What have you been doing lately…

As for me, I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking especially with my girl home for the holidays, and like what any parent would do, I would try and cook some stuff that she would enjoy very much.

I know she enjoys western cuisine so I made this salad…

STP's salad 1

…of lettuce, two hard-boiled eggs, sliced, and slices of grilled bacon.

For the dressing…

STP's salad 2

…I just used the little bit of mayonnaise left in the fridge and I added some honey mustard, sugar and evaporated milk to it and I dare say the end result tasted pretty good.

It was a case of killing many birds with one stone. I grilled the bacon in a bit of butter which I later used to toss the potatoes, cut into chunks…after which I added a bit of salt and pepper and sprinkled parmesan cheese generously all over them before putting them in the oven to roast…

STP's roast potatoes

They sure turned out really well and my girl loved them very much.

I had the fat trimmed off the bacon and I melted that in a frying pan before adding some garlic which I fried till brown and in went the mushrooms…

STP's mushrooms

…to which I added a bit of salt and pepper according to taste.

I guess that is what people call stretching the dollar/ringgit. Bacon is expensive here – I bought a packet of 9 thin slices for over RM12.00 and I used only 4 to cook three different dishes so it was not too bad actually. I put the rest back into the freezer for my girl to enjoy for breakfast with egg and toast or whatever.

This wasn’t western but on another day, I thought I would try and cook some pork the way my mother did – in soy sauce, no five spice powder involved. I took some chunks of the meat and marinated them in soy sauce and sugar and a pinch of salt. After sometime, I put everything in a cooking pot, added water, one whole bulb of garlic, a handful of peppercorn and some shitake mushroom…and boiled that for a while after which I turned the heat down and let it simmer for around an hour. To serve, I took the meat out and cut it into thin slices…

STP's boiled pork

…and I had the sauce/gravy in a little bowl by the side to use as a dip and also to pour over our rice and eat. It was nice but no, it wasn’t like what my mum used to dish out. I wonder how she did it…or maybe, the soy sauce then was different, I’m not too sure.

Then one afternoon, I wanted to take my girl out for a movie but the mum wanted to go too so in the end, I let the two go together while I stayed at home. There are things I can do without and at the prices of tickets at the cineplexes these days, it would not hurt one bit to miss a movie or two but lately, I did get to watch some good ones on DVD like this one or this, both of which I enjoyed very much. They do not screen this more intellectual kind of shows here as there isn’t any market for them – so what we usually will get are those ghastly horror movies or fast-moving action movies with lots of punches, shooting. killing and bloodshed and car crashes thrown in for good measure…and cartoons only.

However, I did not sit around, idling the time away while the two ladies were out having fun. Instead, I decided to try out this recipe that I learnt from my girl and I sure was delighted that the pancakes…

STP's pancakes

…came out really well!!! Maybe I added a bit too much butter but it sure turned out even nicer with the extra rich buttery fragrance. My girl enjoyed them very much and that night, before calling it a day, she dropped by my room just to say thank you…and of course, when the girl is happy, the dad is happy too!

So, what have you been doing lately?

Where you are…

…there I’ll be and that was why when I heard where she was, I made my way there right away!

Those of you who have been following my blog faithfully would probably remember the elusive popiah lady whose popiah I loved so much but one fine day, she just disappeared! My missus met her at a bank once and bought some home but no, it was all soggy and not so nice anymore. One simply has to eat her popiah right there and then on the spot and after all this time, I finally managed to locate where she would be.

Well, if anyone is interested, she’s among the shops behind the Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo – the covered back portion behind the blocks of shops where 100¥ and this fusion cafe are located on one side and this coffee shop on the other side form a cross or an X and the lady’s stall…

Popiah stall

…is right in the centre!

However, do take note that it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. so don’t bother looking for her on other days. She did insist that I could phone her to order and she would deliver to my house – of course, I have no intention of doing that. Imagine me ordering two only – I am quite sure she would not bother to send them all the way. Besides, unless they are eaten freshly-made…

Popiah in the making

…they would not be as nice.

I did not bring along my camera that first time but it did not matter at all as a weekend or two later, we were back there again for these lovelies (RM2.50 each)…

Popiah

…and yes, they were as good as ever before…

Popiah, cross-section

The second time around, we went in from the other side through this coffee shop/food centre…

M.U Cafe

Don’t ask me why it is thus named – honestly, I simply do not know!

My daughter had the roast chicken rice from one stall there (RM3.50)…

M.U roast chicken

…but at best, it was just o.k. There are nicer ones elsewhere.

My missus had the claypot noodles (RM6.00)…

M.U claypot noodles

…and she did not say anything but at least she did not complain so I guess it was fine.

There wasn’t anything really that tickled my fancy and in the end, I just ordered this Hakka mee

M.U Hakka mee

…to give it a try. Sorry for the blurry snapshot – I’m still working on it, how to get better photographs using my new camera…but as a matter of fact, it actually did not look much better than this and was not at all alluring, to say the least, so I was expecting the worst when it was served. Thankfully, my first bite into a spoonful of the noodles proved otherwise. No, it wasn’t anything like the Hakka mee I had in Seremban and I really don’t know how to describe what it tasted like. Let’s just say it was nice. Period.

Well, now that the popiah lady is here, I certainly would be coming back again and again…and when I do, I may want to try some of the many things available all around or I would go for some more of the Hakka mee. I sure wouldn’t mind having that again…

Evergreen…

This was the theme for the annual reunion…

Evergreen

…the 6th time around, of a group of students who were together in Form 5 way back in 1980.

My first posting as a qualified trained teacher was in this town…

Kanowit

…in 1978. In fact, we were the pioneers – the ones who started the secondary school in the town (SMK Kanowit), around 10 of us…with classes from Transition up to Form 3 only. That meant that I only taught the ones in Form 3 that year for a year only and then they went back to the other secondary school in the town across the river (SMK Datuk Yakub or SEDAYA, for short)…

The old Sedaya

…(where they studied up till Form 2 before they moved over for a year) and continued their studies up till Form 5. It was not accessible by road then and students would have to stay in as boarders or use the sampan to go across from the town and back daily.

The original school is abandoned now (I hear the river is encroaching inland) and they have a nice new place about a mile away. I did not take any photographs there other than this one of the very grand and impressive entrance…

Sedaya 2

…into the main block of the buildings there and I would say it is a lot nicer than many other schools in the state or maybe, even in the country. However, it does not change the fact that I do think it is kind of sad that the students cannot go back to their old school to see their old classrooms and hostels and everything to talk and laugh about the memories that they share – for the simple reason that they are no longer there.

Well, despite the fact that I did not teach all of them, those that I did teach when they were in Form 3 in the town school invited me to join them and the other teachers from their school across the river…

Teachers and student

…to their reunion last Saturday. Helen, standing to my left, was one of those that I taught – she is currently based in Kuala Belait, Brunei and is the president of the Rotary Club there. Their teachers and I were indeed pleased to know that they are all doing very well here, there and everywhere. all these sweet kids – young, simple and innocent, that we had taught before.

I followed a few of them that morning when they drove to their old school and also to the town and we had a scrumptious lunch here…

Coffee shop, Kanowit

I cannot recall this being there when I was there, 1978 to 1982 but I did hear something about them…

Kitchen

…being in Sibu for some 30 years or so before going back to their hometown.

The food was very nice and I was so delighted that they had some ikan buris (lajong in Iban)…

Ikan buris

…freshly caught from the river that very morning and even though all of them were not very big, they tasted awesome. I had never eaten this fish cooked like this before and it was indeed very well done. I absolutely enjoyed it!

We also had this plate of roast pork…

Roast pork

…some fried noodles…

Fried mee
*Helen’s photograph, from Facebook*

…and fried cangkuk manis

Cangkuk manis

…plus another plate of vegetables – I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a photograph of that one! Hehehehehe!!!! I cannot remember exactly how many of us there were, around 15…and the bill, inclusive of drinks and some of us had rice as well, came up to RM160.00. That’s very reasonable, don’t you think?

That night, we had the grand and sumptuous reunion dinner here…

Paramount, Sibu
*Archive photo*

- five tables altogether.

There was this splendid mixed platter…

Paramount, mixed platter

- I particularly enjoyed the mussels!

One of the students donated the fish and we had it, steamed…

Tilapia

I hear she supplies those to the hotels and restaurants in the town and since we got ours from the source, you can bet what we had was very fresh and very very nice indeed.

We enjoyed this a lot too…

Paramount, pumpkin

- their baked pumpkin alongside the deep-fried fritters of chicken filling wrapped in pumpkin. I never had anything like this anywhere else and I sure would want to order that if ever I get the chance to have dinner at this place anytime in the near future.

The photograph of the roast chicken…

Paramount, roast chicken

…like the one of the fish above, did not come out too well (I am still getting used to my new camera especially when using it in not-very-bright conditions) and I was so busy enjoying everything that I forgot to take one of the sea cucumber and mushroom…

Paramount, sea cucumber & mushrooms

…but I did manage to snap one of the leftovers.

There were only these five courses, plus a fruit platter at the end, but servings were huge and there was more than enough to go round. Everyone thought the dinner was extra special and enjoyed what was served a lot – it was really different from the usual fare that one would get when attending banquets at such places in town…and most importantly, the other teachers and I were indeed so very flattered to be invited to this function. As one of them remarked, those in the town never bothered to invite their teachers to their reunions…and even if they did, they would only invite those in the upper forms and conveniently forget those who taught them when they were younger. I wouldn’t say this goes across the board but I do know of a number of such instances.

To wrap up, I really must thank everyone, Helen especially, for inviting me to join all of you this year – I had a delightful time going with all of you to your old school and to Kanowit and I truly enjoyed the dinner very much. All the best to each and everyone of you in your undertakings, God bless you all and your families abundantly as well…and hopefully, you will all invite me again next year. Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

So near yet so far…

This place, an affiliate of the one in Kuching, is just round the corner from my house. In fact, for a café in this category, it is the nearest but for some reason or other, I do not frequent it all that much. Since it opened some time ago, maybe I’ve been there around five times, more or less, whereas there are others that I go to so very often.

Maybe I was put off by the tacky plastic flowers that I saw on one of those earlier occasions when I dropped by this place but they’ve certainly progressed from those…

Tom's Too, Sibu

…and the food is pretty good, the service pleasant and efficient.

The Christmas decorations are up…

Tom's Too, Christmas tree

…and I absolutely love these miniatures that they have on display in their glass cabinets…

Tom's Too miniature 1Tom's Too miniature 2
Tom's Too miniature 3Tom's Too miniature 4

Don’t you find them absolutely enchanting?

I do think this little effort on their part is kind of nice too…

Environment-friendly

- if everyone does something, no matter how little and insignificant it may be, it is a step in the right direction.

Well, we dropped by for lunch last Friday and my girl had their fish and chips (Rm16.50)…

Tom's Too fish & chips 1

…which she said was good and they did not use dory…

Tom's Too, fish and chip 2

…unlike at a number of places in town which can be quite a put-off, really!

My missus ordered this sambal seafood fried noodles (RM14.90)…

Tom's Too sambal seafood fried noodles

- she isn’t really into western cuisine quite as much as her daughter and would much sooner go for stuff like this but I did get to try a bit and it reminded me of what I had cooked myself at home not too long ago. Hehehehehehe!!!!

I went for seafood too…

Tom's Too pasta 1

…their seafood pasta (spirals) in creamy sauce, baked (RM18.50)…

Tom's Too pasta 2

…and I would say that I did enjoy it…

Tom's Too pasta 3

It was nice – not over-creamy and rich that one would get put off after a few mouthfuls, the pasta was al dente and they were very generous with the prawns and squids…but at that price, I am sure they could have added one New Zealand mussel as well, or maybe two.

All of us were very full after we had finished our individual orders but I just had to order a slice of this…

Tom's Too Blue Velvet

…to try. This was their Blue Velvet (RM11.90) as opposed to the red counterpart…and the name reminded of this oldie from way back when. It was all right – I thought the cream in between was very nice but I would prefer the cake in the red ones – those that are truly well-made, of course!

All in all, it was a delightful lunch and after we had had our fill, we went shopping at the mall where this place is located…and yes, I was using my new camera and no, I did not go back to the more familiar old one. There was sufficient light at this place to allow me to take decently nice photographs…except the one of the cake perhaps which I feel is slightly out of focus, not very sharp. Now, I would have to try using it in dimmer conditions again to see how the snapshots will turn out…

Here…

Huai Bin was here

Ruby Restaurant, Sibu

…when he was home for a while around a week ago and he blogged about what he had and liked very much in his blog.

I noticed that they had taken down the sign at the top in front of the place – the boss said that it was in pretty bad shape and I wasn’t in the least surprised as this place has been around for some 10 years or so already. This, of course, means that if you’re looking for the place, you will need to look out for those neon-lit Chinese characters or the name on the door.

The Christmas decorations were up…

Christmas decor 1Christmas decor 2

…and they were playing those familiar Christmas carols and songs already.

It was evening but I just  had to throw caution to the wind and risk the possiblilty of not being to sleep all night long and ordered their kopi-o-peng kao kao (iced coffee, black & extra strong), blended…

Ruby kopi-o-peng kao2

…so that is why you can see a lot of froth on top making it look like Guiness Stout. This is my favourite in town and I had not had it for quite a while now, you see.

I let my girl choose whatever she wanted to eat and she picked these specialties of the house, their butter scotch prawn balls…

Ruby butter scotch prawns

…and their sea cucumber soup…

Ruby sea cucumber soup

We also had their Thai-style chicken with strips of fresh mango…

Rubu Thai-style chciken with mango

…which was very very good but unfortunately, due to the dimness of the place in the evening, the photograph did not turn out too well with the horrendous shades of purple and red – even the colour of the chicken was not in any way like what it looked like actually.

Well, there is a perfect explanation for it. This was the first time I was using my new camera, you see, so I had yet to get familiar with it and learn how to work around its limitations…like how I was able to take photos that were not too bad using the digicam I was using before…and that did not happen overnight either.

Even the photograph of the cangkuk manis fried with egg that we had…

Rubu cangkuk manis with egg

…turned out a bit blur. I should have brought along both cameras and taken snapshots of the same things with both so when one did not turn out too well, I could always use the other instead. I certainly would do that next time…till I can adapt much better to the new one.

The food we had came up to RM41.00 but the nice boss, like what he would always do, just rounded it up to RM40.00. I know it’s just RM1.00, nothing much (but at times, it was more), but little gestures such as this sure would help keep the customers coming back – those young ones in the business have yet to learn about what they call “goodwill” in basic economics, it seems…and would not even waive a miserable 10 sen in the bill. Tsk! Tsk!

Replay…

I used to drop by this place very frequently way back in those days five years ago when it first started as a very small stall but it certainly has grown by leaps and bounds. The thing is I do not go out so early in the morning anymore so they do not get to see me so much these days.

However, the other morning, I had to go to town and I went very early to avoid the peak-hour traffic between 7.45 and 8.30 a.m. and I decided to make a detour and stop by the kuih stall to see what I could get for the family for breakfast. The problem when one gets to the stall is that there are so many things that it is so difficult to make up one’s mind…and one would end up buying more than what one should. That morning, I got all these for RM10.00…

From Bandong kuih stall

…for our breakfast for 3 persons. In that plate of goodies, starting from the top and going clockwise, there were the vadai (3 for RM1.00) followed by the murtabak with potatoes inside (3 for RM1.00), the cucur (fried fritters, 4 for RM1.00) stuffed with sambal and the kueh lenggang or ketayap (3 for RM1.00) as they are also called.

The paper-wrapped packets (top right) were the nasi lemak with sotong sambal, RM1.50 each…

Bandong nasi lemak

…but you can get those with plain sambal (without the sotong) for RM1.00 each only.

To the left of the packets of the nasi lemak was the packet of kueh jala, 6 pieces for RM3.00…

Bandong kuih jala

…and it came with curry gravy plus a piece of chicken and two chunks of potatoes. This was the most expensive of the lot and the one that I enjoyed the least. I don’t quite fancy the soft and wobbly roti jala – I would prefer it thin and crispy like the ones I would get here

Yummy Kafe kuih jala
*Archive photo*

…and the curry gravy wasn’t all that great either.

The lady-owner of the stall saw me and she gave me these…

Bandong new kuih

…to try, on the house. I don’t know what they’re called but they really tasted great! I think they’re something like the ones I had here except that they do not colour the white part green…

Nyonya Colours kuih
*Archive photo*

We all liked those a lot and I sure would want to buy them the next time I drop by.

I’ve tried the kampua noodles at this coffee shop before too – the Kim Chuo Food Centre, next to SESCO Payment Collection Centre among the shops in the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) area and I could clearly remember that it was not bad at all and had the original/authentic Sibu kampua mee taste. They used to have a stall in front selling those local kuehs (cakes) as well but I am not sure whether they still have that or not.

That day, I had to go to the payment collection centre to settle some matters and I decided to stop by the coffee shop for the kampua noodles (RM2.50)…

Kim Chua kampua mee

…and yes, they were as good as I remembered them to be. In case anyone is wondering, I did not bring my camera along so I had to snap the picture using my new handphone. It certainly turned out all right…but I must remember to turn it sideways next time so I would have  the usual horizontal shots instead of a vertical one like this one. It certainly takes very much nicer photographs than my old, antique one, that’s for sure.

As for the new camera that I got for my birthday, come back tomorrow and I’l tell you all about it. Hehehehehehe!!!!

Any given Sunday…

Usually, after an early lunch on Sundays, we would drive my girl to her school, half an hour past Selangau Bazaar which is around an hour’s journey from Sibu. Once there, we would help her clean up the place a bit and resettle for the week and then we would sit down for tea together after which my missus and I would head on home.

Now that she’s on holiday, this being the schools’ long year-end break here, we would not need to do that and unless we have something on, we would go for the mid-day service at the cathedral in town, after which we would go some place for lunch like here, for instance.

My girl would tend to stick to what she likes best and here, it is their very nice nasi bryani

Sri Pelita nasi bryani

…with mutton curry…

Sri Pelita mutton curry

We enjoyed the kampua noodles very much the other day so this time around, my missus wanted that again, tossed with chili sauce but unfortunately, it was rather soft and soggy, obviously overcooked and starchy – either the result of the failure to drain and rinse the noodles well or the chili sauce added…or maybe the lady who did the cooking that  previous time was not around and somebody else did it or there was a dire need for some good quality control. Otherwise, we certainly would think twice about ordering that again.

I also ordered the ayam madu (honey roasted chicken)…

Sri Pelita ayam madu

…to try and yes, it was very nice, just that we did not think it was anything that would stand a head above the rest – just something one might want to have when dropping by here but not quite the thing that would make anyone come back specially for it.

I tried their beef noodles (RM5.00)…

Sri Pelita beef noodles 1

…like I said I would the previous time I blogged about this place.

Well, for one thing, I had to get used to eating noodles in soup with a fork and spoon – I guess I am more accustomed to using chopsticks for anything like this and I am not all that fond of the taugeh (bean sprouts) in it plus this was the first time I had seen black fungus in beef noodles…

Sri Pelita beef noodles 2

…though I did not think it made any difference to the taste. It was all right, this much I would say, but personally, I do feel that it comes nowhere near our favourites in town here…or here plus I was not all that fond of the colour of the purple PLASTIC bowl used either.

All things considered, I guess it would be best to just stick to the nasi campur (mixed rice) or the nasi bryani here. They never fail to please.

Getting back to our Sundays, back in the house, I would have my nap in the afternoon and my girl and the mum would go out to visit my MIL or maybe go browsing around the shops…and when I get up, I would think of cooking some stuff for dinner – unless we have already agreed to go out some place to eat. The other Sunday, I fried this dish of peas…

Fried peas with minced meat

…with one Bombay onion, sliced and some garlic, finely chopped and a bit of minced meat plus tomato sauce and sugar. In my growing up years, my mum would cook this everytime we had chicken which she would slaughter herself, using the innards from the bird – the liver, the gizzard and what not. It would have been very nice, this version that I cooked with minced meat instead, but the peas were a bit hard. I would never buy that brand (Marina) again – they tell me the best would be Ayam…or Ma Ling.

For our meat dish, I roasted this chicken thigh…

Roast chicken thigh with baked potatoes

…with some chunks of potatoes. When I shared the photograph on Facebook, Sharon asked me for the recipe – well, there’s nothing much to it, really! I just simply marinated the meat with some smoked barbecue sauce and a bot of honey mustard and mixed spices for around an hour and placing it on a baking tray, I put it in the oven to bake – the bottom side first and then, the other side. As for the potatoes, I just rubbed the chunks with butter and a pinch of salt and pepper and placed them beside the meat on the baking tray to bake, sprinkling some parmesan cheese all over them.

Yes, yes…I know! The meat was a little charred! It would have been perfect had I taken it out as soon as it was done but we had some of the lokan left in the fridge and I just placed them by the side of the tray to heat them up in the residual heat after turning off the oven. I guess in cooking, there are no shortcuts…but it was all right. Both the chicken and the potatoes tasted great and the burnt bits of skin had that added special fragrance to it. Hehehehehe!!!!

So how do you all spend your Sundays?