Old days…

From the tourism point of view, where the Chinese restaurants are concerned, I would think that tourists would more interested in the old school ones, those that have been around for a very very long time, especially if they can still get those popular local dishes that were the favourites of many and may not be easily found elsewhere these days and even if they can, they would not be quite the same nor as nice. Otherwise, I am sure they can find others in other parts of the state or country or places abroad that are a lot more grand and impressive, even Michelin-starred ones that our local ones will pale in comparison. We do have a few good Chinese restaurants here where the food may be as nice or perhaps even nicer than some elsewhere but if I were to make a choice out of those that I have been to here in Sarawak, I would probably pick this one in Miri…but unfortunately, it is not in the list of nominees for the coveted award.

Here in Sibu, there are two that were around way back in my childhood days – this one and also this one and between the two, as far as the general appearance of the place is concerned, I would pick the latter where they have the ground floor and for banquets and also when the ground floor is full, they will use the upper floor as well. They have a nice looking menu with an array of selections that you can choose from, some old and some new and I dare say that all are nice.

That day, when the guys from Kuching and I dropped by, of course I had to order their Sibu Foochow-style sio bee (RM1.50 each)…

New Capitol sio bee

…which is very different from the Hong Hong-style dim sum siew mai and some will insist that these are a whole lot nicer. I have had it before, more than once, I am sure but that day, I thought what we were served were very much nicer. It couldn’t be because I was hungry as we had been eating all morning!

When I was little, as far as I can remember, this was the first place in Sibu where we could get chicken rice. My father would bring the tiffin carrier and buy from Ah Sap Chay (the lady boss) at her restaurant on the ground floor of the Palace Cinema/Theatre building and of course, we enjoyed it to the max and would always look forward to the next time my father would go there and buy some home again. The daughter, Ah Eng, is running the place now and their chicken rice is still the star attraction among the lunchtime crowd. I took the guys there at 11.00 knowing that if we were to get there past 12 noon, there was every possibility that the place would be full and we would not be able to get a table.

So, we were at the restaurant early and needless to say, we just had to have the chicken rice. The chicken was really good…

New Capitol chicken rice 1

…so very succulent, absolutely perfect…

New Capitol chicken rice 2

…and I would say that the rice…

New Capitol chicken rice 3

…stands out way above most, if not all, of the rest in town…and elsewhere as well. Just as in the case of the sio bee, I also thought that it was much nicer than the previous times when I had the same here and I am very sure it was not merely a figment of my imagination.

True enough, once it was past noon, the people started coming in and in no time at all, the place was full and as far as I know, most everybody would go for their chicken rice or their kampua noodles which is also the favourite of many (Word has it that they add a little bit of Bovril and that is why it is so nice – well, I also do that at home and yes, mine is also very nice! Hehehehehe!!!!) but we already had that earlier so we decided to give it a skip.

Traditionally, the Foochow way of cooking midin (wild jungle fern) would be with their red wine but the guys ordered it in some other way and it turned out to be something like the sourish Thai-style or kerabu

New Capitol midin

…and I would say there are others elsewhere that are nicer as it was rather sour…and like I always say, fat people are not all that fond of things that are sour. Hehehehehe!!!!

They wanted the chess or checkerboard duck…

New Capitol chessboard duck

…which they said they had at some restaurants in Kuching sometime ago but either they have closed down or they no longer serve this dish and they did seem to enjoy it very much.

Service here was great and very quick, not much waiting required and I liked the old waitress who took our orders and served us. She was very good at her job, knew everything like the back of her hand and I liked her wit and her sarcasm – that kind of quick and sharp thinking that hits you and yet, you do not get offended. I found it very hilarious, so funny and I actually enjoyed the banter!

For a glimpse at the other nice dishes here, other than the ones above and those via the earlier links, you can also click here and here to have a look…and if you are into those “unforgettable” upriver fish like the empurau, semah or tangadak, you can find those here at this restaurant too, just that you will have to be ready to burn a BIG hole in your pocket when you go for those.

At the end of that very nice lunch, I mentioned to the guys that I did not know their criteria in making the selection but if they would be looking at the whole package, not just based on the tourism (and the food) standpoint, this place would not stand a chance against the “giants” so unless they were the ones that nominated themselves for the award, it probably would be good not to go probing and asking questions and checking this and that since at the end of the day, they would not get to win. I am pretty sure they would not like it one bit…nor would they be interested in whatever kind of award in the first place, not in the least. As long as they see the tsunami of money flowing in and hear the music of the bells on their cash till, they would be more than happy already.

After we had left the place, the guys went back to the hotel to pack and check out and after a brief stop here, I drove them to the airport to catch their plane to Miri to check out the eateries there. THE END.