Letdown…

Of course when someone comes to our little town, I would do my best to take him or her to enjoy the best there is around here. That was why I took my sister-in-law from Kuching here that day for the old lady’s kampua mee

Diandianlai Cafe
*Archive photo*

I was kind of surprised when we got there and I noticed that there was hardly anybody eating at the coffee shop. I was thinking that perhaps it was way past the 10 o’ clock tea break and a bit early for lunch. When we went in, we saw that the old lady was not there – the younger one, her daughter, said that the mum was resting at home as she had a problem with her legs. I guess that would be the result of standing too long day after day dishing out plates after plates of the noodles.

We went ahead and placed our orders thinking that it would be the same, more or less – all in the family, so to speak. My sister-in-law had the one tossed in dark soy sauce and my missus, in chili sauce (RM3.00 a plate)…

Kampua, dark soy sauce & chili sauce

…while I had mine plain (RM3.00)…

Kampua mee, plain

I am not keen on drowning the taste of anything I eat with soy sauce or chili sauce and will only resort to those when something that I am having is not really nice. That way, I would be able to detect and savour to the fullest the original taste of whatever I am eating without it being adulterated by all those sauces.

Unfortunately, we all thought that the kampua mee that day was a letdown – the fragrance of the lard and fried shallots was not as distinct when we had the old lady doing the cooking and the noodles were rather overdone, a bit too soft, almost soggy…

Kampua mee

My missus remarked that what we had at another place a few days earlier was very much nicer.

Even the meatball soup (RM3.00, small – individual serving)…

Meatball soup

…was disappointing.

The meatballs…

Meatballs

…were fine but the soup was rather watered down, somewhat diluted so we could not get to enjoy the thick and rich bone stock soup like before. I don’t know if it was the time of day – sometimes, it may be nicer in the early morning and throughout the day, they will keep adding water so if you go later, you will find that the soup is not as nice.

I guess if that is the way it is going to be when the old lady is not around to do it herself, next time I would much sooner go some place else.

DIANDIANLAI CAFE (2.310079, 111.831103) is located in the block of shops facing the Sibu Civic Centre (car park) along Jalan Dewan Suarah that links Jalan Melur and Jalan Suarah.

Can’t go home…

When I shared the photographs of the must-eat things when somebody comes back home to Sibu on Facebook, right away, somebody asked, “Where’s the kompia?” Of course, that is another one of those things here that one can’t go home without eating.

That was why last Sunday, when we came back from sending my girl to her school in the jungle, we stopped by here for tea. Gosh!!! The weather was really bad but not as bad as in Penang that day, far from it, but even so, I would not say it was a pleasant drive.

We had the sotong kangkong

Thomson Corner sotong kangkong

…but of course, they also have that in Kuching like the one at the Open Air Market there.

We tried the sio bee too and though it was not too bad, quite nice, in fact, it was kind of firm and springy, not as bad as the ones here in Kuching but more like the ones from the Open Air Market. I ordered three and we gobbled it up so quickly that taking a photograph of it did not cross my mind but for the uninitiated, they look something like these…

Sibu Foochow sio bee
*For illustration purposes only*

We did buy home the ones from here earlier (RM1.10 each) and they were really very good but unfortunately, I did not take any photographs of theirs. I certainly must make it a point to go back there again one of these days for the very nice fish noodles and this time around, I will order their sio bee, served piping hot on the spot, and blog about it.

Anyway, going back to our tea that day, I had the ang tao peng

Thomson Corner ang tao peng
*Archive photo*

…as usual while my missus and her sister had the ang tao cendol. Needless to say, ours would pale in comparison with the awesome ones here in Kuching but beggars can’t be choosers.

Of course, we did not forget what we went there for, the kompia (RM1.00 each)…

Thomson Corner kompia 1

…stuffed with minced meat filling…

Thomson Corner kompia 2

…and oven-toasted, fragrant and lightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Yes, it was very nice and yes, my sister-in-law did buy one big bag full, the plain ones – 3 pieces for R1.00 – from my favourite shop here to take back to Kuching when she left that day.

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

More than enough…

We were here

The Cafe IND Sibu

…a week or two ago and I had the fish curry from the Indian menu. It was so very nice but we were there at night and it was way too dim/dark to take any reasonably presentable photographs so I decided not to do so and I made up my mind to go back there again for it in the daytime. That was why last Saturday when my girl was home for the weekend and my sister-in-law was in town, we dropped by the place for lunch.

My missus had the Indonesian ikan kembong sumbat (RM18.00)…

The Cafe IND Indonesian menu, ikan kembong sumbat

For the uninitated, they would remove the meat from inside the fish without breaking the skin, get rid of all the bones and use the meat to prepare some kind of filling to stuff the fish. I cannot imagine me doing that, that’s for sure and yes, it was very nice though the fish available fresh at the market at this point in time was kind of small but they made up for it by giving more of the sides, the kerabu and the sambal terong, skin removed.

Upon the sister’s recommendation, my sister-in-law had the kalio ayam (RM14.50)…

The Cafe IND Indonesian menu, kalio ayam

…also from the Indonesian menu and yes, she enjoyed it very much indeed. However, the serving was way too big for her and in the end, she passed me one chunk of the chicken in the special Indonesian curry. My missus would do that all the time too whenever she had this.

It turned out that my girl wanted the fish curry from the Indian menu so I decided to order the mutton bryani (RM21.00)…

The Cafe IND Indian menu, mutton bryani

…instead thinking that we could share the awesome lamb curry…

The Cafe IND Indian menu, mutton curry

…with a whole lot of meat in it. If anyone is wondering as to how big the serving is, that afternoon, I saw three ladies having their lunch there and they just ordered this and nothing else and they shared it all among themselves and yes, there was more than enough to go round, just that one would have to find friends willing to eat the same thing at the same time.

My girl had the fish curry with a special request for nasi bryani to go with it (RM19.00+RM2.00)…

The Cafe IND Indian menu, fish curry with bryani rice

…instead of the regular basmati rice and she remarked that somehow, she enjoys the Indian fish curry…

The Cafe IND Indian menu, fish curry

…a lot more the Malay version or the asam curry ones.

She did manage to finish the fish but had to leave behind a bit of the rice (she would usually eat it all up on our previous visits here) as she had a late heavy breakfast at home when she got up that morning, eggs and bacon.

CAFE IND (2.290813, 111.829294) is located along Laichee Lane, right behind one block of shops facing the main road (Jalan Kampung Nyabor) where the Bank Simpanan Nasional, Sibu branch (2.290561, 111.829071), is located.

Where you wanna go…

When my sister-in-law was in town, I took her around the no-longer-all-that-familiar places in Sibu and the new ones like the UniCity area and I drove her round the university campus after which we dropped by the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk but the recently-opened pasar malam (night market) there was such a disappointment. Only around 3 or 4 stalls were open and we did ask one of them and he said that all the others had called it a day. Ain’t that sad?

The place in itself was in dire need of maintenance – the Lovers’ Bridge looked so pathetic…

Lovers' Bridge

…and to think that this year, 2017, is Visit Sibu Year…

Visit Sibu Year 2017

…I simply cannot imagine tourists coming here and seeing everything in such a miserable state. Since there was nothing much we could buy to eat and enjoy, we stopped by here on our way home and had dinner there instead.

The next day, for our lunch, I wanted to take her for something that she enjoys very much so we stopped by here only to find that the people running the stall with the very nice own-made fish balls had terminated their business or moved elsewhere. I tried this place next but even though it was still early, around 11.30 a.m., the coffee shop was already closed. I did hear that the drinks people here would like to close early as they would open again in the evening and stay open till quite late into the night.

We ended up here…

Yong Chuan Fish Noodles House

…eventually and yes, my sister-in-law got to enjoy her zhao chai hung ngang (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan zhao chai hung ngang

– the sourish preserved vegetable soup with the big bihun, one of the local Foochow delights, and they certainly were very generous with the fish slices and their own-made fish balls. She loved it so very much and kept praising it to the skies. She did say that they also have that in Kuching but the one she had here wins hands down.

I had the one with the clear soup (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan fish hung ngang, clear soup

– fat people are not so into sour things while my missus had the sour and spicy tom yam version (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan tom yam fish hung ngang

…of the same and she too enjoyed it a lot.

YONG CHUAN FISH NOODLES HOUSE (2.308016, 111.848896) is located among the shops on the right (next to WikiTea) along Lorong Sena 8, off Jalan Sena, directly opposite SMK Deshon.

Like home…

When any Sibu locals residing elsewhere, near or far, come back home, they would want to go and enjoy our hometown delights and then only will it feel like home. In the words of an old friend of mine who has since relocated to Adelaide in South Australia, “No matter how far and how wide we travel, when we come back to Sibu, this is the food that we miss so much and must have!

I guess this is the case with my sister-in-law when she came to town even though she can get these things in Kuching and she would like to have them for our lunch the first day she was here.

I took her here…

Kedai Kopi Sibu

…for the Foochow-style fried mee (RM4.00)…

Kedai Kopi Sibu Foochow fried mee

…which I feel is among the nicest in town. Unfortunately, they did not have any innards that day so we just had to be happy with the regular instead of the special (RM7.00).

Yes, she loved it and she also enjoyed the pian sip soup (RM2.80)…

Kedai Kopi Sibu pian sip soup

– I ordered a bowl of that to share to go with our mee and I also asked for a plate of kampua mee (RM2.80)…

Kedai Kopi Sibu kampua mee

…for her to appease her craving. She enjoyed it very much too and if I remember correctly, she said that something like this would cost around RM4.00 in Kuching. Hmmmm…the price of living in a nice big city!

I guess she is not a big eater like some *cough…cough* and that was enough to tide her over till dinner time.

KEDAI KOPI SIBU (2.295345, 111.839757) is located at Pusat Tanahwang, the area of shops opposite Sacred Heart Secondary School along Jalan Oya. You turn left into the lane right after the SHELL petrol station and go straight ahead. It is in the last block along that lane on your right, before you turn round the corner where you can go straight ahead and that will take you to Jalan Pedada.

She came back…

My sister-in-law who is residing in Kuching came back to Sibu for All Soul’s Day and on her first night in town, I took her here…

Red lantern chili sauce for sale

…for dinner. They are presently making this super hot chili sauce from those red habanero lantern chili, selling at RM10.00 a bottle.

It so happened that the boys made some roti paratha that day and they gave us a few pieces to enjoy…

Roti paratha and lime pickle

…with the pickled lime which did not tickle my fancy – I did not like the taste of the skin of the fruit. I did enjoy the roti very much though, eaten with some ghee that one of them brought all the way from India. I wonder why it was white – the ghee we have here is usually yellow in colour.

For our dinner, I ordered the Payung rojak (RM10.00, small)…

Payung rojak

…and the pomelo salad (RM8.00)…

Payung pomelo salad

…both of which my sister-in-law enjoyed to the max. Who wouldn’t?

We also had the butter chicken (RM18.00 with rice) but the photograph came out blur and we also had the green curry chicken (RM16.00 with rice)…

Payung green curry chicken

…and the belimbing prawns (RM17.00 with rice)…

Payung belimbing prawns

…and good grief! There would usually be around three prawns only in a small bowl, the normal serving but we were served this huge bowl with so many of the crustaceans in it, at least 3 or 4 servings, I’m sure, for the price of one! Aren’t they nice? For one thing, these prawns, this size, sure do not come cheap nowadays at the wet market, RM40.00 and above for a kilo.

No, this was not my sister-in-law’s first time here. She was here before and like most everybody else that I know who have been here, she loves the place and enjoys the food which she feels is very unique, not like anything one can find elsewhere, not even in Kuching.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (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.

No, not again…

I can imagine everybody gasping, “Oh no! Not there again!” but yes, we did drop by this same place one more time the other day and my missus stuck steadfastly to her favourite here – the nasi kerabu with ayam percik with a special request for a drumstick (RM6.50)…

Warong Cafe nasi kerabu ayam percik

Of course I would not order that even though I do enjoy it very much – so far, it is the best among all that I’ve tried here. The thing is should I be having that as well, I would not have anything to blog about anymore.

We did drive past the day before but we saw that the place was rather crowded so we adjourned some place else. The following day, we tried again and yes, there were not so many people so I quickly parked the car and made a beeline to the shop straight away.

I told the girl who came to take our orders that on our last visit, I had to wait like forever for my mee mamak seafood but she assured me that it would not be like that this time around seeing that there were not so many people that day.

I decided to give their mee jawa special (RM7.00)…

Warong Cafe mee jawa special

…a try and true enough, it did come out of the kitchen in a jiffy.

For the special, I got three deep fried prawns…

Deep fried prawns

…and there were a lot of slices of beef…

Beef slices

…some shredded chicken, bits of cucur (fritters), tofu puffs and half a hard-boiled egg.

Yes, it was very nice, a little different from the regular mee jawa with its pinkish orange sweet gravy, the result of the use of sweet potatoes in the making. This one was just a little bit sweet and had the fragrance of some spices used in the cooking – I felt it was something like a cross between our mee jawa and the mee rebus that I enjoyed so much in Singapore a long time ago in 1973.

Yes, I enjoyed it to the max and stopped short of licking the plate clean…

Clean plate

…but personally, I prefer rice for lunch and would rather have something like this for breakfast. What about you?

By the time we left, it was lunchtime – past 12 noon and there were a lot of people there by then. It certainly looked like they are enjoying brisk business these days which is a good thing – this way, I can be sure that there is one place here that I can always go to whenever I feel a craving for some very nice nasi kerabu.

WARONG CAFE (2.318841, 111.831732), formerly Sri Tanjung Cafe, is located among the shops in between Jalan Tapang and Jalan Tapang Timur towards the end of Jalan Kampung Nangka on the left – RTM Sibu is located right across the road on the right.

We built this city…

This area is called UniCity, short for University City, by virtue of the fact that there is a multi-storey hostel…

UCTS Hostel

…for students pursuing their further studies at the university close by, with a supermarket and a departmental store on the ground floor and I did see a bakery section, probably an outlet of this one like the one at the mall closer to town.

Directly opposite the hostel is this hotel…

Li Hua Hotel, UniCity

…another one in the chain of hotels that includes this one and this one as well. This would be very convenient for parents accompanying their children coming for their registration or attending their convocation.

There are a number of blocks of shops all around though mostly unoccupied. At this point in time, there is a MR DIY outlet and this pizza place…

Piosa, UniCity

…and I did see a pharmacy as well but there are quite a number of coffee shops and that morning, we decided to go and check this one…

Kiing Huat Kopitiam, UniCity

…out.

The kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black) was RM1.50 a glass, cheaper than at a lot of places but the kampua piansip mee

Kiing Huat Kopitiam pain sip mee

…that my missus had was RM3.00 a plate, more expensive than many elsewhere. It looked kind of plain – they did not even have the usual sprinkling of chopped spring onions on top but thankfully, it did not taste too bad.

I wanted the kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma chicken, only on weekends

…but was duly informed that it would be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

In the end, I ordered the pork leg rice (RM9.00)…

Pork leg rice

…from this stall…

Pork leg rice stall

…but I  would not say that it swept me off my feet, not at all.

It was mostly soy sauce and garlic…

Pork leg

…and did not have the fragrance of five-spice powder than one would use when cooking phak lor too khar (stewed pork leg).

One thing I noticed was that many of the stalls were not open – perhaps they cater mostly to the night-time crowd, probably the students having their dinner and loitering around to pass the time.

UniCity (2.342337, 111.831781) is located along Jalan Wawasan, on your left if you are coming from Bulatan Teng Chin Hua in the vicinity of the University College of Technology, Sarawak, Kolej Laila Taib and Woodlands International School, heading towards the Batang Igan Bridge.

On that day…

Today, the 2nd of November, is All Souls’ Day, a day to remember our dearly departed and pray for the repose of their souls, may they rest in peace.

It is not a public holiday and my girl is at work so last Sunday morning, we made it a point to leave the house early and stop by my late dad’s resting place at the memorial park on the way from Sibu to Selangau and my girl’s school in the jungle. When we got there, we did a bit of cleaning, placed some flowers and lit some candles that we had brought along and said our prayers before we went on our way.

Usually every Sunday, we would have our brunch mid-morning but on that day, since we started moving way too early for that, we stopped by Selangau Bazaar and had lunch there before going on our way to our girl’s school.

We stopped by this coffee shop

Hua Kee, Selangau
*Archive photo*

…which certainly seemed to be a favourite among the locals – there was quite a crowd there.

I ordered their sweet corn soup…

Hua Kee, sweet corn soup

…with a special request for a couple to udang galah (the huge freshwater prawns) to be added for that extra sweetness and taste but it seemed that the cook at the back forgot all about it so we had to make do with what we were served. Thankfully, it was quite nice.

I must say that I was surprised that they had run out of midin (wild jungle fern) considering that the place is surrounded by jungle all around it. My girl said that she did not mind another round of cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Hua Kee fried cangkuk manis with egg

…even though we just had it for lunch the day before and yes, they did it very nicely too here and we did enjoy that.

I asked for some siew yoke (roast pork) thinking that there would not be any wheat nor soy sauce in that but the girl said that theirs was deep fried and yes, wheat was used to coat the meat so we could not have that. In the end, we settled upon their deep fried ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret)…

Hua Kee fried ikan bawal hitam 1

…with specific instructions that they should not coat it with any wheat flour nor sprinkle some soy sauce over it before serving and yes, they were good enough to oblige.

They had it served with some fried garlic on top and it was very fresh plus they did fry it perfectly well…

Hua Kee fried ikan bawal hitam 2

…not overdone and my girl loved it a lot! Seeing how she was enjoying it so much, I just had a bit around the head and the side and let her eat it most of it.

I thought it would cost quite a bit since we had one whole fish and it was quite big but the total, inclusive of rice and drinks, came up to only RM44.70.

After having had our fill, we left the place and once my girl had settled down back in her quarters in her school, my missus and I went on our way home.

Surprise, surprise…

After our heavy lunch last Saturday afternoon, we decided to skip dinner and went for the evening sunset service at a church here and after it was over, we dropped by here, thinking that we could have something light for supper.

My girl wanted their bitter gourd bihun (RM4.50)…

Colourful Cafe bitter gourd bihun

…which I have never tried before for the simple reason that they have shredded chicken in theirs, this being a pork-free place, but I’ve had the same elsewhere with pork and it was good. I can’t remember who it was that told me but I did hear that the one here is pretty nice and worth a try. Well, my girl enjoyed it and she particularly liked the clear refreshing soup.

My missus stuck to her favourite from their night menu, their chicken chop (RM9.50)…

Colourful Cafe chicken chop

…which, in fact, is everyone’s favourite too.

I had their beef noodles once and no, I would not say it is the best in town – just all right but I was in the mood for something soupy that night so I ordered that (RM6.00)…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles

…and yes, I did like it especially with the very nice chili and ginger dip specially for beef noodles and surprisingly, the price for this has not gone up since that time when I had it way back in 2015!

The moment we arrived at the place, there seemed to be a whole lot of excitement going on and they told me that they had satay

Colourful Cafe satay on the charcoal grill

…that night! Now, that sure was a surprise and a very pleasant one at that.

Of course I wasted no time at all in ordering a few to try – they only had beef and chicken…

Colourful Cafe beef & chicken satay 1

…no lamb.

Yes, it was really very very nice…

Colourful Cafe beef & chicken satay 2

…and the peanut sauce was so good! I loved the beef (RM2.00 a stick) while my girl preferred the chicken (RM1.50 a stick).

Of course, it is much cheaper at the stalls but these were HUGE, anytime two or three times bigger than those and the beef was so juicy and tender – I never bother ordering beef at the stalls anymore as on those previous occasions when I did, it was always hard and dry like it had been cooked a long time ago and had been reheated again and again. Their lamb and chicken were always ok, just the beef. Those here were RM3.00 a stick, their chicken satay, but after these that we had that night, I don’t think I will ever go back for those ever again – the ones here sure win hands down. Unfortunately, these are only available on Saturday nights and maybe, on Sunday mornings too, not every day.

My! My! Our supper that night was far from light in the end but I sure am looking forward to going back there again for more of their most delightful satay. Yum yummm!!!

COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints.