Wedding bells…

I was invited to a wedding dinner, one of my ex-students’, but the date coincided with my birthday, the 2nd of December, and actually, I was planning to go out for something a little more special than the usual that night, plus Melissa’s friend was coming to town the evening before…so I told him that I would not be able to make it. On second thoughts, I felt that it would not be very fair to the very nice boy who had the heart to extend his invitation to this (mean) old teacher of his from long ago and besides, I had gone to all the rest – unless I was out of town or I was really tied up with something else that could not be avoided. In the end, I decided that we would go for lunch for a simple birthday celebration and I would go to the dinner that night, leaving my missus, Melissa and her friend to their own devices.

So, there I was that night with the handsome groom and his beautiful bride…

The bride & groom & me

…at the grand ballroom of one of the leading hotels in town…

TMH

The food was good…

4 Seasons

– the usual courses…

Steamed fish

…that one would expect as such banquets…

Herbal chicken

…and that was why I did not bother to snap the photographs of each and every course that night and just relaxed, enjoying the food and the company – a few of my ex-colleagues who were invited as well and all my ex-students around.

Thank you so much, Leh Ho & Ing Siew, for the invitation. Congratulations once again, all my good wishes and may God bless you two with abundant joy in the years ahead as man and wife. Cheers!!!

Another day, another year…

I turned 61 over a week ago and of course, the day had to start with the traditional Foochow longevity noodles…

Mee sua

…for long life and good luck in the coming year.

We had just left the house when I got a call from the guy from a courier service agency telling me that he was already at my house so we had to turn back and look at what he brought me…

From Mandy

– IKEA goodies from my dear friend, Mandy, in KL. She certainly timed it very well for my birthday present to arrive on the dot – right on the day itself. Thank you so much, Mandy – it sure is so very thoughtful of you.

We took Melissa’s friend who was here on a short visit to see some of the sights around town and later, we stopped here for an Italian lunch to celebrate…

02.12.2013
*ipad’s pic taken by Melissa’s friend*

To start off, we had these bruschetta mozarella (RM12.00)…

BM

…and we shared their white pizza – the Pizza Italia (RM29.00)…

PI 1

…which was so so so good. It had three types of cheese – mascarpone, parmesan and mozarella…

PI 2

…that gave it this beautifully delightful richness complemented by the strips of ham (that tasted like bacon). Gosh!!! All of us really enjoyed that a lot and now I just can’t wait to go back there again for more!

We also had the spaghetti marinara (RM19.00)…

SM

…which was good but of course, how different can tomato-based pasta sauce get?

This grilled salmon dish (RM48.00)…

GS

…was simply superb as well. Yes, I would agree that it was a bit pricey but anyway, birthdays come once a year and Melissa loves salmon… a lot! Besides, she insisted on picking up the tab this year as she is now drawing her own salary and would like to give me a treat on my special day. Isn’t that so sweet of her? Thank you, darling – you’re truly a gem!

We did not have any dessert as my missus had ordered a cake, a black forest…

BC 1

…from this guy, Marcus, at Delta Estate here who makes the best cakes in town so we went to get it and headed on home to enjoy it…

BC 2

…and as always, when it is a cake from Marcus, it never fails to satisfy!

Around mid-afternoon, I had a surprise visit from my friend, Lim, and his family and they brought me this cake…

BC 3

Wow!!! Of course we had to save that for another day – we couldn’t be eating cake all day and even if we did, I am pretty sure we would not be able to finish all that we had. Thanks, Lim – thanks for remembering and thanks for going through all the trouble to get me the cake for my birthday.

But wait a minute, everybody! Just when I thought that was all for this year, I got these from another dear friend in KL

M&S cookies

…and this too…

PC

…for my birthday and also for Christmas. She sent them through her mum who stopped by KL on the way back after a trip to Taiwan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Those are my favourite among all the cookies from Marks & Spencer – she certainly knows me very well…and I hear that the panettone costs a bomb in KL!!! *shudders!*

It certainly was a great birthday – with my loved ones around and all the greetings on Facebook, the smses and the phone calls and with all the gifts I received, I must say that I am indeed blessed in no small measure. Thank you, all, so very very much.

That night, Melissa and the mum and her friend were left to their own devices as I had to attend a wedding banquet – one of my ex-students got married that day but that, of course, would have to wait till another post. Hang on!

Open door…

Our door is always open for anyone who cares to drop by and we will warmly welcome him or her to our humble abode and our little town like Melissa’s friend…

M & TW

…who came all the way from Sungai Petani, Kedah. She also did the same degree programme as Melissa’s but at a different institute, twinning with a university in Australia but somehow or other, they got to know each other along the way and became great friends.

We met her upon arrival at the airport that evening…

Evening falls

…and whisked her off to dinner before heading back to our house.

I wanted to take her here but for some reason or other, it was jam-packed that night so in the end, we decided to drop by this place that we had not gone to for a very long time instead. I’ve always loved their fish maw mixed vegetable soup…

FMMVS

…and it was still as nice as I remember it to be.

We used to enjoy their mini ngor niang and their prawn fritters but on our last few visits, we found that they were no longer as nice as before and not worth ordering. Somebody said that it was because the original chef had left but I did hear that this is a specialty of the house – cangkuk manis with stewed pork leg…

CM with SPL

…so I ordered that and all right, it was pretty nice and Melissa’s friend got to eat the green vegetable that does not seem to be so popular over in the peninsula.

I wanted to order the midin (wild jungle fern) but they did not have any so we settled for the paku instead…

FP

…which they would have over in the mainland especially in their Malay cuisine but they probably would cook it a little bit differently.

To my delight, I saw that they had dabai (wild black olives)…

Dabai

…so I quickly ordered that and Melissa’s friend liked it. She agreed that it was something like avocado, the rich taste and also the texture of the flesh…except that we eat the skin as well, something which we would not do when indulging in that very expensive imported fruit.

We also had the fried mee sua

FMS

…and though it wasn’t too bad, I can pinpoint at least two or three other places around town that would do a much better job at this.

One thing in their favour was the fact that it was not very expensive. I do recall people warning me that “their knives are kind of sharp” but the bill came up to slightly over RM60.00 only for 4 persons, so minus the drinks and the rice, I guess the food would come up to around RM50.00 only.

After dinner, we drove around town to see Sibu by night and then, we headed on home. The sweet girl brought us these pretty wind chimes made of sea shells that she bought when she was in Sabah…

WC

…and she also brought us some kek lapis from Kuching but we insisted that she took them all home for everyone there to enjoy as we would be able to get those very easily here at any time we feel like it.

Come to think of it, what is there that one would buy home from Sungai Petani in Kedah? I have been there a few times but I do not recall anything that is synonymous with the town like tambun biscuits and Penang or chicken biscuit and Kampar, Perak, for instance. Come, tell me…what is that special thing that people visiting your town or city would definitely buy and cart home?

Let’s go…

When my friend, Jimmy, was in town, he was busy with the work he had to do and besides, he did not seem to eat very much these days just so he could look nice and slim but the day before he left, he said he wanted to go for mee sua in our Foochow-style chicken soup with our traditional red wine. I have yet to come across one place here that is really really good – most would be really red but lack the fragrance of the wine so I decided to try the one here (RM6.00 for 2 pieces of chicken)…

SMFC MS

…at the stall that sells really nice kacang ma chicken with rice. It was not as red as most other places and it sure tasted better but I would prefer something a little bit stronger on the wine.

After that, we went around the supermarkets in town, including the one here that now has digital price tags and I ended up buying one of these from there…

TC 1

Jimmy said it was very nice and since it was only RM3 something for a big box of 20…

TC 2

…not really expensive, I decided that it would be worth a try…

TC 3

Melissa was out and when she came home, she tried one and loved it so much that she had quite a few in one sitting! I tried one myself and I must say that it was really very good! It has some soft cheese in its core and a layer that’s crunchy/crusty, not hard, around that and outside, there is another layer that is kind of crispy like egg roll. I think I will go back and check the expiry date and I may just stock up a few boxes to serve come Chinese New Year next month.

We dropped by here to have  a look at the cakes and I saw these char siew rolls…

CSR 1

I must say that I was somewhat surprised to see those there as they seemed kind of out of place at that kind of café but even though they were not exactly cheap, RM2.00 each, I bought a few to try…

CSR 2

The pastry was good and the char siew filling was great as well but at that price, I guess I would not be having them again that soon.

Then it was time for lunch, and after the mee sua that we had earlier, we wanted something light so we dropped by here

PP stall

…for the very nice popiah (RM2.50 each)…

PP 1

The stall was closed the last time I came with Melissa and the mum but Jimmy and I were in luck – it was open that day! Gosh!!! It was so so good…

PP 2

…that the very next day, Sunday, I stopped by again for another round of that!

We also had these kompia (90 sen each)…

SK

…stuffed with minced meat and they were very good too, perhaps even nicer than those classier places in town and a whole lot cheaper too!

The next morning, I sent Jimmy to the airport to catch his flight back to Kuching and we went to the coffee shop right below the hotel where he was staying for the very nice Penang prawn noodles (RM6.50)…

PPN

…and it was as good as I remembered it to be, slightly spicy but just a hint of it and when you add the sambal that came with it…

PPN sambal

…you will be transported to a whole new level . I certainly would want to have that again…and again…and again!

Melissa bought these very rare variety of dabais, the red ones (RM30.00 a kilo)…

RD

…specially for “Uncle Jimmy” to show her appreciation for all that he has done over the years for all of us, in general and for her, specifically – and now that she is working and earns her own income, it is time to reciprocate.

Thanks for everything, Jimmy – we’ll see you again…very soon!

Tie the knot…

My missus’ ex-colleague’s son tied the knot with a girl from Penang…

Couple

…and we were invited to the wedding reception last Saturday night at this hotel in town…

Venue

Everything looked very nice…

Decor

…very impressive…

Cake & bubbly

…and grand…

Main table

The food was all right…

Food 1

…not bad at all and I liked the fact that there wasn’t any msg overload in all the dishes…

Food 2

Even my favourite or nee (sweet yam paste dessert) was not really sweet…

Food 3

…so I thought that was really good.

In fact, I thought that everything was good. They had some wedding planner to organise and manage the whole event for them and even though I wouldn’t say I enjoyed all the cabaret-like entertainment…

Entertainment 1

…I thought this girl was pretty good especially her duet with the guy on the very appropriate “Tonight I celebrate my love” by Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson

Entertainment 2

She did a good job with Noraniza Idris’ “Dikir Puteri” too and when she sang Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you out of my head”, I could not help thinking that she was singing about the feathers stuck in her hair. Hehehehehe!!!!

I was quite put off, however, by the horrible service at their venue of choice though. It started off quite well until I finished my drink…

Empty glass

– there wasn’t anybody at all going round at regular intervals to see if anybody’s glass needed refilling and I had a hard time getting somebody to do just that. When I finally managed to get hold of a waiter, he nodded and left…and he never came back. There were some guys going around acting very important, busy with their walkie talkies…

Walkie talkie

…so I called one of them. He too left and even though I did see him telling another waiter and giving him instructions, it took a rather long time before I finally got what I wanted. I took care to go slow with that one making sure it would last me the rest of the evening but there were at least two or three others at my table who had finished their drinks as well. The waiter who served me simply ignored them and just turned and left…much to the disgust of everybody at the table. If this is the kind of service one can expect everytime, it sure would be a good idea to hold your dinner functions elsewhere and avoid this one at all cost! Tsk! Tsk!

But other than that, as a whole, it was quite a pleasant evening and we had a great time. Thanks to the parents and family of the newly-weds for the invitation and all good wishes to the bride and groom – may their days ahead as man and wife be blessed with abundant joy.  Cheers!!!

Try it again…

I was here…

FCC

a long time ago but I had a problem communicating with the people there and in the end, I just pointed at some of the things they had in the array of choices on display…

Choices

…but I was not too thrilled by what I had and I never went back there again.

I went out with my friend, Jimmy, again on one of the mornings when he was in town and actually, I wanted to take him here for breakfast but he was not at all enthusiastic about the very limited choices they serve for breakfast so we made our way here instead, just a few doors away to the left. I left the ordering to him…

Ordering

…but I did tell him to include those very famous and very popular Foochow fish balls that never fail draw people by the droves at every cultural festival or food fair in town…

Queue
*photo proudly displayed on the wall at the shop*

In order that you will not be disappointed, you will have to go early to get a number. Once all the numbers have been taken, that will be it for the day – you will not be able to buy any and will have to go back and try the next day. If you are lucky enough to get a number, do not rejoice yet. You still have to queue up and wait for your turn before you can get to buy these much coveted balls…

FFB1

…that have meat filling inside…

FFB2

Personally, I do not see what the excitement is all about – the fish ball is overly soft just like a rubber ball, not unlike those frozen factory-manufactured ones sold at every supermarket in town. They certainly do not have the taste and the texture of those very lovely own handmade ones that I have had here and enjoyed a great deal. I would not want to have these again, that’s for sure, much less go all the way to the crowded festival grounds in the heat and queue up to buy, thank you very much!

As a matter of fact, they now have frozen ones available in plastic packs and somebody gave some to a cousin of mine in Bintulu and she cooked fish ball soup with them and she said they were great. They have some for sale too at this shop and if you guess that I did not bother to buy any, you are right!

But don’t write off this place…

FCC2

…just yet for even though their fish balls failed to leave a favourable impression on me, I did like some of the other items that we chose – at 3 for RM11.50. It used to be RM10.00 only but obviously, the price has gone up…like everything else around here (except my measly pension).

These yam puffs were very nice…

YP1

…except that there may not be very good quality control as we found that there wasn’t much of the char siew meat filling in one…

YP2

…but a lot in the other.

Never judge a book by its cover for as we all know, appearances can be deceptive and even though these may look very colourful and attractive…

SBGSE

…both Jimmy and I did not think they were anything great and would surely give them a miss the next time around.

Now these peculiar-looking buns…

Cylindrical buns 1

…turned out to be really very nice indeed…

Cylindrical buns 2

…but the char siew filling would be the same as what one would find in the yam puffs but there is glutinous rice inside and the odd-shaped bottomless bun is actually sitting on a thin layer of omelette.

Now, these were really good…

SR

– something made of sushi rice with a topping of meat floss (and a bit of mayo probably to make the floss stick to the rice) and yes, there is a bit of that char siew filling inside too…

SR

I don’t know what happened to the photograph or the lighting or whatever but actually, the rice was white, not blue like those nasi kerabu or nyonya kuihs where they would colour the rice using the bunga telang (blue pea flower). Both of us loved it a lot and also these…

TS1

…that are made up of Taiwanese sausage on top and layers of minced meat filling and glutinous rice underneath that…

TS2

…and ooooo….the sambal at this place is really very very nice and it certainly brings the taste of everything to a whole new level.

They now have an elaborate menu with photographs and names in English so I don’t think I would have any problem ordering the next time around and since I quite like some of the stuff here, plus the things are not exactly expensive, I probably would be dropping by again sometime soon.

Lookin’ good…

When my friend, Jimmy, was in town on a working visit, we did not manage to go out and eat much other than the kampua stop on the way down from the airport and the lunch we had at the Thai restaurant before it closed down for good. For one thing, he was very busy, all caught up with his work and for another, he does not eat very much these days so that he would remain slim and trim and look good.

However, we did go out one morning for a dim sum brunch here…

GHR

…and we had the very lovely steamed salted egg yolk custard buns…

SSEYCB

…and they were really so good – look at how the thick filling oozed out of the bun once I broke it into half.

We also had the steamed char siew pao but unfortunately, the photograph came out blur…and I would say that they were the best I had had for a long time. The skin was so very soft and fluffy and the filling was really yummy.

The har kao

HK

…was very nicely done too – nice thin, translucent skin and whole prawns inside…and needless to say, they tasted great.

So were their three-combination siew mai

TCSM

…that everybody enjoyed them very much.

I only ordered one serving of the xiao lung pao

XLP

…as I am not a fan of those – I do not really care for the “soup” inside with its extra strong ginger taste…but they said that there wasn’t much of that in them so on the whole, they did not think these were as nice as the rest that we had.

I had the lor mai kai the last time I was here…

LMK1

…but I ordered that again…

LMK2

…as I had forgotten that it was not all that great and it certainly seemed that things had not changed since – we still did not think it was anything not to be missed.

There was so much to eat – we ordered double of some of the stuff as there were four of us and each lau (storey) would only have three to go round…and after all of us had had our fill, the bill came up to only a little over RM50.00 inclusive of a big pot of Chinese tea.

I was here twice before and even though I did not think what I had was all that great the first time, we quite liked what we had the second time here…and this time around, I found that it was even better than before. Business certainly has improved a lot and there were quite a number of people despite it being a weekday. I hear the dim sum chef is an authentic one all the way from China, not some local guy who has picked  up the skill somewhere, and other than that, the service was excellent from the lady who took our orders, speaking with that peculiar Mainland China accent, right down to the waitress who would fill our teacups everytime we had had a little sip – yes, it was THAT good! There were so many of them – all the waiters and waitresses that it seemed that they had one assigned to each table, all ready to come instantly at your beck and call.

All things considered, I would say this is a good place to go to should one be feeling like having dim sum for breakfast and if it so happens that you would want to drop by, do take note that it is served only in the morning till around sometime before lunch.

Rose…

A number of you may know her, one of my blogger friends in Kuching, as I’ve seen her commenting in a number of blogs and I’ve seen some of you doing the same in hers as well. I would say that she is technically a Sibu blogger now as she has moved here, following her husband who now works in Sibu.

When they shifted here, she was in the family way so we never got round to arranging to meet each other in person and then, she gave birth. Those of you who follow her blog would know of all these events in her life, I’m sure. She did invite me to her baby’s full moon but I think it was on a Sunday and as usual, I was sending Melissa back to her school in Selangau so I was not able to make it. The school holidays are here and she did make a trip back to Kuching for a few days and when she got back the other day, she contacted me and we arranged to meet for breakfast one morning at this coffee shop hereand finally, we did, after all this time.

She’s very young, very pretty and very fair and gosh…she’s so slim even though, if I’m not mistaken, the recent one is her third child. She’s very friendly, very easy to get along with and we got off to a great start and talked about this and that like we’ve known each other all our lives.

She had the lor mee

LM

…though I am not sure if she enjoyed that though it looked pretty good and I could detect the five spice powder fragrance in the thick gravy. I think I would try that next time but that morning, I had their beef noodles…

BN1

…which, thankfully, were not the Taiwanese version with all those preserved vegetables and all. I wouldn’t say it’s the best in town…

BN2

…but it’s good and I wouldn’t mind having it again anytime.

As I have mentioned earlier, she went back to Kuching for a few days when the school holidays started and look at what the sweet and thoughtful lady brought me all the way from there…

From Rose

kacang ma leaves and a whole box full of some very nice sio pao (baked buns with char siew filling).

Thanks so much, my friend. It certainly was a pleasure getting to meet you person. Do keep in touch – we’ll get together again sometime when we can. Cheers!

Old friends…

That morning when I was at the airport to pick up my friend from Penang, I chanced upon an ex-classmate of mine and his missus who were coming in on the flight from Kuching that landed at around the same time. They are living in Australia now and were back in Sibu for a while. Then, a day or two later, I got a message from an ex-classmate of ours who asked me if I could join them for breakfast. Unfortunately, my schedule for those few mornings was already full but later, he texted me again to suggest getting together for dinner and fortunately, I was able to make it so there we were, all of us – old friends, at this place in town…

SM non-halal side

I always thought it was a place serving halal Chinese food and we did drop by to try once a long long time ago when it first opened and although the food was all right, somehow or other, we never got round to eating there again. They opened a branch in the vicinity of the Sibu Bus Terminal and I did go there a few times here, here and here but not on a very regular basis. They did open another one in another area around town but that one has since closed down. This one at the original location along Hardin Walk where they first started certainly seems to enjoy very brisk business and what I did not know then was that in fact, they have an extension at the back that serves non-halal dishes and the business is no less impressive as well.

My ex-classmate ordered this meat combo…

MC

– the pork ribs marinated with ang chao (red yeast rice) and perhaps a bit of tau ju (fermented tofu) as well were so very nice!

Oooooo….somebody must have heard my prayers for lo and behold! Pig’s blood…

PB with KK

…with kangkong (water spinach) and boy, did I enjoy that? Nom…nom…nom!!!

I wasn’t too excited about the sweet and sour freshwater prawns…

S&S FP

…or what is called udang galah or tua thow hay (big head prawns) here as I’m just so-so with sweet and sour anything but nonetheless, it was good, very nicely done.

There was midin (wild jungle fern) as well but I did not take a photo of the dish – after all, you must have seen  photographs of it a thousand and one times before, not just here in my blog but everywhere else…but this one is new to me. They say it is a Foochow dish but somehow, prior to this, I had never seen nor heard of it before. This was steamed tilapia served with a topping of chai po (preserved turnip)…

ST

…and it was really very nice!

Just when we thought that was it, out came these…

Crabs

…gorgeous giants – CRABS!!! Yum! Yum! Yum!!!

We also tried the ABC…

ABC

…which was very good and rest assured that we will be back there soon to try all the other sweet desserts on display on their signboard.

I hear that they sell kampua noodles here at only RM1.50 compared to over RM2.00 at every other place in town and it is actually quite nice but you would have to eat it at their premises. Normal charges apply if you choose to tapao the noodles instead…so that is one thing that I would want to go back there and try as well.

Well, it certainly was a very scrumptious dinner and we all enjoyed it very much, thanks so much to you, Robert…and it sure was nice meeting you again, Philip, and catching up with all that has transpired in our lives since the time we left school way back in 1969.

Forever young…

This came in the mail a few days ago…

BP from CL 1

It was from my Facebook friend and I must say that I was so very pleasantly surprised as I did not expect anything of the sort at all. She PM-ed me via my inbox for my address and I gave it to her thinking that she would send me one of those office pocket diaries or something – big companies usually give out things like that at the end of the year

I don’t think there’s enough for me to make a shirt but at least, you can all expect to see some nice backgrounds in my photographs…

BP from CL 2

…from now on. Thank you so much, my friend – your kind and sincere gesture is indeed very much appreciated.

And thank you to you too, Jimmy, for your present…

From J 1

Gosh! It’s so sweet of you to remember…

From J 2

…not that anyone can forget with all that hint-dropping left, right and centre. Hehehehehehe!!!!!!

And yes, in case anyone’s still unaware of it, it’s my birthday today and just a few minutes ago, I broke past the big SIX-O mark and I’m 61 as of today…and no matter how one may wish it is so, the time will come, slowly but surely, when he/she would have to admit that he/she is no longer one of the young ones any longer…


*song starts at 1:00*

…but it’s perfectly all right. Don’t bother telling me that age is just a number – it certainly is more than that. Everyone grows old and being old does have its good points as well so I do think it is good to just grow old gracefully and not be like someone caught in some kind of mid-life crisis.

I certainly do not intend to stay forever young, that’s for sure, but I came across this song not too long ago and instantly fell in love with it.

This is by someone who is already 94 years old and I really like it a lot though the following version never fails to move me each time I listen to it…

It’s so very beautiful and I thought the lyrics are so appropriate for somebody in his/her golden years.

However, I don’t suppose I will be getting any musical gift from anybody, much less this song in particular, but it sure would be nice to get all those wishes mentioned in the song on this very special day of mine today. Perhaps all of you can click the link to watch the video clip and quote the lines from the song, a line each…and hopefully, there will be enough comments to make up the lyrics of the whole song. That would be great, don’t you think…and hopefully, all your good wishes will come true…