My niece who’s working in Singapore will always make it a point to come back to Sibu specially for the birthdays of anyone in the family and she will always invite us to join in the celebration and everytime, the sweet girl will bring us “a little something” special from the island republic.

Well, this time around, it was on the occasion of her own birthday last Friday and to reciprocate, I asked her and her parents and also her good friend to join us for dinner here…

Dinner at Payung Cafe

…the following night, Saturday.

This isn’t really a fine dining place, more a casual, a very relaxing and comfortable place to hang out with very good service and really great food to enjoy.

Yes, there would always be fresh flowers…

Fresh flowers

…and pua kumbu (the tradition ethnic blanket) table cloth but we had something special that night – they gave us a sarong instead!

I would prefer some ethnic music (the traditional sape) or keroncong or perhaps some light Indian music (the sitar perhaps) which would be more in line with the lovely ambiance of the place but lately, it seems that they’ve been playing some covers of retro songs, acoustic versions usually and I quite enjoyed them though at times, I wished they would turn down the volume a little.

We had my girl’s favourite, their lamb masala and I asked for three servings of that (RM19.00 each, with rice) as usually they would have three chunks of meat in each so there would be enough for the 7 of us. We also had three servings of their butter chicken (RM18.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken

…and two servings of the pomelo salad (RM8.00 each)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…but I only asked for one serving of their out-of-this-world belimbing prawns (RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 1

…as I know the very nice and generous boss, Peter, would take it upon himself to cook this specialty of theirs for us himself and he would also give us a lot of prawns, definitely enough to go round and that night, he even picked the biggest ones…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 2

…for us. When you get first class treatment like this, is it any wonder at all that we keep going back again and again?

We also brought our own gluten-free corn spirals and asked them to cook it for us and serve with their very nice beef bolognese sauce…

Gluten-free corn spirals with Payung's beef bolognese sauce
*niece’s photo on Facebook*

…but I only asked for two servings of the sauce (RM10.00 each) because it did not look like there was a lot in that packet of pasta until after it was cooked. It would be great if I had requested for three servings – that would be just nice, I think.

Peter, the boss, was most apologetic – he insisted it was overcooked and not al dente but I thought it was all right except that there wasn’t enough sauce and that wasn’t their fault but I did think they could have drained the pasta a little more so it would be completely dry at the bottom of the plate. Believe it or not, a few days later, he showed up at my door with four packs of the lovely beef bolognese sauce that he specially cooked himself for my girl to enjoy at home or in her school in the jungle with her own gluten-free pasta – of course, she was delighted. Isn’t that so very nice and sweet of him?

He also brought me this super awesome chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup…

Chicken in traditional red wine soup from Peter

that I love so much and of course, I had mee sua

Mee sua

…the following morning on his birthday, following the Chinese lunar calendar. Thank you so much, Peter – you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble. We truly were fine with everything that night.

Anyway, back to the dinner, I did not want to order those dishes that my niece had eaten before that night – I always had those for our dinners at home during Chinese New Year  and though I did not order a lot, there was more than enough to go round, so much, in fact, that we could not finish it all so we took one serving of the butter chicken home and gave the rest of the pasta, more than half of it to the staff to enjoy and it sure was a pleasant surprise when we were served this medley of ice cream…

Payung Cafe ice cream medley

– the flavours from left to right were durian, chocolate, peppermint and mango (quinee), a special treat for the birthday girls, my girl’s birthday was two days later. We were served glasses of drinking water without our asking for it and that prompted my niece’s friend, her first time here, to remark, “The service here is really very good!!!”

The total inclusive of drinks, came up to RM171.00, more or less the same as the dinner we had the previous night.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.