Come and join us…

That evening, I asked my girl if she wanted to go back to that very nice Korean place for dinner and no prize for guessing what her answer was.

I asked her to whatsapp my sister to see if she was keen to join us. As far as I know she had never been there as all these years she had to take care of our parents especially at night when we would not be around and they had  a caregiver there in the daytime only – on “crucial days”, they did get some night nurses to come in and help. Well, she was fine with the idea so we went to pick her up and headed to the place.

We had the complimentary starters…

Starters

…as usual and even though we could request for a refill should we felt like it, I read a review in their Facebook page that somehow or other, everything was “out of stock” when he or she asked for it. My missus loved the kimchi and another one of the eight, I can’t remember which one now, and she said she would ask for more later. I guess she was already too full after we had had all our orders so she did not do so in the end…so I do not actually know how valid that comment was.

I ordered the moksal (목살) (RM25.00)…

Moksal

…or neck meat which I said I would come back to try when we were here previously. It was very nice wrapped in the lettuce provided, along with the chili paste and the garlic slices and the shallots and what not…

For the moksal

…and the mushroom and onion that came with the pork and we enjoyed it a lot but I could not tell if there was any difference from the samgyeopsal (삼겹살) or pork belly slices that we used to order before but for one thing, it was quite obvious that this one had a lot less fat.

Of course we did not want to grill the meat ourselves and end up stinking of what we had cooked so we got the guy…

Let him do it

…to do it for us.

My girl insisted on having their dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) (RM20.00)…

Dolsot bibimbap

– she loves it so much but I gave it a miss this time around and happily ate the plain rice that came with the galbi tang (갈비탕) (RM30.00)…

Galbi tang

…that I liked a lot, the rich flavourful soup especially.

We also had their Korean version of the sushi, the gimbap (김밥) (RM18.00)…

Gimbap

…and yes, it was very nice too. We did order something else, another beef dish, but they came back later to tell us it was not available so we decided to cancel it and probably order something else later but we all had our fill so that was it!

That sure was a delightful dinner that the four of us had that night and the total, inclusive of the jug of green tea (RM10.00), came up to RM103.00. Yes, they do accept credit cards here, no terms and conditions but I wanted to pay in cash…except that I did not have any small change and gave the lady RM150.00. The lady asked if I had RM3.00 and digging into my wallet, I could only come up with RM2.00…but no, that was RM1.00 short and she would rather give me the RM47.00 change instead of giving me a little discount. Tsk! Tsk!!!

In another comment in their Facebook page, somebody had this to say: “Btw, nobody would greet or say thank you so maybe the management didn’t think it’s important to be courteous too,” and I couldn’t agree more. The food is great, service is good and prompt but I wish they could be friendlier and at least, smile if nothing else. Except for that guy in the above photograph – he did say thank you to us when we walked past him as we were leaving – if it is niceties that you want, it is best that you go elsewhere.

KIMCHEE KOREAN BAR.BQ (2.296883,111.825859) is located on the first floor in the block of shops to the right of the Old Sing Kwong Supermarket (Kin Orient Plaza) along Jalan Tun Abang Hj Openg.

In the meantime…

…my girl has used the other box of the gluten-free pizza and focaccia bread mix to make these delightful buns…

Gluten-free garlic cheese buns

…with melted mozarella cheese inside…

Cheese inside

…coated with butter, garlic powder and all the herbs on the outside. It turned out really well and of course, she was very pleased.

She also came home from one of her shopping trips that day with these…

Digestives, plain 1

…that she bought for me from one of the shops round the corner from my house, made in Johore…

Made in Johore

I loved the packaging but no, it came nowhere near those original digestives but when I dunked them…

Digestives, plain 2

…in fresh milk to eat, I did enjoy them a lot more with the added richness of the milk.

She also bought this other variety, chocolate flavoured…

Digestives, chocolate 1

…and between the two, on their own, I thought this one…

Digestives, chocolate 2

…was a bit nicer with the light taste of chocolate and I found that when dunked in my coffee, it was really very nice.

Well, they’re inexpensive especially compared to those imported digestives, some of which may not be all that nice as well so personally, I wouldn’t mind grabbing these should I see them in the shop.

And talking about those shops, I was at the one at the other end of the block, the one that we frequent a lot more, and I saw this mee sua

mee sua

…selling for RM6.00 a bag. It did not look like one of those factory-made ones and the noodles did look finer than those so I grabbed a bag to try. The people at the shop did say it was homemade/handmade and dried but of course, those people would say anything as long as they can sell you something – the test of the pudding is in the eating.

I did not cook any traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup so I could not eat the noodles with that…and these days, considering the prices, I am not all that keen on buying Bovril or Marmite anymore. As a matter of fact, at some shops and supermarkets here, they keep those bottles under lock and key alongside the abalone and the sharks’ fins and birds’ nest. I had no choice but to cook it that same way, kampua mee style but substituting the Bovril with the far more affordable dark soy sauce instead and it actually turned out really nice…

Kampua mee-style mee sua 1

I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more of this mee sua

Kampua mee-style mee sua 2

…again when the current stock runs out.

You gotta go…

You gotta go and try the Foochow fried noodles here…

Chu Lai Cafe

…they told me. Obviously they liked it a lot and felt it would be worth my while.

It is located right across the road from the old Sibu mosque…

Old Sibu mosque

…that is undergoing massive restoration works at this point in time. Some may recall that a photograph of this coffee shop was in the news at one time like it was the epitome of the racial harmony between the races here, quite unlike in some other parts of the country.

I would never have dropped by if I had not been urged by my friends as parking around here would be a pain especially when there is that forever-crowded bank at the other end of the block. Often I would see cars lining the side of the street, illegally parked, so of course, it would be virtually impossible to find a parking space around there.

Well, I was early last Saturday morning and it was raining as a result of which, business was slow…

Chu Lai Cafe, inside

…plus it was the weekend, not a working day so there were ample parking spaces all around.

There is a Malay/Muslim stall…

Chu Lai Cafe Malay/Muslim stall

…in front and it looked like it had its following for while I was there, I saw customers dropping by for the nasi biryani with curry chicken (and pickles by the side), RM6.50, available only on Saturdays. Good grief! Somehow or other, you would not see me having that or chicken rice at 8 o’ clock in the morning even though I would go for nasi lemak for breakfast once in a while.

No, I did not order the A Mo coffee…

Chu Lai Cafe A mo coffee

Literally translated, A Mo or ang mo, to be exact, means red hair, a local reference to westerners or Caucasians so that probably was their version of the kind of coffee one would get at those celebrated coffee places at at least four times the price. The one with ice is RM3.00 a glass.

I happily had my local coffee, black and extra strong with ice (RM1.80)…

Chu Lai Cafe kopi-o-peng

…and yes, they did it pretty well and it was very much to my liking.

I had the Foochow fried noodles special (RM8.00)…

Chu Lai Cafe Foochow fried noodles special 1

…and yes, it was good, loaded with a whole lot of ingredients…

Chu Lai Cafe Foochow fried noodles 2

…and if you’re from out of town and you are staying at the hotel around 100 metres away from this coffee shop, this would be a good place to drop by for this authentic Foochow dish – not everybody does it well, that much I can tell you but for me, at that price especially, I would much sooner go for this cheaper and to me, nicer moon version round the corner from my house and other than its very much closer location away from the congestion in the town centre, parking is a breeze there plus it is free!

CHU LAI CAFE (2.292279, 111.824598) is located along Jalan Kamoung Nyabor beside/behind the WTK Building directly across the road from the old Sibu mosque and two blocks of shops away, within walking distance, from the RH Hotel.

The least I can do…

My niece, my brother-in-law’s daughter, the one working in Singapore came home during the long Deepavali weekend and of course, she asked us out to dinner and she picked one of the places that she likes in town so there we were again that night like when she was home for her birthday not too long ago.

We got there first and when she showed up a while later with her parents, she brought along a huge bag of goodies for us…

Goodies from Singapore

…all the way from Singapore and this time around, knowing that my girl is gluten-intolerant, she bought a whole lot of gluten-free stuff. She’s such a sweet and thoughtful…and generous girl really!

The boss said that they had wild boar and no, there would not be any soy sauce in it so of course, we wanted that…

Wild boar

No, they did not cook it the way we would do it all our lives, soup or with soy sauce and I did like it done in their style. It sort of reminded me of how some people cooked goat’s meat – I had that before when I was young, probably with a lot of spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamon…or maybe they just used five spice powder but no, it did not taste quite like it. The rest did not seem too impressed by it so I had the lion’s share and I sure would not mind ordering that again it they have it the next time we drop by.

My niece wanted the venison…

Venison

…so we had that too. My girl could not eat that as they had soy sauce in it but she did take a piece to appease the craving. Personally, I am not so into venison as to me, it does not really stand out to make it different from the rest and I would much sooner go for beef or lamb instead.

Other than the two, we had two of our favourites here – the salted egg spare ribs…

Salted egg spare ribs

…and the Thai-style mango chicken…

Thai-style mango chicken

My niece wanted more vegetables so we had the ones not that easily available in Singapore – the midin (wild jungle fern), fried ching chao – clear/plain fried…

Midin, ching chao

…and the cangkuk manis, fried with egg…

Cangkuk manis with egg

…plus the bitter gourd fried with three types of eggs…

Tri-egg bitter gourd

– regular egg, salted egg and century egg.

We ordered the omelette with lap cheong (Chinese sausage)…

Omelette with lap cheong

…for my brother-in-law in particular as he loves the ones cooked outside.

I would say the food that night was very good – we literally cleaned up every plate, not a trace of anything left…and I quietly went to the counter to pay the bill. I guess that was the least I could do to reciprocate for all that trouble my niece went through to buy all the things and cart them all the way back from Singapore to give to us.

The dinner was inexpensive – all those dishes, 8 altogether, for 6 persons came up to only RM103.00. Together with the rice and drinks, it was RM118.30 only and the nice and generous boss gave me a discount like what he would do everytime and collected RM115.00 from me only. Some people are just so very nice!

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

Gotta get it right…

When it comes to fried eggs, I like it done the traditional old-school way…

Wok-fried

…fried in a wok with a bit of the oil splashed onto the yolk so it will not be “bright and sunny” as in a sunny-side-up. I wouldn’t like it flipped…

Flipped

…though as even though the yolk may still be runny, it does not look all that nice.

I certainly am not crazy about those fried using a ring…

Ring-fried

…but they do that at some places where they do everything on a hot plate. At a burger stall, for instance, they will toast the bun, fry the patty and the egg all at one go…and I guess using the ring will ensure that the egg white does not flow far and wide and will fit nicely in the bun.

I do know for a fact that some people use a few rings at a time, also on a hot plate, so they can fry a number at a time and serve them in a tray or plate like what they do at some nasi lemak stalls. However, I am not fond of the thick and rubbery white in eggs fried this way and besides, one will not get the lovely fragrance and taste of the golden frills all along the edges.

For one thing, the one frying must make sure that the plate is clean or else there will be that unsightly layer of “soot” at the bottom like the one in the above photograph or the one I had here

Burnt and uncooked

…even though the boy did not use a ring and even though he was frying one egg at a time, the end result sure did not look all that palatable.  No, they did not burn the egg, just that the plate was dirty and they went on and fried the eggs on it.

In the case of that last one, the white was still uncooked around the egg, something that I encountered at a five-star hotel in Kuching

Uncooked

I would have thought those guys would have gone to some cooking school and would have the credentials to show but the one who fried the eggs for me sure needed a refresher course…but at least, I saw how he fried two eggs at a time and learnt something that morning – he broke them into a bowl first.

The traditional Malaysian breakfast at the old school Chinese coffee shops would include our local coffee in the thick blue and white cup and saucer way back in the good old days but not anymore,  the loti kiap/roti kahwin (sandwich toast) that I blogged about in yesterday’s post and half-boiled/cooked eggs.

However, for me to cook half-boiled eggs the way my mum used to do it, I would need to boil some water and pour it over the eggs, cold from the fridge, and let them stand for 15-20 minutes depending on the size and also how many I am cooking at one time.That is why I would prefer to just fry them using a non-stick pan as it will be faster this way and besides, I am too lazy to take out my extra-heavy wok (7-ply Zebra brand) even though I do prefer my eggs fried that way.

To fry two at a time, following what I saw the aforementioned guy at the egg station at the hotel did, I would break the eggs into a cup…

In a cup

…heat up the pan and grease it with a bit of oil and pour the eggs into it…

In a pan

Move the pan to swirl the egg white in it and spread it all over the pan and if you are thus inclined, before the white gets cooked, you can push the egg yolks to the middle to make your fried eggs look more presentable, not lop-sided like mine.

Turn down the heat and wait till the egg white is completely cooked and the bottom is lightly browned like this…

Bottom, golden brown

You can cook it a little longer if you wish and on low heat, it is not likely that it will end up burnt.

There you have it! My pan-fried eggs…

Pan-fried

…not uncooked around the yolk, not burnt at the bottom – so very easy, absolutely no problem at all. I really wonder why I see so many people in the food business who just can’t seem to get it right!

Do what you like…

Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes, his or her own preferences and idiosyncrasies and of course, one is free to do what one likes.

I have a toaster…

Toaster

– it was given to me by a dear friend as a wedding gift; he was my best man but sadly, he had passed away not too long ago, may he rest in peace.

Of course that was a long time ago but yes, it is still in very good working condition. For one thing, things made in those days are a lot more durable and lasting than what one can get from the shops these days. We had a sandwich and waffle maker that my missus got from some direct sales agency, using her bonus points – it was working all right but one fine day, when we turned it on, the electricity in the house went kaput! In the end, we just had to throw it away. Thankfully, it came for free and as they say, easy come, easy go!

Going back to the toaster, I am not fond of using it as if the toast is brown enough, the whole slice of bread will be crusty, inside out. Other than that, I am not all that crazy about going through the trouble of taking it out of the cabinet and after using it, when it has cooled, I would need to clean it before putting it back.

I guess it will be the same if I use my oven…

Oven

I got this free using my credit card points and yes, it has its uses, small and convenient so we will not use the big one that is part of our gas stove unless absolutely necessary. I’ve never tried using it to toast bread…

To toast bread

…though so I am not sure how it will turn out.

In the old days in the coffee shops, they would place the bread on the charcoal grill…

Charcoal grill

…to toast it. I had seen them scraping the black surfaces once it was done and they would generously apply their own-made kaya (coconut jam) and place a slice or two of butter on top and serve. Of course, that was so very nice unlike what we will get today. Firstly, nowadays, they will use an electric toaster or an oven toaster and then they will serve it with canned kaya and margarine.

As a matter of fact, they actually had one charcoal grill at a hotel in Kuching for guests to use to toast their bread if they were thus inclined…

Charcoal grill at Grand Margherita Kuching

…and yes, I did toast my bread on it when I was staying there once.

There is one very popular place in Sarikei where people will go for the toast. I think they give butter, not margarine so that is a bonus and other than the kaya, it looks like they add peanut butter as well but I have never been there so I have no idea how they toast the buns. I have also heard a lot of this place in Kuching that is famous for its toast – Rowena goes there sometimes, it seems…but I have never been there either so I do not know how they go about making theirs.

So how do I go about mine? I like to toast the bread on a non-stick pan…

Non-stick pan

…till it is nice and brown on the outside…

Brown on the outside

…but still soft like fresh bread inside.

Once done, I would apply a thick layer of kaya – I like the made-in-Singapore Glory Brand, just like homemade…and slices of butter…

With kaya and butter

That sure beats any loti kiap (sandwich toast) or roti bakar that we can get at the shops here…or if there is any that is better around town, I sure do not know of it.

Not my problem…

I don’t know why people would grumble in my face that the food at a certain place in particular is so expensive. I did blog about this before so I shall not speak on it any further. After all, it is not my problem – they are the one with the problem so they can go and deal with it and frankly, what the hell do I care! Tsk! Tsk!

Anyway, there was this somebody that day who said the same thing and no, I did not bother to respond at all – I already have it up to here with cheapskates like her. Well, she went on to sing praises of one Malay place here where they have this eat-all-you-can buffet lunch for RM7.90 with a free flow of drinks. Of course, I simply had to go and check it out.

We got there past noon at around 12.15, before 12.30 and because of where we parked the car, we went in from one side of the shop and the floor was soaking wet! “Hati hati, ya! Basah! Nanti jatuh!” the lady doing the washing at the sink there said laughingly, like she was poking fun at this fat old man. Now you know it was wet…and obviously, it was because of you so shouldn’t you go and get a mop to mop it dry? Tsk! Tsk!

We went to look at the food – there was so very little of everything left except one dish of not-so-very-nice-looking pumpkin. As for the rest, I did not think there was enough for the three of us if we were to take a spoonful each of each of the dishes…and we all agreed that they did not even look nice. Personally, we would rather go here for their RM6.00 eat-all-you-can buffet and spend the extra RM1.90 on a drink. After all, all they had in the drink dispensers were some pale-looking over-diluted cordials, nothing to get excited about.

Nobody said a word to us – we would have told them there wasn’t much of everything left and if there wasn’t going to be any refill, they could at least suggest that we took a seat and we could order from their regular menu. No, we came and we left – not a word was spoken…other than that lady and her cheeky remark about the wet floor.

In the end, we adjourned here…

Outright Coffee 1

…at the end of the block, some 50-100 metres away…

Outright Coffee 2

…and had our lunch there…

Outright Coffee 3

…in the nice ambiance with air-conditioned comfort (we opted to sit inside this time) and great friendly service.

My girl had the banana mango milkshake (RM15.50) that I had on one of our previous visits while I had their banana caramel milkshake (RM13.90)…

Banana caramel milkshake

…which according to the boss, was one of their best sellers. My missus said she did not want anything and she would be fine with the complimentary drinking water but anyway, we got this pink passion soda drink…

Pink passion soda drink

…on the house – for purchases over RM30.00. It certainly was A LOT bigger that last time around and despite our bill surpassing RM60, we did not get two – only one. Hmmm…perhaps the next time, we shall split our orders and pay separately.

I was still full from the breakfast I had that morning so I just had a beef and potato pie (RM9.00)…

Beef and potato pie

…which I did buy from their bakery at the back once and it was indeed very very nice…

Beef and potato pie

I noticed, however, that it was RM1.00 more expensive than at their bakery so I mentioned to the boss that they should at least do something about the presentation to merit that extra ringgit…instead of just serving it in a plate like that.

My missus had their barbecue chicken with rice (RM15.90)…

BBQ chicken with rice

…with mushroom sauce and though the meat looked a little charred, she loved it very much. I guess it would be something like satay – very much nicer when a bit burnt, just a bit.

My daughter’s  barbecued chicken with fruit salad and baked wedges (RM15.90)…

BBQ chicken with fruit salad and baked wedges 1

…with rosemary sauce was done to perfection…

BBQ chicken

…and yes, she too enjoyed her order in no small measure.

Well, if the aforementioned Ms Cheapskate had not had the shock of her life looking at the prices of our individual orders, the total came up to RM69.30 altogether…and no, I am not saying that was cheap but considering that we did derive so much pleasure from everything, I would say it was money well spent – value for money…and we went home completely satisfied and happy and no, we do not spend like this all that often, only once in a while , usually on weekends when my girl has come home after a dreary week at her school in the jungle. We probably would not have enjoyed our lunch half as much had we gone for the RM7.90 eat-all-you-can buffet lunch that Ms Cheapskate spoke so highly of.

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