Send it to me…

Annie-Q‘s mum dropped by my house the other day to send these to me…

Marmalade/jam from Elaine

They’re from Elaine – her own homemade orange marmalade and pineapple jam.

Annie’s mum had gone to Taiwan for a holiday and she stopped by KL on her way home and she gave me this…

Taiwan fish floss

– fish floss from Taiwan.

Well, I have not tried either of them but I’m sure they taste really great.

A cousin of mine from Bintulu was back in town too for the Ching Ming Festival, the sister of the one from Brisbane – the one who gave me the chocolates in this previous post, and she gave me these…

Claypot noodles

These are specially meant for claypot noodles and I enjoyed the ones that I have had before. I’m not too sure whether I can cook anything like that but I will try – perhaps when my daughter’s home for the holidays so she can get to enjoy them too.

My cousin also gave me this packet of the original, unadulterated Bario rice

Bario rice

…and unlike those factory-packed ones, this would be very fresh and would, of course, be much nicer.

Thanks so much, Elaine – it was so sweet of you to think of sending those to me…and thanks to Annie’s mum too for the fish floss and for going through the trouble of delivering everything to my house even though she was down with the flu after the trip…and thanks also to my cousin for the goodies.

I am truly blessed in having all the wonderfully loving and caring people all around me, there can be no denying that, and for that I am truly very grateful, praise the Lord.

In the street…

This isn’t exactly new – there was another bakery there before but that had closed down and eventually, they opened this place…

TeaStreet Sibu

I bought the garlic buns from there for our Christmas dinner at the end of last year…

TeaStreet garlic bread
*recycled pic*

…and I thought they were very good but the buns were a bit too big for one person and for a sit-down dinner, perhaps it would be better to cut them in thin slices and toast before serving.

Well, I dropped by again the other day and nothing much has changed. For one thing, the choices are pretty limited, just the usual stuff mostly, and there aren’t anything that would tickle my fancy. There are tables and chairs, not many, for people who would like to have their tea there and enjoy the buns, I guess, but so far I have not seen anyone doing that. I don’t know if there’s something that I do not know as there is a blackboard in front of the shop but everything is in Mandarin and as far as I am concerned, that’s Greek to me. I guess I could ask the people inside but so far, I never bothered.

I bought this to try…

TeaStreet chocolate cake

– their chocolate cake, RM4.50 for a loaf but not a really big one at that. It was very nice and very moist, maybe a bit too sweet for me but it was quite all right. I can recall the chocolate brownies sold at another place with raisins and slices of cherries – I used to love those a lot but I don’t think I would enjoy them as much now. Somehow, probably due to old age, I seem to have gone off things that are a bit too sweet like these pineapple jam tarts from Singapore, for instance…

Pineapple jam tarts from Singapore

They’re SIN$15.00 a tub, don’t convert! LOL!!! I do not know how many there are exactly inside but I’m pretty sure they are more than 15, so I guess that works out to less than a dollar each. Hey! Wait a minute! The pineapple jam tarts that I used to make with my mum, my grandma and my aunts certainly did not look like that! To make these would be a whole lot easier – you just cut the base using a mold or a cookie cutter and you just stick the lump of pineapple jam on it and bake it in the oven.

But of course, as always, the test of the pudding is in the eating, so I tried a piece. The pastry was nice – I would have liked it a bit thicker so that there would be more of it, while the pineapple jam is soft and moist but it was so very sweet. You know how when things are too sweet, you feel a little sore in the throat when eating it? That’s how sweet it is.

Oops! Sorry, I digressed… LOL!!! But my point here is that I think I prefer things that are savoury a lot more these days as opposed to stuff that are sweet. What about you?

Chocolate…

According to this website, chocolate has a lot of health benefits. It is claimed that it is good for your heart as  it lowers blood pressure and can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. Other than that, it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure and it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, as well as theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants.

I’m not really crazy about chocolate but I would love a slice of  Chocolate Indulgence from Secret Recipe anytime or the double chocolate mille crepe from the Noodle House here in Sibu

NoodleHouse double choc mille crepe
*recycled pic*

…and I do like some of those available locally as well as those that I have received from family and friends here, there and everywhere but this is new on the market, it seems – the Cadbury’s mint bubbly…

New from Cadbury

– milk chocolate with an aerated mint flavoured centre. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t say right now whether it’s any good.

I got it from a cousin of mine who was back in Sibu for a couple of days from Brisbane, thanks so much, and she also gave me this box of Belgian Cherry Liqueurs…

Belgian cherry liqueurs

I hope I will not get drunk from eating those. LOL!!!

Actually, she gave them to me in this paper bag…

Victoria's paper bag

…but no worries! No Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie or whatever inside. They wouldn’t have my size, anyway! LOL!!!

Well, moving away from the topic of chocolates now, in case anybody doesn’t know, it’s Easter Sunday today…

Happy Easter

…so allow me, if I may, to take this opportunity to wish one and all a Blessed and Happy Easter.

I heard it through the grapevine…

I heard of a place in town that sells very nice sio bee or  the Sibu-style meat dumplings or siew mai so I made a beeline to the coffee shop and bought some to try….

KiawHin sio bee 1

I understand that the taukeh-neo (lady proprietress) makes them herself and they’re selling at 70 sen each…

KiawHin sio bee 2

Are they really that nice? Ummmm…I would say that they’re very tasty, that I cannot deny. However, somehow, they remind me of those from that so-called dim sum place in Kuching and I never like what they sell there – the pao (steamed bun) skin is yellow in colour and chewy and when you bite into it, the whole chunk of minced meat ball would drop out onto your plate or the table. As for the har kao, you would have to eat the skin (thick like anything) and the filling separately as they would have come apart…and the sio bee is one tough ball of meat. They all taste all right, no doubt but I cannot understand why people are so crazy over them and those in Sibu would buy boxes of the stuff home. Not me, that’s for sure!

Like the ones from that Kuching shop, these here have a whole lot of meat inside…

KiawHin sio bee 3

…but they are not as hard/rubbery. Personally, I think I prefer the ones I had here – and they’re only 50 sen each. Smallkucing loved it so much that he had three at one go!!!

Traditionally, people would make our Foochow/Sibu-style sio bee using meat and sengkuang/mangkuang (turnip) in the right proportions – not too much of either…and there are good ones and not-so-good ones where they would scrimp on the ingredients and add a lot of flour instead…so strictly speaking, these aren’t exactly like what our local sio bee should be…but they’re not bad really, not bad at all.

I also bought the bak zhang that they say are also made by the taukeh-neo herself…

KiawHin bak zhang 1

I’ve purposely placed the mug beside them in the photograph so that you would have a fair idea as to how huge they are…and these giant ones are RM3.50 each with a salted egg yolk inside…

KiawHin bak zhang 2

It tasted really good…

KiawHin bak zhang 3

…with quite a lot of meat and some Shitake mushroom inside besides the yolk but some people may feel the pinch if they have to fork out RM3.50 for one dumpling. But at least, it is better than paying  a lot of money for something that really isn’t worth the calories, don’t you think?

So if anybody is interested in trying these, they are obtainable at Kiaw Hin, the coffee shop right next to the Methodist Book Room (across the road from the Inland Revenue office and this coffee shop) in the town centre. Somebody told me before that the Hinghua fried mihun (the one with cangkuk manis) is good there but I have never gone to try – traffic is usually heavy around that part of town and parking can be a real pain. Perhaps I’ll drop by there again someday. We’ll see…

She loves it…

My daughter loves it more than many of the fried stuff sold at the shops here in Sibu but personally, I’m not really crazy about it…and if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s char pek koi, literally translated as fried white cake.

This is the char pek koi (fried white cake) at this coffee shop in Rejang Park here in Sibu…

HappyHour char pek koi 1

Pek koi is actually rice cake and you can buy them packed in plastic bags at the local supermarkets and grocery stores but you will have to soak the pieces in water overnight to soften them before cooking. My missus tried once but by the next day, they were still not soft and she stubbornly went ahead and fried them. Needless to say, the result was disastrous and she never tried cooking them again. They say that there is a particular brand now whereby you will not need to soak them so much to get them soft but unfortunately, I cannot remember which type or brand they were talking about.

After all, like I said, I don’t really like this dish as I find those thick pieces of pek koi

HappyHour char pek koi 2

…a bit too hard for my liking. Well, it’s not exactly hard but sort of springy or chewy…and given a choice, I would much rather have kway teow (flat rice noodles). In fact, I had their char kway teow once and it was pretty good but I think the ones that I had here were better.

As for the char pek koi

HappyHours char pek koi 3

…I would prefer those that I had here.

Whatever it is, they’re pretty good really and should be worth having if one happens to be in the vicinity instead of going all the way to the other places to have these same things…and if you’ve never heard of or seen pek koi before, perhaps you would like to give it a try? Who knows, like my daughter, you may like it…the way she loves it!

I go back…

I said I would go back there and I did.

After the evening service last Sunday, my missus and I went there for dinner. She had had the special Taiwan rice before at the other place and she loved it a lot so she had that. This time around, I made sure that I took note of the price and it was actually only RM6.00 a bowl – not RM8.00 like I said in the earlier post. The bak kut teh and the lo kaki khinzir were both RM8.00 each. I was determined to go back there again to try the latter – the stewed pork leg…

FoodCourts lo kaki khinzir 1

…but unfortunately, it was way below my expectations and nothing like what my missus would cook at home. I think it was just pork trotters stewed in soy sauce and garlic so at best, I would say that it tasted ok – nothing to shout about.

FoodCourts lo kaki khinzir 2

I ordered their special teh-c-peng…- the iced  3-layer tea with evaporated milk, gula apong/Melaka and wheat grass…

FoodCourts special teh-c peng

…for a change from my usual iced black coffee and it was fine – much the same as what I have had elsewhere.

We also ordered the satay, chicken and beef, from one of the stalls there…

FoodCourts satay

…and it was pretty good. But at 50 sen a stick, it is  much more expensive that what we had here – 5 for RM2.00 so that works out to only 40 sen each.

There are so many different stalls there and it seems that most of them are open at night and there was quite a crowd there too – I may just go back there again one day to see what else they may have to offer but I definitely will not be having the lo kaki khinzir again…

Phone ringing…

It has been said that ringtones are an opportunity to express yourself and they do say something about you.

Old & new handphones
*recycled pic*

It is believed that users who constantly change their rings might be flighty and unreliable, adding that people who retain one particular tone for a long period of time are more reliable, but sometime misjudged as ‘old school’. So, what is your current ringtone? What does it say about you?

According to one website, if your phone plays a classical tune or a favourite oldie from days gone by, you’re showing your age. If your phone is still playing festive songs out of season such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Christmas songs in the middle of the year, you’re considered as being not very productive but if your ringtone is a current hit, you are young at heart.

Well, I don’t change my ringtone all the time anymore. When I was using my old one, the one on the left in the photo above, I had Nirvana and later, I had Maroon 5 and a number of others but eventually, I stuck to “1973” by James Blunt for a long time…and no, I never had “Crazy Frog” nor “Fast and furious – Tokyo drift” ever! So where does all that put me? Young at heart or showing my age? LOL!!!

After I had switched to the new one (right), I found that I could not transfer the ringtones from one to the other so I just used one of those (boring ones) that came with the phone…until quite recently, when I discovered that I could go online on my mobile and download ringtones for free. Yipee!!!!!

So, of course, I’ve got a “new” ringtone now!!! Wanna guess what it is? LOL!!!

The answer…

I wonder how many of you are old enough to know Skeeter Davis and this popular album of hers – “Here’s the answer“. On this album, you have the original song e.g. “He’ll have to go” by Jim Reeves and then, Skeeter comes in to sing the answer, “He’ll have to stay“. My favorite song on that album, however, is not exactly an answer as the original is an instrumental by Floyd Cramer, “Last Date”…and Skeeter follows that up with the sung version, “My Last Date (With You).

Anyway, this post is not going to be all about that but instead, I would like to unveil the mystery and reveal the answer to my question in yesterday’s post – what on earth is mangolon juice…

MapleLeaf Tonight's Special
*recycled pic*

Is it, as I had guessed, a mixture of mango and watermelon juice?

When the waiter served it, I was quite tickled to see that, in fact, it was buah kedondong juice…

MapleLeaf mangolon juice 1

The local Foochows call the fruit “makolong” or something like that – the actual Malay name buah kedondong that has been so severely distorted till almost beyond recognition. If it had been mang0-long, they would not have been very far from the truth, as, if I’m not mistaken, it does come from the mango family.

This drink is getting very popular these days, it seems, as word has gone round that the fruit brings a lot of health benefits. Don’t ask me what the health benefits are as I really do not know. I tried googling and all I got was that it may be used to cure dysentery and the leaves may be used to cure coughs or something like that. Perhaps some of you know better and would like to share it with everybody?

Normally, it is blended, skin and all and served with a couple of asamboi (sour plums) inside…

MapleLeaf mangolon juice 2

…as a cool and refreshing sourish drink and though I would not say that I love it a lot, I do not mind drinking it…except that RM6.50 is a little bit too much to pay, don’t you think?

Well, Huai Bin and Joe Cotter were on the right track but they did not give the specific name and Yi Ling was the first to give the correct answer but that was after I had laid down a condition for any guesses that would follow…and she’s Foochow so she is not entitled to a prize, I’m afraid. LOL!!! Never mind! All three of you can give me a tinkle when you’re back in Sibu and I can take you to this place for the mangolon juice…and I’ll throw in a plate of those yummy mango duck slices as well – my treat! How about that? Wink! Wink!

Something else…

I was here before and I did not really like what I had then and besides, I thought the things were a little bit too pricey but when Huai Bin was back home in Sibu not too long ago, he sang praises of their mango duck but then again, he liked their fried durian which I thought was definitely not something that I would want to eat ever again.

This is their open air area…

MapleLeaf exterior

…and they have a nice and comfortable air-conditioned section inside as well. I hear that their first floor is very impressive – what one would expect for high-end fine dining but I did not go up to have a look, not when there’s no escalator or elevator. LOL!!!

So there I was that day…and of course, I had their mango duck slices (RM12.90)…

MapleLeaf mango duck slices 1

…and I must say that I liked it a lot.

I don’t think those were fresh roast or whatever duck slices with the mango…

MapleLeaf mango duck slices 2

It tasted like smoked duck to me and I love anything that’s smoked – smoked ham,. smoked bacon, smoked turkey… You name it, I love them all!

They had the calamari salad in the middle…

MapleLeaf calamari salad

…with pickled cucumber and sliced Bombay onions and that was great too.

All in all, I would give it an 8 out of 10 for taste…but I would say that at RM12.90 , I did feel the pinch a little bit. I think I would just stick to the roast duck at the coffee shop next door.

I did not know what to order to drink as I remember the last time I wanted kopi-o peng (iced black coffee) and after much difficulty explaining that to the waiter, the drink that I got in the end was definitely not black. This time around, I saw something on the Tonight’s Special menu that intrigued me…

MapleLeaf Tonight's Special

Yes, yes! I saw the grammatical error but what got me wondering was what on earth was mangolon juice (RM6.50). My guess was it was a combination of mango and watermelon juice but when I asked the waiter, he did not know either…so I just had to take the chance and order that so as to solve the mystery.

Now, what do you think it was? Come, come…make a guess…and the first correct entry wins a prize. Entries close at 12 midnight tonight, so hurry… LOL!!!

Sisters are doing it for themselves…

A long time ago, during my childhood days, the Chinese or more specifically the Foochows in Sibu were noted for their bland food. The emphasis was on quantity, not quality.

Around that same time too, anything spicy in their food was quite unheard of and their curry (chicken) was very diluted – with the pieces of chicken cooked with a little bit of curry powder and swimming in a pool of santan (coconut milk). If you would like to eat that kind of chicken curry, I know one place in town that still cooks it this way. Believe you me, I do go for it once in a while and it certainly feels like old times.

But times have changed and the Chinese/Foochows in Sibu have progressed to curry that is a lot spicier and in fact, there are some places serving very good curry like this one, for instance, where the fish head curry can rival any cooked by the Malays or the others in their cafes and restaurants…and there are many Chinese-owned nasi lemak stalls in town too.

On the other hand, you can go to many Malay stalls around here and they do sell kampua noodles and kolo mee too but the halal (does not contain pork or any pork related products) version, of course but what earns them my utmost respect would be the ability to tie these meat dumplings or what the Chinese call bak zhang

Halal bak zhang 1

They call them ketupat but I guess when somebody mentions ketupat, this would be the last thing on our minds.

It is really very sad, tragic in fact, that many among the Chinese themselves do not know how to tie these dumplings as I would consider this a part of their culture, their tradition, their heritage…and yet, our fellow-countrymen/ladies can do it so well. I have purposely put the dumpling on a spoon to give everyone an idea of how delicately small that is.

Each of them costs RM1.00 only. The Chinese-made ones sold at some places in the town are RM2.00-2.50 each but they are a bit bigger, maybe almost twice the size and theirs are of a darker shade of brown than this…

Halal bak zhang 2

…as in the making, the glutinous rice would have been fried first, with soy sauce and five spice powder added.

But the nyonya zhangs that my mum and the rest in the family used to make were also pale/white like this…

Halal bak zhang 3

…and we do like it this way.

Inside that little dumpling are little bits of meat…

Halal bak zhang 4

…and though it is not cooked to taste the same as the Chinese ones, I must say that it tastes very good. In fact if they had added a bit of ketumbar (coriander), it would taste like the nyona zhangs that we grew up eating in our families in those gone by days so very long ago.

I would say here also that in the Chinese-made ones that I had had, the authentic taste was there but the meat would hardly be visible…and with a salted egg yolk (at times, not really all that fresh) added, the price would go up to RM3.00-3.50. In view of this, I would much rather go for these cheaper and nicer Malay ones…and the way things are going in this day and age when the young ones would very much prefer burgers and pizzas, who knows, one day, our descendants would enjoy eating ketupat daging (meat), not realising that they’re actually bak zhang, something that originally, their ancestors used to make.