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Let’s try it again…

After my blogpost on this place sometime ago, what I know is somebody did drop by to give it a try and a few days later, we dropped by again as well to see what else would be good.

She did not think much of their crispy noodles…

My Chef crispy noodles

…but nonetheless, I ordered that to see how far I would agree with her. Like going to the doctor, for instance, sometimes it is good to have  a second opinion.

Personally, I thought it would be nicer if they had had some tomato sauce in the gravy like how they serve their crispy noodles in Kuching – the gravy would be the same as what they would have in their tomato kway teow. Otherwise, they could have had the egg sauce instead, something like wanton hor, the way they cook those Cantonese fried noodles in KL (or at least, that was how they dished out the ones I used to go for at a coffee shop in PJ Old Town in the mid-80’s, with lots of shredded wombok/Chinese cabbage). On the whole, I thought it was all right but it wasn’t something I would want to order again.

My missus had their char kway teow

My Chef char kway teow

…and she thought it was quite good. Melissa tried a bit and felt pretty much the same about it as well.

She liked the Mongolian chicken rice that I had the previous time we dropped by here so she ordered that for herself. Yes, it was good and she liked it but I did notice that they were not so generous with the very nice gravy this time around – there just was not enough to mandi (bathe) the fried chicken that came in the dish completely and it certainly would be very much nicer to have more of it to go with the plain white rice.

My niece, home from Singapore at the time, said that she dropped by here for dinner and she quite enjoyed what she had as well. According to her, they have fixed prices on the menu, RM8.00 for all vegetable dishes and RM12 for all the meat and stuff. I am not too sure about this as I did not bother to take note, both times when I was there. She did say, however, that the servings were not very big – maybe just enough for two but not more than that. Well, actually, I wouldn’t mind the servings being small, provided the food tastes good.

When I went to the counter to settle the bill, I noticed these figurines on display…

Figurines 1

I guess that must be the Laughing or Smiling Buddha…and the one in front here…

Figurines 2

…is Na Cha though I do not recall ever seeing any of them holding up those tael ingots of gold like that. LOL!!!

Well, we’ve been to this place twice now and we’ve tried some of what they have to offer. Since it is located very near to my house, I guess we may drop by again sometime. We’ll see…

When things go wrong…

…it’s best not to panic. Just carry on and do the best one can in the situation in the hope that to some extent, everything will turn out all right in the end.

I wanted to make some quiches for my girl when she came home for the weekend and no, I did not have any particular one in mind. I thought I could just play it by ear, you see – after all, I am hopeless at following any tried and tested recipes, a sure one-way ticket to disaster. So, I went and bought some ingredients that I felt I would need and got down to work hoping to give her a pleasant surprise…

Q1

I sieved the flour and rubbed in the butter but somehow or other, I did not quite get the usual breadcrumb-like result when I did that in the past. To my horror, I realised that for the 1kg of flour in the box that I had bought, I would need 500 gm of butter and that block that I used was only 250 gm. Oh dear! There was still some butter in the fridge, more than half a block so I quickly added that in. It did look like there was quite enough but I was not too sure. That was why I decided to just try using less than half of it…and leave out the ham that I had bought – it would be such a waste to throw that away if things did not turn out all right and it sure did not come cheap.

I fried some chopped Bombay onions in a bit of oil, threw in some oyster mushrooms, cut into bits and pieces, and tomato too and a bit of chopped Chinese celery and I added some salt and pepper to that. Once the filling was done, I put that aside to cool while I rolled out the pastry and lined the cups that I usually use to make pies. In went the filling with a lot of grated cheddar cheese and some smoked cheddar cheese that I had cut into small bits as well. After that, I poured in some of the milk and egg mix that I had prepared and once done, I put everything into the oven to bake…

The fragrance filled the whole house and I thought it was going to be really great! Unfortunately, it was a little bit burnt at the sides…

Q2

…but I did not think it was the pastry. It looked like the milk and egg mix that had overflowed, probably because I had poured in a little bit too much.

I tried one as soon as they were ready, piping hot from the oven, and it certainly looked like other than those dark bits by the side, the rest was perfectly unscathed…

Q3

On the whole, it tasted really great…

Q4

…but I did not quite like the bits of Chinese celery when I bit into them.

The pastry turned out just right – nice and crumbly, not hard at all, so that meant I would be able to use the rest of it that I had stuffed into the freezer in the meantime…and the ham that I had bought too but I think I would just use them to bake some pies – I reckon I would do a much better job at making those instead. Luckily, I did not simply give up and assume that it would not turn out good and just throw the whole lot away…

Story…

This brand new place in town…

Aussie Story, Sibu 1

…is a dream come true for two guys, Johnny and Frederick, each with his own lucrative profession by day and by night, they run this place together as all their lives, this has been something that they had always dreamed of and wanted to do.

Why the name, you may ask? Well, one was a chef in Ireland (and has an Irish wife, if I’m not mistaken) and now he does the cooking in the kitchen with his assistants while the other worked in Australia before, helping a barista there to brew coffee and make other drinks as well and that was where he acquired the skill to do what he does now. For so long ever since he was Down Under, the latter had wanted to open a place like this but when he came back, he got all caught up in his profession and never realised his dream until now, together with his partner. According to him, initially they had planned to do it after they had retired but in the end, they decided not to wait till then and just go ahead to make what they had been hoping for a reality.

That is why they do not open for lunch, just for dinner from around 6.00 p.m. and the kitchen closes at around 10.00 p.m…

Aussie Story 2

…as they still have their daytime jobs at the moment but coffee and drinks will be available till past midnight.

It’s a neat and pleasant place…

Aussie Story 3

…none of those excessively gaudy decor and clutter that one can find in some eateries here, there and everywhere. I like its simplicity and the use of real tablecloth sure adds a special classy touch to the place.

Actually, Huai Bin and I were heading some place else for dinner that night when we chanced upon this one so there was a last-minute change of plans and we decided to stop by here instead to give it a try. We shared these slices of french loaf with the very nice creamy topping…

Aussie Story French loaf toast with creamy topping

…which reminded me of my rich and creamy cheese scrambled eggs but there was much more to it and whatever went into the making sure enhanced the taste a lot more and the two of us enjoyed it very much. However, I would like the bread to be toasted a little bit more so that it would be crusty on the outside while still soft on the inside – I certainly would make that special request the next time I drop by and order these for starters.

We also had the Irish stewed lamb shank (RM38.00)…

Aussie Story Irish lamb shank

…which was very nice though I would not say it is my favourite in town. The meat was very nicely done, real tender and it tasted great. Personally, I would prefer a stronger gravy, something thicker and richer but perhaps, that is something else, not really the authentic Irish recipe.

The fish and chips (RM15.00)…

Aussie Story fish & chips

…was good. We ordered that when the chef told us that they do not use dory – he did mention what fish it was but I can’t remember the name now. I can’t say that it swept me off my feet though but it was definitely a lot better than those one would find at some other place in town and for both of the main dishes that we had, I thought the coleslaw was really good, very much nicer than any that I had had before – I certainly enjoyed that very much.

One thing that impressed me the most was the PR. The chef himself came out to tell us the details about every dish available on the menu and give his recommendations and after the food was served, halfway through the meal, he came out again to express his hope that everything was all right and get our feedback.

It so turned out that the niece of one of the guys, who is currently studying in Northern Ireland, home for the summer vacation, was helping out at the restaurant and she was in my English tuition class a few years ago…and when I ordered my usual glass of iced water, she insisted that I had something else so she could treat me to the drink. After some persuasion, I relented and asked for this glass from their Dilmah tea series – the Monin fruit tea, iced…

Aussis Story Moinin fruit tea

…and I had the one with green apple. It certainly was very nice and refreshing…and of course, the best things in life are free, right? LOL!!!

After we had finished our dinner, the barista came and spoke to us and it was he who told us the whole Aussie story and insisted that we had coffee…

Aussie Story latte & cappuccino

…on the house. I had the cappuccino while Huai Bin had the latte and we thought they were great. The guy did tell us the brand of Italian coffee that they use but of course, this old man with his very short memory span is not able to remember. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

It certainly was a delightful dining experience, not that the food was awesomely great but it was pretty good – what made the difference was how cordial everyone was and how they went out of their way to make sure that everything was to one’s satisfaction and to make one feel very much at home….unlike what one would find at most other places in town. I certainly would give them full marks for that…and based on that alone, I would not think twice about dropping by for dinner again.

To wrap things up, I would just want to add that somehow or other, the story brings to mind this song that is a favourite of mine…

…and the lovely and very meaningful lyrics:
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am

…and talking about songs, I did wish they would play some pleasantly soothing songs or music softly in the background (not so loudly and not those horrendous choices of songs that I would find at some places – that would absolutely ruin the mood and I would eat quickly and make a run for it). That, I feel, would help bring the ambiance and the whole dining experience to a whole new level.

Well, if anybody has not dropped by to try this place out yet and is thinking of doing so, it is among the shops right across the road from SMK Deshon, Jalan Sena, NOT around where the Italian restaurant is but to the extreme left in the block behind the very big Good Hope Restaurant next to the Teochew Porridge coffee shop there, somewhere around the Sibu Bus terminal area, to the left hand side…and oops!!! I almost forgot! Thank you so very much, Huai Bin, for the lovely dinner treat and thanks to Frederick and Johnny for the drinks and the coffee. Keep up the good work, guys! Cheers!

The one that got away…

…or to be exact, the ones that I did not get to try were these…

CAC Milano

…these…

CAC Lemon cheese

…these…

CAC Black & white cheese

…and these…

CAC Hazelnut cheese

There is this new cake place in town and that night, after our dinner, Huai Bin and I decided to drop by…

CAC

…to try their cakes.

We shared their white chocolate caramel cheese cake…

CAC White chocolate caramel cheese

…which Huai Bin said was very good and he would prefer it to the other slice that we had, their tiramisu…

CAC tiramisu

…and personally, I think I liked the latter better as it was lighter and fluffier, not the usual rather dense and heavy texture that one would usually find in cheesecakes but Huai Bin prefers that and that was why he thought the former was nicer. For one thing, that certainly did not look anything like the tiramisu cakes (and mille crepe) that I am more familiar with, the ones with the chocolate fingers.

Generally, I do think that for a somewhat classier café and especially at the prices they charge (all cakes are RM6.50 per slice and if I’m not mistaken, drinks are all RM3.50, whatever you order), they should invest in a desktop or laptop and a printer to print the labels and their menu…

CAC menu
*I thought ice [SIC] lemon tea would always be cold/cold and I really wonder how it could ever be hot… LOL!!!*

…instead of having them all handwritten and they should get a pair of scissors too and some decent paper as well instead of using some exercise book paper for their hand-torn labels…and some decent uniform for the staff would go a long way in making it a much nicer place to stop by and enjoy what they have to offer. I did notice, however, in the more recent photographs on their Facebook page that they have very much nicer labels now, though still handwritten and manually decorated but they’re nonetheless a lot nicer than the ones I saw when we dropped by that night.

There have been reviews via that social media by friends who have visited this place and generally, they all thought the cakes were nicer and cheaper than the ones at the cake franchise outlet in town. As for me, I am not all that fond of cheesecakes and it seems that they only have those here so I guess I would not be making my way back there anytime soon…but please don’t take my word for it.

If you love cheesecakes, perhaps you should drop by and give their a try since everyone thinks very favourably of them. It is located right next to the celebrated Hong Fu Restaurant (back to back with Courts Mammoth) to the left of Medan Mall along Wong King Kuo Road. On the opposite side is the very popular Anson Cafe and the Korean fried chicken franchise, Pelicana is to the right of the opposite block.

All we have again…

I went out for dinner with Huai Bin when he was home for a while and when I asked what he would like to have, he said that he wouldn’t mind having the creamy butter prawn balls that I took him for once and he enjoyed it a lot so we ended up here at this restaurant again and of course, we had the much coveted prawn dish…

Ming Mei Shi creamy butter prawn balls

The serving certainly seemed a lot bigger than when we had that the last time around and yes, they were as nice as ever. For the uninitiated, prawn balls are actually simply prawns with the shell removed and fried so they would curl up like balls – they are not anything like fish balls, not at all.

I did not want to order the usual stuff that I would usually have before so I asked them what new items they had on their menu and the lady suggested this claypot venison/deer meat…

Ming Mei Shi claypot venison

…and we were glad we ordered that as it was indeed very very nice. Normally, they would just fry the meat in soy sauce with lots of ginger and serve, often in a hot sizzling plate and I had never been a fan as to me, it did not taste any different from the rest like beef, for instance, as the flavour would have been drowned out by the ingredients used. This one was different – I could actually taste the venison and the gravy was really great and went so well with rice. I certainly would want to order this again the next time I drop by this place.

For our vegetable dish, we had their asparagus fried with canned topshells…

Ming Mei Shi fried asparagus

…and this too was very nicely done.

As for the soup, I ordered the Foochow chao cai (preserved vegetables) with fish soup…

Ming Mei Shi chao chai fish soup

…and I would declare that this was the best I have had anywhere in town! For the fish, they used tapah (wallagonia/boal) which certainly does not come cheap and it was so fresh and absolutely delicious…but if you’re having this, do watch out for the bones! Most places would just use the frozen fish fillet, dory, which is often jelly-like and absolutely bland or tasteless and some people even insist that it has an unpleasant smell. The soup was thick and flavourful and needless to say, this would go into my must-order list for my subsequent visits to this restaurant.

I would not say the dinner was cheap though – the bill came up to RM67.80, inclusive of rice and drinks, but for some reason or other, the lady boss just asked for RM67.50. However, we had prawns and the fish would be mighty expensive and asparagus do not come cheap here either…and the servings were huge enough for at least four people – we certainly had quite a bit of difficulty trying to finish everything, the two of us. I think if one goes in a group of 4 and order for 2, there would be enough to go round and at this price, it may be considered very cheap then. Still, considering that we enjoyed everything so much, I would say we did not regret picking this place to go for dinner that night and I, for one, would certainly want to go again…

By the way, if anyone is interested to dropping by this restaurant and still doesn’t know where it is located, you can find it in the Fortune Commercial Centre, among the shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre. Turn into the road between Mitsu Shabu Shabu and Loke Ming Yuen coffee shop, go past Sushi Tie (on your left) and Uncle Dom (on your right) to the small roundabout at the crossroads right ahead – Ming Mei Shi Seafood  Restaurant, that’s the name, is to the right in the corner of that next block of shops.

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.

Gifts…

I received these gifts…

From Huai Bin

…from Huai Bin when he came home and had just reached Sibu that day – the limited edition Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo and lots of goodies, if I understood correctly, from a place in Kl that specialises in these Taiwan delights. I thought the sun biscuit (red label) was all right but it was different from what I had before. Somehow, it seemed to me that the filling was something like that in the pineapple cakes while what I had before would be more like the buttery filling in other one (chocolate label). My daughter loved the lemon cake while I loved that matcha cake, though I am usually not fond of anything green tea. This one was very mild, not strong on the green tea smell and taste and on the whole, the cake was not sweet – just right for me.

I was saving the Tim Tam for my girl when she came home for the weekend and I did try one myself. It was nice, sweet…and I did take some photographs of it, outside and inside but they turned out blur owing to the insufficient lighting in the room and when I wanted to snap some more, there wasn’t any left. My girl truly enjoyed it tremendously – I only had one and the mum had one as well while she finished all the rest in the pack in no time at all which, of course, made me very happy. Thank you so much, Huai Bin – it is so sweet of you to always bring something back for me to enjoy and a special thank you for saving me that pack of Tim Tam despite there being others who were waiting to lay their paws on them. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

Talking about gifts, my friend, Richard, here in Sibu gave me some of the nyonya changs that he made himself and of course, I enjoyed them very much but this time around, I did not finish them all at one go. I just savoured a few and kept the rest in the freezer and ate them one by one as and when I felt like having any. Well, I had just finished the last one…

Richard's nyonya chang

…and I thought that was it for the year when I got an sms from my cousin in Kuching telling me that she would be sending me some…

Green Road nyonya chang

…and good grief! She sent me so many – this was just half of the lot that I received. I left the other half at my parents’ place for them to enjoy and only took these home for myself.

These…

Green Road nyonya chang

…came from the roadside stall in front of the shops at Green Road in Kuching and they were very very nice, as nice as I remember them to be. They’ve been doing this for a long time now and in the past, they would only be setting up their stall/table by mid-afternoon around 3 or 4.00 p.m. selling these dumplings and also some really awesome nyonya kuihs like serimuka and the rest…but on some days, they might not appear for some reason or other.

Thank you so very much to her too for those and also for these panggang

Sambal panggang 1

…with sambal inside…

Sambal panggang 2

…but at best, I thought they were just ok…

Sambal panggang 3

This type of panggang would be as good as the sambal inside unlike the kosong (empty) ones which would depend heavily on how lemak (rich with santan/coconut milk) and how perfectly-panggang-ed (cooked over hot charcoal fire) they are and personally, I would prefer the latter, best enjoyed with condensed milk or kaya (coconut jam). However, as far as this type is concerned, I do think that the ones from this fat girl that I had before were much nicer.

In the meantime, I received another sms – this time from Annie-Q asking me to go to her brother’s house to get these dumplings…

Dumplings from Annie-Q's brother 1

…that he made himself.

I was not sure how to cook them but I followed his instructions – to boil some water and once boiling, to drop in the dumplings…and bring the water back to boil and then, add some more water and bring it to boil once again. Once the dumplings started floating up to the surface, they would be cooked…and I guess I did a pretty good job at that…

Dumplings from Annie-Q's brother 2

I made some black vinegar plus ginger dip, the way they would serve these at the shops and tried some. They were so very good and my missus and Melissa loved them very much too. In fact, I did not tell my missus when I went to get them and after eating, she asked where I had bought them from. When I told her, she said, “No wonder they were so very nice!” Indeed, they were a lot nicer than any I had had at the shops here or anywhere else. I understand he was making them at home for sale but only upon  orders from friends. I am not sure how much he’s selling them though – I didn’t ask.

Thanks, Annie and thanks to your brother too for these dumplings. I certainly would want to order more but not at the moment – I still have one of the two packs in the freezer, keeping them to cook over the weekend when Melissa’s home.