Take a back road…

I was out and about early on Monday morning, a public holiday here replacing Sunday (Wesak Day) and I strolled around the vicinity to see what I could have for breakfast.

As I was passing by this coffee shop…

Hock Lai Hong Cafe

…in one of the back lanes/roads, I spotted a friend whom I had not seen for a long long time. She was sitting there waiting for a friend and I decided to join her and chat.

In the meantime, I asked what they had at the food stall there and in the long list of things available was char bee lau too kah, pork trotters in herbal soup. If I remember correctly, my uncle/cousin did mention going for it here everytime they came to town at a shop behind the bookstore in that area but I did not feel like having it that morning, not in the hot weather that we are experiencing right now. They say that those char bee lau roots are “heaty”.

In the end, I decided to go for the kampua mee

Kampua mee

…but I must say that I was not all that fond of the plastic plate that was used to serve the noodles.

I also asked for pian sip (meat dumplings) soup, small…

Pian sip soup

…and that came in a stainless steel bowl. Of course, I was fine with that.

The two together was RM5.00 and my guess is that the mee was RM3.00 and the soup was RM2.00, pretty much the same as elsewhere and like many elsewhere, both the noodles and the soup were nice.

I may go back there again for the char bee lau too kha one of these days. We’ll see…

HOCK LAI HONG CAFE (2.292531, 111.827571) is located along Lorong Tuanku Osman 4, the first shop in the block right behind Rejang Bookstore (back to back) at Jalan Bindang.

Original…

During my growing up years, the central market in Sibu was right in the middle of town with Market Road on one side and High Street on the other. There was a coffee shop at the latter where they sold gu tor mee (beef tripe noodles) that was the favourite of many – I am pretty sure my late mum and aunties, all in the family, had their fair share of it whenever they went marketing.

I vaguely remember eating it but I don’t think it left a lasting impression unlike my cousin in Kuching when she was here once. She wanted that so I pointed out to her a few places around town. She liked some, did not like the rest and she declared, with no reservations whatsover, that none came near to the aforementioned High Street one.

Well, she would be happy to hear that they have made a comeback, the original High Street gu tor mee, at this shop…

Noodle Shop

…and of course, the main item on their menu from this stall there…

Gu tor mee stall

…would be the gu tor mee. I do not think that handsome young man at the helm was the one doing it way back then – my guess is the old couple helping out were the people responsible.

Yes, they had the right chili dip…

Chili dip

…for it unlike some places where they would just give you bottled chili sauce with a dash of soy sauce. Those would get my frown of disapproval right away.

The kampua kosong

Kampua kosong

…was good, like any other authentic Sibu kampua mee elsewhere but personally, I felt that it was the beef tripe soup (RM5.00 for the set)…

Gu tor soup

…that put it a cut above the rest. Yes, the tripe was perfectly done and the soup was very nice…and of course, they get my double thumbs up for not using those plastic plates and bowls plus the people were very nice and polite, very generous with their kam sia (thank you) and kok lai (come again).

I heard people saying that the serving is small and I beg to disagree – I thought it was pretty normal but if you want a larger serving of the soup, you can ask for the L (large). What I had was just nice for me but looking at the menu on the wall, I think the next time around, I would ask for the beef tripe + fish balls + liver combo for RM10.00. I did catch a glimpse of the fish balls that morning and they looked homemade and I expect they would be good. We’ll see…

NOODLE SHOP is located right next to BAKELICIOUS, a few doors to the left of LE CAFE(2.299452,111.830832) along Brooke Drive at the Brooke Business Centre, on your left if you are driving from town, in that block of shops past Jalan Kumpang after you have gone past the building where the Sheraton Restaurant is, before you get to the traffic lights where you turn right to get to the KPJ Sibu Medical Centre.

Not all about the money…

I see young people these days hanging around those coffee places that can be quite expensive, in fact and I noticed that a lot of them are of the fairer sex. I mentioned it to somebody once and he told me that it is like guys hanging out with friends and boozing at pubs and all those places to chat and pass the time. Fair enough! That sure is a logical explanation.

Other than that, those franchised fast food restaurants do seem to have an appeal as well, not only to the young crowd but adults too. Generally, you will not find me at those places unless I am waiting for the ladies to do their shopping and they are convenient places to sit and pass the time sipping a drink and have something to munch…or maybe I am taking a flight to some place and I have not eaten yet or I may reach my destination a little late, too late to go out for a bite to eat.

My girl, however, does not fall into the same category. She likes going to those places and sometimes, she may bring something home for me, not that I enjoy it all that much. Ah well! Like they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Well, last week, on our way back from her school in the jungle, I asked her if she wanted to go to our Sarawak’s own fast food franchise, the Sugar Bun and needless to say, she was thrilled at my suggestion so there we were at the outlet at Swan Square here, formerly Giant Megamall.

She wanted the fish burger…

Sugar Bun fish burger 1

…one of her favourites here and since it was our no-meat Friday, I ordered three (RM24.30). Out of the blue, the mum said she wanted a beef burger (RM4.40) so I asked for that and requested for one of the fish ones to be packed for us to take away. The girl at the counter did not seem all that familiar with the computing and everything and I might confuse her all the more if I had asked for the order to be cancelled.

My girl had an iced orange juice (RM4.80) while my missus and I had their three-layer tea (RM4.00) and three-layer coffee (RM4.00)…

Three-layer tea & coffee

…respectively. I must say that mine was really very nice and I sure would not mind dropping by for it again like say, when the ladies want to go browsing around and shopping at the mall.

Our orders arrived – three fish burgers plus the beef burger in a plastic bag. Ah well! We just had to take the beef burger out and put one of the fish burgers in the bag. We also had their cheesy wedges (RM5.10)…

Cheesy wedges

– my girl said that the ones here were crispier than Colonel Sanders’ but we like the Colonel’s mashed potatoes more than what we had here (RM5.70)…

Mashed potatoes

Of course we enjoyed our fish burgers…

Sugar Bun fish burger 2

…as always. The mum did not say anything about her beef burger and since we did not hear her complain, I guess it was all right.

The total, with the 6% SST, came up to RM55.45 which is definitely not cheap and we can easily go some place to have something a lot more substantial and nicer for that same amount of money, or more or less. I guess it’s not all about the money – my girl enjoys going to such places and the food they have there so whatever will make her happy is fine by me.

SUGAR BUN, Swan Square is located on the ground floor of the former Giant Megamall that is located to the left of SMK Bandar Sibu along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng.

The big one…

We skipped lunch that day after our brunch here and it rained around noon so it was not that hot later in the afternoon. I told my missus not to cook as we could just go to one of the Ramadan bazaars and buy some nice stuff for dinner.

That day, we decided to check out the big one in town, the Pasar Ramadan Sibu Town Square Phase 2…

Pasar Ramadan Sibu Town Square Phase 2

You can click the link here to see the video clip of the aerial view of the bazaar. I think there were more stalls last year and it was busier too then but we were early (as usual) so perhaps the crowd would come later.

Everyone was already very busy…

Busy

…and if you remember from my blogpost the other day, manok means chicken in Sarawak Malay and tunok is synonymous with bakar in the national language, meaning barbecued or grilled.

I don’t know which stall my missus bought the chicken…

Chicken

… from but it was very nice and other than that, it was also very cheap – RM20.00 a bird.

The murtabak

Murtabak

…looked good but no, I did not buy any nor did these kek lapis (steamed layer cake) Sarawak…

Kek lapis Sarawak

…arouse my interest.

I knew those very nice people from Sri Pelita

Friends from Sri Pelita

…would have a stall here – they have one without fail every year and I managed to locate them to buy their nasi biryani lamb shank (RM12.00)…

Nasi biryani lamb shank

…for my dinner. Mutton curry is cheaper (RM9.00) and if I am not wrong, chicken curry with the lovely rice is RM7 or 8.00 only. Of course I did not have any second thoughts about buying something from them nor did I want to buy from some place else – they are such wonderful people so I reckon this would be a small gesture on my part to show my support. After all, as they say, that’s what friends are for.

I spotted these…

Liver

…at another stall – my favourite, chicken liver and I simply could not resist buying it. When I got home, I tried one and it was absolutely out of this world! However, as I already had a lot to eat that evening, I packed the liver in a container and put it away in the fridge to enjoy another day.

The following day was Friday, our no-meat day, so I bought these cockles…

Cockles

…from that same stall for our dinner after we had come back home from getting our girl from her school in the jungle. Unfortunately, we found that some of them had gone off/bad so we decided not to take the risk and threw the whole lot away. Yes, there is a channel where we can lodge a complaint but no, I did not want to do it – after all, since they were fasting, they could not taste their cooking so they probably were not aware of it and besides, I sure would have no intention whatsoever to spoil their mood for the auspicious festival that is right round the corner, coming up real soon.

I also bought these snails…

Snails

…from them and yes, these were really very good. Ever since I saw KY’s blogpost about eating them in Hanoi, I had been dying to go to the market to buy some to cook and eat. We sure enjoyed eating this to the max even though we had to go through the chore of getting each of them out of the shell.

We’re halfway through Ramadan, around two more weeks to Hari Raya Aidilfitri which means that I have a fortnight left to enjoy what they have in store at these Ramadan bazaars here and there in our little town.

PASAR RAMADAN SIBU TOWN SQUARE PHASE 2 (2.291732, 111.8232070 is located along Jalan Bujang Suntong, across the road from the Sibu Town Square.

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.