Hanging by a thread…

We did not get to eat many different kinds of fish in my younger years growing up. Perhaps my dad had a preference for some like the pek chio (white pomfret/ikan bawal putih), steamed so we would have that very frequently or we would have the or chio (black pomfret/ikan bawal hitam) deep-fried or served sweet and sour.

Perhaps those do not have a lot of bones but then again, we did get to eat ikan terubok (chee khak/toli shad) quite a lot. Other than the aforementioned types of fish, I do recall my mum buying slabs of ngor hu, served deep fried though I never did see it whole…

What I knew then was that there was a problem with the big ones, sold in slabs, pre-sliced. Sometimes it was lo ko (a Hokkien expression) and was kind of hard and rubbery, not nice at all. I’m not too sure but it seems that this may be the case when the fish is too big.

So far, I have encountered this twice at our local restaurants, once with a friend who insisted on ordering the ikan tapah

…and when it turned out to be like that, he was rather pissed off and he never forgave them ever – since that day, he never wanted to go there again. Another time was when we had the ikan lajong here

– that certainly spoilt our mood at that otherwise very enjoyable dinner.

Anyway, going back to the names of the fish, we usually used their Chinese (Hokkien) or Malay names to refer to them. Like in the case of the ngor hu, all these years, I only knew its Hokkien name. We have bought it a number of times and thankfully, it was good all the while, not lo ko. Now, thanks to Google, I managed to find out its names in English and in Malay. It is called the threadfin or ikan senangin respectively but this Singapore blog calls it ikan kurau.

For one thing, it is not cheap. When I bought the sotong (squid) at my favourite fish & seafood stall not far from my house that day, I saw a few slabs, already sliced so I asked the lady boss what fish that was. She said it was ngor hu, RM45 a kilo but since those were towards the tail part of the fish, she would let me have it at RM35.00 per kilo. For reasons unknown, whenever we have fish, my girl will always want the tail part.

I asked for one of the bigger and thicker slabs and asked for it to be cut a bit more thinly like this…

The total for the two slabs came up to RM36.00, around RM18.00 a slice which, of course, was not cheap but of course, very much cheaper than cod or salmon (and to me, very much nicer).

We just had it deep fried…

…and enjoyed it just like that…

…with rice.

Most of the time, they will sell such big fish whole and of course, I would not want to buy so much. I did buy one, pre-sliced, once at the fruit and vegetable sundry shop near my house – the boy said it was not very big but it took us such a very long time to finish all the slabs/slices that I never wanted to see another ngor hu ever again after that.

Considering how much we enjoy it this time around, if I see them selling it in slabs/slices again like this, I sure wouldn’t mind buying it again.

The fish & seafood stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada).

All of it…

Last week, I saw some reasonably big sotong (squid) at my favourite fish and seafood stall not far from my house so I asked the nice boy to pick the bigger ones and then, help me clean them and remove the skin too.

I cannot remember how much it was per kilo – the lady boss did tell me but I wasn’t paying much attention. He went on selecting the bigger ones and placing them on the weighing scale till it went past RM30.00 and the lady boss said it was all right – she would just collect RM30.00 only from me. My missus said there was a lot, 2 kilos, at least but that was perfectly all right as for some reason, my girl loves sotong, more than prawns!

It turned out that she asked the mum to cook nasi lemak and sambal sotong

…with the squid for our no-meat Friday (last week) and the latter cooked all of it at one go. Well, it did not matter really as we could keep some and serve gradually in portions to enjoy with rice on any other day – they went so well together!

My girl was never into nasi lemak before but lately, it seems that she has acquired the taste for it. That is why when I buy any from the nearby fruit and vegetable shop in the next lane from my house, I must pick up a pack for her as well whereas before, I would end up eating it myself. You would never hear her asking her mum to cook that in the past.

Of course, there was the rice…

…which was lemak (rich in santan/coconut milk) enough and very fragrant with the pandan leaves from our garden and my missus also cooked these hardboiled eggs…

…as well.

We had cucumber…

…too but no, there wasn’t any kacang (groundnuts) nor ikan bilis (deep fried dried anchovies).

Well, we did not miss those much as my missus did fry these slices of long kiam hu (fermented salted fish)…

…and that alone together with the sambal sotong, would be enough already for a delightful nasi lemak meal.

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, if you go in via the entrance where San Len Tyres is located, just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall.

Long lost love…

This coffee shop had a different name before but probably there was a switch of ownership sometime back and they changed it to…

Don’t ask me what that means – I really do not know. I went there once, that time in 2011, and yes, I thought what I had was good but for no particular reason, I never went back again – I did go to the other coffee shop in that same row a number of times though.

Well, lately, I have seen a lot of people sharing photographs of the beef noodles they had there and praising it to the skies but no, it did not get me all excited and I did not bother to rush there to give it a try. Theirs is the Taiwanese version, not really my favourite and I do know of some really good ones here and there, that is why.

The other day, however, a foodie friend shared a photograph of the Penang har mee he had at this coffee shop and it did look a bit like the one that I loved so much a long long time ago, going all the way back to 2012! I wasted no time at all and the next day, I was there!

I placed my order at the stall that is further in at that coffee shop, the fourth one, right before the chu char (cook & fry) stall at the back. Having done that, I took my seat at a table at that extension to the right of the coffee shop…

– they did not have any tables inside which is a good thing as it is not a very big shop and a whole lot more spacious outside. There were quite a number of customers that morning, occupying a number of the tables but they were all spread out so physical distancing was not a problem at all.

The moment my bowl of Penang har mee

…was served, I thought it looked familiar, especially those fried wantons. I always asked for those to be served separately…

…so that they would not turn soft and soggy after being soaked in the broth.

However, when I tried the broth, I was taken aback for a while – it was spicy! The lady must have tweaked the recipe a bit and added a bit of chili oil, a current craze, it seems. Other than that, it tasted great, not quite the same as what I loved so much in the past but it was good enough. It did not come cheap though, RM9.00 compared to only RM6.50 way back in 2012 but of course, that was A DECADE ago!!! LOL!!!

There were a lot of ingredients inside – four fairly big prawns, one whole egg, halved, three deep fried wantons, a few strands of kangkong (water spinach) and noodles…

I went and asked the lady and yes, she was the one and the same but unfortunately, she said that the broth would be prepared before hand, with the chili oil added so there would be no way it could be served non-spicy. Yes, she did think that I looked familiar, she added. Of course it has been so many years and I was surprised that she could remember – frankly, I couldn’t remember what she looked like then. *face palm*

Yes, I sure would want to go back there again for this or for something else from her stall or one of the other stalls at that shop. Incidentally, I saw this reply from my foodie friend to one of his followers, when asked about the beef noodles at this shop. He said that the people at the stall would be moving “…next to Mark shop coffee&tea middle of next month…” Who knows? I may just drop by one fine day when they have shifted there.

PETTY HARBOUR CAFE (2.323915, 111.838194) is located to the left of Choon Seng Coffee Shop in the blocks of shops along Lorong Wong Ting Hock 1, Off Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg (Sungai Merah).

Keep going…

That morning, when I was out and about, roaming around the vicinity of the place that I was going to and waiting for it to open, I stopped by this shop to pick up a few things for our morning or afternoon tea.

There is this girl here in Sibu who will make her delightful nyonya kuihs and Chinese teatime delights and leave them there, as well as a lot of other places all over town for sale. If I am not mistaken, she is related to Rose‘s hubby – his cousin or his niece, I’m not too sure. You can click this link here to go and have a look at her home business Facebook page.

I first stumbled upon her at a fund-raising event in 2019. She had a stall there and I got to buy some of her kuihs

…and yes, I thought they were all very good. I guess to succeed in anything, one must have the passion and the drive to keep going and it sure looks that she has no problem with that. Other than buying her kuihs at certain designated places all over town, one can also order them from her for parties and gatherings at home or other public events – she will cut them nicely and arrange the pieces beautifully in plates, ready to be served.

That morning, I bought her chai kueh (RM2.40 for a pack of 2)…

I am quite sure I have bought hers before but I did hear that on certain days, some other lady will be making hers and leaving them at this shop for sale.

You can tell from how translucent the skin was…

…that these that I bought that morning were really good. My girl loved the crunchiness of the turnip (mangkuang/sengkuang) filling too, not overcooked till mushy and soggy.

The ladies in the house loved the serimuka (also RM2.40 a pack)…

…but I was not that impressed. At best, I would say they were nicer than any that we can buy here in Sibu but no, they did not come up to that same level as the really good, so-very-lemak (rich in santan/coconut milk) ones that I’ve bought and enjoyed in Kuching.

I would say, however, that the bingka ubi/tapioca cake (RM2.40 a pack)…

…was very much to my liking, almost like the ones my late mum used to make in my growing up years. You can tell from the tapioca fibre in the cake (and maybe the desiccated coconut too) that she does not scrimp on the ingredients unlike others where most of the time, it is all flour. This was the first time I came across it and one thing’s for sure – I will surely buy it again if I see it next time.

Yes, her kuihs may be more expensive than most around here, though very much cheaper than these very nice ones that I would always buy to enjoy when in KL, but at least, one gets to enjoy decently good kuihs, value for money unlike most of the rest that I would consider a waste of one’s calories.

Well, if anybody is keen on placing a big order, you can PM her via her Facebook home business page or call her…

…at 014-6846866 or drop by the house at No. 35B, Jalan Berjaya, Sibu. Otherwise, you can drop by this shop that I went to and buy whatever that is available. As far as I know, she also leaves some at this coffee shop at Rejang Park on weekends and somewhere in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah market and also the Sunday market, among other places that I don’t quite remember.

HONG KONG PUFF is located along Ramin Way (2.291180, 111.826634), beside Sin Kiaw Coffee Shop, right behind the Petronas station at Kpg Nyabor Road (formerly Esso) across the road from the HSBC Building, Sibu branch. 

Gone…

Time flies by so quickly! It felt like just yesterday when I went out to replenish my prescriptions and in the wink of an eye, a month had gone past so I had to make my way to the town centre once again and as always, I went real early so I would be the first customer the instant the boss opened his shop for the day, nobody else around. That way, I would be able to get everything that I needed and make my way out of there and head on home in a jiffy. #staysafe #staywell

My problem is I am always early for anything, never late and the boss of that shop is never punctual, at least 15 minutes late so he would never show up at 8.00 a.m. on the dot, 8.15 to the earliest. LOL!!!

Well, I was VERY early that morning and with a lot of time on my hands, I decided to walk around the vicinity and as I was walking past this coffee shop, I noticed that a new guy was running the kampua mee stall

I went closer to have a look and I saw him heating up some thick gravy in a saucepan. I asked him what that was and he said it was for his lor mee (RM6.00)…

I said I wanted that and I took my seat at a table, waiting to be served.

When it came, my first impression was that it looked really good and when I tried it, I must say that I was quite impressed. No, it did not taste like the lor mee we used to enjoy a long long time ago – it used to be a little on the sweet side with a bit of taucheo (fermented beans) in the egg gravy that had been thickened with cornflour. What I had that morning had a completely different taste of its own and it sure was very nice!

I already had my breakfast before I left the house that morning so I was quite full at the time and I was wishing that the guy had not given me so much noodles…

In the end, I finished everything in the bowl but I left quite a bit of the noodles behind.

While I was sitting there eating, I noticed that the chu-char (cook & fry) stall further in (not open at the time) looked very different from what it was like before…

As far as I know, the fat guy who used to sit there fiddling with his smartphone the whole time had given up but his young assistants had taken over the stall. I went and asked and yes, it was just as I thought – the young boys had called it a day too. They’re all gone now and somebody else is there instead.

I must say that I feel kind of sad as I quite liked the food from that stall, never mind if it was the boss cooking or whether the young boys were the ones doing it. As a matter of fact, I did drop by to eat there a number of times but not since the outbreak of the pandemic. Sighhh!!!!!

KIONG CHUONG CAFE (2.291062, 111.827381) is located along Jalan Kampung Nyabor at the bend where one turns left or right when coming from Brooke Drive, a stone’s throw from Malaysia Hotel in the next block to the right.

Almost perfect…

The other day, when I blogged about the char siew (barbecued meat) that I cooked

…somebody said in his/her comment that he/she would use pork belly when he/she cooked his/hers.

Well, I did buy two slabs/slices of pork belly that time when word was going round that there would be a shortage here owing to the breaking down of the machine used for slaughtering. I went through all the stuff in the freezer and found one slice/slab left only. My missus must have cooked the other one and all the lean meat and the pork leg/trotter that I bought.

I took it out to defrost and looking at the instructions at the back of the packet…

…it did say pork belly too but one would have to remove the skin before use. I told my missus that and she asked me to just leave it there – she would cook it later that morning.

I did not tell her that somebody mentioned that she would use her flip pan when cooking char siew but coincidentally, my missus took out hers…

…to use that day.

Come lunchtime that afternoon, the char siew

…was ready and it was perfect…almost!

I love char siew that is very well-charred and so siew-ed like this…

…and what we had that day, cooked using the sauce from Uncle James, tasted great except that it was a little bit too salty. My missus said that it would be just right for two slices/slabs of pork belly and we only had one.

It went very well with rice so on the whole, we enjoyed it, very sweet and juicy and tender too. I guess we can improve on it the next time we decide to cook this again – we still have a few packets of the sauce in the pantry.

How have you been…

I guess these days, at a time like this, this will be the first question people will ask when they meet somebody that they have not seen for a very long time.

Well, that was what those nice & friendly people asked me when I dropped by my regular Malay kuih and food stall…

…at the Bandong shops here that day.

Maybe it was already mid-morning so there were not many choices available or perhaps, they haven’t gone back full swing yet. The lady boss said that things were getting better now – it was very bad before this. Thankfully, they managed to sail through.

I saw these packs of curry puffs (RM3.00 for a pack of 2)…

…so I grabbed a few to take home and try.

I really admire people who can make such fine, uniform layers…

…in their puff pastry. I, for one, will never be able to do that! The pastry tasted very nice but maybe because it was cold already, it was not flaky nor crusty – I would love it that way.

The filling…

…tasted great, slightly spicy but if the D written on the pack was supposed to stand for “daging” (meat), I’m afraid one would be hard-pressed trying to find any inside.

I went over to have a look at the ice cream in their freezer and I bought two of these (RM4.50 each)…

…for the ladies in the house to try. I believe this is new as I don’t think I have seen it before. Of course I did not buy any for myself since I am on a low-sugar diet. Sobssss!!! Well, they did give it a try eventually and yes, they loved it!

I also bought the classic…

…because my girl likes it very much. They also had the almond but I did not buy any nor all the different types of ice cream that they had in the freezer from that same company.

I really enjoyed dropping by here before to have a bite to eat or to buy some of the things they had for sale. I hope that things will pick up slowly and go back to normal – I certainly will want to go back there again!

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.

Brownies…

No, I did not go out to buy these brownies…

…that’s for sure, not when I am presently on a low-sugar diet!

So how did we end up having these beauties to enjoy? Well, my girl’s friend got these for her birthday from a friend who stays next door to my friend/ex-student whose wife runs this homebased business…

…making brownies and everything else and he got them from them for her. You can hop over to their Facebook page to have a look. My girl’s friend gave my girl some to try so that was how we managed to get some in the end. Gosh!!! That’s so complicated! LOL!!!

I tried the one with the Kit Kat on top…

…and yes, I would say it was very nice. It was sweet but not too sweet.

A long long time ago, I used to buy the brownies from what was called the Applebee Bakery then, now Uniqbun, the bakery section of our Sarawak own franchise, the Sugar Bun. Theirs were very nice but very very sweet, with cherry slices and strawberry jam squiggles on top – it was all right then as I was not on a low-sugar diet. I enjoyed them so much at the time that I just could not resist buying one once in a while to nibble nibble.

We also got the ones with the almond flakes…

…but I guess the only difference would be what’s on top.

Of course we shall not be ordering these…

…from them unless we want to give them to somebody but if any of you is thus inclined, you can call them or check out their Facebook page and PM them from there.

When two worlds collide…

First and foremost, my heartiest congratulations to my friend, Dennis, and Outright Coffee

…on winning the 9th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Environmental Award, 2019/2020. If you drop by the place, you can see the trophy and certificate on display – I was there the other day but somehow, the idea of taking a snapshot of them did not cross my mind at that point in time. There is no formal grand presentation ceremony this time around because of the pandemic.

I went there that day because I wanted to buy a slice of this cake…

…to see what it was all about. I saw people talking about this onde onde cake, two worlds in one – a fusion of East and West and it sounded like something I would enjoy.

For the uninitiated, onde onde is also called kuih Melaka…

– those springy sticky (glutinous) rice flour balls (something like mochi or 汤圆/tang yuan) with gula Melaka inside that will squirt out when you bite into one, the more the better, coated with desiccated coconut.

I could not figure out what the cake would be like. Would it be made up of those onde onde arranged in the shape of a cake, held together by some santan cream, with gula Melaka inside the balls and all over the cream and desiccated coconut on top? That was why when I heard that they had the cake here, I quickly went to buy a slice…

…to try. At over RM12.00 a slice, it sure did not come cheap, I must say.

It turned out to be layers of pandan (screwpine leaves) cake with cream in between – i was quite positive I could detect a hint of santan (coconut milk) in the cream and a little bit of gula Melaka, so little that I could hardly taste it. Perhaps adding too much of it may spoil the cake, I wouldn’t know.

On top, they had this desiccated coconut…

…and that was about all there was to that onde onde cake.

Yes, I would say it was nice, just that there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, more or less just a well-made pandan cake with a little bit of this and that and yes, at least I’ve tried. This Youtube video tells it as it is and calls it a “Coconut Pandan Cake With Gula Melaka/Ondeh Ondeh Cake 班兰椰糖蛋糕“.

I did enjoy it on the whole even though the texture of the cake was like cakes these days – a bit too dense for me. Personally, I prefer those old school cakes way back in the time when electrical appliances were unheard of and the cakes were not so fine.

Anyway, now that I have tried this onde onde cake, the next one that I would wanna check out would be the nasi lemak cake. Know of any good one in town, anybody?

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lau King Howe Memorial Museum.

Lucky sometimes…

I guess I was lucky when I dropped by this bakery that morning and managed to grab hold of two butterfly fritters/ma ngee (horse’s ears) selling at a discounted price as they were left over from the previous day. I went there again the other morning but no, I was not so lucky this time around. I asked the girl there and she said I could drop by around 1 something in the afternoon – the freshly-made ones would be available then.

I rummaged through all the items on sale in the tray and managed to find these…

They are something like pita bread or the Indian naan and they cut them in halves and cut a slit into which they will stuff a slice of ham, cheese and lettuce. My girl enjoys these half pockets (sandwiches)…

…so whenever I see any available, I will surely buy for her, a nice change from the usual sandwiches.

These kosong (empty) ones are RM2.20 each but that morning, they were going for RM1.00 only. So cheap! I would love to buy more but unfortunately, there were only two of them.

I did not have any ham in the house but I took a slice…

…and toasted it in a non-stick pan to make my own version of the sandwich using the bak kua (barbecued meat slices) that I bought that day. I think it would be very nice to eat it with curry as well. My missus had the other slice with canned chili tuna and yes, she enjoyed it. I certainly would love to buy some more should I happen to see them again.

On another day, I went to one of my neighbourhood shops and I bought these burger buns…

from this bakery and on another morning, I had one with yes, a slice of the bak kua! My girl took one of the pork patties, still in the freezer after all this time and made herself a burger with fried mushrooms added and she enjoyed that very much.

I love these buns a lot more than their regular sandwich bread because when I toast it in the oven, the outer part becomes slightly crusty while the inside is so very soft, so soft that it is quite impossible to cut into halves so to make a burger, I would have to cut it first before toasting.

I also love the mini buns from this same bakery, their kaya and butter buns, a whole lot nicer than this one and all the rest, also sold at that same shop. The butter ones can give those delightful ones from Sarikei a good fight. I did not plan on blogging about them so I did not take any photographs that day – I shall do that the next time I get hold of some more from the shop…or from the bakery itself.

I bought their pizza stick too – I think it was RM2.80 each but it wasn’t anything to shout about, nothing more than a plain bread stick with a little bit of some kind of pizza sauce or whatever on top. This chocolate cheese bun (RM3.50)…

…on the other hand, was VERY nice, particularly so after being toasted lightly in the oven. Unfortunately, it was very sweet so I just had a bit since I am on a low-sugar diet and let the ladies in the house enjoy it all.

More recently, in the morning, I stopped by the fruit & vegetable sundry shop in the next lane from my house and got these ang ku kuih (RM1.00 each)…

…with mung bean filling…

…except that they were yellow in colour, not red. Yes, they were nice and I particularly liked how they were not sweet. I sure would not mind buying some more should I happen to see them at that shop again.

I bought a few of these tapioca fritters (RM1.00 each)…

…to try as well but no, they did not sweep me off my feet.

I liked the tapioca inside…

…but its very light taste was overshadowed by the taste and smell of the deep fried batter that the cucur (fritter) was coated with. I think I would enjoy plain boiled tapioca…

…a lot more.

I guess this is the case when you go around buying this and that to eat and try – if you are lucky, you will get something very nice that you will want to go back for more but on the other hand, you may not be as lucky and end up with something you wouldn’t mind if you would never get to see it again.