Just a little bit more…

Usually, when I baked chicken, I would rub the meat with salt and pepper and pop it into the oven to cook and yes, it always tasted great despite its simplicity and no, I am never one to bother about those very complicated recipes with a long list of ingredients…and an equally long description of the preparation and cooking procedure. Why make one’s life so hard when one is no gourmet chef and it’s for one’s own consumption?

Well, the other day, I decided to do just a little bit more with the chicken drumsticks that I bought. I cut slits in the meat and I rubbed it with salt and added freshly crushed pepper, crushed garlic, chili powder and thyme…

Marinating the chicken

…to marinate it.

My missus would usually put whatever meat onto the baking tray and place it in the oven but the juices would run out of the meat and turn black and end up burnt which means that she would have to soak the tray in the kitchen sink overnight and do a whole lot of scrubbing the next morning. I wouldn’t want to do that so I lined the tray with aluminium foil and place a rack over it. I don’t know why I did it but I did it all the same – I cut slices of lemon and place them on the rack…

Foil, rack and lemon

…and I squeezed the juice of the ends onto the meat and mix it altogether well.

I placed the drumsticks on top…

Drumsticks on top

…and in it went into the oven to bake. After sometime, I turned the drumsticks over to brown the other side as well and very soon, they were done…

Done

They sure looked gorgeous, don’t you think? Well, if you’re wondering whether they were any good, the lovely fragrance that filled the whole house sure said it all…

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In full bloom…

It did bloom a few times a long long time ago like here, for instance, and after 7 years, it bloomed again in January this year and a few more times after that. I think this was the fourth time this year, that night on the last day of Ramadan, approaching midnight on the 1st Day of Syawal…to usher in the auspicious Muslim festival of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

It started at around 9 something…

9.00 p.m.

…and by around 10, it was still in the process of blooming…

10.00 p.m.

…and even by 11, it had not fully bloomed…

11.00 p.m.

…yet but it was already way past my bedtime and I was dead tired and very sleepy already so I just decided to call it a day.

There was another bud…

Bud

…but it did not bloom together with the one aforementioned and when it did so the following night, I did not bother to wait for it and had gone to bed early.

Well, if you are wondering, no, all those times when the flowers bloomed, I did not have any windfall unlike what some people would insist – that when they flower, one would be sure to win at one of those lotteries.

It so happened that a friend of mine has that same plant and it also flowered that same night and he PM-ed me a photo of his via Facebook…

Friend's blooms

…and he had two blooms at one go and maybe a third or maybe that one at the back would bloom the following night too…and no, he did not strike it rich either.

Wrapped…

It seems to me that in the Malay language, often, where rice is wrapped in leaves and cooked, they call it ketupat, not just the ones served with satay

Satay ketupat
*Archive photo*

However, these days, one can buy those sold in packs at the supermarkets to cook one’s own and they are wrapped in plastic, not leaves and I’ve noticed them being used at many satay stalls these days – they no longer wrap their own using leaves to cook and serve.

They also call the Chinese bak chang (meat dumplings) ketupat, or ketupat babi, to be more precise. They do make their own halal ones but the meat filling is, of course, chicken and I’ve had some pretty nice ones. I’ve stopped buying though as they use those nylon strings to tie them, the very same reason why I did not want to buy the kelupis

Kelupis
*Archive photo*

…that I saw the other day. They should go back to those straws, used traditionally…or switch to thread instead. Kelupis is also rice wrapped in leaves and cooked but it has its own special name and is not called ketupat.

My mother used to make these ketupat pulut

Ketupat pulut 1

…or what some call ketupat daun palas after those fan palm leaves used to wrap them. She would go and buy those ready-made daun palas shells from the market, fill it with glutinous rice and cook in santan (coconut milk). I don’t know if they still sell those shells at the market anymore these days, not that I’ve noticed.

The other day, I asked the guy at the Malay kueh stall at Simpang Tiga if he had any good ones but he said no. However, the nice guy told me that the ones somewhere around the roundabout, about a hundred metres away, sold one or two days before Hari Raya every year, are to him, the best around here. That was why over the next few days, I went driving past, going round the roundabout to try and locate the stall.

Finally, on the eve of Hari Raya, I spotted it amidst all the stalls selling lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo) and I wasted no time in grabbing some to take home and enjoy. Normally, we will cut the ketupat in quarters or diagonally, to take out the pulut (glutinous rice) inside and eat but in this case, I cut along the sides to open…

Ketupat pulut

…for the “photo shoot”.

Yes, they were very nice, very lemak (rich with santan/coconut milk) and as in the case of the pulut panggang (Hey! That’s not called ketupat either), I would enjoy it with kaya (coconut jam)…

Ketupat pulut 3

…or condensed milk.

I wonder if the ones sold commercially at the supermarkets come anywhere close or not but I am somewhat reluctant to buy and cook and try as they are wrapped in plastic too, like the ones they give you with your satay, as I have no idea whatsoever what plastic they use and whether it is all right to boil it in water for such a long time.

I really must give special mention here to the fact that I was so very impressed by how the lady and her helpers, probably members of her family, at the stall that day were all so cheerful and so happy and when I had got what I wanted and paid for it, I wished them, “Selamat Hari Raya!” and they all greeted me in return, each and everyone of them, in the true Malaysian spirit even though quite obviously, I do not celebrate the festival.

I loved you once…

This used to be our favourite…

Soon Hock Cafe & Restaurant

…when it came to kampua noodles here in Sibu. In fact, I held it in such high esteem that when my blogger friends came over for a visit sometime ago, I even brought them here. It was already very popular then and the crowd that you could see eating there would be testament to the fact.

I did hear some ex-colleagues saying that they would never go there to eat as the lady boss had waist-length hair and it might get into the food. That, of course, was absolutely nonsense. We ate there so often and we never did see a single strand of hair in the noodles. As a matter of fact, she hardly ever did the cooking herself; she had a couple of Foochow-speaking Indonesian helpers and they could do it really well so she left everything to them. We did not mind, of course, until those girls left and she had some new ones and we did not like what they dished out so we stopped going.

It seems that the husband does all the cooking these days assisted by some Indonesian helpers…

Soon Hock boss at work

…and yes, they do it well and the place would be as crowded as ever all the time unlike the other coffee shop that I went to the other day at the end of that very same block of shops.

However, I don’t know if business was too good or what but the guy seemed to get my orders messed up more than once. I went and tapao-ed home some pian sip kampua mee once and when I got home, I found that there was only pian sip, no mee.

The other morning when I dropped by for breakfast, I asked for pian sip kampua again but I got what-we-call-mee pok instead…

Soon Hock mee pok

…It did not really matter as our mee pok is actually the same as kampua mee, except that it is flat and if you are wondering why I always ordered piansip

Soon Hock pian sip

…our version of the wanton (meat dumplings), it’s just that I would rather have those than the few very thin slices of boiled meat, coloured red to make it look like char siew which it most definitely isn’t though I am quite positive that I used to get more, not just three…

Soon Hock pian sip mee pok

…For one thing, the price here has gone up to RM3.20 a plate while elsewhere, one can easily get some decently good kampua mee for RM2.50-3.00 or less.

Yes, it is still very nice like before but at that price, I think I would much sooner go elsewhere even though it sure does not stop all the people, their regular customers probably, from coming every day.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312434, 111.845917) is located in the Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.

Looks can be deceiving…

If you see a crowd, it may not mean that there is anything nice like how this place was so very packed when we stopped by there in the morning two Sundays ago before we went on our way to send my girl back to her school in the jungle.

Yes, the chicken rice is consistently good but the kueh chap

Chopsticks kueh chap
*Archive photo*

…that I had that morning was way too salty and my girl had the Sarawak laksa which looked rather pale even though she said it was all right and the Foochow fried noodles had the clear gravy, not dark and not the way I would like it.

We ended up here because this place was packed too that morning and this one as well. My missus and I dropped by the latter a few days later and she had the Foochow noodles, soup (RM4.00)…

Mei Le Foochow noodles, soup

…from the chu-char people at the back. It sure looked good, lots of added ingredients but she said it could do with a little less msg.

I had the mee sua in the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup (RM6.00, or was it RM6.50?)…

Mei Le mee sua in Foochow red wine chicken soup

…and it sure looked extremely red.

Sometimes they use ang chao (the lees or residue from the fermented red yeast rice used in making of the wine) and some may use the cheap red wine that has not been filtered well till completely clear so there is still a bit of the residue in it and that would give it the colour. Unfortunately, in both the aforementioned cases, the soup will lack the fragrance of the wine but thankfully, what I had that morning was all right, not great but at least, there was a very light hint of the wine used in the cooking, anytime better than the one I had here.

On another day, we dropped by here…

Yum Yum Cafe

…directly opposite this supermarket in the Sibu Bus Terminal area…

Everwin, Sibu Bus Terminal

…and my missus had their egg soup hung ngang

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup hung ngang 1

Actually, one could have a choice of either that or mee sua or bihun. She would cook her own at home sometimes, with lots of red wine and ginger but this one did not look like it had a lot of the former…

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup mee sua 2

…However, she said that it was very good – there was the nice red wine taste so my guess was the lady used the good quality unadulterated wine so it was not all that red.

I had the nasi lemak (RM4.00)…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak

…from another stall there. No, the rice was not lemak and the sambal did not taste all that nice but it was all right.

The oil in the wok must be extremely hot when the lady fried the egg…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak, fried egg

…but thankfully, the yolk, though not runny…

Fried egg, yolk

…was not overcooked.

I also ordered the murtabak daging (RM5.50)…

Yum Yum Cafe murtabak daging

…from the roti canai stall there and though it was quite nice, lots of meat and potatoes inside…

Yum Yum Cafe muratbak daging, inside

…I was already very full from the nasi lemak so I just tapao-ed most of it and took it home.

I guess the bottom line is not everything at all those crowded places is necessarily nice and what looks good may turn out quite disappointing while on the other hand, something that does not look that appealling may turn out quite nice in the end.

P.S.: Incidentally, this place round the corner that I quite liked is no longer there – the shop has been taken over by one huge KTV joint that occupies at least 3 shoplots in that block.

YUM YUM CAFE (2.305757, 111.849137) is located among the shops in the vicinity of the Sibu Bus Terminal, directly opposite the Everwin Supermarket there.

Not too late…

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim members of my family, friends and readers…

Hari Raya greeting

Of course, by now, all the Ramadan bazaars everywhere would have come to a close and one would have to wait till next year, perhaps, to enjoy all the culinary delights that one would not be able to get normally unless one cooks one’s own, like this delightful charcoal-grilled lamb…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 1

…here…

Grill lamb leg slice

…for instance.

When my girl was home the previous weekend, my missus bought some for her to take to her school in the jungle to eat. She had it on Monday night and enjoyed it so very much, especially with its very nice mushroom and black pepper gravy…and could not wait to tell us about it.

Knowing that it would be too late by the time she would be home again (Thursday) as most of the stalls would have called it a day, I went the very next day, Tuesday, to buy some and keep for her to enjoy at a later date.

When I got there, the guy…

Adi Lamb
*That friend of his had just knocked off work and happened to drop by – I remembered him as the guy at his cousin’s or somebody’s burger stall, no longer in business for a long long time now.*

…had just started for the afternoon and was still getting his fire going though I did see some of the meat, raw, on the grill already…

Meat on the grill

…He told me I would have to wait for at least an hour and I found out that it was his last day at the bazaar, no more the following day. So, I told him I would like three of those slabs of lamb…

Menu

…and I would come back later to collect them.

When I got back around an hour later, they were done…

Meat on the grill, done

…so I was able to go home happily with my loot!

I did cut a bit…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 2

…to try myself and yes, it was indeed, really very nice.

I sure would not mind going back for more sometimes but unfortunately, the guy, Adi Lamb, he told me his name was, said he is not in this business, full time but if anyone is interested, they can contact him and place an order for say, a kilo or two or more, and he would even do home deliveries. I do not foresee hosting any home parties/dinners in the near future and I would probably not be ordering till say, Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year next year. However, if anyone is interested, he or she can post a comment with a genuine e-mail address and I can forward to him or her Adi‘s handphone contact…or if we’re Facebook friends, you can always PM me and get the number from me there.

Butterscotch…

Anybody coming back to Sibu via KLIA2 would cart home lots of the loaves of bread, butterscotch especially, the one that is claimed to be so nice you can eat it on its own. I used to like it a lot but eventually, I grew tired and did not quite like the smell…or maybe, some people would say that is the fragrance.

A bakery here came out with their own and I did buy theirs once to try but no, it was a long shot – nowhere near “the real thing”. Then there was another bakery where they made butterscotch muffins and yes, I did enjoy them and I went back for more a couple of times – I have not gone back for a while now though.

Now, there is this bakery here that is affiliated to our Sarawak-own fast food franchise and I rather like their buns and my favourite is their butterscotch…

UniqBUN butterscotch 1

…but they do have other flavours as well. The blueberry and cream is nice too but I never tried their taro nor their durian.

The bun is very cushion-y soft, very nice…

UniqBUN bun

…and inside, there is the butterscotch plus a bit of cream…

UniqBUN butterscotch 2

I do feel that their buns are pretty good and I would buy once in a while for breakfast or afternoon tea, something different sometimes for a change.

Their cakes are also nice, I must say. I’ve bought their red velvet, and maybe some of the others as well, before and I do like the fact that now, they have this assortment of little cup cakes of different flavours…

UniqBUN assorted cakes

…for sale in packs of 6. There is the red velvet, top left, and the green velvet is in the middle with the chocolate on the right while in the bottom row, from left to right are their banana, vanilla and orange. This way, one can buy a pack and try to see which one one likes best …

UniqBUN green velvet 1

…before going to buy the whole loaf…

UniqBUN green velvet 2

…without having to throw the whole thing away if it is not to one’s liking.

Looking at how these are available at most supermarkets and elsewhere, even at the Sibu Airport, it sure shows that they are doing well…which is good.