Every picture tells a story…

On the 1st day of Ramadan, we went to check out one of the bazaars in the town centre but there wasn’t anything that we found appealing. In the end, we decided to walk over to the venue of…

Sibu Street Art Festival

…one of the festivals held here annually to have a look at what they had in store.

The festival for this year had already ended and from their Facebook page, I noticed that they had workshops and things going on at the time. I do not know how long they will leave the artworks there but it sure would be a good idea to have them around for visitors to drop by and admire and take photographs…

Having fun at the Sibu Street Art Festival

If anyone is wondering where the location (2.290047, 111.823891) is, it is by the side of the Sibu Town Square along Island Road (Jalan Pulau) near the Rejang Port Authority Building…

RPA & the Twin Towers

…not far from the Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri office…

LHDN Office

There are some very nice ones that one would not be able to see when driving past in a car – that was why I never bothered as I thought there wasn’t anything worth the trouble.

I like the message in this one…

Meaningful

…and this very colourful one is by the son of some friends of mine…

By my friends' son

– if I am not mistaken, he is also a foodie in his own right but on Instagram and I’m not into that.

This one by the people at the local university here is unique…

UCTS

…in the sense that theirs is not a painting but a carving out of plywood or whatever. There are lights hidden behind the panels so my guess is that it will look very much nicer at night.

I thought this one is very cute – depicting the birds…

The birds

…that would come in the evening, thousands of them like the ones here at Dengkil in Selangor…

Birds in the tree at Dengkil, Selangor
*Archive photo*

That is why when one is out somewhere in town at night, one must not park one’s car under a tree or something so as not to get their droppings all over the vehicle.

They also have one of the egrets…

The egrets

So many of them appeared here out of nowhere at one time that one would see places dotted in white like flocks of sheep but for some reason, they are getting scarce now. Maybe the heat these days is getting to them so they have migrated some place else. I did blog about a lovesick one sometime ago in 2012 if anyone can remember.

Most of them are about food though – many would agree that that is what Sibu is all about…

All about food

– the kampua mee, the kompia, the dianpainngu and the mee sua, the making…

Making mee sua

…and a bowl of it, ready for the eating…

Mee sua and chickens

…and yes, the newspaper-wrapped chicken (and ducks)…

Newspaper-wrapped chickens
*Archive photo*

…are indeed a tourist attraction – correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think one can see this anywhere else.

This one pays tribute to the coffee shops…

The coffee shop culture

…here in Sibu. There are so many coffee shops in the town, at least one or two or three or more in one block of shops unlike other places I had been to where I had to walk and walk and walk and still could not find a decent place to stop by and eat.

We sure enjoyed ourselves very much that day and if these are anything to go by, we certainly would look forward to the one next year.

Get it out of the way…

For the mum’s birthday earlier this month, first thing in the morning, we had the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup and of course, I had our longevity noodles, the mee sua, with that but that is not gluten-free so my girl had hung ngang (the big bihun)…

Hung ngang

…instead and the mum likewise.

I’ve eaten that outside time and time again but I do not remember cooking it myself and I discovered that one cannot just soak it in hot boiling water like bihun – it will have to be cooked like instant noodles and once, it has turned soft, one would have to rinse it well in running tap water to remove the excess starch or when it has cooled down, it will all stick together in a clump, quite unlike bihun. Ah well, as they say, you learn new things every day and who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. LOL!!!

I only cooked a bit that morning so there was still quite a lot left, two-thirds of what was in one packet and of course, it gets on my nerves everytime I see something sitting idle in a container taking up space in the cabinet or pantry. That was why I took it and cooked it that day, just to get it out of the way.

I wanted to try whipping up what I would call sambal hung ngang, along the same lines as sambal bihun that one can get at some places here but of course, I can’t afford to use our very unique straight Rajang hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns)…

Rajang hay bee

…not at over RM100 a kilo, so I decided to use the very very much cheaper bubuk (dried krill shrimps)…

Bubuk

…instead. I soaked a handful of it in hot water and when it has softened, I pounded it with a little bit of belacan (dried prawn paste) and I also pounded the usual suspects – shallots, garlic, ginger, kunyit (turmeric) , lengkuas (galangal) and cili padi

Pounded ingredients & serai

…and I also got a few stalks of serai (lemon grass) from my garden and bruised them at the ends.

I also found something like fish cake in the freezer, only a bit left so of course, I had to get it out the way too. I sliced those and chopped some spring onions and tore some cangkuk manis leaves, both from my garden and took out two eggs from the fridge for use…

Other ingredients

I fried the pounded ingredients and the serai first till fragrant and then I added the bubuk, followed by the fish cake after which, in went the hung ngang. After mixing the noodles well with the ingredients, the cangkuk manis followed and I added a bit of salt according to taste. Finally, the eggs went in and once done, I sprinkled the chopped spring onions…

My fried bubuk hung ngang

…before taking it all out of the wok.

Yes, it was nice – my missus said it was not as nice as using hay bee/udang kering but I thought it was all right. I particularly liked the fragrance of the ingredients used and there was quite a lot from what was left of the packet of hung ngang, enough for lunch for the two of us, and also our dinner that night, together with the meatballs that I got from the roadside stall in the kampung that day.

You’re what I look for…

Thursday and Friday were public holidays  here in the state of Sarawak so on Wednesday, I had to go all the way to my girl’s school in the jungle to fetch her home.

We were early and I did not have much for breakfast – that was why I decided to stop by Selangau Bazaar for a bite to eat before proceeding to the school. I was pretty sure they would have some things to eat that morning as they were celebrating Teachers’ Day, 16th May so I did not have to worry that my girl would be hungry.

It looked like there are a few new coffee shops and even a food court in Selangau (as well as a new supermarket, a big one) and I don’t recall seeing this one in the corner before…

Corner coffee shop, Selangau

…or maybe there were others there and somebody has taken over – it does not even have a name.

There was this guy there…

The cook

…doing all the cooking, assisted by his mum, I guess, who did all the serving and what not. From the dialect they were speaking, I could guess that they were Foochows.

I walked around looking at what the other customers were eating and caught the whiff of the wok hei fragrance from what the people at one table were having…and I instantly made up my mind that I would have their Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Foochow fried noodles, Selangau 3

…which not only looked good but tasted really great too.

I had it here before

Foochow fried noodles, Selangau 1
*Archive photo*

…and here as well

Foochow fried noodles, Selangau, 2
*Archive photo*

…but both times, the gravy was clear – not quite what I was looking for and definitely not what I like.

This one did not have a lot of ingredients…

Foochow fried noodles, Selangau 4

…just some bits of meat and green vegetables but comparatively, a little more than what one would get at some places here in Sibu and more importantly, it had that coveted taste of the authentic Foochow fried noodles and I sure enjoyed it very much.

My missus had the soup version or what we call char chu mee, fried and cook noodles (RM4.00)…

Char chu mee, Selangau 1

…by virtue of the fact that they would fry the noodles first and then add bone stock to make the soup. She said it was very good but thought that it could do with a little less msg…

Char chu mee, Selangau 2

That is one problem we have these days since we are doing without the stuff at home and consequently, we may be a little too sensitive to it so much so that when we order food outside, we would have to tell them to reduce the amount or not add any at all.

We had their kopi-o-peng/iced coffee, black (RM1.50) and it did not look all that black but surprisingly, it was good. All things considered, we sure would not mind stopping by here again for a bite and a drink as and when the opportunity arises.

Making ends meet…

In these days of escalating prices, it is heartening to see people putting in some effort to supplement their family income and make ends meet. Some may make cakes and stuff or cook their special dishes and leave them at a shop or stall for sale.

I saw somebody sharing about this stall…

Stall sign

…in front of a house in the kampung selling meatballs…

Meatballs

…on Facebook so I decided to go and check it out.

It is run by a young lady/mum assisted by a few young boys including this one…

Running the stall

She had just finished frying a fresh batch of meatballs…

Fresh from the wok

…when I got there that day, a very pleasant lady who was willing to answer all the questions that I asked her.

No, she does not make her own meatballs so I am not too sure if they are gluten-free or not. Most, if not all of those commercially-available ones are not. Even when I made my own, I would add bread crumbs or crushed biscuits.  She said that she makes her own sauce…

Sauce

…though, black pepper…but I could not detect any black pepper in it which, to me, is a good thing as I am not fond of black pepper sauce, not the bottled ones especially. I think there was a hint of tomato (sauce) in it, just a bit, and on the whole, I thought the sauce tasted great. I did not ask if she used the bottled sauces or made hers from scratch – as far as I know, those bottled ones are all not gluten-free.

They are selling one pack of 5 meatballs with French fries and carrot by the side…

Pack of meatballs with fries & carrot

…for RM6.00 and they will give you the special sauce separately to pour over everything…

Sauce added

…prior to eating.

I would say that I quite enjoyed it and I wouldn’t mind stopping by to grab some more should I be passing that way again.

This meatball stall (2.310525, 111.823679) is located by the roadside in front of a house along Jalan Jasmin, quite near to its junction with Jalan Kampung Dato Baru.

Dirty dirty…

I cannot remember who was it who said to me once that I was old and that was why I would never for the dear life of me understand the ways of the younger set today – he or she said that it is the lifestyle, among other things, to go and queue at any new outlet of some famous restaurant in Hong Kong or Taiwan or elsewhere or if there is some very popular product from those countries like when this cake came to town, for instance. We have it here too as well as our own versions from the local bakeries and no, I did not go and queue for any of them but yes, I’ve tried and I guess it will suffice to just say that I was not impressed.

When my friend, Annie, was home from KL for the Ching Ming Festival that day, she shared photographs of this…

Annie's zang zang bao
*Annie’s photo on Facebook*

…on her Facebook page – another craze from Taiwan, the zang zang bao (脏脏包), literally translated as dirty dirty bread – that she got from a bakery here. She just said it was all right and she did not seem very excited over it so no, I did not rush out to go and buy and try.

Well, it so happened that I saw these…

Aroma Bakery zang zang bao

…at this bakery here (I don’t think that was the one where Annie got hers from) so of course, I bought one of each flavour, RM4.00 each, to try to see what the hype was all about.

They both looked like coated croissants and to me, the chocolate one was all right, sweet with the chocolate cream both outside and inside…

Aroma Bakery zang zang bao, chocolate

…but I would think it would be nicer with cake…like the 100% gluten-free flour-less chocolate whipped cream and raspberry roulade

Melissa's chocolate whipped cream & raspberryroulade

…that my girl made during the long weekend break last week. Hers was so very nice, sweet but very nice and despite the fact that no flour was used in the making, it had that lovely soft cake texture.

No, I did not get my hands/fingers all dirty while eating the zang zang bao as I cut the buns into slices using my kitchen scissors and ate with a fork but I do think that if I had not done that, it could get real messy eating that thing.

I am never a fan of anything matcha or green tea but I thought this one…

Aroma Bakery zang zang bao, matcha

…was not too bad. I don’t know what they had for the filling, not anything green tea, and that helped to save the day.

Still, for RM4.00 each, personally, I do think that it would make a lot more sense to go and enjoy a plate of kampua mee and still have change or our very nice Foochow fried noodles instead of one of these.

AROMA BAKERY (2.311151, 111.831515) is located at No. 36 (G/F), Taman Damai along Jalan Dewan Suarah, the second shop in the block on your right as you enter from Jalan Melur, after the Maju Tyre shop.

Can’t tell…

The area where I stay here in Sibu is generally referred to as Au Yong but if I am not wrong, it used to be a much larger area but they extended Brooke Drive and it cut through this area. That is why there is an Au Yong to the left of Brooke Drive, off Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg beside the Sibu Police Headquarters and the one where I am staying.

Anyway, when I was out with my nephews sometime back, the mum was telling the sons about a kampua mee stall in Au Yong that they used to frequent when they were much younger. I couldn’t tell if it was the same one but I also knew of one not far from my house and yes, I used to go over to buy home. It was nice and for only RM1.00, I would get so much, enough for two, at least. Eventually, there came a ruling prohibiting the sale of food at residential premises so the stall came to an untimely end.

According to the mum, the one they were talking about had moved to this shop in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah so of course, I just had to go and check it out to see if it was the same one or not.

No, there was no sign of the old couple who used to run that stall near my house. Instead, there was a younger woman running the show. I asked for a plate of kampua mee, white…

Happy Points kampua kosong

…and a small bowl of pian sip (meat dumplings) soup…

Happy Points pian sip soup

I guess the lady assumed that I intended to have the dumplings instead of the usual slices of meat so I was served the mee kosong (no meat) and to go with my orders, I was given these…

Happy Points pepper, chili sauce and vinegar

– the chili sauce for the mee, should I happen to feel like it and the pepper and the vinegar for the soup.

Yes, the mee was nice but I don’t think the taste was quite like what I used to buy from the stall near my house. Maybe it is because somebody else is making it or the taste has evolved into something quite different over the years, I really can’t tell. The pian sip soup was great too and I did enjoy the coffee…

Happy Points kopi-o-peng

…as well, RM1.50 only which means that it is cheaper than most places in town.

I paid RM4.50 for the whole works…

Happy Points RM4.50 breakfast

…and if I deduct RM1.50 for the drink, that would mean that I had to pay RM3.00 in total for the mee and the pian sip. It does seem cheap at first glance but the dumplings were supposed to replace the meat in what I had so my guess is that one would have to pay RM3.00 for  a regular plate of kampua mee here, with meat, which is more expensive than some of the places in town though it may be the same as a lot of the rest and cheaper than a few…but this one is good though not anything to get me rushing back for more or go out of one’s way for.

HAPPY POINTS CAFE (2.310958, 111.831458) is located along Jalan Dewan Suarah, on your right as you are entering from Jalan Melur, two doors away from the Aroma Bakery so that makes it the fourth shoplot in the block.

This time every year…

It was Mother’s Day last Sunday, the second Sunday in May, and this time every year, I would buy something nice, flowers, a cake or cookies, something for my mum on this special day.

This is my first Mother’s Day without her – she passed away on the 4th of March this year so last Saturday, we made our way to our parents’ resting place…

To wish her a Happy Mum's Day

…specially to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. We brought some flowers, lighted some candles and after saying some prayers for the repose of their souls, we headed back into town.

We decided to stop by here for brunch, a little celebration of our own in advance as the very next day, we would be sending our girl back to her school in the jungle. No, we did not have anything special, just our usual favourites – I had their Bangladeshi lamb curry (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry

…while my sister had their green chicken curry (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe green chicken curry

My girl also had lamb, her favourite lamb masala (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe lamb masala

…while the mum stuck faithfully to their kacang ma chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

I could not resist ordering their version of the tempoyak or fermented durian (RM18.00)…

Payung Cafe tempoyak

…to share. I had run out of what I had stocked up in my freezer a long time ago and I really felt like having that that day.

This was on the house, their very nice pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and Peter, the boss also gave to my  girl and the mum some kim chi

Kim chi from Peter

…that some relative of his, a niece or somebody married to somebody in Korea and residing there, made when he or she was back in town. That sure sounds like it’s pretty authentic, eh?

No, we did not have anything grand, just this simple brunch, but it was of course, no less meaningful as all of us in the immediate family here had the chance to get together and to cherish the fond memories of our dear mum on this very special day.

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.

I’m in a hurry…

That day, my girl wanted to go to see a movie with a friend, the 2 o’ clock matinee, so around noon, we took her to buy the tickets and went for lunch here after that. For one thing, it is very close by, just round the corner so we thought we had ample time to grab a bite to eat.

Unfortunately, it seemed that they had a small catering job that day so they were very busy getting the orders ready for delivery and we were told that we might have to wait quite a bit.

We just had iced water, my missus and I, while my girl had their ginger tea (RM6.50)…

Cafe IND ginger tea

…her favourite drink here. It may take sometime before it is served as the drink is freshly made and in the meantime, one can literally smell the fragrance of the ginger being squeezed at the drinks counter. Yes, it is very strong on the ginger and the tea and it is served unsweetened but they will give you some sugar syrup to add if you so desire.

My girl and her mum ordered their ikan kembong sumbat, the fish deboned and stuffed (RM18.00 each)…

Cafe IND ikan kembong sumbat

…which the latter seemed to enjoy a lot and kept singing its praises.

I had that on our previous visit and the fish did seem bigger this time around and though I quite enjoyed it then, I thought it was kind of dry and I had to resort to taking the gravy from my girl’s Indian butter chicken curry and the mum’s kalio ayam. That was why when this was served, I asked if they could have more of that lovely sauce on the grilled brinjal, skin removed but I was told that they would only cook that much everytime there was an order. I must remember to make a special request in advance the next time we drop by here and order that as that day, I thought it was really very nice and I was wishing I had more of it.

I did not really feel like having their Indian fish curry (RM18.00 with basmati rice)…

Cafe IND Indian fish curry with basmati rice
*Archive photo*

…but I ordered that with a special request for biryani rice to go with it as I was thinking that perhaps the ladies would like to help themselves to the gravy to go with their somewhat dry dish.

Time was running out and the ladies were almost done and there was no sign at all of my order so I stormed to the kitchen to get to the bottom of things. It seemed that they had not even started cooking yet, just about to get down to it so I told them to hurry and to just forget about the biryani rice – just plain rice would do.

Finally, this was served…

Cafe IND Indian fish curry
*There was a big slab of ikan tenggiri/mackerel under the ladies’ fingers*

The difference was obvious, wasn’t it? I guess the reason for it was that their authentic North Indian chef is presently on leave and has gone home to India – he will not be back till after Hari Raya Puasa in the middle of June. In the meantime, the Indonesian chef had to cope all by herself and I gathered that the guy did teach her how to go about cooking some of the Indian dishes but not those that would require the use of the traditional tandoori oven.

I tried it and I actually thought it was very nice, a little on the sourish side but it did taste good. I thought it was, in fact, a really nice change from the regular fish curry the way I had it before as generally, all the curry dishes are quite similar in taste – at the end of the day, they are all…curries.

I ate it all up quickly and went to pay my bill. The total came up to RM64.50 but the nice boss was all apologetic for the long wait and for the not-quite-the-same fish curry so he collected RM50.00 only from me. That was so nice of him, don’t you think? Well, I did not have much time left to linger so I just paid and rushed off quickly to send my girl to the trioplex…

King's Trioplex, Sibu
*Archive photo*

…to watch her movie.

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.

The story of a small town…

If you were into Mandarin movies in the 80’s, you probably would have seen this one (小城故事) starring Kenny Bee and Lin Fong Chiao with Teresa Teng singing the beautiful theme song. I did go and watch the movie at a cinema here way back then but no, I did not think much of it though I do love the very melodious song to this day.

Anyway, there is this small town in the Sarikei District/Division – the mere mention of its name, Jakar (2.043039, 111.494602), would make people think of the celebrated prawn noodles there

Jakar prawn noodles
*Archive photo*

…and the last time my friend, Annie, was back home from KL, she went there with her mum and family and bought me the very nice sio bee (meat dumplings) from there.

I tried and I really liked them a lot

Jakar sio bee
*Archive photo*

…and I did go round looking for them all over town because I heard that they are sold at some places around here. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful – as a matter of fact, I even mentioned it to the boss’ son at this shop as his father would go to Sarikei on alternate days to stock up on stuff for sale but so far, I have not seen them at the shop so I guess they are not all that keen.

Well, Annie was back again for a couple of days to exercise her democratic rights and for some reason, her constituency was in Sarikei so she had to go all the way there to cast her vote. This time around, she got me not one but three packets…

Sarikei Jakar shumai

…for me to enjoy. For sure I would go through them slowly, a few at a time to stretch it for as long as I can.

I also heard from the guy at the hair salon that I would go to that the coffee at Jakar was his favourite – none in Sibu could come near it, he said. I never had the chance to try but that day, Annie got me a pack of that…

Jakar coffee 1

…from this renowned coffee manufacturer there (2.038381, 111.492155)…

Jakar coffee 2

I came across some photographs taken by my friend at their factory…

Jakar coffee 3
*Philip Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…so I asked for his permission to share some of them…

Jakar coffee 4
*Philip Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…here in my blog…

Jakar coffee 5
*Philip Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and he gave me the green light, thank you so much, Philip!

For one thing, they roast the coffee beans with butter added…

Jakar coffee 6

The one here did that too but the last time I spoke to the guy, he said that they would mix margarine these days as butter is way too expensive. Of course, that would mean that their coffee would not be as nice as in the good ol’ days anymore.

Well, I’ve given it a try. They came in sachets…

Jakar coffee 7

…so I just put one in a cup and poured hot water into it.

It was nice but I am not so used to our local coffee without sugar, unlike the mug of Nescafe that I would have every morning, so I added a little bit…

Jakar coffee 8

…and I quite enjoyed it. However, it was not kao (strong) enough for me – I think I would prefer the powder that I can use to brew the coffee using my good ol’ percolator. I bet that would be a whole lot nicer.

Thank you, Annie, for the goodies from Jakar and for going through the trouble of getting me some stuff from there even though you were rushing for time during your lightning visit here.

Shopping…

My girl came home last Tuesday to exercise her democratic right the next day and that evening, she cooked this potato gnocchi dish…

Potato gnocchi with bacon & enoki mushrooms & alfredo sauce 1

…with bacon and enoki mushroom and her own-made alfredo sauce…

Potato gnocchi with bacon & enoki mushroom & alfredo sauce 2

…and yes, it turned out really well. We sure enjoyed that!

For dessert, we had this pumpkin sago…

Pumpkin sago

…that the mum cooked. I had been wanting to try that since I saw it in their menu here and it seemed the two ladies, while on one of their outings, stopped there and my girl had that and loved it a lot.

After that delightful dinner, we decided to go and check out this new place…

Country Grocers

…at the mall since renamed Swan Square – it so happened that it had its soft opening on that very day itself. Giant Hypermart used to be here but it has since closed down and this one has taken over the premises.

I saw Adibah

Adibah Noor

…next door and since she kept insisting, “Masuklah! Masuklah!” so I went in and bought a few packets of organic fertilisers for the plants in my garden.

The new grocery store was pretty much the same like any other supermarket except that this one has a lot of stuff from Japan…

Japanese Kit Kat

…and Korea…

Korean products

…and  of course, my girl was thrilled by all the stuff available…

Sauces

She ended up buying these Korean instant porridge…

Korean instant porridge

…that my cousin in Kuching said was nice, abalone and beef.

They had this wagyu beef…

Wagyu beef

…too but of course, I did not buy that, not that price…

Wagyu beef, price

…thank you very much – not something for poor old pensioners like me, that’s for sure.

I was also shocked to see the current price of my favourite Danish butter cookies…

Butter cookies

…these days. Well, there are things I can live without and this would be one of them but of course, if anyone is thinking of what to get me for my birthday or Christmas or for whatever reason, I shall be most happy to accept with both hands wide open! Hehehehehehe!!!!

This is new – the seating area…

Country Grocers, seating area

They did not have it before when Giant was here. I think one can have chap fan/nasi campur (mixed rice), sandwiches, buns and cakes from the bakery or one of these roast chicken…

Country Grocers roast chicken

…or whatever else that they may have there.

There were a lot of people that night – hopefully, business will always be that good so this place will stay open unlike the one before it.

COUNTRY GROCERS (2.325350, 111.85349) is located at the mall where Giant Hypermart used to be, along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng, on your right if you are coming from town, right after SMK Bandar Sibu.