Expectations…

This was Friday over a week ago when we had to go to one of the mega-malls in town to wait for my daughter who would be coming back for the weekend with her colleague from her school in Selangau…and good grief! November had just started and they were already ready for Christmas…

X'mas at Star

…with Christmas carols filling the air in the mall.

My missus was there sometime ago and she was telling me about the Bintangor rojak stall at the food court…

BR stall

…and she said that it was like the real thing. I think I had that before but I did not think it was all that great and that was why I never bothered to blog about it.  Well, who knows? Perhaps they have improved since so I decided to give it another try…

BR

…but unfortunately, though it wasn’t too bad, I did not think it was anywhere near like what I had in Bintangor. Maybe they were scrimping on the rojak sauce but I thought it tasted kind of different and the sweet potato fritters were somewhat overdone. Still, it was quite nice and they even sell the sauce at RM9.00 a bottle…but it did not impress me enough to make me want to buy a  bottle home, unlike the authentic one in that little town less than an hour away.

We also tried the sotong kangkong

SK

…and again, I thought it was good – the sauce was different from that of the rojak unlike what we had in Binatangor where they seemed to use the same sauce for everything – but I would not say it was the best in town.  I think the one here has an edge over it.

Ah well, at least I have tried (again) and now I know…so should I be going by that way anytime in the future and stop by for these, I would not get my expectations up too high. Like I said, they’re not bad, just not great.

Senses…

I have two blogger friends from the USA, Opal and Jennifer and they’re both vegetarians. I do appreciate the fact that they make an effort to drop by regularly and post a comment or two even though what I eat or cook may not be all that suitable for them but I do know for a fact that they have tried adapting some of what they see here and come out with their own dishes along those same lines.

Actually, I have wanted to try and cook something suitable for vegans like them but somehow or other, I never got down to it but the other day, since I had opened the packet of bihun (rice vermicelli) that I blogged about here, I decided to give it a try and fry a bit of that without any meat, seafood…not even egg.

These were some of the ingredients I prepared…

Ingredients

– the usual suspects, sliced shallot (1) and garlic (2 cloves)…along with 5-6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced as well, a tomato, cut and some celery, sliced thinly – all leftovers  that I found in the fridge. I also took out my missus’ pounded chili, with garlic added, for use – usually, she would make a lot using a blender but this time, for reasons known only to her, she pounded it using our lesung batu (mortar & pestle) so it was kind of coarse and I actually like it that way.

I soaked the bihun, 2 pieces, in hot water till it turned soft and then I added a bit of mushroom soy, around two tablespoons, and a pinch of sugar to counter-balance the saltiness and a bit of pepper…

Bihun

…and after that, I also added a tablespoon of my missus’ pounded chili and tossed everything together thoroughly. I usually use fish sauce, very popular in Thai cuisine, but I’m sticking to my decision to keep it 100% vegetarian, so I had none of that.

After heating a bit of oil in the wok, I fried the shallot and garlic till brown…

Step 1

…and here too, I had to make sure that I left out the ikan bilis (dried anchovies) like what I usually did or anything else, for that matter.

Next, the mushrooms went in…

Step 2

…followed by the tomato and celery…

Step 3

…and lastly, the bihun

Step 4

Gosh!!! As they say, old habits die hard and I really had to refrain from adding an egg or two and thankfully, I managed to control myself…and when it was good and ready, I dished everything out and served…

STP's vegetarian bihun 1

I must say that I was so very pleasantly surprised when I sat down sceptically to eat for despite the absence of all those ingredients that I would usually include, no salt (though there would be some of that in the soy sauce, of course), no msg added, I found it to be so very tasty I could hardly believe it. Indeed, my senses could detect all those delightful flavours of the ingredients used…

STP's vegetarian bihun 2

…which, probably, would have been drowned out by the salt and msg and whatever else the way I used to cook it in the past and this time around, I really could savour the delicious sensations and enjoyed every bit of what I had cooked.

The bottom line is that it was so very good I certainly would not hesitate to cook bihun this way again, as and when the need arises.

Point of view…

In my point of view, this used to be my favourite place in town when it came to kampua noodles until I tried the ones at this other place and I openly declared that personally, I liked those at the latter a whole lot more. However, there were people who disagreed with me and said that they would very much prefer the noodles at the former.

Thus, when my ex-student, Raphael, was home from the US for All Souls’ Day last week and he wanted to go for what used to be my favourite, I willingly agreed as I wanted to give it one more try to confirm my point of view as to which one I really thought was better.

Of course, both of us had the kampua noodles (RM2.50)…

RS - KN

…and needless to say, he liked them a lot with the taste of lard and the fragrance of the fried shallots and everything else. I would agree that they were good but I would still insist that the ones at that other place had an edge over the ones here.

Like the ones at that other place as well, the pian sip was never anything to shout about but this time around, I decided to order them with dark soy sauce (RM2.50)…

RS - PS black 1

…and it turned to be a wise decision on my part as they sure tasted a whole lot nicer than what I had had previously, tossed in light soy sauce.

Somehow, the fact that the skin was kind of thick and not that fine as at some place else and was in no way translucent…

RS - PS black 2

…did not matter one bit. I thought it tasted rather nice and I certainly would not mind having them that way again.

It sure was nice to see you again, Raphael, and thanks so much to your mum for these very special odd-shaped guavas…

Guava hybrid

I am not really a fan of the fruit (or most other fruits, for that matter) but I really liked these – they seemed to be a hybrid, a cross between guava and pear, and they were really very nice indeed!

And thank you so much also for these goodies…

From the USA

…that you brought home all the way from the US of A. I know I do get lots of stuff from family and friends here, there and everywhere but pay no attention to them – you really do not have to bring me anything especially when it is not all the convenient since  you have to fly long hauls with all the transit stops along the way. The fact that you take the trouble to keep in touch all the time and will always spare some time to go out with me when you’re back in town is good enough, really!

And back to the kampua noodles, keputusan saya adalah muktamad – my decision stands. LOL!!!

Nothing like you…

Ever since this bakery closed down, I’ve been going around looking for nice cream puffs to enjoy once in a while in place of the ones that I used to buy there. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful and all that I have tried were nothing like theirs. Somebody told me that the ones at one bakery located in the outskirts of town, quite far from where I live, were nice…so I went all the way there but shudders!!! Horror of horrors!!! There were flies all over, even in the display cabinets with all the buns and the pizzas inside. I just left right away but it left me wondering as to why there were so many customers buying all the stuff that they had for sale and they did not seem in the least disturbed by the presence of those pesky insects.

Well, I saw these the other day…

UTB - CP 1

…at this bakery, selling at RM2.50 for 4 so that would work out to slightly over 60 sen each. They certainly did not look like the regular cream puffs that would have that swirl kind of shape but the puff shell was very nicely made, not too thick – just right…

UTB - CP 2

…but unfortunately, they were not filled with the usual custard cream and had fresh cream in them instead….so let’s just say that I was not at all impressed.

I also bought this muffin (RM3.50)…

UTB - M1

…from that same bakery as the lady said it was very nice. For one thing, I thought it was kind of pricey but it did have a lot of ingredients inside, nuts and all…

UTB - M2

Perhaps, some may like it but I’m afraid it wasn’t something that I would want to have again….and definitely, not at THAT price! I’d much sooner go for a plate of kampua noodles and still have a ringgit left over or perhaps, I could have these instead…

LY CC1

These are cheap cupcakes, available at most grocery shops and mini-supermarkets in town and they’re soft, light and not sweet…

LY - CC2

…and I do enjoy having them once in a while. They’re only RM3.20 for a pack of 8 so that works out to 40 sen each…

LY - CC3

…and despite there being no butter in the ingredients listed, they seem to have that nice rich fragrance that makes them stand out a head above the rest.

In the meantime, the search for the best cream puffs in town continues. Anybody has any suggestion?

Not the right day…

I love the nasi kerabu here but they only have it on Saturdays so I usually would make it a point to go on Saturday only and not on any other day.

However, my missus and I dropped by one morning last week – not on the right day but we decided to go ahead anyway and give whatever they might have a try and see if there would be anything good that we could go for sometimes for a change.

My missus had their nasi lemak (RM5.00)…

NL 1

…with a piece of fried chicken. She liked it very much and said that the sambal was very good but I tried a bit of the rice and no, I did not think it was lemak or fragrant enough and I would say that the egg was miserably overcooked…

NL 2

…don’t you think so? And is that all the oil that they used in the frying that I can see on it in the photograph? No, thank you…I certainly would give this one a miss without a second thought.

They told me they had chicken rice that morning – it wasn’t on their regular menu and I decided to try that (RM7.00)…

CR 1

The rice was so-so, not too bad – I’ve tasted worse…but they were certainly very generous with the chicken – one whole drumstick, thigh and all, and I loved the pickle very much. It certainly looked kind of kasar (coarse), whoever sliced all the things for that could have done a better job of it but it did not matter – the test of the pudding is in the eating and I would give it a double thumbs up…

CR 2

…The chili dip was so very good too but it was a pity that it was not really spicy hot – perhaps they could have thrown in a cili padi or two to give it that much needed kick…and the complimentary sup tulang (bone soup) was quite nice as well. Most of the time elsewhere, it would taste like plain water with salt and msg added and very strong on the smell of the spices…but this one was definitely not like that…thankfully.

I would think, however, that RM7.00 was a bit too steep for a plate of chicken rice even though it came with all the extras by the side and that chunk of meat was pretty big, I must say. Perhaps, if they could improve on the rice and come out with something nicer than that, I would not mind going for it again…even at that present price. After all, what my missus had here was already RM6.00 and the not-so-attractive piece of chicken was served with nothing much else other than the sliced cabbage and a few slices of cucumber, raw…and plain rice! Between the two, I would say this one would be a much better deal…anytime!

Scrambled eggs…

Somebody asked me a while ago how to cook scrambled eggs…so I asked her to look at this post in my blog quite sometime ago, at the beginning of last year. I did not have any photographs in that one, just a lengthy description of what I did and as I was going to cook a scrambled egg the other morning, I decided to snap some pictures of the steps and blog about it again.

Well, firstly, put an egg in some water in a saucepan, uncovered, and bring it to boil…

Boil

Once the water has started boiling, cover it and leave it to simmer for around one minute.

In the meantime, you can get a cheddar cheese slice and cut it into tiny bits like this…

Cheese & milk

…and add a bit of milk, fresh or evaporated.

When the minute is up, take the egg out of the water and break it into the bowl with the cheese and milk…

Egg added

As you can see, the egg white is not all cooked yet but it does not matter as you will be cooking it again later.

Beat up the egg and mix it with everything else like this…

Beaten

Grease a non-stick pan lightly with a bit of butter for added fragrance and lower the heat before pouring in the egg mixture. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted and you get the consistency just the way you want it. This will only take a short while and get it out of the pan quickly as the heat may keep on cooking your scrambled egg and it may not turn out as nice as you would want it to.

You may eat it like that, or on toast, maybe with sausages or whatever but that morning, I served it on our Foochow muffin, the chu nu miang (the very mildly sweet version of the kompia), oven-toasted with a slice of cheese on it and a bit of SPAM and slices of tomato…

Done 1

…and some crispy lettuce by the side.

So, there you have it – scrambled egg, nice and creamy – the way I would want it…

Done 2

…unlike those that I’ve seen at hotel restaurants and breakfast cafes where the scrambled eggs are like some badly messed-up omelette. Well, perhaps some people love it like that  – I most certainly don’t, thank you very much!

Arms…

I always complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” I’m not sure of the origin of this quotation so I googled and some say it’s Indian while others say it’s Persian but whatever it may be, it certainly drives the message home – that people always complain so much that they neglect to appreciate what they may be blessed with.

I wonder if anybody else gets these but I do get them in the mail quite regularly…

GC

…and it seems that they’re in aid of those less fortunate people with no arms. All the illustrations are reproductions of the works of artists painting with their mouths or feet and other than greeting cards, they also have ang pao packets, desk calendars…

Others

…gift wrappers, jigsaw puzzles, note books and so on. They do not come cheap, of course, but it’s for charity…to help the needy. Well, with my measly pension, I can’t afford to contribute much but I would make an effort to issue a cheque to pay for everything that they send me and mail it to their office in Ampang Park in Kuala Lumpur.

Well, there I was at the Rejang Park Post Office that morning to post the cheque and while I was there, I decided to stop by the bakery cum coffee shop and restaurant in the vicinity for a bite to eat. I love the butter biscuits and the ham and sour cream rolls from that place but I had yet to try the food at the stall there…

MB, Rejang Park

I have seen somebody sharing a photograph on Facebook of what she was eating there and it looked quite good…but I did not know exactly what she had. Anyway, when I got there that morning, I saw an ex-student of mine with some friends of his so I just asked him what was good and he suggested the Sarawak laksa (RM3.80)…

MB laksa 1

…which I thought was very nice but there were no prawns/shrimps and it was more in the style that seems to be the preference of the people in Sibu – rich with santan (coconut milk)…

MB - laksa 2

…but I know that some people in its place of origin, Kuching, are not quite in favour of that as they feel it will come across more like curry mee and Sarawak/Kuching laksa is not supposed to be like that.

I loved the belacan (dried prawn paste) dip a lot…

MB laksa - belacan

I could smell the fragrance the moment it was placed on the table and I knew there and then that it was going to be really great…and they were quite generous with the calamansi lime too – they’d probably just give one half of it elsewhere.

On the whole, I would say that it was nicer than what I had had at some other places in town and I sure wouldn’t mind having it again sometime but perhaps, the next time around, I would try some of the other things available at the stall to see if they’re any good.

Elsewhere…

Actually, we wanted to go elsewhere but it was not open and then, we tried another place but we were too early – it was still closed…so we decided to go here instead where the lady at this stall…

YTF stall

…sells very nice yong tow foo. For the uninitiated, yong tow foo is fish balls and all kinds of things like lady’s fingers, brinjal, bitter gourd, chili…all stuffed with the fish paste and of course, whether it is good or not depends on how good the own handmade fish balls/paste are/is. These are served in clear soup (RM9.00)…

YTF

…with tang hoon (glass noodles), green veg and a bit of seaweed. They do serve the dry version elsewhere like the ones here or here or here but I’m not really a fan of that – I love clear soup!

I counted and there were 13 items altogether, excluding the aforementioned extras so I must say that it is not expensive as I hear they’re selling at RM1.00-1.50 or more per item in towns and cities in the peninsula. The only thing here is that the lady sells the yong tow foo in sets – you cannot get to choose what you want and this is the most expensive set – Set 4. There are cheaper ones but of course, you do not get so many things in your bowl.

I only know of one other place selling the same thing…but I did not think it was any good so we’ve never gone back there again. This one at the coffee shop named Sing Long is in the commercial area behind the Rejang Medical Centre across the road from the nursing college and I would say it is comparable to those more expensive ones I had elsewhere…and the chili dip was so very nice I’d give it a double thumbs up!

My missus had the kampua noodles (RM2.50), puak lak (tossed in chili sauce)…

KM, PL

…from another stall and I did try a bit and I would say it was pretty good.

I noticed that they also sell chicken claws (Eyewwwww!!!! No, thank you!) and our local Sibu-style sio bee/siew mai (70 sen each)…

SB

…and I ordered 3 to try. They certainly looked good and they tasted good too and the best part is that they’re cheaper than most other places in town – at the dim sum places around here, 3 of those meat dumplings would be around RM3.50 or more and some are not even that good.

All in all, we enjoyed what we had and this certainly is a place worth dropping by if you’re looking for a bite to eat.

The same…

These days, whenever I feel like frying bihun, I would go and get the made-in-Thailand ones…

Thai bihun

…as I find they they’re nicer than those from China which seems to have a rather unpleasant smell when soaked and I would have to rinse it many times before use.

My cousin told me once that she would use these…

A1 bihun

…and she seemed quite happy with this brand. I bought the kway teow once and I did not like that very much as I thought it was more or less the same as bihun, just bigger and flat…and my missus, quite oblivious to the fact that I had bought it before and wasn’t too impressed by it, went and bought it again…and my opinion of it was the still same the second time around. Well, my cousin liked the fact that they came in small handy pieces so she could just take out according to the number of servings she would want to cook.

Well, both are Thai products and looking at the prices, the one I usually buy costs RM3.80 for 400 gm and this A1 one is tagged at over RM5.00 for 500 gm. I guess they would work out to more or less the same then…and the other day, I bought a packet to try. The instructions said that I should boil some water and cook the bihun for 3 minutes but I did not bother to do that. Instead, I just went about it the usual way and soaked it in hot water till it turned soft.

There weren’t any prawns in the freezer so I fried some ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and 1 sliced shallot and 2 cloves of garlic, sliced as well in a bit of oil before adding a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste) – about a teaspoon of it, followed by some pounded chili and the bihun. Then I added some fish sauce according to taste and lastly, I added two eggs and mixed everything thoroughly and lastly, I threw in a handful of taugeh (bean sprouts). Once they were cooked enough, the bihun was ready so I dished it out and served…

Belacan bihun 1

So, was it any good? I would say it was very nice but personally, I think it could do with a bit more belacan

Belacan bihun 2

…so that it would be a lot more fragrant.

As for the bihun, I do think that they’re both more or less the same so it would not matter which brand I would buy and cook in future. Does anybody happen to know of any that they feel is nicer?

The way that you do…

You may recall that I mentioned, in an earlier post, that Melissa and I loved the roast chicken…

MS's roast chicken

…that we had at this place in Kuching when we were there for a quick weekend break. Of course we did have the slightest inkling as to how to go about cooking it but obviously, they used a lot of herbs and other than that, I did spot a few slices of lemon in the bird.

Coincidentally, my Singapore blogger-friend blogged about the roast whole chicken that he cooked and shared his very comprehensive recipe and so, I printed that out for my girl and the mum to follow. I don’t know if they followed it to the letter or whether they made some adjustments here and there but this was the end result…

Lemon-herb chicken

…and I would say that it tasted absolutely great – maybe it could do with a bit more of the herbs but it was really good. I did hear my missus mention in passing that she did reduce the amount used in case the “smell” would be too strong. Hmmmm….I think I would love it even more had the fragrance been stronger so I would insist on the whole works when we roast one for Christmas – she did say she would want to do that when the festive season comes around and she would get a bigger bird for that and serve that instead of turkey as she isn’t all that fond of the meat.

Well, we’ve done it, chefandsommelier, and we did enjoy our very delightful lunch that day – thanks so much for sharing. Now, let me browse through your blog slowly and see what else we can try cooking… Hehehehehe!!!!!!