The same thing…

I don’t know if this…

KOKA instant mi goreng

…was on special offer but it was only RM7.00 something for a pack of 5 and that works out to around RM1.50 per packet…unlike this other brand that, if I am not mistaken, at this point in time (obviously owing to our weakening ringgit) would set you back by that same amount of money for just ONE packet and frankly, behind all that hype about it being the best and what not, I really do not think it is worth it, not at all. At the end of the day, it is what it is – instant noodles.

This one is also from the island republic…

Made in Singapore

…south of the mainland and it comes in two flavours, this one and black pepper and as I am not a fan of the latter, I did not bother buying that.

There is one sachet inside…

Seasonings

…with two parts, one with the seasoning oil and the other, the seasoning powder.

I cooked a packet to try…

Koka instant mi goreng & fried egg

…served garnished with some fried shallots and chopped spring onions and one fried egg and yes, it is very nice, more or less the same, I think, as that Indonesian one, never mind whether it is the one sold locally or the one specially made for export to Brunei. I did try another Indonesian brand, the Mee Sedaap, extra pedas (spicy) and it was not bad but no, it did not win me over but of course, comparatively, that particular brand is a little bit cheaper. Even our own made-in-Sibu brand , their mi goreng (fried noodles), is pretty much the same too, I would say, and at more than half the price of the aforementioned Singapore brand, it sure makes a lot more sense to buy our own or one of the Indonesian versions instead.

As for the egg, I always insist on frying it the old fashioned way…

My fried egg 1

…in a wok, with the nice and fragrant golden fringe and the yolk still soft and runny…

My fried egg 2

…unlike some that I had had the displeasure of being served outside here…or here, for instance. No, I definitely would not say it is all the same and I do think you can’t do it in a modern pan, non-stick usually, or worse, in a ring on a hot plate. At times, the new ways are not always better, I must say. What about you? Do you, unlike me, think they are all the same?

In the meantime, my niece in Singapore went on a trip to Bandung, Indonesia…

Sarimi mi goreng

…and she bought this and gave us a packet to try. Somebody commented somewhere either on Facebook or on one of my earlier posts that I should go and try this brand. I think it is available somewhere here as I have seen the carton box in the house but I never did go and look for it to check it out but it sure looks like it is produced by the one and the same company there…

Indofood

There are many sachets inside…

Sarimi sachets

…and as for the noodles…

Sarimi mi goreng, cooked

…if you are expecting something that tastes like sate ayam (chicken satay), I did not think that it tasted quite the same. I was expecting something like peanut sauce but there was none or if what they mean is the taste of the grilled chicken on skewers, no, I did not taste anything like that either. I did not know what those white little round balls that came in the “solid ingredients” sachet, were either – they were crunchy like keropok (crackers) but were kind of bland and did not have much taste. Generally, I would say it was, at best, all right and rather strong on the msg, leaving a lingering unpleasant taste in the mouth for a long while after I had finished eating so all things considered, I would still prefer the regular mi goreng that I am more accustomed to.

Moving away from the topic of noodles and egg, it’s a special day for our country today…

I do think this year’s song is very nice and I quite like the video clip as well though I wonder why they are singing about Kinabalu (Sabah) while showing images of the Sarawak ethnic Dayaks and no, they are not the same…and why are they singing about “Rejang yang membiru” (the blue Rejang River) when the river is anything but blue?…

Rejang River
*Archive photo*

Sehati sejiwa indeed, with all of us here by our majestic river so YELLOW! For all it’s worth, Happy National Day to all. May we be blessed with better days ahead…

Somethin’ else…

My girl says she has had enough of instant noodles and despite the convenience, she is not keen on stocking up on those to cook and eat in her school…and she is not into fried rice either so cooking that for her to take all the way there to heat up and eat is also out of the question. I guess all those years at the teacher-training institute and the last two years at her school, away from home, have taken its toll on her so she would very much prefer somethin’ else.

She does not mind bihun as much so should I happen to fry any, she may want to tapao some and eat that at a later date at her teachers’ quarters. Unfortunately, as far as those instant ones go, they are mostly noodles, not bihun – even the Kuching-produced Sarawak laksa has noodles in each packet even though at the shops, it is always bihun. I wonder why they do that.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I saw these…

Mamee bihun tom yam 1

…at the shop round the corner from my house, with two different flavours – chicken and tom yam, selling at RM4.90 for a pack of 5 so that would work out to less than a ringgit per packet.

I tried the chicken first but no, I did not like it. It was extremely peppery and rather strong on the taste of msg – something like the Tung-i brand that was very popular at one time but I don’t seem to see it anywhere in town anymore. I don’t think I would buy that for my girl to bring to her school but when I tried the tom yam

Mamee bihun tom yam 2

…I thought it tasted very good.

There are two sachets in every packet…

Mamee bihun tom yam 3

– one, the seasoning and the other, the oil and tom yam paste. Maybe the fact that I used prawn stock (from boiling the heads and shell of some prawns that I bought a while ago) did help in a bit towards enhancing the taste, and other than the sliced omelette, I also added a bit of fried shallots and chopped spring onions.

It tasted like tom yam, a milder version of the usual and just slightly sourish but I did think it was good enough except that it was not spicy at all, not even a little bit! That was why when I cooked that again, I added some of my own cili padi

With cili padi

…and only then was it, in my opinion, just right.

This means that now we have a choice between this one and the one that I have tried previously, also from the same company in their “Gold Recipe” series, their “bihun kari seribu rasa that I also liked a lot. I think that one is only slightly more expensive, RM5 something for a pack of 5 so it is anytime better than buying any of the imported brands which are really not affordable at all at this point in time…and anyway, I don’t think they have bihun or at least, I have not seen any at the shops and supermarkets.

So fast…

I have blogged about this stall at this coffee shop

Mei Le roast stuff stall

…many times already like here, for instance.

Well, last Sunday, after the morning service (we could not go for the sunset service the previous night as we went for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner), my girl said that she would not mind stopping by there for brunch and a little while after that, we would have to be on our way to send her back to her school.

For one thing, other than the fact that their roast stuff is pretty good, the service is very prompt and so very fast. I guess those are the very reasons why this stall is really popular so the place can get rather crowded and to cope with it, they would cut the meat before hand and place it and the cucumber slices in plates…

Covered

…ready to be brought to your table instantly. I must say that I really appreciate how they keep it all in that plastic case like that to ensure that it is clean and safe for consumption.

I also like how they always cut the roast duck into very thin slices…

Mei Le roast duck

…as the bird can be quite tough especially if you go for the drumstick, probably the result of all that exercise, swimming in the water. I like their roast duck very much and my girl loves the sauce – I do think it is very nice too though I am not all that sure as to what that is but it comes across like sour plum with a hint of lime or lemon to me.

I also ordered this mixed platter to share…

Mei Le mixed platter

– their siew yoke (roast pork) and roast chicken. No, I did not want their char siew (barbecued pork) nor their barbecued pork ribs as my girl does not seem all that fond of those and it was also for this same reason that I opted not to have something new that they have – char siew roast chicken but I could not resist their lor nui ( stewed eggs)…

Mei Le stewed eggs

…so I asked for two to share.

All the aforementioned, together with 3 plates of rice…

Mei Le rice

…and their quite nice complimentary soup, came up to only RM17.00, less than RM6.00 per person. I am sure everyone will agree that it is very cheap, around USD4.00 only for 3 – a truly delightful lunch for just over USD1.00 per person.

We’ve been here many times before and if they maintain their standard, tastewise, and their fast service, you can bet we will keep coming back for more. For one thing, my house is just round the corner, not too far away, so it is very convenient for us to drop by…anytime.

Another time…

I was here not too long ago and in fact, we were there for my brother-in-law’s birthday some time ago. Last week, we dropped by another time and this round, it was for my sister-in-law’s birthday and yes, her daughter was home from Singapore to celebrate the special occasion with her mum and of course, it had to be a cake from Marcus…

Marcus birthday cake

– her favourite!

Yes, there was my brother-in-law’s favourite too, the sweet and sour fish…

Tung Seng Sweet and sour fish

…and this dish of “Vietnamese pork”…

Tung Seng Vietnamese pork

…and this three-in-one…

Tung Seng Three-in-one

– their omelette with salted and century eggs added. The fish was all right, the usual and the pork tasted o.k. too – I did not know what was Vietnamese about it but yes, it did have a certain taste of its own but only slightly and as for the omelette, that was fine too though I was wishing they had added more century egg in it. We also had a fried vegetable dish – what they call the Sabah yeu chai.

My niece and her dad ordered this tong sui dessert…

Tung Seng Ngor bee th'ng

– their “today’s special” and it was huge!!! I did try a little bit and I absolutely loved it! We call it gor bee th’ng (5 flavours soup) or ngor bee th’ng and there was one stall, yes, just one (and it was the one and only tong sui dessert in town at the time and maybe even now), a long long time ago and everyone would crowd there just for this but everything in that area was demolished for the construction of the Sibu Central Market and I do not know if they are still in the business or not. I am not sure what the name means – if it is actually a reference to the number of flavours, I think there were five then in the bowl – there were barley, thin strips of dried winter-melon and persimmon, a bit of one red date and agar-agar (jelly, and it’s always green) but there seemed to be a lot more in this one! I must go back there again soon just for this, all to myself. Hehehehehe!!!!

Another thing that I certainly would want to go back there for would be their coconut prawns…

Tung Seng Coconut prawns

Oooo…it was so good and inside, there were prawns together with the soft and sweet young coconut flesh and I so loved the thick, a bit spicy and santan-rich gravy. That was really good! My niece picked up the tab for the dinner and I asked her how much this was and she said RM38.00.

Let’s see when I can drop by this place again for this and also the dessert…as well as their nice pork with cincaluk dip. Anybody keen on coming along as well?

Still around…

There was talk that the owners of this place…

Zen Japanese fusion, Sibu

…would like to let it go as they had bitten off more than they could chew with their many cafes and lounges, 5 in Sibu and 2 in Kuching and I hear they are eyeing the market in China too, very ambitious guys! However, it seems they are still around so my guess is that there are no takers…and no doubt at this point in time with the economy is such a bad shape and the currency at an all-time low, it would not be all that easy to find someone ready to fork out the dough.

My girl is especially fond of Japanese cuisine so while this place is still open for business, I guess it would be a good idea to drop by a little bit more often as we are not really fond of the others here like this one…or this one, for instance.

Apart from salmon, my girl is very much into unagi (eel) so I ordered their unagi kabayaki, small (RM25.90)…

Zen Unagi Kabayaki

…for her and nothing makes me happier than seeing her enjoy herself especially after a dreary week at her school.

I also ordered their teriyaki chicken (RM12.90)…

Zen terayaki chicken

…to share and that came with a bowl of plain white rice but we did order their garlic rice (RM8.90)…

Zen garlic rice

…to eat with everything else as well.

We loved their pumpkin korokke but this time around, we had the potato (RM5.90)…

Potato korokke

…and it was really very good too.

Other than the aforementioned, my girl asked for the kizami unagi sushi (RM4.90)…

Zen kizami unagi sushi

…and I added their ebi tempura maki (RM8.90)…

Zen ebi tempura maki

…to that.

All the above plus the Japanese green tea for the three of us came up to RM79.40,exclusive of GST and no, I would not say it was not all that expensive but considering that we enjoyed all that we had in the nice, comfortable and classier environment with the friendly and efficient service and the very soft and soothing jazz music playing the background, I would say it was worth it and would surely want to drop by again…before they call it a day.

It’s been so very long…

When my girl came home for the weekend on Friday, my Tanjung Malim/Taiping friend insisted on taking us out and treating us to dinner. She was just a baby when he was posted to teach at a school here (Song, in the then-called 7th Division) and we even went on a trip to Kuching together – he still has the photographs to show…and she sure was little then! The last time he was in town, she was away studying in New Zealand so he did not want to miss the chance this time around.

He let her choose the venue and she picked this one…

Bistecca & Bistro, Sibu

…that we go to quite frequently everytime we felt  like having some Italian. Gosh!!! It was packed – it looked like most of the tables had been reserved and there was just this table for two available. Luckily, some people at one table had just left and it was big enough for six (there were 5 of us) so we quickly grabbed that one.

We ordered her favourites – the spinach egg pizza (RM28.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro spinach egg pizza

– once listed as Bracio di Ferro on their menu, with ham and lots of cheese, and everyone loved it…and we had the linguine aglio-olio seafood (RM22.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro, linguine aglio olio seafood

…which was good too. The serving did look kind of small but since we were sharing, there sure was enough to go round.

My friend’s daughter picked the mushroom chicken chop (RM16.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro mushroom chicken chop

…and everyone agreed that it was very nice, a welcome change from the teriyaki one that we used to order in the past – that is very nice too.

The father wanted the fish and chips (RM18.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro fish and chips

…probably in the hope that it would be like those that he loved so well those times when he was in the UK. Unfortunately, I forgot to put in a special request for the parrot fish that we had the last time and liked very much so we got dory instead…and at best, I would say it was nice but I am never all that fond of the texture of the fish. Thank goodness, it was not one of those jelly-like ones with a not-very-pleasant smell that would put me off instantly!

Actually, I was already planning to bring my girl here over the weekend as I saw on their Facebook page that they now have this on their menu – lasagna (RM18.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro lasagna

…and she loves lasagna…a lot! To appease her craving for it, she would go for the seafood ones at that franchise pizza place in town…but of late, the quality had dropped drastically…and it sure did not come cheap – all the seafood they had in it these days were those imitation crab sticks so needless to say,  she would never go back for more ever again. In fact, I had been pestering the guys here to add this to their menu and finally they did and yes, it was very nicely done and my girl sure enjoyed it a lot! We certainly would want to go back for more…soon!

All in all, dinner was great, thanks so very much to my friend for the delightful treat, and so was the company…and sky juice (iced water) was FOC, unlike some places here, but because of the crowd, the noise level at that small place was a little bit high – that is why I would usually drop by for lunch when there would not be so many people plus the natural daylight would enable me to take nicer photographs.

Say it isn’t so…

I, for one, would say it definitely isn’t so. Personally, I do feel that it is not all that expensive though often, I have heard some people having a bone to pick over the prices here…but allow me, if I may, to get back to that a little bit later.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my friend, Dr Ong, who was in town all the way from Tanjung Malim where he, originally from Taiping, Perak, is currently lecturing at the university there…so my missus and I met him and his daughter (who came with him) upon arrival at the airport and took them out for dinner there at that very cafe, it being one of my favourites in town…

Payung Cafe peacock tail

…especially considering that what they serve here is very nice and not quite like anything found anywhere else. This is the tail of a peacock, part of the very enchanting artwork done on one of the walls at the cafe by one of the guys there using colour chalk – you know the kind that teachers used in school a long time ago during those days before the time of the whiteboard and whiteboard markers. The head would not come out nicely in the photograph owing to the bright spotlight on top so I had no choice but to leave it out.

It has been five years since the last time Dr Ong was in town and we did go out for dinner then as well, with some of my young friends and ex-students…and no, we did not come to this place on that previous occasion so this was his first time here. I got him to try the Kuching original – the comfort food for convalescing mums during  their confinement, the kacang ma chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

…with rice and he thought it was pretty o.k. I have to admit that for many, this unique culinary delight isn’t really a love-at-first-bite kind of thing. Personally, I did not like it the first time – hmmm….haven’t I heard it said that the first time is, more often than not, the worse…but after I have acquired the taste for it eventually, there has been no looking back!

Unfortunately, most of the snapshots that I took did not turn out very well owing to the dim surroundings of the place at night including the ones of their very nice green curry (RM16.00 with rice) that my missus likes a lot! Usually, for their chicken dishes here, they will only give three (huge) chunks of chicken but since there were four of us, I asked for an extra piece in both so that there would be enough to go round and the very kind and generous boss happily (I think! LOL!!!) obliged. As a matter of fact, he also prepared his century egg salad…

Payung Cafe century egg salad

…which is not on the menu actually, specially for us…on the house! You can click the above link to see the very much nicer and clearer photographs of these two dishes that previous time when I was there in broad daylight for lunch.

We also had the Payung rojak (RM10.00) and their best seller, the mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll

…and of course, their otak-otak (RM13.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe otak-otak

…which is different and very much nicer than all the other versions elsewhere.

All in all, we had five orders, not including the complimentary salad – six altogether for the four of us…and the total came up to RM65.00 (including one extra plate of rice and the nice boss, upon request, kindly waived the charges for the five big glasses of iced cold water, RM1.00 each, that we all had). Compared to our lunch here, including the rice and drinks for four persons, the meal also came up to over RM60.00…and I do think that what we had there would pale in comparison.

When I took my neurosurgeon friend from Kuching out for dinner, we only had four orders, excluding the complimentary treat accorded to us, and the bill came up to almost the same for half the number of people. The following night, we went to one of my regular (Chinese) restaurants in town – I forgot to bring along my camera and the photos taken with my handphone camera did not turn out nice so I did not bother to blog about it. We only had one chicken and one prawn dish plus a vegetable dish, three altogether – small servings just enough for two, and two chunks of pandan chicken and the total, inclusive of rice and drinks was almost RM60.00…and we only ordered two things for lunch here that day and with the rice and the drinks, it was over RM35.00 for two persons…and this place wasn’t a classier upscale cafe or restaurant, not much nicer than most of the coffee shops in town.

I can go on comparing – the buck does not stop here – but I think I have said enough to prove my point. So going back to my statement right at the start of this blogpost, I would state, in no uncertain terms, that dining here is not all that expensive as some people seem to make it out to be…and that is just a  comparison of the food and the charges – I don’t even have to touch on the very nice environment with its lovely ambiance, the friendly boss and staff and the great service which all contribute towards making dining here such a pleasant experience.

P.S.:
It sure was nice seeing you again, Dr. Ong and a real pleasure getting to meet your sweet and pretty daughter and thank you so much for the goodies…

From Dr Ong

…that you took the trouble to bring all the way. The made-in-Penang heang peah was all right and I enjoyed the made-in-Tanjung Malim crispy biscuit a lot more but it was the Tanjung Malim be teh so that stole the show. It was so very good – the best I have had for a long long time now with the fragrant flaky pastry on the outside and the moist and soft filling inside. All the rest in the shops here, there and everywhere in all those impressive packaging, not in a plastic bag like this one, can come nowhere near! If anyone is interested, this is manufactured by The Smalltown Enterprise, No. 37, Jalan U1, Taman Universiti, Tanjung Malim, Perak (Tel. No.: 05-458 2168). I am not sure if it is  available elsewhere but should anyone be passing through the little place,  don’t miss the chance of grabbing a few packs to bring home!