Bun in the oven…

No, it may look like I’m pregnant but I definitely am not, by any chance, in the family way and that is exactly what this English expression means. A little learning is a dangerous thing, so they say and imagine some sweet young thing wearing a t-shirt that cries out loud in front, “I’ve a bun in the oven!” or worse, “So many men…so little time!”

Anyway, that aside, actually, I would like to highlight in today’s post some so-called Korean buns that I got to try recently. A friend of mine shared on Facebook this photograph of the ones that she bought…

Korean buns 1
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

…and I wasted no time in asking her where she bought them. She told me that they were sold at a cake accessories shop among those in the Apollo area here, opposite the primary school (Su Lai). Well, that should not be too difficult to find, I thought, considering that there are only a few blocks of shops in that not very big area.

However, when I went around lunchtime one fine day, I was told that they were all sold out and I would have to go back another day if I wanted any. The girl said that they would bake them on the first floor above the shop and every hour, they would send a tray of the buns down, piping hot from the oven, for sale but only till around 11 something in the morning. I wouldn’t know but I guess probably, they only had one small oven so they could not bake a lot at one go, just one tray at a time.

The very next day, I made it a point to go a bit earlier and I managed to get some to try…

Korean buns 2

On the outside, I thought they looked like those artisan breads but no, they were not anything like those.

They had a very fragrant and thin crust on the outside…

Korean buns 3

…and with the toasted sesame seeds, initially, I thought it tasted something like our Sibu Foochow kompia. However, as I continued eating, it became quite clear that this was quite different and as a matter of fact, I would say that I liked this a lot more.

I googled and found out that these were supposed to be Korean mochi buns so it was supposed to be slightly chewy on the inside,  just that I did not think it was all that sticky and rubbery like mochi

Korean buns 4

…and the texture actually gave some bite to the bun and made it different from normal bread or buns and with a very slight hint of sweetness that complemented its fragrance and taste, I would say that I enjoyed it…very much!

My missus said that she did buy some once at a local bakery but theirs were bigger and more expensive but she did not think they were any good and that was why she never bought anymore after that. Like me, she also enjoyed these a lot and at RM1.00 each, we thought it was quite reasonably priced and we would definitely go back there again to get some more time and again.

Another friend commented on the photos of these that I uploaded onto my Facebook page that he had had those from this bakery so I went over to buy some to try…

Uncle Bakery Korean buns

They were much cheaper – only 70 sen each and you can get 3 for RM2.00. To me, they did seem slightly smaller and did not look as nice on the outside. The taste was exactly the same except that they did not have that nice and crunchy outer crust that the ones aforementioned have so they were completely kind of tough and rubbery.

Given a choice, I certainly would buy the ones that I like more even though they may cost a little bit more.

Honey lemon…

The previous Saturday (not the one that had just gone past), we stopped by here

HL1

…for lunch. It was under a different name before, run by some other people, but they closed down the place not long after and now, it has resumed business, it seems, under a brand new name and a different management…and this was where I got the nice and relatively cheaper made-in-Lahad-Datu mooncakes that I featured in my previous post.

Everything was pretty much the same and the zakka part of the shop wasn’t anything to get excited about either, just a few odds and ends on sale and none that would be of interest of me. I know these cactus plants…

HL2

…were going for RM15.00 each and no, I was not keen on buying those either.

One thing that caught my eye though was this old F & N orange bottle…

HL3

When we were small, for festivals like Chinese New Year, my father would buy crates of Coca Cola and these from a shop in town, Kim Guan Siang, but no, they were not for us. Those special drinks would be reserved for specials guests dropping by (though I might have sneaked away a bottle or two to enjoy) and we could only help ourselves to the made-in-Sibu Ngo Kian aerated drinks which to us in those days, were like heaven on earth as well, not like young people today who can have everything they want so much so that these aren’t in any way regarded as special treats that we, in our time, would give an arm or a leg for.

I had the iced red bean (RM4.90) while my missus had the cendol (also RM4.90)…

HL4

…which did not look much different except for the cincau (grass jelly) at the top and I did not take note of what happened to all the ang tao in the end. She claims that for whatever reason, eating those and even red bean paste would make her head spin and she would feel giddy after that. Melissa did not order anything fancy that day and stuck loyally to her 100 Plus (RM2.50).

To start off, we shared this mushroom soup with garlic bread (RM4.90)…

HL5

…which we found to be rather diluted, not rich and creamy and not something that we would want to order again.

Melissa had their chicken-lamb-beef platter (RM16.90)…

HL6

…which was all right, this much I would say, and they sure were very generous with the meat…

HL7

…so much so that Melissa was not able to finish everything on the plate.

I had their sup tulang (bone soup) with rice (RM8.90)…

HL8

…and I would say that I loved their version of that. It wasn’t as diluted as those at the Malay stalls here and not as oily as the Indian ones that I had had before plus it  was not that strong on the spices as well. There were a few chunks of beef along with the bone in it…

HL9

…but I would prefer it served with noodles rather than rice and I found their rice a bit on the hard side, not really to my  liking.

My missus had their chao chai hung ngang, prawn (RM7.90)…

HL10

…and she said it was good but she said what she had here not too long ago was a lot nicer.

Our orders were served pretty quickly and service was great and prompt but they were speaking Mandarin the whole time so I would not be able to say whether they were conversant in any other language or dialect or not. All in all, I would say this would be a great place to hang out with friends to chat and have something decent enough to eat in the meantime but unless they have something else better on their menu that we have not tried yet, if it is solely for the food, like a number of similar places that we have around here all over town these days, perhaps it would be better to go some place else.

Full moon…

The Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival (中秋节 ) falls on Monday, 8th September this year, the 15th Day of the 8th Month in the Chinese Lunar calendar.

As in previous years, I have bought our local Foochow pek quek ting chiew pia (8th Month Festival biscuits) to enjoy and at the same time, commemorate this auspicious occasion in the year to uphold the age-old tradition…and as always, I would steer clear of those lovely mooncakes from the peninsula as they are mighty expensive and the very nice ones made locally aren’t all that cheap either and what’s worse would be the fact that the prices would keep going up every year.

I was still stalling for time, torn between buying or not buying, when I chanced upon these…

Lahad Datu mooncakes 1

…made in Lahad Datu in Sabah…

Lahad Datu mooncakes 2

…at a café here the previous weekend when we dropped by for lunch. I saw the big price tag beside the displays and it  was only RM7.75 but when I asked, the girl told me that it was only for the green bean flavour and I am not too fond of that. Still at RM9.75 for lotus paste and RM10.75 for single yolk, I thought they were cheaper than the rest so I bought one each to try.

They turned out to be really good…

Lahad Datu mooncake 3

- the lotus filling was fine and smooth and not sweet, just slightly and I really liked that a lot. Most of the mooncakes are simply too sweet for my liking even though they claim to be “low sugar” or “reduced sugar” and I really wonder why these would be even more expensive when in fact, they would be using less of one ingredient.

The skin may be a bit thicker than some…

Lahad Datu mooncake 4

…but I am o.k. with that as I do enjoy eating the pastry, not just the paste in the mooncake.

They had around 8 different flavours on the counter, one mooncake of each and I am not sure whether those were the samples and they had more put away some place. I certainly hope they have more as I would be making my way there again one of these days to grab more for myself and to give away before the festival comes around.

In the meantime, my daughter’s friend/coursemate from Bintangor contacted her and passed her these homemade ones…

Mooncakes from Christina

I’ve seen some people calling these “Shanghai mooncakes” and I do enjoy these as well.

The ones we got were really good, much nicer than those from the local bakeries here or here as far as the pastry was concerned. The pink ones had red bean paste inside…

Red bean paste

…while the green ones were pandan-flavoured…

Pandan filling

I thought both flavours were nice – a bit sweeter than the made-in-Lahad-Datu ones that I bought but not too sweet, thankfully. I did think, however, that I would very much prefer the original colour of the pastry and they could have just dotted the mooncakes with a pink or green dot on top instead of colouring them completely like that. Ah well, beggars can’t be choosers and as they say, the best things in life are free…and we should never look at a gift horse in its mouth.

It certainly was so sweet and thoughtful of you, Christina, to get us some to try – thank you so very much. It is indeed very much appreciated.

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.

Hits and misses…

An ex-student of mine, working in Kl, was home for a while and he contacted me out of the blue to invite me out to tea. That certainly was a welcome surprise and a very pleasant one at that as I had not seen him since he left school. He wanted some ang tao peng (iced red beans) as the ones over in the peninsula are not the same  – they use the bigger and kind of salty red beans which are not to his liking. That was why we stopped by here and he had the ang tao cendol while I had this…

Thomson Corner bubur cacar with ang tao & cincau

 – their bubur cacar with ang tao and cincau (grass jelly).

I thought it was not very nice – it was kind of diluted, rather lacking in the richness of the santan (coconut milk) and evaporated milk and none of the nice gula Melaka (palm sugar) fragrance. Initially, I thought it was just what I had ordered but my ex-student also said the same about his ang tao cendol so I guess it probably was another person doing it or maybe, we caught her on a bad day. I certainly hope this is not permanent or I would need to look for another place to get something that would be to my liking.

After that, we adjourned here for the kompia

Noodle House kompia with pork belly

…fried and stuffed with pork belly and yes, they were nicely done and we enjoyed those very much.

The tiramisu mille crepe…

Noodle House tiramisu mille crepe

…was great, as always and so was their chocolate lava cake…

Noodle House chocolate lava cake 1

…which was perfectly done with the “lava” oozing out slowly…

Noodle House chocolate lava cake 2

…the moment I cut the cake open.

It was a really nice outing with my ex-student, chatting away and catching up on each other’s lives – I sure look forward to doing that again sometime.

Moving on from there, I’ve been seeing people sharing photographs of steamed paos (buns) in their blogs and on Facebook so I thought I would drop by the market here to get some myself. I did buy one, char siew (BBQ pork) filling, for Philip when he was home from the US and he loved it. In fact, he said it was even nicer than the ones that he enjoyed a lot from Kuching. However, he did not like the sio bee (meat dumplings)…

Rejang Park sio bee

…though. Unfortunately, the buns were sold out that day and I decided to buy the dumplings to try – RM9.00 for 12 so that worked out to 75 sen each. They’re 80 sen each elsewhere now and some can even go up to RM1.00 or RM1.50 each at a couple of places…and yes, I do agree with Philip that they were not nice. The texture was all wrong, not firm or somewhat a little bouncy or rubbery like sio bee and more like meatballs made from minced meat plus I was really so put off by the amount of msg in them. It sure made me wonder why there were a few people who told me that the sio bee here was nice and that was what prompted me to go there and buy in the first place.

While I was in the vicinity, I stopped by this shop opposite to buy the kompia and since we were having braised pork leg at home that day, I decided to have my own oven-toasted kompia stuffed with the meat…

STP's oven toasted stuffed kompia

…even though I do think the deep fried ones are nicer. The kompias here are as nice as ever and they did seem nicer now – at one time, they were getting thinner and thinner and were grossly out of shape at times. Maybe it is because they have increased the price – 3 for RM1.00 now instead of 4 so they can resume making them with the original quality and I would say that is good actually. After all, the prices of everything have increased so it is all right to just jack up the price a bit within a reasonable limit and maintain the quality.

That, unfortunately, is not something that I could say about these made-in-Sarikei Foochow pek quek tong chiew pia (8th Month Autumn Festival biscuits)…

Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits 1

…which used to be available when the Mooncake Festival came around but these days, they are sold here, there and everywhere even out of season. If I am not mistaken, they were RM4.50 a packet last year so they have gone up by 50 sen this year.

Like I said, it would not be so bad if they had maintained the quality but I could only find a very faint hint of the fragrance of lard..

Mengandungi lemak babi

…in the ones in front (Kinsen) which makes it the better of the two brands in terms of fragrance and taste even though the other one (right)…

Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits 2

…does look nicer with all those sesame seeds dotting the biscuit and they taste pretty good too. Perhaps I should go and try those made-in-Sibu ones and who knows I may find one that still has the old-time quality of our local Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits.

Life is like that, I guess…full of ups and downs – sometimes, you hit and sometimes, you miss…

Day by day…

The days seem to go by so quickly. This time last month, it was the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan and most of the shops and stalls were closed but of course, there were the bazaars in the late afternoon and after that came Hari Raya and many did not resume business till at least two weeks after the auspicious annual celebration like this one here and as soon as it opened, we went straight away for its Saturday-only nasi kerabu

Sri Tanjung nasi kerabu

…that we truly enjoy a lot.

My missus bought a tub of tempoyak (fermented durian) from our regular Malay food stall at the Ramadhan bazaar at Bandong here for only RM5.00 and she used it to cook this meat dish…

Tempoyak pork

It was so good and we went back there a few times wanting to buy some more but unfortunately, they did not make anymore.

My friend, Philip, is back in the US by now but he was home at the time and while he was here, he dropped by my house one day to pass me the pek ting eyok duck soup that his sister cooked. This so-called Eight Treasures herbal soup is very popular among the Foochows here and is available at the stalls/shops but only with chicken or pork leg. I do not mind those though I can’t say that I am very fond of it that way – for me, it has to be with duck which would bring the taste to a whole new level. Unfortunately, my missus does not eat duck so cooking our own at home is completely out of the question. I guess Philip knows that so that nice and thoughtful man went through all the trouble to pass me some to enjoy and I cooked some mee sua to go with it…

Pek ting eyok duck

Ooooo…it was absolutely glorious! I have not had it (with duck) for so long and I truly enjoyed it so very much. Thank you so much, Philip.

And speaking of thank yous, I also must thank my friend, Alex, ex-tuition class student and ex-blogger, who went over in Melbourne, Australia and when he came back, he brought me these…

Goodies from Australia

He’s such a nice chap, really – the previous time he went to Taiwan, he also brought back some stuff for me from there.

Another one that I must thank is my ex-student, Xavier, who was in Kuching and when he came back, he gave me this big loaf of butter cheese cake…

Butter cheese cake from Xavier

…from a bakery there. He always makes it a point to bring me back something from KL, Taiwan or the UK or wherever he goes. I loved the cake very much – it was very moist and had a very lovely buttery taste and fragrance, almost like those awesome butter cupcakes from Kapit except that their shapes were different and this one did look a bit nicer. Thanks so much, Xavier – it was so sweet of you truly.

For one thing, time does seem to go by a little bit faster when you’re caught up in a lot of things and that, I would say, was very true in my case so much so that I had had a lot of things to blog about and everything else had to take a back seat temporarily. I did blog about this new instant kampua on the market and since then, I had also tried their mee pok (flat noodles) version…

Moi Huong instant kampua mee pok

…and tossed with my missus’ own-made pounded chili, I thought it was really good.

There was also the usual cooking that I would do on some mornings for breakfast. As usual, whenever there was some leftover rice, then we would have some fried rice like this one here…

STP's lap cheong & egg fried rice

…with the very nice wine-infused  lap cheong (Chinese sausage) from KL that Annie-Q gave me…or this one…

STP's pork belly fried rice

…with some leftover pork belly that I had in the fridge one morning…and on another morning, I tried cooking this garlic butter rice…

STP's garlic butter rice with corned beef & potatoes

…to go with some leftover corned beef and potatoes from the previous night’s dinner and I actually liked it a lot!

Of course, when my girl was home for the one-week Raya break and also on weekends, we would spend some quality time together going out to eat or look around and shop for anything we might fancy and it was on one of those outings that I spotted this nice t-shirt…

T-shirt

…that I would have loved to buy but unfortunately, they did not have my size. Indeed, the days pass by so quickly and time is too short to spend moaning and groaning and complaining about anything and everything under the sun. In the words of William Shakespeare, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Personally, I do believe that life is for us to live the best we can, trusting in God that He will always protect and bless us in all that we do and let us pray always that…
…God will always grant us the serenity
to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can
and wisdom to know the difference,
living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as we would have it,
trusting that He will make all things right
if we surrender to His Will,
that we may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr, adapted)

Taking over…

There was a bakery here once…

My Chef Restaurant, Sibu 1

- the one with the best cream puffs in town but eventually, they closed shop and some people took over to run this eatery at this exact same spot and not too long ago, I heard that the place has changed hands again and now it is…

My Chef Restuarant, Sibu 2

…and after hearing some favourable reviews of what they served here, we decided to drop by and check it out.

Melissa ordered the tomato fried kway teow (RM4.50)…

Tomato fried kway teow 1

…and we thought it would look a lot nicer with some green vegetables, bits of sawi/chai hua or something…

Tomato fried kway teow

…for a bit of colour and taste as well. This was very nice though, definitely better than elsewhere with their excessive use of tomato sauce and as nice as some that I have had in Kuching…plus I did not feel that overdose of msg that would put me off instantly.

My missus had the chao chai hung ngang (RM4.50)…

Chao chai hung ngang

…or the big bihun in preserved vegetable soup and she said it was very good. Melissa said she would prefer this smaller version of the hung ngang but bigger than the ordinary bihun that they used for this dish.

I opted for the Mongolian chicken with rice (RM5.50)…

Mongolian chicken with rice

…and yes, it was very nice too.

I don’t know what sauce it was…

Mongolian chicken

…sourish but very very slightly with a hint of peanut and black pepper, not something that I had had before but I thought it was really good.

It seemed that they do have on their menu dishes that you can order to eat with rice and since we liked what we had that day, we certainly would go back to try what they have to offer. If anyone is interested in dropping by as well, it is in the block of shops to the left of Delta Mall (second from the right) along Jalan Pedada, the same block as ASTRO, and they open from 7.00 a.m. until 1.30 p.m. and from 6.30 p.m. onwards in the evening.