The same but different…

We have not dropped by here

My Chef Restaurant

…for a very long time – it is different now as it is no longer air-conditioned and has switched to the regular coffee shop kind of setting.

I was distracted for a while by the lady’s t-shirt…

Song titles

…that day when my missus and I dropped by for lunch. No, I do not know all the songs but I would say that I know most of them except for a couple. How many do you know?

My missus had their mee mamak (RM5.00)…

My Chef Restaurant mee mamak 1

…which was fried with curry powder…

My Chef Restaurant mee mamak 2

I don’t think I’ve ever seen mee mamak done this way elsewhere before but then again, we have places here where they fry bihun with curry powder and they call it Singapore bihun. I am pretty sure they do not have that in the island republic, much less cook bihun this way. Nonetheless, my missus enjoyed it very much and insisted that it was nicer than all that she had before at the Malay shops and elsewhere.

I loved their Mongolian chicken with rice (RM6.50)…

My Chef Restaurant Mongolian chicken with rice 1

…which was still good but I do recall that the gravy used to be thicker…

My Chef Restaurant Mongolian chicken with rice 2

…with a strong peanut fragrance, something like satay sauce but not quite the same.

For one thing, I would give them top marks for their chili dip…

My Chef Restaurant chili dip

…that was so very very nice and very spicy and they give that to you in a bottle at your table – you can have all you want and we sure helped ourselves to a whole lot of it.

A couple of days later, over the weekend when my girl was already home for the week-long school holidays, we went here again for lunch because I wanted to try their stout pork (RM13.00)…

My Chef Restaurant stout pork

For one thing, it is very convenient for us as our house is just round the corner. As for the pork, yes, I would say it was to our liking.

I did not think the Thai-style tofu (RM8.00)…

My Chef Restaurant Thai-style tofu

…was anything special though – my girl wanted that and I also ordered their salted vegetable tofu soup (RM8.00)…

My Chef Restaurant salted vegetable tofu soup

…which had a whole lot of ingredients inside and it tasted great though we would very much prefer the simplicity of the one here, more like what one would cook at home and I would prefer it more if they had used regular soft tofu instead of those cylindrical Japanese egg ones.

We also had their salted fish brinjal (RM8.00)…

My Chef Restaurant salted fish brinjal

My girl loves brinjal and no matter how it is done, she is sure to like it! The food warmer that they used to serve it in caught me eye – very nice…

My Chef Restaurant food warmer

…and it seemed that they used it to serve some of their other dishes too.

On the whole, lunch was all right, nothing sensational, not anything to sweep us off our feet but it certainly was so very cheap and the servings were all so huge that we had to tapao a whole lot of the food home. I think for the three of us, one meat dish and one veg would be more than enough.

MY CHEF RESTAURANT (2.311365, 111.846638) is located along Jalan Pedada in the block of shops to the left of Delta Mall, the second one in that block if you are coming from that direction, with the Astro Sibu office at the other end of that same block.

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Good company…

I got a call from my friend/ex-classmate, Robert, inviting me to dinner here

Dragon Door

…and of course, I happily accepted as with all that has been going on in my life, I hardly have time to socialise, get together with friends so this would be a welcome break.

Robert’s wife, Angela, brought this special dish…

Phak lor pig's tongue with first-laid eggs

…of phak lor (five-spice braised) pig’s tongue that she cooked at home. I love this delicacy but I hardly get to eat it anymore. In my younger days, it would be among the selections in the leng pua (cold dish) at every Chinese banquet and I used enjoy this at what they called the “roadside cocktails”, the stalls outside the pubs in PJ where they have everything on toothpicks and after one had had one’s fill, they would count the number of toothpicks and pay accordingly. The very small eggs were the first-laid ones, just a little bit bigger than quail eggs. Needless to say, I feasted on both and loved them so much.

Robert ordered the salt-baked fish…

Salt-baked fish

…that I did say I would go back and try. It was very nice but towards the end, it got kind of salty with all that loose salt underneath so we did not enjoy it all that much.

We also had the kampung pork…

Kampung Pork

…which, of course, meant that the meat was organic like what people call the kampung chicken or kampung eggs. It may be tough if one buys and cooks one’s own but what we had that night was very nicely done.

Their own-made tofu…

Own-made tofu

…was a hit too. The way they cut it in slices like that made it look like French toast.

We had the sweet potato leaves…

Sweet potato leaves

…and the cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Cangkuk manis fried with egg

…for our vegetable dishes and both were good.

Our friend, Philip, who runs the coffee shop here treated us to these finger foods, the fried sotong (squid/calamari)…

Salad sotong

…and the fried mushrooms…

Salad mushroom

They were great. We did ask the guy and he said they would use tapioca flour, not wheat flour so we certainly would be going back there again for these – my girl loves them a lot!

We were already very full when we heard it mentioned in passing that they had wat tan hor here so Robert insisted on ordering it…

Wat tan hor

…to share so everybody could try. Yes, it was good, as nice or nicer than many that we have around town but no, like most of our so-called Penang char kway teow, our KL Hokkien mee or Kuching kolo mee here, it was not quite the same as the real thing and the one I had here would win hands down – too bad they do not have it on their menu.

Of course, most importantly, the company was good and I sure had a great time enjoying the food and chatting with everybody – there were 8 of us altogether that night. Thank you so much, Robert, and thanks also to you, Angela – that pig’s tongue dish was awesome!

DRAGON DOOR (2.279520, 111.839882) is located along Jalan Aman, among the (new) shops on your left if you are coming in from Jalan Wong King Huo or on your right if you are coming from Lanang Road.

Container…

Somebody went and put together some containers…

Container shops

…right next to the Giant Hypermart here…

Giant Hypermart, Sibu

…to be used as shops.

The place wasn’t quite ready yet and there were some people working that day when we dropped by.

I loved the elaborately decorated washrooms, the exterior…

Washrooms, outside

…and the use of the petrol pump nozzles and oil drums for their water taps and wash basins…

Taps and wash basins

Right now, there is a stall selling some Korean delicacy…

Gyeran-ppang stall

I did go and ask what it was, this what-they-call gyeran-ppang thing, and the nice and friendly girl said it was something like kuih bahulu (egg cake) with its special filling, cheese or lava whatever but she said it was RM5.00 each so I had second thoughts about buying any to try.

There were also one of those (bubble) tea places, a watering hole…

Saloon Bistro

…which probably only opens at night, a hair salon and this stall selling plants…

Stall selling plants

Well, I was there to check out this place…

JuneWestern

…that someone was telling me about. It is air-conditioned inside but I chose to sit outside under one of the fans and enjoy the fresh open air.

They serve western dishes at night (but somebody went to try their lamb chop and was not in the least impressed) while for lunch, you can get the usual stuff they serve at the Malay coffee shops here…

My missus had their ayam penyet rice (RM8.50)…

JuneWestern ayam penyet rice

…that she enjoyed very much but we were wishing that the sambal had been spicy…

JuneWestern ayam penyet

I ordered this add-on, our very own Sarawak delight, the daging masak hitam (RM2.00)…

JuneWestern daging masak hitam

…and it was very good though the beef could have been a little bit more tender.

I tried the nasi lemak (RM5.00)…

JuneWestern nasi lemak 1

…and yes, it was quite lemak (rich in coconut milk), very fragrant and somehow, I thought it tasted something like the pulut (glutinous rice) in the bottom layer of the serimuka/kuih salat.

I would give them two thumbs up for their fried egg…

JuneWestern fried egg

– done the traditional way, how my mum used to do it and there was fried chicken by the side as well. I certainly would not mind having another go at it…

JuneWestern nasi lemak 2

…again should I happen to be in the vicinity, especially when we feel the food is good and the prices are more or less what they would charge at the not-as-nice Malay coffee shops.

JUNEWESTERN is located at No. 4J on the 1st floor of the container shops (2.324531, 111.853105) along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng, between Giant Hypermart and SMK Bandar Sibu.

Here comes another one…

This place that I used to frequent quite regularly no longer serves nasi campur (mixed rice) for lunch – they only open at night but no, you can’t get to enjoy their lunchtime delights in the evenings…unfortunately. I did come across another place not too long ago but I have not been to that part of the woods so I have no idea whatsoever whether they are still in business or not.

Well, it so happened that I was in the vicinity of this inn…

Eden Inn

…that used to be at the Catholic Centre beside the Sacred Heart Cathedral here and I noticed that the air-conditioned restaurant that was there on the ground floor has been converted into a coffee shop. It only has its name in Mandarin on the blue-coloured sign and that’s Greek to me.

I spotted a stall at this particular coffee shop with a name in its own right – Ruai Aku

Ruai Aku

The ruai is the corridor-like common/living room in a longhouse stretching right across its whole length while each family would dwell in the privacy of their own bilik. This is where all the ceremonies and festivals like the Gawai Dayak at the stroke of midnight on the 31st of May would be held.

Going closer to have a look, I found that it was run by an Iban lady from Kanowit, Nanga Dap to be exact. I did like what I saw so I decided to have lunch there that day.

There was chicken curry but no, I did not want that nor was I keen on the sotong ( squid)…

Ruai Aku sotong

…as I was more into the local ethnic delights like the pansoh babi (pork cooked in bamboo)…

Ruai Aku pansoh babi

…and the kasam ensabi (fermented vegetable) with buah kepayang aka buah keluak

Ruai Aku kasam ensabi with buah kepayang

No, I did not go for the cangkuk manis with pumpkin…

Ruai Aku cangkuk manis with pumpkin

…either but I simply could not resist the sambal petai (stink beans)…

Ruai Aku sambal petai

…and also the rusa (venison) masak hitam

Ruai Aku rusa masak hitam

I would not say it was all that cheap – I had two meat and two vegetables…

Ruai Aku my RM8 lunch

…and the total came up to RM8.00 but at least, I did enjoy what I picked so it was all right. My missus just had the pansoh babi and the kasam ensabi with buah kepayang that I had and also the daun bandong/empasa (tapioca leaves), one meat and two vegetables and hers was RM5.00 altogether.

For one thing, parking around here may not be all that easy so I am not sure whether I will be dropping by again or not. We’ll see…

RUAI AKU is located at the coffee shop below Eden Inn (2.285223, 111.831256) along Jalan Maju to the right of Hai Bing Coffee Shop/Seafood Restaurant, right across the road from the Rejang Esplanade.

At home…

No, we do not eat out all the time. In fact, we do cook our own and eat at home a lot. For one thing, I would get up early in the morning and very often, I would whip something up for breakfast.

Not too long ago, I decided to use up some spaghetti that was lying around in the house – my girl ate some of it those days when she did not know she was gluten-sensitive/intolerant so that would be sometime towards the end of last year.

I cooked it char kway teow style…

My ckt-style fried spaghetti

…with prawns and I added some minced meat and egg too. It sure looked great and tasted very good too, anytime nicer than the fried macaroni…

Sugar Bun fried macaroni
*Archive photo*

that I had at one outlet here of our Sarawak’s own fast food franchise.

That, of course, meant that we did not have any more pasta at home when Peter, the thoughtful and generous boss of Payung Café, gave my girl his very nice bolognese sauce, just my girl’s gluten-free ones and we had to go and buy some to eat with the sauce without finishing off her stock.

And talking about Payung Café, other than the very nice beef spaghetti that I had there the other day, they do have some really good fusion pasta dishes as well like this belimbing prawn spaghetti…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns spaghetti 1
*Archive photo*

…that I have had a few times before…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns spaghetti 2
*Archive photo*

…or this tom yam one…

Payung Cafe tom yam spaghetti
*Archive photo*

…but I would not order them when my girl is around as she can’t eat the spaghetti and we would usually have those dishes with rice instead.

On another occasion, I cooked some fried rice, kampung-style…

My kampung fried rice...

…for breakfast at home and had it with this ayam berlada

Ayam Berlada from Bandong Walk
*Archive photo*

…from my favourite roadside Malay food stall at Bandong Walk here and yes, it…

...with ayam berlada

…was good too. It sure can beat a whole lot of the fried rice one can get at the shops hands down, that’s for sure.

More recently, last Friday to be exact, I decided to cook this Sarawak/Kuching laksa

My Sarawak laksa 1

…for my girl who would be coming home that afternoon after school. She enjoys it very much and being our no-meat day, Friday, I did not have any finely-shredded boiled chicken breast meat and replaced that with finely-sliced tofu puffs…

My Sarawak laksa 2

…instead. For some reason, my girl loves those. They do have those in the laksa here in Sibu but I did hear that you will not get to see any should you go for this local delight in its place of origin, Kuching.

We only stop by the shops for something to eat, usually for lunch on the way back home from visiting my mum in the morning and keeping her company and sometimes for dinner after dropping by mid-afternoon and staying till after she has had her dinner.

That day when she was discharged from the medical centre after she was admitted there for over a week, we were running late and it was way past 1.00 p.m. when we could go and grab a bite to eat. This one near their house is open daily except on Sundays till 5.00 p.m. so it was very convenient for us to go there.

My missus had their mee mamak (RM5.00)…

Sara Cafe mee mamak

…which she said was very nice but I thought it was kind of expensive considering that I had an egg…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow, egg

…and one chicken drumstick…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow, chicken drumstick

…with my fried kway teow (RM6.50)…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow

…for just RM1.50 more but I did see some prawns in the mee so I guess that would explain everything.

I’m pretty sure this is the same with everybody else – sometimes, we do eat out for convenience’s sake or for some reason or other while at other times, we just eat at home.

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 while SARA CAFE (2.307544, 111.820744) is located among the shops at Simpang Tiga, Sibu, one of the two facing Jalan Bunga Normah 4.

Beggars can’t be choosers…

I did mention in some of my earlier posts something that I used to enjoy in Kuching in the mid-70’s – chicken rice served with steamed chicken, char siew (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (roast pork) on top and curry gravy poured all over it. I don’t know if that Ang Lee Restaurant at Carpenter Street is still there, probably not and if it is, I don’t know if this specialty of theirs is still available or not.

A friend of mine opened a stall somewhere around 3rd Mile in Kuching and he had this variation…

Chicken rice with curry gravy
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

…of what I had been craving for all this while but I don’t think he is still running the business anymore. I did hear that there is a place at Sekama that seems very popular for this but I have never tried it so I am in no position to say if theirs is any good or not.

I wonder what cuisine that is, which Chinese dialect it belongs to and for all I know, there isn’t any place here serving that. I did think of coming out with my own once but there was a last minute change of plans.

Well, it so happened that we dropped by that same place for brunch last Sunday morning and the ladies were not interested in having anything from the chicken rice stall.

My missus had the mee mamak

Chopsticks mee mamak

…from the chu char place at the back with a special request for it to be extra spicy and she said it was good.

My girl ordered their wat tan hor

Chopsticks wat tan hor

…which I thought had a very nice wok hei fragrance – I could smell it when it was served! She did not seem to enjoy it very much though and she did say that it paled in comparison to the one we had here.

Left to my own devices, I ordered this plate of chicken rice with steamed chicken, drumstick and a bit of char siew and I could not resist adding one lor nui (stewed egg) as well…

Chopsticks my plate of chicken rice and all the rest

…and I also asked for their curry gravy…

Chopsticks chicken curry

…but what I was served in the end had two pieces of chicken in it, RM9.00 altogether.

The curry was not bad, kind of sweet and not quite like the curry I am more familiar with. I would probably be quite right if I were to say that if you go for the curry at one of those Chinese chap fan (mixed/economy rice) here, it would taste something like this one.

I poured the curry gravy over everything in my plate…

Chopsticks curry over chicken rice

…and ate.

Boy!!! That was good and it sure brought back pleasant memories of the good ol’ days when I used to enjoy that so much at that restaurant in Kuching. After all, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers but frankly, I sure wouldn’t mind going back for this again sometime…soon.

CHOPSTICKS CHICKEN & RICE (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.

On our way back home…

I did mention in an earlier post that my girl was home last week for three nights as she had to attend a course here in Sibu. Because of that, we had to send her back to her school very early on Thursday morning and once we had dropped her off, we made our own way back home again.

We stopped by Selangau Bazaar…

SK Sepiring to Selangau

…along the way. It may look pretty close on the map, about two inches, but in actual fact, it will take at least 20-30 minutes by car, depending on how fast one drives.

That morning, we decided to stop by here…

Hua Kee Cafe, Selangau

…for brunch – right across the road from the Shell petrol station…

Shell station, Selangau

…in the bazaar, a few doors away from the Selangau District Education Office.

I ordered this bowl of pian sip (meat dumplings) soup…

Hua Kee Cafe pian sip soup

…from a stall there to share but I did not quite like it as it had a sprinkling of sesame oil and vinegar. My missus enjoyed it though as she loves those things in the soup…or at times, she would add our Foochow red wine, a whole lot of it. I would prefer the soup unadulterated.

She had the Foochow fried noodles, regular (RM3.50)…

Hua Kee Cafe Foochow fried noodles

…and as I went walking around the shop, I saw three ladies sharing a big plate of fried noodles, dry and they had a few of those big freshwater prawns in the dish.

I asked the lady boss if I could have that with my order too so this was what I got in the end (RM15.00)…

Hua Kee Cafe Foochow fried nooldes, with prawn 1

…one prawn, fairly big, sliced into two…

Hua Kee Foochow fried noodles, with prawn 2

The noodles tasted all right, none of the much coveted wok hei fragrance, but the prawn was really good, very fresh and succulent and sweet. No worries! I gave one half of it to my missus so she could enjoy it too – see, I am a very sweet and considerate guy, am I not? Hehehehehe!!!!

Considering that the regular was only RM3.50 a plate, that crustacean actually cost over RM10.00 EACH! I wonder how much those ladies had to pay for theirs but at that price, you would definitely not see me ordering that ever again. Once bitten, twice shy!

As we were leaving, I saw some ikan kembong masin long (salted fish) at the grocery shop next door and they looked nice and fresh. I had not had it for a long time so I bought two, just RM1.00 each and fried them for dinner…

Fried ikan kembong masin long

…garnished with sliced chili and served with a squeeze of calamansi lime. Needless to say, I had to refrain from going for a second plate of rice that night.