arrive in one piece but no, I did not have to eat it with a spoon and they’re very nice – can give the Kjeldsens’ ones a run for their money!!!

Last but not least, I really must thank my friends from Trengganu for taking their time off to drop by our little Sibu town for a brief visit and they brought me one big bag of goodies…

From the Bates

…all the way from the East Coast.

Together, we were involved in the marking of the SPM English Language papers for a number of years before I retired and it seems that they too are no longer doing the tedious chore year in, year out. They arrived here on Monday, 15th…

The Bates, upon arrival

…and I met them personally upon arrival and I took them here for a special Sibu kompia welcome, pork belly…

Noodle House kompia. pork belly

…as well as minced meat filling …

Noodle House kompia, minced meat filling

…and of course, they loved them so so much that they decided there and then that they would like to tapao some to bring home on the day when they would be leaving.

Unfortunately, the lady making the mille crepe cakes had just given birth and would not be able to make any for a month while in confinement so I was not able to order that for them but thankfully, the chocolate lava cake…

Noodle House chocolate lava cake 1

…was available and boy oh boy!!! That…

Noodle House, chocolate lava cake 2

…literally swept them off their feet. They thought it was so so so good and praised it to the skies.

After that light afternoon tea, I took them to their hotel to check in and later in the evening, I came and picked them up to go for dinner…but that will be in the next post!

Labour of love…

I do think that cooking is an art, a labour of love – something one would do with a whole lot of passion and patience…and once all is done, one would sit back and enjoy looking at the end result and feeling pleased when the fruit of one’s labour is well-received and appreciated. Unfortunately, I do not think I fall into that category as most of the time, I would not bother about the ingredients – just see what I have in the fridge or the pantry and do it chin-chai chin-chai (anyhow) as long as I get to eat in a jiffy.

Well, I still had some of the pastry left in the freezer from that near disaster that, fortunately, did not turn out too badly in the end. I did use a bit more to make some pies with just cheese and ham and they were pretty good and that day, I decided to use the rest to try and make some curry puffs. For the uninitiated, if you’ve never tried making shortcrust pastry, the steps and photos are here in this post that I shared a long time ago. For one thing, I do think that if you use chilled egg, diluted with a bit of cold water, the pastry would be more crumbly – I would prefer that…and cutting down just a little bit on the flour would help somewhat.

For the filling, I fried one Bombay onion, peeled and chopped till fine, in a bit of oil and then added one stalk of serai (lemon grass), bruised (which I removed after cooking) and two sprigs of curry leaves, removed from the stems and cut into fine strips. Then I put in the potatoes, peeled and cut into tiny cubes…and pre-boiled to shorten the cooking time and finally, I added a can of tuna curry. Seeing that one can was not quite enough and I did not want to open another can, I added a spoonful or two of curry powder to add to the fragrance and taste. This was what I got in the end…

Curry puff filling

I also boiled two eggs and cut them into wedges for use.

Having done that, I took a bit of the pastry and rolled it out and placed it in a small pie dish. I put in a bit of the filling and the egg on one half of the pastry…

With egg

…and then I folded it and pressed the edges together and twisted it diagonally to seal…

Closed and sealed

Of course this was my first time and I was not good at it (plus I had a nasty fall a week ago and sprained my wrist and it did hurt quite a bit!!!). In fact, I thought we had the plastic mould in the house (my cousin says her son calls it denture holder) and when I rummaged through the drawers, I found it…but it turned out to be an egg slicer!!! *face palm* That was why I had to do it manually and considering that I had not done it before, I would say that it turned out rather well…

Curry puff. pre-baked

However, I felt that was slow and tedious and I was running out of patience so I decided to just do the rest without using the pie dish and of course, they all came out in different sizes…

Baked curry puffs

…though the shapes did remain quite consistent. In my hurry, I also did not bother to egg-wash the top nicely and that explains the rather unsightly patches of gold on them.

My girl tried one first and she said it was very nice – the pastry was good and the filling too. I took one myself to see…

Cross-section

…and yes, it was good. I would think it would be nicer with beef though as it had a bit of that taste that one would get in sardine rolls or puffs which I am not particularly fond of and thank goodness I did not use another can of the tuna.

Well, I can always make some more and when that happens, I do hope I would have enough self-control to do it all slowly and properly but anyway, despite all that has been said about them, I would think that, at least, mine did look a bit nicer than the ones sold at one of the bakeries here…

Curry puffs
*Archive photo*

Right or not? LOL!

Something light…

We were all feeling very full after the heavy lunch that afternoon so we decided to go and have something light for dinner. That was how we ended up here. It was just a one shoplot cafe when it first started and then, it took over the last shoplot in the next block and had a roof/shade constructed adjoining the two shops so diners could sit and eat in the open space in between as well…and now it looks like they have acquired another shoplot where they have their air-conditioned section…

Anson aircon section

Personally, I certainly would think twice about sitting inside as it is always so very crowded here so I can imagine the din in that enclosed section. This place is always packed and very noisy and the fact that they play that clubbing kind of music sure does not help one bit as everyone would need to speak louder to be heard. We went around 6.00 p.m. thinking that there would not be so many people since it was still rather early but how wrong could we be!!! The place was already filled to the brim and luckily, we were able to get a table.

Service was great and we promptly placed our orders and were served in a jiffy! I wanted to try the tortilla selections that are new on their menu and I picked the Aloha quesadillas (RM7.90)…

Anson quesadillas

…which, if I’m not mistaken, had ham and pineapple inside while my girl asked for the smoked salmon ones (RM7.90)…

Anson smoked salmon quesadillas

They were both very nice and came with nachos and salsa dip by the side but between the two, I think I liked my choice more.

My missus ordered the same thing she had on our previous visits – she obviously likes it a lot, their teriyaki chicken chop (RM8.90)…

Anson teriyaki chicken chop

…but of course the serving was too huge for her to handle so she had to enlist our help to finish what she had on her plate.

That’s the thing about this place – the food is pretty good and VERY cheap and the servings are HUGE plus the service is fast. You would just need to bear with the crowd and  at times, getting a table may not be all that easy.

I also ordered this interesting looking dessert – the tofu fua and red bean combo (RM3.80)…

Anson tofu fua & red bean

…which was very nice but it was served first and I had to eat that while it was still nice and cold. The red bean was only on the top though – it was all tofu fua. I thought it would be half of each in that bowl.

As for our drinks, they were all RM4.50 each…

Anson fruit drinks

…and perhaps, you would like to try and guess what fruit drink each of them was and which one I had. Who knows? I may just send a prize down your way if you get both correct? Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

All in the mind…

Last week, before she came home for the one-week school break, my girl was reading the book  “The Hundred-Foot Journey“, one of the two that I had bought for her for her birthday and all that time, she was craving for this – the mutton bryani (RM18.00)…

Mutton bryani

…so when she came back last weekend, we went for the nice one at this cafe with the authentic chef from Northern India.

For the uninitiated, the book is an international bestseller that has now been made into a movie, a Steven Speilberg-Oprah Winfrey production, of the same name…

At the same time, I, on the other hand, actually had that intention to drop by this place already as I saw this post in a friend’s blog and that triggered a yearning in me for some naan (RM4.50)…

Naan

…and this time around, I specifically gave instructions that I did not want it glazed with oil like what I had on my previous visit as that would give the impression that it was rather oily even though it wasn’t really so and I enjoyed it a lot more than the garlic butter naan that I had prior to that last one. It was very well done that day – there were layers in the bread, baked to perfection in the tandoori oven till flaky and crispy and I truly enjoyed it to the max!

And talking about tandoori, I had the tandoori chicken too served with their special Indian basmati rice (RM16.00)…

tandoori

…with raita and dhall dip by the side. Needless to say, that was very well-done as well and absolutely satisfying. The meat was so juicy and tender unlike some that I had had at some places elsewhere.

My missus, however, did not want anything Indian and so she opted for something from their Indonesian menu…and she ordered this nasi balado, beef (RM16.00),,,

beef

…to try. She seemed to have forgotten that I had that before and it was not at all nice as the beef was overcooked and extremely hard but thankfully, it was very well-done this time around and the best part was that it  was spicy – just the way she liked it!

No, it certainly was not cheap – the total came up RM62.50 but the boss decided to waive the 50 sen and rounded it all up to RM62.00. However, what mattered most was that we left the place feeling really happy and satisfied that we had had a delightful meal that we enjoyed a lot and actually, after that rather heavy lunch, we were still full come dinner time so we just had something light that evening.