Two times…

We go back a very long way – this restaurant and I, so long that I can’t find the first time I blogged about it but one thing’s for sure, that would be way back during the time when I was still using my handphone camera to take photographs for my blog and since then, so many – friends and family here in Sibu or those who came to town, have walked through its doors. This one in 2008 was when we went there for my brother-in-law’s birthday.

Well, last Saturday, I felt like going back there for lunch as I was thinking of having their very nice pandan (screwpine leaf) chicken…

Ruby Restaurant pandan chicken

They do it really well here. For one thing, they are very generous with that huge chunk of chicken wrapped in the leaf and for another, they marinate it very nicely and they cook it really well so it is very juicy and so flavourful unlike some that I have had elsewhere, so very small and hard and dry.

It had been quite a while since we went there to eat – why, I can’t even remember the last time! My girl and the mum were keen on the suggestion so that was it!

We also had the Thai sauce fish fillet…

Ruby Restaurant Thai sauce fish fillet

…because their Thai-style mango chicken was not available – they were out of mango.

For the vegetable dish, we had my girl’s favourite – their cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Ruby Restaurant cangkuk manis fried with egg

…and the bill for these three dishes came up to only RM23.00! I thought that was so very cheap.

I had their very nice kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee), blended…

Ruby Restaurant blended iced black coffee 1

…and if I am not wrong, it is only RM3.00 a glass…

Ruby Restaurant blended iced black coffee 2

…around a quarter of what one would need to fork out for the long black and all the rest at those very expensive coffee joints, branded or otherwise, and I remember the lady boss telling me that they use the coffee powder from Mui Hock no less.

Incidentally, if anyone is keen on dropping by for a quick lunch, they can call and book one of these sets or packages…

Ruby Restaurant lunch sets

…so when the time comes, they can just drop by and eat and leave. You can call the restaurant at 084-323964 or on their mobile phone contact, 016-8905833. I’m afraid I don’t know what’s on the menu as I can’t read Mandarin and if you can’t either, you can just call them – the boss and his wife are conversant in English, Foochow, Hokkien, Mandarin and Malay too, I’m sure. Old folks are more multi-lingual unlike the younger lot these days.

After lunch, we dropped by here for the nice “dessert” and that was when my brother-in-law called to invite us out to dinner. Where? That’s right! Coincidentally, they had picked the same restaurant to go to for dinner – it was my sister-in-law’s birthday!

The daughter, my niece in Singapore, had flown back that morning taking the direct flight from JB and she brought along this birthday cake…

White Spatula Earl Grey lavender 1
*Niece’s photo on Facebook*

…for her mum – the Earl Grey lavender…

White Spatulu Earl Grey lavender 2

…from this online home-based business…

White Spatula
*Niece’s photo on Facebook*

It was supposed to cost over SGD50.00 but my niece managed to get one of those Groupon deals and paid half that price only for it.

Of course, we had to have the fried mee sua

Ruby Restaurant fried mee sua

…for longevity and we also had this egg drop soup…

Ruby Restaurant egg drop soup

…with the lightly fried “golden” eggs though the one I got wasn’t that well done and was not so golden like the rest. Usually people would drop the eggs into the hot boiling soup so what they would get in the end would be poached eggs. My missus would fry the eggs and add them to the soup and of course, hers is nicer – lots of ginger fried in sesame oil and lots and lots of our Traditional Foochow red wine. This one here was nice too, not bad at all considering that it actually was not on the menu and they were nice enough to cook it for us by special request. I wonder why they did not ask for the mee sua to be served in it though and had that fried separately – we usually have mee sua with this egg drop soup, a welcome change from the usual – chicken.

We ordered this specially for my brother-in-law, the fried omelette with lap cheong (Chinese sausage)…

Ruby Restaurant omelette with lap cheong

…as he always complains that he does not get to eat that at home and when he does, it is not so nicely done.

This is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes…

Ruby Restaurant fried ownmade tofu

– their own-made tofu. They have two types, the plain ones and this one has dried prawns (udang kering) in it and I do think that brings the taste to a whole new level. Very nice!

For the vegetable dish, we had midin (wild jungle fern)…

Ruby Restaurant midin

…a change from what we had for lunch that afternoon and they decided not to order the pandan chicken since we already had it earlier in the day.

We also had their claypot pork with salted fish and dried chilies…

Ruby Restaurant claypot pork with salted fish & dried chilies

…and yet another one of their signature dishes, their butter scotch prawns…

Ruby Restaurant butter scotch prawns

– the favourite of many, something that is not available elsewhere here, there or anywhere.

That sure was a delightful dinner that night, 7 dishes for only around RM110.00, inclusive of rice and drinks. While other places are jacking up their prices and what they dish out here is consistently good, I believe that is the reason why people are  flocking back. There was quite a crowd that night and there were several tables as well when we were there for lunch, a far cry from one time not too long ago when things seemed rather quiet and a bit slow.

Cool me down…

It had not been raining for a long time and it was terribly hot every day so the severe storm a week ago was a welcome relief, never mind that the rain was so heavy, the wind was so strong and the thunder and lightning was quite frightening to say the least. The river and the streams and drains must be bone dry seeing that despite the sudden increase in the volume of water, there was no flash flood. We do get that sometimes in the event of such really heavy rain.

Unfortunately, the happiness was short-lived as the very next day, it was hot again…and I thought it was a good time to stop by here (2.302397, 111.842982)…

nica gelateria

…at Wisma Sri Minyak along Jalan Pedada for this (RM10.50, excluding GST)…

nica gelateria pure young coconut sorbet

…their pure young coconut sorbet. We certainly enjoyed it tremendously – the gelato tasted exactly like young coconut flesh straight out of the shell and my girl and the mum loved the peanuts in the topping. They tasted something like Planter’s honey roasted – we can get that at a supermarket here but that, of course, does not come cheap, not at all!

I wanted to try their cheese tarts, all three flavours (RM4.80 each, excluding GST)…

nica gelateria cheese tarts, three flavours

…that have been around for quite sometime now, just that I never got round to stopping by to sample one of each.

The only one that I did not like was the matcha cheese…

nice gelateria matcha cheese tart

Eyewwwww!!! I am no fan of green tea and the combination of that and cheese came across as very odd to me – I shall not elaborate further on that. That was the first and definitely the last time I would ever order it.

The chocolate…

nica gelateria chocolate cheese tart

…was all right, just that the chocolate was so overpowering that there was hardly any hint of the presence of cheese in the filling. Needless to say, chocolate lovers would love this one but for me, my pick of the lot would be the cheese…

nica gelateria cheese tart

My Kuching cousins, when they came to town, did buy me one to try but I did not get the chance till a few days later when I managed to heat up up in the oven and sit down to eat. I don’t know whether it was because I heated it up for too long or what but the filling was solid, not so wobbly or creamy – like chilled cheesecake that has set and I think I would prefer it like that. Actually, I am no fan of those cheesecakes but since the tart is not all that big, I would be able to enjoy it without getting put off by the cloyingly rich cheese filling.

I wonder if those very popular Japanese cheese tarts that people in KL and elsewhere queue up to buy are anything like this one here.

Still going strong…

We go back a long way to way back in 2009 when I was still using my cheap handphone camera to take photographs for my blog and they were just a makeshift stall by the roadside at Bandong here at the time. Now, the authorities have given the place a facelift and constructed proper stalls along what they call the Bandong Walk and they are occupying two of those, one for the foodstall…

Malay foodstall at Bandong

…and the other for the son who barbecues stuff…

Son's barbecue stall

…for sale. We love the sardines, RM7.00 each…

Sardines

…or perhaps that might depend on the size of the fish. The grilled chicken is very nice too.

Note how all the dishes are placed in covered containers, not all exposed like what I have seen elsewhere with all flies flying all over like war planes. You will have to open them one by one to see what is inside like this ayam berlada, for instance…

Bandong Walk ayam berlada

…and decide what your picks would be. Of course, sometimes, you will be drawn to so many that you just can’t decide which ones you want. Do take note also that they are using those environment-friendly cardboard boxes for their nasi campur takeaway, not the banned-in-Sibu polystyrene containers. I definitely would boycott the stall if I had seen them using those.

My missus had picked what we would have for dinner that evening but I went and opened a few of the containers just to have a look and lo and behold, I saw this!!! Liver…

Bandong Walk chicken liver

…and of course, I just had to buy that, RM3.00…

Chicken liver, RM3.00

…for that much, no need to over-indulge plus it was chicken liver. Personally, I prefer beef liver.

My missus bought the fish, RM2.50 each…

Bandong Walk ikan goreng

They always marinate their fish elaborately and I do enjoy eating them a lot more than those at the Chinese chap fan stalls where they would just rub with salt and deep fry.

She also bought the masak lemak

Bandong Walk masak lemak

– pumpkin and cangkuk manis, RM3.00…

Masak lemak labu dan cangkuk manis

…and we sure enjoyed our dinner that evening.

The food here is consistently good – choices are more or less the same every day though so that is why we do not frequent the stall that often anymore, unlike before especially when my missus was still working. Yes, we do drop by time and time again and there may be a few not-so-regular dishes that would make their appearance once in a while. Go ahead! Do drop by to check it out – a wide selection of very nice home-cooked Malay delights, you will surely come back for more!

Good again…

We were quite put off by the miserable portions of our orders and also the poor service at this very crowded place one Sunday but we did go back again once or twice since and things seemed to be pretty back to normal now.

Yes, there is a notice there now that states their opening days and hours…

Colourful Cafe notice

…loud and clear. Their address and telephone contact number are also provided.

I don’t know if they read my blog or what but I was grumbling about how horrible the coffee was and on one of the later visits, the lady asked me if the coffee was all right. I just said yes even though it wasn’t really. This time around, I decided not to have coffee and asked for the teh-c special…

Colourful Cafe teh-c special

…aka the three-colour tea instead. Nope! It wasn’t any good – it was not rich enough probably because they did not add enough evaporated milk and the tea was not strong enough for my liking as well. At other places, there would be a layer of green – some say that is wheatgrass and others say it is pandan and there is a brown layer of gula Melaka as well but there is neither in the one here or none that I could taste or detect. I guess if you are looking for a place where they serve really nice drinks, this is not the one.

My missus stuck steadfastly to the fried kway teow (RM4.00)…

Colourful Cafe fried kway teow

She would order that most of the time though she may switch to something else time and again. Yes, there was quite a lot in the plate and yes, there were three prawns…

Colourful Cafe prawn

…in it – the other two were smaller and buried somewhere under the kway teow.

The standard practice here is to give three prawns…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 1

…no more, no less and so it was with the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 2

…that I had. It was a Friday when we dropped by so I requested for the pulled chicken breast meat to be left out – I am never a fan of that, anyway – and asked for more of the thin strips of sliced omelette though what I got in the end did not seem all that much, not at all.

Yes, it was very nice and I sure enjoyed the bihun eaten together with the sambal belacan

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 3

…provided.

All in all, I would say that everything here is good again, except for the drinks perhaps, so if you have been avoiding this place lately, I would say it is quite safe to drop by again to enjoy all the nice stuff that they serve here. For some reason, my girl loves the curry here so I tapaoed two chicken drumsticks, usually served with their nasi lemak (RM3.50 each)…

Colourful Cafe chicken curry

…for her to enjoy when she got home that afternoon.

Quality…

If one is in the food business, one very crucial thing that is of utmost importance is that one must be able to maintain the quality of what one sells, more or less, so customers would know exactly what to expect and get that much-coveted satisfaction without fail everytime.

I dropped by the Malay kueh stall here again last week and no, the elusive Kate pulut panggang was nowhere to be seen as always and I did not feel like settling for the ones that I would consider second best. I remember buying the fried or koi (yam cake) here not too long ago at only 3 for RM1.00 and it was so good. There were chunks of yam inside and bits of udang kering (dried prawns), so very cheap and so very nice. That was why I bought some more…

Kpg Hilir fried or koi

…that day for tea but unfortunately, it was so so very disappointing.

The quality was way below what I had bought and enjoyed so much before, no chunks of yam, no udang kering, nothing…

Kpg Hilir fried or koi, inside

…mostly flour and it would not be so bad if it had not been so very salty. We just ate a few pieces and in the end, I threw all the rest away. Never mind that it is cheaper – I would much sooner fork out a little bit more to buy the ones here, 50 sen each but 5 for RM2.00 and derive a lot more satisfaction from those.

It was a hot day that day – well, it is getting hotter and hotter here, not a single drop of rain for a long time now – so I decided not to have my usual kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) which, usually, they do not do well at the Malay shops and stalls, I dunno why. Once in Kuching, I asked for iced Nescafe, black, thinking that they couldn’t possibly go wrong with instant coffee…and they did. Tsk! Tsk! Instead, I asked for the ang-tao peng or ais kacang from one of the two drink stalls at the hawker centre in the vicinity…

Simpang Tiga ais kacang 1

…and never mind that they probably gave just a teaspoon of the red beans…

Simpang Toga ais kacang 2

…it was so so so good, so cold and so refreshing. It was very rich, very lemak and if I am not wrong, they had santan (coconut milk) plus evaporated milk…and I had the feeling that they used our local gula apong (attap or nipah palm sugar) which does not taste quite the same as gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) but it is very nice in its own way. I sure wouldn’t mind going for it again if this unbearably scorching weather persists, heaps better and a lot nicer than the disappointing one that I had here.

Ahhhh!!! The African’s back!…

Simpang Tiga SEDC hawker centre - food stall

…His stall was closed all throughout the fasting month of Ramadhan and even after Hari Raya, business did not resume till not too long ago. I was wondering if he had decided to pack his bags and go back to his continent or not but no, he’s still around!

My missus had his pili-pili (peri-peri) chicken rice (RM9.00)…

Pili-pili chicken rice 1

…complete with the peri-peri sauce and tomato salsa…

Pili-pili chicken rice 2

…while I had the Moroccan rice (RM9.00)…

Moroccan chicken rice 1

My missus commented that the chicken was no longer grilled/barbecued and instead, it was fried…

Moroccan chicken rice 2

…which made it nothing more than those slightly cheaper ayam penyet ones all around town with a few cosmetic differences.

Yes, it was still quite nice but if the chicken is going to be fried from now on, we would not be in such a hurry to come back here for more – somehow the quality is not quite the same anymore. I’ve heard comments from friends – they all came to try and they all liked what they had. That guy should think twice about rocking the boat when the sailing all this while has been smooth and good.

Wondering why…

They call him…

Ang Kau
*Archive photo*

…Ang Kau, literally translated – Monkey, and if you are wondering why he is known by that nickname, you can click this link here for the story behind it.

Yes, I do know that he has a faithful following. Wherever he goes, people will go to eat his kampua mee which they would all insist is the best in town. I can’t remember if I ever tried his or not – that time when my friend came home from Adelaide, Australia and made a beeline for his stall to eat not one but TWO plates of the noodles, I did not bother trying.

Then, the other day, my Bintulu brother-in-law took my niece and nephew from Penang to go and eat and they posted a photograph of it on Facebook and praised it to the skies. My niece said that initially, she did not feel like going but luckily she changed her mind and did not miss to chance to enjoy it…and that got me wondering why everybody seems to be falling head over heels in love with this guy’s kampua mee. Is it really that good? That was why I decided to go and look for the guy, since moved from that coffee shop where I last saw him two years ago, 2014.

As always, people will never give you the specific information you may need. A lot of people have told me that he has moved to “Hock Chiew Kay” (Foochow Lane) but nobody ever specified exactly where. Fortunately, there are not that many blocks of shops there, just a few at the beginning of the lane adjoining the main road so I just drove around peering into each coffee shop to try and catch a glimpse of the guy and yes, I found him! He is here (2.289673, 111.831081)…

Ah Soon Cafe 1

…now at this coffee shop…

Ah Soon Cafe 2

…right beside/below the hotel/inn where my friend used to stay everytime he came to town from his jungle school upriver. and ever so often, I would go there to pick him up to go some place to eat or do whatever he wanted so I would say that I am quite familiar with that part of town.

I ordered his pian sip, soup…

Ang Kau pian sip. soup 1

…and yes, it was quite nice but it was mostly skin, not much meat…

Ang Kau pian sip, soup 2

…and if that one time when I had it here was anything to go by, I would say that that one wins hands down.

My missus had his kampua noodles, tossed in chili sauce…

Ang Kau kampua mee, chili sauce

…while I had it plain…

Ang Kau kampua mee 1

…and both of us were of the general consensus that it…

Ang Kau kampua mee 2

…was at best, just all right – not really exceptionally good, nothing to get excited about and there are others elsewhere that we do enjoy more but of course, like I always say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison…and some may not share the same opinion when it comes to the ones that what we like. To each his own!

Not so fast…

I decided to drop by here (2.319100, 111.832213)…

Fast Cafe

…among the shops opposite the RTM station in Sibu in the Sungai Antu area that day. The last time I was here was in 2013 when my Penang friend and his friend from KL were passing through Sibu on their way to the now-a-cluster-primary-school where he once taught in Dalat and back.

I used to drop by quite frequently a long time ago and I always enjoyed the Malay lady‘s fried noodles

Fast Cafe fried noodles
*Archive photo*

…and the rest and also her nasi lemak special…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak
*Archive photo*

That morning, I opted for the latter but when it was served (RM5.00)…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special

…I must say that I was so very disappointed. Where was the egg? Maybe she had forgotten about it? And where were the peanuts and the fried ikan bilis (anchovies)? Don’t tell me she forgot those too?

Other than that, the rice…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, the rice

…was not lemak (rich and fragrant with santan/coconut milk) and was somewhat hard and dry. Hmmm…has she lost her touch after all these years?

Thankfully, the masak hitam beef…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, masak hitam beef

…was nice and the fried chicken…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, fried chicken

…was like what it was, fried chicken. Together with those and also the very nice nasi lemak sambal, and the very nice complimentary clear chicken soup that came with it…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, complimentary soup

…I would say that I quite enjoyed my order but I felt kind of sad that it was no longer what it used to be, not as nice any longer, and I sure would have second thoughts about having this should I happen to drop by here again.

My missus had the kampua noodles (RM2.70)…

Fast Cafe kampua mee

…from the Chinese stall in that coffee shop and all she said was that it was nice – she did not elaborate further. I had that here before and I thought it was all right too, nothing to get excited about really.

I don’t know if we will drop by again and if we do, it would not be so fast, that’s for sure – maybe I will want to go back there some fine day and try the fried noodles to see if it is still as good as what I used to enjoy a long time ago.