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)…
…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…
…so very succulent, absolutely perfect…
…and I would say that the rice…
…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…
…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…
…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.
21 thoughts on “Old days…”
I tasted the checkerboard duck once in Kuching. In a friend’s wedding. So good.
Love the chicken rice. Fluffy rice and the chicken skin is yellow and meat is moist. Now I feel like having chicken rice. Lol.
There is one stall selling Sibu snack in Kuching and I tried its sio bee. Not that nice.
Around 90 sen each, of course not so nice lah! Hehehehe!!! These are selling for RM1.50 each. The ones selling at Rejang Park market, they say very nice, also not to my liking. Bought once to try, will never buy again. So far, the cheaper ones – the shop next to the Methodist Book Room with the nice kolo mee – that one’s quite good.
Did you drop by this restaurant when you were in Sibu? Pretty good, everything…but parking can be such a pain, and lunch time, it is always packed, full house. That is why I seldom come here.
I agree with you. As a tourist you want to feel a piece of the local heritage. The older restaurants would be higher on my visit list.
Indeed. No point going some place and eating what one can get at home or anywhere else, give or take a little, and never mind even if theirs are nicer.
So far this one’s run by the daughter now while at the other place, one of the old chefs is still there – I hear he has bought over the place from the previous owner – the old owner passed away and his family had no interest in the business. There is another old chef who left that one and opened his own but his is quite far away, across the river but I would love to drive there one day to give it a try and blog about it.
Dying heritage – some of the new restaurants do try to dish out some of the old-school local favourites but unfortunately, they do not do it quite like it, not the same and not so nice.
That chess duck (seen a few times before in your blog) is calling me to Sibu!
Come, come!!! I bet it will be a trip you will never forget! Our budget airline flies Perth direct from KL…and also direct from KL to Sibu. Just one stop along the way.
Sobs!!!…sobs!!!!…last episode & eventually every good thing has to come to an end. Bet they have an enjoyable jalan jalan makan trip in Sibu. Love every dish…Yumzzzz!!!
Yes, and never again would they make a sweeping remark like – what is there in Sibu, nothing nice in Sibu…one night in Sibu is more than enough.
You’ve been here before? When was the last time you came? School days? Hehehehe!!!! Come, come for a weekend…drive here, pick up your son along the way – it’s actually quite a nice drive, go slow, enjoy the ride – I did that TWICE and I loved it!
The chicken and rice look delicious! Bring it on! 🙂
The best I’ve had for a long long time now…
wow.. very unusual dishes.. would love to try the Sibu Foochow-style sio bee and the chess or checkerboard duck… one day! 😀
Unusual? Not the chicken rice, I’m sure and I’ve had the chess/checkerboard duck elsewhere before. Some places, they have char siew pulled pork sandwiched between layers of yam and deep fried. Can’t remember where I had that, also very nice. The only one that is uniquely Sibu here is probably the Foochow-style sio bee, very different from the regular dim sum siew mai.
Wow! I love chicken rice :C I always prefer the steamed/poached chicken. The one at the shop (the good ones) are so tender and juicy. I simply love it and can’t replicate it at home 😦
I saw on AFC – it is more than just steaming. Quite a tedious process. 😦 This one here is so very good, I don’t think all the other places in town can match theirs…but theirs is more expensive, I think. I know roast chicken, whole is around RM30.00. This one, half, is RM19. Want the best, have to pay for it, no choice.
Yes…tourists are indeed interested in those old school and established restaurants though they are not so good and tasty already. Over CNY and holiday seasons, you can see tourists flocking to these places and the bosses are usually smiling, Food so so only but the brand still hot!
Both of these places, the food is still very good…otherwise, people will just go elsewhere – here, no such thing as brand one. Either you have it or you don’t…and if you don’t anymore, bye bye. No mercy.
Both are still very popular…but I would choose to go elsewhere as parking at both can be such a pain and parking far far away and walking all the way there is definitely out of the question for me. No, thank you.
Many more new school restaurants around town too – the usual food available everywhere, not so old school one, pick and choose…but there are still people who will flock back to these old ones – especially this one, business is so good!
Oh i had something similar before, that midin served in thai-influenced sauce and i actually like it!
This one’s too sour. I’ve had some done this way elsewhere that were a lot nicer, just that this is not one of them.
I’d like to try the checkerboard duck. As for Sibu-style sio Bee, my father finds it unpalatable because it is full of fatty meat. I, however, find it delicious. No fatty pork, no kick.
The low quality, cheap ones. They buy the cheap minced pork, all the fat and dunno what else goes into it. That is why I am no fan of kompia stuffed with minced meat…but ladies prefer those – not as fat as pork belly, they say. Ah well! What they do not know would not hurt them! Back to the sio bee, for the cheap ones, they also add flour and lots and lots of msg for taste. Like everything else, you need to know where to go and where to buy.
You may be able to find that checkerboard duck in restaurants in Miri. I do not think it is an original recipe.
At first, when i see the picture of the sio bee and have not read the text yet, i thought it made by Melissa as saw from fb…
Hers looked a whole lot nicer – her dainty fingers and these people here have to make so many, no time to worry about looking nice. Post on those coming up soon!
Bovril in Kampua? What novelty!
You did not see my posts on this? Try with mee sua…or the dry egg noodles. There will be no looking back after that! I no longer cook that though – Bovril is way too expensive these days, cannot afford.
That shumai looks great but whats even better is that chicken, looks perfectly made. It even looks like they used a free range chicken by the looks of it which makes it even better and tastier
Yes, it sure tasted really good, probably corn-fed, judging from the colour. Very nice!