I’ve got a little something for you…

Towards the end of the schools’ mid-term holidays last week, my girl went to, among other places, the supermarket at the mall near my house to buy a few things, her ration for the week once she got back to her school in the jungle. When she came home, she gave me this – a little something for me…

MaClean's Scottish shortbread

…and yes, it was literally little, not a very big box and I am quite sure it did not come cheap.

She knows I love those Scottish shortbread…

Walkers' Scottish shortbread

…but they are getting way to expensive these days so there is no way I am going to fork out the money to buy them, thank you very much.

I guess this one looked kinda promising…

Scotland at its best

…- Scotland at its besttraditional hand baked luxury and it said melts in the mouth on the other side and it seemed a little different from the rest with its added butterscotch flavour.

When I opened the box, I was absolutely dismayed to see…

Four pieces only

…that there were only FOUR pieces inside! If it had filled the whole box, there should be at least six but no, there were only four, just four…and yes, they were mini indeed!

As for the taste, it was more or less like the rest…

Nothing to shout about

…maybe not that much fragrance of the butter and there was only a little bit of the butterscotch taste, so little that it could easily have gone unnoticed.

My girl would not tell me the price but whatever the price, I would not want her to buy such expensive stuff for me to enjoy anymore. Sure, her intention was good and she has her heart in the right place…but I would be quite happy with something a whole lot cheaper…and nicer too.

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Not impressed…

This coffee shop used to be here but I hear that they are the people running this place now. No wonder what we had that day was quite nice – I did stop by the shop a couple of times during Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month, and they did have quite a lot of nice dishes…

Ramadhan bazaar delights
*Archive photo*

…for one to pick and choose and I remember I bought these chee loi/siput sudut (balitongs)…

Chee loi
*Archive photo*

…from them and enjoyed them to the max.

Well, the guy who seemed very popular for his drinks…

Mail Olen
*Archive photo*

…has taken over but when we dropped by the other morning, he only had this…

Mail Olen Corner air kelapa

…to offer. Perhaps there will be more later in the day, I wouldn’t know but if you are wondering as to how fresh the air kelapa (coconut water) is, you can see the newly-cut husks…

Coconut husks, freshly cut

…by the side.

Well, this…

Mail Olen Corner rojak Bintangor banner

…was what attracted me there actually – the banners (there are more than one) declaring that Rojak Bintangor is available here and I was keen on trying to see if theirs would be anything like the celebrated original in that little town less than an hour’s drive away. Unfortunately, when I wanted to order that, the girl said that it would only be available sometime in the afternoon.

There was a couple there when we arrived and the guy told us that the nasi lemak was very nice. Of course, we wanted that but the girl said it would only be available at night. No, the ayam penyet rice was not available either…and in the end, I settled for the nasi goreng ikan masin (RM4.50)…

Mail Olen Corner nasi goreng ikan masin

…but I had to fork out an extra RM2.50 as I asked for the fried chicken wing…

Mail Olen Corner fried chicken wing

The fact that they used the long kiam hu did not manage to save the day – usually I would soak the salted fish in water first to rinse away the salt so it would not be so salty. Obviously they did not do that so the fried rice was extremely salty, definitely not anything that I would want to have again.

 My missus said that her nasi goreng sotong (RM6.00)…

Mail Olen Corner nasi goreng sotong

…was all right but she was of the opinion that RM6.00 for just those few bits of squid and nothing much else was a bit too expensive.

Of course I was not in the least impressed when we asked for this and that and they were not available and what we had in the end did not really sweep us off our feet…and since we do not usually venture out in the afternoon and evening, I doubt we would be dropping by here to try what we wanted to try anytime soon.

MAIL OLEN CORNER (2.313918, 111.825898) is located among the shops in the vicinity of Bandong Walk, Jalan Bandong, right beside the 1Malaysia Clinic there.

Rescue me…

My rambutan tree…

My rambutan tree BEFORE

…had not been doing very well for a while now. If you are interested in its history, you can read all about it here. It did flower and bear fruit towards the end of last year but sporadically. The fruits were few and far between and besides, they were small, not fleshy nor juicy and sweet so we did not even bother to go and pluck them – we just left them there to wither and turn black and drop off the tree.

How did it turn out this way, you may wonder? Well, for one thing, it had been sadly neglected, terribly in need of fertilisers, surviving solely on the sunshine and the rain and another reason was that there were all the wild orchids…

Wild orchids and other parasitic plants

…and parasitic plants growing on the branches, absorbing all the moisture from them, drying them all up and choking them to death. I did try to get rid of some, the ones closer to the ground but my missus would not let me climb up the tree. “The branches are all so brittle,” she said, “and you are so fat! They will break the instant you step on them.”

It would be so sad to just let it die as it is the sole survivor here, the only one left but my paternal cousin in  Miri did tell me once that they had one tree there, from my grandfather’s fruit garden in Sg Merah here a long long time ago so if we include that one, there are only two left of this very nice and really special variety of the fruit.

I was absolutely delighted last Sunday morning when Peter (If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would know which Peter I’m talking about) brought his boys to my house to help get rid of those plants on the tree…

The boys at work

and saw away the branches that were dead and gone…

Sawn branches

…not just to get rid of them…

Dead branch

…but also to trim the tree a bit in the hope that this would encourage the growth of fresh new branches.

They even painstakingly scraped away the green moss on the branches…

Scraped branches

They said that it would be as bad as the plants and would kill the branches as well.

This is what the tree looks like now…

My rambutan tree AFTER

The foliage is not as thick as before and the sun can come shining through so it is no longer as dark and damp under those leaves anymore, conditions ideal for the growth of this wild orchids and parasitic plants as well as the green moss.

Thank you so so so much, Peter and the boys – I certainly would not be able to manage without your help. After this, I will have to do a little bit of weeding under the tree and dig the soil to add fertilisers and what not in the hope that the tree will be looking really good again…and fingers crossed, it will bear fruit in abundance come the end of this year!

One more to go…

Well, the schools’ week-long mid-term break was drawing to a close and in the little time that we had, we did manage to go around town so my girl could enjoy some of the things that she enjoys and can eat. No, we did not go anywhere – we just stayed home, spending quality family time together and visiting the grandparents every day but nevertheless, we had a great week…or at least, I did have a good time.

That, of course, meant that on Sunday, we were on the road again sending my girl back to her school in the jungle and for our lunch on Saturday, she got to pick one more of her favourites before leaving town – and she chose the Sarawak laksa (RM5.50)…

Sibu Thomson Corner Sarawak laksa

here and of course, they got the very nice belacan (dried prawn paste) dip…

Sibu Thomson Corner belacan dip

…to go with it.

Others may have their own preferences but in our opinion, this one is the best in town – closest to the authentic original Sarawak laksa in its place of origin, Kuching. This is the regular size, the large is RM7.00 a bowl but it was so big that it was a struggle even for me to finish.

She also wanted the sotong kangkong (RM9.00, large)…

Sibu Thomson Corner sotong kangkong

…or what we call in Hokkien, jiew hu eng chai. The regular is RM6.00 a plate and is about half the size. This is how they serve it in Kuching, for instance, at the Open Air Market. Here, in my younger days, they would cut everything nicely and place all of it in a plate and  they would give the sauce in a bowl for you to dip yourself and eat. I know of a place where they still do it like that and for a long time now, I have wanted to go and check it out but I never got down to doing so. For one thing, it is in a rather congested part of town and parking around there can be such a pain. They also serve it like that at one of the stalls at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market but I have never gone to try the one there either.

I did not feel like having the laksa so I opted for the nasi lemak instead…and I must say the complimentary preserved Szechuan mustard green soup…

Sibu Thomson Corner complimentary soup

…that came with it was really good, as good as the one I had here. or maybe, even a little nicer.

As for the nasi lemak, I asked for the special (RM6.00)…

Sibu Thomson Corner nasi lemak special

…and I would say it was pretty good.

All in all, inclusive of our drinks, the total came up to RM32.55, RM34.50 altogether inclusive of RM1.95 GST, not too bad really for a simple, yet very delightful lunch.

SIBU THOMSON CORNER (2.296517, 111.840710) is located at Pusat Tanahwang, right across the road from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Oya Road.

A step further…

I went back for the lei cha

Payung Cafe lei cha

…again last Friday. After the one I had two weeks ago, I could see the after effects of eating that Hakka delight – the next day, it did look like some kind of detoxification had taken place.

Yes, I did not go too early this time around so I did get the brown rice…

Payung Cafe lei cha, brown rice

…unlike the previous time and I went a step further this time around – I ordered their fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

Payung Cafe fried ikan bilis

…to add to the lei cha

Payung Cafe lei cha with ikan bilis

…so as to give it a little more taste and yes, it was good!

It was much more bitter this time around but that was fine by me – I heard there were people who wanted it this way so the boss added more of one of the 10 types of herbs used in the cooking of the soup. I barely managed half of the soup though – I mixed it with the rice and everything else to eat and I was literally drowning all of it in the green stuff…but I saw the guy at the next table drinking it all straight from the bowl, right down to the last drop. Wowwww!!!! Unfortunately, I am still learning to enjoy this thing, yet to reach that level. Hehehehehe!!!!

None of the ladies wanted any of the same though so I ordered the mushroom soup

Payung Cafe mushroom soup

…for my girl – it was not available the last time we were here. I think they had a bit of shitake mushroom in it this time around and my girl was not fond of that. Besides, it was too thick, like the canned soup from the can, yet to add the milk to cook. Still, I thought it was nice, something like a cross between a soup and mashed potatoes, and of course, I helped her to finish most of it.

I did mention that to the boss and he said that he had been so busy he did not have time to check on his boys before they served it. Indeed, there were so many people at the cafe – the  lei cha sure seemed very well-received and in a little more than an hour or so, it was already sold out! It is available on Fridays only from 11.30 a.m. onwards so if anybody is intending to go for it, I would suggest that you go early…or call first and ask them to reserve some for you.

It is still the season of Lent so it was a no-meat day for us that day. My girl would have loved the Payung fish but that had soy sauce in it so we settled for the pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and our favourite, the Payung-style otak-otak

Payung Cafe otak otak

…and also the belimbing prawns…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns

The boss mentioned that he did tell the boys to give me two servings, six prawns altogether, but they just gave me one. Well, I told him it was perfectly all right as there were just the three of us. If I had had other people with me, I would have told him right from the start that I would want more prawns so that we would not end up fighting over who should get the crustaceans…and every time, he would oblige willingly, giving me a lot more than the usual portion and yet charging the same price as stated in the menu.

Together with the drinks, the bill came up to RM65.00, almost the same as what I had to fork out here…and no price for guessing which one we enjoyed a lot more.

PAYUNG CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

The leader…

Many here in Sibu would know of Ah Ling Bak Kut Teh. It started off a long time ago, probably the first in Sibu – the leader, so to speak and to this day, it is still going strong at that same coffee shop…

Leader Coffee Shop

…to the right of the back of the HSBC Building (that white one to the extreme left in the photograph). I was told that the family took over the business when Ah Ling passed away and the last time I was there, I did notice a little sign at the stall with the name “Ah Ling Bak Kut Teh” on it, otherwise, there is no way of telling that this is the one. I did not take note this time around but I guess it is still there.

Well, my girl wanted to have bak kut teh the other day and as far as I know, unlike the rest, Ah Ling’s is a little light on the soy sauce. She has been taking the very expensive gluten-free soy sauce but we reckoned that a little bit of the regular one would be fine as she is just gluten-sensitive/intolerant and not suffering from celiac disease. I heard that the Singapore version does not have soy sauce but unfortunately, we do not have that here.

When we got to the coffee shop, the mum said she would rather have the chap fan but I told her that the former people had called it a day. They were at the coffee shop opposite but when the new owners took over, they moved here but if I remember correctly, the guy was not well or something so he decided to call it quits and people were saying that the current one was not as nice. Nonetheless, she insisted on going for it and this was RM4.00…

Leader Cafe chap fan

…for one meat and two vegetables including the salted veg…

Leader Cafe salted veg

I thought everything looked quite good but no, she said it was not nice and the rice seemed to have an unpleasant smell to it so she barely finished half of what was on her plate.

Thankfully, our rice from the bak kut teh stall…

Leader Cafe rice

…was all right.

I asked for lean meat and they gave me two huge chunks of pork ribs plus the innards that I also wanted…

Leader Cafe Ah Ling bak kut teh 1

…and yes, it was very nice – not strong on the soy sauce…and peppery too which reminded me of this…

Pork innard soup Damansara Uptown

…that I had once at Damansara Uptown (though I heard that the coffee shop has since closed down). Too bad we can’t get it here, or at least, there is none that I know of – this one has no soy sauce in it, that’s for sure!

We noticed the absence of the curly green vegetables and tauhu pok (tofu puffs) in the bowl…

Leader Cafe Ah Ling bak kut teh 2

…but I think I did see some yew char koi (Chinese cruller) at the stall – I guess if you want that, you will have to pay extra for it. Of course my girl did not want the “spare parts” so in her bowl, there were only three huge chunks of the pork ribs…and the total for our two bowls came up to RM22.00. Hmmmm…it certainly doesn’t come cheap, this bak kut teh like the one I had here not too long ago.

Ah well! It’s not something that we would have every day, anyway…and we usually cook our own at home and in doing that, we will have the choice of using the gluten-free soy sauce that we have in the house or do it Singapore-style, just leave it out altogether.

LEADER CAFE/AH LING BAK KUT TEH is located in the vicinity of the Tuanku Osman shops at the end of Jalan Kai Peng, the other end if you are walking from the Jalan Kampung Nyabor side beside the HSBC Building, to the left of it.

The other man’s grass…

The other man’s grass is always greener, the sun shines brighter on the other side.

The first time I had to fly to Langkawi on a working trip, a friend said to me, “You must buy the Kit Kat there!”

“Oh?” I responded. “Don’t we have lots of Kit Kat in our shops and supermarkets?”

“Theirs are imported,” she explained, “from Australia. They are creamier and very much nicer.”

Of course, I had to buy some but blame it on my retarded taste buds, I could not tell the difference and I would say that like our own locally manufactured products, not all imported stuff is necessarily good or better. For instance, the other day, my girl bought two packs of the imported Nice biscuits and two of the Teddy bear ones (that looked more like a lion to me) for me to enjoy. The expiry dates were drawing near so they were going for around RM4 something instead of the usual over RM7.00-8.00 each. They were all right but I do think our own Tiger biscuits are nicer though looking at the prices these days, they may not necessarily be cheaper than these discounted prices.

Of course, many have tried coming out with their own – here or in other countries overseas but none would come near those Kjeldsens Danish butter cookies and I do love those Scottish shortbread so much but unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy those to enjoy anymore these days. My eyes almost popped out at one supermarket that day – a regular-sized pack was going for over RM30.00! *faints*

It’s the same with these digestives…

Digestives

– this particular brand. I’ve tried others but somehow, they are simply not quite there. Not too long ago, I bought what looked quite the same, a bigger pack, but they were really horrible like they had gone all limp and the original taste was not there at all. I did not check to see where they were made but my girl could recall there were some Mandarin characters on the pack. But these came all the way from the UK and they are good and even at over RM9.00, I would buy once in a long while to enjoy.

They are only £1 in the UK…

One pound special

When I was there long ago, I used to look for these special offers – the ones selling at the regular prices were not quite within my budget, especially after converting them into our miserable ringgit. That should be over RM5.00 here but I guess those people would need to make a bit of profit after deducting the shipping charges, the overheads and all.

I am not a fan of ginger cookies but I do enjoy these…

Ginger nuts

…also from the UK…

From the UK

…going for around RM4.00 only so I would buy them sometimes to enjoy.

Then, the other day, I saw these…

Ovaltine biscuits

…and I decided to buy a pack to try, just over RM3.00 each!

I can recall during the British colonial days, people used to argue as to which one was better – Milo or Ovaltine. I don’t think I’ve seen the latter anywhere these days, just Milo…and I hear many complaining that it is not so nice anymore, nothing like what it was like in the good ol’ days when it was imported from England.

I checked the pack and found that it was not made in Malaysia…

Made in Thailand

…but in our neighbouring country.

I am not fond of biscuits with cream filling including those overly-sweet black ones with white filling, though I would not mind our Malaysian-made cheese crackers with peanut butter cream inside. To my delight, the filling in this one…

Ovaltine biscuits 1

…was so very nice. I absolutely love it! I wonder if that was the same as what I got from my Singapore friend sometime ago. I did try the other one and it was very nice and in the meantime, my sister saw something shared by somebody on Instagram or somewhere and he insisted it was nicer than Nutella so she asked me for it to try. Well, if it is the same, I would say it is really nice.

No, I will not be rushing out to grab a bottle – it is not available here, anyway but I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more of the biscuits…

Ovaltine biscuits 2

…but not that often. They are not really sweet but still, they are sweet and people my age should not be eating too much of those, everything in moderation.

I guess it’s like going some place to eat – not everywhere here or overseas will be good, we just need to know where to go and it’s the same with these biscuits/cookies. Most of the imported ones are a lot more expensive, of that we can be sure, but they are not necessarily nice(r) and on the other hand, we do have some usually more affordable and very nice local-made ones.

As the remaining lines of the chorus of that song in the above link go:
The other man’s grass is always greener
Some are lucky, some are not
But just be thankful for what you’ve got !