Where did all the love go…

I can’t remember the last time I went out for a dinner just for two on Valentine’s Day but I do recall it being a really special event to look forward to, a fine dining experience with fine table linen, real flowers, candles, soothing romantic music and all. After all, it is the festival of love so it has to be really very special.

Payung Café here…

Valentine's Day at Payung

…sure went all out in dolling up the place for the occasion, red heart balloons, pua kumbu or batek sarong tablecloth, flowers here…

Flowers 1

…there…

Flowers 2

…and everywhere…

Flowers 3

…with burning candles at every table…

Flowers & candle

…and here…

Candles 1

…and there…

Candles 2

…too.

With the soothing and sentimental love songs playing, including the keroncong versions of the favourites and soft dim lights all around, the ambiance sure was perfect for a romantic date with one’s sweetheart.

The response did not look all that good though – yes, there were quite a lot of people but no, it was not really crowded but I do think that is a plus point – if it gets too crowded AND noisy, romance will go right out the window and one might as well stop for dinner at some coffee shop instead.

However, most of the groups comprised couples with a child or children. It is great that even though they are married, they still make an effort to celebrate the day together but probably they could have left the kids with the grandparents or an aunt or somebody. One thing that I noticed about these “older” couples was that they did make an effort to dress up nicely which was more than what I could say about the young couples that were there, looking so casual in their t-shirts and shorts like it was just any other day. I did not bother to look – they probably were too busy, all engrossed in their smartphones all evening. Incidentally, there is no free wifi here and I suspect that is one reason why people keep away – they cannot go online unless they have their own data plan.

Yes, my missus and I were there that night and yes, I did try to make myself look a bit more presentable, not in those same clothes that I would go and do my gardening in. Dinner was RM60 per head and you get to choose your own main course.

I did manage to take a photograph of two from the list of selections – their butter chicken and Payung chicken…

Payung butter chicken & Payung chicken

…and one could help oneself to all the salads – their salads have always been a hit among those who drop by and that night, other than the Payung rojak and the papaya salad (som tam), they did come out of those not on their regular menu. They had the vegetable salad (which I thought was their very popular herbs salad) and their very very nice fruit salad – Peter said he added strawberries and that helped bring the taste to a whole new level. I sure enjoyed their potato salad…

Payung potato salad

…a lot as well. Gosh!!! I noticed that the salads were running out faster than they could make them to refill. No, you can’t make a lot at one go – after you have let it sit for a while, the “water” will come out and the salad would not be as nice anymore.

There was also the very nice mushroom soup, eat-all-you-can and the garlic rolls to go with it and for dessert, they had their banana cake, chocolate cake and their own original “Dreamy Nite” and for the drinks, there were the free flow of pineapple ginger soda, anjung smoothie and iced water for those thus inclined.

No, I did not take photographs of everything as by the time, everything was ready, it was already too dark – great for those on a romantic date, not too great for those trying to take some decently nice snapshots.

I was recovering from a slight flu and a terrible cough so I asked for their Indian chai tea…

Inidan chai tea

…with freshly-brewed Indian tea leaves and spices and instead of rice, Andy made these awesome capati

Payung Andy's capati

…for us to enjoy with Karan‘s specially-cooked changezi chicken…

Karan's changezi chicken

He did cook some for Chinese New Year and it was really good so he wanted to give me some, just that Peter said no – he did not want to give me the leftovers and insisted that he cooked it again and this time around, they invited my missus and I to go for the Valentine’s Day dinner on the house and the changezi chicken was on the list of options that one could pick for one’s main dish. For the uninitiated, you can read up to find out more about the dish here.

Well, we certainly had a lovely evening and yes, we enjoyed the food very much, thank you so much to the wonderful guys at Payung for the invitation!

Things had slowed down by the time we left at around 9 – I wonder where everybody went on their Valentine’s Day date that night. Maybe they went their usual haunts, crowded, not necessarily cheaper and definitely not half as romantic as here, none of that love is in the air kind of feeling, but I heard that quite a lot of people came in after we had left and they could only close for the day way past their closing time at 11.

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.