One and the same…

I’ve seen photos of kompia in Sitiawan but they did not look like the ones we have here…and I’ve seen kampua noodles in some people’s blogs – they had them in Sitiawan too but looking at the photos, they actually look more like wantan mee with the black sauce, the char siew and all and somebody even called them Foochow kon lou mee which is what the Sabahans call theirs, minus the Foochow in the name…and they are definitely not the same.

But last week, I saw this article in a local newspaper and it seems that there is a place, not in Sitiawan but at Ayer Tawar in Ipoh where there is a Foochow man making kompia

Ipoh kompia

…except that he calls them zhang dung ping.

Never mind the name but they certainly look the same except that all of ours have sesame seeds. Those without sesame seeds are called chu-nu-miang and are slightly sweet unlike kompia which is salty.

Other than that, this Foochow man also makes lay peang

Ipoh lay peang

…and he calls them san dai ping, whatever that means.

I’m sure everyone will agree with me if  I say that our Sibu lay peang looks a whole lot nicer…

Sibu lay peang

…and I’m sure ours tastes better too.

Well, the test of the pudding is in the eating so hopefully, I will be able to go to Ipoh someday and try them and then give a true and fair judgement as to whether ours are nicer…or those in Ipoh. Right, Claire?

The walk…

I’ve never heard this song before but it so happened that I stumbled upon it just yesterday and I thought it would be an appropriate song to share with everybody today – Father’s Day…

Down our long dusty driveway, I didn’t want to go
But I set out with tears in my eyes, a-wondering
Daddy took me by the hand
Looked out at the school bus and his little man
And said, “Don’t worry, boy! It’ll be all right.”

‘Cause I took this walk you’re walking now, boy
I’ve been in your shoes
Well, you can’t hold back the hands of time
It’s just something you’ve got to do
So dry your eyes, I understand just what you’re going through
Cause I took this same walk with my old man, boy
I’ve been in your shoes

Down our long dusty driveway, I set my mind to go
Well, I was eighteen and wild and free and a-wondering
Daddy took me by the hand
Looked at the world and at his grown man
And said, “Don’t worry, boy. It’ll be all right.”

‘Cause I took this walk you’re walking now, boy,
I’ve been in your shoes
Well, you can’t hold back the hands of time
It’s just something you’ve got to do
So dry your eyes, I understand just what you’re going through
Cause I took this same walk with my old man Boy,
I’ve been in your shoes

Down our long dusty driveway, this time we both would go
Well, he had grown old and grey and his mind was a-wandering
Daddy took me by the hand
Said, “I know where we’re going and I understand
Don’t worry, boy. It will be all right”

‘Cause I took this walk you’re walking now, boy
I’ve been in your shoes
Well, you can’t hold back the hands of time
It’s just something you’ve got to do
So dry your eyes, I understand just what you’re going through
Cause I took this same walk with my old man, boy
I’ve been in your shoes.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all fathers out there.

Three times a lady…

Actually, there were three ladies – my aunt who’s my mother’s youngest sister and two aunts-in-law, wives of my uncles (my mother’s brothers) – who came to town from Kuching for a few days. They brought me a lot of things – the Kai Joo Lane char siew pao that I love and others…and one of them gave me this…

Durian flower acar

– durian flower acar (pickle). It was really very nice, nicer than the acar timun (cucumber pickle) that we would usually have around Chinese New Year time and eat it with keropok (prawn crackers)…and talking about keropok, a cousin sent me a packet of that through them…and from the look of it, I’m pretty sure it is of really good quality – I heard that she got it specially made by a friend who would only make it when she’s in the mood…and such occasions would be few and far between. Gee! I must save that for some special occasion…or when somebody special comes to town. Anybody planning to come to Sibu in the near future? Hehehehehehe!!!

Well, I took the ladies for dinner here

HaiBing Sibu

…as they wanted to eat crabs and this place is renowned for the best (though not the cheapest) in town…

HaiBing crabs

…and I’m sure some of you would be amused to see what we were given to eat it with…

HaiBing hammer


I also ordered this claypot sea cucumber…

HaiBing claypot sea cucumber

…instead of the usual soup and we also had the Foochow specialty, the ang zhao duck…

HaiBing Angzhao duck

I guess everybody would know by now that ang zhao is the residue that is left from making the traditional Foochow red wine. Unfortunately  this dish was a disappointment and paled in comparison with the ang zhao dishes that my missus cooks.

The fried asparagus with prawn balls was very nicely done…

HaiBing prawn asparagus

…and I liked the Foochow fried noodles too…

HaiBing Foochow fried noodles

…even though I would not say that it is the best in town.

Of course, the dinner did not come cheap – RM143 for the food…but that came as no surprise as the crab dish alone was around RM50…and sea cucumber isn’t that cheap either so I would think it was pretty reasonable and what was most important was that I could treat the ladies to a decent dinner – they do not come to town very often, you see…and I would certainly do the same for anyone who cares to drop by this little town to say hello…anytime!

There you are…

Well, some of you may remember this stall…

Asian Flavours revisited

…that used to be here but they moved to some place near the Sibu Bowling Centre. I never went there as they only opened at night unlike at the old place where they used to operate in the morning till after lunchtime…and good people like me seldom venture out once the sky gets dark. LOL!!!

Well, they’ve moved again…and now they are at the food court at the back portion of the Sibu Exhibition Centre. Here, they are open for business from  around 7.00 a.m. till 10.00 or 11.00 p.m. at night.

Out of those that they used to sell, there are only two items left on the menu – the Singapore fried Hokkien mee and the very nice Spanish chicken croquettas. But they do have a few new ones on the list and I decided to try the Thai-style pineapple fried rice (RM4.00)…

AsianFlavours pineapple fried rice 1

It was very nice with a pleasant fragrance and flavour…but I do wish that they would not use those pre-fried shallots that one can buy packed in plastic at the supermarket. I’ve noticed a lot of people using that these days  and perhaps, most people do not mind. On my part, however, I would very much prefer it if they would slice their own shallots and fry them for use instead as they would smell and taste a lot nicer…and they can save the oil to cook other things which, I’m very positive, would surely serve to enhance the taste.

AsianFlavours pineapple fried rice 2

There were a lot of ingredients in the fried rice – a bit of this and a bit of that. I saw some pieces of chicken, some egg and ikan bilis (anchovies) and I think I even tasted a bit of hay bee (dried prawns) too, if I’m not mistaken.  Perhaps it would be nice if they add a few prawns/shrimps and charge RM5.00 a plate…or perhaps, they can make it optional – RM4.00 a plate but RM5.00 with prawns and extra ingredients added.

The sambal that came with the rice was very very nice…

AsianFlavours sambal

…but I do wish they would give more – maybe twice that amount. It went really well with the rice…but for me, it was not pedas (spicy hot) enough. It would have been a lot nicer but considering the general population in Sibu, I guess they cannot make it too hot just to please the selected few. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are people around here who would eat everything but leave the sambal untouched. Right or not, Annie-Q? LOL!!!

Well, stick around, folks, for I will go back there again sometime to try what else that’s new on their menu…and I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s worth having, should you decide to drop by the stall sometime…

One morning…

One morning, my missus and I went out for breakfast and we went to this place that I had been to a couple of times.

She had the nasi lemak biasa (RM2.50)…

Sri Tanjung's nasi lemak 1

…which would cost RM4.00 if there had been a piece of chicken.

She liked the sambal (sauce) but did not think that the rice was really great…

Sri Tanjung's nasi lemak 2

So far, my favourite nasi lemak in town would be those sold in packets at my regular Malay kuih stall at Bandong here in the morning – RM1.50 for a choice between ikan bilis or sotong sambal and RM2.50 with a piece of chicken rendang added. Not only are they nicer but they’re relatively cheaper too!

I had the mee jawa (RM3.50)…

Sri Tanjung's mee jawa 1

…which was somewhat pricey but there were bits of beef in it…

SriTanjung's mee jawa 2

The serving was not exactly generous but it tasted really great. I honestly thought it was very well done…and I loved the delightfully crusty re-fried yew-char-koi/you tiao that went so well with the gravy.

On the whole, it was a good breakfast, I would say…

Talkin’ ’bout a revolution…

Mention the name Napoleon and instantly, some people would think of the French Revolution. Others may start thinking of brandy or cognac…while I would recall that horrible pig character by the same name in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. Well, “Napoleon” here has got nothing to do with any of the three…

It’s actually a cake – a Napoleon coffee cake…

Tom's cake 1

My missus thought that last Sunday was Father’s Day, you see…so she went to this place in town and bought a cake…

Tom's cake 2

It seems that they do not  bake the cakes here – they do that in Kuching…

Tom's cake 3

…and have them sent to their branch in Sibu…

Tom's cake 4

Anyway, initially, when I heard what the cake was called, I assumed that the “Napoleon” in it would mean that there was liquor among the ingredients. However, when I googled it up to check, I found that it was actually the name of some kind of French pastry.

Tom's cake 5

I guess that would be the hard layer on the outside and the one in between. I found it quite tasteless…and the cake itself seemed to me like ordinary plain cake, nothing really special and if I’m not wrong, the coffee was actually in the cream in between the pastry and the cake. My missus liked it though…and my in-laws too. They said it was not sweet – just right for them.

For one thing, considering the price, I would much sooner go for one of the tall cakes at this place, white chocolate macadamian or durian cream…or the Japanese baked cotton cheesecake that’s my favourite…or one from Marcus.

Both sides now (2)…

My missus got hold of one of these the other day…

Chefel 1

…by exchanging her coupons from one of those direct-sale companies. Oops! Looks like the manufacturer’s spell check was AWOL at that point in time!

She told me that it could be used for deep frying, grilling and all that and there would not be any need to turn the food over. Instead, one would just have to flip over the pan…

Chefel 2

As you can see, it is more or less identical on both sides…

Chefel 3

When closed, it is tightly sealed so there will not be any spluttering and you will not end up with oil in every nook and cranny in the kitchen. Besides, you will not have the smell all over the house unlike when you fry salted fish the usual way – the whole neighbourhood would be able to smell it. LOL!!!

Wait a minute! Doesn’t that take away some of the pleasure of cooking? Now, one would be deprived of inhaling the aroma from the food and the satisfaction of watching it cook to perfection.

Well, she tried it out and grilled some pieces of fish fillet marinated with terrayaki sauce…

Grilled terrayaki fish fillet

It looked ok, tasted ok…but I think I will reserve my judgement for the time being and wait till she has cooked something else with it before I will commit myself and say that it is a must-buy and a must-have in every kitchen.

Still got the blues…

My regular Malay kuih stall at Bandong had not been selling the Kelantan nasi kerabu for a long long time – the ones where the rice is blue in colour…and the other day, I saw on Facebook my daughter eating that all the way in Wellington, New Zealand. Sigh!!!

Imagine my delight when I stopped by the stall the other day and found that they were selling just that! Nasi kerabu…

Nasi kerabu 1

…but the rice was not blue! According to the lady, the one making it, originally from Johore, could not get hold of the flower, bunga telang (blue pea/butterfly pea) that they use for the blue colour and she did not want to use artificial colouring and used kunyit (tumeric) instead, hence the yellow colour.

For RM3.50, I got the rice with the thinly-sliced ulam (raw vegetables) and the fish and grated coconut kerisik (floss)…

Nasi kerabu 2
*Oops! Sorry, pic a bit blurry!*

…and the sambal (sauce)…

Nasi kerabu 3

Wait a minute! Where was the stinky air budu (fermented salted fish sauce)? It would not be the same without that! Perhaps the lady had mixed it together with the sambal. And where was the fried fish…and the stuffed green chili? Where was the bergedil ikan (fishcake)? I had those before here and here…plus it was only RM3.00 then but that was over a year ago so the price increase should come as no surprise at all. Tsk! Tsk!

Anyway, I poured the sauce over the rice…

Nasi kerabu 4

…and mixed everything thoroughly before eating it.

Well, I must say it was very nice. The chicken had a special fragrance – like it had been marinated with serai (lemon grass) or something like that. On the whole, I think this would go down very well with the less adventurous who may not like any kind  of peculiar smell or taste in their food.

Anyway, I went back to the stall a few days later to voice my grievances and according to the lady, the one making the nasi kerabu would have fried fish instead of chicken on some days and she told me that the air budu was already in the sambal…as can be seen in the plastic bag in this photograph…

Nasi kerabu 5

…and she drew my attention that there was also some sambal cili (pounded chili) added as well.

I ended up buying a packet to give it another try…

Nasi kerabu 6

…but unfortunately, there did not seem to be any difference from what I had previously.

The final verdict, therefore, would be that it certainly was nice enough to tickle one’s delight but at RM3.50 a packet, I probably would think twice and  not have that very regularly, I’m afraid.

Last stop before home…

My cousins, the three staying at my house, left the very next day on an afternoon flight after a one-night stay in Sibu. We got up early in the morning to go to the market and embark on a futile search for the very much coveted ikan buris and after that, we went around the shops to buy a little bit of this and a little bit of that, all the things that Sibu has to offer, for them to take home to Kuching.

We were passing by one coffee shop, Aloha Corner, when one of them spotted a familiar face – Ah Tor’s son! Needless to say, they wanted to stop to go and eat the special fried kway teow wrapped in egg…

Aloha Ah Tor Jr. fried kwayteow

…that they have enjoyed since young and grown to love a lot!

Another one of them had the Sibu Foochow ang chao mee sua

Aloha ang chao mee sua

I suppose they used ang chao (the residue from making the traditional Foochow red wine) to marinate or cook the chicken and that would explain why the meat was so red in colour.

Another cousin, presently working in KL, wanted the kampua noodles…

Aloha kampua noodles

…as she would not be able to get any good ones there. In fact, she commented that even though they do have kampua noodles in Kuching, those there simply pale in comparison – somehow, they’re different and not as nice and despite the fact that this particular stall isn’t one of those noted in Sibu for really really good kampua noodles, she thought it was better than anything she had eaten in Kuching.

I’ve tried the Sarawak laksa there before but was not too thrilled over it even though there are many who would insist that it is the best in town. I ordered the special (RM6.00) and got this…

Aloha Sarawak laksa

Unfortunately, it did not succeed in changing my earlier impression of it – I still think it is, at best, quite nice but you would not find me dying to go back there again to have some more and definitely not at THAT price! Tsk! Tsk!

After that, we went on with our search for the rest of the stuff that they wanted to buy before going back to my house…and after a simple lunch that my missus cooked – of steamed cincaluk pork, ang chao chicken and fried cangkuk manis, I sent them to the airport to catch their flight home.

So? Now who wants to come to town next? Sibu and yours truly warmly welcome you…

No reservations…

Well, how was I to know? Everyone has been moaning and groaning non-stop about the escalating prices so much that I would expect all the businesses around to take a downturn as consumers cut their spending and try to scrimp and save. It certainly looks like when it comes to food and eating, nobody is feeling the pinch.

I took my visiting relatives, the group staying at a local hotel here and the ones putting up at my house, out to dinner at this restaurant and it was full! Luckily, one table of diners had just finished and once they vacated the table, we immediately grabbed it. The proprietress came and said that somebody had booked that table for 7.30 p.m. – we got there at around 7.15 p.m. but on second thought, she said she would feel very bad about asking me to leave so she allowed us to sit there and she would make some other arrangement for the group that had made an earlier reservation. Phew!!! That was a relief and it was indeed so very nice of her to try and accommodate us.

We could not have a full 8-course dinner – for that, advance reservation would be necessary and other than that, there were a few things that I could not order as they were already too busy and would not be able to cope. Luckily, we were able to have this braised pork belly dish that I like a lot…

Ming Mei Shi braised pork

– the one eaten with mantao (steamed buns)…

MingMeiShi mantao

…and I agreed to have the chicken that I had for my birthday dinner sometime ago even though I did not think it was all that great and something that I would love to have again and again…

MingMeiShi special fried chicken

Thankfully, everybody thought it was quite nice. As for the fish, I had to settle for the sweet and sour fish…

MingMeiShi sweet sour fish

…which everyone seemed to praise to the skies but I did not quite like it the last time I had dinner here. Luckily, they did a very good job this time around and it was indeed quite good. Somebody told me that they probably had several chefs in the kitchen and perhaps one could do it better than the others…and we were lucky to get that one that night.

The butter prawn balls would have been a very nice dish…

MingMeiShi butter prawn balls

…but perhaps, somebody in his hurry spilled the salt in it or forgot that he had added it and added it again. It was THAT salty!!!

I also ordered some Foochow fried noodles…

MingMeiShi Foochow fried noodles

…and though it was not bad at all, it paled in comparison with what we had for lunch that afternoon.

As for the soup, we had the traditional Foochow tofu soup…

MingMeiShi Foochow tofu soup

…which we had on my last visit as well and we all thought then that it was pretty well done. This time around, it was just as good and everyone seemed o.k. with it even though some preferred it with black vinegar- the same way people would usually eat that soup that must not be named.

Together with this dish of fried midin (jungle fern)…

MingMeiShi fried midin

…and drinks, the total came up to over RM140.00 for 10 persons. I would consider that very reasonable especially since we had prawns as well.

After dinner, everyone went for a walk around the nightly pasar malam (night market) – yes, we have it every night here in Sibu. I did not go, of course! Don’t expect me to go to such crowded places in our tropical heat – I would drown in my sweat…and besides, the word “walk” does not exist in my vocabulary. LOL!!! So while everybody else went, I waited comfortably at the hotel’s cafe and took the opportunity to try their “Sibu famous jelly pisang” (as stated in their menu)…

TanahMas jelly pisang

It was also priced at RM7.00 but it was too sour and in no way as nice as what we had here…and the latter’s was actually cheaper as well, without the + + and it came with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream plus the taste on the whole was very much better. Well, if it’s any consolation, I would say that the service at this hotel cafe was excellent but I would not say the  same though about the prices of the other items on the menu. Ah well! I guess if you expect first class treatment, you will have to expect and be willing to pay more for that – as they say, everything comes with a price tag…and unlike what the song says, these days, it IS all about the money!

Everybody came back pretty soon and we adjourned to one of the rooms at the karaoke place in the hotel and sang our hearts out till very late into the night. I must say that it was indeed a really delightful evening well-spent…or at least to me, it was.