No promises…

I’ve driven past this place (2.295876, 111.886387)…

Lontong Cafe Sibu

…ever so often, everytime I had to go to the airport and at least once a week when I sent my girl back to her school in the jungle and I often wondered if they really served lontong there and if they did, I sure would want to stop by and give it a try. I had it here not too long ago but it looked like they had closed down the place – my, my…it did not last very long, did it?

Well, if you have never noticed it before and haven’t a clue as to where this is, it is to the left along the road to the airport, past the traffic lights junction to the Sibu General Hospital before the traffic lights junction where you turn right into the bypass to Salim. The Jabatan Kimia Malaysia building…

Jabatan Kimia Malaysia, Sibu

…is right across the road.

It’s just a coffee shop, nothing fancy and I noticed that there were two other stalls by the side but they were not open so I would not know whether they are still in business or closed for good or perhaps they only open at night. I saw these at the counter…

Saguk

…and for the initiated, those are sago pellets, toasted sago balls or what we call saguk.

I was very eager to check this place out because I saw the photograph of the lontong somebody had and he shared it on Instagram and it looked very good. That was why we made our way there last Tuesday but it was closed! Tsk! Tsk! I asked the girl at the shop and she told me that they normally close on Mondays but that day, they had a catering job to do so they replaced their off day on Tuesday instead.

A couple of days later, we went all the way there again but we were not all that lucky this time around either…

Lontong Cafe menu 1

They were out of lontong so it was not available. Sighhhhhh!!!!!

I decided to try their nasi lemak ayam merah (RM5.00)…

Lontong Cafe nasi lemak ayam merah

…which was good enough and to my liking though I was wondering what happened to the egg (yolk).

The ayam masak merah

Lontong Cafe ayam masak merah 1

…was very nice and if not for the distance, I would not mind dropping by again for this. I must say it is more or less like the nasi lemak that I enjoy here but this one is cheaper.

My missus picked something from their other menu…

Lontong Cafe menu 2

– the nasi lemak daun pisang which turned out to be nothing more than the regular nasi lemak served on a banana leaf (RM2.50)…

Lontong Cafe nasi lemak daun pisang

…and I guess it would be exactly like what I had plus the leaf but minus the ayam masak merah. For one thing, I would say that it was very cheap, cheaper than a plate of kampua mee at many places.

They did seem very popular, Imust say, as they had a catering job again that day and probably, the nice ayam masak merah that I had came from here…

Lontong Cafe ayam masak merah 2

…just out from the kitchen, freshly cooked. They had a tray of daging masak hitam but it was already covered with cling wrap so I took a photograph of the little bit of extra in a bowl…

Lontong Cafe daging masak hitam

…on the table. How are you getting on with yours, Phong Hong? It sure doesn’t look like the one you cooked following somebody’s recipe sometime ago, right? Yours looked very much nicer but I would give them top marks for their pumpkin dish…

Lontong Cafe pumpkin

…which certainly appeared rather pleasing to the eye.

I asked the girl when they would be serving lontong again and she said she did not know – it would depend on the boss…and she did say that they do not have it every day, so I would just have to take the chance and drop by again sometime in the hope that I would be luckier, no promises…but considering how out of the way this place is, I think I would just give it a miss.

Familiar place…

If you think the name of this place (2.313204, 111.846992)…

Mei Le Cafe Sibu

…at Jalan Gambir here sounds familiar, I am not surprised as I have blogged about it many times before.

We like, in particular, the stall selling the roast meat and stuff and that morning, I noticed that they had ngor hiang (meat rolls) but they did not come cheap, RM4.00 each, if I remember correctly and I bought two to take home and try. Yes, they were very nice unlike those sold at other places which may be cheaper but you would not catch me buying those a second time.

The kampua mee from the stall here used to be very good a long time ago but it has since been taken over by some other people from this chain of stalls around town. I am not sure but it seems that some elsewhere have closed down but this one is doing o.k. and I did get to see the man himself there once.

The people from one of my favourite restaurants around town sometime ago took over the place at the back and they are still here…

Mei Le chu char restaurant

We had lunch here once and it was nice and cheap and the food came out very fast! I wonder whose artwork that is but I would say that it was indeed very well done – you can see it hanging in front of the kitchen right above the window.

My missus had their Foochow fried mee (RM4.00)…

Mei Le Foochow fried mee

…that day and she said it was nice.

I do frequent this stall…

Mei Le stall

…right in front of the right section of the coffee shop quite regularly and I’ve enjoyed most, if not all, that I have had here. though there was one occasion when we did not really like what we had. It is very obvious from how faded the photos are, except for the hung ngang (big bihun) in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup, that this stall has been around for  a very long time.

I do not recall ever trying their Sarawak laksa though and I think it was because a friend of mine had that when it first opened and she cursed and swore at how horrible it was. I don’t know what got into me that day but I decided to order that, the special at RM7.00 a bowl and this was what I got…

Mei Le Sarawak laksa special 1

For one thing, I was thinking that they should sieve the broth a lot more to get rid of all the flotsam and jetsam so at least, it would look a lot cleaner and more presentable.

It tasted all right, perhaps a little milder than the better ones around town and other than the usual prawns, shredded chicken and sliced omelette (which I thought could have been cut into strips a little finer than this)…

Mei Le Sarawak laksa special 2

…there was some minced meat (balls) and I loved that poached egg on top! I don’t know what belacan (dried prawn paste) they used but for sure, it wasn’t our Bintulu ones so I did not like the sambal dip given at all. I did try a bit and left the rest untouched.

Well, despite my being not too impressed by the laksa I had that day, we would still be coming back here again for all the nice things available…and of course, one point in its favour is the fact that it is round the corner from my house, very near and parking is easy though not free, except on weekends.

Better choice…

This place

Warung BM

…has been around for a while now and though I did drive past a number of times, I never stopped by to give it a try.

Well, if you’re wondering what the name means, warung, according to wikipedia, is a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café in Indonesia so I guess it means more or less the same thing here as well. As for the BM, to teachers and students, that would be the Malay Language or Bahasa Malaysia and to the people up north in the country, they would think it is Bukit Mertajam. Well, actually, it refers to the name of the farm where they rear organic chickens…

Boh Ming organic chickens

…no hormones, no antibiotics which I guess, would make it the better choice when it comes to chicken.

This used to be here but it did not last very long and they closed down the place after a while. It sure looked like the new owners not only took over the place but the furniture as well, so those chairs sure do look familiar…

Warung BM inside

They’ve torn down the walls in front and by the side, therefore, it is quite open now and very airy, non-airconditioned which is to my liking. I do prefer that and as long as there are ceiling fans above my head, I am fine with it.

I ordered the smoked chicken (drumstick) rice (RM5.00)…

Warung BM smoked chicken with rice

…and I thought the chicken was very good and I particularly loved the skin. The rice was good too, better than a lot of other places in town but no, it was not as good as Mary’s. I liked the chili dip as well and also the complimentary soup…

Warung BM complimentary soup

…that came with it. I did think I could do with a bit more chicken…

Warung BM smoked chicken

…though and since they had chicken curry with rice on their menu, I was contemplating on ordering a bowl of that without the rice to try but unfortunately, it was not in their list of side orders…

Warung BM side orders

…so I just made do with what was on my plate.

My missus had their teriyaki chicken with rice (RM8.50)…

Warung BM teriyaki chicken with rice

…which is more expensive and came with plain white rice instead of the chicken rice that I had but they certainly were more generous with the meat…

Warung BM teriyaki chicken

…and it sure looked like that was more than what I got and yes, I would say it was pretty good too.

Drinks were a little bit pricey here – my kopi-o-peng that would cost RM2.00 or less at the regular coffee shops was RM2.50 here and my missus’ iced lemon drink was RM2.70. However, considering that we did enjoy our orders, we would want to come back here again and try what other stuff they may have to offer, including their western dishes.

Service is good – the sweet little Malay girl that waited on our table was friendly and efficient and if you are thinking of dropping by, they open every day from 10.00 a.m. in the morning onwards right through till 9.00 p.m. at night.

Opening night…

This place, located at The Orchid Hotel along Brooke Drive (2.292906, 111.828398), has been open for business for quite a while now but only recently did they manage to get a true-blue Thai chef from Thailand and there has been no turning back since. Now that they are going full swing, Mary hosted a party on Tuesday night and invited all her friends to the official opening. If you have missed my previous posts on it, you can click the links here, here and here to see what I had had here before and enjoyed a lot, to say the least.

Mary, our perfect hostess, was dressed up to the nines that evening in her stunning black outfit and she went through the trouble of elaborately decorating the place too with candles…

Flavours' Thai Kitchen candles

…real flowers and tablecloth on every table…

Flavours Thai Kitchen flowers

…and so on and so forth, right down to the presentation of the fruits at the buffet tables…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fruit presentation

…both inside and outside.

Ooopsss!!! There I was, caught unaware on camera…

Flavours Thai Kitchen caught on camera
*Andy Tie’s photo on Facebook*

Can you spot me in the snapshot? Hehehehehe!!!!

There was this little bowl of ikan bilis from Sandakan…

Flavours Thai Kitchen ikan bilis

…to keep the early birds busy while waiting for everybody else to arrive and in the very impressive buffet spread that night were these irresistable Thai salads, the mango salad…

Flavours Thai Kitchen mango salad

…the som  tam (green papaya salad)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen som tam

…and this very nice one that I had not had before…

Flavours Thai Kitchen bihun/noodles salad

…with all the prawns and sotong (squid) and a choice between bihun (rice vermicelli) and noodles (the instant noodles variety) in it. I feasted on these so much that I had very little tummy space left for everything else but there was fried bihun as well…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried bihun

…and chicken too, done in two different styles, but the photographs I took came out a little blurry so I would not be able to feature those in this post. Another time perhaps.

There was also this fried fish with Thai sauce…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried fish with Thai sauce

…and the shrimp sashimi

Flavours Thai Kitchen shrimp sashimi

…that I had before on one of my earlier visits…and I absolutely loved that dish of minced meat with all the herbs and leaves…

Flavours Thai Kitchen vegetable dishes

…that was so fragrant I could detect it from where I was sitting when they brought it out of the kitchen. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went back for more!

By the time this dish of sotong (squid) and prawns…

Flavours Cafe sotong & prawn dish

…was served, I was already too full so I did not have any but I heard everyone at my table singing its praises. I am not sure if it was the same as the slipper lobster/crayfish dish that I had during my first visit to this place but it sure looked similar.

Initially, I thought these…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pumpkin and egg custard

…were nougats (blame it on my failing eyesight, this old man) so I did not take any as I am not a fan of those and then I heard some of those at my table saying that it wasn’t nice, that it was sweet but they told me it wasn’t nougat – some kind of egg thing so I took one and tried. Gee!!! I loved it! Yes, it was sweet, great as a dessert. Probably everybody thought it was meant to be another one of the many options in the buffet spread and expected it to be salty or savoury. I asked Mary and she said it was pumpkin and egg custard – it actually reminded me of some kind of nyonya kueh and I have a soft spot for those, of  course…and no prize for guessing how many I had. LOL!!!

It certainly was a most delightful evening with a truly awesome dinner, thank you, Mary, for the kind invitation. Our heartiest congratulations to you once again and here’s wishing you nothing but the very very best in all that lie ahead. Cheers!!!

Flavours Thai Kitchen Cheers!!!

Soon…

It’s coming soon – the Zhang or Rice Dumpling Festival also known as the Dragon Boat or the Duan Wu Festival.

This year, it will fall on the 9th of June and everywhere, all over town, you will see people selling the dried bamboo leaves and the grass to tie the dumplings with. These would have to be soaked first before use and I would prefer the grass to those plastic nylon strings. All this while, there has been talk about the danger of boiling plastic and rumour had it that some people would melt plastic bags in the oil to fry the banana fritters (pisang goreng) and stuff to make them crispier and to prevent them from going limp after a while…and that made me wonder – wouldn’t boiling the dumplings tied with those strings for hours pose a danger to health as well?

As for the leaves, I heard that the dumplings wrapped in these bamboo leaves would keep longer – the ones wrapped in pandan (screwpine) leaves tend to go bad very quickly. That is why sometimes, you will see the dumplings wrapped with the bamboo leaf inside and the pandan leaves on the outside. I guess if you just wrap them in the bamboo leaves and add lots of pandan in the water while boiling, you can still get the much coveted fragrance as well.

We do have what we call the Hokkien Zhang all over town here – the dark coloured ones with the sauce from the stewed pork cooked and used for the filling but these days, those that I had bought, at RM2.50 each, turned out to be most disappointing. The taste was there but there would not be any sign of any meat in it. If you go for the salted egg ones, RM3.50 each, I think, you would be able to detect the taste of the salted egg but if you think you will get to see the salted egg yolk be it half of it or a quarter, dream on! As a matter of fact, salted egg isn’t all that expensive – around RM1.00 only for one whole egg. My missus loves this type but for me, it will have to be the nyonya zhang, no less – the ones with smaller chunks of meat, a little sweet (some people add finely-chopped water chestnuts but my friend, Richard, said he used winter melon or one of those sweet fruits) and the wonderful fragrance of ketumbar (coriander).

And talking about Richard, he dropped by my house the other night to pass me these…

Nyonya zhang from Richard

– his own homemade nyonya zhang, bless him for being always so considerate and so thoughtful as to remember me this time every year. He did not make any last year for some reason and this was the year before…and this was in 2013 and so on and so forth.

Of course, his would have a whole lot of meat inside…

Richard's nyonya zhang, lots of meat inside

…compared to those commercially-made Hokkien zhang and we can’t get these nyonya ones here, not at all, so that makes his extra special. I have seen some of those being sold outside in all shapes and sizes and even the tying with the grass string was so unsightly messy…and they do not even taste good! Probably everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, cashing on this festive season to catch unsuspecting victims who would end up buying as they do have much choice, being unable to make their own.

Of course, Richard’s has that perfect triangular cone, a true beauty…

Perfect cone

…and a testimony to his expert skill in tying these dumplings and see how the glutinous rice does not stick to the leaf…

Richard's nyonya zhang, does not stick to the leaf

…unlike some that I have bought from outside and I would have to scrape the rice off the leaf with a spoon to eat.

No, no, I did not eat them all at one go. The next morning, I just heated up two, one for me…

Richard's nyonya zhang

…and one for my missus for temporary relief, to appease the craving. I’m keeping the rest in the fridge for the actual day – otherwise, I will not have any to enjoy when the festival comes around.

Thank you so very much, Richard, for your lovely zhangs. It sure is an exclusively special honour and my utmost pleasure to receive them from you each year.

Brother and sister…

The sister runs this other place selling the same things, more or less, and we’ve actually been there twice while the brother is here…

At Happy Hours, Rejang Park

I’ve blogged about this one before…and some are of the opinion that they like the ones here better. Well, I would say that both are very nice and one thing that I like about it here is that the brother is very polite and friendly and he will serve your orders to your table. At the sister’s place, they may or may not do that so at times, you may need to get what you have ordered and bring it to your table yourself to eat.

Well, we dropped by for brunch the other day and I wanted to order something from the old lady at the stall next to this one but she was already cleaning up and closing for the day. I have had the chin tan (clear soup) here before so this time, I decided to go for the zhao cai hung ngang (RM6.00)…

Happy Hours zhao cai hung ngang 1

…and  yes, it was very nice…

Happy Hours zhao cai hung ngang 2

…plus I loved the very spicy chili dip that came with it. As a matter of fact, I am not particular fond of this – my missus is the one who would usually go for it – but I really enjoyed this one here.

My girl wanted the tom yam but she did not want the hung ngang (big bihun) so she asked for the regular bihun (RM6.00)…

Happy Hoursetom yam bihun

…instead. She enjoyed it very much but there was a little too much bihun for her to manage so she finished everything, even the soup to the last drop, but left some of the vermicelli behind. She isn’t a very big eater, not like the father.

The mum was o.k. with the hung ngang and she wanted tom yam (RM6.00)…

Happy Hours tom yam hung ngang 1

…as well and I was wondering why they got a different kind of dip – the regular bottled chili sauce with soy sauce added. My missus would have loved the one I got as she is so into anything spicy, the spicier the better!

She enjoyed what she had…

Happy Hours tom yam hung ngang 2

…but the next time we drop by here, we would make it a point to ask for the nice chili dip that I had…and we would also ask for around half of the bihun for my girl and maybe the guy can give an extra slice or two of the fish or more of the minced meat instead.

Yes, we enjoyed what we had and for sure, we would come back here again…and for your information, they open in the morning but will close early – before or around noon and they will reopen at night around 6 and will stay open till 10 or 10.30 p.m.

Little bit later…

Last Thursday morning, I was up and about as usual, boiled water, made coffee and breakfast and then I went outside to water the plants when I noticed that I had a flat tyre – rear wheel, left side. There was just a little bit of air left and thankfully, it was enough for me to drive to the shop quickly to get it fixed. They found a nail stuck in it. RM7.00.

As soon as I got there, it started to rain heavily and when I got home, my missus said that my girl was unwell and asked us to go and get her to go and see a doctor. She had been down with a severe flu and cough for a week or two now…and when we reached the school, she had a slight fever as well. It rained most of the way there and back and I sure was relieved and so very thankful that it wasn’t along the way in the pouring rain in the middle of nowhere that I had the flat tyre – over the years, I have often seen many cars in such a predicament and also many stranded halfway with engine trouble and what not. Truly, God is merciful, praise the Lord!

So all weekend we were home mostly, letting my girl take all the medication prescribed by the doctor and have a good rest in the hope that she would recover quickly. That was why I did not manage to go back here to return the plate that Mary had used to let me take the lovely grilled ikan keli home. That had to wait a little bit later before I could get down to doing that. By Sunday, my girl was slightly better though not fully recovered but she wanted to go back to the school and get back to work so we sent here all the way as usual.

On the way back, we stopped by the market at Selangau Bazaar and got some very nice buah emplam that I wanted to give to Mary. That evening…

Evening at Sibu town

…after the evening mass at the cathedral in town, we went to return the aforementioned plate to Mary and pass her the fruits and have dinner there.

This looked like a nice cosy corner…

Flavours Thai Kitchen

…but it was booked that night so we had to take another table instead.

To our surprise, we were served this…

Buah emplam appetiser

…as an appetiser – the buah emplam, peeled and nicely sliced…

Buah emplam, peeled and sliced

…using some special knife or peeler or shredder and that certainly gave it a classier look than how we would simply cut it into chunks of all odd shapes and sizes. We had it with this very nice rojak sauce…

Rojak sauce dip

…that Mary said she got from Penang…and yes, we certainly enjoyed that very much.

Then, Mary served us this – her Norwegian sardine tosazu

Flavours Thai Kitchen tosazu

No, it’s not on their menu – she made that for herself and gave us a bit to let us try. We’ve never had it anywhere before and we loved it a lot but of course, my missus had to have it with the sliced fresh chili provided and she too enjoyed it very much.

We had the pineapple fried rice (RM13.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pineapple fried rice

…single serving but it was big, more than enough for two and there were generous chunks of chicken in it and cashew nuts too. It certainly was a whole lot nicer (and very much cheaper too) than the one we had here though I must say I had had something here before that had an edge over it but unfortunately, the owner decided to wind up the business and the place was closed down unceremoniously and the authentic lady Thai chef had to go back to her own country.

Mary asked us to try the chef’s fried long beans (RM10.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried long beans

…cut diagonally like what I would usually do with French beans and not long beans and cooked with lots of garlic and a few daun limau perut plus whatever sauce he used in the cooking, probably fish sauce – the Thais use that a lot. It was very good and my missus said the whole cloves of garlic in it tasted great too!

Now, one reason why we did not quite finish the fried rice, leaving just a little bit behind, was because we enjoyed the pad thai (RM13.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad thai

…so very much. One just can’t go wrong with prawns and there were so many in it! I never expected that even the raw taugeh (bean sprouts) by the side would taste so good when mixed with the fried noodles. My ex-student and friend, Andrew, went and had this too and he too praised it to the skies but he did add that he missed having the peanuts that one would usually find in pad thai. This is one dish I certainly would want to order again…and again…each time I go back there.

The total came up to RM38.30 – there was free flow of iced water but in fact, just that plate of pad thai and a vegetable dish, less than RM25.00, would have been enough for a pleasant dinner for two…or you may opt for the som tam or mango salad instead. We have yet to try the green curry – Mary said it was sold out the night before, Saturday, and they had yet to get down to making the paste…and I wonder if they have my favourite Thai dessert, the mango sticky rice. Will find out the next time I drop by…