Coming back home…

I received an invitation to lunch from my friend/ex-classmate, Robert, the other day and I asked if he was celebrating his promotion to grandpa status recently and he said no, but there were some ex-classmates or schoolmates who had come home from Australia and New Zealand and that called for a get-together.

I made my way to the restaurant, probably the oldest surviving restaurant in town, and on the way, I walked through this lane where this dianpianngu shop is located and spotted this  piece of street art…

Sibu street art

…a recent addition to the existing ones all over town. That’s the guy behind that very popular Foochow delight – I guess that makes him some kind of an icon around town. Somebody shared on Facebook extracts from a Chinese newspaper reporting on how the place was packed to the brim with people coming home for the Ching Ming Festival the other day and they all made a beeline to the place to enjoy what they loved and missed so much.

That lane was not a designated parking area for motorcycles but it was nice and cool in the shade in between the two blocks of shops so everybody took the liberty of leaving their vehicles there but it would not be so good for anyone trying to take a photograph of the artwork on the wall…unfortunately.

It had been blistering hot here lately, just when I was quite happy that we had been getting quite a bit of rain in the previous weeks. My missus and I got to the restaurant…

Lantern

…earlier than the rest so we sat and waited, enjoying the nice air-conditioning and the braised peanuts…

Braised peanuts

…that were served.

I did not want to be obtrusive so I very quickly snapped a photograph of every dish that was served so there was no time for some nice angles or whatever. This was one of their signature dish, the very nice ang sio pek chai (braised Chinese cabbage)…

Hock Chu Leu ang sio pek chai

…but the vegetable was barely visible under all the mushroom on top.

The shot of the midin (wild jungle fern) came out blur and this one of the sweet and sour pork ribs…

Sweet and sour pork ribs

…did not come out too good either, sorry about that. I remember how we used to enjoy this in our younger days when my dad would buy some and bring home in the yellow enamel tiffin carrier. They still do it very well, almost like how I remember it to be, though I wished there was more meat and less bones in the dish.

We also had fish, sweet and sour too, and all the  slabs of the ngor hu were buried under the sliced Bombay onions so I have decided not to include to photograph in this post. I do not know the name of the fish in English or even in Malay but it is quite easily available at the wet market. It must be a very big fish, I think, as it is always sold in thick pre-cut slabs so you can just pick how many you want. It is very nice, even if it is just deep-fried but I do not buy it anymore as at times, it is lor kor and is not at all palatable. I don’t know what lor kor is in English or Malay either but sometimes, with very big fish, the texture of the meat is kind of tough or rubbery and is not nice at all. Thankfully, what we had that day was very good and of course, I had my fair share of it. I love good fish!

I think this was the sea cucumber soup…

Sea cucumber soup

…but I gave my bowl to my ex-classmate sitting right next to me as soon as I spotted some bamboo shoots in it. I remember once I was having the set lunch at a hotel café here and was served a bowl of complimentary soup. I saw what looked like three slices of ginger in it and as I was going to get rid of those, I noticed that they were, in fact, bamboo shoots so I ate them up. Ooooo…they were so sweet, so very nice but I came down with a gout attack and could barely walk for a week. I have refused to touch any since.

This restaurant is famous for its Sibu-style Foochow sio bee

Hock Chu Leu sio bee

…and the ones we had that day were very nice. The last time we had these here, the skin was hard in places – probably something went wrong in the steaming or whatever…and my sister-in-law did buy some home for Chinese New Year and they were extremely salty. It seemed that they had so many orders and had to prepare so many at one go during that time so quality control just went out the back door. The ones we had that day were as nice as those we had here – my missus actually felt they were nicer but those at that other place were consistently good enough all the time. However, they too should pay more attention to the quality control as there were days when I thought they were so good and on other days, they were good too but kind of so-so only, not as great.

We also had the Sibu Foochow-style fried noodles…

Hock Chu Leu Foochow fried noodles

…and it was as authentic as it could be, very much like the ones I enjoyed eating so much in my growing up years unlike many of those wannabes that one would find in the shops these days.

It sure was great meeting my old friends again and thank you so much. Robert, for the delightful lunch treat and for arranging the gathering.

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Author: suituapui

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

18 thoughts on “Coming back home…”

  1. Meeting up with old friends over good food is one of the main activities of retirees, eh? ;p

    I would think the young ones do it a lot more – check out those cafes and restaurants and coffee places. You don’t get to see a lot of old fogies like me around those, do you?

    But yes, I do know of a few groups of retirees who get together regularly either once a week or once a month at some place to enjoy the food and each other’s company. There was a small group of three ladies that I would meet at the coffee shops in my area – they met every morning for breakfast. I hear they don’t anymore, not since one of them came down with a stroke. 😦

    Well, if there are people keen on your company and ask you to join in, why not? Especially those coming back from afar after so many years and if nobody bats an eyelid whether you are coming or going, that would be so sad, wouldn’t it?

    1. Definitely it would be sad if one know that one’s old friends are having a gathering and they purposely did not ajak one to join. Come to think of it, I often see young people gathering at cafes at night but retirees gathering at old style coffee shops in the morning so you are right, more young people doing gathering than retirees.

      Retirees would opt for the simpler and cheaper old-fashioned/old-school coffee shops, I guess – more their comfort zone, not really into the modern, more glamorous lifestyles. Old habits die hard – I don’t see them going on their own to fast food joints even, McD or KFC, for instance…unless they are bringing their grandkids to give them a treat. It’s just not their style, obviously – and like I always say, to each his own!

      1. Here in KL I think is a bit different. I have seen elderly people eating McD or KFC in a group without any young people nor children in the group and I was like oh, not scared of high cholesterol and diabetic meh? Can still eat fried chicken and drink soft drinks at this age?

        Wahhhhhh!!! Not something I would see here, that’s for sure. The times, they are a-changing. Gone are the days when these old folks would commune in some coffee shop for coffee in the afternoon, there was one here with traditional Chinese musical instruments and they would play those. That’s history already, unfortunately. I guess in those days, there was no tv, nothing at home and getting together with friends was a great pastime.

  2. Bamboo shoot is “cooling”. My mum loves it but could not eat much or she would feel dizzy.

    Love sea cucumber soup. Actually all the dishes looks good and delish. Everything pretty Sibu-style to me.

    Yes, very old-school stuff on their menu here from way back when. Kids in those days did not get to eat at restaurants so much so you can imagine how we looked forward to the opportunity to go and enjoy all that they served – our favourite would come at the very end, the longan and peach in the syrup served cold with lots of ice. Young people these days would not even look, much less eat…if we serve that for dessert. Times sure have changed so much.

    My missus loves bamboo shoots a lot and would buy and cook to eat herself sometimes, never mind all the pains.

  3. Nice gathering indeed. All the food looks so delish. Ermm,their signature dish….ang sio pek chai. I don’t think I ever heard of or tasted before. Wonder how’s the taste. Sio bee, be it Sibu or Kuching, I can eat a lot of that.

    Braised Chinese cabbage, very nice. I think I’ve had something similar, Chinese cabbage with canned button or straw mushrooms, thin slices of carrot and what not with thick, very lightly brown gravy. I’ve heard of other dishes too like ang sio tau hu – I guess it is something along those same lines.

  4. Foochow style stir-fried noodles is so delicious looking. Always, I want to praise your photographing skills.

    Aiyor!!! Not this time, I just clicked anyhow. That is why the shots don’t look so great.

  5. I’ve never eaten braised chinese cabbage before, I usually just stir-fry with garlic & hay-bee, add water, maybe some oyster sauce.. Where’s the gathering group photo?

    That is nice too, My missus cooks it like that too sometimes. I like Chinese cabbage in soup.

    We did take some group photos but only for remembrance, private viewing…not for public consumption. Old people lah, who wants to see? Hehehehehe!!!!!

  6. It’s always nice to catch up with ex-classmate 🙂

    And also nice of Robert to pick up the tab… As we pay on our own when my ex-classmate meets…

    Indeed it is.

    Yes, Robert’s very kind and generous, very nice guy. We do pick up the tab sometimes, or at least we try to. Hehehehehe!!!!

  7. So you are waiting for your promotion to grandpa too?

    That goes without saying. Know anybody interested? Quick, ask him to submit resume…on the double. 😀

  8. That lantern is very nice. So, you cannot eat bamboo shoots at all, eh? It’s amazing that only 3 slices can bring about a gout attack. You must be very careful then.

    I never ate it most of my life. My dad had banned it completely from the house (along with a whole lot of other things) so when I ate the 3 slices, I actually loved it, very nice and sweet…and I lived to pay the price. 😥

  9. Don’t think I’ve ever came across ang sio pek chai before, would love to try it.

    It’s nice, nothing really sensational but yes, it’s nice. I think at one time when this dish was served at banquets, we had slices of abalone in it too – didn’t spot any that day, just mushrooms.

  10. so you’re THAT guy at those big dinner gatherings that insists on taking food shots before everyone digs in.. hehe. 😛 ..

    Not me. I was so fast they did not even noticed – too busy talking. Some would take photos of the food too at times with their smartphones, just to keep and enjoy looking when they’re back overseas, I guess.

  11. The other day I had a gathering with my ex-classmates in a posh restaurant… unfortunately, the food was not that good or tasty.. but with my friends’ company, the food became secondary… Anyway, it is great to meet up with old friends, classmates, ex teachers *I seldom see them actually* … talking about old days bring back good old memories…

    Yes, that’s the most important part, the getting together, the company. I was out of the circle until 4-5 years ago when I joined the reunion dinner, sure feels nice to be able to meet once in a while when somebody comes back to Sibu. What is life without friends, eh? And friends that go all the way back, so many years, are real gems.

  12. Interesting! My dad will eat bamboo shoots but he’ll avoid seafood especially crustaceans like prawns for fear of a gout attack. I guess that’s his trigger food.

    I wanted to come here to try the chicken pie Sibu style that you were talking about. I told my dad about it but he wasn’t keen and I couldn’t finish it by myself so ended up not going.

    It varies between individuals, it seems. Beer, Tiger specifically, will do me in too but I am ok with crustaceans, meat and all. It all depends on one’s current body condition as well – I once got it from a feast of bean sprouts! Other times, no problem.

    The one at New Capital? Or the Aroma Bakery chicken pie? I prefer the latter. Didn’t I buy you some once? Must be some other people then – will get you some the next time you come home. Flying back for the state election? May 7th, I think.

  13. I forgot about this place. Should have drop by here for dinner. If i remember, their sweet and sour meat are nice, and their “Or Nee”!!

    LOL!!! You will have to keep a checklist – that will make sure you will not forget any or miss anyone out. 😀

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