What’s new…

…from Stephanie? Remember my ex-student who made those delightful mushroom pies and cheese tarts…and also the chicken pies?

Well, she dropped by my place recently to give me these marble cupcakes…

Marble cupcakes

…to try.

Wowwww!!! They were very very nice…

Marble cupcake

…with the most delightful buttery fragrance, not very sweet and really fine on the inside…

Marble cupcake, inside 1

…so very soft and nice. She was just trying them out at the time, not really for sale then but when she was good and ready, I wasted no time in ordering some more…

Marble cake, inside 2

…to enjoy for my afternoon tea. She is selling them at RM7.50 for 6 so that works out to RM1.25 each which, of course, is not cheap compared to some of the ones sold at the shops and supermarkets but those are not really worth the calories plus at those prices, one can tell right away that they do not use real butter. On the other hand, there are those cakes at the bakeries and some of those branded coffee places and yes, some MAY be nice but no, they are by no means, cheap – certainly not all that affordable for the likes of me.

Then, the other day, I got these…

Cheese butter cupcakes
*Stephanie’s photo on Facebook*

…from her. I did take some photographs of them but somehow, they did not come out well so I’ve taken the liberty of pinching her snapshots on Facebook – butter cake on the inside…

Cheese butter cupcakes, inside
*Stephanie’s photo on Facebook*

…with grated cheese toppings.

Between the two, I would prefer the marble ones with the added cocoa powder taste of the swirls in them.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for letting me sample some of your delightful cupcakes – I love them to bits and rest assured you have one very loyal customer here, me!

Start the day…

My friend, Mary, went off to Adelaide, Australia, to see her girl there and when she came home, my very old friend, Jasmine, there sent me these goodies…

From Jasmine 1

…through her and these too…

From Jasmine 2

…thank you so much to you, Jasmine – that was indeed so thoughtful and generous of you…and thanks also to Mary for bringing them all the way!

I was very sure there were two packets of the Tim Tams when I started taking out everything for the “photography session” but when I was arranging the stuff, there was only one and I just assumed that I must have been mistaken earlier. When it was all over, I started putting the things back into the bag and there it was! On the bench where I was sitting, right beside the bag. Sighhhh!!!! A sign of old age, I guess – very typical of elderly folks like me.

I had gone to the market early that morning and after getting all that I wanted, I dropped by the restaurant to pick up the things and since I was up and about early in the morning, I decided to take the opportunity to have breakfast there.

Yes, they do open for breakfast, 7.00 a.m. onwards and they are open 7 days a week because they have the special arrangement with the hotel where the restaurant is located to serve breakfast to the room guests every morning.

I’ve tried the “kampua” before, the Thai-style kampua by Jos (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampua by Jos

…Jos being the name of the Thai chef there. The only thing kampua about it is the noodles used, our locally-produced kampua mee but other than that, it would not be anything like our local version of the noodles in any coffee shop round town…and of course, being located in a hotel, you would not find any lard nor pork in it. However, that does not mean in any way that it is not nice – just that it is something completely different. Otherwise, why would I want to have that again since I had tried it before?

As a matter of fact, there are some very nice pork and lard-free kampua noodles at the Malay coffee shops and stalls like here for instance and also at this one and when I cook my own at home, I just fry sliced shallots in cooking oil and use that and needless to say, it tastes great too. I sure enjoyed the slices of fish cake…

Fish cake on kampua by Jos

…a lot more than the usual red-coloured boiled char siew wannabe. I was wondering about those brown bits used for garnishing – they tasted great so I asked Mary and she said they were fried garlic. Of course, in our regular plate of kampua mee, there is usually no garlic so that would give one a fair idea as to how different this is from the real thing but yes, it is a nice change from the usual – just don’t come here and order this and expect it to be the same as what one is accustomed to.

Mary gave me this chicken rice chili dip…

Flavous Thai Kitchen chili dip

…to go with it but I only used a little of that. It was nice enough on its own.

I also ordered the kampung eggs with toast (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampung eggs with toast

…as I have seen people sharing photographs of those on Facebook and I was kind of attracted by the orange colour…

Organic kampung eggs

…of the yolk. I’ve tried those supposedly healthier organic eggs before and no, I did not like them. They do not have that chow chor egg smell or taste that I enjoy. I wonder if they also serve this using regular eggs but anyway, I did  not think that was butter on the toast so I did not get very excited about it too. It might as well have been plain, plain toast to dip in the egg and eat.

Now you would not believe this! Mary said that the eggs were very fresh, just delivered fro the farm, and insisted that I took a tray home. That was so nice of her, thank you so so much! My girl likes these kampung eggs so of course, I would let her take some to her jungle school to enjoy. Normally, she would buy those at the shops and supermarkets or the Omega-3 ones…but of course, those, if truly organic, would not be as fresh as these from Mary.

There are other things on their breakfast menu, one being porridge which I did not try, but I don’t think I will be back here for breakfast again all that soon because normally, I would not be out and about jalan jalan cari makan (looking for things to eat) that early – usually way after 10, by which time they would be about to close, and they will reopen for lunch every day (except Wednesdays) at 12 noon till 2.00 p.m. and dinner will be from 6.00/6.30 onwards (also except Wednesdays).

Next door…

That day when we went here for the KL Hokkien mee, we walked past this shop…

Kafe Ikhwan

…right next door. My missus said that the nasi lemak looked good and I thought she had a glimpse at what the people there were eating so a few days later, we went back there with the intention of giving it a try.

Unfortunately, they were all sold out. It turned out that they were pre-packed packets of nasi lemak and my missus saw one basketful of it and she said they seemed very generous with the sambal. I asked if they were wrapped in plastic and that was why the sambal was visible but she said they used paper. However, she could not remember how she could get to see. She does seem to be getting rather forgetful lately, old age, I guess…and pretty often, she can’t remember this and that even if it was only a day or two before. I guess I would have to go some other day to see for myself.

They did not have a lot of selections for their nasi campur (mixed rice)…

Nasi campur

…plus the options did not look all that enticing unlike what they have here so I did not feel like having that. It did seem very popular though as we saw a lot of people dropping by to pick what they want…

Help yourself

…and take away for their lunch, perhaps. I was glad to see that they were using those paper cardboard boxes for the purpose, not those not-environment-friendly polystyrene food containers.

I don’t know if the prices have gone up elsewhere as well or not but the roti canai here…

Roti canai menu

…seemed a bit more expensive. Yes, I’ve had the kosong (plain) for RM1.40 here but I do recall having it for RM1.00 or to the most, RM1.20 elsewhere. I did not feel like having any that morning and the nasi ayam penyet

Images

…looked really good in the photograph so I settled for that instead and my missus followed suit.

What we got in the end (RM8.00)…

Nasi ayam penyet 1

…was a far cry from its pictorial representation, unfortunately but the complimentary soup was very nice – no, they did not give us their sup tulang (bone soup) like what they would usually do at most Malay food stalls but instead, we were served this very tasty salted vegetable chicken soup, way nicer than the very diluted, terribly watered-down ones one would get at the Chinese chicken rice shops.

The chicken was literally penyet (clobbered)…

Nasi ayam penyet 2

…and it was good and we would have enjoyed it more if the chili dip had been spicy. Just one or two cili padi in it could have been enough, I think.

On the whole, it was quite nice though I would not say it was anything to get us rushing back for more…and my missus would much sooner fork out the extra 50sen for the one that she seemed to enjoy a lot more here.

Opposite side…

Tomorrow is a public holiday here, Sarawak’s Independence Day, so my girl will be coming home earlier for the weekend. I guess many will be coming back as well seeing that tomorrow, the Borneo Cultural Festival 2016 will begin and some of the SUKMA 2016 events will be held here – Sarawak is the host this time around. I hear the hotels in the town centre are fully booked so I would expect massive jams over the next few days.

Well, if any of you are thinking of dropping by here…

Delta Seafood & Cafe

…for the old lady’s kampua mee, I have not very good news for you. She has decided to call it a day once again and will not be selling the noodles at that coffee shop any longer.

As a matter of fact, that section of the coffee shop and restaurant has closed down…

Closed

What I heard was that the landlord wanted to raise the rent so everybody shifted to the opposite side…

Opposite

That Sunday, we wanted to drop by here for the beef noodles but it was so very crowded, the people were literally spilling onto the road so we decided to come here instead. Unfortunately, the chu char place at the back of the shop was closed – I was told that they do not open on Sunday mornings so we had no choice but to order from the kampua stall…

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua stall

…in front. Somebody told me that one of the ladies was working for the old lady formerly, helping her out at her stall and now that the latter has retired, she has taken over doing what she used to do and selling the same things, more or less.

I ordered one big bowl of the meatball soup (RM5.20)…

Delta Seafood & Cafe meatball soup 1

…to share…and that got me wondering about the price. They could have reduced the number of meatballs and charged RM5.00 instead and that might help a bit in giving the impression that it was not all that pricey.

No, it was not as thick and rich, the bone stock used for the soup, as the old lady’s. However, I would say it was nice and they did give us some of our traditional Foochow red wine to add to it. That sure helped enhance the taste…

Delta Seafood & Cafe meatball soup 2

…a lot and yes, we did enjoy it though my vote would go to what we had here before.

Yes, we had the kampua mee

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua mee 1

…too but no, it was not quite the same as the old lady’s.

It had the same stewed/braised meat topping instead of the boiled red-coloured char siew wannabe that one would find at a lot of places elsewhere around town and it had that very nice fragrance of lard and fried shallots. For one thing, it was lighter as far as the amount of msg used went and we liked that but I hear that it did not go down too well with many of the old lady’s loyal supporters. However, I did feel that the noodles were a little over-boiled/cooked and were softer, not as firm. All in all, I would say it was all right…

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua mee 2

– just that to me, the old lady’s has a slight edge over it.

I wouldn’t mind dropping by again for these should I happen to be around the neighbourhood but that morning, I was quite put off by the fact that even though there wasn’t really a crowd, we had to wait for a mighty long time despite the fact that there were three ladies and one young boy helping out as well. Maybe she was a newbie at this thing so she was not all that good at it yet – hopefully, in time, she will be better and her customers would not need to wait…like forever, to be served!

Here and there…

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday on Sunday and we had a little celebration at their house on Satuday night, just the immediate family including my sister-in-law from Kuching and my brother-in-law and his wife from Bintulu plus the grandson from KL and the grand-daughter from Singapore.

In previous years, we would all go out to some restaurant outside but this year, my mother-in-law is no longer all that mobile and considering the hassle of getting her there just to eat and all the way back again, we decided to have the dinner at home instead.

My in-laws went and ordered a few dishes from here and there, including these Foochow sio bee (RM1.60 each)…

Hock Chiu Leu sio bee

…from here and also a few dishes from here, such as the sweet and sour fish fillet…

Sweet and sour fish fillet

…and these huge freshwater prawns (RM90.00)…

Freshwater prawns

…as well as the sea cucumber soup and my brother-in-law’s favourite egg omelette with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and when they said that they paid RM150.00 for all those, I knew that most of that went to the prawns – those things are a killer really!

They also got the mee mamak and this curry bihun

Curry bihun

…from this restaurant but we did not go out to get anything as my missus said she would want to cook a few dishes of her own.

Her kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma chicken

…was a hit all round and my mother-in-law especially enjoyed it so much! Unfortunately, like our daging masak hitam, it is not all that photogenic for any snapshot to do it much justice.

Her asparagus with sambal udang kering (dried prawns)…

Sambal asparagus

…were very nice too and she also cooked this chicken curry…

Chicken curry

…another of my in-laws’ favourites everytime they came to dinner at our house. At the end of the day, I would say that nothing beats one’s own home-cooked delights, that’s for sure.

It was a simple celebration, nothing grand but it was indeed most meaningful and an opportunity to get together with one’s loved ones to share the joy on a very special and auspicious occasion.

What did I do wrong…

Well, firstly, I did not pronounce it right.

I always called it “pho” as in Phong Hong…or when somebody throws a tile in mahjong and you have two identical ones in your hand, and you shout, “Phong!!!” and quickly grab that tile to form a set of three.

Then my girl told me it should have the f-sound as in philosophy…and I guess she knew better as she had a Vietnamese friend in Wellington with a Filipino wife and nothing beats getting it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. In fact, it is not even pronounced something like for – if you click this link to go to the website and click the listen link there, you will find that it sounds something like far, the intonation going a little upwards at the end. Ah well!!! Guess one is never too old to learn new things, right? LOL!!!

Now, some of you may recall that I did buy a packet of the dried flat rice noodles – the one in a green packet and I cooked that not too long ago. It turned out all right, not quite there but it was good enough. I did mention in that post that there is another brand being sold in town, in a red packet and I would want to buy that to try as well, and I did…

bánh phở 1

…and it’s a product of Vietnam…

product of Vietnam

…true and true. Of course, we do have dried versions of our own noodles at the shops too but some people would insist they would not be as nice as the fresh ones but when it comes to this bánh phở, we do not have any fresh ones so this will have to do.

I had a glimpse at the instructions at the back and it said to boil for 6 to 8 minutes. Boil! 6 to 8 minutes? Oh me! Oh my! No wonder the ones I bought and cooked before were not all that satisfactory, not really fine and smooth. I would just soak in hot water like what people usually do to soften bihun (rice vermicelli) prior to cooking. No wonder I thought it was not quite like hor fun or kway teow (flat rice noodles) and more like bihun.

So this time around, I did as instructed and after boiling, I rinsed in “fresh water” as stated in the instructions and loosened the strands before draining them well. Then, I added a bit of soy sauce, not too much as I did not want it too dark, a sprinkling of sugar (a teaspoon) and pepper…

With soy sauce, sugar and pepper

…and I mixed them altogether well.

These were the ingredients I prepared to fry the bánh phở

Ingredients

– sliced shallots and chili, chopped garlic and spring onions. sliced sausages and some fishballs.

I fried the shallots and garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown, added the chili and the sausages and fishballs and when they were good and ready, I put in the pre-seasoned bánh phở. Finally, I broke two eggs and mixed them well with everything in the wok before adding the spring onions and dishing everything out…

Fried bánh phở 1

There you are! It sure doesn’t look too bad, does it? Well, I would say it tasted very good too – maybe not all that salty enough but no, I would not want to add more soy sauce and get it all black. Perhaps a little salt would be fine but it was all right the way it was – I could enjoy the taste and fragrance of all the ingredients that went into the cooking and with my missus’ extra-hot blended chili dip, that sure gave it an extra kick.

I only cooked half of what was in the packet…

Fried bánh phở 2

…but when I get round to cooking the rest of it, I think I would check one of those pad thai recipes and get all the ingredients ready to cook it that way – hopefully, it will be just as nice as some that I’ve enjoyed so much at some Thai restaurants here and there.

The other end…

I think I’ve said this before – how I hate people telling others about something nice that they’ve eaten and they do not give the specific details or information so that they can go and try and enjoy too. Often, I would see people sharing a photograph of something that looks rather nice on Facebook and when somebody asks where they have eaten that, they would just give the name of the road or worse, the area. I just cannot understand why they bother sharing the photograph in the first place.

This was exactly what happened when I went looking for one and ended up at the wrong place. Somebody told somebody about what she ate somewhere that was very nice and that somebody told me about it and all the related information regarding the people and what not…but when it came to the coffee shop concerned, she just said she was told that it was in the block of shops at the other side of the Sibu Bus Terminal…

Sibu Bus Terminal

Yes, I do know that block of shops but there are at least 8 coffee shops altogether, or 7, as there is one that occupies two shoplots and I really do not see any difficulty at all in remembering and telling people the name of the shop…

Ak Kia Kopitiam 1

Ak Kia or duckling, in Hokkien but don’t ask me why it is thus named as I really do not know.

This time around, I did not have a problem as the nice guy at the wrong shop that I went to told me specifically which one it was – the one at the other end…

Ak Kia Kopitiam 2

…just around 100 metres from this hotel…

Li Hua Hotel II

– the very first shop in the block, if you are coming from that direction.

Yes, the person in question did say that the coffee was very nice and yes, indeed it was, the kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) that I had…

Ak Kia Kopitiam kampua kopi-o-peng

There is a kampua mee stall in the front portion of the shop…

Ak Kia Kopitiam kampua mee stall

…but we did not order anything from there as we went there for the sole purpose of trying what the person was praising to the skies, the KL Hokkien mee (RM5.50)…

AK Kia Kopitiam KL Hokkien mee 1

For the uninitiated, there is a difference between KL Hokkien mee and Singapore Hokkien fried mee and the Penang one which is actually the Penang prawn noodles or har mee like the one here that I particularly enjoy.

Like most, if not all, coffee shops in our town, they give you the spoons and chopsticks dipped in hot boiling water, the one here in a stainless steel canister, but unlike elsewhere, here, they gave us the sliced fresh chili and a bottle of the dark soy sauce for us to add ourselves…

Chili and soy sauce

The mee was the big, firmer one that one would find in KL Hokkien mee over in the peninsula , not the regular not-so-yellow noodles that we have here and yes, there were the crusts from the melted pork fat…or pork rind…

Pork rind

…and there were some tiny shrimps in it too…

Shrimps

…other than the meat and the cabbage.

So what did I think of it? Well, I must say it…

Ak Kia Kopitiam KL Hokkien mee 2

…was nicer than what I had here (cooked by some guy from Penang) or here though I did think it could do with a little stronger wok hei fragrance and maybe a little bit more garlic…and perhaps they could simmer it a little bit more to reduce the amount of gravy/sauce and make it thicker.

I would agree with my missus when she said that it was very nice but at the end of the day, she would still enjoy our own Foochow fried noodles a lot more…which, incidentally, is comparatively cheaper.