Joy…

This place (2.299452,111.830832)…

Le Cafe Sibu

…along Brooke Drive here in Sibu, on your left if you are driving from town, has been around for a while now but somehow, we had never bothered to drop by even though we would drive past all the time on our way home from the town centre. One reason would be the fact that everytime we came by this way, we would have had something to eat in town already so we would be full and would not have any reason to do so. Another reason was that when it first opened, my friend, Rose, who was living in Sibu at the time, did go and check it out but based on her review of the place in her blog, it was not really anything to look forward to plus she did not like the fact that it was rather noisy – and that certainly would put me off as well.

Then, I saw a friend sharing a photograph on Facebook of some beef steak that he had there and I asked him what else was nice. He said he liked the beef rendang

Le Cafe beef rendang

…so off I went the other day with my girl and the mum to give the place a try.

It was a simple place, nice and clean and not very big and despite the name, it did not look like one of those classier fine dining joints to me…

Le Cafe inside

One look at the apple green plastic basket of orange chopsticks on the counter would say it all…but the prices certainly seemed to state otherwise. The lady asked us if we wanted something new on their menu, their pork ribs but at RM39.90, we did not think we would be all that keen to give it  a try.

I steadfastly stuck to what I had come for – their beef rendang with rice (RM16.90) which, indeed, was very nice but unfortunately, it was not spicy at all so I would not say I was all that thrilled by it. Incidentally, what you see in the photograph would be about all that you would get. When it was served, I thought that was really a lot – all that in the claypot, served in a rattan basket but it was kind of shallow so there wasn’t all that much, actually. Still, there was more than enough for me but in my honest opinion, I did feel that the price was rather steep and I sure would think twice about having that again.

My girl opted for the orange pork rice (RM11.90)…

Le Cafe orange pork rice 1

…which was definitely more reasonably priced and yes, they were very generous with the meat too…

Le Cafe orange pork rice 2

…and yes, the meat was very nice and very tender and went absolutely well with the orange sauce.

The mum ordered their chicken with tom yam mayonnaise (RM10.90)…

Le Cafe tom yam mayo chicken

…and it was very good too. We thought that was a strange combination but it did taste pretty good, really – the creamy sauce with a hint of tom yam, something like a very nice and unique variation of the thousand island.

Looking at the prices and also at the fact the rendang was not spicy and not really what would sweep me off my feet, I would think it would make more sense to stick to the pork or chicken…or try something else that they may have on their menu. As for the name, I too, like Rose, had been thinking all this while that it was French but according to this blogger, it is actually a transcription of its Chinese name, meaning “joy” or something like that. There was just one other table, a big group of young people, other than us, and though it was quite noisy, it was quite bearable but I cannot imagine what it would be like if the place was full like the time when Rose went there.

Their opening hours are from 11.00 a.m. till 2.00 p.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. and they take their weekly break on Tuesdays but not on public holidays. All things considered, I would say this is an option, one place that one may want to stop by for a bite once in a while but based on what we got to sample that day, it take a little more than that to get me to go out of my way just to come here.

Never been to Spain…

No, I’ve never been to Spain. Neither have I tried anything from their cuisine either. The closest I ever got to that were the chicken croquettas that used to be available here when this guy that used to be a tapas chef in Singapore and on some cruise liner was around. That was why when we were here for breakfast not too long ago and I saw that they had paella on their dinner menu, I told my girl that we would be back to give that a try.

The girl who came to take our orders could not speak any English and I was not in the mood to struggle with my limited Mandarin so I asked for one who could. After all, this is a classy WESTERN restaurant, isn’t it? Another one came and she was no better but thankfully, a third one followed suit and yes, she was conversant in the language and well-versed with the items on the menu so we were able to tell her what we wanted and promptly placed our orders. I guess the likes of those would go down well with the general public and most of the customers here – they probably would prefer that being more comfortable with it but I, for one, would not know what things like paella or tapas, for instance, are called in that lingo. As far as I know, spaghetti is “Italy mien” (Italian noodles) and from the adverts on radio during those days when our own local Sarawak fast food franchise first made the scene, I learnt that hamburger is “ham pa pao” but adding one and one equals two, I can get along quite well now with the little that I know just that it will take a little bit of effort on my part.

We had their cream of pumpkin soup (RM6.25, inclusive of GST)…

N2 Casual Dining pumpkin soup

…which was very nice. We could be wrong but we thought we tasted something a bit like santan (coconut milk) in it. However, it was a little watery so in comparison, my girl prefers the ones her mum makes – thick, rich and creamy.

The tod mum pla (RM7.31, inclusive of GST)…

N2 Casual Dining tod mum pla

– their Thai-style fish/seafood cakes, categorised in their menu under the tapas section, were very good and went absolutely well with the light fish sauce and cili padi dip that came with it.

We enjoyed their flower clam aglio olio pasta (RM14.73)…

N2 flower clam aglio olio pasta

…very much too but there was hardly anything in those clams, very very small and in some, there was nothing at all plus we had to be careful with some broken bits of the shell in the pasta. I think we would like their pasta of curry seafood (RM11.90) that they had on their previous menu more…or the seafood pasta here but of course, the latter is a lot more expensive.

The crispy pork belly with sweet potato wedges (RM20.03, inclusive of GST)…

N2 Casual Dining crispy pork belly 1

…was superb. It tasted so nice that it literally swept us off our feet and we certainly loved that very much but we had one bone to pick with the dish – there was nothing crispy about it. In fact, when I saw the item on the menu, I imagined something like our siew yoke (roast pork) with the crispy skin or what they call crackle or crackling. But other than the kind-of-misleading name, I would say it has a slight edge over the ribs that we like a lot here and is cheaper too, though comparatively, this one is a little smaller…

N2 Casual Dining crispy pork belly

Still, it was big enough to be shared by two, or even the three of us.

Iced water was FOC and the total for that delightful dinner that we had came up to only RM48.30.

Now, wait a minute! Whatever happened to the paella that we had gone all the way to try? Sadly, we were duly informed that they had run out of the special rice that they would use to cook the dish so it was currently unavailable. Well, it did not really matter all that much, considering that we did enjoy what we had…so I just told the guy (who said that he had worked for two months under a Spanish chef) to post on Facebook once the new stock of the rice had arrived and we would make our way there again…just for the paella!

Dance for you…

The other day, we went to the Esplanade…

The Rejang Esplanade, Sibu

…beside the mighty Rajang…

The Rajang

…for the outdoor performances of the Sibu International Dance Festival 2015.

Here, you can see some of the dancers on their way to present their dance with the Rajang River in the background…

On the way

There were dancers from several different countries such as these from Singapore…

From Singapore 1

…that started off the evening’s programme with their jazzy a la Broadway number…

From Singapore 2

…and they were followed by the ones from Sri Lanka…

From Sri Lanka 1

…including this guy…

From Sri Lanka 2

…who danced while doing some acrobatic acts with the bowls he had with him – something like the Chinese one using plates on sticks.

I really enjoyed the one by these Filipinos…

From the Philippines

…from the University of the Philippines Dance Company with their very lively and entertaining presentation called Tagu-taguan (Hide and seek). I’ve seen performances by their internationally-acclaimed choir on youtube like this one, for instance…

…and I really must say these people from our neighbouring country are absolutely super multi-talented!!!

This group from Taiwan got some volunteers from the audience…

From Taiwan

…to join in and they obviously had a whole lot of fun!

I did not bother to take any more photographs after that as it was very difficult to take nice shots of people in motion, not with my small and cheap digicam but if you are interested, you can always check out the official Facebook page – they do have very much nicer ones there, taken by professionals, I guess.

Spearheaded by the Hornland Dance Theatre here, this event has been going on for the fourth year running now and it certainly has been very well-received. This year, the participants came from the aforementioned countries and also Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and of course, Malaysia and there was even somebody from the US! Other than this outdoor event, there were also performances for two or three consecutive nights at the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) here in Sibu as well as dance-related conferences and workshops at selected venues (hotels) in the town. If you are thus inclined, this would be a good time to come to Sibu and you can get to enjoy the dances and everything, both cultural and contemporary.

Ahead of time…

The Mid-autumn Festival, on the 15th Day of the 8th Month in the Chinese lunar calendar, also known as the Mooncake Festival falls on the 27th of September this year, which is today.

Well, school reopens tomorrow after the week-long mid-term holiday so we would be sending my girl back to her school today. This means that we cannot celebrate it this evening and last night (Saturday) would be out of the question too as we would be going for the sunset service in church. That was why we had a little celebration among ourselves, just the three of us, ahead of time on Friday night.

We chose to have a steamboat dinner as that would be less of a hassle since we would not need to go through all that chore of doing all the cooking at the end of which we would be too tired to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labour. For that, I went and bought these fairly huge freshwater prawns…

Freshwater prawns

…and these big seawater prawns as well…

Seawater prawns

…and also these lovely scallops…

Scallops

All these would certainly make the soup extra sweet and tasty…

Steamboat

We did not want to add a lot of stuff for fear that we would not be able to finish everything and indeed, even with the little that we had…

Steamboat 2

…there was still a bit left over.

For dessert, in keeping with the special occasion, we had one of the mooncakes that my friend, Annie, in KL sent me

Green tea mooncake

I did not buy any this year, not at the current prices and thankfully, I had two to enjoy whilst observing the tradition and preserving our cultural heritage.

Yes, it was very nice and the best part was that it was not sweet…

Green tea mooncake 2

…only slightly and we all enjoyed it, thank you so much, Annie.

So have you had your celebration yet? Or are you getting ready for a scrumptious dinner tonight? Well, here’s wishing everybody celebrating a very Happy Mid-autumn/Mooncake Festival. Cheers!!!

How will I know…

Well, I will never know unless I try, right?

For instance, I think it was Princess Ribbon who mentioned that she loved the white chocolate almond ice cream…

Magnum white almond 1

…a lot so I just had to go and grab some to try.

They are sold singly here at RM4.00 each…or in boxes of 3 each at RM12.00. Somebody mentioned that they were available at a couple of supermarkets here so I quickly made my way there. Unfortunately, there were none to be seen anywhere at those places. I went back to confirm that it was white, not the regular dark chocolate as those were readily available and yes, it was indeed white and probably they were all sold out.

In the meantime, I saw people here, there and everywhere posting photographs of theirs on Facebook too. Gee! That must be really so good, I thought to myself. Then, I heard that some were seen at another supermarket in town so I quickly rushed there and grabbed a few. And now the moment of truth!

Magnum white almond 2

Well, it was nice – after all, how can ice cream ever be not nice? But I did not think I liked the white chocolate on the outside…

Magnum white almond 3

…as its taste did not stand out from that of the vanilla ice cream inside. I honestly think I prefer the ones with dark chocolate which I did buy to try as well when I went searching for this one and failed to find any.

Incidentally, when I was buying the ice cream, I could not help but wonder why they are being sold in boxes of 3 and yet, they are available singly or loosely. Perhaps the prices are different elsewhere, not like the ones here but if it is going to be the same, never mind if you are buying 1 or 3 or more, why bother packing them in those not-very-cheap looking boxes then? For one thing, it is not environment-friendly at all as it would end up getting thrown away eventually, right?

Ok, let’s move on from the topic of ice cream to…pancakes!

I had seen boxes of pancake mix at the supermarkets everywhere but I had never bothered to try them out so I did not know whether they were any good or not. Somehow or other, I never even bothered to take one to browse through and see what they said on the box until that day when I received one from Rose

Hungry Jack and Devondale

…in Kuching, made in the USA! Now, now, that must be good, I told myself! Just add water, it said on the box. Now, that sure sounded really easy…and Rose did suggest that I used milk instead so I went out and bought a carton, Devondale no less, made in Australia. It used to be dirt cheap at a time, just over RM1.00 and less than RM2 each and people would come to the supermarket in Sibu and cart boxes and boxes home. It was a lot creamier and nicer, they insisted and for one thing, the Malaysian reconstituted ones at the time were selling for over RM3.00 a carton. Now who on earth would be so foolish as to go for those when we could get fresh milk, the low fat variety included, direct from Australia at around half the price? Unfortunately, the price kept going up and up and up and they are over RM6.00 now so it is no longer all that affordable. Especially with our very weak ringgit these days, things from that southern continent definitely do not come cheap, not anymore. Sobsssss!!!!!!

I followed the instructions…

Instructions

…on the box faithfully and in no time at all, I was ready to start frying.

After frying two pieces, I tried a little bit and goodness gracious me!!! It was light and fluffy all right but it was completely tasteless – not sweet, not salty, no buttery fragrance, nothing! I quickly added a spoonful of brown sugar to the rest of the batter and continued frying till I was done…

Pancakes

I only got around 8 pieces though despite the fact that it was stated on the box that I would be getting 12-16. Never mind! Since it was not all that nice, it did not matter one bit as I would not be giving any to my parents to enjoy.

Despite having added a little bit of sugar, it did not make much difference and of course, I did not have any of these…

Add-ons

…in the house to go with the pancakes. I did have some honey in the fridge though and that certainly saved the day!

Still, I do not think I would want to go out and buy any more, not at all as it was not all that hassle-free, I must say. Mixing the batter is not all that hard actually and this actually required the same amount of work, greasing the pan and frying the pieces one by one…and considering all that trouble one would have to go through, I would much sooner settle for our own family recipe and come out with pancakes that are just as light and fluffy, with a so much more delightful richer taste and buttery fragrance, so good that we would enjoy just eating them on their own.

But thanks again all the same, Rose, for sending me the box to try – now I know…and actually, I still have a lot left so being very much the wiser now, I would not want to make any more pancakes with it. In fact, at this point in time, I’ve seen some recipes for butter cakes using pancake mix and I think I would want to give it a try…and see the end result. We’ll see how that will turn out, eh?

Crowded…

Last Sunday morning, after the church service, we stopped by here for brunch and boy, it was so very crowded.

My girl and the mum wanted the wat tan hor kway teow (RM4.00)…

Twin Corner Wat tan hor kway teow 1

…that the latter had the last time and liked a lot but they were told that they would have to wait for at least half an hour and I said it was all right as we were in no hurry to go anywhere anyway so they placed their orders and waited.

Janggut’s stall was closed and my guess would be that he does not open for business on Sundays. I would think that is not a very good move considering that there are so many people on the day and he certainly would enjoy brisk business if he had been around. Perhaps it would be better for him to have his rest day on say, Friday, perhaps.

The roti canai guys were in full swing though and it sure looked like they were getting a lot more orders than on other days. I went and ordered their roti telur (roti canai with egg added) plus bawang (onion), RM2.00…

Twin Corner roti telur and bawang

…and it was very good, very much nicer compared to the roti telur (RM1.80) I had the previous time. The fragrance of the onion sure brought the taste to a whole new level. The dhal dip…

Twin Corner dhal dip

…was consistently good so I really enjoyed it a lot.

The kampua noodle stall was enjoying brisk business too and I decided to try their pian sip (RM2.80)…

Twin Corner pian sip

…but I would say it was all right, nothing that would make it much different from most of the rest.

Wondering what the porridge special was, I wanted that but the lady told me that they do not have it on Sundays. I guess they would not be able to cope with the crowd if they had to cook that as well so they would just concentrate on the kampua mee and stuff. I asked for the kway teow kampua listed on their menu instead and this was what I got (RM2.80)…

Twin Corner kway teow kampua 1

I was wondering what that was – kway teow mixed with the kampua noodles perhaps but it turned out to be just kway teow tossed kampua-style except that it was not exactly like that as kam/kang in kampua/kangpuang means dry and there should not be any sauce in it…

Twin Corner kway teow kampua 2

I did not know what sauce that was but it sure made it taste quite unlike kampua noodles as I know it but it did not taste too bad. I thought it was quite nice actually.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, possibly more than a mere half an hour, the wat tan hor kway teow came…

Twin Corner wat tan hor kway teow

…and after the two ladies had finished off everything on their plates, we left…with a mental note in my head to drop by this place on any other day but, as the song goes, never on Sunday…

Same place…

After stopping at the SSPCA fund-raising event that day, it was time for lunch and we decided to just go to this place since it was very convenient, being located in that very same mall.

They have some  kind of promotion going on in conjunction with the Mooncake Festival…

Tom's Too Mooncake Festival promotion

…but unfortunately, it would only begin the following day.

My missus opted for the other on-going promotion…

Tom's Too curry rice set promotion

…the chicken curry and rice plus a huge glass of iced lemon tea (RM20.00, exclusive of GST)…

Tom's Too curry rice set

The curry was nice…

Tom's Too chicken curry

…spicy and had a lot of meat and potatoes in the bowl but it was not anything sensational, nothing to shout about. One would be able to get the same, more or less, at any Malay stall or shop in town…at at least half the price.

I had the lasagna (RM18.50, exclusive of GST)…

Tom's Too lasagna 1

…and yes, it was very nicely done…

Tom's Too lasagna 2

…with a lot of minced beef in between the layers of pasta sheets plus the garlic bread toast that came with it went very well with the bolognese sauce in the dish.

My girl was not in the mood for pasta so she had the lamb shank (RM33.50, exclusive of GST)…

Tom's Too lamb shank

…which seems a little cheaper than elsewhere with the prices usually bordering around RM40.00. The meat was very nicely done, very tender and bursting with flavours and we liked it a lot except that I missed the bed of mashed potatoes underneath that one would usually get when having the dish at most places elsewhere. There wasn’t much else other than the little bit of coleslaw that my girl said was very good and the french fries that came with it…and what on earth was that? A little saucer of tomato ketchup or was it chili by the side of the plate? No, it was not even served separately…or given upon request. Good grief!!! For a classier place like this, surely they can do a lot better than that? One would expect these off-the-shelves tomato and chili sauces at the cheap hawker stalls serving western food where they would give you these in their original bottles for you to use as much as you like.

Iced water was RM1.00 a glass and I was wishing they would turn off the not-very-nice music which they eventually  did and then they turned on the tv instead. Tsk! Tsk! I don’t know about other people but at places such as this, I would like to enjoy the peace and quiet while I eat or to the most, some very light and soft music or songs would be good.

Service was o.k. – two young girls, and one of them seemed to be struggling a bit with English and our orders, probably a newbie on the job, but she was nice and friendly so it was perfectly all right with me. The bill came up to a total of RM78.45, inclusive of GST and though we quite enjoyed the food, as far as the overall dining experience went, for that kind of money, perhaps it would be quite a while before we may decide to come back again.