Somewhere in my past…

Sometime ago, I promised somewhereinsingapore that I would post some more photographs taken during the time when I was living in Singapore – in 1973.

Well, initially, I stayed at Teluk Kurau in Katong but after a while, I shifted to the HDB flats along Beach Road, opposite the Golden Mile Shopping Centre. The Merlin Hotel was a stone’s throw away and this photo was taken at their swimming pool bar…

At the Merlin

I think it was renamed Plaza Hotel later – I’m not sure whether it is still there and if it is, what it is called now.

Go straight ahead along Beach Road past the historic Raffles and you would get to The Satay Club. It was very popular then – the place to go if anybody wanted to feast on satay, satay and satay. This was located at the Elizabeth Walk…

Elizabeth Walk

…not too far from the familiar landmark – the Merlion. I suppose with all the land reclamation that had been going on over the years, the sea is not that close anymore.

Go round the corner past the Merlion and you would get to Raffles Quay/Shenton Way, if I’m not mistaken, where this building was located…

Neptune

If I remember correctly, that was a revolving restaurant in the background – the other one in Singapore at the time was on top of the Mandarin along Orchard Road. There was a restaurant cum cabaret/nightclub in that building on the right – the Neptune. I went there years later with my missus to see the late Teresa Teng in concert.

Right across the road from this place (to our left) was Change Alley. I loved to browse around the little shops there and maybe buy a thing or two. That was where I bought those Indian sandals – the ones I was wearing in the first photograph…and I think that Indian outfit was from there too. Correct me if I’m wrong but if you walked out of the other end of Change Alley, you would get to Raffles Place and Robinsons’ was there then. At that time, it was something like Harrods, I guess – only for the rich and famous.

The above photograph was taken in April that year when my friend from Sibu, Jane, stopped over in transit on her way to England to pursue her nursing course and career. The one below was taken along Bras Basah Road/Dhoby Ghaut…

Cathay

You can see the Cathay Building in the background – the icon that would be very familiar to people from my time as we would see that at the start of any movie in one of the Cathay cinemas, even the one here in Sibu. The last time I was in Singapore several years ago, they were renovating the place and I thought it looked very different from what it used to be.

There were not many places of interest/tourist attractions around then. Those were the days before the Jurong Bird Park, the Japanese and the Chinese Gardens and Sentosa Island was non-existent at the time – still called Pulau Blakang Mati, I guess. We could go up to the top of Mount Faber or drop by the Botanical Gardens…or the Haw Par Villa aka the Tiger Balm Gardens…

Haw Par

40 years have passed…and so much has changed. Sigh!!! Nothing stays the same, I guess…and yours truly, likewise.

Poor thing…

That day, when I sent Melissa’s coursemate to the school, they got down to business right away – assigning him his classes and duties, giving him his timetable, books and what not and there was a briefing for him and two other “new brooms” at 1.15 p.m. that same day. At around 3 something, he called me and asked if I could help transport his suitcases, bags and all to some temporary place of stay that one of his new colleagues had arranged for them…and good grief! That house was in a kampung (village) so very far away in an isolated part outside of town that I had never been to.

While we were having our dinner that evening, he contacted me and asked if I could go and get him and if he could stay the night at my place. Of course I said that he could and I asked if he had any lunch or tea and he said that since the kampua that I took him to eat when he arrived, he only got a bottle of mineral water during the briefing in the school, the poor thing!

So after our dinner, we went to get him and took him here…

Bandong penyet

…and he had the pecel lele (RM5.50)…

pecel lele

– with the very nice fried ikan keli (catfish). According to papakucing, pecel is derived from the word “parcel”. As you can see in the photograph, the rice was wrapped in a special kind of leaf which would give it its special fragrance, and hence, the name “parcel”.

I saw this bakso stall…

Bakso stall

…and decided to order a bowl (RM4.00)…

Bakso

…to share and try. It was nice – I liked the beef balls…but the soup was like clear soup with chicken stock, none of the beef taste that I had expected. I would simmer those balls in the soup so that the taste would go into it but obviously, they did not do that. It certainly seemed very popular with the crowd there though as I saw them dishing out one bowl after another.

Not far away from where we were was this man…

Satay man

…selling satay…

Satay

…at 50 sen a stick – never mind if it was chicken, beef or kambing (mutton). I ordered 10 of the latter and also 10 of the beef and with the ketupat, the total came up to RM11.00…

Satay, ketupat & peanut sauce

It was very nice, I would say…so I would KIV this place for anytime I feel a craving for some decently-nice satay.

This used to be a very popular place a long time ago where young people would hang out to eat…and to see and be seen but its popularity waned. Looking at the crowd that night, it seemed that the place is slowly but surely making a comeback…and I hear that the YB of that constituency has promised to upgrade the place to make it much nicer and call it “Bandong Walk”.  Well, it is already very nice as it is, if you ask me.

Among the many eateries around, there is this chu-char (cook-fry) seafood place…

Chu-char

halal, of course, and this Pak Soh Tom Yam place too…

Pak Soh

They say it is very good but I have yet to go and give it a try.

I probably would want to try this one as well…

De'Orange

…as it was rather packed so I guess the food must be really good too.

You will certainly be spoilt for choice if you come here as there are so many options to pick. Why, they even have a takoyaki stall…

Takoyaki

– don’t play-play!

After dinner, we went for a drive around town to let our visitor see the sights but it was already dark by then. Imagine this – he had been in Sibu for one whole day and all he had seen was the way from the airport to his school and from his school to that temporary place of stay. Poor, poor thing indeed!!!

This little town…

Last Saturday morning, Melissa and I made our way to the airport here in Sibu to welcome her coursemate…

Welcome to Sibu

…all the way from Trengganu to this little town.

I would say that he’s very lucky to be posted to a school in the town proper and of course, we would be here to help him in any way we can.  – the least we can do after all that he and his friends did for Melissa when they were in Wellington, New Zealand.  I remember once there was a severe earthquake and in the middle of the night, he and the others went to Melissa’s studio apartment on the 9th Floor to help her move to their house as it would be much safer there till it was all right for her to go back.

Of course, as with anybody else coming to Sibu, I would make sure that they would get a Sibu kampua welcome and since the halal one that we tried the other day was not all that great, I took him to this place instead. I had their kampua before and I thought it was very good (RM3.50)…

Sunny kampua

I did not order the special (RM4.50) as I was still abstaining from prawns and other kinds of seafood but that was what I ordered for Melissa’a friend…

Sunny kampua special

I’ve mentioned this before in my previous posts that here, for just RM1.00 more, you will get the special – five very nice prawn fritters with whatever you order. I was glad that he liked it very much and he even had to ask how he could go about ordering that if he were to go out and eat on his own – they certainly do not have that in most places in the peninsula so it came as no surprise at all that he was not familiar with it.

Melissa had their mee jawa special again (RM4.50)…

Sunny mee jawa

…and after that, we took him to his school to report for duty.

Hmmm…the nice boy did not come empty-handed, not at all! He brought along two huge packets of keropok ikan (fish crackers)  all the way from his home state for us…

Trengganu keropok ikan

I’ve always loved the ones from there – smallkucing has given me some a couple of times already.

Well, all the best to him and here’s hoping he will enjoy working and staying here in Sibu, Sarawak – Bumi Kenyalang (Land of the Hornbill) which I am pretty sure he most certainly will…

Over and over again…

I have blogged about cooking those factory-made egg noodles (available in all supermarkets in plastic packs), kampua-style, with dark soy sauce or mee sua (Foochow thread/strong longevity noodles) in a similar way but with Bovril added here and also here and even with the dried mee sanggul but I think most of the time, I merely described the process with a couple of pictures thrown in here and there and never really showed the whole process in detail. Well, seeing that people are still saying that they cannot imagine what kampua noodles are actually like…and asking over and over again whether it is like wanton noodles, I think I will share with everyone the whole thing but step by step this time.

I used mee pok, the flat version of our local kampua noodles as that was what I had in the fridge that day. My missus had bought a bag (usually 1 kg) and dumped it in the fridge so that I could cook for breakfast whenever I felt like it. Nope, I did not use all of it – maybe, just a third…or enough for 4-5 plates/servings.

Firstly, I peeled and sliced some shallots and fried them in a bit of oil…

Step 1

…till they turned golden brown. If you want to cook the original/authentic Foochow kampua noodles, you will need to use lard but I am usually not too bothered about it and will just use whatever cooking oil that is available instead. Doing this will give the oil that very nice fragrance of fried shallots.

As you can see, I did not bother to transfer the oil and shallots onto a plate or something and just used the pan for what I had to do next. I can imagine all the ladies shaking their heads in disbelief and muttering to themselves, “Men!!!” LOL!!!

I added one spoonful of Bovril and one spoonful of dark soy sauce and a bit of msg to the oil and shallots…

Step 2

You can leave out the msg and if it so pleases you, you can add a spoonful of chili sauce or pounded chili or even some pepper. You may vary the amount of Bovril and soy sauce added according to your taste – some of you may prefer it a bit more salty but I was fine with this.

Actually you can take out the fried shallots and put aside for use later as garnishing…but I did not bother about that as well. As you can see, when I cook, I’m not a stickler for all those little details especially with regard to presentation  and what not – as long as it tastes good, that’s fine by me.

Boil water in a pot, enough to cover and cook all the noodles, and when it has started boiling, throw in the noodles…

Step 3

…and bring the water back to boil. When the noodles have softened, drain away the hot water using a sieve…

Step 4

…and rinse with cold water from the tap. You can put the noodles back in the pot and fill it with water for this purpose which is to rinse away the excess starch in the noodles and to prevent over-cooking of the noodles resulting from the heat. All this is so that your noodles will not stick together in a clump when it has cooled down a bit – especially when you do not use so much oil as in the shops to keep the strands apart.

Drain away the cold water and put the noodles back in the pot. Fill it with boiling water…

Step 5

…and bring it back to boil so that you will not end up eating cold noodles.

Finally, drain away the water again and add them to the ingredients you have prepared earlier…

Step 6

…and toss really really well…

Step 7

…coating every bit of the noodles with the fragrant ingredients.

Serve the noodles in a plate and garnish with very thinly-sliced char siew (red barbecued meat), fried shallots (you can save the ones earlier for this) and chopped spring onions. I did not bother about the shallots – they were there mixed with the noodles already and I did not have the rest…so what I did was, I fried an egg to go with the yummy noodles…

Bovril mee pok & egg

So, if you have seen the hawker preparing wanton noodles, you would be able to tell right away that they are in no way the same – other than the fact that they are both tossed noodle dishes.

Anybody care to give this a try? I assure you it is really very easy and it is very very nice. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Drive by…

Usually, whenever I was on the way to the airport or back, I would just drive by the two or three blocks of shophouses located in the vicinity of the Star Mega-mall here and very often, I would see a lot of people eating at this coffee shop…

AC

…or another one at the other end.

On the way back from Selangau the other day, we decided to stop there for a bite to eat before heading on home but it certainly seemed pretty quiet that day…

Mel & mum

Probably we missed the 10 o’ clock tea break crowd and were too early for those dropping by for lunch.

The selections that they had for the nasi campur (mixed rice)…

AC - nasi campur

…looked pretty good but we decided we did not want to go for that. Do take note of the sliding wire-netting covers to keep out the flies – I really like such places where they make an effort to ensure the cleanliness of what they serve unlike what I have seen elsewhere.

Melissa had the mee goreng (fried noodles)…

AC - mee goreng

…but it was salty and had too much msg plus I think the cook did not add any water in the cooking so the noodles were hard, almost like they were uncooked.

My missus ordered the kampua noodles tossed with chili sauce…

AC - kampua cili

…while I had the plain…

AC - kampua

As you can see, this is a halal shop so they use chicken and you can be sure that no lard is used in the making of the noodles. Both were all right – nothing to shout about but they were not too bad. However, I would say that the halal kampua that I had here sometime ago was much better.

The piansip was quite nice…

AC - piansip

…but the skin they used was too thick so I would say that really spoilt it all. I loved the complimentary soup that they gave – very nice clear soup, quite unlike the murky/cloudy, tasteless or at times, smelly ones that they give at some of the Chinese kampua stalls.

I don’t know if we would ever drop by this place again – after all, we seldom venture to this part of town…and even if we do, we would probably want to try another shop at the other end…or we might just come here again but we will order something else instead. We’ll see…

Here am I…

Melissa got her what-they-call “interim posting” to this school…

SkSS entrance

– SK Sungai Sepiring near Selangau town, around 1½ hours by road from Sibu.

We drove there for her to report for duty last Monday and when we arrived, we stopped first at the Education Office in the town itself…

EO Selangau

The Education Officer was not around…

EO Selangau - entrance

…but Melissa managed to meet the lady in charge and signed in…

Reporting

…as an indication that she had reported.

I’m not too sure what this interim thing is – it seems that there are no vacancies available resulting from the current situation where people are retiring at 60 so they have come up with something like this just so there will not be a whole lot of fresh graduates unemployed…which may mean that one may be moved to a school where there is a vacancy as and when the need arises.

I certainly hope that Melissa can stay in this school though as it isn’t far from home and the students look so cute and lovable…

SKSS students

We walked around the school and saw that they were all so very well-behaved in the classrooms during the lessons – not like the ones in the towns and cities…and I’m pretty sure there is none of the problem of demanding and difficult (and vicious) parents either at places like this unlike those urban ones.

Of course, kids are kids so one should expect to see a few monkeys around…

SKSS - naughty

LOL!!! These are usually playful but quite harmless…and if you can win them over, you can twist them around your finger, no problem at all.

This is the admin block and staff room…

SKSS - office

…and here, you can see a few of the teachers’ quarters.

SKSS - quarters

There are not enough to go round at the moment so Melissa would have to share with her colleagues…probably until the new ones – those concrete ones at the back – are given the stamp of approval by the authorities concerned and are available for occupancy.

We got to meet the Headmaster and some of the teachers in the school and they were all so very nice and friendly and it was the same with those at the office whom we met earlier. Perhaps this is one thing about small places – people are a whole lot more pleasant and very much nicer.

Well, that certainly was  a good start and we certainly hope and pray that Melissa will love working and staying there in the years to come. She’ll be home on weekends and during the holidays, of course…

Another time, another place…

I just had bubur cacar or what they call momocacar at another place not too long ago but I was in the vicinity of Rejang Park here in Sibu that day and there is one very popular place in the area…

LLC

– one of the shops on the ground floor of the now-closed-down cinema complex. I would usually see a lot of people there mid-afternoon enjoying their cendol, kompia and what not…

LL menu

I remember I had the ang tao peng (listed as ice kacang merah on the menu) before but was not exactly thrilled by it so this time around, I decided to try the momo-zaza

LL mmc

Gosh!!! As far as the name is concerned, it does not seem to be getting any better but I thought this version had a South American Latino ring to it and is kind of sexy, what do you think? Momo-zaza… LOL!!! As for the taste, I thought it was kurang manis, kurang lemak – not sweet enough and not enough santan (coconut milk). The momocacar at the other place is definitely a lot better.

I also tried the stuffed kompia

LL kompia

I asked for the ones stuffed with pork belly and served with the stew gravy but I guess the boy did not hear me and I got these baked/oven-toasted ones stuffed with minced meat. They were pretty good though not as nice as the deep-fried ones here…but at 80 sen each, these are a whole lot cheaper so I’m not complaining.

Another time, on a different day, my missus, Melissa and I stopped by this hotel in town for their set lunch at their cafe. For RM9.00++, you get a free drink…

Garden set lunch - drink

Nothing much – just orange cordial and not something that people would get excited about these days. When I was young, there would be a bottle in the fridge – Sun Valley orange or grenadine…or sometimes, we had Cascade blackberry BUT we were specifically told not to touch it! It was meant to be for guests dropping by just so they would get served some drinks while at the house. Unfortunately, kids being kids, many a time I succumbed to the temptation and when my mum noticed the level getting lower and lower, I was promptly accorded my due reward – THE CANE! LOL!!!

Anyway, back to the lunch set, we also got this very nice complimentary bowl of soup…

GSL - soup

I think they had Chinese cabbage and tomato in it.

Melissa opted for their creamy fish fillet…

Fish

…while my missus had the beef with black pepper sauce…

beef

…and I had the lamb…

lamb

All of them were really good and came with a bit of very nicely-fried ladies’ fingers by the side together with a slice of cucumber and some nasi lemak sambal on top…and rice.

Of course I would not think that it was cheap but at least, there was none of that problem of an msg overload that we would find at some other places…and we all enjoyed our orders very much. I guess that was all that mattered.

Big balls…

Whoa! Whoa!!! Hold your horses now! This isn’t going to be what you think, no siree!!! LOL!!!

It’s just that the other day, I bought these beef balls from our local supermarket here…

BB1

I’ve always loved their sardines most of all and we had their Salisbury beef for our Christmas dinner once – they were actually beef patties but they were a lot nicer than the usual.

You get 20 of them in a box…

20 BB

…and you can boil, steam, deep fry or grill them in the oven…

BB in the oven

…which was what I did.

I still had a packet of that IKEA gravy left so I cooked that and used it to pour over the balls and serve…

BB served

It was very nice – my daughter enjoyed them a lot. I would think, however, that it would be nicer deep fried, just that I thought we could do with a little less oil used in the preparation. Of course, if you make fresh ones, those would be even nicer, I’m sure, but that would mean a lot more work.

My daughter cooked this dish of potato gratin…

PG

…to go with the balls.

Throw in some greens by the side and that is one very well-balanced meal, don’t you think?

Simple ways…

I suppose everybody knows by now that all the things that I cook are simple and hassle-free and one thing you would not catch me dead doing would be barbecuing satay and making the peanut sauce. Much as I would love eating that and actually, we cannot get really good ones here, I would not be prepared to go through all that trouble.

Well, I’ve blogged about this before – the peanut sauce available in cans, Wee’s brand and no other…

SS

I gave two cans to my friend, Philip, in the US and he served it as a dip for his grilled salmon and he and his friends fell in love with it instantly and on his last trip back to Sibu in December, he went out and bought a few more cans to cart back to America. Believe you me, it is that good…and I’ve tasted some at the satay stalls that are not half as nice and of a rather horrendous off-putting colour.

I cooked some chicken with it the other day and for the added ingredients, I had one Bombay onion and a few stalks of serai (lemon grass). Peel the onion and chop finely and bruise the ends of the serai. Mix them with the chicken to marinate it…

Chicken 1

…and then, add a can of the satay sauce…

Chicken 2

You may want to use two if you want more gravy to go with your rice.

This is a little different from how I would cook it in the past when I would heat up a bit of oil to fry the onion and serai first which probably would help boost the fragrance a bit more but I thought I could do without the extra oil added – there is enough fat in the chicken and oil in the sauce already. Thus, I just put everything in a pan and turned on the heat…

Cooking

The juices would come out of the chicken and start to boil. Turn the chicken pieces regularly for an even colour and keep simmering till the gravy has thickened.

Remove the chicken pieces and place them in a bowl…

Satay chicken 1

You will see the oil/fat floating over the gravy in the pan – the fat from the chicken would have melted in the course of cooking. Tilt the pan slowly over the sink to pour away the oil and then, spread the gravy over the chicken and serve…

Satay chicken 2

Was it any good? I would not need to answer that… Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

Apple of my eye…

The other day, the apple of my eye made this apple pear crumble…

Melissa's APC 1

If anyone is interested, this was the recipe she followed:

Ingredients
1 Chinese pear (the round one with yellowish skin)
3 red apples (I used the big variety)
4 tsp sugar
1/2 lemon (squeeze the juice out)
butter
Digestive biscuits (I bought the 400g one)

Steps
1) Peel the fruits, remove the seeds, & cut them into cubes.
2) Put them into a pot that fits, add sugar & lemon juice. Let them simmer until soften. Not till mushy, alright?
3) Meanwhile, melt some butter in a pan or pot then put it aside to cool.
4) Crumble about half the biscuits in the packet. Then, mix it well with the butter.
5) Are your fruits soft enough yet? If they are, time to pour them into an oven-safe dishware. In goes the juice too.
6) Pour the biscuit crumbs on top & spread it evenly with your spoon.
7) Set your oven to 180C, put your dish in & leave it to cook for about 30 mins.
8) Once done…

Melissa's APC 2

…take it out & serve with ice-cream.

Melissa's APC 3

Enjoy it with family and friends.

I would say it was very nice and I enjoyed it a lot – anytime better than what I had here…and it certainly looked easy to make. Go ahead – you can give it a try!