That’s what he said…

One of my paternal cousins was telling me about this place…

Coffee shop sign

…at the wedding banquet that night. He said that the kampua mee, the pian sip, the Sarawak laksa and the kueh chap from this stall…

Coffee shop stall

…there were all very nice.

Well, actually, we dropped by there once, on a Sunday after the early morning church service, when it first opened – it is a stone’s throw from the Sibu Town Square, originally King George VI Memorial Ground, later Padang Sukan Tun Datuk Patinggi Tuanku Hj Bujang and to be renamed Dataran Tun Tuanku Bujang at the New Year’s Eve Countdown here tonight…

Sibu Town Square

…one of the shops in the first block on your left if you are heading down that road where De’House Hotel and Bakemore Bakery are, on your right and this coffee place is right behind these two places while this place is right ahead, round the corner. However, it was so very crowded and we did not know what was nice and my head was spinning in the midst of all that commotion so we decided to adjourn elsewhere.

I was early that morning so there were not that many people at the time. The kopi-o-peng/iced black coffee (RM1.60)…

Kopi-o-peng

…was just all right – there are others that are nicer elsewhere but maybe, not at that price. It usually costs RM1.80 a glass around here.

I had the kueh chap special (RM8.00)…

Kueh chap special 1

…but I did not know what exactly was special about it. Maybe it was a bigger bowl or there were more added ingredients and I was given one whole egg – elsewhere, they would give you half only, usually.

Yes, it was very nice – not quite like the usual kueh chap here, there and everywhere but it seemed to have a distinct taste of its own and yes, I did like it and I was glad they used the kueh, those broad rice sheets…

Kueh chap special 2

…unlike the last time I had it here – they took the liberty of substituting it with kway teow without asking me first if I would mind that. Of course, that got me quite pissed off. I was a regular there at one time but for various other reasons – this being one of them, I have not been going there much anymore these days.

I wouldn’t say it was so nice that I would be running back for more especially at that price – RM8.00 to me is rather steep when I can get a lot of other things that may be nicer even for a whole lot less…but I probably would stop by again sometime to try something else instead.

I heard the Chinese ladies conversing very fluently in ethnic Iban language and I could guess right away that they were not locals – probably from one of the towns upriver and true enough, when I asked one of them, she said that she was from Kanowit.

By the time I was done, the crowd had started coming and the tables were running out so I left quickly to give way to the new-comers.

This coffee shop (2.290717, 111.822459) is located near the Sibu Town Square/Dataran Tun Tuanku Bujang at Jalan Lau King Howe Lorong 1, facing the Lau King Howe Memorial Museum which is on the opposite side of the road.

If you don’t love me, it’s fine…

Fans of the Taiwanese singer, Jay Chou, would probably know this song of his but no, I have never been one. Well, I do know of him and I may have heard some of his songs but I do not think there is any that I can remember. Never mind, this is not going to be about him nor his songs nor his movies but about his favourite sandwich…

Liang
*Their photo on Facebook*

According to this online page, this is his favourite sandwich bar and outlets of this Taiwanese franchise have since mushroomed all over Malaysia and one has just opened its doors right here in our little town earlier this month.

Well, the ladies went out one afternoon and they dropped by the mall where the outlet is and they came home with this…

From Liang

…for me to try.

According to them, there was a long queue with customers buying bags and bags of the sandwich made out of Taiwanese onion or scallion pancakes. If you think that it looked like our roti canai

Liang sandwich 1
*“definition” misspelt on the paper bag*

…that was exactly what I felt except that I thought our roti canai tastes a bit nicer. I do not know if it is just the outlet here but this one was a tad oily – you would get all your fingers oily when you hold it to eat.

That was on a Friday so they got me the one without meat, just mushroom and egg (RM8.90)…

Liang sandwich 2

…but they told me that you could choose to add this and that to your sandwich like cheese, for instance. I would not say it got me all excited as I thought it wasn’t anything that would get me running back for more – perhaps the ones with chicken (RM10.90) would be a lot more to my liking since I am more of a meat person but at those prices, I think I would just give it a miss. I would much sooner go for my Elvis Presley sandwich anytime! That would be heaps nicer.

Well, I’m afraid I don’t think I love you all that much, neither the singer nor the sandwich…but as the song goes, I guess that is fine – there are others who do, lots of them, in fact…

LIANG Sandwich Bar, Sibu is located at Star Mega Mall (2.304873, 111.863752), along Lorong Tunku Abdul Rahman 2, off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This Christmas day…

We did not have any plans for Christmas this year, other than going for the church service on the night of Christmas Eve. See if you can spot me in this video clip! LOL!!!

My girl made this gluten-free chocolate brownie with chocolate icing…

Gluten-free chocolate brownie with icing

…using the cake mix that my cousin from Brisbane, Australia gave her earlier this year. Yes, it was very nice – the cake was rich and moist but like most/all cakes in western countries, it was very sweet. I had to refrain from having more than one or to the most, two slices in one sitting.

We got an invitation from my cousin to join her family and some of our other relatives here for lunch…

At my cousin's Christmas open house

…on Christmas day so of course, we did not not want to miss it, not at all! Hmmm…that cushion sure came in handy, don’t you think? LOL!!!

Her daughter, Jessica, and Conelius got married at the end of 2014 and are blessed with two kids now, a boy and a girl which, of course, means that my cousin and her hubby are proud and happy grandparents now. The photographs that I took of the dishes in the buffet spread did not turn out too well so all I’ve got to share is this one of the celebrated Sarawak kek lapis (layer cake)…

Kek lapis Sarawak

That night, I suggested going for a western dinner and when we were here not too long ago, I did say that I would be looking out for their Christmas menu and would drop by if we thought it would be worth the while and that was why we went back there again that evening.

When we entered, we caught a whiff of the very delightful coffee fragrance, whatever they were brewing at that point in time and being unable to resist, my missus ordered their flat white (RM10.90)…

Ladoree flat white

…and my girl had their latte (RM10.90)…

Ladoree latte

…and yes, they loved their picks though my missus insisted that hers was nicer. As for me, I stuck faithfully to my glass of plain water.

We had their classic Australian rib eye (RM79.90)…

Ladoree classic Australian rib eye

…which was, at best, quite all right to us but then again, we are not really fans of beef – we prefer lamb. It was not tender enough but went very well with the special sauce/gravy that came with it.

They probably had quite a crowd the night before for they were out of their rack of lamb that we wanted. No, we did not want their curry lamb shank as we wanted to go entirely western and that spicy dish did not fit the bill and we could not order their hot and crispy lamb shoulder as it would not be gluten-free with the coating of bread crumbs. In the end, we just ordered their roasted chicken whole leg (RM25.90)…

Ladoree roasted chicken whole leg

…and that turned out to be a really wise choice on our part. It was so very nice and we loved the orange sauce in the dish. That certainly was a consolation for the fact that we did not get to enjoy any turkey this year. Sobsss!!!

They were out of Ceasar salad too so they suggested a replacement instead – potato salad (RM13.90)…

Ladoree potato salad

…and of course, we jumped at it – we certainly would prefer that but it was not on the Christmas menu and for reasons unknown, the sesame salad dressing was served separately…

Ladoree potato salad and dressing

…which was a good thing as that particular range of Kewpie salad dressing is  not gluten-free and my girl did not mind it one bit as she enjoyed the lightly-fried potato cubes and bits of bacon and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on their own.

She also wanted the mushroom soup (RM10.90)…

Ladoree mushroom soup
*Archive photo*

…that we had on our last visit again as she did enjoy it very much.

We certainly were caught by surprise when this King prawn aglio-olio spaghetti…

Ladoree king prawn aglio-olio spaghetti

…was served to our table, a special Christmas treat from my ex-student, John, whose sister and brother-in-law run the place. Goodness gracious me!!! I don’t know how much that costs but if you go for a bowl/plate of noodles with those three gigantic prawns at a coffee shop outside, it would set you back by around RM60-100, I’m sure. I asked John to put it on the bill – after all, he already gave me a treat on our last visit here but no, he insisted that it would be on him, that sweet boy!

My girl could not eat the pasta as it was not gluten-free but it was really very nice – I absolutely loved it…and the prawns were awesome too – we had one each and we sure enjoyed it to the max.

I went to pay the bill and the total, not including the prawn pasta dish, came up to RM152.90 and I got a further discount – I think it was 5% so the nett total was RM145.25 and John waived the 25 sen and collected RM145.00 only from me. My! My! With this kind of privileged treatment, no price for guessing whether I would be coming back again especially when we like the food plus the service is great, prompt and efficient and everybody is very nice and friendly…and yes, they speak English very fluently here too.

My girl was immensely pleased with that most delightful dinner and could not contain her happiness and of course, when she is happy, the father would be very happy too! Though unplanned, it sure turned out that we had a very lovely and joyous Christmas celebration, after all.

LADOREE CAFE & EVENTS (2.302891, 111.842997) is located at Wisma Liberty, Lot 4047, Block 3, Jalan Pedada (now Jalan Dr. Wong Soon Kai).

You gotta try…

My paternal cousin comes home every year from Sydney, Australia around Christmas to visit the mum and this year, he had another reason to do so – to attend his younger brother’s daughter’s wedding. Of course, each year, we would meet some place for some of the best in town like in 2016, for instance, we were here…and here in 2017.

Yes, he comes but once a year but no, he’s no Santa Claus or at least, he definitely isn’t shaped like that but yes, he does bring gifts, without fail, and this year, he got me this…

Chocolates

…thank you so much, Alister!

He has been to a number of other places in town – his brothers and other cousins would bring him around as well, some he loved, some not quite but he had never been here so I insisted that he gave it a try.

He loved the fried mee sua

Ruby fried mee sua

…which was something new to him – he had not heard of it done this way, much less eaten it and after his initial surprise upon finding out that it was mee sua (Foochow longevity noodles) and not bihun (rice vermecelli), he tried it and loved it!

Of course I ordered all our favourites here including their salted egg spare ribs…

Ruby salted egg spare ribs

…but even though he loved it with the curry leaves in the dish, it did not seem to excite him as much as the mango Thai-style chicken…

Ruby mango Thai-style chicken

…which he absolutely enjoyed.

The Foochow tofu soup with canned oysters was so good that day but I did not take a photograph of it as the waitress distributed it into individual bowls and served and we also had our must-eat-in-Sibu fried midin (wild jungle fern)…

Roby fried midin

…and I would say that the sweet potato leaves here…

Ruby sweet potato leaves

…is the best n town, so very young and so easy to chew unlike some that I have had the displeasure of eating elsewhere.

I confirmed that there was no soy sauce in their pandan chicken…

Ruby pandan chicken 1

…one dish that we had not ordered for a long time as I was afraid it might not be gluten free. After being reassured that it was all right, we went for it…

Ruby pandan chicken 2

– one each and it certainly swept my cousin off his feet. He loved it! I would say the ones here are different from those you will get at a Thai or Malay restaurant and I have yet to come across any anywhere that is nicer.

I did ask my sister to join us that day so there were five of us altogether and the food alone came up to RM84.00 for 6 dishes, RM104.00 altogether inclusive of rice and drinks and the nice boss rounded it all up to RM100.

There are other very nice dishes here but I just could not possibly order everything at one go. Well, seeing how my cousin enjoyed all the dishes at our lunch that day, I am pretty sure he will be back!

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.

You are the reason…

This beautiful song was the choice for the grand entrance of the bride and groom…

Grand entrance

…my paternal cousin’s daughter and her hubby, at their wedding reception…

Backdrop

…at one of the leading hotels in town last Sunday evening…

Sunset at Twin Towers

…the 23rd of December. Of course, many of my next-of-kin from my father’s side of the family were there to share the joy on this auspicious occasion.

Dinner started with the sio pua (hot plate), our more-than-four Four Seasons…

Sio pua

…and the dishes served that evening included this fish…

Fish

– I believe it was cod and chicken…

Chicken

– roast and served with Thai chili sauce. I did not take snapshots of all the dishes but yes, there were prawns…

Prawns

…too and the fried Chinese pancake…

Chinese pancake

…and a fruit platter for dessert.

The food was good but the Chinese pancake paled in comparison to the one here or here. However, I must say that the service would beat all the rest hands down. The waiting staff would go round and round the whole night, filling the glasses of drinks non-stop and of course, I was pleased that the one assigned to our table did not forget that I was having plain water and not 7-Up or Sprite. I thought the one here was quite good, better than the other two but this one was definitely a cut above all of them. They should come here and have a look so they would be able to improve the service at their banquets in future, all those wallflowers that they hire part-time.

Congratulations once again, Michelle & Kim Seng, may God bless the two of you with abundant love and joy in the years ahead and congratulations also to the proud and happy parents, cousin Jimmy and Lily…

Cousin Jimmy & wife

Thank you so much for the invitation. Cheers!!!

Our own way…

Last Saturday was the Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (冬節).

All through my growing up years, we never did have a grand celebration. For the Chang or the Mooncake Festivals, we would just eat those changs (dumplings) or mooncakes respectively and for this one, my mum would prepare the glutinous rice balls or tang yuan (湯圓) as they are called and we had to eat them. The only one we would go all out to celebrate would be the Chinese New Year Festival. These days, it seems that any festival or chek, as we call it in Hokkien, everyone would be celebrating and go out for dinner in the evening and here, shops would close by mid-day.

I never did like those balls – I found them rubbery and hard to swallow and the sweet pandan-flavoured sugar syrup sure did not help much to enhance the bland taste of the thing. Later, there was the dry crushed peanut and sugar coated version and I sure liked them a little bit more.

I did see any forthcoming in the kitchen last Saturday morning so I went to the shop round the corner from my house and yes, they had the flour and two types of coating – peanut and mung bean so I bought the orange-coloured one with sweet potato and headed home. The ladies got down to making the tang yuan

Tang yuan

…and yes, we did get to eat them, after all, to preserve the age-old Chinese tradition.

When my mum was bedridden, my sister would buy them from the market and when we went over to their house, we would eat, usually one each since we were not all that fond of them. I guessed she would not be having any this year so we gave her some and arranged to meet for lunch here for a little family celebration of our own in our own way and to pass them to her.

My missus had the chicken vindaloo

Cafe Ind chicken vindaloo

…but she still thinks her kalio ayam is a lot more to her liking. I had the fish curry with basmati rice…

Cafe Ind fish curry with basmati rice

…and I quite enjoyed that even though it was rather over-sourish that day but it went really well with the rice.

My girl and my sister both had the mutton biryani

Cafe Ind mutton biryani

That girl of mine would stick faithfully to that everytime we drop by here. The total, inclusive of drinks, came up to RM89.00 and yes, the generous boss gave me a discount and rounded it up to RM85.00 only for me.

Well, it so happened that my friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, made some tang yuan as well and he wanted to send them over to my house that evening. However, we would be going for our weekly Novena and sunset service in church so I said we would drop by once we were done, around 8 something. We were still very full after our lunch so we thought we could have supper there that night.

When we got there, our attention was drawn to this very lovely Christmas tree…

Payung Cafe Christmas tree 1

…by the side and we were amazed to find out that it was actually a quilt-like curtain with a 3-D image of the tree and the ever so creative and innovative Peter painstakingly sewed all the ornaments…

Payung Cafe Christmas tree 2

…onto it. I must say that it sure looked like there was a real Christmas tree standing there. They were still working on the decorations at the time so if one drops by around Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, one would be able to see a lot more…which is more than what I would say about a lot of places here this year – Christmas sure seems a whole lot laid-back, not much decoration, probably because of the flagging Malaysian economy. These are hard times, they say.

For our supper, I had their beef spaghetti (RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe beef spaghetti

…and my girl had their chicken chop (RM25.00)…

Payung Cafe chicken chop

…and no, this time around, we did not request for the two slices of garlic bread…

Payung Cafe garlic bread

…to be left out – I ate those…and replaced with mashed potatoes (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe mashed potatoes

…as comparing the prices, that would not be a fair exchange and I would not want to take advantage of the nice people here. Business is business so we ordered that separately.

My missus had their tom yam prawns (RM17.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe tom yam prawns 1

…and with her special request for it to be extra spicy (which got everyone at the place sneezing away), it was very much to her liking.

There was a Malay lady (and her hubby) who commented in no uncertain terms on their Facebook page recently that there was no soup in their tom yam

Payung Cafe tom yam prawns 2

…and tom yam is supposed to be a soup dish. Well, tom yam fried rice or bihun is not soupy and it is stated as tom yam prawns in the menu, not like at some places, seafood tom yam soup. Well, there was soup in the dish as anyone can see from the photographs, more than enough for my missus, at least, so much so that she could not finish all of it as she was very full already and she even enlisted our help with the prawns – they always give me extra here.

Yes, we did get to enjoy the glutinous rice balls…

Peter's tang yuan

…that Peter prepared in his own way – with sago pearls in gula Melaka (palm sugar) and santan (coconut milk) soup. This is a little bit like the ginataang bilo-bilò in the Philippines, thank you so much, Peter, for the special treat.

Initially, we did not plan to celebrate the festival in any way but we certainly did have a great day…in our own way.

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 and 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.

The spirit of Christmas past…

In my younger days, my dad would receive a lot of Christmas cards from his business associates and I think we did get some from family and friends as well. I would stick them onto the walls of our wooden house using cellophane tape, arranging them in the shape of a Christmas tree…and sometimes, I would hang them up on strings tied up using thumb tacks, one thing one would not be able to do today in our concrete homes.

Yes, we had a Christmas tree too, an odd looking thing with branches that resembled those brushes used for cleaning milk bottles…or worse, toilet brushes…but it was a Christmas tree and I found immense joy in taking it out year after year and decorating it…and of course, putting the presents at the foot of the tree, waiting for Christmas to come so I would be able to open them to see what was inside each of them.

Anyway, back to those Christmas cards, I got 3 from the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists (and of course, I sent them a cheque for what I received from them) and I quickly sent them to family and friends residing overseas in the hope that they would receive them in time. At the time of writing, I only know that my friend in Adelaide got hers while a cousin in Melbourne is on holiday in Las Vegas so she would probably get hers after that, and I have yet to get any news of the rest.

In the meantime, I went round the shops in town in search of Christmas cards to send to those within the country, only to be laughed at. “Nobody sends Christmas cards anymore!” they all said. Well, I was quite determined and would not give up and finally, I found these…

Christmas cards

…at the Religious Articles Shop at the Catholic cathedral here, only RM3.60 for 12 – so very cheap, only 30 sen each and they were all so beautiful and I loved the words inside some of them. I remember how my Dad was very particular in choosing his Christmas cards to send to people and they must mention Christmas specifically. No, those with only “Season’s Greetings” would not do, not at all.

It used to cost only 10 sen to send a card within the country, unsealed, 15 sen for a letter but when I went to send them, the guy at the counter said it would be 50 sen each and if I am not wrong, that would be the special for Christmas thing. Letters these days cost 80 sen…or more, depending on the weight. Ah well!!! It’s only once a year…and yes, I did buy a lot to keep for next year and the years to come. My sister remarked that the envelopes would turn yellow but no, that did not deter me. It’s the thought that counts, that’s my fervent belief.

I was thinking I would not be getting any this year as there were none forthcoming when just the other day, out of the blue, the Poslaju van stopped by my gate and I got this lovely Christmas card…

From Uncle Paul and family

…from my dear uncle (my mum’s youngest brother) and auntie and my cousins in Kuching. They had sent it by courier service for fear that it would not reach me in time – isn’t that so sweet and thoughtful of them?

This one came from another auntie in Kuching, my mum’s late brother’s wife, and my cousin and hubby…

From Ah Kim, Tina and Mapphy

…and believe it or not, they got the card…

From Perth

…all the way from Perth, Australia – the children & their families are there! It seemed that they too had difficulty getting hold of Christmas cards in Kuching.

And talking about Perth, this beautiful one…

From cousin Yvette in Perth

…came from my cousin there. I loved the golden reindeer sticker seal…

Sticker

…on the envelope and inside, she wrote this…

P.S.

Indeed, in the good ol’ days, at this time of the year, we would be looking forward the the Christmas Eve dance at the Sibu Recreation Club (SRC) and there would be one on New Year’s Eve too…and another one on Chinese New Year’s Eve and no, we would not miss a single one. We all loved dancing so much, dancing for the sheer fun of it and we sure had a great time when these festive seasons came around.

Well, time sure has changed. For one thing, I am getting fewer and fewer Christmas cards each passing year – I did get quite a few in 2015 but the number dwindled in 2016…and in 2017. I guess the time will come when I will not be getting any anymore and in the event of that happening, I certainly would feel that something has gone missing from the spirit of Christmas, something like in the words in this song
“You know, I don’t know why
I get to feeling sentimental
About this time, every year.
But every time I see a Christmas card,
I somehow can’t help reminiscing…
…I thrill with every word, every line
Guess I’m always sentimental ’round this time
Pardon me if a tear falls among my Christmas cheer
It’s the mem’ry of an old Christmas card…”

Anyway, card or no card, let us give thanks and praise to the Lord above that we are blessed with this opportunity to wish one and all a Holy and Joyous Christmas…

Merry Christmas

…in whichever way we choose. Happy Christmas!