Lastly…

On our first morning in Kuching, Philip and I went in search of the celebrated kolo mee, since moved from Carpenter Street to Padungan, but it was nowhere to be seen. We asked a man at the kolo mee stall in the first shop in the block and he was so nice as to give us the directions even though we were not going to eat anything from him. It seemed that it was somewhere in the middle of Padungan around that junction where one would turn left to Longhouse Hotel…so in the end, we decided to abort our plan to go and eat there.

But since we were in the vicinity, I insisted that Philip should stop by here…

FH1

…to try what everyone would cart home in boxes and boxes even though I am definitely not a fan of anything from this place myself – I can never understand why since time immemorial, people think everything here is so so so nice.

We had the sio bee (meat dumplings)…

FH sio bee

…and the har kao (prawn dumplings)…

FH har kao

Honestly, I do not have to make any comments or anything. The mere appearances of those would say it all.

I wanted their most popular big bak pao (steamed meat bun) but Philip wanted the char siew pao so we ordered both…

FH paos

…and he tried a bit of each and left the rest on the plate. He did not like the filling…

FH bak pao filling

…and the skin was not quite like the old-school one that he loves so much – the kind he grew up eating way back in those long gone days when we were a lot younger. To be fair, I actually thought it was not all that bad (I did not say good, do take note!) eating these things there on the spot unlike when some people gave me some and I re-steamed them to eat at home…but no, I definitely would not buy any to take home myself, thank you very much.

Later that same morning, when we went for our stroll down India Street, I took him into this lane…

Kai Joo Lane, Kuching 1

This used to be called “kua cha hang” (coffin alley) as all along the lane…

Kai Joo Lane, Kuching 2

…most of the shops would be those making the traditional handcrafted Chinese coffins – the ones with the curved-up ends at the sides. Truth be told, I always avoided walking down this lane then as it made me feel somewhat eerie…with all those coffins here, there and everywhere. I think there may be one or two or more of those shops there still, if I am not mistaken.

My intention that morning was to drop by this place…

Chong Chon, Kai Joo Lane, Kuching 1

…for Philip to try their sio pao (baked meat pastry)…

Ching Chin, Kai Joo Lane, Kuching 2

…but unfortunately, there was none available. A guy came out and spoke to us. He was not a young man…but I thought he was good looking and very pleasant. Probably, that was the son or the son-in-law. I remember the couple who used to make the paos on a table (which doubled as a mahjong table once they were through making the paos for the day) right there in the middle of the shop and though they were not unfriendly, I thought they looked kind of sad and never seemed to smile.

Anyway, this guy told us that the paos would be available around noon and that is one thing about this place. If you want anything from here, it is best to call them and book first. You may see a lot on display sometimes but they’ve all been booked by some people and you would have to go away empty-handed.

I was not craving for any as my cousin sent me a whole lot just the other day through her brother when he came to Sibu on a day trip. In fact, on the day I arrived in Kuching, she booked some of those century egg ones for me…but because she went to collect them late, they had sold them off to somebody else already. Tsk! Tsk! So what she did was she made a fresh booking for me to take home…

Ching Chon cnetury egg sio pao

- all wrapped up and packed nicely for storage in the freezer to be re-heated in the oven and enjoyed slowly…one by one as and when the need arises.

They may look different…

Century egg & regular sio pao

…but actually, it is the same pastry, except for the sprinkling of sesame seeds on top and the filling is exactly the same except that one has bits of century egg and traces of or nee (sweet yam paste) inside. My guess is that somewhere along the line, they tried it out and since it was so very well-received, they have been making them since.

My cousin also made this hummus herself…

Hummus

…for me to take home to give to Melissa who enjoys this kind of stuff. She met us while we were having the kolo mee at the Green Road shop that morning just before we left Kuching to pass me everything. Thank you so much, cousin, for going through all that trouble and everything – much obliged and very much appreciated.

This is the last post on my brief Kuching trip and I would, at this juncture, like to extend my thanks also to Philip for the sio bee from the Open Air Market and the big pao for me to try and though totally out of context, to my friend Peter – one-time blogger but no longer active, as well for sending me these…

From Pete

…all the way from KL and again to Philip, this time for giving me these…

From Philip

- he went on a drive to Kanowit two days after we returned from Kuching and he tapao-ed my favourite red kampua noodles from there for me. My sincere thanks to the both of you too.

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17 thoughts on “Lastly…

  1. Hummus seems nicely done! Like that extra touch of Paprika :D

    Me jakun, old man…did not even know what that was – had to google. My daughter loved it, took some to enjoy in her jungle school, still got some left in the fridge.

  2. Need to book the sio pau early. Haha.

    Yes, and collect at the prescribed time – they may sell to somebody else. :D

  3. I totally agree with you about the Hock Hai Dim Sum. Not as nice as before but it seems that business is still going strong. We used to like it but not now. I have tried the har kao not too long ago and gosh, the skin is thick and rubbery. Heard that it is now like brothers & sisters business.

    We go a long way back to the time when they were beside Pavilion, opposite the post office. I thought they were quite good then, much nicer than now. I guess when the old folks retire or pass away, the young ones lack the skill…and maybe, the love and passion as well. Happens with a lot of nice things that I used to love so much in the past.

  4. You did not join Philip on his drive to Kanowit? The har dim sum looks kind of messy but one cannot judge a book by its cover but since you say it is not nice, is it because the prawn fillings inside is not nice or the skin is too sticky and tastes of glue?

    He took his mum on the trip – they lived there before when Philip was still a kid. Nope, the skin was thick and hard. Prawn? I don;t recall there being any inside…maybe it is minced, I wouldn’t know.

  5. Oh, have to collect at the prescribed time, thought booked already, they will keep for you till you collected it…

    Don’t ask me – they’re so popular so you will just have to go by their terms, take it or leave it. What if you do not show up and they’ll be stuck with your orders? Orders made by phone, no down payment or payment in advance.

  6. Wah the eating spree never stops! Gained weight? The siew mai and har kau, well, looks unappetizing, hehe.. Hummus? Call me jakun, from the picture it looks like chick peas with melted cheese..

    Clever girl – it is something made out of chick peas. Food marathon indeed. This one ends, another one begins. Hang around for more.

  7. Why so eerie about kua cha sure to use it one day one cannot run haha. Bananaz being ‘playing’ with those so called ancient ‘shamrock’ coffin while as little bananaz coz my late dad bought one and place it in the house. Too young no strength to open up the lid else might go in and play hide and seek..:);

    Is that what it’s called? Shamrock? The one with the very heavy, handcrafted top – we would see that in those old Chinese ghost movies.

  8. I have never eaten hummus before. hah..hah…looks like the tim sam is not up to standard.

    Neither have I. Ya…tim sam, sounds like tim tam….the looks say it all!

  9. I guess you really enjoyed your time in kuching ! Wah ….got red kampua ? Spicy ?

    Nope. That’s char siew sauce, I think. KUCHING kolo mee, you have a choice – white or red.

  10. Sio bee still Sibu one look more appealing. :)

    What is that red kampua? I remember when i am young, i go to church at Lanang Road, and one of the coffee shop selling red kampua, which i like a lot a lot too, always craving for it, but not sure is it the same. Few years back, my brother brought me to a place at lanang road too, a very small wooden coffee “stall” and have the red kampua, not sure is it still there or not.

    I tried the Open Air market sio bee in Kuching – they’re very good. Can’t say I remembered how good they were, just that we used to order and ate a long time ago…and I had not had them since.

    I don’t know of any red kampua in Sibu – just red kolo mee in Kuching, where they add the char siew sauce. I suppose this Kanowit one does the same thing. I was eating it when I was there 1978-1992 and loved it then, still love it now.

  11. Lol, pao-making table double as mahjong table!
    I am also shy to say I haven’t tried hummus before…

    Those were the good ol’ days. :D If you ask me, I would say it was ok, nothing I would be craving for, that much I would say.

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