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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!!!!

In return…

In my previous post, I blogged about the dinner that I treated Huai Bin to when he was back home in Sibu for a while and that nice guy insisted on going out again so he could reciprocate and return the gesture.

We drove past here the last time he was in town and I thought he might want to give it a try…so there we were that night and while browsing through the menu, he was pleasantly surprised that they had so many different varieties of Bundaberg drinks and he ordered the “blood orange”…

Bistecca & Bistro Bundaberg blood orange

All this while, I only knew they had ginger beer – my girl’s favourite which is available at that supermarket in town that stocks up on all kinds of imported stuff from all over and she would buy that once in a while…and all this while, I just assumed from the sound of the name that it was German but no, as a matter of fact, it’s Australian!

The smoked salmon salad was great…

Bistecca & Bistro smoked salmon salad

…but I thought it looked better the last time I had that and personally, I would prefer their Ceasar’s as there would be a hard-boiled egg in that and I love eggs…in any form.

I also suggested their pork bacon burger…

Bistecca & Bistro pork bacon burger

…but Huai Bin thought the ones here were nicer. He was put off by the fact that there were two tiny bits of bone in his half of the burger – thankfully, there wasn’t any in mine. While he was cutting the thing, a small piece of bacon fell out, around the size of a postage stamp. I am not sure whether that was all there was in it but I sure did not see nor taste any bacon while I was eating my share. Still, I quite liked it even though I thought it tasted more like beef probably because of the spices and herbs or whatever they used to marinate the meat in making the patty.

We also had their double cut…

Bistecca & Bistro Double cut

- two generous slabs of chicken chops served with mushroom sauce. I loved the coleslaw very much, nicer than many that I had had elsewhere, but I thought their terrayaki chicken was very much nicer while the mild taste of this one was over-powered by the stronger flavours of the other things that we had like this very nice pizza…

Bistecca & Bistro Pizza Bracio di Ferro 1

their Pizza Bracio di Ferro that we had the last time we were here.

Huai Bin insisted on having that (he had seen it in my blog, prior to this) as according to him, the last time he had egg in a pizza…

Bistecca & Bistro Pizza Bracio di Ferro  2

…was when he was in Australia a long time ago. He did remark that he had had thinner crusts elsewhere but I was fine with what they have here – as long as it is nice and crusty, that’s all right by me unlike the very hard one that we had here.

I thought that was an enjoyable dinner even though we ordered more than what we could handle and in the end, I got to take two slices of the pizza home…but I had the feeling that Huai Bin, having had his share of so many similar restaurants all over the world including those very exclusive Michelin-starred ones, was hoping I could have taken him here instead, just that he was simply too sweet to insist on where to go when I asked him initially. Never mind, buddy, we’ll go there the next time you’re back in town…and thanks for the dinner treat. Cheers!!!

What you want…

…others may not and so it was with Huai Bin when he was back in Sibu. He wanted to go for some umai (an ethnic Melanau delicacy of raw fish with lime juice and everything), RM15.00…

Fisherman Restaurant, umai

…but nobody else was keen. That was why when we were able to go out for dinner one night last week, we made a bee line to this place for that. They use ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret) to make their umai here and what we had that night was very fresh and very nicely done.

We also had the paku (jungle fern) in santan (coconut milk), RM8.00…

Fisherman Restaurant, paku lemak

…and knowing how he loves our udang galah (freshwater/big-head prawns), I also ordered these…

Fisherman Restaurant, asam prawns 1

Just like the noodles that he went all the way to Sarikei for or the one right here in Sibu, these did not come cheap – RM20 EACH!!!…

Fisherman Restaurant, asam prawns 2

…but it was very nice – a little bit too sour but it was very flavourful and went so very well with rice.

One would probably think this sticks out like a sore thumb in a somewhat ethnic restaurant like this but I just had to order their roast lamb…

Fisherman Restaurant, roast lamb 1

…for Huai Bin to try and indeed, it swept him off his feet! You can read all about what he says about it in his blog.

Yes, it did not come cheap – RM50.00 for two huge and thick slabs and a bit more on a chunk of bone but considering that it was around RM25.00 each for it…

Fisherman Restaurant, roast lamb 2

…I would say it wasn’t all that expensive. If you have one of those thin and not-as-nice lamb chops at some western restaurant, it would cost more or less the same or perhaps, even more.

They always serve you these Mukah keropok

Fisherman Restaurant, Mukah keropok

…the moment you’re seated but no, they’re not on the house, I’m afraid – that lot was RM4.00 altogether.

Huai Bin had this glass of bitter gourd juice (RM5.00)…

Fisherman Restaurant, bitter gourd juice

…and he said it was very nice, very bitter. Hmmmm….no, thank you. LOL!!!

All in all, it was a very delightful dinner and I’ve always enjoyed Huai Bin’s very delightful company each time he comes home and I must thank him and his better half for these gifts that he brought all the way from KL…

From Huai Bin & Yee Ling

I would say this is indeed a very nice place to go for dinner – the food they serve seems to be a whole lot nicer now than years and years ago but personally, I do wish they would give their walls a new coat of paint and get rid of the old and worn-out carpet and spruce up the place a little bit to make it a lot more presentable, especially when one is bringing friends from other places in the country or overseas…and some new air-conditioners would be nice too – obviously, theirs do not work so well anymore as on hot evenings, the place can get rather uncomfortable and would not be quite the place for one to enjoy dining the night away. Actually, those old ones consume a lot of electricity and in fact, I have been able to cut my bill by half, more or less, once I replaced my old ones with the current energy-savers…and they’re not all that expensive either these days – around RM1K, maybe less or a bit more, depending on the unit of your choice and usually, you will get a pretty nice gift, absolutely free.

Terminal…

This is the Sibu Bus Terminal…

Sibu Bus Terminal

…and right across the road is this coffee shop

Bus Terminal Food Court, Sibu

…located below this very cheap and nice hotel. We dropped by there on Wednesday last week because my girl felt like having pecel lele for dinner but it was still a bit early and the place that we would always go to had not started their business for the day yet. I remembered having had the ayam penyet at a stall here

Food stall, Sibu Bus Terminal

…and it  was quite good as well so we decided to drop by here instead.

It looked like they had different types of fish to choose from…

Choose your fish

…but my girl insisted on sticking to the ikan keli (cat fish)…

Ikan keli

…which, unfortunately, turned out to be a bit overdone – it was ok, just slightly crustier than the way we would like it.

I had the tilapia…

Tilapia 1

…which was all right…

Tilapia 2

…and I would say that we did enjoy it.

My missus wanted to order something else but it seemed that most of the other stalls were closed. Perhaps they do not open on Wednesdays, I’m not too sure.  In the end, she also asked for something from this same stall – the ikan duai, we call it here…or the bawal hitam (black pomfret) as it is usually known as elsewhere…

Black pomfret

My girl saw that and commented that she would want to have that next time. We did not see it when we went to check out the stall.

All of them were RM8.00 each – I recall it being much cheaper at our regular place…and very much nicer too especially their banana-leaf wrapped rice and their sambal dip.

I also ordered this bowl of sup tulang (bone soup)…

Sup tulang

…for RM6.00. It would be a ringgit more had it come with a plate of rice. It was nice but if the little that I had with the halal kampua noodles at this place was  a sample of their sup tulang, that one would win hands down.

I did not want any coffee as it was already evening so I asked for the iced teh-c special…

Teh-c special picture

…instead and it was pretty good…

Teh-c special

…though it did not look like what was on their display.

All in all, even though I would not say we had the best in town, it was a pretty good dinner.