Long gone day…

When I was blogging about the kuih bangkit that day, my regular reader and commentor, Irene, said she also loves kuih sepit, kuih S & lek tau ko and added, “Nowadays, I never see people make lek tau ko. These few are my childhood CNY cookies.” Well, I was positive that they do sell lek tau ko at a bakery in town so I made my way there to have a look and that was why I ended up having the somewhat disappointing kolo mee special at this coffee shop in the next block that morning.

Yes, they had lek tau ko but they were kind of black in colour – probably they did not remove the skin of the green beans when they ground them for the flour to make those. Besides, they were kind of distorted and did not seem to have those very nice shapes that used to appeal to us in the long gone days when we were kids. Somehow or other, it thrilled us to no end to pick an animal and bite its head off and eat it all up. Gee!!! We kids those days sure had some really violent tendencies, eh? LOL!!!

Well, it so happened that a couple of days later, my missus was at the shopping mall in town and she saw these…

Lek tau ko 1

…and of course, she wasted no time in grabbing a tub to take home and try…and yes, they were very nice indeed. According to the seller at the temporary stall there selling these goodies for Chinese New Year, these were made by some Hokkien lady at home.

The shapes, made using the special wooden mold, were very well done. This is a bird or a hen…

Lek tau ko 3

…I guess…and this one is probably a rat…

Lek tau ko 4

…and in the words of the mean ol’ Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “Off with their heads!!!” Muahahahahaha!!!!

I went and googled and yes, I remember what we, in my family, used to call those – kuih koya!…

Lek tau ko 2

I think it is luk tau peang in Cantonese, and by the way, in response to zmun2‘s comments, I stumbled upon the Chinese name for kuih bangkitshih fun peang, and that sure sounds like Cantonese too.

Believe…

I have been taking these leaves…

Daun hempedu bumi 1

…for a long long time now, way before I retired. I did blog about it here once, if anyone is interested.

They seem to be very hard to plant though. If you see a seedling sprouting out somewhere and you decide to transplant it nicely at a proper place, you can be sure it will wither and die very quickly. That is why I would just let it grow anywhere it appears and pluck the leaves (a friend of a friend said it must be an odd number, 3, 5, 7…but she said she heard it elsewhere and did not know why) every morning to brew and drink.

Lately, however, it seemed to sprout all over the place – in the flower pots…

Daun hempedu bumi 2

…and all the cracks and crevices…

Daun hempedu bumi 3

…so at this point in time, I have an abundant supply for my daily cuppa, once a day…though I did see somewhere that it is recommended that one should have it three times a day.

The problem is after a while, the plants will start to produce seeds and flower…

Daun hempedu bumi 4

…and the leaves that appear are very much smaller, I don’t know why. That was why when they appeared all over the place, I decided to pluck the leaves and dry them in the sun…

Daun hempedu bumi 5

…to keep so I would not have to worry about the supply running out. However, the “tea” that I brewed using those tasted kind of peculiar. Maybe that was due to fermentation or I did not dry the leaves long enough so in the end, I just threw it all away.

I don’t know if they still do that in Sarikei or not but at one time, I was getting a friend there to buy for me – the leaves, dried and crushed and put into capsules. I can’t remember exactly now but I think it was selling at RM13.00 for 100 or was it 50 capsules? I also heard that they did the same at a Chinese medical store here and were selling them at RM1.00 each. I went and googled and I found that these capsules are actually available elsewhere…

Hempedu bumi extract

I don’t know what extract they are talking about – maybe they get the juice from the leaves and put that in the capsules, not the dried and crushed leaves, but they do claim that they do bring a whole lot of the same positive effects that people are saying these “king of bitters” can bring about.

For one thing, I’ve read claims that it helps detoxify one’s body so if one is on some kind of medication, then one should not be taking these leaves, the same thing with lobak putih (white radish), they say. People say that it cleanses away all the tok (poisons) in your body. Yes, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback regarding the leaves but yes, I have also heard people saying that they have no effect on them as well. I guess like medicines and medical treatments in general, they may work on some but not on others…

So so…

First and foremost, I would like to thank my cousin and hubby and family in Perth, Australia for the very lovely Chinese New Year card…

Chinese New Year card from Perth, Australia

…that I received two days ago, exactly two weeks from the date it was sent, the one in the postmark. The monkey catches a fish, 年年有余, that’s nice, isn’t it?

Moving on to the post proper, this place (2.294135, 111.825980)…

Coffee shop sign

…in the Tuanku Osman area here, in the block of shops next to the one where this restaurant is located, seems to be very popular, judging from the crowd in the morning, Sundays especially. A long time ago, people were saying that the Malay stall there served the best mee jawa in town and at one time, I dropped by for the nasi lemak special whereby they served a bowl of curry or something else in a bowl by the side. I think I did blog about the latter – those days when I was still using my antique handphone and did not have any decently-nice photos but I can’t seem to find the post now.

On another occasion, we went there to try the fried kway teow with beef – if I remember correctly, the coffee shop proprietor himself was doing it but he has retired now and somebody else has taken over. The kopi-o-peng that we had was no good, unfortunately, not even remotely close to anything that I would want to have again.

Once, I heard that the kampua mee there was nice and then, there was talk going round that the kolo mee was good. That was why the other morning, when we happened to be passing by, we decided to stop there and we had their kolo mee special. It certainly did not look anything like any kolo mee that I had had before – they even had a few thin strips of beef tripe…

Tripe and fish balls

…and fried fish balls along with tofu stuffed with a teeny weeny bit of meat inside…

Tofu and meat balls

…and those frozen meatballs with the horrible smell and taste that I picked out of the bowl and left them all by the side…and they had pian sip in it too!

No, there weren’t any char siew nor minced meat (RM4.00)…

Kolo mee special

– none of the usual stuff one would find in a regular bowl of kolo mee…and no, it tasted nothing like it but yes, it was nice and I would say this much – that it was just so-so, at best a decently-all-right plate of kampua mee with all the add-ons.

It seems that the Malay stall at the back is still there and there is a guy at the middle stall selling all the fried stuff and what we saw him serving to the other tables around us did look rather nice. We would give that a try should we happen to be around here again.

Alternative…

I have the feeling that many true blue Sibu born and bred have made their way back home for the forthcoming Chinese New Year as I see a lot of people at the malls, heavy traffic on the road…or maybe, they are all those from the nearby towns making their way here to do their shopping to prepare for the festive season.

After the sunset church service last Saturday evening, my girl wanted to drop by here for dinner but when we glanced inside, it looked like the place was full…or at least, there were a lot of people in the restaurant so we decided to pick to an alternative instead and the obvious choice would be this one right round the corner. Somehow or other, we never go to the one right next door as most of the time, it is very crowded and one may have difficulty trying to get a table…plus I am not all that fond of very busy, packed places.

Anyway, that night, we decided not to order the usual dishes that we would have here like their very nice sweet and sour fish fillet, for instance, but I can’t say we have a wide selection to choose from and in the end, we settled for their lemon chicken…

Y2K Restaurant lemon chicken 1

…which, of course, we had had before but we love how they do it. Firstly, unlike the thick batter at most other places, the very thinly-coated pre-deep fried pieces of chicken are always a cut above the rest. Other than that, fresh lemon is used – that is quite obvious, I guess, seeing the slices on top…

Y2K lemon chicken 2

…unlike at many places where the lemon chicken reeks terribly of the bottled essence which is such a put-off.

We did not want to order the fried cangkuk manis with egg or the sweet potato leaves anymore so we had their midin (wild jungle fern)…

Y2K belacan midin

– something we have not had here for a while as well and my girl requested for it to be fried with belacan (dried prawn paste) and yes, they do it very well, much nicer than a number of places and one probable reason, of course, would be the quality of the belacan used. The not-so-nice ones would give the dish a not-very-pleasant fragrance and taste.

On the way in, we saw some guys at a table outside having this tofu dish…

Y2K tofu

…and it looked good so we also wanted that. Now, this would be one dish here that we had not tried before and at other places, it is served in a claypot but here, they use this stainless thing with a special stand and a small fire down below to keep it hot and nice.

The lady boss seemed quite reluctant to accept any more orders, possibly because in her mind, she was thinking that those would be enough for the three of us but I felt like having one more so I asked for their fried beef with ginger…

Fried beef with ginger 1

…and this too was very nice. Somehow or other, if we order this dish at any place in town, it will taste more or less the same except maybe the sizzling beef on a hot plate here…but we were pleasantly surprised that there was a difference in how they cooked that here and we loved it!

Y2K fried beef with ginger

That certainly was a delightful dinner and true enough, as the lady boss appeared to be expecting, we could not finish everything and had to tapao quite a lot of the tofu home. Actually, I suggested just leaving it behind but my girl loved it so much and insisted that we took it home with us so she could take it with her to her school to heat it up for one of her meals there in the week to come.

The total for the four dishes for three persons came up to RM52.00 and I did hear the lady boss telling the cook, her hubby, to cook for three persons – usually, I would ask that they cook for two and the total would be a little less but that night, I did not bother. Of course, most importantly, everything was to our satisfaction and we made our way home happily, having enjoyed the pleasant meal together.

Worth it…

This takes a lot more time and effort but I do think it is worth it as it is nicer and looks a lot more impressive…

Chinese New Year lantern 1

…than the ones in this earlier post.

I saw it in the newspapers a long time ago, back in the 90’s, and I made quite a few then, following the steps and instructions given. However, it required a lot of ang pao packets so I had to go round the banks to ask for as many as I could lay my hands on.

If one were to follow the original faithfully, one would need 36 ang pao packets to make one lantern but I have modified it a bit and for each, I would only need 24…so if you were to make two lanterns, you would have saved enough to make a third one.

If the paper used for the ang pao packets is not hard enough, you may need to cut cards to place inside each of them…

Step 1

…so that your lantern would be able to stand upright and not go all limp and look quite awful as a result of that.

In the original, you will have to make triangles, 12 horizontal and 12 vertical and you glue them all together to make the hexagon for the top and a taller, narrower one for the bottom before putting the two parts together.

Instead of that, I stapled two packets together to make the figure 7, the top for the side and the “leg” for the rib in the lantern…

Step 2

Keep doing it…

Step 3

…till you have six sides and six ribs. Use sellotape to join the ribs together in the middle before you seal off the last side in the hexagon…

Top

Put that aside and proceed to make the bottom part of the lantern. Stick two ang pao packets together like this…

Step 4

– the one with the flap open is for the rib and the other one is for the side. Again, you will need six sides and six ribs…

Step 5

…and join them altogether like this…

Bottom

This will be the hexagon for the bottom part of the lantern.

In the original, one was told to apply glue to the flaps to stick the bottom hexagon to the ribs in the top part and I guess that can be done here as well but I do think it would be good to reinforce that with sellotape and/or staples.

Attach the string to hang it up with and the tail…and there you have it…

Chinese New Year lantern 2

…a lantern for your Chinese New Year decoration.

Don’t you think this one is nice?

Turn up the heat…

I blogged about the frozen pies the other day and somebody said that she would be looking forward to my post on them.

Well, when my girl came home for the weekend on Friday, I heated up one of them – the lamb pie (RM8.50)…

John's Pie, lamb 1

It sure looks like they have baked it lightly before freezing. According to the lady at the shop, when one wants to eat it, one would have to take it out of the freezer and thaw it for around half an hour and then put it in the oven to heat it up and bake the pastry slowly till crispy and golden brown…

John's Pie, lamb 2

It was very strong on the herbs but like the German sausage I had here, once we got used to the taste and the fragrance, we thought it was pretty good…

John's Pie, lamb 3

However, despite all those herbs, the smell of the lamb was still noticeable and for people like my girl and I, who don’t mind it at all, we actually enjoyed it…

John's Pie, lamb 4

…whereas my missus tried a bit and that was it! I did wish, however, that there had been a bit of gravy inside. I love pies like that – when you eat them, the gravy would come oozing out.

I heated the other two on Sunday, the signature beef steak pie and the beef and potato pie (RM7.00) each…

John's Pies

…and I tried the former, the one with the Playboy logo…

John's Pie, signature beef steak 1

…and again, it was very strong on the herbs used and between the beef steak and the lamb, I think I prefer the latter as typical of beef here these days, I found that the meat was a little on the tough side…

John's Pie, signature beef steak 2

– not too bad but no, it was not tender enough for what’s left of my old teeth.

I let my girl take the beef and potato back to her school to enjoy it there so I did not get to try it. Perhaps the meat is minced, not in chunks, and with the potatoes in the pie, I would probably prefer that to this one, I don’t know…but having tried and enjoyed those, I guess we have had our fill of pies…at least for a while.

In the meantime, here, I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to Yan in Taiping, Perak and also to a dear ol’ friend, TeeDee in Kuching for the lovely Chinese New Year cards…

Chinese New Year cards

…that I received yesterday. Oh dear!!! He never fails to send me a card every year and I can hardly remember the last time I mailed one back to reciprocate. *face palm* Like I said in an earlier post, I am not sending any this year – with all the cleaning and everything, somehow time just flew by so very quickly and I do not think the cards would make it in time if I were to dispatch them now. I really must do it early next year…and Chinese New Year is even earlier in 2017, January 28th – a little more than a month after Christmas.

So I’ve heard…

I heard that they have very nice claypot chicken rice here

Le Cafe Sibu

…but it is only available on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. My girl enjoys that and after the somewhat disappointing ones that we had here, and the one I had here which I felt was not quite there, we couldn’t wait to give this one a try.

They’ve added a bit of decor here…

Decor 1

…and there…

Decor 2

…but generally, it is very minimal…

Decor 3

Of course, that isn’t important and what matters would be the food served – how good it is.

We placed our orders…and the drinks came very quickly but I would say we had to wait quite a while for the food. Finally, it was served – the claypot chicken rice (RM20.00)…

Le Cafe claypot chicken rice 1

…that came with a bit of salted fish…

Le Cafe salted fish

…and one could choose whether or not to sprinkle that all over…

Le Cafe claypot chicken rice 2

…and toss everything together which we did…

Le Cafe claypot chicken rice 3

…before we dived in.

Yes, it was very nice – very much to our satisfaction and more or less like the pretty good ones that we have had in the towns and cities over in the peninsula. This is their medium-size portion, supposedly for two, but the serving is huge and is more than enough for three…or perhaps, even four if you’re not very big eaters.

We also ordered the bak kut teh, small (RM10.00)…

Le Cafe bak kut teh

…mainly for the soup to go with the rice and yes, it was very much to our liking too and the fried baby kailan (RM7.00)…

Le Cafe baby kai lan

…was great as well.

That certainly was a delightful lunch, reasonably-priced too…and without doubt, we wouldn’t mind coming back here again…for this or to try something else on their menu.

Delight…

This place…

Eco-Delite western

…opened its doors for business sometime in December last year, if I am not mistaken, and we did make our way there one morning but I think it was their off day so it was closed. Actually, this is their pork-free café section serving western cuisine and it only opens at 3.00 p.m. till around 11.00 p.m. at night.

Attached to it is their kind-of-coffee-shop section…

Eco-Delite, coffee shop section

…and yes, they do have pork dishes here. I read somewhere that this part opens as early at 6.30 a.m. in the morning and stays open till around 11.00 p.m. at night as well. However, when we drove past one afternoon, we did not see any of  the stalls open so we just went on our way. There are a few that you can pick from and that day, my missus and I decided to try the beef tripe noodles, soup (RM4.00)…

Beef tripe noodles, soup 1

…from the kampua mee stall in front…

Beef tripe noodles, soup 2

…and yes, it was very good, no msg overload and we loved the chili dip that came with it.

No, there are no halal stalls here but I did see two, I think, at the other food court a little to the left…

Wonderful Fooc Court

…in that same area of new shops across the road from what we call the “Wonderful Business/Commercial Centre” in Ulu Sg Merah. Incidentally, when we were there, I spotted this pan mee lady, formerly at the Delta Seafood & Cafe – it looked like she has moved here now and is no longer at the former location but no, we did not go for her noodles again nor did we try anything there. Another time, perhaps…and to the right is this café that Huai Bin went to when he was back in Sibu recently.

Now, while we were there that morning, enjoying our beef tripe noodles, I got a call from my friend/ex-classmate, Robert. He said that he had something to pass to me so after we were done, we made our way to the town centre and he passed me this delightful acar

Angela's acar

…that his wife, Angela made. Oh dear! Oh dear! Thank you so much, Robert and Angela – yes, I’ve tried and yes, it is very nice. Now, I gotta fry some keropok to enjoy that with…and chances are it would not last till Chinese New Year. Hehehehe!!!! It sure is so very sweet and thoughtful of you two but please, don’t trouble yourselves to give me any more things as I don’t have anything I can give in return to reciprocate. *face palm*

Squares…

Do you still have last year’s ang pao packets or those from the previous years?

If they have the astrological animals in the Chinese horoscope…

Outdated ang pao packets

…they will not be all that relevant any longer this year. Like last year, for instance, it was the goat…and you will have to keep till the  next cycle, till the next Year of the Goat, around 12 years from now, before you can use them.

Of course you can keep them if you want but if you’re thinking of throwing them away, perhaps you would want to use them to make decorative lanterns to hang around the house instead. There are all kinds of lanterns that you can make using ang pao packets but many can be quite complicated and you may need quite a lot. This one is actually very simple to make and to produce one, you only need three of those packets.

Cut each of them into two like this…

Cut into two

…so from the three packets, you will get six squares.

Fold the corners inwards to the centre like this…

Fold in corners

Staple a string to the centre of one of them like this…

Staple string to top square

…and of course, since this is for Chinese New Year, it would be best to use a red string…and that is for the top of your lantern – to hang it up later.

If you want your lantern to look more beautiful, you can get those “tails” from the shops and staple that to the centre of another square for the bottom of your lantern…

For bottom of lantern

Staple the corners of four of those squares together like this…

Staple corners

…for the sides and once that has been done, staple the top to the top corners of those squares…

Staple top

…and the bottom…

Staple bottom

…to the bottom, of course.

Make as many as you need and if you would like some smaller ones for a bit of variety, you can cut each of those squares into four and use them to make the mini versions of the same.

Hang them where appropriate…

CNY decor
*Archive photo*

…and of course, since these are paper lanterns, you should not put them out in the open, exposed to the sun and the rain.

There you have it! It’s very simple really and the best part, of course, would be the fact that you do not need to fork out a whole lot of money to buy those pricey decorative items to beautify your house for the festive season.

We all want the same thing…

Last Saturday night, after the sunset service in the church that we frequent here, my girl requested that we dropped by this place again. We’ve been going there so often that I do not bother to blog about it anymore and actually, the previous Saturday, we were there as well and my girl and the mum had the lamb and chicken chops respectively while I decided to try the fried rice with the daging masak hitam. My girl tried a bit of the rice and she liked it very much so that was why she made the aforementioned request – she wanted the same thing!

However, for some reason or other, she and the mum are not all that fond of the beef, our very own Sarawak recipe…

Daging masak hitam

…that I do enjoy very much. That was why they had the same fried rice dish but with chicken curry instead…

Fried rice with chicken curry

My girl enjoyed the curry, so much so that I went and bought two more drumsticks (RM3.50 each) plus the gravy for her to enjoy back in her school and I heard that she had them with rice, Sunday night, and finished both in one sitting. Wowwww!!!

This time around, I asked for the nasi goreng sambal (RM4.50) instead but I asked them for the daging masak hitam to be added by the side…

Nasi goreng sambal with daging masak hitam

…so of course, that would cost more, probably RM8.00 for the whole thing.

My girl tried the fried rice…

Nasi goreng sambal

…and she said that it was nicer than the regular one that she was having.

Oh dear!!! Does that mean that we will be heading to this same place again, come Saturday evening? LOL!!!

Anyway, moving away from the post proper, the postman delivered this…

From Hong Kong 1

…to my door yesterday afternoon. Thank you so much to my blogger-friend, 小影, for this lovely postcard all the way from Hong Kong…

From Hong Kong 2

It sure was sweet of you to remember me while you were there having fun. Cheers!!!