I’m impressed…

Peter, the proprietor of Payung Cafe

Payung Cafe decor

…read my recent post lamenting about how I just could not seem to find some decently-good nasi lemak here in this little town so he gave me a call and invited me over to try his. He added that I could bring a few others along so my missus came with me…and I also asked Philip who is currently home from the US, my old friend and ex-classmate, Robert and also my very young friend and ex-student, Alex, to join us.

I don’t know about the rest but on my part, I certainly was not expecting much – I thought perhaps Peter would serve us a plate each of his nasi lemak and that would be it but when this…

Payung ulam

…was brought to our table, we were all stunned, speechless!  There was an assortment of raw stuff in that huge rattan tray of ulams with three different types of sambals. The red one to the extreme left was a special sambal with tomato in it and the one furthest away was our usual local sambal…while the light-coloured one was, in fact, a recipe from Myanmar. I enjoyed all of them but my missus loved the Myanmar sambal most of all as it was hotter than the rest.

The presentation was breathtakingly beautiful…

Ulam presentation

…and look at what was in the oval bowl…

Jantung pisang

jantung pisang, literally translated as banana heart, our local name for the banana flower. I’ve always known that it was edible but this was the first time trying it myself…and I loved it! It went absolutely well with any of the sambals and in fact, all of us enjoyed everything that came in that tray.

We didn’t eat the flowers though – they looked too good to be eaten but we did get the petals in my favourite Payung rojak

Payung rojak

…and that was the first time my three friends tried eating the buah kedondong (umbra) leaves that came in it and they were amazed as to how good they were.

And talking about the fruit, we were served the drink…

Kedondong drink

…to go with the dinner, ice cold and absolutely perfect for the warm weather we’ve been experiencing lately. Initially, we thought that was durian Belanda or soursop as it did not look as green like the rest that we had had before – it turned out that they removed the skin before blending and that was why it did not have that green and siap-siap taste that I do not quite fancy. This was just perfect!

Now, on to the main business of the evening – the nasi lemak

Payung nasi lemak 1

It was served with the very delicious Payung otak-otak and a bit of omelette by the side. As always, the otak-otak was oozing with its exquisite flavours so much so that it would be great even if we were to have it with plain rice.

The nasi lemak..

Payung nasi lemak 2

…was very good, not quite as lemak (rich with coconut milk) as I would like it to be but a lot more lemak than all the rest. I could detect the fragrance of the santan in it and I was pretty sure that there was something else though I could not put my finger on it. There were some light hints of the fragrances of some other ingredients which certainly drew the line between this and all the rest – it was special in its own subtle ways.

Everybody loved Peter’s special beef soup too…

Beef soup

– there was a bit of santan in this as well and in each bowl, there was a piece of lengkuas (galangal) but don’t ask me what else went into it to make it so deliciously flavourful – any chef would surely not reveal all his trade secrets, we all know that only too well.

We were also served his special paku masak lemak (jungle fern cooked with coconut milk)…

Paku with santan

…that I had had a few times before and loved a lot but unfortunately, it is not on their regular menu.

Peter even went through the trouble of creating this special dessert for us – fresh banana spring rolls with vanilla ice cream…


…and like all their superb desserts, this one was very good too.

At the start of the dinner, we were given a basket of this fruit – in Melanau, we call it bua’ alung

Bua' alung

…and this is one fruit that I have not seen for a long time, so much so that I was thinking it had already gone extinct. I never liked this sour fruit so when I was younger, I would help my mum to get rid of the inside so she could dry the skin…and use it to cook her masak kunyit – this would give the soup its sourish taste, something like asam keping but needless this say, this is nicer. The rest of them did try and they actually liked it – they said it was something like manggis (mangosteen).

That certainly was an awesome and truly delightful evening for all of us…but the sad thing is that other than the otak-otak and rojak, everything else is not available on their regular menu. Perhaps they can consider having a special package, something similar to this, upon request. It would be nice, for example, when one has a small group of friends coming to town, to host such a gathering, enjoying the unique delights they have in store…or perhaps, they can put up their nasi lemak or the ulam as a once-a-week special – on Fridays or during weekends perhaps.

We were there till quite late that night – enjoying all that we were served and chatting away, basking  in the unmistakable ambiance of the surroundings that is uniquely Payung! It certainly was a special dinner…right down to the colourful sarong tablecloth used exclusively for our table alone.

Thank you so very much, Peter, for that superb treat. Words cannot describe how much my missus and I and all my friends enjoyed the scrumptious dinner you had prepared for us and I would state in no uncertain terms that we were truly very very impressed by it all.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

29 thoughts on “I’m impressed…”

  1. Wow…I am also impressed with the presentation of the food! I wonder if this is malay food or Indonesian ?

    Neither. It’s exclusively Payung’s. You can’t find any that’s exactly the same anywhere else.

  2. Oh. I am impressed as well looking at the food presentation. What a great guy to invite you and others to a special nasi lemak dinner. Is this going to be a permanent dish in the menu soon??

    Sorry I couldnt make it that night.

    Ya, you sure missed out on a real awesome treat! Not on the menu, but if you want something like this, you can contact the boss a couple of days earlier and arrange with him.

  3. What a nice twist to the local nasi lemak! This dish has certainly gained more fame recently with the MasterChef UK winner making it as the winning dish!

    I saw the lady’s nasi lemak – did not look anything like what we are more familiar with…right down to the quail egg used. I think, if I remember correctly, one of the judges did not like it – too salty or something. The wanton soup was worse – completely different from any that we seen before – just those few deep-fried wanton skin on top. I think it was her dessert that blew them away.

  4. Peter is in a class of his own, a truly unique individual and his food reflects his love and passion for what he does. Absolutely mouth-watering delicacies. We’re blessed to have him in Sibu, and I’m blessed that my timing was so good.

    Yes, you’re lucky to arrive just in time for this special treat. We must go again before you go back – so many other nice things there that you have not tried. After Kuching perhaps, or it would be something like an anti-climax. None like what you can get here anywhere… 😉

  5. Buah Alung? We call it buah kundong. We have aplenty in our small farm, should’ve given u some had i know you like it.

    If I’m not mistaken, that’s its name in Melanau…and no, I don’t like the fruit. I only want the skin, dried…great for cooking in place of asam keping, a lot nicer.

  6. For the first time, I did not see the mushroom rolls, haha.. Coz in every Payung post, sure can see mushroom rolls! I love everything except the ulam.. But I don’t mind eating those sambal with my nasi lemak.. From the picture, I like the sambal with tomato in it.. And whoa, the beef soup.. Looks creamy and milky, I like..

    You don’t know ulam till you’ve tried Payung’s ulam – a cut above the rest. Nothing like those ordinary ones that I’ve had at hotel buffets. Mushroom roll coming up…real soon in the next few days. 😀

  7. oh, the buah alung is new to me, have not seen this before.. interesting fruit huh?? looks like tomato, the skin tastes like asam keping and the flesh tastes and textured like mangosteen.. i would like to try that~~ 🙂

    Grows wild, mostly. Not always available but I hear it’s in season now. RM3 a kg only…

  8. I say, still not lemak enough for you hee..hee…but wow! what a spread! Everything looks so good. And that rojak is killing me hah..hah.. 😀

    You gotta hop over and try the exclusive Payung fare – can’t get it anywhere else…and they’re all so good. Not all that cheap though and servings are not really huge…but I love it like that! Keeps the noisy young crowd away. That’s why I avoid certain cafes around here…especially at night.

  9. What a feast. You are spoilt for choice. All looks so appetizing and I always like the payung rojak, so generous with the kuah. That buah alung is new to me,very interesting abd indeed impressed by the layout & everything. Thumbs Up!!!!…

    There! Never want to come and visit. This is a MUST-stop by for my cousins from Kuching – every dish is a class of its own, nothing like it over there. And they would buy all the goodies from Sibu to cart home, sometimes even clothes from a shop called Toledo. That’s why they always fly MAS – 30 kgs baggage allowance. Who says there’s nothing here in Sibu? Hehehehehehe!!!!

  10. Yes, the best food are still from Payung and Ruby’s… 🙂 Their food are exclusive, as you mentioned… agreed! Very impressed by the owner of Payung too, he really took the trouble to make special nasi lemak for you… Good choices there, Arthur!

    No choice – we were guests, just ate and enjoyed. Whole dinner planned by Peter, the boss…and he sure did it wonderfully. Got lah…lots of nice places here as well just that you did not get to go…and I don’t go too often either – when it comes to food that you would enjoy, Chinese…and less exotic. Hehehehehehe!!!!

  11. Sometime really is hard to use word to thank how great a person is, right?

    Indeed. Somehow just a simple “thank you” does not seem quite enough…

  12. I can see that the restaurant paid loads of attention to the presentation of its dishes.

    I myself wouldn’t mind an occasional treat to ulam and paku. =D

    I think they’re all naturally gifted – they do it so well…even if it is just with the flowers they pluck from the pots around the cafe. Everything they arrange comes across very nice and pleasant to the eye.

  13. yay for peter! it’s intriguing that the nasi lemak contains a mystery element … must ask him for the secret! this restaurant and its proprietor truly are gems, ya 🙂

    Yes. Hop over, Sean. I’ll take you here for the best they have to offer…and lots more – I am pretty sure you’d love it here in Sibu. Everyone who has been here does! (provided you have people to take you around and know where to go for nothing but the best!)

  14. Oh…very nice of Peter, you sure is Sibu food mayor!! Very nice food presentation too.

    But to me, I still prefer my very simple nasi lemak. 🙂

    Yes, so nice of him to invite to a lavish dinner like this. I only look out for the rice – must be very very lemak – any other thing that comes with it, I’m fine with them, usually will be good and go well with the rice…or even plain rice. That’s why I always say – if nasi lemak not lemak, might as well serve plain rice. In some cases, really can’t tell the difference.

  15. In Bau, that red fruit is called buah kendong. I have a vivid memory of eating it. Hmm

    Yes, my Iban friend told me on Facebook…or was it in an earlier comment? Bua’ Alung is in Melanau.

  16. Very, very nice! I love the plating too! 🙂

    I’ll be back to try this next time I’m in Sibu, which should be pretty soon!

    Let me know ahead of time. I can call Peter and arrange with him. Not available on their regular menu.

  17. So nice of the boss to invite you for a specially prepared meal. Love the ulam, the banana flower is interesting and the nasi lemak looks heavenly. The Melanau fruit is something new to me…taste a bit like mangosteen, you say? Should be nice.

    That was what they said – I did not try. I ate before when I was small and did not like it. Other than the fruit, everything was so good that night.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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