Someplace nice…

That evening, after our pleasant stroll browsing around the stalls at the cultural festival, we went looking for someplace nice for dinner.

I asked my girl what she wanted and she said she wouldn’t mind the beef noodles (RM15.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kuay teow neua

here and of course, whatever she wants, she will get and we dropped by the place for what I believe is called the ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อตุ๋น or the kuay teow neua with the pad thai kway teow-like noodles.

These…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kuay teow neua, condiments

…were served by the side for us to add as we choose and yes, my girl loved the noodles very much. There was enough for the three of us but of course, we let her have the lion’s share.

This plate of fried tom yam bihun

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried tom yam bihun

…was on the house, from my sweet and dear friend, Mary and her authentic Thai chefs and the crew, thank you so so much to all of them for the special treat and yes, we enjoyed that as well. I did try their tom yam fried rice sometime ago…

Flavours Thai Kitchen tom yam fried rice
*Archive photo*

…and I did like that a lot as well but I have not had it since, not when there are so many things there to pick and choose and savour.

We ordered their oyster omelette (RM19.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen oyster omelette

…to go with our noodles and of course, I singled out the big oysters one by one for my girl. I guess that is quite typical of all parents, saving the best for the children.

The som tam or papaya salad (RM15.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen som tam

…was exceptionally nice that night. Mary asked us if we wanted to try the Bangkok style which she said would be a little bit sweeter than the usual and of course, we did not mind it one bit and yes, it was very much to our liking.

That certainly was a delightful dinner and the nice cool environment certainly was a welcome change from the heat I had to put up with outside – it certainly has been very hot here lately.

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN (2.292836, 111.828287) 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.

This is us…

Yes, this is us! Our culture, our heritage which should be preserved and cherished and kudos to the organisers for doing a great job in holding this event…

Borneo Cultural Festival arch

…every year – the Borneo Cultural Festival.

This year’s was from the 19th until the 28th of July and one of the main attractions would be this Melanau swing, called the itut

Itut

I was there early that evening so the people had not got into the swing of things yet, so to speak. If I am not wrong, it is called by different names depending on the locality where the Melanaus come from, one of which is the tibow. One thing peculiar about the Melanau language is that if you are from different parts of the Rejang Basin, the Melanau that you speak may be quite different – like what we here in Sibu speak compared to those in Matu or Oya…or Dalat and Mukah.

I did drop by this place…

Rumah Melanau

…but it was still closed so I did not get to go in but I did manage to get a photograph of these mannequins dressed in the traditional Melanau costumes…

Melanau traditional costumes

…through the window and this is one of the Chinese booths…

Chinese booth

…and no, there was nothing going on at the time when I was there.

All the food stalls were in the thick of things already though and there were a lot of people around buying whatever they fancied. This is one of the many ethnic/Iban stalls selling their traditional pansoh (food cooked in bamboo) and barbecued pork belly…

Pansoh & babi panggang

It seems to be a popular practice here to marinate the meat with the red coloured asamboi (sour plums) giving it that horrendous colour, even the chicken wings and what not at a lot of places. Personally, I would prefer that they do not do so like at this stall…

Babi panggang

…where the meat would be barbecued till a lovely shade of brown.

I saw these…

Roast pork trotters

…at another stall but no, they were definitely not of our authentic Borneo origin. My missus did buy a bit to try…

Cooking

…and she said that they told her it was Italian or something…and yes, she loved it!

This strictly-not-halal pork burger stall…

Burger Babi

…caught my attention – the boys were certainly very nice and friendly but no, I did not grab one of theirs nor this giant one…

Giant burger

…the size of a seat cushion, that I saw at another stall.

I thought the tempura seafood in a cup…

Tempura seafood

…looked very good but they could not tell me if any wheat flour was used in the making so I did not buy that either nor did I buy any of these that I saw at a vegetarian stall…

Vegetarian

…whatever that was. I did buy something from there though, this serimuka

Serimuka

…that looked really nice. However, it was not lemak enough for me and had a sort of herbal taste to it, something remotely like the guilinggao (tortoise/turtle jelly) so at best I would say it was all right but no, I certainly did not go running back there for more.

These chang (glutinous rice dumplings)…

Chang

…looked very nice and big but at that price, I decided I would not take the chance.

There was somebody making the tee peang

Tee peang

…with meat filling too and one handsome boy was frying the char koay kak (Chinese fried carrot cake) while the guy beside him was cooking some bihun kueh or something…

Handsome boy & his koay kak

Even though it rained earlier that afternoon and it was not that hot, I still felt the heat and was sweating uncomfortably and did not feel like eating anything. That was why I did not buy anything in the end but I must say I was very impressed by all that I saw.

One year, I dropped by and saw a whole lot of deep-fried stuff – those Taiwanese street food kind of thing and I was quite disgusted as this festival should be a showcase of our own culture and should have a lot of our local culinary delights…and those days, what they had at their stalls looked like things they had bought at the pasar malam (night market) and brought over to sell at marked up prices. This year, I did see a lot of things being made or cooked on the spot.

I’ve heard a lot of people grumbling that the festival was just slightly over a week long and should be extended to two weeks or even a month. This year’s did coincide with a long weekend, July 22nd being a public holiday here but it probably would be nice if, in future, the dates are planned to include the school holidays so people from other parts of the state or the country can come as well.

Got a new one…

I spotted this…

Starfresh corned beef

…on the shelves at one of the supermarkets in town the other day. I guess it is a new one as I have not seen it anywhere else before. One good thing is the price – it is a little less than RM10.00 which is more or less like what I would have to fork out for my regular brand…

Linkz corned beef

This one that I used to like before…

Mili corned beef

…has inched past the RM10.00 mark already and besides, it is “whiter” which probably means that it has a lot more fat plus it is more mushy, not quite as nice, and since price is no longer a consideration as far as it is concerned, I would not be all that keen to buy it anymore.

Of course there are other brands that are nice too but they are way over RM10.00, too expensive for the likes of me.

To try this new one out, I peeled one potato and cut it into cubes…

Potatoes

I don’t know what potato it was – we depend solely on the vegetable seller by the side of the building here in the afternoon. He will tell us if it is good and the ones my missus bought from him that day were huge! That was just one potato and there was so much of it…and yes, it was very nice and creamy, exactly what we will look for in potatoes.

I boiled it till soft…

Potatoes, boiled

…and drained it well. That would save me the trouble of waiting for the potatoes to cook while cooking the corned beef.

I peeled and sliced some Bombay onions…

Bombay onions, peeled and sliced

…and opened the can of corned beef and mashed it…

Corned beef, out of the can

…with a fork. I thought it looked finer, more mashed than the others – if you are into coarse corned beef, you can try the New Zealand one, Palm Tree brand or something. Theirs is like pulled meat – you can actually see the strips of beef but of course, it does not come cheap, not at all.

I also felt that this one looked very red, no traces of white like this one…

Corned beef with fat

…which obviously has a lot more fat and when it is so fat, I would just fry and melt the oil to cook the dish. I guess I can’t do the same with this one.

That was why I fried the onions in a little bit of oil…

Fry the onion

…till it all came apart and had softened a bit before I added the corned beef…

Add the corned beef

…and mixed everything well.

When the beef was done – it would have turned a slightly darker shade of red than when it just came out of the can, I added the potatoes…

Add the potatoes

…and after stir-frying a little bit more, I dished everything out onto a plate…

Corned beef with Bombay onions and potatoes

…and served.

You can add some more ingredients to enhance the taste if you are thus inclined. Some chili would be nice to give it that extra kick but I was cooking it the way my mum did – my dad was a true-blue Foochow, no chili in the food…and in fact, we were brought up that way too. I only started to appreciate and enjoy chili in the 70’s when I was already in my twenties.

Other things that I have in mind would be some curry leaves or chopped Chinese celery and perhaps. some Thai basil leaves would be great as well. I’d probably try it another day since I have lots growing in my garden.

Heads/tails…

Mee sua/suah, literally translated as string or thread noodles, is our traditional local Foochow longevity noodles, a must-eat on one’s birthday for a life that is as long as the noodles. In my younger days, I did hear people saying that one must slurp everything down and not bite the noodles lest one would end up shortening one’s life but of course, nobody bothers about this age-old superstition anymore.

These days, I am the only one in the house eating it as it is made from wheat flour and is thus, not gluten-free. That is why on birthdays and other special occasions, my girl would have to settle for hung ngang (big bihun)…

Hung ngang in traditional red wine chicken soup

…instead but with the same traditional red wine chicken soup.

For some people, buying the noodles is not as easy as it seems – there are those who will only buy the head (mee sua thow) or the tail (mee sua boi) – I cannot, for the dear life of me, remember which the more coveted part is. It seems that they prefer the finer, thinner part which they would insist is nicer but I am not really particular – to me, head or tail, as long as it is mee sua, it is nice.

Well, the other day, I ran out of my stock of the noodles so I went to one of the shops round the corner from my house to buy some more. I’ve bought this…

Bag full of mee sua

…before – one big bag for RM10.00 and it looks like the price has gone up to RM11.50 now. Ah well! What hasn’t? Of course I did not buy that – there will be too much in that one bag and I would probably take ages to finish all that is in it.

I’ve also bought this brand…

Mee sua, brand 1

…before and yes, it was good enough for me but there did not seem as much in one packet (RM3.90) as this brand (RM4.30)…

Mee sua, brand 2

…so in the end, I bought the latter.

I cooked some of the traditional red wine chicken soup…

Traditional red wine chicken soup

…that day with ginger and lots of red wine and I added some wolfberries and dried dates (cut to let the sweetness come out) and some dried shitake mushroom.

Needless to say, the mee sua

Mee sua in traditional red wine chicken soup

…eaten with the rich, flavourful and very nutritious soup, was so so good.

Mashup…

This post comprises a mashup of things that aren’t quite enough for separate posts on their own.

First and foremost, I must say thank you so so much once again to my very sweet and generous friend, Mary, for giving me these…

From Mary

…sets of easy-to-cook instant Thai delights. At this point in time, I am not sure when I will be using them to whip up those dishes yet – for one thing, I will have to go and buy some basic ingredients first but of course, when I do so, I will surely blog about it and give my true and honest review of the product.

In the meantime, I had some of those frozen beef balls in the freezer, Rambly’s, I think, and one morning, I took them out to cook my own version of the Indonesian bakso

Bakso 1

…using another packet of the noodles that I still had after cooking my Marmite mee that day.

There wasn’t much beef taste in the soup so I added a teaspoon of Marmite and a bit of salt and it turned out pretty nice. I also broke an egg into the boiling soup and the thinly sliced sawtooth coriander (刺芫荽 or ci yan sui/ketumbar Java) from my garden…

Bakso 2

…sure brought the taste to a whole new level.

Feeling inspired, I went and bought a packet of frozen minced beef to try and cook this same dish but it was disastrous. I think there was way too much fat in the beef so though it tasted all right, it turned out quite inedible and in the end, we just tried a bit and threw most of it away. One thing’s for sure, I will never buy those packets of minced beef sold at the supermarkets ever again. Once bitten, twice shy!

When we moved into our house in the late 80’s, the previous owner left a lot of plants behind, discarded, some in broken pots, others growing rampantly wild so we had to clear up the mess. However, we did save some that we could salvage and there was this one pot of aloe vera. You can read up on all the (health) benefits and uses of the plant here and according to this website, this is a plant used in the rituals against bad luck and envy, as it is said to be one of the strongest to fight against bad vibes. It is known for attracting prosperity and positive energy anywhere in the home where it is located. Many people believe that when the aloe vera plant grows…it is attracting good luck. If it fades, it is because it has absorbed the negative energies and has protected us.

The plant grew and multiplied in that one pot and I did transfer some into individual pots and they went on multiplying so I got some more pots for them. I have this very big one…

Aloe vera 1

…the mother plant, in my living room now and I took one to my girl’s quarters in her school in the jungle. For one thing, it is claimed that it is an air purifier and will absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen.

After all the repotting that I did, other than the big one in the house, I also have these four…

Alor vera 2

…and a few smaller ones as well. I sure wouldn’t mind giving them away, not all, of course, if anyone is interested.

What a mess…

We love the kampua mee here…

Ah Sian Beef Noodle Cafe

– it was the only one that my girl would eat before she discovered that she was gluten-intolerant…and the clear beef soup is very nice too and we so love their chili dip as well.

Well, last Sunday was a public holiday here, our independence day, so we did not have to make our way to my girl’s school in the jungle till Monday. After the morning church service, we decided to stop by here for breakfast and that was a big mistake!

Long ago, when it only occupied one shop lot, there was a grim-faced lady, Miss Congeniality she sure wasn’t, who went from table to table to take everyone’s orders. No one else was allowed to do that – they only did the serving and all the rest. Then a pleasant friendly guy took over and now that they have expanded, there were two other guys with him – the lady was nowhere to be seen.

The one who came and took ours seemed to mess everything up so we had to repeat everything and after he had left, my missus said that he would probably mess all our orders up.

The drinks came and yes, they were exactly what we wanted – that sure was a relief…and then the noodles came – this…

Ah Sian kampua mee kosong, black

kampua mee kosong with black soy sauce. Now, we never said we wanted it black. I am no fan of it black as the strong taste of the soy sauce would be overpowering and it would drown out the nice subtle taste of really good kampua mee.

We asked for two but got only one and a bowl of beef noodles, soup…

Ah Sian beef noodles, soup

My missus said she did not mind having that and so she did while I had the aforementioned kampua mee kosong, black and this little bowl of beef soup special…

Ah Sian beef soup special

…with strips of tripe and tendon.

We ordered kway teow, done kampua mee-style for my girl as it is gluten-free but it never came. I asked the mum to go and ask and yes, after she did that, it came soon enough by which time I was already in no mood to take any more photographs.

Then the guy who took our orders came with a tray of three bowls of kampua mee, white…no, not two but three – and he said that we had made a mistake and had eaten somebody else’s orders. WHAT??? WE made a mistake! Your worker served them to us and we assumed that YOU had made a mistake and we were nice and gracious enough  not to make a fuss and to just quietly eat what we were served but of course, I said nothing – my girl does not like me making a scene in public. The guy took the noodles back probably to serve to somebody else.

When my girl was done, I paid for what we had and left…and looking at how messy things were that morning, we probably would not be back again…or not when there are a lot of people, definitely!

AH SIAN BEEF NOODLE CAFE (2.293063, 111.826106) is located along Jalan Tuanku Osman in the block of shops right in front of the Public Bank, Tuanku Osman branch, right before the tyre shop and below the Kasturi Restaurant at the other end.

Out with the girls…

The worldwide premiere of the prequel/sequel to this massively popular musical and later, the movie, was on Thursday last week but even though I had been waiting all this time for it, I did not rush to see it right away as I wanted to wait for my girl and yes, we did get to catch the show last Saturday, the 1.00 p.m. show.

We stopped by the trioplex to grab our tickets – there was a special concession for the matinee, RM10.00 only per person and having done that, we dropped by here

New Capital Restaurant

…right across the road, for lunch.

My girl said she did not mind having the chicken rice, the favourite of many in town, so we had the chicken…

New Capital Restaurant steamed chicken

…and the rice…

New Capital Restaurant chicken rice

…and yes, we did enjoy that very much.

One of my girl’s favourite dishes at this restaurant is their chess/checkerboard duck…

New Capital Restaurant chess/checkerboard duck

…but she was reluctant to order that as the mum would not touch duck so we might not be able to finish it. I insisted that we should just go ahead and if we could not eat it all up, we could always tapao what was left to take home for dinner and that was what we did! She sure enjoyed it very much, both at the restaurant and in the evening, at home so I sure was glad that we did go for it in the end.

That simple lunch sure wasn’t cheap though, RM56.80 for the food and three bowls of chicken rice but I guess it was all right as we would not be going for it all that often – for one thing, parking around that area is near impossible so as far as I could help it, I would avoid venturing to that part of town. That day, I had drive all the way up to park at the top of the complex where the trioplex was and even then, there were just a couple of spaces left when I got there.

The movie was good, very entertaining and a whole lot of fun – a great one to go and see to relax and de-stress but personally, I prefer the first one especially with the more familiar ABBA songs. In this one, there were a few of those and others from the later albums and I did not even know some of them.

The sweet girl insisted on paying for both the lunch and the movie even though I kept telling her to just save her hard-earned money – I can manage pretty well with what I have at hand.

New Capital Restaurant 新首都酒家 (2.288619, 111.830057) is located at No. 46, Lebuh Tanah Mas, off Jalan Kampung Nyabor, in the block of shops opposite the Sarawak House/King’s Trioplex/Premier Hotel at the very far end on the right.