That same road…

Yes, it was that time of the year again when my friend, Philip, would be home from the US and we would drive somewhere like what we did in the past few years when we went here, here and here…and this year, we went down that same road…

Sibu-Durin bypass

…to Kanowit again.

That bypass via the Farley side of town to the Durin Bridge…

Durin Bridge

…has been newly resurfaced and it was very nice and not bumpy at all unlike when we used it before. I noticed from a sign that I saw along the way that the bridge is actually called Jambatan Btg Rejang or Rejang River Bridge but since time immemorial, even during the years and years that they took to construct it, we have always called it the Durin Bridge after a little town close by, right beside it.

Of course, upon arrival, we HAD to go for the very special, very nice kampua noodles…

Kanowit red kampua

…that have a tint of red colour and that is why I always call it “red kampua“. Philip said that when he was living in Kanowit, they had these noodles already…and like when I went there in 1978 and stayed till 1982, they used to push their stall from the house (opposite the public library at the time and the Dewan Masyarakat, the community hall in the town) and park it beside a coffee shop in the bazaar. Gosh!!! That would mean that they were around even way back in the 60’s…and they are still going strong…

Kanowit kampua stall

Of course, the old ones have passed on and these days, the younger descendants are running the show. Thankfully, they have  been able to maintain that same standard – the same taste and quality that make their kampua noodles a head above the rest.

Some individuals have asked me where exactly in the town can they go and eat these noodles…or what the locals call Ah Tong kampua after the man behind the whole thing. Well, right now, it is here…

The shop

…at a coffee shop somewhere in the middle of the block of shops right behind the Chinese temple. The thing is it has no name…and the sign there…

The sign
*Archive photo*

…is actually for the shop that used to be there that time when I was still teaching and staying in the town.

It used to be here…

Penang Cafe, Kanowit

…and at two other places during the years I was there when they were still cooking and serving from their mobile stall. The fried noodles and stuff at the stall in this particular coffee shop are also very nice. I used to eat there but at that time, they were at another location – at the end of the block opposite. There was this one as well then…

Lian Wou Cafe, Kanowit

…where I had my lunch and dinner every day for RM60.00 a month. It was just about the only restaurant in town and any wedding or whatever function, we would be having it here. The son and his wife are running the place now and according to him, they do not cook for such big functions anymore as now that the road is so good, most people would prefer to host their dinners at some big restaurant in Sibu instead.

Anyway, while we were having the noodles that morning, Philip also ordered this bowl of piansip soup to share…

Kanowit piansip soup

…and I spotted this old coffee grinding machine at the back…

Kanowit coffee grinder

Wow!!! They still boil the water and brew the coffee and tea the old-fashioned way, over some hot burning charcoal…

Old school charcoal stove

…it seems! I know many in Sibu would just use an electric kettle or a gas cooker these days. I wonder if they toast their bread on the stove too – that would make it so very nice, so much nicer than any of the modern ways that people do it at the shops and cafes now.

After that delightful breakfast, we walked around the town and I did bump into some familiar faces and some ex-students of mine and I did stop and chat with them for a while. It sure is nice to be remembered. This used to be the clinic…

Formerly the clinic...

…right across the road from the room, above the corner shop, that I rented and stayed during my first two years in Kanowit.

We dropped by the market and I bought some dabai (local black olives) from this lady…

Buying dabai in Kanowit

…and they turned out to be so very good! In fact, I have not had such top quality dabai for a long long time and even at RM20 a kilo, it was really value for money.

I saw these and asked her what they were…


…and she told me they were engkabang or illepenut. All that I knew was they use the gum in the making of chewing gum and if I’m not wrong, for sealing the gaps in the making of sampans (traditional wooden boats) as well but the lady told me that if you add it to very very hot rice and mix and eat, it is very very delicious. I decided not to buy and try in the end but later, I heard from a friend that it is indeed very very nice eating it with rice like that – a lot nicer than adding butter or ghee as the fragrant oil would melt and give the rice that exclusive taste that many enjoy. Hmmmmm!!!! Ah well, another time perhaps!

On our way back to Sibu, we stopped by this fruit stall right beside the Durin Bridge…

Durin fruit stall

…where they were selling durians, rambutans and this wild variety of the latter…

Wild rambutans

We got to sample this oval-shaped hybrid of the durian…

Oval-shaped durian

…and it was custard-like, so very milky rich and so very very nice! They were selling these two for RM15 but Philip wanted the bigger ones and bought four back for RM40.00, RM10 each. Hmmmm….personally, even though these were very nice, I don’t think I would be able to eat more than just a few seeds – I think I still prefer the old school, wild durians that are sweeter and mushier, milky white or slightly yellow with a tint of grey or green and a hint of bitterness. Sadly, it turned out that the four that Philip bought, unlike the ones we tried there and then,  for some reason or other, were not good at all and he had to throw them all away.

Well, after this pit-stop, we went our way back to Sibu…

Author: suituapui

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

35 thoughts on “That same road…”

  1. The road leading to Kanowit seems very peaceful and quiet. Wow… there are really a lot of old shops around and I bet their quality of their food is as good, like the red kampua noodles. Oh my.. now I wonder how many varieties of kampua are there!! Last time you shown another version of kampua noodles…can’t remember the name!

    Out of town road to a small town, plus this is the bypass, not the so-called Pan-Borneo highway, name so grand! Have I shown other varieties? I know there’s pandan, there’s tom yam – all gimmicks, I would say…other than the usual curly or straight, black or white…or kampua mee pok.

  2. It seems like there’s no end to the road to Kanowit LOL I like the old school way of heating water kettle using charcoal, do they char-toast kaya butter toast there too?

    I don’t know if they do – didn’t ask. Will find out when I go again…next month, September. Going to bring friends from Trengganu.

  3. That’s so sad that Philip had to throw all the durians away. RM40 gone just like that 😦

    It would not be so bad if they did not let us try such good ones to get us to buy – clear intent to cheat. Like buying dabai too, they let you try the best and when you buy home, you find they have mixed – only a few of the good ones, the rest all from the other not-so-good trees. Thankfully, the nice Iban lady did no such thing. Terrible, those people.

    Once, I bought some wild durians – I did not want to carry them all the way to my car, parked far away so I paid and went to get my car and drove over. I thought the guy was so nice to help me carry and put in the boot, I did not have to get out of the car. When I reached home, I found he had replaced all the good ones we selected with the lousy ones. These people really, may they burn in Hell!

  4. Ahhh kampua and piansip again, no, am not bored with that, I can eat those everyday for a month! Oohh I saw dabai in the picture.. I also saw it from Rose’s post yesterday, instantly I knew they were dabai coz I saw from your post before.. Ooops, very wasteful for Philip to throw the durians away, could have given to someone else (if they were not rotten la)..

    Wasteful? When they are not good, is there anything one can do with them? Any suggestions? I know if they’re not ripe, I can use them for cooking our very nice ethnic soup but if they’re of poor quality, not unripe nor rotten, nothing much one can do with them – not even good for making tempoyak, it would not be nice. Give to people and get cursed and sworn at – such lousy fruits, want to give to us? Duhhhhh!!!!

  5. We used that Durin road on 1 Jan on our way back here.

    That’s far!!! To or from Kuching, better use Lanang Bridge, Sarikei side.

    1. I like the look of that red kampua. Remind me of red kolok mee in Open Air Market.

      I think Green Road, they have also – whether you want it red or white, you have to tell them.

    2. We were in no hurry so we thought use different road home that day.

      Yes, I did use that way before too, just to look around.

  6. Throw them all away? The “reason” must be very bad that makes you to do so!! =[

    Not me, my friend. He was buying durians all over again and again before he went back to the states, none there. He loves them so very much and was pleased to get some very good ones most of the time – this was not one of those times, unfortunately. The good ones he would eat with his mum and also keep some in the freezer for her to enjoy slowly when he had gone back. Very filial son.

  7. 3 things I like in this post…kampua, pian sip & durians. Engkabang is something new & interesting to me. I like the old school way of making coffee, taste superb aroma.

    New to me too – maybe I did hear of it but never paid much attention. Was not all that adventurous in my eating when I was young – only learnt how to take chili and spicy food in my 20’s in 1973 in Singapore – followed my Penang friend then. When young, whenever I ate curry, would rinse the chicken in water first.

    Too bad all these old ways are disappearing/have disappeared. Using all those gadgets and appliances…all the shortcuts, where got the same? Like pounding chili to make sambal and using a blender. Can never come anywhere near, never mind how good people may say they are. 😦

  8. The mopping pail and the plastic bin below the coffee grinding machine don’t look too good heee..heeee… What a waste that the durians has to be thrown away.

    Ya, I did notice those too. I guess they just left them there after mopping the shop (and I would say the shop was nice and clean)…when the grinder was not in use.

    Sigh!!! Got cheated, what to do? Not the first time and definitely not the last. These crooks are everywhere.

  9. i love all those very very old style sign plaques, i don’t think i can find any of these in KL nowadays.. and that coffee grinding machine, and that coffee pot!! impressive, so antique, they sure will cause a hit in KL, muahahahaha!!!

    Yes, I bet they would cost a fortune. Curios…solely for display at the modern cafes.

  10. alamak rugi rm40. Hmm…those cannot be “recycle” and made into tempoyak ka? Sayang if just throwaway like that

    Make tempoyak, must use the best durians and then only will you get very very good tempoyak. Want lousy tempoyak, just buy those at the market – sour, and not nice, not even the colour. 4 durians, will not get very much – my missus made using 10 durians, only a little. Not worth the trouble, removing the flesh from the seeds, so tedious.

  11. I’ve a coursemate whose kampung is at kanowit… but i haven’t been there myself..

    and argghh.. the durianssss !!!

    Nice small place, love it! Ummm…you like or you don’t like durians? 😀

  12. LOL! Penang cafe? Seriously??

    Nothing Penang there but that coffee shop was around already when I was there late 70’s & early 80’s and still going strong!

  13. Yes, toasted bread will definitely taste so much better that way… you didn’t try them? Maybe they still use the authentic way to do toasted bread…
    About the durians, it is indeed a shame.. next time ask them to open the “backside” or side so that can touch them or taste them a bit before buying.. over here in Ipoh, they allow us to do that… open first.. nowadays ladies bring along tupperwares to put the durians seeds in… no need to take back the thorny skin to throw.. hahahaa…

    They can do that if you ask, but my friend didn’t want – wanted to do it himself. Actually it is so easy if the durian is good and ripe – use a stainless steel butter knife, hammer it down the centre of the bottom of the durian and the fruit would open like a flower. That is the principle behind the “durian opener” that somebody invented – some wooden thing with a sharp spike to open the durian..

  14. I think my last trip to Kanowit was in late 80’s?? Yes, it is that long!! tsk tsk tsk.

    Very curious about that red kampua, let me see if i got chance to try that on my next trip back.

    Sarikei that famous coffee shop, they still toast their buns on the hot burning charcoal!

    Yes, did not go to Sarikei this year…hope to go again sometime. Aik Seng or what it’s called. Come, when you come back again, we’ll go together. 😉

  15. love your blogging spirit Arthur! keep it up, love to drop by and see your well thought out and written experiences from day to day. 😀

    Thank you. You’re very kind… 😉

    1. This is what they say don’t judge a book by its cover?hmm..

      Precisely. Appearances can be deceptive, and beware of all that sweet sales talk – one would need to watch out for that too.

  16. How nice, breakfast in Antarctic and lunch in Penang

    They had Hong Kong too, a tailor shop, then but I noticed that the place was no longer around. No Japan though, just Sakura, a hotel. Closed too.

  17. That is a rather nice name for an ice cube supplier!

    Antarctic Cold Storage indeed…I realize that the English literacy rates are really high for people around your age and it’s been on a steady decline ever since! The mission schools are doing good work in that department.

    Yes, it certainly was a very appropriate name, I would agree.

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