On the menu…

After my not-too-successful attempt at cooking my own, I tried a fried adaptation and though it turned out all right, I still had no idea what the real thing would be like. That was why I was delighted to see this banner…

La'zzaty Cuisine nasi ulam

here.

I dropped by the other morning and wanted to order that but the nice and friendly guy suggested their nasi kerabu. It so happened that it was their special for the day so of course, I wanted to give theirs a try. It seems that it is available only on Tuesdays and Saturdays…

On the counter

…unlike that other place that we used to frequent a lot. They only have it on Saturdays now and we did drop by twice, at least, but the place was so crowded and everyone was sitting there waiting, looking very unhappy so we just left and went elsewhere. Last Saturday, I went again with the intention of buying it home – it seemed that they were quite fast with the takeaways, no need to wait like…forever to be served but it was not open! Tsk! Tsk!!! I really wonder how people can do business like that and still survive.

Later, the aforementioned guy came to tell me that the chicken was not ready – they would have barbecued honey chicken by the side but I could pick anything I wanted from their nasi campur (mixed rice) cabinet and I chose the sotong (squid) kerabu

La'zzaty Cuisine nasi kerabu

Yes, it was very nice. I loved the cili sumbat, the stuffed chili…

La'zzaty Cuisine cili sumbat

…a lot. Elsewhere, they would just fill the chili with the filling but here, there is so much filling it was bursting out of it and I sure liked that!

The sotong kerabu

La'zzaty Cuisine sotong kerabu

…was good though a tad too sour but it was all right with the rice and everything else mixed together.

I would say their nasi kerabu was good though a little more expensive (RM8.00) than at that other place and I would say also that the latter had a slight edge over the one here but minus all the disappointment, the frustration and the discomfort there, I would much sooner go for this one. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything like the one I had here – if it had been anything like that failed attempt at coming out with the dish, I would rather not eat. That one was a total washout for a nasi kerabu and worse still, it was twice the price.

I did ask about the nasi ulam but from what the guy told me, it seemed like it would just be their nasi campur plus the usual ulam with sambal belacan and there was tempoyak (fermented durian) with a dash of air budu (salted fish sauce) and a sprinkling of fresh chili slices on top. It did not sound anything like the nasi ulam that I’ve seen somewhere online. We’ll see!

LA’ZZATY CUISINE (2.307198, 111.828479) is located along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg on the left if you are coming from town, right after the SHELL petrol station, at its junction with Jalan Nibong. The Sibu Buddhist Temple is on your right on the other side of the road.

Cheaper…

I dropped by this coffee shop…

Ah Ping Cafe

…again like I said I would in my post the other day because I wanted to try the red kampua mee that my ex-student who was there that morning said was very nice.

Of course, I had the kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black)…

Ah Ping Cafe kopi-o-peng

…that I had on my previous visit, RM1.50 only a glass, cheaper than most other places where it is usually RM1.80 at least.

I placed my orders from that stall in front and sat down to wait. The pian sip, dry and small (RM2.00)…

Ah Ping Cafe piansip

…was all right, pretty much the same as the nice ones elsewhere – nothing to push it a head above the rest.

Having said that, I would say the red kampua mee

Ah Ping Cafe kampua mee

…was really very good. Other than the very nice one that I loved so much in Kanowit, I had not had any here that got me really excited. It was not sweet, despite the use of the char siew sauce, and had a light and very pleasant garlicky taste. If you want authentic Sibu Foochow kampua mee, this is not the one but this is one place for you to consider if you are looking for some very nice noodles that you will truly enjoy.

I was taken by surprise when the guy told me that it was only RM2.50 a plate, cheaper than a lot of places where the going prices would be around RM2.80 or RM3.00 or more. So my breakfast that morning…

Ah Ping Cafe kampua & piansip

…was only RM4.50, around USD1.00, believe it of not…or if you throw in the coffee, it was around AUD/NZD2.00 only, and less than SGD2.00. With the escalating prices of things around here these days, it sure is nice to stumble upon places where things are still very affordable.

AH PING CAFE is located in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah, Sibu right across the lane from AROMA BAKERY (2.311151, 111.831515) after the Maju Tyre shop at No. 36 (G/F), Taman Damai along Jalan Dewan Suarah.

We are not alone…

It certainly looks like we are not alone – going for dinner/supper after the novena and sunset service on Saturday evenings at the church that we frequent here. Everytime we did that, wherever we went after the service, we would notice that there would be others who were in church earlier there as well…and last Saturday night was no exception.

We had not been here for a while now, my Dad’s favourite when he was still around and that night, my girl wanted their lemon chicken…

Y2K lemon chicken

…which she feels is second to none here in Sibu compared to the ones that we had had elsewhere.

We wanted another meat dish so we had the kiam sor (salty and crispy/crusty) pork ribs…

Y2K kiam sor pork ribs

…and yes, it was very good too.

The bitter gourd omelette…

Y2K bitter gourd omelette

…was all right and we would rank their tauhu tear, the Foochow-style tofu soup with canned oysters…

Y2K Foochow tofu soup

…among the best in town. Some do not taste anything like the authentic thing, more like shark’s fins soup with the bean curd and the oysters added.

The total for the four dishes was RM54.00 which I thought was very reasonable but my missus kept looking at the Foochow fried noodles that they were having at the other tables – my Dad loved the one here the most and would order that everytime he came here and at other times, he would come and buy it home and since she seemed to be craving for it and kept saying how good it looked, I ordered a plate with a special request for added char siew (RM5.50)…

Y2K Foochow fried noodles

…to share so that brought the total up to RM59.50. It sure looked like the prices of the noodles had gone up by 50 sen. Well, this place was never known to be cheap and a plate of noodles was already RM4.00 a plate when others were charging RM3.50-3.80…and now it is RM5.00, throw in another 50 sen if you want the char siew.

Together with the rice and drinks, the total altogether was RM70.90 but of course, what mattered most was how my girl enjoyed everything that night – it certainly was a worthwhile treat for her, coming home from her school in the jungle for the weekend, food therapy at its best!

Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753) is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where the branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located. with its back entrance facing the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School

Big daddy…

Every week on  Friday, when my girl comes back to town, she and the mum would go out for some shopping therapy while I would go and have a nap, never mind even if it would be around 2-3.00 p.m. already. These days, the road from Sibu to Selangau and my girl’s school is one helluva horrendous mess and it is very taxing to twist and turn over all the detours, crawling in and out of the potholes. What used to be an over-one-hour journey would now take over two gruelling hours.

Well, the other day, they went to one of the malls in town and she came home with these…

Pezzo

…for our breakfast the next morning – we abstain from meat on Fridays, you see.

This is one of the pizza franchises in town, one being the celebrated one with outlets here, there and everywhere over the country and there is this Sarawak one too – if I am not wrong, other than their outlet here, they have a food truck as well and I think this one is originally from Singapore, affiliated to our Sarawak own fast-food franchise here.

She got herself the chicken pepperoni…

Pezzo chicken pepperoni

…and for me, she got the Big Daddy…

Pezzo Big Daddy

…which, according to the website, is topped with minced beef, turkey ham, Italian sausages, four cheese with a dash of BBQ sauce.

I heated it up in the oven the next morning…

Pezzo Big Daddy, oven-heated

…and gave it a try. I thought it was all right but except for the minced beef, I couldn’t say that I could detect the rest of the aforementioned toppings specifically or maybe it was just me!

I certainly wouldn’t say it swept me off my feet and if I am not mistaken, it did not come cheap, not at all. My girl could not remember how much she paid but as far as I know, they have a promotion right now whereby you pay only RM6.80 each if you buy three slices. That, of course, means that the slices she bought would cost more than RM6.80 since she only bought two…and you can call me ancient, archaic, old-school or whatever but personally, I am all for our own Sibu kompia, deep-fried or oven-toasted, and stuffed with either minced meat of stewed pork…and pay a whole lot less!

Save some…

The dabai…or dabey as we would call it in the family – maybe that’s Melanau and the former is in Malay, I wouldn’t know – is our local version of black olives, hence the name or kana (in Hokkien) or or ka lang (in Foochow)…

Dabai

It is a seasonal fruit and in my growing up years, they would only appear at the end of the year. Times have changed and I wouldn’t know if it is due to the climatic changes we are experiencing in the world right now but it will appear a few times in a year, much to the delight of many who love the fruit.

The other day, I received an sms from a friend asking me whether he should cook the dabai first before preserving them by soaking in water with salt added. He probably had a lot of finish so he would like to save some to eat slowly. No, you do not have to cook it first, I told him – just soak in water, add salt and let it stand for a few days and it will turn reddish purple and can be put away in the fridge…to keep till like forever.

I would say it is an acquired taste – I, for one, am not a fan but my parents loved it so much. They would just take out one from the bottle and nibble…nibble…eaten with rice or porridge. I’m ok with it used to fry rice but I prefer using the fresh ones, skin removed so the fried rice would not be all black and unsightly but with the rich lemak taste of the fruit.

For the uninitiated, to cook the fresh ones, place them in water that is hot enough for you to put your fingers in…and wait. Add more hot water as and when needed, that is when the water has gone cold. If the water is too hot, it will cook much faster but it will be a little sour, not so nice. Do not, under any circumstances, go and boil them!

Long ago, they did not have dabai in Kuching and in the 70’s, I did bring some over and gave them to my college mate. When I asked her how she liked them she said she could not eat it as it was too hard. It turned out she did not know how to cook the fruit so she boiled it and the longer you boil, the harder it will become. These days, especially with the influx of people from Sibu to Kuching, they have dabai there too so I guess cooking the fruit is no longer a problem, unlike before.

The problem with this fruit is that you cannot keep it for too long – maybe that was why my friend wanted to preserve it. After a few days, they will start to wrinkle…

Dabai, a bit wrinkled

…and the skin somehow would seem thicker and harder and that would take away much of the enjoyment of the fruit. One way to prevent that…for a while…would be to wrap it in newspapers – for reasons unknown, it does seem to help a bit.

A couple of days ago, my sister dropped by our house and passed us a bag of the fruit, frozen! Yes, if you want to save some for later consumption like when the fruit is not in season…or you want to reserve for some relative or friend who would be coming back later in the year, you can just put the fruit in the freezer. When you want to eat it, you can just take it out and thaw it. Somehow or other, it will soften and will be ready to be eaten – no need to cook it like what one would do with the fresh fruit. I did tell my friend that and this certainly appealled to him a lot more than salting/preserving/fermenting. I guess this was what he did in the end.

I added soy sauce and sugar to the ones my sister gave us…

Dabai, done

…the way we would usually eat it and yes, it was very nice…

Nice

I did notice, however, that it must be eaten right away or the fruit will turn reddish purple where it is in contact with the skin and it would not taste so nice anymore, something like a toned-down version of the salted/fermented/preserved ones.

Doin’ fine…

Yes, my mint…

Mint

…is doing fine. I got some from a friend, my ex-students’ mum/mum-in-law and I planted it in a pot. It flourished so I transplanted some in other pots and the new plants are doing just as well too.

I guess I can use the leaves to make some mint sauce to go with lamb but we hardly ever cook the meat ourselves – we would just eat it outside. So all I can do would be to make mint tea and the other day, I made this very delightful and refreshing aloe vera drink…

Mint and pandan flavoured aloe vera drink

…with lots of mint and pandan leaves added and yes, it turned out really well plus it has a whole lot of health benefits too!

I do have a problem with white spots appearing on some of the leaves though but I would just trim them and get rid of them – a lot more where they came from, the leaves. I also planted some…

More mint

…in my herbs circle…

My herbs circle

…where I have my curry leaves, my dill, Thai basil, sawtooth coriander, wild onion, oregano, chilies, daun hempedu bumi and even daun sup (Chinese celery)…

Daun sup

They say that I must not plant this in the open – they will not thrive well in the sun but my herbs circle is not shaded and yet, it is doin’ fine there.

Of course, the ones I have in the shade – a whole lot in the trough that I used to plant the mother plant plus a pot where I have transplanted a bit…

More daun sup

…are growing like crazy. I bought the seedling (the mother plant) for only RM5.00, truly a worthwhile investment, and there has been no looking back since. For a very long time now, I no longer have to buy from the market anymore where you will get only a few sprigs for RM2.00 and because you do not use so much at one go, you end up throwing away the rest when they have withered even when kept in the fridge.

Unfortunately, I have not been so successful with tomatoes – I’ve bought the seedlings twice, RM5.00 each too but they just dried up and died. Never mind! Life goes on…and I’ll just go on doing what I do best.

In my blood…

When I was in primary school, I had three sisters in my class – Lay Hoon, Lay Yian and Lay Khim. I never did find out why they were in the same class since they were not all of the same age. Well, kids being kids, we used to tease the three of them by chanting their names…and ending with, “Lay eggs!!!” We were horrible, weren’t we? LOL!!!

I met two of them not too long ago when they were in town – they are not living here now and I asked them about someone in their bloodline – their younger brother who is younger than us, not our contemporary. A friend did tell me about some very nice Sibu kampua mee at a stall at the coffee shop to the left of the Sibu Fire Station but I never went to try – that place is always congested and parking can be such a pain. However, one day, while driving past, I caught a glimpse of the guy at that stall and it looked like him. I grabbed the chance to ask the sisters and yes, it was him but they told me he was no longer there and had moved here…

101 Coffee Shop

…in the lane between the blocks of shops (between Market Road & Channel Road near the Sibu Central Market) where two of the popular kompia shops are  located and I guess it was because of their blood ties that they went there every day while they were in town to enjoy what he dished out.

All this time, I had wanted to go and give it a try but I had not been in the vicinity for so long now. Yesterday morning, I decided I would go to the market to see if I could get hold of some nice seafood to stock up for Chinese New Year and as always, whenever I go to the market, I would go extra early, around 6.30 a.m. to avoid the crowd and also the heat…plus whatever fresh foods I would buy, I would be able to take home quickly and pack nicely in airtight containers to keep in the freezer to ensure that they will stay fresh.

Yes, he was open…

The brother

…and I ordered a plate of kampua mee and a bowl of piansip soup, small and got this in the end (RM3.00)…

Kampua kosong & piansip soup

I guess he just assumed I wanted painsip mee but with the piansip in soup instead of with the mee. That was why I got the kosong (without meat) and yes, it was very nice – not overcooked, over-soft, soggy and sticky.

But it was the piansip soup…

Piansip soup

…that got my attention. It was so very nice with the traditional Foochow red wine (instead of vinegar like at some places) added – my missus would buy this home and generously add the wine and enjoy to her heart’s content. I would say that because of this, his turned out to be a cut above all the rest that I had had before.

I must say that I was glad to note that he was enjoying really brisk business. There were two other tables when I got there and I saw the people from the kompia shop next door coming over to order (if it had not been nice, I am sure they would just order from one of the other coffee shops in the vicinity) and some people buying to take home as well. By the time I was done, the shop was already full.

101 COFFEE SHOP (2.288055, 111.828416) is located in the lane off Jalan Lembangan that leads from Market Road to Channel Road and the Sibu Central Market, right next to the popular Seng Kee kompia shop in that same lane.