This is for you…

My ex-student, Tham, shared on Facebook a photo of the serunding (meat floss, chicken)…

Serunding, chicken

…that he made and I pulled his leg saying, “You still know where my house is, right?” He did drop by once to give me the very nice butter cake from Mita Cake House in Kuching. The next thing I knew he was at my door, sending some of the very nice fruit of his labour for me to enjoy.

His better half, Daisy, also my ex-student, came with him and they had their baby boy with them too. They tied the knot in 2015 and I was at their wedding reception…and now, they have a two-month-old son already, may God bless them all abundantly in all that lie ahead.

They also brought me these…

Oregano 1

…from Daisy’s mum, a very nice lady, also a retired teacher like me. Those are a variety of oregano, so I was told…and this one with the white edges…

Oregano 2

…would be another variety, sweet majoram, I think this is called along with a whole lot of other names, and this one…

Oregano 3

…is probably the same as the latter though I’m not too sure. Daisy did rattle through all the related information but there was a bit too much for this somewhat slow and old brain to register. Hehehehehe!!! According to her, they are very easy to plant – just stick in the soil and that was exactly what I did. For one thing, like all those other herbs, these have a lot of health benefits as well.

She also gave me some mint…

Mint

…which I had before and it grew really well like this pot of daun pegaga (the gotu kola or the Asian pennywort)…

Daun pegaga

…of mine but it gradually withered away and eventually, it was gone. I hope I will be able to do a lot better with this one.

Talking about my daun pegaga, it sure looks really nice, so nice that I decided to move it to the front of the house beside the driveway. It also has a lot of health benefits and is a very common condiment for our ulam though for no obvious reason (other than the fact that we are too lazy to pound the sambal belacan), we hardly ever harvest any to eat.

This is another variety of daun pegaga, the one with a dot in the middle…

Water pennywort or dollar weed

the water pennywort, it is called and it grows rampantly wild in the drains around my house compound and ever so often, I would have to go on my hands and knees to pull them all out and get rid of them. One shop here planted them in pots and was marketing them as “money plants” – they look like coins, they said (and some people call it the dollar weed)! Well, I decided to do the same just for the fun of it in the hope that it will flourish and look as nice as the aforementioned daun pegaga.

Oh yes! Before I forget, thank you so much, Tham & Daisy and your mother-in-law/mum for the serunding and the herbs. Wish me luck with the latter! LOL!!!

$ave dat money…

It’s that time of the year again! The Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Lantern Festival in this part of the world, falls on Monday, the 24th of September this year and yes, the mooncakes have made their appearance at the local shops and supermarkets.

Recently, I saw some very nice-looking ones from China, selling for less than RM10.00 each, even cheaper than our pretty good made-in-Sibu ones. Even the packaging looked impressive. I guess it can’t possibly get any more authentic than those but no, I did not buy any. These days, I am kind of wary when it comes to anything imported from there.

I have not been buying any for some years now with the exception of those “branded” ones that I would buy – one box each – for my parents and also my mother-in-law to enjoy, never mind the price but now that they had passed away, I would not need to do that anymore.

Over the years, I have had some very nice ones sent to me by my kind and generous friends in the peninsula to enjoy and for one thing, I always loved the packaging and I would keep them to this day. This one from The Baker’s Cottage…

From The Baker's Cottage

…for instance, comes in handy every year, come Chinese New Year, for keeping my stack of ang paos (red packets containing gift money) but not this year as I was not celebrating nor next year too. I saw those from the aforementioned bakery being sold at a bakery here the other day but even the cheapest was over RM20.00 EACH so of course, I just walked away…quietly. LOL!!!

Well, the other day, I happened to see these made-in-Johore ones, Yong Sheng…

Yong Sheng mooncakes - coin box

…at a supermarket here and you can get the coin-box if you buy two of them and being a sucker for these freebies, I grabbed one and took it home. Sigh!!!

I probably would not have done that if they had cost a bomb but these lotus paste ones were only RM15.50 each…

Yong Sheng mooncakes

…and RM16.00 for the lotus paste, white but RM22.00, no sugar. Usually, people would say sugar free or low sugar and I’ve always wondered why it is so much more expensive when there is one ingredient less. Perhaps they use those artificial sweeteners that are a lot more expensive, I wouldn’t know.

Incidentally, I just came to know about the significance of those little white rabbits on the packaging when I read about the Moon Rabbit in my blogger-friend’s post the other day. It seems that it symbolises loyalty and thanksgiving. Gee! I guess one is never too old to learn and one certainly gets to learn new things every day.

The ones that I bought…

Yong Sheng mooncake

…were good, smooth…and fine…

Yong Sheng mooncake, cross-section

…and the skin was not too thick (I do love the skin, actually!) though for me, they were a tad too sweet so I could only nibble, nibble, a wedge at a time…

Yong Sheng mooncake, wedge

…but what the heck, it comes only once a year and even though, these are not as shockingly astronomically priced, I sure would not be rushing out to buy some more – maybe next year.

The coin box sure comes in handy for if I would drop in all my coins every day…

Sikit sikit jadi bukit

…by this time next year, I would have quite a lot to buy more mooncakes to enjoy and most likely, I would be able to afford those more expensive ones even, I think!

Waiting for Saturday…

My missus and I dropped by here last Monday for lunch as we were thinking of having their nasi kerabu that we had not have had for sometime now but unfortunately, we were informed that they no longer served that every day, only on Saturdays.

That probably explained why the place was quite empty…

Empty

…even though it was already noon. Obviously, their nasi kerabu was the main draw, drawing crowds there by the droves at any time of day. I really wonder why they would want to stop betting on a winning horse – maybe a lot of work would be involved so they decided to cut it down to just once a week.

I noticed that they had some new items on their menu…

New on their menu

…and I certainly would give the one concerned top marks for his or her beautiful handwriting on the little blackboards.

I had nasi kak wok (RM5.00)…

Warong Cafe nasi kak wok

…before but not here and no, I certainly was not impressed so it got me wondering why there was such a long queue at the stall at the bazaar every day during the month of Ramadan. Personally, I would think the nasi kuning ayam berempah would be heaps nicer but since they had it here, I decided to give it a try…

Chicken

…and no, I still could not see what the attraction was. Whatever they used to marinate the chicken prior to frying did not seem to make a difference and they could have been a lot more generous with the sambal cili

Sambal

The somewhat diluted fish curry gravy was, at best, just so-so but it sure helped to make the otherwise rather dry dish a bit more palatable.

My missus had their tomato rice with ayam masak merah (RM7.50)…

Nasi tomato ayam masak merah

…which we thought was quite all right, not anything to get us running back for more but I would rate it a lot higher than the nasi kak wok that I had.

I have tried quite a lot of the items on their menu here and yes, there had been a few that I truly enjoyed and would not mind having again but I honestly do not think these two made the grade…and I guess should anyone want to drop by here for their nasi kerabu, they will just have to wait till Saturday.

WARONG CAFE (2.318841, 111.831732), formerly Sri Tanjung Cafe, is located among the shops in between Jalan Tapang and Jalan Tapang Timur towards the end of Jalan Kampung Nangka – RTM Sibu is located right across the road on the right.

Say amen (Saturday night)…

We used to go to the sunset mass at 7.00 p.m. at a church here every Saturday night unless we had something on in which case we would go to the 7.30 a.m. early morning service the next day before sending my girl back to her school in the jungle. To do that, we would have an early dinner at around 5 after which we would bathe and change and get ready, and past 6.00 p.m., we would be on our way.

However, these days, we have been going to the novena at 6.00 p.m. and having our dinner before 5.00 p.m. would be way too early. That is why we have decided that we would go for dinner at 8 something instead, after the service…and that was what we did last Saturday and this regular place of ours is a convenient stop as it is on the way back to our house.

My girl had her favourite here, the lamb chop (RM14.50)…

Colourful Cafe lamb chop

…and she got one big slab of the meat…

Generous piece of lamb

…with black pepper sauce while the mum had her usual fried kway teow (RM4.50).

I had the fried rice with masak hitam beef (RM8.00)…

Colourful Cafe fried rice with masak hitam beef

…and that somewhat disastrous-looking fried egg on top…

Fried egg, fail!

…but thankfully, the yolk was still soft and runny so never mind the look, it was to my liking even though I am very sure the guy is quite capable of doing a much better job at it like this one that I had here before…

Perf-egg

I guess it was because there were a lot of people even though it was already quite late already (and I did see some people from the church there as well).

I don’t know whether it was because it was running late and I was extra hungry but the fried rice…

Colourful Cafe fried rice

…tasted so so good and I did help myself to some of my girl’s crinkle-cut potato chips and that tasted so good too!

After we had finished our dinner, just before we were about to leave, I saw the guy cooking this…

Yee mee & kway teow

– crispy deep-fried yee mee and ying yong kway teow, after which he cooked the tomato sauce-based gravy and poured it all over the noodles…

Tomato-sauce gravy

…but unfortunately, that is not on his regular menu. He was cooking that for his family and staff for their dinner. Good grief! And there I was thinking that my dinner was rather late already!

I did try a bit but I did not fancy the tomato sauce in the gravy. I think I would very much prefer that with the plain wat tan hor egg gravy…like the Cantonese fried (deep-fried crispy) noodles that I used to go for at PJ Old Town in the mid-80’s.

COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

Not here…

My girl’s favourite lemon chicken in town is the one here but though they had been very accommodating initially, the last time we were there, we were informed that they would marinate all the meat before hand and there would be wheat flour added so we would not be able to order those dishes as they would not be gluten free, including their lemon chicken.

A lot of places use the bottled lemon essence or whatever so theirs would have a somewhat unpleasant smell that we would not quite enjoy and when we dropped by here the other day, we decided to give theirs a try. I do not recall ever having their lemon chicken so that would be something different for a change.

It turned out all right…

Ruby Restaurant lemon chicken

…but no, it was not one that would get us rushing back for more, not this one here. To give credit where credit is due, they used fresh lemon or lime but it had a slight kind of bitter taste. Probably instead of squeezing out the juice for use, they threw everything in the blender, skin and all.

It sure looks like we will have to try elsewhere and when we do come back here, we would just stick to those well-trodden paths – they do have some very nice dishes like the butter scotch prawn balls…

Ruby Restaurant butter scotch prawn balls

…that my girl also wanted that day.

It appears to me that she enjoys going out to eat when she comes home on weekends or during the holidays. Her mum would cook a whole lot of stuff for her to take to her school in the jungle to heat up and eat in the course of the week so I guess anything and everything outside would be a welcome change and who doesn’t enjoy going out for a breath of fresh air, right?

We had had enough of bitter gourd and  sweet potato leaves and midin so that day, we went back to one of the nice vegetable dishes here – the cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Ruby Restaurant cangkuk manis with egg

…and we also had the mixed vegetable soup but I thought it was very much nicer the first and the last time I had it here

Ruby Restaurant mixed vegetable soup

It was served in individual bowls this time around too and I did not bother to take a photograph of it.

The total for the food that day came up to RM43.00 for the four dishes. I guess that was pretty o.k.

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

Sweet Mary…

Gee!!! How time flies! It seemed like yesterday when we got together to celebrate her birthday and once again, we were invited to join the ever sweet, forever young and gorgeous Mary at her birthday bash this year…

Mary's birthday dinner 2018

Her authentic Thai chef, Jos, got her a birthday cake…

With Jos

– the very nice New York cheesecake from a leading hotel in town. I do think that their cheesecakes are second to none.

Jos and her counterpart, Su, did an excellent job in preparing the menu for the evening, starting with this very nice bihun with the lightly-fried golden eggs…

Bihun and eggs

…for longevity and prosperity and I so loved the soup…

Soup

…which was served in individual bowls. One was supposed to be for the guest sitting next to me but he showed up rather late by which time I had finished both bowls. Hehehehehe!!! As the English proverb goes, “it’s the early bird that catches the worm.”

For our vegetable dishes, there was this fried garlic chives with beef…

Asparagus with beef

…and the very very nice Thai young mango salad…

Mango salad

The fried chicken wings…

Chicken wings

…were very nicely done too, so very tender and juicy and the grilled barramundi…

Fish

…was absolutely superb too!

The giant udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Prawns

…were so very big…

So big

…and absolutely out of this world and the HUGE lobster…

Lobster

…sure took everybody’s breath away.

I wonder if you’ve noticed that a few of the dishes were served on a bed of ulam raja leaves. Well, Mary proudly declared that they all came from her garden – the pot of seedlings I gave her on her birthday last year flourished and grew and are doing so well that these days, they do not need to buy any from the market anymore.

Happy birthday once again, Mary – it sure was a fun-filled and delightful evening and it was indeed an honour and our utmost pleasure to be able to join you and everybody that night, thank you so much for the invitation. May God bless you abundantly always, cheers!!!

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.

Get connected…

It is very easy for those people perched on top of their ivory towers to say that this is the age of technology and that is how education should be these days.

Well, we do not have to go very far, just 99 km away from Sibu town, less than half an hour’s drive from Selangau Bazaar to my girl’s school in the jungle…

SK Sg Sepiring, Selangau

…and it is located right beside the Sibu-Bintulu road, no need to go inland, deep into the forest even.

Using technology to teach in the classroom is out of the question – I even bought a portable LED projector for over RM1K for my girl to use but there is no power socket, no electricity supply for one to use for this purpose so for years now, it has been sitting idle in one of the cabinets in the house. I wonder if it still works!

The teachers have to do a lot of things online, key in all kinds of information, statistics and what not and never mind that I do not really see the purpose but it actually takes them away from what they are supposed to do – TEACH! For one thing, there is no internet connection (and the servers that the ministry is using suck big time) – no Streamyx nor Unifi in those part of the woods so they will have to pay out of their own pockets to subscribe to one of those that may be used in the desolate remote areas here.

Maxis is totally dead while DIGi has a bit of life. Let us look at my connection. If I am sitting inside my girl’s quarters, for instance, there is no line at all, not even a single bar…

No bar

…and of course, if you want to go online, this is what you will get…

Failed to connect

I will have to go to this corner of the building…

Signal available here

…where on good days, there will be a few bars…

Signal available

…and I will be able to go online to do things like checking out my blog or logging into Facebook…

I'm connected

I remember one time I was bringing some students to a public speaking competition at a school right across the river from Kanowit. I found that there was a connection if I were to stand near one palm tree there holding my hand up high. I could call home…but when I lowered my arm to speak, the connection was lost. A friend of mine from Penang posted to a school in the Dalat district said that he would have to climb on top of a cupboard in his quarters to send me an sms.

“This is CELCOM territory!” they would shamelessly and blatantly declare and I have to fork out around RM100 a month for my girl to enjoy the connection and go online using their wireless modem. It used to be pretty ok before but I hear that these days, for reasons unknown, it is also rather shaky, not all that reliable anymore. Shouldn’t they be getting progressively better, not progressively worse? Tsk! Tsk!

This is why when I see those people with their lofty ideas implementing all kinds of programmes and what not, I get very depressed. It is obvious that they do not know very much about us – like how they would change the dates for their meetings according to their whims and fancies and I had to pay the fines for changing the dates of my air ticket bookings…or even if they do, I don’t think they even care…at all and the tragic thing is I do not foresee a time in the future when this is going to change, no way so for heaven’s sake, spare us all that crap – faster and cheaper broadband by 2019, my foot!

Big mouth strikes again…

I had the focaccia sandwich here

Caffeine Cafe focaccia sandwich

…the other day and it was quite big, bigger than the size of a slice from a regular loaf of sandwich bread and that brought to mind the question that my friend, Merryn, asked on Facebook regarding eating the roti canai, celup or banjir.

I did describe how I would eat a piece of roti canai that day and I have often wondered how people would eat those huge towering burgers – if they were to eat those like a burger, they would need to have a really big mouth and on the other hand, if they were to take it apart to eat, then it would no longer be a burger anymore as they would be eating everything individually, not as a whole.

That day, my girl said that she would just take it by hand and eat it like a sandwich but no, that was not how I ate it. Let me show you what I did.

Firstly, I cut it into slices across its width like this…

Slice

…and then, I cut the slice into halves…

Halves

I guess you would have to cut it smaller, those of you with dainty, not very big mouths.

Once done, I added a bit of the lovely scrambled egg onto the morsel…

Add egg

…and poked through it with my fork…

Poke with fork

…and in it went, into my mouth.

I do have style, very eyew siew (gentle/elegant), very classy, don’t you think? LOL!!!

CAFFEINE CAFE is located on the ground floor of Wisma Liberty, Block 3, Lorong Pedada 7, off Jalan Pedada – on your left, past the Jalan Ulu Oya Road traffic lights if you are coming from town, just a few doors away from Nica Gelateria (2.302620, 111.842988), to the left at the end of that same block. 

What we had…

…here that day was really good unlike that first time when we dropped by to check the place out and the second time around didn’t exactly get us jumping with delight either.

Well, it so happened that my girl and my sister dropped by for lunch recently and my girl came home raving about the pork chop cheese baked rice that my sister had. That was why when we drove all the way to her school in the jungle on Thursday to bring her home for the long weekend, we went here for an early dinner, around after 4 p.m and that (RM18.00)…

Pork chop cheese baked rice

…was what she had.

They certainly were very generous with the meat…

Pork chop

…and the cheese baked rice…

Cheese baked rice

…had fried rice inside…

Fried rice inside

If I am not wrong, you will get plain rice elsewhere. Needless to say, she enjoyed that to the max.

The mum had the Thai-style chicken chop rice (RM18.00)…

Thai-style chicken chop rice

…with one fried egg…

Fried egg

…on top and it sure looked like the meat was served on a bed of greens. She loved it very much but I thought it tasted more or less like the Thai-style mango chicken here, very nice but nothing exclusive or exceptional actually.

So what did I order for myself? I did mention in my post on our previous visit that I would want to go back and try their club or focaccia sandwich and the girl at the counter recommended the latter. For the club, she said, I would be getting plain bread with ham while the focaccia would have smoked chicken filling in some special Italian bread so of course, I had the latter (RM18.00)…

Focaccia sandwich

…and yes, it was really very good. The scrambled egg was nice and creamy enough for me, the way I would like it unlike some of those failed attempts at cooking scrambled eggs that ended up like a badly-messed up omelette that I would get at a lot of places elsewhere and the filling…

Sandwich filling

…was great too. I’ve always enjoyed their salad by the side even on our previous visits and this time was no exception.

I enjoyed my order very much and I sure wouldn’t mind having that again but I think I would ask for the club sandwich the next time around just to see what theirs is like – whatever it is, I am very sure it would be heaps better than the disastrous one I had here that turned out to be just their regular cheese, chicken (ham, that is) and egg (omelette) sandwiches put together at that same price that I would have to fork out here…or maybe more.

I had their panna cotta (RM10)…

Panna cotta

…for dessert and yes, it was good, like the ones I used to enjoy herethe place where these people originally started way back in 2013.

Incidentally, they have done away with the complimentary drinks with certain items on their menu but it was no big deal for us as we could help ourselves to all the chilled drinking water that we would want – that’s what I would usually drink at most places, anyway.

CAFFEINE CAFE is located on the ground floor of Wisma Liberty, Block 3, Lorong Pedada 7, off Jalan Pedada – on your left, past the Jalan Ulu Oya Road traffic lights if you are coming from town, just a few doors away from Nica Gelateria (2.302620, 111.842988), to the left at the end of that same block.

Gotta be there…

I’ve loved the hay peah (prawn fritters)…

Peterson hay peah

…from this place in Kuching, formerly Peterson Corner…

Goh Cafe formerly Peterson Corner

…since I can’t remember when – it was a long long time ago, way back in the days before I started blogging.

Once I wanted to buy some to take back home to Sibu but the old guy simply refused to sell to me. He insisted that I would not know how to fry it to perfection and would ruin his reputation so if anyone wanted to eat his hay peah, one had gotta be there in the flesh to enjoy it on the spot, piping hot from the wok.  After much persuasion, however, he finally relented and sold some to me.

These days, you can buy any number of pieces that you want and the other day, my good friend, Lim, went back to Kuching for a couple of days and when he came back, he brought me a pack…

Peterson Hay Peah, pack of eight

…of eight.

It came with the very nice chili sauce…

Peterson Hay Peah, chili sauce 1

…but of course, if you go and eat it there, you will get it with a generous topping of crushed peanut…

Peterson Hay peah chili sauce 2

…and should you run out halfway, you can always ask for more, no problem at all.

I deep-fried them till golden brown one morning for breakfast…

Peterson Hay Peah, deep-fried 1

…all eight of them and yes, I really enjoyed them very much. It sure has retained that quality of being, to me, the best hay peah in Kuching…

Peterson Hay Peanh deep-fried 2

…crispy and crusty and so very tasty.

A cousin of mine in Kuching says that it is not as nice anymore but there is none available here or even if there are, they will all pale in comparison, no question about that.. For one thing, the old man is no longer fussy about people buying the fritters to take away to wherever and I did notice on my last two visits that he did not do the frying himself – he just left it to his workers. Maybe that is the reason behind this.

Anyway, thank you so much, Lim, for buying them for me to enjoy and thanks also for the super extra spicy nasi lemak sambal that your friend made – it was absolutely out of this world!

This hay peah stall is located at GOH CAFEformerly called Peterson Corner, (1.551939,110.336656) along Lorong Satok No. 3 in the blocks of shops behind the ones facing Satok Road where KFC is located. You can turn in at the KFC junction and go straight along Lorong Satok 7 and turn left – there was a small roundabout there, dunno now and go straight ahead. You will see the shop on your left as you get near to the back of the hotel (Regal Court facing Palm Road) or you can go turn left in front of KFC and go straight ahead and round the corner after Mita Cake House.