Just for old times’ sake…

When my brother was home from Auckland, New Zealand, he specially requested that we dropped by here…

Hock Chu Leu Restaurant

…just for old times’ sake.

When we were little, on days when my mum was busy and could not cook the meals for the day, she would get my dad to take along a tiffin carrier to work and buy some food for us to eat and these sweet and sour meatballs from the aforementioned restaurant…

Hock Chu Leu sweet and sour meatballs

…were our favourite.

When we got there, I saw Ah Teck, the current boss who bought over the over 60-year-old place from the son of the previous one who is currently residing in Christchurch and I told him who I was. Yes, he said he started working there when he was 14 years old and he could remember my dad dropping by to buy food to take home and yes, he remembered the meatballs, just that they do not have them on their menu anymore. However, he was so very nice as to offer to cook the dish that night just for us – ching gay chu, he said, or in English, very easy to cook.

I did cook them once…

My own version of the sweet and sour meatballs
*Archive photo*

…myself, minus those bits of carrot and sweet corn and peas, when my parents were still around and took them along with some other dishes that we had cooked for dinner at their house and yes, everyone enjoyed them. I will not be cooking them or any sweet and sour dish anymore now though as tomato sauce is not gluten-free unless I come out with an alternative using tomato puree or something.

Another dish that my dad used to buy home was this braised Chinese cabbage…

Hock Chu Leu braised Chinese cabbage

…which went down all right with me but kids being kids, I was not exactly thrilled by any kind of vegetables at the time. These days, I rather enjoy that dish and would not mind ordering it whenever I drop by here for  a meal. Way back then, if this dish was served at a banquet, there would be slices of abalone but that is worth its weight in gold these days, sold at the shops and supermarkets under lock and key, so they have substituted it with Pacific clams instead which are much cheaper but they aren’t really all that cheap either, actually.

The Foochow fried noodles…

Hock Chu Leu Foochow fried noodles

…were great – it couldn’t possibly get any more authentic than the ones here but the Foochow-style sio bee

Hock Chu Leu Foochow-style sio bee

…was a disappointment that night. I had those before and thought they were good but all in all, I do feel that the ones we had here were definitely heaps nicer and more consistently so.

They certainly were VERY generous with the sea cucumber in the soup…

Hock Chu Leu sea cucumber soup

…that we had and my brother loved it a lot! I saw some dried ones selling for over RM100 a kg at one place sometime ago so with that much of the stuff in the soup plus the Pacific clams that I mentioned earlier, I was quite sure it was not going to be very cheap, our dinner that night.

We all loved this kailan with liver…

Hock Chu Leu kailan with liver

…very much, something that we had never tried before and someone told my sister or my brother that this was a must-order dish, not to be missed, and we were glad we did.

My brother picked up the tab for our dinner that night, a whooping RM116.00 altogether, less than NZD40.00 for the four of us. I guess to him, it wasn’t all that expensive – they certainly cannot get anything like this there for just NZD10 per head.

Then, the waitress brought out a plate of sweet and sour fish…

Hock Chu Leu sweet and sour fish
*Archive photo*

…from the kitchen and served that to the people at another table. “Sweet and sour fish!!!” he exclaimed, and his eyes glowed at the sight of it. “Yes, I had it before,” I said, “and it was very nice but we are very full now. That will have to wait till the next time you come home.” LOL!!!

HOCK CHU LEU RESTAURANT (2.288654, 111.826974) is located at No. 30, Jalan Tukang Besi, formerly Blacksmith Road, opposite the LehDo Hotel, formerly the Lido Cinema which is right beside the Standard Chartered Bank, Sibu branch.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

12 thoughts on “Just for old times’ sake…”

  1. The boss is so nice to cook the meat balls just for you all. I wonder why he removed this dish from the menu when he said it is simple to cook.

    One of their current signature dishes is their sweet and sour pork ribs. Tried that before and yes, it was very nice too…and that’s even easier to cook, no need to make the meatballs and deep fry first. I think my dad used to buy that sometimes back in those days but we liked the meatballs more.

  2. I don’t have much chance to visit places of my childhood but am curious if the memories match the reality.

    Time changes everything so one has got to expect things to be a little different, not 100% especially when the old folks are no longer around and the young ones take over.

  3. Indeed they are very generous with the sea cucumber, big pieces I can see, not like some places over here, only tiny tweeny bits and pieces. I love the sweet and sour fish. All in all, eveything looks great.

    Yes, very old school, stuff we used to enjoy everytime we got invited to a banquet, “ciak chiew” and in the old days, the little ones did not get to go very often. A rare treat!

  4. I like braised chinese cabbage, if I were to cook, sure turn out no eye see…

    I’ve never tried but I do know there is oyster sauce and we are staying away from that these days, not gluten free.

  5. Ooo, if Ah Teck was 14 when he started here, how old is he now though? 🙂

    In his mid or late 70’s. Not as young as me, of course – I was a kid when he was already working there. Hehehehehe!!!!

  6. Sea cucumber soup and sweet sour fish for me!

    All good that night, except that I found the sio bee kinda disappointing.

  7. Ooohhh… I would enjoy those sweet and sour meatballs! I wonder why they took it off the menu but so nice of the guy to cook it for you.

    They do have meatballs, deep fried and served just like that. I did try those once but I wasn’t exactly thrilled by those – these sweet and sour ones are a lot nicer. If they put it back on their menu, I certainly would want to go back for more.

  8. Lol at your brother’s delight looking at the sweet and sour fish for another table. Pity he did not get to eat that as everybody were already full. It really looks good. RM116 for all of those is quite okay I guess considering that they were very generous with sea cucumber. I super love sea cucumber dishes ❤

    Yeah, people there so deprived – bet he misses all the nice food here. The Pacific clams are expensive too, not as expensive as abalone but not affordable. I don’t bother to buy anymore these days – used to be cheap.

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