Hello, old friends…

I got an invitation to lunch the other day from my dear friend/ex-classmate, Robert, as our ex-schoolmate, Michael, was back in town so there we were at our regular place

Flavours/Orchid Hotel entrance

…10 of us altogether, including a few more old friends of ours from the Class of 69.

The food was great, as always – we had their white or clear tom yam soup, the Tom Yam Goong

Flavours Thai Kitchen Tom Yam Goong

…and our favourite these days, the bitter gourd omelette…

Flavours Thai Kitchen bitter gourd omelette

…and also the fried cangkok manis

Flavours Thai Kitchen cangkok manis

…which we thought Jos, the authentic Thai chef, did extremely well. It was not quite the same, very much more flavourful than the regular ones we would find here, there and everywhere – he sure can give the local Chinese restaurants a run for their money.

The beef, blanched, with lime and all the other ingredients…

Flavours Thai Kitchen beef with lime

…was great and we all so loved the deep-fried barramundi…

Flavours Thai Kitchen deep fried barramundi

…right down to all those things used in its gorgeous presentation but it was the company that I enjoyed most of all.

Thanks, Robert, for the treat and it sure was nice seeing you again, Micheal.

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

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I remember Elvis Presley…

I received this jar of made-in-New-Zealand peanut butter…

Pic's peanut butter
*Archive photo*

…from my godson/ex-student in New Zealand and I could recall my nephew from there eating that with bananas and since I had the fruit in the house, I decided to give it a try and shared the photograph…

Banana with peanut butter

…on Facebook.

Goodness gracious me! The response was overwhelming and there were so many comments. A coursemate of my girl who was in Wellington, New Zealand with her exclaimed with excitement at the sight of it…

Made in New Zealand

…and said that she was so hooked on this particular brand of peanut butter those years when they were there.

Then there were a lot of people saying that they loved eating it that way with bread. I think my nephew did have it as a sandwich but I do not quite remember now…and my ex-student/lawyer friend, Louis, said that it was Elvis Presley’s favourite sandwich. Ah yes! That sure helped refresh my memory regarding that as I did come across that sometime somewhere but his had bacon in it.

There were others who said they loved it with jelly added – I think they call that Fool’s Gold Loaf and since I had the peanut butter and some jam (Chivers’ raspberry) in the fridge, I decided to have a go at it and went out and bought some bread, half loaf.

Now how do you like to toast your slices of bread? I am not fond of using the toaster – for one thing, I would have to take it out of the cabinet to use for just a few slices and then I would have to clean it before putting it away. I prefer toasting my bread on a non-stick pan…

Bread, pan-toasted

…until it is lightly crusty on the outside, still soft on the inside.

I still had my Golden Churn butter in the fridge so I applied that on both slices…

Buttered

…and then I applied the peanut butter on one slice and the raspberry jam on the other…

Peanut butter and jam

Lastly, I added the bananas, sliced…

Banana

…before putting the sandwich together…

Elvis sandwich 1

Oh me! Oh my! It was so very nice that I just had to have another one…

Elvis sandwich 2

…but I had to stop there as I was already so very full after the second round.

It so happened that I did have some bacon in the freezer at this point in time so no prize for guessing what I had for breakfast the very next morning…

Elvis sandwich, with bacon 1

Gosh! It sure was so so so good! I certainly would not look at sandwiches…

Elvis sandwich, with bacon 2

…the same way again!

You’re always good…

I received word from my godson/ex-student, Andrew, in Christchurch, New Zealand that he had sent me this made-in-New Zealand peanut butter and gluten-free flour for chocolate cake…

From Andrew in New Zealand

…and asked me to go to his house to get them from his mum – his parents probably just came back to Sibu from there. As far as I know, his wife, Michelle, is a regular reader of my blog so she must have read my post on peanut butter that day and also about how my girl is gluten-intolerant. That was so very thoughtful and nice of them, thank you so very very much – I only hope it wasn’t too much trouble for the parents to cart the things back all the way with them.

After getting the things, we headed to town for lunch and I asked my girl if she was keen on going back to the coffee shop we had been to a couple of times again and she was fine by it so there we were – I think this was our third time there with her and my fourth only. We had lunch here, my missus and I and then we brought our girl here once and she liked what we had so we went a second time with her and this time was no exception – the food here was, as always, very good.

No, the boss was not sitting by the side busy with his smartphone this time around – he was busy cooking, assisted by the young boys…

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE food stall

…at his stall and when he saw me, he smiled at me. That took me by surprise as it was not like I was such a regular customer. I guess he could recognise me from my previous visits – after all, there are not so many people this big. LOL!!!

We had the chicken roll again…

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE chicken roll

…and my girl wanted the ribs that we had on our previous visit but the boy said that there was wheat flour in it – the last time around, he said it was all right so perhaps, they had a different recipe this time, I wouldn’t know.

My girl did not want the fish again so we had siew yoke (roast pork)…

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE siew yoke

…and we had the bitter gourd omelette…

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE bitter gourd omelette

For our soup dish, I ordered what we called luak chai (Szechuan preserved vegetable/榨菜) and pork leg soup…

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE luak chai too kha soup

…and much to my surprise, my girl said she had never had that before and yes, she loved it! I guess we can always cook our own at home for her to enjoy – somehow, for reasons unknown, the mum never did.

The total for all the dishes and three plates of rice came up to only RM46.00. Not too long ago, we went to another place and had a plate of lemon chicken, not a very big serving, two plates of vegetables – sweet potato leaves and cangkok manis and the Foochow-style tofu soup with canned oysters and the total came up to over RM60.00 (inclusive of rice). No price for guessing which place we will definitely be dropping by again and which place is no longer on our list.

SYARIKAT KIONG CHUONG CAFE (2.291062, 111.827381) is located along Jalan Kampung Nyabor at the bend where one turns into Jalan Kpg Nyabor from Brooke Drive, a stone’s throw from Malaysia Hotel in the next block.

None left…

Seeing how my girl loved the dates that I bought that day

Yusof Taiyoob 1
*Archive photo*

…I went back to the shop to buy some more for her to enjoy during the month-long school break.

Unfortunately, when I got there, the guy told me that there were none left, all sold out! My goodness! They must be very popular and it was just around two weeks into the month of Ramadan.

In the end, I decided the buy this one (RM15.00)…

Yusof Taiyoob 2

…also from Yusuf Taiyoob but the dates were still on the tangkai (stem)…

Yusof Taiyoob 3

…and these were RM2.00 more expensive that the ones I bought before. The guy said that they also had honey added and though they did not look as moist as the ones I bought the previous time, I thought they were also very nice.

While I was there, I noticed this one…

Almond dates 1

– dates stuffed with almond…

Almond dates 2

…selling at RM18.00 a box and they were down to the very last box, so the guy said. He gave me a RM3 discount so it was RM15.00 as well, same as the aforementioned that I bought.

Well, it wasn’t one of Yusuf Taiyoob’s and it was kind of dry and hard, definitely not as nice and the almond did not save the day. Maybe that was why I was never into dates – I did eat them before but I do not recall ever enjoying them…but these Yusuf Taiyoob ones are definitely a different story altogether, no price for guessing what I will be looking forward to buying come next Ramadan.

The Taliban song…

I call him Janggut by virtue of his long beard but the very nice and friendly boss of Sri Pelita calls him Taliban.

I used to enjoy his nasi lemak when he was running a stall here and I would have enjoyed his nasi ayam penyet too if he had not used the same nasi lemak sambal for that. After a while, he closed down his stall but I did bump into him a few times having his breakfast or lunch at Guna’s place. I did hear that he operates a stall at night at the Dewan MUC but so far, I have not gone there to check it out.

Every Ramadan, without fail, he would have a stall…

Taliban stall

at the Bandong (Walk) Ramadan Bazaar but no, he would not be selling his nasi lemak nor his nasi ayam penyet.

I did not buy his rojak nor his cucur sambal

Cucur sambal

…but I did grab a couple of bags of his laksa Penang (RM4.00 each)…

Laksa Penang

…to try.

I heated it up and had it for breakfast the following morning and I must say that I enjoyed it very much…

Laksa Penang, served

…and for someone who is not really into laksa Penang, that sure is saying a lot. A squeeze of that chunk of lemon that came with it made it taste even nicer, just that I would not mind paying a bit more for some visible bits of fish in the broth.

Actually, what I had in mind when I went there that day was his sambal kacang ikan bilis (peanut and dried anchovies)…

Sambal kacang ikan bilis

…that I do enjoy very much. I have had good ones elsewhere but mostly, the ingredients would be kind of limp, not nice and crispy so those would not be nice, not at all. Janggut’s pretty good – very very tasty, bursting with flavours and a bit spicy too so I bought quite a lot to keep…

In a tub

…and eat slowly with my rice – it sure helps to whet one’s appetite on days where there isn’t anything all that nice to eat in the house.

I’ve bought his kacang kuda

Kacang kuda

…before, RM2.00 a cup and yes, his would be extra fragrant because of the curry leaves added and so very nice and soft – that sure saves me a whole lot of trouble trying to cook it myself and waiting for hours for the chick peas to soften and the skin to fall off. I did buy quite a lot of that too that day as my girl enjoys it as well.

Well, if anyone is into these same things, Janggut’s stall (2.313955, 111.825111) is the first one along Jalan Jasmin, off Jalan Bandong, somewhere in front of SK Perbandaran Sibu No. 3, more or less facing the entrance of the Dewan MUC…and if you are having a problem trying to find a place to park your car when you go to the bazaar, you may be able to find a good spot here and it really isn’t very far to walk to where all the action is.

Not too soon…

It certainly was a pleasant surprise that evening when my friends dropped by my house to give me these…

Hokkien chang 1

What? It’s the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节[duān wǔ jié]) already? That’s the time every year when we will eat these chang/zongzi (meat dumplings) but these days, they are available all year round so one can enjoy them anytime, no need to wait for the festival to come around.

Theirs is the Chinese or what we call Hokkien chang…

Hokkien chang 2

…not the nyonya ones that my dear friend, Richard, would make and give me every year. My mum loved his a lot so I would always give her a few from the ones that I got – in fact, Richard, always so very considerate, would set aside some specially for my mum. Sadly, she would not be around anymore this year to enjoy those – if Richard will be making any and giving me some, that is.

Needless to say, these own home-made ones would be heaps nicer than those sold in the town. Those may taste all right but other than being rather expensive these days, the meat filling is hardly visible to the naked eye. When one makes one’s own at home, one can add chunks of meat…

Meat filling

…according to one’s heart’s desire and one has the prerogative, like my friend’s health-conscious missus who made these, to use only lean meat. I sure do not mind a bit of fat though – it makes the chang more oily and somewhat nicer and for those of you who are shuddering at the mere thought of eating pork fat, perhaps you should read this article – it is not as bad as you think. As a matter of fact, it is ranked among the Top 10 most nutritious foods, believe it or not.

There is a bit of shitake mushroom inside too and I could taste the delightful taste of hay bee (dried prawns) and true enough, I spotted one…

Hay bee

…in the dumpling. Don’t ever dream of finding anything of the sort in those commercially-sold ones.

I also love it when there is chestnut…

Chestnut

…inside and also one salted egg yolk but no, my friend did not add that.

The last time I bought one of those sold at the shops, I could detect the salted egg yolk taste but no, I could not see any evidence of its presence in the dumpling…and mind you, the ones with salted egg yolks cost a bomb! Needless to say, you would not catch me buying any anymore, never ever.

For one thing, I’ve noticed that these days, a lot of people here are using nylon strings to tie their chang and I am not too sure what harm that may cause to one’s health. From what I’ve heard, this traditional dried grass breaks easily so it is quite tedious to use but unfortunately, we all know that plastic is bad when used to serve hot food so imagine, these strings being boiled for such a long time while one is cooking the chang.

I googled to check the date and I found out that the Dragon Boat Festival will be on the 18th of June this year, three days after Hari Raya Aidilifitri, tentatively expected to fall on the 15th instant. It is not too soon actually – we are already into the 2nd week of Ramadan and soon the fasting month will come to an end and right after the Hari Raya festivities, the Chinese will be celebrating this festival so if you intend to make your own chang

Hokkien chang 3

…perhaps you should get down to it soon. Thank you so much to my thoughtful and generous friends for giving me some of theirs – I sure enjoyed them very much…and if there is anyone else who would like to let me try the fruits of their labour, rest assured that I would welcome them eagerly with my two hands wide open. LOL!!!

Morning till [the] nightfall…

This place…

My Bistro

…has been around for a very long time but I never bothered to drop by and give it a try. It appeared to me to be a place serving some pseudo-western dishes and a watering hole later in the night.

Sometime ago, this stall…

My Bistro, inside

…made its appearance there and I did get to eat their egg tarts and Portuguese egg tarts – I think they call them Macau tarts…

My Bistro egg tarts & Portuguese egg tarts

…and yes, they were good.

I also bought the chicken curry puffs…

My Bistro curry puff and sio pao

…for some friends once and I did not hear them complain. Other than those, they also had the sio pao (baked char siew buns) and a couple of others like these…

My Bistro tausar peah

…for instance though I am not sure which one that is in the list…

My Bistro price list

They even had that celebrated Taiwanese egg cake…

My Bistro Taiwanese egg cake

…that stirred up a storm when it made its first appearance in the country and had a whole lot of people queuing up for it.

I tried their steamed char siew pao (RM2.00)…

My Bistro steamed char siew pao

…before and it was very nice so I stopped by that day to buy a few home to re-steam in the morning for breakfast. I think the ones here that were selling for only RM1.50 initially had gone up in price to way over RM2.00 by now and I did not like the egg tarts there.

I ordered one of their steamed meat paos (RM3.20)…

My Bistro steamed meat pao

…that day and frankly, at that price, I expected it to be much bigger. The filling was so-so – it sure did not get me jumping up and down with delight and at that price, I think I would much sooner stick to the much nicer char siew ones.

I asked the people there and they told me that the stall would open 7-ish in the morning and would stay open till past nightfall at around 8 at which time, people would go there for drinks and there is a kampua mee stall inside – if I am not wrong, they said that it opens at night so those there for the booze could have that as well should they feel like having a bite to eat. I did not ask if they still serve those pseudo-western dishes anymore or not.

It’s a nice small place, not crowded and I do think it is ideal for meeting friends to sit and chat. The kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) that I had was good and I love the blackboard chalk-drawn mural…

My Bistro mural

…on the wall but do be forewarned that I did stop there one afternoon to buy the tarts and they were not available. Perhaps they were all sold out that day.

MY BISTRO CAFE & BAR (2.311574, 111.846440) is located right beside Delta Mall among the shops at Pusat Pedada, the first shop at the corner in the block to the right of the mall if you are facing its back entrance.