Somebody new…

There was an old lady here

Ling's Corner

…and everyone was singing praises of her rojak tambi (Indian rojak) but everytime I dropped by, the stall was closed except for that one time when it was open but she was not around. Somebody at the shop said she was always like that, loved to go and walk around leaving her stall unattended so I just left. There were other times when I drove past and saw the stall open but I did not feel like stopping for it at the time. Eventually I heard that she had decided to call it quits owing to ill health.

Much to my surprise, the stall was open that morning and it was still very early, around 7 a.m. but there was a sweet young girl there…

Rojak tambi stall

…now.

I ordered a plate (RM4.00)…

Rojak tambi 1

…to try and it turned out to be really very good. I sure enjoyed it very much and there were potatoes in it too!

A long long time ago, when this guy named Kassim started selling his, he had potatoes and even hard-boiled egg in his and it was a bestseller! That was why this is often called Rojak Kassim here but he has moved to Kuching and is running a stall there now, some internal family problems, I heard. They say at this point in time, the daughter-in-law is running his stall here, since renamed, but it is a pale shadow of what it used to be.

Our rojak tambi is not really like those around the country or what is called pasembur elsewhere. The gravy is a little like the peanut sauce one gets when eating satay so I would say it is a cross between pasembur and the Indonesian gado-gado

Rojak tambi 2

…and I am glad we have one that is really very nice now. There are a lot of wannabe’s around town but generally, they are not really worth going back for. I asked the girl if she was in any way related to the old lady but she said she wasn’t. Thankfully, she is able to replicate the much-coveted taste and I certainly will be going back again for more.

LING’S CORNER (2.291104, 111.826237) is located across the road from Wisma Sanyan along Jalan Sanyan, formerly Causeway, below the Teochew Association in the block of shops to the left behind the Petronas (formerly Esso) station.

Distracted…

My girl told me that she liked the Big Breakfast here…

McDonald's Sibu

…a lot more than what she had here that morning so of course, I had to make my way there to give it a try.

My regular readers would know jolly well that I am not into these franchise places and I really can’t really remember the last time I stepped into one of their outlets and that too was probably at KLIA while I was waiting for a plane or someone to arrive (and I usually picked Colonel Sanders’ as the outlet was closer to the departure gate) or sending somebody off. I used to go to the one here at their former location when my girl was little/younger simply because she loved it here. Somehow or other, kids and young people are drawn to such places.

That morning, as I approached the counter…

McDonald's Sibu counter

…to order, I was distracted by this…

MdD nasi lemak

…and of course, that called for a last-minute change of plans and I had that instead, RM5.65 with one complimentary iced Milo plus 6% SST.

I’m sure everyone would be able to tell why I was not in the least impressed when I opened the paper cup/bowl. That fried egg was an absolute disaster…

Fried egg

…but thankfully, everything underneath…

No peanuts

…looked pretty good.

Of course, the test of the pudding is in the eating and I thought the rice was not quite lemak, not by my standard but it was very nice, bursting with the flavours of whatever was used in the cooking, the  ginger, pandan and what not. The sambal was very good too and it was super spicy – my missus would love it, I’m sure!

All in all, I would say that despite the egg, I did enjoy it very much. If they can’t give hard-boiled egg, the standard authentic nasi lemak condiment, with it, perhaps they can consider sliced omelette instead (like what one gets in Sarawak laksa) – I think I would prefer that instead. For one thing, at least, it wasn’t that nasi lemak burger that took the region by storm not very long ago. I simply could not understand how something without nasi could pass off as nasi lemak – thankfully, it died a natural death soon enough, no longer on their menu.

Well, it certainly looks like I will have to come back here again soon…for the big breakfast.

MCDONALD’S SIBU (2.290644, 111.826028) is located at Shop Lot No. 2 (Ground & 1st Floor) and Shop Lot No. 4 (Ground Floor), Causeway Road (now Jalan Sanyan), directly opposite Wisma Sanyan (Parkson).

You can do it too…

Early last Friday morning, after dropping off my girl at her school, I stopped by my Malay kueh and everything else stall at Bandong here to see if there was anything I could buy home for breakfast. No, it was our no-meat day so no noodles at the coffee shops for me that day!

I saw that they had their own-cooked nasi lemak now but no, I did get my hopes too high. I was rather disappointed with the nasi lemak at the stall a stone’s throw away that day as it was no longer as lemak as it used to be and I was not as impressed as before.

They had a choice between pedas (spicy) and not pedas and of course, I wanted the former. I bought two packets home (RM3.00 each)…

Mak Met nasi lemak

…to try and I was glad I did as the rice was lemak and the sambal was spicy enough and really good and I liked how they fried their own kacang (peanuts), skin and all, instead of using those salted ones sold in packets or tins at the shops and supermarkets. I certainly would not hesitate to buy more should I happen to go there again instead of that other one and anyway, they do not open till much later, around or after 7.30 a.m.

I bought their very nice cucur for my girl and I also grabbed some of these huat koi or fatt koh (3 for RM1.00)…

Mak Met huat koi

I think they call it apam tapai as there is some degree of fermentation in the making of these and yes, they were very good even though they were not perfectly shaped. My girl seems to enjoy eating these and I quite like them too, eaten with butter. They looked better before though, made in paper cups, with the gaping top, the way they should look like once they have huat.

Mak Met, the very nice lady who used to run the place has not been around for a while. Nobody seemed eager to tell me anything – they just said that she was resting at home. Well, when she was around, I used to enjoy her bread pudding and I spotted it there that morning. Of course, especially when I had not had it for a long time, I wasted no time in buying a piece (RM2.00)…

Mak Met bread pudding

…the last one left that morning! I particular like how the bread is blended together with the batter instead of being laid out slice by slice and baked after the batter has been poured all over it. I sure enjoyed it very much but at RM2.00 a piece, perhaps I wouldn’t be going for it all that often.

This stall/shop that used to be called MAK MET’s BREAKFAST STATION is located at the shops along Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) where PENYET BANDONG is in the evening.

Equal…

An old friend, Ah Eng, used to run the char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) stall here and her business was so good that everything would be sold out by 9 something, before 10. One fine day, she felt that enough was enough and decided to call it a day – according to the son, my ex-student, her legs could not take it, standing there and frying her noodles, plate after plate, every day.

This very friendly and chatty lady…

Kopitiam Fantasy kway teow stall

…took over her stall and my missus did try her sambal kway teow once and she loved it – equal to Ah Eng’s, she said, a fitting successor.

Yes, they open very early in the morning and the other day, I decided that I could do with a change from the usual kampua mee breakfast and dropped by this coffee shop and much to my delight, it was open and the stalls were already in full swing.

I ordered the lady’s Penang char kway teow (RM5.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy Penang char kway teow 1

…and it was really very good. Other than the one on top, there were 4 or 5 more prawns hidden underneath the noodles and she sure was very generous with her slices of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and there were bits of pork in it as well. I wish she had cockles too but I guess I would just have to do without those.

I tapao-ed her sambal kway teow (RM4.00) for my missus and I loved her own-made chili dip…

Kopitiam Fantasy Penang char kway teow 2

…so much that I simply had to ask her for a bit and she willingly obliged. As she was eating what I had bought home for her, my missus asked where I bought the so-very-nice kway teow and she gave the chili dip her double thumbs up too. It was quite spicy but our threshold level is very high so we did not feel it that much.

Incidentally, the coffee (RM1.70) was great too and one thing’s for sure, I certainly would be dropping by there again…soon.

KOPITIAM FANTASY, otherwise popularly known as Tiam Tiam Lai (2.292435, 111.835066), is located among the shops in the Jalan Chew Siik Hiong area of shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre, facing Jalan Mahsuri.

Just a bit…

The kampua mee and I guess, everything else including the pian sip (meat dumplings) here…

Soon Hock

…is a bit more expensive than elsewhere, just a bit, by 20 sen to be exact but it opens real early, around 6.00 a.m. and stays open all day, right into the night (off day on Tuesdays) and it is very popular, always very crowded even at the break of dawn!

I wanted to go to another shop a few doors away that morning but the people at the stalls were not ready yet and the workers were still arranging the tables and the chairs so I decided to come here instead.

I had the kampua mee pok (flat noodles), white (with light soy sauce), tossed in (bottled) chili sauce with pian sip (RM3.20)…

Mee pok piansip

…and one thing I noticed was that the mee pok seemed a little narrower and thinner…

More

…than those I had elsewhere and boy, they sure gave a lot of it! Maybe that is why people do not mind one bit that they would need to fork out 20 sen more here.

I should have ordered it without the chili as it made the noodles a little sweet – I am not surprised at all as that is what you get when it comes in a bottle and I would much prefer the kampua mee original authentic taste, unadulterated and for this reason, you will not see me ordering it with black soy sauce either.

The complimentary soup was bland, almost tasteless and because the pian sip were coated with the chili sauce, when I put them in it in an effort to give it a bit of taste, it wasn’t all that successful.

Well, I wouldn’t say I am all that keen to go back there again, not that it will make any difference to them seeing how it is always drawing customers by the droves.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312181, 111.845824) is located among the Delta Mall/Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the Methodist church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.

Further in…

When I was here early one morning sometime ago, I noticed there was a stall further in…

Stall

…already open and and the lady was busy doing whatever she was doing. I did not go over to see what she was selling though so the other morning, I decided to stop by and do just that.

I was thinking of having the mee sua but the fragrance of the Sarawak laksa broth caught my attention. Normally, I would not go for anything spicy that early in the morning but I couldn’t resist ordering a bowl (RM5.00)…

Sarawak laksa 1

…to try.

I must say she was not all that generous with the belacan (dried prawn paste)…

Belacan

…but it did not matter all that much as it did not look like the Bintulu belacan that I would enjoy very much.

The laksa broth…

Sarawak laksa 2

…was nice, a bit on the mild side but I could detect a light hint of the ketumbar (coriander) in it and I liked that. Other than that, I was glad that it was not all santan, not overly lemak like some here and true Sarawak/Kuching laksa connoisseurs would frown at the sight of it and declare that it should not be like that as it is not supposed to be like…curry!

There was no shredded/pulled chicken meat though, just a few small shrimps and a few strips of sliced omelette and a bit of tofu puff. That is one thing you will not get to see in Sarawak laksa in Kuching but they seem to have that most everywhere here and I would add that too when I cook my own at home as for whatever reason, my girl loves it! There was also the absence of daun sup (Chinese celery) in the garnishing on top, just a sprinkling of chopped spring onion.

All in all, I would say that I quite enjoyed it but the next time around, I would want to try whatever else the lady has to offer at her stall. One thing I noticed was how very sad she looked – not a smile but no, she was not unfriendly or anything. I guess some people are like that.

HAPPY SWEET GARDEN FOOD CENTRE (2.301085, 111.835842) is located at No. 16, Jalan Merdeka Barat, back to back with the Sibu Polyclinic, Jalan Oya.

Affordable…

It’s coming up to that time of the year again and these Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits a.k.a. pek guek tong chiew pia

Pek guek pia

…have made their appearance at the shops here.

I just grabbed two the other day and headed straight home and it was not until much later that I realised that it was not the brand that I like, the one where they state very clearly right across the front that the biscuits mengandungi lemak babi (contain lard) and are hence, not halal

Kinsen pek quek pia *Archive photo*

I find that these are crumblier and have the nice fragrance of lard unlike the former which are a little sweeter and harder.

The packaging is similar and they are priced the same – RM6.00 a packet, same as last year but I really must be careful when out shopping and make sure I do not come home with stuff that aren’t really to my liking.

In the meantime, we stumbled upon these biscuits…

Heritage Highland shorties

…at the supermarket here, the one that stocks up on a lot of imported stuff.

When I was in the U.K., I used to look out for these biscuits and cookies with the £1 sticker on the packaging as even at RM3.50 to a pound at the time, the rest were all not that affordable, not something that the likes of me could afford. I used to buy one very nice ginger nut biscuits with that £1 price tag at another supermarket here, only RM4 something a pack and they were very nice but I have not seen any there lately.

These were 2 for £1…

Price tag

…but they were going for over RM5 a pack. They are definitely a lot cheaper than many of our local Malaysian brands and I really hate those that come in big packs and when you open it, there are a lot of empty spaces in the plastic tray or packaging inside, mostly in between the few rows of biscuits so there aren’t that many in the end, actually. Somebody should sue them for an obvious intention to deceive the buyers.

It turned out that those aforementioned imported biscuits were very nice so I went back to the supermarket to grab some more. We have yet to try these…

Heritage shortcake biscuits

…also selling for over RM5.00 but these…

Heritage All butter Scottish shortbread fingers

…also going for around that same price, more or less, were gone in no time at all.

I so love these Scottish shortbread…

Hertitage Scottish shortbread fingers

…for the lovely butter fragrance especially but the very celebrated Walkers’ ones are priced here at over RM20.00 a pack and it is not even my favourite brand! I certainly will go back to buy more of these before they are all sold out.

One thing about this supermarket, once something is sold out, you do not know when the next shipment will come so other than the regular stuff like Tim Tams and what not, you may not get to see it back on the shelves ever again.

We get our supply of Australian/New Zealand fresh milk from here too, usually cheaper than elsewhere in town and right now, Meadow Fresh is going for RM3.99 a carton, RM4.99 for low fat. You will never see such prices where our own Malaysian locally-produced milk products are concerned, that’s for sure. Hmmm…it is RM6.99 in KL, it seems and it is currently out of stock! Eat your hearts out, folks! LOL!!!

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman and opens daily from 8.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.

Once a week date…

It was raining heavily last Saturday evening so we decided to go for the early Sunday morning service instead but it rained too on Sunday morning. Thankfully, it stopped before we left the house so it was all right in the end.

It was still early when we were done, before 9.00 a.m. but I do know for a fact that this place

Outright Coffee

…opens early, at 7.00 a.m. and since we had something on that evening, we thought we would just go for a more substantial brunch for our once-a-week special lunch date, enough to tide us over till dinner. It is quite obvious that the boss, Dennis, is taking good care of his plants – they sure look good, all that greenery around the place.

They have nasi lemak on their menu now and I wanted to try that, only to be told that it would not be available till after 10.00 a.m. Hmmm…it sure looks like the early bird does not always catch the worm.

We love their beef pies a lot so I ordered one (RM9.00)…

Beef pie

…to share for the simple reason that we all had our own individual orders and yes, it was, as always, very nice. I do wish though that they would do something about the presentation, some lettuce and cherry tomatoes by the side or a couple of slices of tomato and cucumber perhaps to give it a bit of colour, if nothing else, instead of serving it on its own just like that…and they could have used a smaller plate, a saucer perhaps – the pie is not that big!

My missus had their croissant boat (RM13.00)…

Croissant boat

…which she enjoyed and my girl loved her big breakfast (RM15.50)…

Big breakfast

…except that the texture of the croissants did not seem quite right – they did not have the thin, flaky and crusty-on-the-outside layers, not quite like what croissants should be like, and I can’t say that we could detect any buttery fragrance either. My girl did not even finish half of her mini one!

That was why I thought my tangy mango chicken croissant (RM16.00)…

Mango chicken croissant

…was, at best, just so-so. They certainly were very generous with the mango and there were bits of chicken in the croissant, just that the texture was dense, just like…bread, very nice bread, I must say, and I was thinking it would be nice if they had given a bit of butter to go with it but there was none.

My missus and I had their long black (RM7.00 each) while my girl was quite happy with the water that one can help oneself to there.

There were two girls manning the counter and doing the serving that morning, very friendly, efficient and proficient in English so I did not have to struggle to understand and make myself understood but our orders were kind of slow in coming out of the kitchen though – it did not matter one bit of course as we were not in a hurry to go anywhere.

The total came up to RM67.50 which was all right considering that it was our once-a-week special but one thing’s for sure, should we drop by here again – we sure would as we do like some of the items on their menu here, the pies, for instance, and it is a very nice place to hang out – we certainly would think twice about ordering their croissants again.

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lau King Howe Memorial Museum.

Ties that bind…

Despite the not very conducive conditions at the school in the jungle and the horrendous hazardous journey on the yet-to-be-completed highway to go there and back, after over six years there, my girl did have some kind of bond with her colleagues there.

They are very nice people and they did help my girl out a lot of times…but when she left, it was kind of abrupt. The letter came and she had to report in her new school right away so there was a simple assembly that morning, the 12th of last month, before the pupils dispersed and all the goodbyes were said there and then and we left as soon it was done.

That was why I told her we could host a gathering and invite everybody to get together to express our sincere appreciation of the friendships made and the good times spent together over the years. We picked Sunday, the 21st of July, as Monday was a public holiday here, Sarawak’s Independence Day. It turned out that it was not really a good day as some of them had made plans to go home to the peninsula or to Kuching or go somewhere so not all of them could make it that night.

For the venue, we picked this place where I had my high school reunion parties in 2013 and again, in April this year and I picked my personal favourites here.

The daging masak hitam (beef)…

Li Hua masak hitam

…was a hot favourite. In fact, theirs is so good that people would specially order it to take home and serve, for instance, for Chinese New Year. They are selling it at RM60 a kg.

Everyone sang praises of the kiam sor hay (salty and crispy prawns)…

Li Hua kiam sor hay

…how fresh and how deliciously done they were. Those crustaceans that size sure do not come cheap here, around RM55 a kg.

My girl had quite a number of the honey chicken wings…

Li Hua honey chicken wings

…and I did have one or two as well and yes, they were nice too.

The curry was good…

Li Hua chicken curry

…though I was wishing there were a lot more potatoes in it. I love them in curry!

I did not try the mixed vegetables…

Li Hua mixed vegetables

I heard some people saying that it was good but everyone loved the cangkuk manis

Li Hua cangkok manis

…and I had quite a lot of it myself.

I asked for plain rice as some of those dishes would go well with it but I had a lot more of the fried noodles…

Li Hua fried mee

…and even packed what was left to take home.

There were fruits and some very nice agar-agar (jelly) in the buffet spread but I went and bought these coconut tarts

Aroma coconut tarts

…and also their mini sponge cake tarts…

Aroma mini sponge cake tarts

…for something a little bit extra special for dessert. They were a hit and no prize for guessing which one the kids loved the most.

My girl’s colleagues bought her a very nice cookware set……

Gifts

and I did invite some of my friends as well for what I called a makan selamat especially those who followed my posts on Facebook faithfully and never failed to wish us well on our perilous weekly drives up and down the Pain-Borneo highway over the years. Thank God we survived that without any untoward incidents or accidents, praise the Lord. Some of them did bring a little something for us though they shouldn’t have – thank you so much, and most of all, thank you to everybody for taking the time off to attend our simple get-together.

I sure enjoyed myself – the food, the company and also the karaoke singing. Should I have an excuse to host another party like this again, I most certainly would not hesitate to do so.

LI HUA HOTEL RESTAURANT (2.284477, 111.8316940) is located on the 1st floor of the hotel at the T-junction of Lorong Lanang 2 and Jalan Maju.

No introduction…

Of course, needless to say, this place needs no introduction especially when I’ve blogged about it time and time again over the years.

My friend/ex-student, Louis, now a practising lawyer, residing with his wife and kids in Kuching, travels frequently on his working trips and he does stop by Sibu quite often. Of course, while he is back in town, he will go for his favourites here, there and everywhere and share photographs of what he has had for breakfast, lunch or dinner on Instagram and on Facebook.

However, I do not recall ever seeing his post on this place and I was wondering whether he had been here before or not. That was why when he was in town last week, I invited him out to dinner and no prize for guessing where we arranged to meet. It turned out that he did come here once before with another ex-student of mine and his wife and he said they had the rojak and liked it a lot and also the mushroom roll and one of the curries.

I ordered the lamb masala  (RM19.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe lamb masala

…and the otak-otak fish (Rm13.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe otak-otak

…plus the belimbing prawns…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns

…and he sure enjoyed them all but it was the pomelo salad (8.00)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…that drew an instant verbal response from him. “This is very nice!” he exclaimed, “The pomelo is very sweet.”

In his own words, it was a wonderful and delightful dinner and to top it up, we had the jelly pisang (RM9.00) for dessert.

The total came up to RM66.00, much cheaper than many of the places that I have been to lately, and of course, I paid RM70.00 and told them to keep the change. I certainly will do that anywhere, provided I have enjoyed the food and the service is great, of course!

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.