Anything…

When my friend, Nick, was in town in 2017, he chuckled as we drove past here…

Ching Cai Cafe

Obviously, he was amused by the name of this coffee shop.

Looking at the image by the side, I guess literally, it means green vegetables but in Hokkien, when somebody asks you what you would like to eat, most likely, the reply would be ching cai, meaning anything or when someone asks you where you want to go, you will reply ching cai or anywhere. I can imagine you asking someone what he or she wants to eat and the reply is ching cai and you take him or her here. That would be hilarious!

Anyway, a friend of mine has been sharing photographs on his Facebook page of the kolo mee

Ching Cai Cafe kolo mee 1

…he has been going for here, singing its praises to the skies. At one time, business did not look so good here – there were not that many people usually. We did drop by to see what they had for their chap fan (mixed rice) and everything looked good but we had something else in mind so we did not give it a try.

I placed my order at the stall…

Ching Cai Cafe kolo mee stall

…and went to sit at a vacant table and waited. The kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) was decent (RM1.70)…

Ching Cai Cafe kopi-o-peng

…and when I was given the dip – the usual with kolo mee, the pickled chili slices in vinegar – I could not help thinking that they could have been a bit more generous with the chili. There were only two bits and when the lady brought another one, thinking that I had not got it yet, there were also two only in it and I asked her to give those to me so in the end, I had four altogether.

As for the noodles, I would say that it (RM3.50)…

Ching Cai Cafe kolo mee 2

…was good. I forgot to tell the lady I would like it white so it was served red from the char siew sauce added. I could detect the fragrance of the fried garlic in it and with dashes of the vinegar added, I rather enjoyed it…and yes, I was impressed by the fact that they added real char siew, not the boiled meat coloured red that you will find in most of our Sibu kampua mee.

They were out of prawns that day so I could not have the special. Perhaps I will go back again one of these days for that.

CHING CAI CAFÉ (2.292201, 111.835254) is the corner coffee shop located along Lorong Chew Siik Hiong 1 facing Jalan Mahsuri in the area of shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre.

Old lady…

I do drop by this pasar tani (farmers’ market)…

Pasar Tani Permai Sibu

…once in a while including that one time when I had the nice kueh chap at a coffee shop in the vicinity. I always felt sad each time seeing that it was such a nice market but there were less than half a dozen stalls open and nobody there to buy. I would browse around and pick up something once in a while and one morning, I chanced upon an old lady – well, she’s not young and neither am I! She was selling those ketupat lemak that I enjoy a lot and I bought all that she had, 10 altogether at RM1.00 each.

Hers were very nice, nicer than the ones I bought from that stall at Simpang Tiga here, available only on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I thought those were nice but a bit too soft, somewhat over-cooked. Well, I got to know that there is a pasar Ramadan (Ramadan bazaar) here so I made my way to that part of town the other afternoon in the hope that the lady would be around selling her ketupat lemak so I would be able to buy some more from her.

There were not that many stalls at this one…

Pasar Ramadan Permai

…most selling the usual stuff…

Goreng-goreng

…and I saw this one at the end…

Warong Cafe stall

…run by the people from this Malay coffee shop that we used to frequent so often for their very nice nasi kerabu. There were a nurse and a few young guys, doctors/housemen from the hospital nearby standing in line to buy but no, I was not in the mood for it that day.

Yes, I spotted the old lady but no, she was not selling any ketupat lemak – she said she could not get hold of the leaves but she suggested that I could buy from another stall there…

Ketupat lemak

I did see those earlier, somewhat cylindrical, not the usual square shape, and I did not know why they sprinkled all that grated coconut all over them. Ah well! Beggars can’t be choosers so I went back to buy those and thankfully, they were good – no regrets buying.

For one thing, I was glad to note that all the stalls at the market were occupied and there were people doing their marketing at that time of day, around 4.00 p.m. Maybe that is the usual time when everything will be in full swing to cater to the office workers after office hours, I wouldn’t know.

PASAR RAMADAN PERMAI (2.298564, 111.893951) is located at the Pasar Tani Permai, to the left of Jalan Permai as you turn in from Jalan Ulu Oya, a little to the right of the Sibu General Hospital.

The family…

This is a family business…

Grandpa Cafe

…belonging to the family of one of my ex-students (one of those at the reunion get-together here sometime ago, the one on the far right in the group photo) whose wife is a good friend and ex-classmate of my niece, the one working in Singapore.

I’ve been wanting to stop by and try but never got round to doing so until the other day. This is the side entrance…

Grandpa Cafe side entrance

…and this is one part of the interior…

Grandpa Cafe interior

It sure looks like they used a lot of wood for everything right down to the furniture – from what we were told, they spent one whole year just designing and decorating the place.

They have these cabinets with all the super-duper expensive Japanese whiskey on display…

Japanese whiskey

…over 50 years old and prices going way beyond RM10K a bottle. *faints*

I tried their chang (dumpling)…

chang

…wrapped in one of those broad pandan leaves with a salted egg yolk inside…

...with salted egg yolk

…but unfortunately, it was not the nyonya version which I would love a lot more. They said that they got them from Kuching and I was wondering if they were from this fat girl there whose changs were very good but hers too were not the nyonya ones.

I ordered their herbal chicken soup rice noodles…

Herbal chciken soup rice noodles

…which was good – it tasted like what we cooked using one of those herbal packs that my girl and the mum brought back from Korea but I guess I am somewhat old-school so I would prefer our own Foochow herbal chicken soup – the char bee lau or the pek ting eyok. or even when we steam our own chicken soup with seng see (the more affordable ginseng hairs) and/or dong quai.

This came with my order…

Cut chilies

…while my missus got their very nice sambal

Sambal

…with her curry laksa

Curry laksa

…which she enjoyed but I would prefer it without those frozen (beef) meatballs – perhaps they could add a couple of fish slices or prawns or squid instead.

I forgot to get the cashier’s receipt when I went to pay the bill but I do recall everything was in the region of RM8.00-9.00 and the total came up to RM36.80, inclusive to two huge glasses of very nice and thick kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black).

GRANDPA CAFE (2.300139, 111.833283) is located at 10E, Jalan Oya, somewhere across the road from the Sibu Medical Centre KPJ), on the extreme left of the block of shops there, in the corner right next to Sing Lee Car Air-Condition [SIC] Service.

Ya…not so hot…

It was a lovely afternoon that day, not so hot because it was drizzling/raining all morning and around noon. After the rain stopped, it was comfortably cool so I decided to go and walk around the Ramadan Bazaar at Bandong Walk

Bandong Walk

…here.

That was around 3.00 p.m. and obviously, a bit too early. Some of the stalls were still closed and some were just starting for the day like this lady who had just commenced barbecuing the chicken and the parson’s nose (buntut ayam)…

Ayam bakar

This is the current craze…

Manok Broo

…here – fried chicken and while all the rest are selling theirs for RM2.00 a piece, this one is going for only RM1.00! No, I did not buy any though as I am not really into that. Incidentally, manok is ayam or chicken in Sarawak Malay (and in Iban too) and if I am not wrong, they also call it that in Tagalog (Filipino language).

I tried kueh akok

Akok

…a Kelantanese favourite, at another place last year but no, I was not impressed. Maybe the one here is better but I did not feel like it that day. Another time perhaps.

The only place that was enjoying brisk business already at that point in time would be my regular Malay kueh stall in the vicinity. They still had quite a lot of the baked macaroni that I bought the other day…

Baked macaroni

…but they only had one pack of the very nice cucur udang (prawn fritters) salad left and I bumped into a friend there and I told her it was good so she took it so it was all sold out! I wonder what time they open.

I bought this…

Chappati chicken wrap

…for my girl once and she loved it! However, she was not home that day, stuck in her school in the jungle so I did not buy any this time around. Perhaps we shall drop by when she is home for the weekend and we can buy that then.

Their keria

Keria

…(sweet potato doughnut coated with palm sugar) is very popular, that I do know but no, I did not buy any. I did try their ubi goreng (fried tapioca)…

Ubi goreng

…and it was all right but no, I did not buy that either. I prefer tapioca boiled with a little bit of salt added, eaten with gula apong (nipah palm sugar).

So what did I buy in the end? I walked over to the little shop in the middle to grab a box of my favourite dates

Yusuf Taiyoob dates

…RM13.00 a box but it’s only once a year so that’s fine by me.

I certainly look forward to more good days so I can go to this one again or check out some of the others before Ramadan ends.

PASAR RAMADAN BANDONG  is located at Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) along Jalan Bandong, somewhere in front of the shops in the vicinity.

Mother’s Day…

Last Sunday was the second Mother’s Day after my mum left us in March last year and like what we did last year, we bought some flowers…

Flowers

…and stopped by my parents’ resting place…

Resting place

…on the way to my girl’s school in the jungle, specially to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

That was why we did not have an early lunch before leaving home like what we would usually do. Instead, we stopped by this place in Selangau for a bite to eat before proceeding to my girl’s school, another half an hour or more away.

The sea cucumber soup was very nice…

Sea cucumber soup

…and so was the fried cangkok manis with egg…

Fried cangkok manis with egg

We also ordered the sweet and sour or chio/ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret)…

Sweet & sour fish

…and got a big one and yes, we liked it a lot too.

The total for the food plus the rice and drinks came up to RM55.20 (but the lady waived the 20 sen) which I would say is not all that cheap but the fish alone was already RM30.00…and I do wish they would do away with all those plastic plates and bowls. Still, what was most important that we enjoyed our lunch before we went on our way.

HUA KEE SEAFOOD & CAFE (2.523351, 112.325657) is located in Selangau Bazaar among the shops facing the SHELL station, a few doors away from the District Education Office.

Get it together…

I was at the Rejang Park commercial square very early that morning and I decided to stop awhile here…

Esan Cafe, Rejang Park

…for breakfast, not to be mistaken with this one with a similar name in the Dewan Suarah area.

The coffee…

Kopi-o-peng

…was very good – I did not take note of how much I paid for that, probably RM1.60 a glass.

I used to frequent the chu char place at the back a long long time ago – we often dropped by here to tapao a few dishes home for our meals instead of cooking ourselves until one day, when I went there, I saw the wife, teary-eyed, clearing up the place. She told me that they had closed down and would be moving to KK. I could jolly well guess the reason but I shall not mention it here. Eventually, the people running the coffee shop took over and they did a pretty good job too but these days, we do not go there all that often anymore.

I did try some of the stalls there as well like this one or this one but that morning, I noticed they were no longer there. Perhaps like so many around here these days, they too have called it a day. There is a stall there now selling fried noodles and stuff but that morning, I decided to try the kampua mee from this stall…

Esan Cafe kampua mee stall

…there.

Funny how I have been in the vicinity so very often and I have eaten the kampua mee and everything else at most, if not all, of the shops there but I never gave this one a try. My favourite used to be this one from a long time ago way back in the days when I was still teaching but I did not think it was all that nice the last two times I was there, a little bit too much msg, I felt.

When I went to place my order, the lady asked me if I wanted some liver soup and I said I did not mind a small one to which she replied that I could have the set (RM6.00)…

Esan Cafe kampua liver soup set

…whereby I would get it…

Esan Cafe liver soup

…together with the kampua mee

Esan Cafe kampua mee

I would say I enjoyed them both plus the slightly sourish chili dip went really well with the liver. The coffee was good too and I certainly would give them my double thumbs up for not using those gaudily-coloured plastic plates and bowls. I sure would not mind coming back here for more should I happen to be around there again.

ESAN CAFE (2.306716, 111.836465) is located at No. 30, Jalan Teruntum in the Rejang Park Commercial Square, directly across the open space from the front of the long-closed down Zenith Mint Cinema. 

Just a week ago…

We were here…

Bistecca business card

just a week ago, the previous Friday to be exact, and last week, on Friday, after we had come back from getting my girl from her school in the jungle, we were in the vicinity and I decided we would stop there for a really nice lunch to celebrate Mother’s Day (Sunday) in advance.

Saturday would not be a good day as my girl has something on around noon every week and in the evening, we would go for the novena and sunset church service and would only be done past 8.00 p.m. The next day, on Sunday, we usually have brunch at home before making our way yet once again to my girl’s school in the jungle. That was why I thought it would be good to have it early…on Friday even though it would be our no-meat day.

We could not have all the pizzas except for the pizza margherita with tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, salt and extra-virgin olive oil but we did not feel like having that. In the end, we decided we would not order any and asked for the squid ink spaghetti (RM24.00)…

Squid ink pasta
*Ooopss! Sorry for the slightly blurry pic!*

…instead. We had that once before, the Pasta All’Nero, but I don’t think it left a lasting impression but this time around, we really liked it a lot – very tasty but of course, it was kind of messy eating that so after we were done, we needed a fresh change of plates. No, we did not take any selfies of our teeth while we were enjoying it. LOL!!!

We also had the Vongole Bianco (RM22.00)…

Vongole Bianco

…but my girl said that whatever taste it had was drowned out by the stronger flavours of the squid ink pasta. I would beg to differ as I could detect its mild taste and I quite liked it. I sure would not mind ordering that again the next time we drop by here.

My girl loved the seafood soup (RM16.00)…

Seafood soup

…but just as I am not fond of the tomato-based minestrone soup or bolognese pasta sauce, for that matter, it did not really tickle my fancy. I would much sooner go for their mushroom soup that we had the last time we were here.

We loved the fried calamari (16.00)…

Fried calamari

…when we had that once before so we had that again.

For our dessert, we shared their chocolate fondant (RM10.00)…

Chocolate fondant

…which certainly was as good as it looked, served with a scoop of ice cream and whipped cream by the side – the “lava” oozed out slowly…

…the instant the cake was cut and that was an indication that it was perfectly done, a success.

I also wanted the crème brûlée (RM10.00)…

Creme brulee

…and that too was really good. The slight hint of blueberry at the bottom sure brought it to a whole new level. I remember they had strawberry when I had that a long time ago but I think blueberry’s nicer! I would have ordered the panna cotta as well but it was not available – well, another time, perhaps!

The total for the delightful lunch and the awesome desserts came up to RM98.00 – sky juice was on the house and there was no 6% SST, no 10% service charge so of course, I left the girl a generous tip for the prompt, efficient and very pleasant service.

BISTECCA & BISTRO (2.307630, 111.848188) is located off Jalan Sena – you drive into the area of shops directly opposite SMK Deshon and go straight to the end, make a u-turn and head back to where you come from – you will see it in the first block of shops on your left.