One more to go…

Well, the schools’ week-long mid-term break was drawing to a close and in the little time that we had, we did manage to go around town so my girl could enjoy some of the things that she enjoys and can eat. No, we did not go anywhere – we just stayed home, spending quality family time together and visiting the grandparents every day but nevertheless, we had a great week…or at least, I did have a good time.

That, of course, meant that on Sunday, we were on the road again sending my girl back to her school in the jungle and for our lunch on Saturday, she got to pick one more of her favourites before leaving town – and she chose the Sarawak laksa (RM5.50)…

Sibu Thomson Corner Sarawak laksa

here and of course, they got the very nice belacan (dried prawn paste) dip…

Sibu Thomson Corner belacan dip

…to go with it.

Others may have their own preferences but in our opinion, this one is the best in town – closest to the authentic original Sarawak laksa in its place of origin, Kuching. This is the regular size, the large is RM7.00 a bowl but it was so big that it was a struggle even for me to finish.

She also wanted the sotong kangkong (RM9.00, large)…

Sibu Thomson Corner sotong kangkong

…or what we call in Hokkien, jiew hu eng chai. The regular is RM6.00 a plate and is about half the size. This is how they serve it in Kuching, for instance, at the Open Air Market. Here, in my younger days, they would cut everything nicely and place all of it in a plate and  they would give the sauce in a bowl for you to dip yourself and eat. I know of a place where they still do it like that and for a long time now, I have wanted to go and check it out but I never got down to doing so. For one thing, it is in a rather congested part of town and parking around there can be such a pain. They also serve it like that at one of the stalls at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market but I have never gone to try the one there either.

I did not feel like having the laksa so I opted for the nasi lemak instead…and I must say the complimentary preserved Szechuan mustard green soup…

Sibu Thomson Corner complimentary soup

…that came with it was really good, as good as the one I had here. or maybe, even a little nicer.

As for the nasi lemak, I asked for the special (RM6.00)…

Sibu Thomson Corner nasi lemak special

…and I would say it was pretty good.

All in all, inclusive of our drinks, the total came up to RM32.55, RM34.50 altogether inclusive of RM1.95 GST, not too bad really for a simple, yet very delightful lunch.

SIBU THOMSON CORNER (2.296517, 111.840710) is located at Pusat Tanahwang, right across the road from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Oya Road.

A step further…

I went back for the lei cha

Payung Cafe lei cha

…again last Friday. After the one I had two weeks ago, I could see the after effects of eating that Hakka delight – the next day, it did look like some kind of detoxification had taken place.

Yes, I did not go too early this time around so I did get the brown rice…

Payung Cafe lei cha, brown rice

…unlike the previous time and I went a step further this time around – I ordered their fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

Payung Cafe fried ikan bilis

…to add to the lei cha

Payung Cafe lei cha with ikan bilis

…so as to give it a little more taste and yes, it was good!

It was much more bitter this time around but that was fine by me – I heard there were people who wanted it this way so the boss added more of one of the 10 types of herbs used in the cooking of the soup. I barely managed half of the soup though – I mixed it with the rice and everything else to eat and I was literally drowning all of it in the green stuff…but I saw the guy at the next table drinking it all straight from the bowl, right down to the last drop. Wowwww!!!! Unfortunately, I am still learning to enjoy this thing, yet to reach that level. Hehehehehe!!!!

None of the ladies wanted any of the same though so I ordered the mushroom soup

Payung Cafe mushroom soup

…for my girl – it was not available the last time we were here. I think they had a bit of shitake mushroom in it this time around and my girl was not fond of that. Besides, it was too thick, like the canned soup from the can, yet to add the milk to cook. Still, I thought it was nice, something like a cross between a soup and mashed potatoes, and of course, I helped her to finish most of it.

I did mention that to the boss and he said that he had been so busy he did not have time to check on his boys before they served it. Indeed, there were so many people at the cafe – the  lei cha sure seemed very well-received and in a little more than an hour or so, it was already sold out! It is available on Fridays only from 11.30 a.m. onwards so if anybody is intending to go for it, I would suggest that you go early…or call first and ask them to reserve some for you.

It is still the season of Lent so it was a no-meat day for us that day. My girl would have loved the Payung fish but that had soy sauce in it so we settled for the pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and our favourite, the Payung-style otak-otak

Payung Cafe otak otak

…and also the belimbing prawns…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns

The boss mentioned that he did tell the boys to give me two servings, six prawns altogether, but they just gave me one. Well, I told him it was perfectly all right as there were just the three of us. If I had had other people with me, I would have told him right from the start that I would want more prawns so that we would not end up fighting over who should get the crustaceans…and every time, he would oblige willingly, giving me a lot more than the usual portion and yet charging the same price as stated in the menu.

Together with the drinks, the bill came up to RM65.00, almost the same as what I had to fork out here…and no price for guessing which one we enjoyed a lot more.

PAYUNG CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

The leader…

Many here in Sibu would know of Ah Ling Bak Kut Teh. It started off a long time ago, probably the first in Sibu – the leader, so to speak and to this day, it is still going strong at that same coffee shop…

Leader Coffee Shop

…to the right of the back of the HSBC Building (that white one to the extreme left in the photograph). I was told that the family took over the business when Ah Ling passed away and the last time I was there, I did notice a little sign at the stall with the name “Ah Ling Bak Kut Teh” on it, otherwise, there is no way of telling that this is the one. I did not take note this time around but I guess it is still there.

Well, my girl wanted to have bak kut teh the other day and as far as I know, unlike the rest, Ah Ling’s is a little light on the soy sauce. She has been taking the very expensive gluten-free soy sauce but we reckoned that a little bit of the regular one would be fine as she is just gluten-sensitive/intolerant and not suffering from celiac disease. I heard that the Singapore version does not have soy sauce but unfortunately, we do not have that here.

When we got to the coffee shop, the mum said she would rather have the chap fan but I told her that the former people had called it a day. They were at the coffee shop opposite but when the new owners took over, they moved here but if I remember correctly, the guy was not well or something so he decided to call it quits and people were saying that the current one was not as nice. Nonetheless, she insisted on going for it and this was RM4.00…

Leader Cafe chap fan

…for one meat and two vegetables including the salted veg…

Leader Cafe salted veg

I thought everything looked quite good but no, she said it was not nice and the rice seemed to have an unpleasant smell to it so she barely finished half of what was on her plate.

Thankfully, our rice from the bak kut teh stall…

Leader Cafe rice

…was all right.

I asked for lean meat and they gave me two huge chunks of pork ribs plus the innards that I also wanted…

Leader Cafe Ah Ling bak kut teh 1

…and yes, it was very nice – not strong on the soy sauce…and peppery too which reminded me of this…

Pork innard soup Damansara Uptown

…that I had once at Damansara Uptown (though I heard that the coffee shop has since closed down). Too bad we can’t get it here, or at least, there is none that I know of – this one has no soy sauce in it, that’s for sure!

We noticed the absence of the curly green vegetables and tauhu pok (tofu puffs) in the bowl…

Leader Cafe Ah Ling bak kut teh 2

…but I think I did see some yew char koi (Chinese cruller) at the stall – I guess if you want that, you will have to pay extra for it. Of course my girl did not want the “spare parts” so in her bowl, there were only three huge chunks of the pork ribs…and the total for our two bowls came up to RM22.00. Hmmmm…it certainly doesn’t come cheap, this bak kut teh like the one I had here not too long ago.

Ah well! It’s not something that we would have every day, anyway…and we usually cook our own at home and in doing that, we will have the choice of using the gluten-free soy sauce that we have in the house or do it Singapore-style, just leave it out altogether.

LEADER CAFE/AH LING BAK KUT TEH is located in the vicinity of the Tuanku Osman shops at the end of Jalan Kai Peng, the other end if you are walking from the Jalan Kampung Nyabor side beside the HSBC Building, to the left of it.

The other man’s grass…

The other man’s grass is always greener, the sun shines brighter on the other side.

The first time I had to fly to Langkawi on a working trip, a friend said to me, “You must buy the Kit Kat there!”

“Oh?” I responded. “Don’t we have lots of Kit Kat in our shops and supermarkets?”

“Theirs are imported,” she explained, “from Australia. They are creamier and very much nicer.”

Of course, I had to buy some but blame it on my retarded taste buds, I could not tell the difference and I would say that like our own locally manufactured products, not all imported stuff is necessarily good or better. For instance, the other day, my girl bought two packs of the imported Nice biscuits and two of the Teddy bear ones (that looked more like a lion to me) for me to enjoy. The expiry dates were drawing near so they were going for around RM4 something instead of the usual over RM7.00-8.00 each. They were all right but I do think our own Tiger biscuits are nicer though looking at the prices these days, they may not necessarily be cheaper than these discounted prices.

Of course, many have tried coming out with their own – here or in other countries overseas but none would come near those Kjeldsens Danish butter cookies and I do love those Scottish shortbread so much but unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy those to enjoy anymore these days. My eyes almost popped out at one supermarket that day – a regular-sized pack was going for over RM30.00! *faints*

It’s the same with these digestives…

Digestives

– this particular brand. I’ve tried others but somehow, they are simply not quite there. Not too long ago, I bought what looked quite the same, a bigger pack, but they were really horrible like they had gone all limp and the original taste was not there at all. I did not check to see where they were made but my girl could recall there were some Mandarin characters on the pack. But these came all the way from the UK and they are good and even at over RM9.00, I would buy once in a long while to enjoy.

They are only £1 in the UK…

One pound special

When I was there long ago, I used to look for these special offers – the ones selling at the regular prices were not quite within my budget, especially after converting them into our miserable ringgit. That should be over RM5.00 here but I guess those people would need to make a bit of profit after deducting the shipping charges, the overheads and all.

I am not a fan of ginger cookies but I do enjoy these…

Ginger nuts

…also from the UK…

From the UK

…going for around RM4.00 only so I would buy them sometimes to enjoy.

Then, the other day, I saw these…

Ovaltine biscuits

…and I decided to buy a pack to try, just over RM3.00 each!

I can recall during the British colonial days, people used to argue as to which one was better – Milo or Ovaltine. I don’t think I’ve seen the latter anywhere these days, just Milo…and I hear many complaining that it is not so nice anymore, nothing like what it was like in the good ol’ days when it was imported from England.

I checked the pack and found that it was not made in Malaysia…

Made in Thailand

…but in our neighbouring country.

I am not fond of biscuits with cream filling including those overly-sweet black ones with white filling, though I would not mind our Malaysian-made cheese crackers with peanut butter cream inside. To my delight, the filling in this one…

Ovaltine biscuits 1

…was so very nice. I absolutely love it! I wonder if that was the same as what I got from my Singapore friend sometime ago. I did try the other one and it was very nice and in the meantime, my sister saw something shared by somebody on Instagram or somewhere and he insisted it was nicer than Nutella so she asked me for it to try. Well, if it is the same, I would say it is really nice.

No, I will not be rushing out to grab a bottle – it is not available here, anyway but I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more of the biscuits…

Ovaltine biscuits 2

…but not that often. They are not really sweet but still, they are sweet and people my age should not be eating too much of those, everything in moderation.

I guess it’s like going some place to eat – not everywhere here or overseas will be good, we just need to know where to go and it’s the same with these biscuits/cookies. Most of the imported ones are a lot more expensive, of that we can be sure, but they are not necessarily nice(r) and on the other hand, we do have some usually more affordable and very nice local-made ones.

As the remaining lines of the chorus of that song in the above link go:
The other man’s grass is always greener
Some are lucky, some are not
But just be thankful for what you’ve got !

Say what?…

My girl wanted to pick up a few things as she wanted to cook dinner that evening so we went to the supermarket at Simpang Tiga here and since we were there, we decided that we would just go over to the hawker stalls opposite for lunch. After all, the African guy‘s pili pili grilled chicken rice (RM9.00)…

Stall No. 7 pili pili grilled chicken rice

…from Stall No. 7 there is one of my girl’s favourites in town. The mum had the same and yes, it was good as always.

For a change, I had the ais kacang or ang tao peng

Stall No. 10 ais kacang 1

…from Stall No. 10 but the beans were a little hard, not that it really mattered as there were so few in it…

Stall No. 10 ais kacang 2

Still, I quite enjoyed it as they added a lot of the gula Melaka (palm sugar) and they were also very generous with the evaporated milk. I certainly liked it a lot more than the one I had from the other drink stall (Stall No. 3) there that had all that rose syrup that I am not fond of.

I did not feel like having the pili pili nor the Moroccan grilled chicken rice so I went to the stall beside it, No. 6, to see what they had for their nasi campur. I chose the curry fish, ikan pari (sting ray)…

Stall No. 6 kari kian & telur sambal

…and the sambal egg and I picked this labu (gourd)…

Stall No. 6 labu

…for my choice of vegetable.

I asked the lady how much that would be and she said RM7.00. Say what??? RM7.00 for this…

Stall No. 6 nasi campur

…with only two meat and one vegetable?

The sign at the stall said, “Nasi campur RM4.00++,” so I asked the lady about that. She said it was RM4.00 plus what one picked…and in my case, there were one, two and three…so RM7.00 altogether.

Ah well, no prize for guessing who would not be coming back for more, thank you very much!

The SEDC HAWKER CENTRE is located at Simpang Tiga, facing the entrance of MDS Mart with the end of Jalan Kampung Hilir on one side and the end of Jalan Awang Ramli Amit (formerly Race Course Road) on the other.

Waiting for the moment…

This place…

Daksemari Korean BBQ

…opened its doors not too long ago, occupying the shoplot where this used to be before and this one before it. I did see some favourable reviews from my friends on Facebook and seeing that my girl (and the mum) are so into anything and everything Korean, I was waiting for the moment to take them here.

Well, it’s the school holidays right now so with a lot more time on our hands, we dropped by the place for dinner on Tuesday evening. Business hours are from 6.30 p.m. onwards, closed on Mondays, but we got there a little after 6.00 and to our delight, they were already open…

Daksemari Korean BBQ 6.00 p.m.

…and of course, we were the first and the only people around. However, it did not take very long before the place was turned into a hive of activity as people started flocking in…

Daksemari Korean BBQ 7.00 p.m.

…a number of them in big groups, there to celebrate a birthday and that was very good considering it was a weekday night. If it is going to be like this every night or on most nights, at least, I am pretty sure it will not share the same fate as the two that were here before.

I do not know why the regular price per head for their eat-all-you-can buffet has been reduced to RM37.90…

Daksemari Korean BBQ price list

…and for senior citizens like my missus and I, there is a special concession of only RM6.00 so I only had to pay RM31.90 for each of the two of us. Ah well!!! I guess something is better than nothing, right?

I don’t know who owns the place…

Daksemari Korean BBQ decor

…or whether the very nice and friendly young boy and two girls running the show are, in fact, the owners or not. One of the girls is proficient in English and spoke it very fluently while the other two seemed more comfortable with Mandarin instead.

As soon as we were seated, we were served one big tumbler of ice-cold brown rice tea and that was quite enough for us throughout the whole dinner but there is free flow of water and cordials that one can help oneself to.

I would not say that they had a lot for their buffet spread – the cooked selections…

Haksemari Korean BBQ cooked selections

…but anyway, I did not want to take a lot from there…

Haksemari Korean BBQ what I had

…since it’s a BBQ place so I would much rather go for the meat and stuff to barbecue and enjoy.

The fried rice was very nice and I must say that I was rather pleased it wasn’t kimchi fried rice as I am not into that. I loved the japchae (the Korean fried glass noodles) and the pajun (Korean pancake) was nice too. You can blame it on my poor eyesight but I thought that was sotong (squid) in kimchi but actually, they were tteok, Korean rice cakes which were all right but a little chewy or rubbery.

On the other side…

Daksemari Korean BBQ more of their buffet spread

…they had these eggs…

Daksemari Korean BBQ eggs

…that were nothing very special actually. They looked like hardboiled eggs with a bit of mayo and tomato sauce on top but the egg lover that I am, I just couldn’t resist it and yes, I thought they were good as well. I did try the kimbap/gimbap (Korean sushi) but they did not get me all that excited. Of course I did not take anything from those plates in front – look at all that kimchi! – but my girl loved the buchu kimchi (garlic chives kimchi), the one at the very end.

I had quite a lot of the pork and beef…

Daksemari Korean BBQ pork & beef slices

…that I wrapped in the lettuce provided, once cooked, adding the garlic slices and the dip of my choice…

Daksemari Korean BBQ dips

…and personally, I preferred that to the seasoned meat…

Daksemari Korean BBQ seasoned meat

…that the ladies said was nicer. Incidentally, you can request for a change of the hot metal plate if it gets too dirty from all that grilling – the lady did ask us but we said we were fine with it.

I did like the dak bulgogi

Daksemari Korean BBQ dak bulgogi

…and the (beef) bulgogi

Daksemari Korean BBQ bulgogi

…though and those were the only words I could read on their labels all over – the rest were all in Mandarin and though I could converse communicatively in the language, I cannot read it…except for one character, 三 , and I could tell from it that that would be the three-layer pork or pork belly.

There were prawns…

Daksemari Kprean BBQ prawns

…too but we only had one round of those as we did not really fancy the chore of removing the shell and there was fish as well, what looked like kembong or one of those, but we did not have any.

For dessert, there was a choice of at least six flavours of ice cream, fruits. agar-agar (jelly) and this cake…

Daksemari Korean BBQ cake

…that I thought was matcha cheese but when I tried, there was no taste of green tea which I am not a fan of and I thought it was very nice with the fragrance of butter and cheese.

I was amazed by the sight of all those people stacking all the food on their plates – I guess they would be able to finish all of it or they would have to pay a surcharge on leftovers. On our part, being old, my missus and I did not eat all that much actually and my girl has always been a small eater and I do wish the whole time that they had those exhaust pumps that would suck out all the fumes so we would not leave the place smelling of all that meat that we had on the grill.

Nevertheless, we had a delightful dinner and enjoyed it a lot so the next opportunity we get, we certainly would have no second thoughts about going back there again.

DAKSEMARI KOREAN BBQ (2.287332, 111.826574) is located at No. 8, Jalan Chew Geok Lin (formerly Old Street) that leads straight to the Tua Pek Kong 7-storey Pagoda Temple.

She’s happy…

I did mention before that when my girl comes home on weekends, we would go some place special for lunch so she would have a nice break from her dreary routine in her jungle school. Well, it’s the mid-term school holidays right now so of course, I would make it a point to buy things that she can and likes to eat and take her to places for stuff that she enjoys…and as long as she’s happy, then I’m happy too.

One of her favourites in town would be the bryani rice with mutton curry (RM19.50)…

Cafe Ind mutton bryani

here so of course, I made it a point to stop by there the other day just for this.

She said one of her colleagues said that the naan cheese (RM7.00)…

Cafe Ind naan cheese

…was very nice so I ordered it to try. Unfortunately, I was the only one eating it because it was not gluten-free owing to the use of wheat flour in the making of the bread. Well, it was nice, very fragrant but I can’t say it would be something I would want to order for a main meal plus I would rather have plain naan to eat with some dhal dip or curry gravy and that is the very reason why I never bother to order those roti canai cheese available at all the stalls and shops around town.

Then the boss asked his North Indian chef to make this aloo gobi naan

Cafe Ind aloo gobi naan

…for me to try. At this point in time, it is still listed as coming soon in their menu, not available yet. I liked this one more than the aforementioned cheese version but I wouldn’t mind a bit more of the potato and cauliflower filling and if it could be a little bit stronger in its somewhat very light curry taste, then it would be nice to just eat it on its own, no need for any dip or gravy.

I expected my missus to go back to her kalio ayam but no, she still wanted the ikan kembung sumbat (RM17.50)…

Cafe Ind ikan kembung sumbat

…that she had the last time she was here. I guess she likes that a lot too.

I decided I would like to try another new item on their menu – the ayam masak habang (RM14.50)…

Cafe Ind ayam masak habang 1

…the Indonesian version of the Malaysian ayam masak merah. Unlike the latter, the chunks of chicken were not deep fried first before cooking and the gravy/sauce was different too. While the Malaysian version would be something like sweet chili sauce with the fragrance of the spices added such as the cinnamon sticks, the star anise and all the rest, I could not detect any of those in this one…and the gravy was thick and rich with santan (coconut milk)…

Cafe Ind ayam masak habang 2

I liked the chicken but perhaps, they could come out with something a bit more special instead of the blanched green vegetable by the side with oyster sauce poured all over it – somehow that came across to me as being so Chinese. Either the kerabu or the grilled brinjal, skin removed, in the stuffed fish dish that my missus had would be nice…or perhaps, they can come out with some cucumber acar (pickle) instead.

No, it was not cheap, this sumptuous lunch that we had that day but when I went to pay our bill, the boss said that the two pieces of naan bread were on the house and though I had the iced ginger tea, large, he just charged me the price for the regular (RM6.50), the same as the one that my girl had. The mum had the teh tarek with cincao or black/grass jelly (RM7.00)…

Cafe Ind teh tarek cincao

…and for all that we had, I had to fork out RM70.00 altogether and considering that it is not every day that we go for something like this and it was a special holiday treat for my girl, I would think it was worth it, very much more than going some place and paying as much or even a little less and having to settle for something less than satisfactory.

CAFE IND (2.290813, 111.829294) is located along Laichee Lane, right behind behind a block of shops facing the main road (Jalan Kampung Nyabor) where the Bank Simpanan Nasional, Sibu branch (2.290561, 111.829071), is located. It opens from 12 noon to 2.00 p.m. (though it may open a little bit earlier than the time stated) for lunch and from 6.00 p.m. onwards for dinner, every day EXCEPT MONDAYS.