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Thinking of you…

I reckon my girl was thinking of it mid-week when she texted me to tell me that when she came home on Friday, she would like to go to Bandong for dinner, her treat…and of course, I was all for it.

I tried persuading her to go and try something else but no, she was adamant in her decision to have either the pecel lele or the ayam penyet and in the end, she chose the former, the fried keli (catfish) and I too had the same. The mum who seemed to have developed an aversion for ikan keli lately was the only one who had the chicken…

Bandong ayam penyet

I thought that was not really all that substantial so I went and ordered one ikan bakar (grilled fish)…

Bandong ikan bakar

…to share. I did not want the very popular stingray and I thought the o pek (black and white) was rather big so I asked for an ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret) which was just the right size for the three of us to go with what we were having.

It was very fresh, very nicely done and the sambal was very delicious…except that it was not spicy so that took away that extra kick that would have given it a perfect score. I wonder if they would entertain special requests for the sambal to be extra hot (tambah pedas) or not – I would ask them the next time we drop by this place.

Other than that, perhaps they could serve the sambal by the side or separately in saucers like what they would do elsewhere, for instance, at the Red Garden Hawker Centre, Penang Road in Penang…

Red Graden, Penang ikan bakar
*Archive photo*

…or the Northam Beach Cafe, also in Penang…

Northam Food Court, Penang ikan bakar
*Archive photo*

…as that way, I would be able to eat the fish and savour its freshness and sweetness without the taste being drowned out by the overpowering sambal and I can choose to dip it in it as and when I feel like it. I probably would ask for that the next time around.

Well, if anyone is drooling and wanting to go and have some of that grilled fish, it is here…

Bandong, Sibu map

…opposite the primary school, the SK Perbandaran Sibu No. 3 (blue). There are two stalls in that alley (red) in between the two blocks of shops. I tried the stingray from the stall on the right on a previous visit…

Bandong ikan bakar - stingray
*Archive photo*

…and it failed to sweep me off my feet. Maybe it was because it was a different kind of fish but I did feel then that the sambal was not as nice as what I had had elsewhere. This black pomfret that we had that night was from the stall on the left.

All in all, our orders of two pecel lele and one ayam penyet plus three drinks came up to RM22.30 and the ikan bakar was RM13.00, making it a  total of RM35.30 for that lovely dinner for the three of us.

Not so nice…

Sometime ago, when I was going round the whole town looking for the best nasi lemak (coconut rice) as good as what I had had at one time, somebody mentioned that the one here at our very own Sarawak franchise was good. I remember I used to have it at their spin-off outlet, Frosty Boy, and I enjoyed it a great deal. They are no longer operating that joint but we can still get most of what they served there at their regular outlets.

I have always wanted to drop by to give it a try once again but somehow or other, I never got round to doing that until the other day. This was what they had on the wall…

SBNL 1

…and this was what I got…

SBNL 2

That is the nasi lemak classic (RM5.00) but I wanted the one with curry chicken (RM7.90) and I got this with it…

SBNL 3

Yes, it did look a bit oily but it was all right and it tasted o.k. too. The sambal ikan bilis was great – very nice…and the rice was very nicely done. It was fluffy, not hard and dry but with just a very slight hint of the fragrance, it just simply was not lemak enough…and it certainly was no longer as nice as I remember it to be.

All in all, I would think I wouldn’t want to go for this again especially when it is not so nice and not exactly cheap either and the plus-plus charges at places like this would make it worse and besides, I do think that the rice in those cheap packets that I would get from the stall at Bandong is very much nicer. They do have a more upscale café upstairs or next door, depending on where you go, and they do have nasi lemak on the menu as well. I am not sure whether it is the same or not – perhaps I would go and try one of these days and get back to you on this…

I saw…

Yes, Melissa saw the photos that I shared on Facebook and when she came home last weekend, she was grumbling that I had gone ahead to check the new place in town with Huai Bin and did not wait for her. I told her that I could go again bringing her along this time and of course, she was thrilled to hear that and was looking forward to it.

We dropped by last Saturday night after the sunset service in the church so it was quite late already when we got there – past 8.00 p.m. and the place was crowded!

I decided to try the lamb dopiaza (RM28.00)…

Aussie Story lamb dopiaza

…which, according to the menu, is a Greek stewed lamb dish with a hint of curry and tomato in the gravy, served with either pita bread or rice…and since they did not have the former, I just had to go with the latter instead. It was very nice, just that I can think of other curries elsewhere that I would very much prefer but at least, I have tried this one and I would say I wouldn’t mind having it sometimes if I should drop by for dinner again. However, I certainly would request for less rice as there was way too much, even for me and I thought perhaps they could serve the rice by one side and everything else on the other instead of pouring everything on top like that, something like the Mongolian chicken rice that I had had here which I feel, would make it look a more presentable.

My missus had their seafood ariabata (RM19.00)…

Aussie Story seafood ariabata

…and Melissa and I did try a bit of it and thought that it was quite good. I do wish they would just do away with those bits of daun sup (Chinese celery) that I seem to notice in most of their dishes if they can’t get hold of any parsley to add a bit of green to the presentation. Somehow or other, I do not think think it is an appropriate nor is it a desirable substitute and the dish would look much better without it. Well, let’s not just take my word for it – how do the rest of you feel about this?

Melissa wanted the salmon carbonara fettuccini (RM38.00)…

Aussie Story salmon carbonara fettuccini 1

…as she has this soft spot for salmon and when it was served, it certainly did cross our minds that it was burnt!

Upon closer inspection, it  was just the things they used to marinate the fish on top – perhaps, that was the intended colour or it was burnt but the fish below was all right…

Aussie Story salmon carbonara fettuccini 2

- a bit overcooked but it was very nice and Melissa enjoyed it thoroughly. For one thing, I do know that she loves things a little burnt like when going for satay or barbecued chicken wings, she would pick those with the burnt edges and bits as she enjoys the special fragrance and taste. Having said that, no prize for guessing which of these she picked…

Aussie Story baked cheesy ham French bread

LOL!!! These were their baked cheesy ham French bread (RM7.50) but no, they came nowhere near the ones I ordered for starters on my previous visit…plus we could not find any trace of ham in it. However, this time around, the bread was perfectly toasted – nice and crusty and just the way I would love it, never mind the burnt edges – we were perfectly ok with those.

I was impressed by their coleslaw the other night but I only had a bit of it by the side of each main dish so this time around, I ordered a bowl of the same (RM3.00)…

Aussie Story coleslaw

…so all of us could have a lot more of it and yes, everyone loved it and the general consensus was that it was a head above any that we would find elsewhere!

As I have mentioned earlier, it was rather crowded that night so Frederick, one of the co-owners and the rest of the staff had to be on their toes, scurrying here and there all night long and he barely had time to chat but service was great and our orders were served pretty fast and the nice guy could recognise me and he told us as soon as he saw me that the drinks would be on the house.  I had this ice-blended white chocolate…

Aussie Story ice blended white chocolate

…while Melissa and the mum had their Monin fizz drinks…

Aussie Story drinks

…and they enjoyed their picks very much. Well, if anyone is interested, that is the brand of the Italian coffee that they are using here.

I did not think I quite enjoyed the ambiance that night though as it  was simply too noisy especially with the shrill voices of those sweet young things who seemed to take it upon themselves to deliver their speeches to their captive audience in the whole restaurant. In my previous post on this place, I suggested having a bit of music…but on second thought, I don’t think that would be a very good idea as those self-designated orators would need to speak even louder to be heard and I can imagine the whole place being turned into some kind of a madhouse. Yes, I wish to retract my statement now – thanks but no, thank you…very very much!

Let’s eat together sometime…

Weekends are for spending quality time with family or at least, that is true in my case since Melissa only comes home on Friday afternoon and on Sunday, we would have to send her back to her rural school yet once again. Last weekend, we had an extra day owing to the public holiday on Sunday so we did not send her back till Monday.

Friday would usually be eat-at-home night as she would be rather tired after the whole week of work and roughing it out in the jungle so usually, she would have an early night…and Saturday morning would be her visit-her-grandparents day in the morning after which we would head to town in search of something nice for lunch and last Saturday was no exception.

We dropped by this coffee shop…

T-time Coffee Shop, Sibu

…in the town centre where there is this stall selling chicken chop and everything chicken…

T-time chicken chop stall

…and if you’re into vegetarian…

Vegetarian sign

…there is a chap fan (mixed rice) stall here that would cater to your needs and wants – the second one in the photograph below…

T-time stalls

The first stall sells fried noodles and things like that but no, we did not want all those.

Melissa and the mum had been here once before for the bak kut teh and they enjoyed it very much. According to them, the setting is different now but yes, it is the same one that they had then…

T-time bak kut teh stall

We ordered a bowl of the bak kut teh, soup to share…

Bak kut teh soup 1

…and to my delight, it was indeed very rich, though not overpowering, with just the right amount of the garlic and the herbal taste…

Bak kut teh soup 2

I also ordered the dry version to try…

Bak kut teh dry 1

…and it turned out to be so very good with a hint of belacan (dried prawn paste) used in the cooking and garnished with fried thin strips of cuttlefish…

Bak kut teh dry 2

Gee!!! The taste and the fragrance were absolutely stunning and I really enjoyed it a lot! At first I thought those were strips of ginger and would not touch them but when we realised what they were, we finished everything…except the bits of dried chili.

I asked for a bowl of eyew char koi (fried cruellers)…

Eyew char koi

…as customary when having bak kut teh and while my missus and I had rice, I ordered the noodle version…

Bak kut teh noodles

…for Melissa knowing that she would very much prefer it that way. I requested for lean meat only and got exactly what I asked for but seeing the meat in Melissa’s bowl of noodles with the layer of fat and skin, I was wishing I had ordered that instead. Yes, they do give you a choice of what meat or whatever body parts you want from a whole list of those.

Together with the drinks for the three of us, the bill came up to only…

T-time Coffee Shop bill

…and I sure liked the way it was presented – certainly a class above what we would find in all the other coffee shops (and even some supposedly upscale cafes and restaurants) here, there and everywhere. Service was prompt and efficient and we were served very fast which was another plus point that I would give to this place.

Well, if anyone is interested in dropping by to try their bak kut teh or the other things from the other stalls, the opening days and hours are on that sign…

Business hours

…on the wall.

As for the location, it is the second shop in the block right behind the petrol station facing this building on the other side…

HSBC Sibu

…and to your left, if you’re standing in front of the coffee shop, you will see Wisma Sanyan…

Wisma Sanyan Sibu

- the tallest in Sibu.

Go ahead! I am pretty sure you will love it too!

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…

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.