Do it right…

When I bought some dim sum delights from that celebrated place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Foo Phing, to bring home to Sibu a long long time ago, they were quite concerned about the quality of their products and kept reminding me that I should steam them for only 4 minutes, if I remember correctly – no more, no less.

I could understand their concern as more often than not, people would just dump everything in the steamer and steam them till kingdom come, not bothered to keep time at all and they would all end up over-steamed, the skin all soft and mushy and then they would grumble about the quality of what they had bought.

Well, in my previous post, I mentioned that my friend, Annie in KL, went to Jakar, Sarikei and she bought me some sio bee (meat dumplings) from there…

Jakar sio bee
*Archive photo*

They were still in the freezer when I wrote that post but not anymore.

The first thing I did when I took them out to defrost was  to open the pack…

Defrost, pack open

…so that the condensation and the moisture collecting inside would not wet and spoil the skin.

It would be best to use a flat plate or tray as sometimes, during the steaming, the water from the steam would collect in it and that would also be bad for the skin at the bottom of the sio bee. It would not be so bad if you are using those bamboo baskets like those at the dim sum places but I guess most of us do not have those at home.

I used a little cooking oil to grease the tray I was using – yes, the people at Foo Phing did tell me to do that – so the dumplings would not stick to it. Having done that, I placed them in the tray…

Place in greased tray or plate

…a little bit apart from one another…

Avoid any contact

…so they would not all stick together eventually.

When the water had started boiling, I placed the tray in the wok and waited a little bit longer, 5 minutes to be exact, after which, I opened the lid of the wok (my steamer is a little too small for the tray)…

Release the steam

…to release the steam.

I just took out what I wanted to eat…

Ready to eat

…and put back the lid, leaving the rest inside to keep warm in the residual heat.

I still had a bit of the very nice and very very spicy chili sauce from Payung so I had the dumplings with it…

Best served with chili sauce

…and yes, I would say they were really very good! I could detect the special seafood sweetness – no, I do not think they used prawns. Those would be too expensive so my guess is it was fish, bay ka (ikan tenggiri/mackerel) usually.

I hear they do sell these sio bee

Jakar sio bee, in natural light

…at some places in Sibu but I never paid attention as to where exactly. I certainly wouldn’t mind buying some more should I happen to see them around here.

They keep comin’…

My Bintulu cousin and her hubby were in town for the brother-in-law’s son’s wedding but unfortunately, owing to their tight schedule, we were only able to meet for a kampua mee breakfast here on one of the mornings when they were around.

The noodles were nice…

Ming Xuan Corner kampua mee

…but where was the real char siew (barbecued meat) that I had the last time I was here?

Their star attraction was their herbal soup (dong gui/當歸) and the guy did say that they had that but we could not taste anything of the sort in the complimentary soup nor was there any hint of it in the chap-chap (mixed) soup…

Ming Xuan Corner chap-chap soup

…that I also ordered to share. There were pian sip (meat dumplings), tofu puffs and some overcooked liver underneath but no, it was nothing more than just bone stock soup. I certainly would think twice about coming back here again…ever!

The only consolation was that we got to meet my cousin and her hubby and had a great time catching up with one another’s lives. She brought these…

From Alicia in Penang

…from my niece, her daughter in Penang, who was here for the wedding but left the very next day so we did not get to meet. Nonetheless, thanks a lot, Alicia – that was so very nice and sweet of you.

And no, that wasn’t all! They keep comin’, all those things that friends and family keep giving me so much so that it prompted a friend of mine on Facebook to comment, “I must say that your pantry will be full of these goodies…have you got time to finish them?” LOL!!!

My dear friend, Annie, and her twins were home for Ching Ming and no, we did not get to go out anywhere to eat – she was also very busy and had a tight schedule the whole time she was in town. With her mum on the steering wheel, they drove to Jakar for the prawn noodles and Sarikei and on the way back, they stopped by my house to pass me one very fresh black pomfret (ikan bawal hitam) from Sarikei and some sio bee (meat dumplings) from Jakar…

Jakar sio bee

– I have heard of people raving about those and how nice they are but at the point of writing, they are still in the freezer. I have yet to give them a try.

Before she left town, she dropped by my place again to pass me these…

From Annie in KL

…that she had brought all the way from KL. Aha!!! My favourite M&S All Butter Biscuits and a new one, almond, for me to try…and what perfect timing! I was down to the last of their own-made wine-infused lap cheong (Chinese sausage), slicing very thinly and using very sparingly in my cooking.

Thank you so much, Annie – I truly am blessed to have such a wonderful friend, always so kind and generous and never wanting to accept anything in return.

MING XUAN CORNER (2.312754, 111.846595) is located in the second block of shops on your right if you are turning in from Jalan Pedada at the junction after Delta Mall, heading towards Lorong Taman Seduan 8, somewhere opposite the Bread Sense Bakery outlet there, a little to the left.

The good old days…

I came from the generation when our weekly 50 cents a plate of kampua mee, with meat – 30 cents without meat, was a luxury and the Sibu-made aerated water like the Ngo Kian brand, for instance, at 30 cents a bottle was something we could ill afford and we could only wait till Christmas or Chinese New Year before we could drink those – how we loved the ice cream soda and the sarsi – and we would end up with orange or red lips and teeth if we went for the orange or cherry respectively, the result of the colouring in the drinks. The CocaCola and Red Lion (F&N) orange were specially reserved for guests and we would stay away from those if we knew what was good for us.

We had a Lido Cinema once, now a hotel…

Lehdo Hotel, formerly Lido Cinema
*Archive photo*

…after it was burnt down and outside the cinema, in one corner, there was a little stall and we loved the yeu chang koi (fried shallot cake) in little bowls, for just 10 cents or was it 5, I can’t remember exactly now. This is some kind of steamed cake made from rice flour and back in those days, the seller would use a bamboo spatula to cut it up, sprinkle fried shallots on it and pour some very nice special black soy sauce on it and serve and we could add chili sauce if it so pleased us.

I had that (RM1.00)…

Sibu Pasar Malam yeu chang koi
*Archive photo*

…once at the pasar malam (night market) here at a stall run by one lady and yes, it was very nice except that it was no longer in a little bowl but in a wide but shallow stainless steel plate so it was not as thick as the ones before. My friends from Singapore tried and they liked it so much that when they went back the following night, they had it again.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I happened to walk past this coffee shop…

Hong Yuan Cafe
*Archive photo*

where they used to sell our favourite tee piang in town in the morning, while stock lasted and yes, they did get sold out very fast but they no longer do it there. You will have to go to the pasar malam if you want those – look out for the sign on top of the stall…

Sibu Pasar Malam tee piang stall
*Archive photo*

…but be forewarned that there will always be a crowd standing around the stall waiting to grab anything and everything that comes out of the wok so you may have to be prepared to wait for your turn.

That morning, I saw a man selling yeu chang koi

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 1

…at the aforementioned coffee shop so of course, I simply had to stop by to give it a try…

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 2

Yes, it was very nice…

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 3

…and seeing how similar it was to the one at the pasar malam, I asked the man and he told me that was his sister and he learnt how to make it from her. He was gracious enough to admit that his sister could do it better but personally, I thought his was just as good.

It sure brought back pleasant memories of the very simple stuff that brought us so much joy in the good old days, way back then but no, it was no longer that cheap any longer – RM1.20 now, 20 sen more than that time when I had it at the sister’s stall at the pasar malam, a far cry from the pittance that we had to fork out for this a long, long time ago.

HONG YUAN CAFE (2.290323, 111.826358) is one of the many coffee shops on the right along Jalan Morshidi Sidek that leads straight to Wisma Sanyan, facing the Chung Hua Primary School on the left.

Blackbird…

Basically, the hornbill or the burung kenyalang as it is called locally is a blackbird with a bit of white and some colours on its beak and around its head. Sarawak is popularly known as The Land of the Hornbill or Bumi Kenyalang even though we would get to see hornbills a lot more easily elsewhere in the peninsula like at Pulau Pangkor, for instance, than here.

Anyway, this is not going to be about the bird but about this coffee shop…

Kenyalang Cafe

…right across the parking area from the Sibu Public Library…

Sibu Public Library

I was out early last Saturday morning and  I decided to drop by for breakfast.

The coffee (RM1.70)…

Kenyalang Cafe kopi-o-peng

…was so-so, nothing great, a little more expensive than elsewhere, RM1.50-1.60 but cheaper than some places, RM1.80 and above.

I had the gu tor th’ng (beef tripe soup), small (RM3.00)…

Kenyalang Cafe beef tripe soup

…from this stall…

Kenyalang Cafe kampua mee stall

…and I sure was glad that they gave the chili dip…

Chili dip for beef tripe soup

…that is supposed to go with it, not the usual chili sauce like at some kampua mee stalls.

The soup was very nice with a mild hint of the Foochow red wine in it – I liked that a lot more than the vinegar they would add elsewhere. I guess if one likes it a little stronger, one could always ask for more but I was fine with it as it was.

However, I wasn’t there that morning for that. When my cousin from Melbourne, Australia was in town on a whirlwind visit, one night only, she asked me to go for breakfast the following morning before her flight out of town. Unfortunately, we had to leave the house at the break of dawn to send my girl back to her school in the jungle that same morning so I was not able to join her. It turned out that her brother took her here for what she said was the favourite kampua mee of her sister in Bintulu. Since then, I was waiting for the chance to try and finally, I did (RM3.00)…

Kenyalang Cafe kampua mee

Yes, it was very nice. I just couldn’t place my finger on it but there was something in the taste that put it a cut above many of the rest. No, I would not say it was my favourite in town but it was good, just a little bit on the soft side – I would prefer the noodles slightly firmer.

Obviously, it is the favourite of many in town as by the time I was done, the coffee shop was already full despite the fact that it was so early on a Saturday morning. I heard their liver soup is very nice too and I would love to try their pian sip (meat dumplings) some day so I guess I will be dropping by here again when the opportunity arises.

KENYALANG CAFE (2.293891, 111.827688) is along Jalan Keranji, the first shop in the block past the Sibu Public Library and the parking area on your left if you are coming from Brooke Drive.

All you can eat…

One evening last week, my girl said that we would be going for dinner here

The Kitchen BBQ & Steamboat

…her mum’s treat as she had a small windfall, enough for a meal for three.

We were here once before and it was pouring cats and dogs that night so we chose to sit outside since it was a nice and cool evening. This time around, we opted to sit in the air-conditioned section inside…

Air-conditioned section

…where it would be much cooler. There aren’t that many tables there though, maybe only around 8-10 only so if anyone is thinking of doing the same, it would be best to call and make a reservation to avoid disappointment. We were lucky as there was one table available, just one.

Yes, there are a whole lot of those frozen stuff that one can get at any supermarket in town – we did not bother to go and look even. They had fresh seafood and even though the prawns…

Prawns

…and clams were rather small…

Clams

…we took quite a lot to throw into the boiling chicken stock…

Boiling

– that would give the soup that very lovely sweetness.

The bamboo clams…

Bamboo clams

…were all right, more or less the regular size but I did not take any of the crabs…

Crabs

…they had that night. I had never seen this variety before – the spots on the shell looked like eyes staring at me!

There was un-marinated fresh meat that one could take to add to the soup and fresh chicken meat balls and beef balls and bitter gourd stuffed with them…

Stuffed bitter gourd

…too. I saw in their Facebook page that they would have stuffed ladies’ fingers as well but I did not see any that night.

They had all the beef and chicken, pre-marinated…

Marinated meat

…for grilling…

Grilling

…and I had those wrapped in lettuce…

Wrapped in lettuce

…and I sure enjoyed them a lot. One could help oneself to fresh finely-chopped garlic and chili if one so desires – adding those would surely bring the taste to a whole new level.

I saw that they had herbal eggs…

Herbal egg

…this time around so I helped myself to one…

Peeled

It wasn’t that great, I thought, not so much of the much-desired herbal fragrance. I would much sooner go for the very nice stewed eggs at the chicken rice and roast meat stalls.

There was fried rice and fried bihun – I did try the latter and it was all right and I did see some pre-cooked stuff in a cabinet but I did not bother about those.

Of course, there were all the noodles and everything…

Noodles and everything

…and vegetables too…

Vegetables

…and I did have quite a bit of the Chinese cabbage, tofu, mushrooms and sweet corn in the lovely soup.

For dessert, I did not go for the ice cream as I wanted to try their ang tao peng (iced red bean)…

Ang tao peng

…which would have been ok had the ice been well-shaved. It was so coarse that it became quite a chore having to bite it the whole time while eating.

That lovely dinner came up to less than RM80.00 because we got there at around 5 something, before 6, so we were eligible for the early bird price of RM25.90 per head to eat all you can. By the time we had finished and were leaving, the place was already fully-packed – it sure looks like if anyone intends to go there for dinner, it would be best to book ahead.

THE KITCHEN BBQ & STEAMBOAT (2.309579, 111.844828) is located at No 19, Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada. You turn left into the road after Starbucks Sibu, right before the Petronas petrol station and it is on your right at the other end of the blocks of shops where the Grand Wonderful Hotel and Italian Coffee are located.

Upstairs, downstairs…

I heard there is a new Indian restaurant in town so we wanted to drop by one day for lunch but for reasons unknown, it was not open. It is located upstairs on the 1st floor so in the end, we decided to just grab something to eat at the Italian fusion restaurant…

La Vino Italian Fusion

…downstairs located here…

Road sign

We’ve been here a couple of times before and yes, the last time we were here with my cousins from Kuching, we did enjoy what we had…a lot.

I liked the very young staff that they have running the place – they’re very polite and friendly AND conversant in English and when we were there that day, service was prompt and very good too, making dining there very pleasant, I must say.

We just shared the Ceasar salad…

La Vino Ceasar salad

…and this rack of lamb…

La Vino rack of lamb 1

…with four slabs of the meat…

La Vino rack of lamb 2

…so we had one each and my girl had the extra one…and yes, everything was to our liking.

I did see the prices of our orders in their menu but I can’t remember them off-hand as before I could pay for what we had, somebody had beaten me to it. It so happened that my ex-student, Iggy, went there for lunch and good grief!!! He had just got there and had not even ordered yet but he had already paid my bill…and this was not the first time – I was taken by surprise once here and he beat me to it when we met here on another occasion. Thank you so much, Iggy, and like I said that in my post that previous time – next time, do slow down a bit and let me have the chance to reciprocate.

LA VINO (2.293636, 111.842059) is located at Lorong Wong King Huo 1B, the first one in the block of shops to the right of Medan Mall.

Let me do it my way…

I did mention in my previous post that in the week-long break, my girl had a few loose ends to tie so she and the mum were out one morning to get something done. Left to my own devices, I decided to cook lunch.

These were the ingredients…

Ingredients to be pounded

…I pounded – some shallots and garlic, peeled and sliced, kunyit (turmeric), and lengkuas (galangal) and one big chili.

Other than those, I soaked some asam (tamarind) keping to soften, got ready two stalks of serai (lemon grass), ends pounded, and some kunyit leaves, cut into thin strips and of course, the meat (pork – I guess you can use chicken, prawns or whatever else)…

Pounded ingredients and the rest

I heated a bit of oil in the wok and fried the pounded ingredients…

Fry the pounded ingredients

…and the serai followed…

Add the serai

Then I added the meat…

Add the meat

…and the asam keping

Add the asam keping

…and mixed everything thoroughly before I added some water.

After adding a pinch of salt and a bit of sugar, I simmered till the gravy had thickened and dried up somewhat…

Simmered

…before adding the kunyit leaves…

Add kunyit leaves

…and it was done.

I also fried some kangkong (water spinach) with finely-chopped garlic and some sambal belacan (pounded dried prawn paste with chili) that we had in the fridge and served garnished with fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

Fried kangkong belacan with ikan bilis

The kangkong was very nice, spicy because of the sambal but the meat was rather disappointing as that big chili that I used was not hot at all.

Before I heated it up for dinner, I added a few cili padi (bird’s eye chili), seeds removed and thinly sliced…

With cili padi added

…and yes, that certainly helped a lot – it was very nice, after that.

Wanna give it a go?