Close the door…

Well, by the time this post gets published, this café would have closed its doors for good or if the proprietor/s has/have plans for it, I would not know of them at this point in time but one thing that I do know for sure would be the fact that the Thai lady chef would have gone back by now.

Anyway, my friend, Jimmy, flew into town on that very day they were going to close and we managed to drop by and enjoy the Thai delights one last time. Needless to say, first things first, and upon arrival very early that morning, he was accorded the traditional Sibu kampua mee welcome…

RTM Cafe's kampua

Later, at around noontime, we proceeded to the café for lunch and we ordered the gaeng som

GS

– the mixed vegetable soup that my friend said was good and we did not get to try that on our previous visits and yes, it was indeed very nice and all of us liked it a lot.

The girl waiting at the tables suggested this phad prik thai dam, talay

PPTD talay

…which was some kind of vegetable dish and we opted for the seafood – it was all right, nice enough but not something that I would be craving for and coming back for more, not that I would be able to do that even if I wanted to.

Other than these two, we ordered the things that we had on our previous visits and liked so much that we would want to have them again…one last time. These included the pineapple fried rice…

PFR

…the bread cakes with prawn paste…

BC with PP

…and of course, our favourite of the lot, the Thai green curry…

TGC

We met somebody there who said that they went because they saw it in my blog (though they found what they had a little bit too spicy) and I also got to know that my friend, ah^kam_koko’, went there for dinner and he loved the tom yum very much. Sighhhhhh!!!! If I had known about this place earlier, I would have gone full swing in promoting it so that it would enjoy brisk business and that would probably make it worthwhile for it to stay open.

Nope, in case anyone is wondering, Jimmy did not bring me any of his delightful cakes as it is not that convenient to carry them inflight but he brought me those very nice scones from Kuching that I had had before and some of the local delights…

From Jimmy

Thank you so much, Jimmy. It sure is nice to see you again and I’m glad you managed to enjoy the very nice Thai lunch with us before they closed their doors…for good.

STOP PRESS:
If anyone is interested, The Kitchen here in Sibu – the people producing the instant Sibu kampua noodles, has come out with the ones with dark soy sauce now…

SKN 1

I got a packet to try and there were three sachets inside…

SKN2

– dark soy sauce, chio cheng (light soy sauce) and lard. I understand that there was a mistake in the packing and there should be one kind of sauce only and probably, the third sachet should have been one with fried shallots.

Well, I did not know that so when I was cooking a packet to try, I threw everything in…

SKN3

…but it was very nice. No, it was not too salty – somehow, the combination seemed to work really well and I enjoyed it very much despite the fact that I have never been a fan of kampua noodle, black – the ones with dark soy sauce.

I did notice, however, that there are now only five packets inside – they used to have six before but I guess those were their promotional packs. Anyway, the serving in each packet is now bigger – while I needed two before so that I would have enough, now I am fine with just one.

Incidentally, for those of you in Kuching, these instant Sibu kampua noodles are now available in the capital at GeorgPeck at Premier 101. Go ahead! Grab a pack and give it a try. You’ll not be disappointed, I’m sure.

Just one day…

Melissa’s friend, from here, did the same degree as her and is now teaching in a school in the lower reaches of the Rejang River and was in town that day so we went to pick her up at her sister’s house to bring her over to our place so the girls could spend some time to catch up with each other.

On the way, we stopped by here for breakfast and Melissa wanted the zhao chai bihun (RM5.00)…

ZCBH

– the rice vermicelli with preserved vegetables and here, they use fresh fish for the soup, bay ka or tenggiri (mackerel) no less and not the imported frozen fish fillet, usually Dory, that is used at most places around here but does not seem to be very popular among many true fish lovers.

Everyone else had the pan mien that I liked very much (RM4.00)…

PM

…with its very delightful sambal

PM sambal

…and yes, this time around, they had the fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

PM ikan bilis

Melissa did not really like what she ordered – it wasn’t exactly like what it should be, devoid of the red wine and all that…so no prize for guessing who had that in the end! I thought it wasn’t to bad. Nice, pleasantly sourish and the fish was good but yes, it was not exactly like the zhao chai hung ngang that we are more used to.

After dropping them off at the house, I headed to the airport to pick my friend, Ajil, from Penang who was in transit to his former school when he was teaching here in Sarawak and coincidentally, it’s one of the neighbouring schools near the one where Melissa’s friend is currently attached to.

We stopped by a supermarket here as he had to buy some drinking/mineral water and instant noodles and stuff as he would be going to a place that is somewhat isolated and dependent on the rain for water and some generator for electricity. It so happened that he saw a Sugar Bun outlet round the corner and right away, he wanted to stop by and grab some of the things that he had grown to love so much in the two years that he was here.

He got me one of the new burgers on the menu – the double beef banjo which I took home and gave Melissa to eat and she said it was really very good – the patty was nice and juicy unlike the ones at those franchise places that we find around here. Ajil also brought along some belacan (dried prawn paste) and the very much coveted jeruk (pickles) all the way from Penang for me…

From Ajil

Thanks a lot, Ajil – you shouldn’t have troubled yourself to do that and yes, welcome back!

Well, later that afternoon, before we sent Melissa’s friend back to her sister’s house, we dropped by here for tea and some of their delightful desserts. I would not be sharing the photographs of what we had here (though I did do that on Facebook) as I’ve done that many times before – the chocolate lava cake, the tiramisu mille crepe, the crème brûlée and so on but this was something my missus had and I had not featured it before – the chocolate banana Oreo smoothie…

CBOS

After that, we dropped Melissa’s friend off and headed back home – all this in just one day.

Miss it…

Melissa has always been a fan of yong tow foo and we would go for that without fail here when in Penang though it did not come cheap, not at all. She said that she would also have that after the church service on Saturday nights at this lane in Sungai Petani that is lined on both sides with hawker stalls, a place that they call Er Chea, which probably means 2nd Elder Sister. Seeing that she does miss it quite a bit, when we went out for breakfast one morning, I made it a point to take her here specially for that (RM9.00)…

YTF

…even though we had just been there and I had that not too long ago.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that when she eats something, she would put aside her favourite and save it for later. Does anybody care to guess what exactly that was from this bowl of goodies?

I had some fried rice earlier that morning so I decided to have something lighter and opted for this fish ball tung hoon (glass noodles) combo (RM4.00…or was it RM5.00)…

FBTH

I enjoyed that just as much – the own handmade fish balls were really very nicely done and tasted great and so was the chili dip…

CBD

…that had the nice strong fragrance of belacan (dried prawn paste) and one could catch the whiff of it the moment it was placed on the table. That was so so so good!

My missus has the Foochow-style fried noodles (RM3.00)…

FSFN

…from the stall at the back and though it looked all right, it certainly seemed to lack any added ingredients other than those bits of green vegetables. She did not say anything nor did she grumble over it so I guess it was all right.

I went and bought some the the Sibu Foochow-style sio bee (70 sen each)…

SB1

…from the kampua noodle stall in front to take home so we could just steam some ourselves anytime we would feel like having any.

We tried some on our previous visit and thought that they were quite nice and I particularly love how nicely and neatly they’ve managed to pleat the folds in the skin…

SB2

There are some nice ones elsewhere but they do not look as nice and some may be quite a mess, in fact and there are others where they must have steamed the dumplings for too long until the skin becomes soft and soggy.

Well, do hang around – the school holidays have just begun not too long ago and rest assured that there’ll be a lot more to come!

Gotta go…

I had to go to this café again as the Thai lady chef would be leaving by the end of the week and I would like to try some of the other items on the menu while I still could…and besides, a friend of mine in the same line of business in Kuching was interested in getting her to work for him so I wanted to get her contact and other details for him and let them get in touch with each other to discuss and negotiate.

This time around, we had the phad thai goong sod (RM12.00)…

PTGS

…which was very nice but I thought it was rather pricey as even though there was enough for the three of us, the serving was kind of small. Ah well, it didn’t really matter much as the most important thing was that we enjoyed the authentic taste of the popular Thai specialty…and since the chef was leaving, we would not be having that again or not so soon, at least.

My friend said that we should try the papaya salad (RM4.00)…

PS

…and we did. It was all right, a tad too sour for my liking and I would prefer mango but unfortunately, they did not have that. That evening, there was another table of diners there – they seemed to be having some kind of celebration and I saw a big, very impressive-looking dish of Thai dessert being served – with durian, mango and pulut (glutinous /sticky rice). I asked the girl at the counter and she said that they brought their own fruits and the chef specially made the dessert for them Tsk! Tsk!

We also had the tom yum nam sai talay (RM25.00)…

TYS1

…which we all liked but this was definitely too expensive as even though it has seafood in it, there wasn’t very much really but I did appreciate how they went through the trouble of stuffing the sotong (squid) with a bit of chili like this…

TYS2

Nice!

The khai jeaw (RM8.00)…

KJ

…was as nice as any omelette could be and anyhow, I love egg in any form and I thought that was nicely done and Melissa enjoyed it too.

She wanted the spring roll so we had the por pia goong (RM5.00)…

PPG1

…and it turned out that they were no ordinary spring rolls. They had fish paste, prawn and sotong (cuttlefish) and whatever else inside…

PPG2

…and boy! It was really very good!

I thought this was inexpensive – RM10.00 for 10 of their goong choop paeng tord

FPF

…just RM1 for one fairly big prawn, and they were very well-done as well.

Once again, the general consensus was that the Thai meal was indeed delightful though I wished we had had the Thai green curry again. Melissa and I thought that was simply awesome and liked it a green deal…and as we were leaving, we were already thinking as to when we could drop by again to savour more of the exqusite Thai cuisine one last time.

Christmas don’t be late…

Well, there’s still a month to go till Christmas but look at what the postman delivered to me last Tuesday…

BSC 1

…from the Kucings! They sure do believe in the early bird catching the worm, I guess? Hehehehehe!!!!

I would say that it is quite obvious that our poslaju services here are a lot more reliable and efficient than in the peninsula. Papakucing said that he sent the consignment around 4 something the previous day and in under 24 hours, at around 3 something, it was already safely in my hands…unlike the time when I sent something to Seremban and it took FOUR days! Tsk! Tsk! I sent something else to smallkucing after that and no, it did not sampai hari esok (arrive the next day) but after I had gone to their Facebook page and sent them emails as well to kick up a fuss, it arrived the day after that. Gee!!! I really must stop sending things to people using our national courier service – all that anger and frustration would shorten my life, I’m sure!!!

Anyway, back to what they sent me, these are bottles of homemade butterscotch caramel

BSC 2

…produced by somebody in Trengganu…

BSC 3

So, was it any good? I tried that with some butter raisin toast that I had in the house…

BSC 4

…and ooooo…..it was so nice! Truly heavenly indeed!

The taste reminded me of those yummy Quality Street toffees that I used to enjoy so very much when I was growing up. Of course, the occasions when we could indulge in them were few and far between – children in those days did not have it so good as the ones today. I remember they came in their very nice tins with pictures of some English gentlemen and ladies in Victorian or Elizabethan costumes and my mum would keep those beauties to keep stuff such as the things for her sewing – the needles, reels of thread, buttons and all.

They’re still available these days, I know. I’ve seen them at those chocolate shops at KLIA but one glimpse at the prices made me decide instantly that I could jolly well live without them. The tins don’t look as nice anymore and I’m sure the toffee does not taste as great, I’m sure…*sour grapes mode*

Then, I got word that my ex-student, Andrew, in New Zealand would be coming home for a few days and since I’m so free these days, with nothing else better to do, I offered to pick him up at the airport and look at what he brought me…

CP

…Christmas pudding and tarts…

CT

…and this calendar with pictures of the gorgeously breathtaking NZ scenery…

NZC

It’s been almost a year since we were there and I must say that I do miss everything – the places, the food, the people and most of all, my dear friends there…and one thing that I know, it’s the same with Melissa too. Unfortunately, we do not plan on going back again this time around but hopefully, we can make another trip there next year.

So, what about you? Bought everything already, all prepared for Christmas? Hurry! Hurry now! Don’t be  late!

Bigger…

There was a terrible storm that evening when Melissa was coming back from her holiday duty at her school and visibility was almost zero…so I had to drive very very slowly all the way to her colleague’s house to get her and her mum. On the way home, we stopped by here for dinner…

A1

I’ve been here a number of times like here and here, for instance but I have been avoiding it lately as it had always been so very crowded and people would have to stand around and wait for a table and the worst thing was that there was no proper queuing system – the survival of the fittest or at least, none that I knew about.

Well, that was when it was very small, just this section…

A2

…but now, it has grown bigger and includes the other end of the next block of shops…

A3

…and they’ve erected a roof over the pathway in between and laid out tables there as well…

A4

…so now it is pretty big, a whole lot bigger than at its humble beginning just a couple of years back.

I thought that evening would be a good time to drop by thinking that there would not be many people owing to the heavy downpour but I was so so so wrong! The rain had stopped when we arrived at around 6 something and indeed, there were a few tables vacant, probably because it was still early as well, but those soon got filled up too.

I ordered the chicken parmigiana (RM8.80)…

CP

…as Melissa wanted the chicken mushroom penne (RM7.90)…

CMP

…that initially, I thought I wanted to try. Well, one look at the pasta and one would be able to tell that it wasn’t all that great – the sauce was kind of watery, not rich and creamy enough…but ah well! What can one expect for that price, eh? My chicken was very good though and seeing that Melissa wasn’t really enjoying what she was having, the two of us swopped our orders and I ended having the penne in the end…and it wasn’t even penne! That was fusilli, right?

I also ordered the mushroom soup (RM2.90)…

MS

…for her but she did not like the strong shitake taste so guess who had all of that eventually. Well, what to do? Papa sayang mah…and all a father wants would be the best for his little girl, don’t you all think so?

The mum had the teriyaki chicken (RM7.90)…

TC

…that she had on one of our previous visits and liked and like the last time around, she asked for rice instead of fries.

They’ve a lot more things on their menu now and there are pizzas as well. We wanted the smoked salmon one but that was not available so we just settled for the Hawaiian (RM15.90)…

HP1

…and one look at this…

HP2

…will tell you whether it was any good or not! It tasted great and the bread crust is a lot thinner than at that franchise place so you would not feel like you’re eating bread instead of pizza plus it is a lot cheaper, I think.

All in all, it was a delightful dinner, the service was excellent – very fast and very efficient and the food came very promptly but they did mention when we were ordering that one would have to wait for half an hour for the pizza, so  it took a while, not very long, before it was served…so if you are looking for that kind of western cuisine served at those upscale cafés and restaurants, minus the not-very-affordable exorbitant prices, THIS is the place to go!

He said she said…

A friend of mine, the same one who told me about the out-of-this-world Thai food at the café that would be closing down today or tomorrow or sometime soon, if it has not closed down yet, said that I should drop by this place…

SC2

…as they have some pretty nice stuff there. Well, that certainly is not a problem as it is, in fact, just round the corner from my house in the vicinity of the Delta Mall here, right behind the Sugar Bun outlet, back to back.

Early that morning…

Sunrise

…I had to send Melissa to her colleague’s house as they would be making their way to their school for some holiday duty assigned to them for just a couple of days. My missus opted to tag along so after I had dropped the two of them off, I stopped by the coffee shop on my way  home…on my own.

My friend said the pan mien was nice so I ordered that. I did not specify whether I wanted the soupy version or the dry one as my friend did not say exactly which one he thought was nice. In the end, I got the dry version (RM4.00)…

PM 1

…and in a way, I was glad as I tend to feel that pan mien in clear soup is somewhat mild and all that I have had so far did not manage to get me jumping up and down with delight and rushing back for more.

When it was served, I was wondering why there wasn’t any ikan bilis (dried anchovies) but it seemed that there was a bit of that, crushed so one may not know that was it but when I mixed everything together…

PM 2

…along with the dried chili powder that came with it, the taste did come across quite clearly…and I liked it very much. I would say, with no reservations whatsoever, that it was very nice and I certainly would be back for that again as and when the opportunity arises.

Now, while I was there that morning, I met a friend who works at the bank in the same block as the Sugar Bun outlet and she had the fish bihun soup and she said it was very good too and one thing about it was that they used fresh fish fillet, bay ka or tenggiri (mackerel) no less and not the not-very-popular imported Dory. I asked her about the mee sua that my friend recommended too and she seconded the motion.

That was why I was back at the shop the very next day for lunch and no prize for guessing what I had (RM5.00)…

MS1

It certainly was VERY red and that seems to be the in-thing these days around here. Of course, I am no longer excited by that, not since I heard that one could get that same shade of colour by using the cheaper version of the wine that had not been totally filtered so there would be some of the residue of the ang chao (红槽) left. Thus, to me, the colour is secondary and what is more important is the taste and how strong the flavour of the wine is.

Well, I would say that on the whole, it was very good – I could taste the traditional Foochow red wine but unfortunately, what I had that day was a little bit sour. I’ve heard that it is not easy to make the wine and there are a whole lot of taboos surrounding the wine-making process and should you fail to observe all of them, the wine would turn out to be sour. I don’t know how true that is but what I do know is that the top quality ones would be very fragrant, very nice and not sour.

Other than that, there was only one piece of chicken in it – I am quite sure they used to give two but considering that the prices of everything have been shooting up like nobody’s business, this is only to be expected. For one thing, they used the thinner version of the mee sua

MS2

…which is supposed to be better and what the old die-hard mee sua connoisseurs would prefer. They would always tell me about the mee sua thow (the head) or the mee sua boi ( the tail) and how one is nicer as it is finer but I can never for the dear life of me remember which is which. To me, mee sua is mee sua and big or small, I like them all. Hey! That rhymes! Hehehehehehe!!!!

For one thing, we do cook our own mee sua at home so what we dish out would be just as nice as the good ones around and in view of that, I probably would not go out of my way to eat this again unless I feel like having that and I am too lazy to cook my own. I’d probably come back for the pan mien instead or perhaps, I would try something else to see what other things may be nice here. We’ll see…