Too late…

I wanted to try the Penang char kway teow at this stall…

101 Food Court fried kueh tiaw stall

…here…

101 Food Court

formerly called M.U Cafe but my guess is somebody else has taken over and renamed it thus and I do not know if it has any connection with this place that goes by the same name.

Unfortunately, we were too late; the guy was already cleaning up his stall and calling it a day…or perhaps I should say that he was closing shop way too early as we got there at around 11.00 a.m. and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Maybe he only opens for breakfast and brunch or business was exceptionally good that day so he had run out of noodles.

I saw somebody having nasi lemak and it looked pretty good but when I looked around the place, I could not find any Malay stall. Eventually, I spotted where it came from…

101 Food Court No. 19 nasi lemak stall

– Stall No. 19 run by two very nice Chinese ladies.

We were at a loss as to what to eat so in the end, we just decided we would order something from them to try. My missus had the chicken rendang rice (RM5.50)…

101 Food Court Stall 19 chicken rendang rice

…which came with one fried egg and I must say that the rendang

101 Food Courst Stall 19 chciken rendang

…was really very good – not spicy, or not to us, at least, but it tasted great.

I was wishing she had ordered something else as I had asked for the nasi lemak

101 Food Court Stall No. 19 nasi lemak 1

…with chicken rendang too which would mean that I would only have one thing to blog about. However, the ladies got my order wrong and brought me a bowl of chicken curry (RM6.00 altogether, including the nasi lemak) instead and I guess the one who served us overheard what my missus and I were saying and was absolutely apologetic and even offered to take back the curry and get me the rendang instead. We managed to convince her that it was perfectly all right and as a matter of fact, I was quite happy as I would have something extra to feature here plus we could compare between the two.

The rice had a very slight hint of the richness of the santan/coconut milk, barely noticeable, but it was all right when eaten with everything else that came with it…

101 Food Court Stall No. 19 nasi lemak 2

The curry, though watery and not spicy – quite typical of Chinese curry…

101 Food Court chicken curry

…was very good but between the two, we thought the rendang had an edge over it; the latter was nicer.

All in all, we enjoyed our orders and yes, we would be back again to see what else we could try. I saw a stall in front selling all kinds of Japanese delights, sushi included and there is a western food stall (though it looked like it only opens at night) among the many at that place.

101 FOOD COURT (2.291330, 111.841751) is located in the vicinity of the shops around Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo, back to back with Jiali Cafe along Lorong Tong Sang 4, two or three doors to the left of Wan Li Sheng Rou Mee.

Cafe on the corner…

Now, who knows Bee Guan? Well, if you are as old as I am and grew up in this little town, you probably would know the shop at the corner of the Sarawak Building…

The Ruai

…where the Sarawak Hotel, at one time the No. 1 hotel in Sibu, is…

The Sarawak Building & Hotel

Bee Guan was the shop belonging to the Teo family and it used to be here then, along what was Cross Road, now Ramin Way, right next to the Rex Cinema…

Rex Cinema

…across the road from this Chinese primary school…

SRJK Chung Hua Sibu

That was where I would buy all my DC comics – Superman, Batman, Spiderman…you name it, I had it, and all my black vinyl records, LP’s, EP’s and singles by names such as Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell and our local talents such as Rose Iwanaga and the Avengers, the ones from Singapore like the Thunderbirds (and Heather), Naomi (Suriya) and the Boys (and Henry), Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings featured in this special video clip in conjunction with the island republic’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebration in 2015…

…and the list goes on and on and on. This was also where I could faithfully buy my copies of The Dolphin (a Borneo Literature Bureau publication) and every Saturday, we would go to collect my father’s subscription of the weekly tabloid from Brunei, The Borneo Bulletin.

Right now, there is a newly-opened coffee shop, the Ruai, occupying that little corner but the shop sign has not been put up yet. Well, from the name and some of the decor that they have put up here…

The Ruai decor 1

…and there…

The Ruai decor 2

…one would know what kind of food they serve here. No, they do not have those cabinets with sliding mosquito-netting doors…

The Ruai nasi campur counter

…so it is not so easy to see what dishes they have unless they turn the lids a bit like in the photograph – that probably would help a little.

I heard someone saying that the food “bay hak nang ciak” (not suitable for us to eat) but the fried mee and kway teow were quite nice. That was why I ordered their fried kway teow with kerang/cockles (RM4.00)…

The Ruai fried kway teow with kerang

…but there was no sign of the kerang at all. Eventually, I saw those microscopic canned clams in soy sauce in it. At best, I would say it was all right, not anything to get excited about and I just tried a bit and tapao-ed the rest home.

If you are wondering why I did not eat it all up, it was because we wanted to try the ethnic food that they are serving for their nasi campur. My missus had the sayur ensabi

The Ruai sayur ensabi

– they had the fresh ones not the kasam or preserved version that we used to have at this other place. I did not want that as people told me it was bitter but when my missus gave me a bit to try, I found that it was not, not at all and it was very nice; I sure would not mind having that the next time we drop by here.

She also had the pork cooked in soy sauce and the tapioca leaves that I also had…

The Ruai nasi campur

…along with the pansoh ikan keli (catfish cooked in bamboo).

The pansuh ayam (chicken cooked in bamboo) came out later so we asked for some (RM2.00)…

The Ruai pansuh ayam

…to try and yes, it was good just that the soup was a bit too salty; it went very well with rice though and we did enjoy it. Still, I would say that I very much preferred the catfish…

The Ruai ikan keli

…but of course, one would have to be careful with the bones. What my missus and I picked for our nasi campur came up to only RM9.00 altogether – cheap and nice and for sure, we would not mind coming back again for more. They did say that they would put up the daily menu up in front of the shop (after the Gawai), all the dishes available each day.

They open everyday from around 6.00 a.m., they said, till around 7.00 p.m. and for one thing, although we were there early, past 10.30 a.m., the dishes were ready already unlike at the other place where we had to go away disappointed more than once as they were not open yet.

THE RUAI (2.289479, 111.827220) is located at The Sarawak Building along Ramin Way, formerly Cross Road or Jalan Lintang to the left of what used to be the Rex Cinema, opposite the Chung Hua Primary School.

Come and go…

In Chinese (Hokkien) we say, “Oo lai oo khi,” which may be literally translated as got come, got go, something along the same line as the give and take philosophy in life.

Well, last Saturday, after the nasi Arab lunch, we went to the supermarket round the corner to browse around and I picked up some stuff that I thought would be nice for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival coming up next week – the one who would give her a lift back to town every Friday unless there are matters arising and we would have to go and pick her instead which isn’t very often so that would save us a lot of trouble and cut our travelling/my driving by half, more or less.

No, she does not charge anything but my girl would chip in when they stop at a petrol station to fill up the tank and she would give her a little something (ang pao) periodically. That was why I thought it would be nice to give her something for the forthcoming auspicious occasion that she will be celebrating to express our gratitude and appreciation for her help all these years.

True to what they say, “As you give, thus shall you receive,” and that evening just before I went for the sunset service in church, I received word from my friend, Mary, asking me to drop by her restaurant the next morning as she and her crew would like to give me this steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Flavours Thai Kitchen

…for no apparent reason, just out of the goodness and generosity of her/their hearts. Isn’t that so very sweet of them?

When I went there that morning, Sunday, I decided to tapao my girl’s favourite, their pad Thai

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…home and those were what we had for brunch that morning before we made our way to my girl’s school in the jungle for just one more week before the two-week mid-year holidays starting right after tomorrow, Friday.

We made our way home ourselves, my missus and I and after dinner that night, I got a surprise call from my dear friend, Richard. Why, it’s that time of year again and in no time at all, he was at my house to give me some of his awesomely yummy out-of-this-world simply-the-best own-made nyonya chang (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya chang

…like what he will do year after year, without fail.

I googled to check and I found out that this year, the Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival will fall on the 30th of May,  Tuesday next week.

I had just had dinner but no, I could not possibly wait another day and that was why I immediately took one, unwrapped it…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and ate.

Boy!!! This Richard keeps getting better and better each year and this year, it was exceptionally good – none that I’ve bought in Kuching or Malacca nor those from Singapore would come anywhere close and look at all that meat in it…

Richard's nyonya chang, so much meat
*Sorry for the slightly blurry pic – the challenge of night photography with the insufficient lighting*

Thank you so so so much, Richard, and also to you, Mary & everybody at Flavours, both truly unexpected but most welcome indeed and I do believe these were special blessings for the insignificantly small gesture on my part to get a little something for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival – what goes around comes around, got come, got go!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Something better…

Last Saturday, we stopped by here…

Cafe Ria

…for lunch as my girl who’s so into nasi Arab from her days in Sg Petani, Kedah and also in Wellington, New Zealand, had yet to try the one at the stall run by a Pakistani guy here. She had the beef (RM10.00)…

Cafe Ria nasi Arab, beef

…and yes, it was served with the nice curry gravy…

Cafe Ria nasi Arab, curry gravy

…again, just like the last time.

I would have wanted to try the chicken though that’s actually bryani (RM8.00) as I heard some people saying that it is nicer but they had run out of that by the time we got there. In the end, my missus and I decided to try something from the people running the coffee shop proper instead.

The ABC (air batu campur) looked really good in the photograph displayed on the wall but when it was served, it (RM4.00)…

Cafe Ria ABC 1

…did not look anything like it. There were quite a lot of things inside…

Cafe Ria ABC 2

…including two lychees and I thought it would be good for the scorchingly hot days we’re experiencing here right now but it wasn’t all that great, not anything that would get me running back for more.

Of course, still on my search for one really good out-of-this world nasi lemak, I had their special (RM6.00)…

Cafe Ria nasi lemak special

…and yes, the rice was quite lemak, maybe a little less lemak than the one I had the other day and the sambal was like most nasi lemak sambals here, there and everywhere.

They gave one fried egg…

Cafe Ria nasi lemak special, egg

…instead of a hard-boiled one and no, I did not like it flipped like that

For the special, you would get one piece of fried chicken, breast…

Cafe Ria nasi lemak special, chicken

…and the one I got was too salty and not really to my  liking. Of course, I would much sooner go for the one with the rendang chicken here.

Frankly, I do think that those people would need to pull up their socks and do something much more than what the rest are doing. One can get nasi lemak at so many places here – some are not worth the calories, some are quite mediocre, something one might consider ordering simply because one is not in the mood for anything else. They should go all the way to make their rice extra lemak and their special really special with something like the rendang chicken, not just some piece of fried chicken…but then again, I guess some people are quite complacent – as long as there are people ordering and eating, that’s fine by them, no point going that extra mile to be a cut above everybody else.

My missus had their char kway teow (RM4.00)…

Cafe Ria char kway teow

…which was nice if you like your kway teow sweet. I guess they used those kicap manis (sweet soy sauce) so of course, it tasted different from what we are more used to.

Yes, my girl enjoyed the nasi Arab and no, she would not commit herself to say which one she thought was better – this or the African guy’s grilled chicken rice. Always the gracious and diplomatic girl that she is, she just remarked that they were two different things…

D’CAFÉ RIA (2.307583, 111.820878) is located along Jalan Bunga Normah 4, the first shop on your right if you are coming via Lorong Ria 6 from Jalan Delta/Delta Estate, heading towards Simpang Tiga, now a roundabout where Jalan Awang Ramli Amit, Jalan Kpg Hilir and Jalan Kpg Nangka converge.

As expected…

In my previous post on this place, I said that I would go back to try their roti canai (RM1.20 each)…

Sri Pelita roti canai

…that I saw a whole lot of people ordering and eating that morning. Well, I did that last Friday and yes, as expected, it was really good. I could feel the thin crispy layers in it and it was very fragrant. At some places, it is chewy/rubbery, very hard to tear apart and it does not have that light, pleasant fragrance.

I asked for curry gravy…

Sri Pelita roti canai with curry gravy

…to eat that with because even though my girl likes the dhal dip here, I prefer it thick and rich, all dhal, like what they have here

Dhal dip, thick
*Archive photo*

…but I have not been there for a long time so I wouldn’t know if they are still around or not.

My missus had the nasi campur, their curry fish and two of the vegetables. I went to have a look at what they had and the sambal fish…

Sri Pelita sambal fish

…looked very good. However, it was ikan tongkol which I am not particularly fond of as it may have a strong fishy smell and the texture, my wife says, is like wood.

Still, I ordered a piece (RM3.50)…

Sri Pelita sambal tongkol

…to try and I had it with my roti canai. I sure glad I did as it was very nice and I tapao-ed the remaining two pieces home for dinner. Guna’s wife said that she would go for the white tongkol which would not have the unpleasant smell and the texture would not be as coarse.

Well, if you’re wondering what vegetables my missus picked to go with her rice, she had the nangka muda (young jackfruit), masak lemak (cooked with santan/coconut milk)…

Sri Pelita nangka muda masak lemak

…and of course, their sambal terung (brinjal)…

Sri Pelita sambal terung

…which we tried the other day and liked so much. I would say that of all the places where I have had this, theirs is my favourite and yes, I did buy the two home and their sambal telur (egg) to go with the aforementioned tongkol as well for dinner.

If you’re thinking that the brinjal is very oily, well, I would say that you are right…and the nangka muda isn’t very much different either. That is only to be expected when it comes to Malay cooking. They have a whole lot of pounded ingredients that they would have to tumis (fry in oil) to bring out the fragrance and the taste. It would not be as nice if you use less oil or worse, none at all! Now, one way to solve the problem would be to let the dish stand in a bowl till all the gravy has settled and the oil is at the top by which time, it can be poured out easily…or if you are not eating it till much later, maybe on a later day, you can put it in the fridge and easily remove the solidified oil on top before heating up and eating.

SRI PELITA CAFE (2.293579, 111.820700) is located along Lorong Kampung Datu 11, off Jalan Kampung Datu, the first shop in the block to the right of Paramount Hotel They also have a branch at Permai, at the shops in the housing area opposite the Sibu General Hospital.

Calculate…

It has been quite sometime since we last dropped by here and in the meantime, they have opened two more outlets in the town centre, one at this corner of Blacksmith Road…

Corner of Blacksmith Road
*Archive photo*

…and the other was here, taking over from the one formerly there but for reasons unknown, I heard the latter has since called it a day. Of course, I have been to neither of the two as parking in the town centre can be such a pain and the other day, we dropped by the original shop for brunch.

This was what my missus had…

Missus' picks, nasi campur

– two veg and the curry beef…

Curry beef

…while I also had the sambal terung (brinjal) as well as the sambal egg plus one half of a salted egg…

Sambal egg & salted egg

…and when I helped myself to this…

Masak hitam beef liver

…I thought it was masak hitam beef but it turned out to be liver, 3 meat and 1 veg. No, it wasn’t very nice as the liver was very hard despite their slicing it so very thinly and even if it had been beef, it wouldn’t have been that great either as it was salty and too strong on the soy sauce. I do know of other places in town where the masak hitam is a whole lot nicer.

When it comes to beef liver, or chicken, for that matter, at the Malay food shops and stalls, I like it cooked this way…

beef liver rendang

– as a rendang. I had that when we dropped by here on another day and yes, there is a world of difference and I enjoyed it a whole lot more. I had that plus the asam (tamarind) fish…

Asam fish

…the paku (wild jungle fern) with young sweet corn and the sambal kedondong (ambarella)…

Sambal kedondong

…that I enjoyed so much the last time we were here, two meat and two veg…

My picks, nasi campur

My missus had her usual two veg and one meat and she chose the sotong (squid)…

Sotong

…and the paku and the kedondong that I had. The total here came up to RM13.00 for the two of us, a little bit of difference compared to what we had at the aforementioned place – RM11.00 altogether.

Except for the masak hitam beef liver that was not to my liking, everything else was good and my missus did enjoy her picks at both places, no complaints.

At the latter, I asked the boy how much the rice was out of the total of RM16.00 inclusive of drinks and he came and started calculating away using his electronic calculator for a long while and he could not give me a figure. I asked him how much the drinks were and he said RM3.00 for two kopi-o-peng and of course, common sense would tell anybody that the balance of RM13.00 would be for the food.

Looking at the itemised charges on their menu on the wall, I got RM6.50 for mine and RM4.30 for my missus and therefore, the total would be RM10.80 only…so I asked if they charged for the rice and he said yes, RM1.30 per serving (and no discount even though we asked for half of the regular only)…so the total would come up to RM13.40, a difference of 40 sen. Ah well!!! What they do not know wouldn’t hurt them – as they say, ignorance is bliss!

LIZA ISLAMIC CAFE (2.327044,111.83921) is located at the traffic lights junction at the end of Sungai Merah bazaar, opposite the primary school and church and MIA CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.308507, 111.820287) is located among the shops at Jalan Bunga Normah 4, Simpang Tiga, Sibu, facing inwards overlooking the houses along Jalan Kuda, off Jalan Kampung Nangka.

Father’s son…

I was at the car wash in the next block when I spotted what looked like a newly-opened place…

Treasure Land

…and I saw a lot of people going there to eat. The next time I was there, my curiosity got the better of me and I walked over to have a look. There were no signs, nothing…and everyone’s bowls were so clean, not a trace of what was in them before they licked them clean.

Then I bumped into my one-time barber – he and his father used to cut my hair in my growing up years and he told me that they were selling dian pian ngu at that shop, the son of the celebrated icon at his shop in the town centre. Why? They even have this street artwork of the old man…

Street art - dian pian ngu guy
*Archive photo*

…on the wall in the lane where his shop is but I do not think this one looks anything like the real thing…

Street art - dian pian ngu
*Archive photo*

Of course I wasted no time in going there to try so the very next day, my wife and I dropped by…

Treasure Land dian pian ngu stall

…for brunch. They open at 7.00 a.m. in the morning till after lunch daily and from 6.00 p.m. till around 9.00 p.m. in the evening. I heard that if you go at night, you may get to see the father there too, helping his son. However, they are closed on Wednesdays and will only open half-day on Tuesdays, Sundays and public holidays.

You may choose to sit in the air-conditioned section…

Treasure Land air-conditioned section

…inside and from what I could understand, they do serve some special Chinese/Taiwanese desserts there. However, they do not make drinks like in a regular coffee shop, so no kopi-o-peng for us and we did not want those packet or bottled drinks and in the end, we went without any.

Yes, business was really good and there were a lot of people coming and going and the guy had to go on making…

Treasure Land - making dian pian ngu 1

…more and more…

Treasure Land - making dian pian ngu 2

…using the batter made with the flour that they make by grinding rice…

Treausre Land dian pian ngu batter

…for their use.

The white rice sheets, thus cooked…

Treasure Land dian pian ngu

…are served in a bowl of clear soup…

Treasure Land dian pian ngu

…with fish balls, meng ngee (dried cuttlefish), black fungus, bits of meat and garnished with fried shallots and chopped spring onion (RM6.00).

No, they did not use the dried cuttlefish from China, the rather dirty and moldy looking one that are so very expensive these days – over RM10.00 for just one small piece but they have that very special sweetness and fragrance that others like the ones from Sabah simply do not have. I did not think they used bay ka/tenggiri (mackerel) for their fish balls either so even though they were quite nice, I did not think they were anything to shout about. Still, we enjoyed it and I thought it was way nicer than what I had that one time when I went for a bowl at his father’s place in town.

TREASURE LAND (2.318270, 111.850333) is located at Jalan Ling Kai Cheng Lane 4, not far from Comfort Furniture Centre (Lane 2), two shops away from 99 Car Wash and next door to 118 Kopitiam, all in that same block of shops.