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It’s somebody’s birthday…

Yes, it was somebody’s birthday again and this time, it was my sister-in-law’s so that called for another get-together to celebrate. We all went out for dinner at this restaurant and as always, there was a birthday cake…

Marcus' birthday cake 1

…from none other than Marcus who runs his business from his home at Delta Estate here. My niece, working in Singapore, loves his cakes so much that whenever there is anybody’s birthday, she would order one for the celebrant and another to take back to Singapore to enjoy.

Don’t expect to see anything fancy though – you will see the same old-school butter cream icing…

Marcus' birthday cake 2

…more or less like what he has been producing all these years ever since he first started. Even the taste is also the same (though he does make a few other varieties now) but that is what keeps everyone coming back for more – yes, it is that good!

So what did we have for dinner that night?

My brother-in-law would always want to order his favourite, never mind where we go for our dinner and that would be the sweet and sour fish…

Fat Mum sweet and sour fish

…and yes, they did a pretty good job with it but I think I liked their claypot pork belly with salted fish and dried chilies…

Fat Mum pork belly salted fish & dried chili

…most of all. Their honey spare ribs were good too but the photo was a little bit blur so I decided not to include it in this post.

There were also these kiam sor hay (salty crispy prawns)…

Fat Mum kiam sor hay

…but even though they used the much-coveted udang galah (freshwater prawns), I did not think it was all that great as the crustaceans seemed to lack the sweetness that the fresh ones would have and would have been kind of bland if not for the other ingredients used to cook this dish.

There was also the Sabah eyew chai

Fat Mum Sabah eyew chai

…which I am never fond of and we ordered ching chao so I expected it to come out dry with lots of garlic and maybe just a bit of sauce. However, what they dished out had so much gravy, so starchy from the cornflour used to thicken it…and even though, everyone seemed to enjoy it and finished all that was on the plate, I didn’t bother to give it a try especially when there were all the other nicer things to enjoy.

We had the Foochow-style tofu soup with canned oysters…

Fat Mum Foochow tofu soup

…and though I did not get any oysters in my serving, I thought it was very good and everybody else shared that exact same sentiment.

Service was good and everything came out very fast but gosh!!! The place was packed! It was so crowded and people kept coming and going all the time we were there…and I think I can guess why. The food was not bad (though I would not say it  was so good that I would be dying to go back for more)…and so very cheap. For the 8 of us and the six dishes, the bill came up to only RM110.00 inclusive of rice and drinks.

It certainly was great, getting together once again plus the cake was good and the dinner was not too bad either and after we had finished everything and everyone had had his or her fill, we left quickly…so somebody else could take our table.

All the best…

My friend invited us to his father’s birthday bash here…

MingZiang Court, Kingwood Hotel, Sibu

…at a leading hotel in town last Friday evening. Though I’ve been attending dinner functions at the banquet halls in this hotel quite often, I can recall probably just two other occasions when I had had a dinner in their Chinese restaurant proper including that one time quite long ago upon the invitation of that same friend’s younger brother.

So there we were, Melissa, my missus and I, at the venue to join in the celebration of the very auspicious and happy occasion and of course, there were the longevity noodles…

Mingziang Court birthday mee sua

…with the”golden” egg served in the very nice wine-rich chicken soup in big individual bowls. Personally, I prefer the noodles done this way instead of having them fried as I enjoy them more and in fact, I remember fried mee sua making its appearance only sometime in the 90’s, pretty recent so I would say, so as far as traditions go, that is not really the accepted way of eating these longevity noodles.

I’ve always loved this course, be it served hot like this…

MingZiang Court hot plate

…or “cold”. I enjoyed the beef tendons and also the slices of what I guessed was ham, next to the steamed chicken and had more than my fair share of those. Hehehehehe!!!!

The fish…

MingZiang Court steamed/fried fish

…was very good too. White/silver pomfret (ikan bawal putih) this size would cost a bomb at the market here if at all, they’re available – they say the restaurants have preferred customer status and they would get all the nice big ones and not many would make it to the stalls at the wet  market. That night, what they did was to cut the top half of the fish to fry and serve as fish fritters and fillet and steam the bottom half in the usual manner. Of course, for people like my daughter who would enjoy deep-fried stuff and really good fish and chips overseas, there would be no question at all that she enjoyed it very much.

The creamy butter prawns…

MingZiang Court creamy butter prawns

…were excellent and needless to say, they were all gone in no time at all…and likewise, the braised sea cucumber…

MingZiang Court braised mushrooms

…with assorted mushrooms.

Dessert was the usual fruit platter and these delightful sweets…

MingZiang Court dessert

I don’t know exactly what they were but they had that sticky skin like mochi and red and green bean paste inside.

We certainly enjoyed the dinner and I, for one, had a great time meeting and catching up with old friends among all the invited guests that night…and I really must thank my friend once again for the invitation and wish his dad a very Happy Birthday and all the best in the year ahead, and may God shower His abundant Blessings upon him and all in the family always.

Remember the times…

They call themselves DYRians and they are all members of a Facebook group, “Do you remember

DYRians

They were on a road trip stopping here and there all along the way from Kuching to Mukah and while in Sibu for one night only, they gathered at this restaurant here for some old-school Sibu (Foochow) delights.

One of them is an old friend of mine, going way back to our a-go-go dancing days and I do remember when I used to write radio plays for RTM Kuching, she would be roped in on more than one occasion to read the part of one of the characters. Well, she contacted me before they came and asked me to join them…and it turned out that one in the group that came was an old schoolmate of mine and I had not seen nor heard of her since I left high school in 1971! Another one was a familiar name during my requesting days in the late 60’s and early 70’s but I did not get to meet her personally then.

Anyway, so there we all were at the place and they had this ang chao duck…

Ang chao duck

…a truly authentic Foochow dish. Ang chao is the residue obtained from making the traditional Foochow red wine.

Of course, they had the only-in-Sibu Foochow sio bee

Foochow sio bee

…which is different from the usual dim sum/yam cha siew mai or those in Kuching. The ones here have fish added so its taste or flavour may be a bit different from the others in town.  You can see in the background that when the Foochow-style fried noodles…

Foochow-style fried noodles

…were served, there was only one sio bee left and even that one was snapped up very quickly. No prize for guessing who took it…but I assure you that it sure wasn’t me! LOL!!!

There was also this braised pork leg…

Pork leg with man tao

…to be eaten sandwiched in one of those mantaos (steamed buns) on the plate in the background and this is another Foochow delight – the tauhu tear

Tauhu tear

…or bean curd soup cooked with canned oysters.

They also had the manicai/cangkuk manis fried with egg but the photograph came out blur and the one of this sweet and sour pork dish…

Sweet and sour pork

…didn’t turn out very clear either and neither did this one of the peanut dessert…

Peanut dessert

In fact, I had never had this before and I thought it was really very nice.

It was pretty obvious that they enjoyed everything to the max, most of which they would not be able to get in Kuching and even if they can, it may not be as nice. The whole thing came up to RM18.00 per head inclusive of rice and drinks which I thought was all right, pretty reasonable…but they were pleasantly surprised as according to them, it would be hard to come by such nice food at such prices in the state capital these days.

I had a great time that evening catching up with my old friends and meeting new ones…

With the DYRians
*one of the DYRians’ photographs shared on Facebook*

…and I do think it is really so wonderful to be able to enjoy one’s golden years in such delightful fun-filled company.

All the best always to one and all, cheers!!!

Forevermore…

So there we were…

Dinner World, Bintulu 1

…at this sparkling new restaurant in Bintulu

Dinner World, Bintulu 2

…for my niece’s grand wedding banquet…

Dinner World, Bintulu 3

We made it a point to go earlier so we would find a parking space near the main entrance so we would not have to walk very far – remember I had my two aunties with me and I am no spring chicken myself either. Good excuse, eh? Hehehehehe!!!!

They have an escalator but it was out of order. Luckily, there was also a lift that we could make use of to get to the upper floor. For one thing, the restaurant has a very peculiar design – to get to the washroom you will have to go out one door and then go all the way down the staircase to get there. I, for one, would rather take the lift again and use the ones in the restaurant lobby.

Everything was ready…

Wedding decor 1

…neatly in place…

Wedding decor 2

…waiting for all the guests…

Dinner World, Bintulu 4

…and the bride and the groom to arrive…

Bridal sedan

…before the event could start…

Main table

As soon as the happy couple made their grand entrance, they were ushered onto the stage for the cutting of the wedding cake…

Wedding cake

…and then it was time for dinner to be served.

It seems like it’s the latest fad as far as the lighting of such venues goes whereby the colours of the lights would change alternating between red, yellow, green and blue and that, I find, is a nightmare for people like me without the sophisticated equipment and totally dependent on a cheap and simple digicam.

Dinner 1

That was why I had a problem with the snapshots of the dishes served that night…

Dinner 2

…as no amount of editing and adjusting could get them to look nicer in any way…

Dinner 3

The food, I would say, was, at best, all right…

Dinner 4

…not great and at times, even cold despite the fire down below…but I guess we could just put it down to the lack of experience, this being a new restaurant and they had yet to learn how to cope with such a large crowd. Service was good though, just that for a place this impressive, I would expect the food to be a lot better.

Anyway, that was secondary as on special auspicious occasions such as this, what would be the most important was the getting together with loved ones – family and friends…

All in the family
*Facebook photo taken by one of my cousins*

…and the sharing of the joy of the bride and the groom and their immediate families. Congratulations once again, Diana and Kwang Siang, wishing the both of you love and happiness in abundance forevermore…

The toast

…and to my cousin and her hubby too on the wedding of their youngest daughter, thank you so much for the invitation. Cheers and God bless, all!

Same thing…

I did manage to drop by the Ramadhan Bazaar in Bintulu that afternoon before the grand wedding dinner in the night. I went to the one in front of this supermarket and departmental store…

Sing Kwong Bintulu

…which was a short distance away from the hotel where I was staying.

I would say it was more or less the same thing as the ones in Sibu or elsewhere in the country – you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I stopped by the first stall on the right…

Ramadhan stalls 1

…and bought these kuih bahulu (traditional Malay egg cake)…

Kuih bahulu

I don’t know how they make them now but in the old days, they would use those copper chuan (mold) and cook them over a hot charcoal stove. The last time I saw some of these was at Tesco in Sungai Petani many years ago and I did buy some home too then. They’re all the same shape now, it seems – in the past, we had some fish-shaped ones, that much I can remember.

I did not fancy the other things they were selling…

Ramadhan stall 1

…nothing that we can’t get in Sibu.

The food looked pretty good at some of the other stalls…

Ramadhan stall 2

…but unlike the ones I would frequent in Sibu, it appeared that there, they would leave everything exposed…

Ramadhan stall 3

…and thankfully, I did not see any flies fluttering around. That would be so disgusting, really.

This one with all the smoke…

BBQ stall

…was selling all the panggang (barbecued) stuff.

It was already past 4 in the evening and if we compare that one…

Ramadhan stalls 2

…to the ones we had here in Sibu, theirs was certainly not as crowded…

Ramadhan stalls 3

Perhaps this was not the main one and there were others all around town that were more popular, I wouldn’t know as this was the only one that I went to check out during my short stay in the town.

There was a stall selling “nasi Arab” (Arabian rice) – I sure would love to try to see what that was…but I was going to a wedding banquet in a few hours’ time so I decided to give it a miss…and of course, I did not buy nor eat any of these…

Durians

…either. LOL!!!

After that quick walk around the Ramadhan Bazaar, I headed back to the hotel to bathe and change and get ready for the main event of my visit to Bintulu…and that’s coming right up! Make sure you come back for my post on that, okay?

Sometime ago…

This was two Saturdays ago when we had a dinner here to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 81st birthday…

Birthday cake

…12 of us altogether – her, my missus, Melissa and I, my brother-in-law and his wife and their daughter, back from Singapore and their son, home from KL and then, there was also my brother-in-law from Bintulu and his wife and one of their sons plus my niece’s good friend.

Luckily, we had made a reservation before hand as the place was packed to the brim (and parking can be such a pain in that part of town) so we had to wait for quite a while before the food was served. As what they would usually do, we were served these Mukah keropok as starters…

Mukah keropok

…which were great, and dipped in the chili sauce provided, they were even nicer.

This restaurant claims to be the only one in Malaysia serving lokan

Lokan

…and everyone loved it!

Some of my in-laws tried umai

Umai

…for the first time and they enjoyed it. I’ve heard people calling this the Melanau sashimi but I don’t think it is the same – the raw fish in this dish would have been “cooked” already by the calamansi lime juice added (some use vinegar but I think it is not as nice).

We ordered another specialty of the house – the paku in santan (coconut milk) but when we were served, it turned out to be midin instead…

midin in santan

Well, it was perfectly all right as it tasted great. In fact, personally I felt it was a lot nicer than paku which I had had many times already on my previous visits.

Another specialty of the house would be their roast lamb…

Roast lamb

…which Melissa enjoyed so very much. I would have to take her back there again sometime for more.

We also ordered their sea cucumber soup…

Sea cucumber soup

…and their creamy butter prawns…

Creamy butter udang galah

…using the very expensive freshwater udang galah, were really good too.

Everybody sang praises of their fried chicken with onion rings…

Fried chicken with onion rings

…though I was not too thrilled by it. When I said that, Melissa remarked that it was definitely much nicer than the colonel’s, case closed.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved the sweet and sour fish…

Sweet and sour fish

…so so so much. My Bintulu brother-in-law brought a huge one over, I think it  was a red snapper, and got them to cook it for us. I really feasted on it from head to tail.

People always say that the prices here can be quite steep but ours that night, inclusive of drinks (some had more than one) and rice (quite a lot of it, really), came up to RM325.00 for 12 persons which I thought was very reasonable. That prawn dish alone would have cost quite a bit already. To me, that was, without doubt, a truly awesome dinner – a delightful change that was so much nicer than the ones we had before and I certainly would love to go back there again and again.

Let’s go together…

When my daughter came back to town for the weekend, I just had to bring her to the Ramadhan Bazaar at Bandong here so she would be able to pick the things she would like and could enjoy them to the max.

It was very crowded…

The crowd

…even though we went quite early, probably because it was a Saturday and everybody was not stuck in the office at that time of day. I met a friend, a teacher like I was, who said that she saw my post on this but what I do know is that she has been patronising those stalls for a while now after I had blogged about them on those earlier occasions. The stall-owner, when she saw me, told me delightfully that there was a lady the day before, home from Australia, who mentioned that she saw the post too – I wonder who that was.

Durian is in season right now and I noticed a couple of stalls selling tempoyak (fermented durian) and we grabbed a tub at only RM5.00 each…

Tempoyak

…at my regular Malay food stall since I know them very well by now and vice versa. That was pretty cheap – in fact, my missus made her own once and after spending so much on the durians, she had to toil for hours getting the flesh of the fruit off the seeds and all in all, she only managed to make just a little bit. It is so much easier to buy…and the one here is quite good – good but a little bit salty. They say it will be less salty when it has fermented more.

We bought the bubur pedas (top) for Melissa to take back and enjoy in the course of the week but we decided to give the umai (bottom left) – the raw fish, a Melanau delicacy, a miss this time around. Hey!!! What’s that to the right of the tempoyak? I did not notice it when I was there…and it sure looked like something really nice. Hmmmm….gotta check that out the next time I drop by the bazaar.

It was tough trying to decide but we did manage to get all that we wanted…and on the way back to the car, we stopped by this cafe (next to the 1Malaysia Clinic) to have a look at what they had…

At the cafe

…and boy, everything looked very nice! I did not notice they had anything up for sale on my previous visit and of course, I was delighted that every tray was covered with cling film. They would only open to take whatever you want when you ask for it, a far cry from what I saw up north in the mainland where the flies would line up along the rim of the trays like birds on the telephone line. That was so disgusting! Absolutely shocking!

There was this handsome little boy barbecuing some stuff…

Young boy at work

…but we had already bought all that we wanted, much more than what we could handle, in fact, or else I certainly would buy something from him, never mind even if it was not really nice, to give him a bit of moral support. I love seeing kids helping out like this – how many these days would want to do that? Most, I am sure, would be too spoilt-rotten to even lift a finger to help and would rather while the time away playing online games on their smartphones or ipads, right or not?

We went home with our loot and enjoyed our early dinner which included this nasi kerabu

Nasi kerabu

…and laksam

Laksam

…before going for the sunset service at a church here.

My missus bought this bingka durian (3 for RM1)…

Bingka durian

…to try and it was so good – so very lemak (rich) and so fragrant with the durian in it. Gee! If we had known it would be this good, we would have bought a lot more. I will just have to wait till the next time I drop by, I guess…probably this coming weekend when my daughter will be home again.