This is the day…

We celebrated our girl’s birthday earlier that weekend when the cousin was home and on the actual day, the 17th of September – the registration people got it wrong and it came out as the 18th in the birth certificate and we never bothered to get it rectified – we went out for dinner here…

Tasty Hotpot

This place has been around for quite sometime now and I think I did hear people saying that they quite liked what they had here but for no particular reason, we never went to give it a try.

There aren’t that many things on their menu – I guess that is because this…

The main attraction

…is their main attraction. You pick how you would like it done out of a choice of four – we chose spicy, moderate which according to the girl, is their signature style and then we went to pick the meat…

Meat

…from the freezer and the vegetables and mushrooms and what not…

Add-ons

…from the containers beside it. Everything here is calculated by how much per 100 gm but those were not our picks – I only took the photograph as they were still there at the counter whereas ours had already gone into the kitchen to be cooked.

This was what it looked like…

Ours

…when it was done and served. The ladies enjoyed it very much – let’s just say I was not all that impressed as it came across as one of those spicy Korean dishes with kim chi and chili paste and everything and no, I am not a fan of those.

The chicken soup with scallop and mushrooms…

Soup

…was a little more up my alley. It was kind of mild and I thought it was quite good.

My girl ordered the dumplings, plain and with chives…

Dumplings

…and she enjoyed them to the max, the latter especially.

I wanted these…

Pork

…their Thai sauce pork which was nice except that it tasted more like chicken with honey so much so that I even had to confirm with the girl that it was actually what we ordered.

Service was great and the place was comfortable enough. All in all, the total came up to over RM70.00 and of course, as long as my girl enjoyed herself especially since it was her birthday, I was fine with it.

TASTY HOTPOT (2.296817, 111.825706) is located along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, beside the old Sing Kwong (Kin Orient Plaza) in the same block of shops as the KimChee Korean BBQ which is on the 1st floor at the other end.

Always on my mind…

A foodie friend of mine shares photos on Facebook and Instagram of what he eats here…

Pualu Babi *Archive photo*

…at Stall No. 13…

Stall No. 13

…ever so often so of course, the thought of stopping by to try was always on my mind.

The problem is parking around here is a real pain unless you go at the break of dawn…like me, after dropping my girl off at school. Unfortunately, they do not open so early and so far, I only saw the stall open once and when I went to ask, I was told they were not quite ready yet.

That was why when my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, called me that day and for no apparent reason, invited me to dinner here, I accepted right away without a second thought.

These prawns…

Prawns

…just came in that afternoon and were super fresh. That serving was HUGE and I sure feasted on a lot of the crustaceans, so succulent and sweet but I was a little bit worried – would I succumb to a gout attack after that? Thankfully, nothing of the sort happened and I was not made to pay for my sinful indulgence! LOL!!!

The dishes here were more like home cooking – I liked the mixed vegetables with bean curd sticks…

Mixed

…and the ladies’ fingers…

Ladies fingers

…though I must say that was the first time I had seen it cut that way.

Robert also asked for these two dishes from their chap fan (mixed rice) selections, the pork cooked with fermented beans…

Pork 1

…but between the two, I prefer this one – the pork belly with mui choy (梅菜焖猪肉)…

Pork 2

My girl loved the steamed fish…

Fish

She passed a remark as to why they could always steam fish so well outside and when we did our own at home, it was never so nice. Hmmm!!! They said that it was some freshwater river fish but they never mentioned the name.

It turned out that the guy doing the cooking was my ex-student, Form 5 1992, the year when I had just joined the school where I retired in 2007. I don’t remember teaching him though but he knew me and he knew my name.

He sure had a following – there was quite a crowd there that night and I heard that it would be like that every night except Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are closed on those two days – I heard them saying something about them going jogging on those two nights. Hmmm…no, thank you! LOL!!!

Well, it sure looks like parking is a breeze at night, Sunday nights especially, so chances are we will be dropping by here again.

KHOO PENG LOONG FOOD GARDEN (2.286751, 111.827785) is located along Jalan Khoo Peng Loong, commonly known around here as Pulau Babi, facing the former express boats wharf where the one I took from Kanowit in the late 70’s and early 80’s would berth.

Double…

This was around two weeks ago when my niece, the one working in Singapore, came back to Sibu on the 13th instant for the Mooncake Festival. Her parents were out of town, gone on a holiday, so we asked her to join us for a steamboat dinner that evening, just a simple one as we were going to have something a little bit more special the next day.

She brought along these…

Starbucks mooncakes 1

…but she shouldn’t have because I am very sure they did not come cheap – nothing from there is cheap plus they…

Starbucks mooncakes 2

…were small, hard and dry. The tiramisu one tasted nice and surprisingly, I quite liked the matcha one even though I am not into anything green tea but on the whole, I would much sooner go for the very cheap and very much nicer homemade ones from the neighbourhood shop.

The following day, the 14th, was her birthday and my girl’s was a few days later on the 17th so we decided to have a double celebration and we ordered two cakes, one for my girl…

Cake by Marcus

…and one for my niece to cut and then take back to Singapore to enjoy it slowly there…

Double celebration

Instead of going to the same ol’ restaurants everytime somebody celebrates a birthday, my missus said she would cook some special dishes for the dinner that night.

I only cooked the chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup for the mee sua (longevity noodles)…

Mee sua

…and an egg each for all of us.

Unfortunately, the photos I took did not turn out too well and I only had this one of the roasted rack of lamb…

Rack of lamb

…and this one of my missus’ version of the ayam masak kunyit

Ayam masak kunyit

…to show. This was the first time she cooked a rack of lamb – she did cook lamb shank a few times before – and yes, she certainly did a very good job with all the herbs and spices and yogurt that went into the cooking.

My niece sure enjoyed the home-cooked food to the max. It has been sometime since she last had the opportunity, not since Chinese New Year, I think.

Well, once again, here’s wishing a VERY belated Happy Birthday to the two girls, may God bless you both abundantly with good health, endless joy…and blue skies and everything nice. Cheers!!!

Remember the day…

I am sure many will always remember 9-11.

I, for one, will always remember that date because it was my late mum’s birthday. Born on September 11th, 1930, she would have been 89 this year. Of course, we made our way that day to our parents’ resting place to offer flowers and prayers and to wish her a Happy Birthday but we had to go in the afternoon as my girl was at work in the morning.

That morning, I went to my regular florist at Rejang Park to buy the flowers and this time around, I decided to buy some carnations, pink and red. I bought a dozen and made two bouquets, six carnations each together with some golden showers and ferns from my garden…

Bouquets for mum

…for the two vases there.

My sister went to another florist and got this lovely floral arrangement…

Flowers from sis and brother

…and my brother in Auckland, New Zealand asked her to get a rose for our mum – you may spot it amongst the rest of the flowers.

While I was at Rejang Park, I decided to stop by here for breakfast. I used to enjoy the claypot noodles from the kampua mee stall in front but after they called it quits, for no particular reason, I don’t think I ever went back for anything from that stall since and if I am not wrong, it had changed hands a number of times.

Now there is a couple running the stall…

Happy Hours stall

…and I ordered the kampua mee kosong

Happy Hours kampua mee

…and the pork balls soup…

Happy Hours pork balls soup

– the set costs only RM4.00 which I thought was relatively cheaper than other places where they usually charge RM6.00 for a set like this or to the cheapest, RM5.00.

Both the noodles and the soup were good and I sure would not mind going for it again should I happen to be in the vicinity.

HAPPY HOURS CAFE 欢乐阁 (2.307023, 111.837357) is located among the shops in the Rejang Park Commercial Centre facing the big parking area beside the surau there.

Meant to be…

Early that morning, at 6.30 a.m., the day when I was going to fly back from Kuching to Sibu, I walked back to the coffee shop as I wanted to buy some of the very nice popiah home.

When I got there, I found that only the kolo mee stall was in full swing, the porridge lady was just getting ready but there was no sign of the laksa and popiah people. According to the aformentioned lady, the popiah stall would only open at around 7.30 a.m.

I decided to have something for breakfast but I did not want the kolo mee again. In the end I asked for their loti kiap (kaya toast) with two half-cooked eggs and a cup of coffee, the true blue Malaysian breakfast…

Choon Hui Malaysian breakfast

As far as I know, their loti kiap is very popular – at around 3.00 p.m. in the afternoon, you can see cars stopping by to buy that. My late uncle, my late maternal aunt’s husband, used to do that and there was this story going round about him buying the toast and because they tied the plastic bag with nylon string in one corner, when he got home, he found that the toast had fallen out of the bag so he did not have any for tea that day.

I can’t say I was impressed by the loti kiap – we can easily get that anywhere and everywhere. I noticed some nyonya chang on the counter and I asked for one to try but no, it was not worth the calories so I did not bother buying any to take home.

I did not want to sit there and wait so I went to the shops across the road and walked to the other side, not facing the main road, to this coffee shop…

Yang Guan Cafe

…where I had the lek tao suan (RM2.00)…

Lek tao suan

…the previous morning, one for the road, so to speak.

The lady…

Stall

…asked if I wanted any yew char koi/you tiao (Chinese crullers) but no, I did not want any as I already had breakfast but I could not resist ordering these steamed chai koi

Chai koi

…to try. The skin was really very good, so soft and so smooth but I only liked the plain sengkuang filling so I bought some of those home. My girl enjoys these and yes, she thought they were good. I wish they could be a bit more generous with the filling though, lots of empty spaces inside.

While I was there, I saw her frying…

Frying

…these…

Fried

…so I asked her what those were. She said it was her own steamed tee koi (kuih bakul) with yam and sweet potato. I was keen on trying so I bought two to take home to Sibu and lived to regret it.

It was so so so good, a slice of tee koi sandwiched between a slice of yam and a slice of sweet potato coated with batter and deep fried (RM1.50 each)…

Tee koi with yam & sweet potato

If I had known it was so nice, I would have bought a dozen, at least!

After that, at around 7.20 a.m., I went back to the earlier coffee shop to see if the popiah stall had started their business for the day. There was no sign of the two Chinese ladies but there was a helper getting the stall ready. I asked her, “Belum buka?” and she just replied curtly, “Belum!” Then I asked her, “Bila buka?” and this time, she replied somewhat rudely, “Tak tahu!!!” I was so pissed off by her attitude that I decided there and then not to buy any to take home and walked back to the hotel.

I had intended to use the hotel shuttle service to the airport, only RM6.99 per head but I did not make any prior reservation and it looked like nobody else would be taking it that day so the driver had taken the day off. In the end, I contacted one of my cousins to see if she could give me a lift and yes, she could. God must have been watching me from a distance because when she showed up at the hotel with her brother, guess what they had bought for me to take back to Sibu. Popiah!!!

They got the ones from this stall…

Popiah stall
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…here…

Gala Food Court
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…at Gala City, a new area in Kuching and yes, the popiah

Gala City popiah
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…was really very good. My cousin thinks it is the best in the city! It certainly looked like it was meant to be – my bringing home some popiah for everyone to enjoy. LOL!!!

Gosh!!! I was in Kuching for only four nights and all in all, I managed to cover the whole trip every step of the way in 16 posts! I had a great time – thank you so much to everybody for everything and I sure am looking forward to the next opportunity to hop over again. Just give me a reason!

CHOON HUI CAFE 春园茶室 (1.552768, 110.354468) is located at No. 34, Jalan Ban Hock in Kuching to the left of the Hotel Grand Continental there and YANG GUAN CAFE 阳光茶室 (1.553644, 110.354284) is along that same road among the shops across the road from Choon Hui but facing inside, not the latter nor the main road while GALA FOOD COURT (1.513013, 110.353807) is in Gala City at the Gala Street Mall SL11-SL12, 801-2B Jalan Tun Jugah, Kempas Heights.

I apologize…

Here, I would like to apologize to all those who got in touch with me to invite me out during my brief stay in Kuching. I was there for the sole intention of attending my ex-Kanowit student’s daughter’s wedding and over those few days, to have a reunion of sorts with the classmates who were able to be present.

I was able to go for lunch with my cousins upon my arrival in the city and dinner with my aunt and her family that first night in Kuching. Other than that, on the final night, Saturday, I managed to go out with a very old friend, his parents were friends of my parents too. It was his birthday before I flew over so I sent him a birthday message. He replied saying that he would be in Sibu in a couple of weeks and if we could, perhaps we could meet for dinner or something.

I told him that I would be in Kuching over the next few days and right away, he asked me when I would be free. I did not know what my ex-students had planned then so I said I was not able to commit but he tentatively picked Saturday night and we would confirm it later.

It turned out that there was nothing on that night so we ended up here for dinner. There was another restaurant here before, a certain Mr. Ho, a West Malaysian franchise and we ate there once and quite liked the food but it looked like they had called it a day or moved elsewhere.

We shared the Gana Club salad (RM15.00)…

Salad

…which was all right and my friend had their chicken cutlet with barbacue sauce (RM19.00)…

Chicken

…and he did not say anything so I guess it was all right too.

I picked the Argentise lamb (Argentine chimchurri) served with homemade Argentine sauce (RM32.00)…

Lamb

…or at least, that was what it said on the menu and I thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, I did not think it was anything spectacular, a little on the tough side and quite a hassle to wrestle with it to get it off the bone

I liked the place though, not many customers and very quiet so we could chat to our heart’s content, no need to shout to be heard and service was great – the people were very nice especially the sweet girl who waited at our table. I would say it is a good place to meet friends for drinks and to talk.

I sure enjoyed chatting with my friend – both our parents were gone now and after all these years, there sure were a lot of things to catch up with in our lives, our families, our friends and memories of the good ol’ days a long long time ago to recall. Thanks so much, Jon, for the lovely evening – it sure was great to see you again.

GANA GARDEN BISTRO (1.551153, 110.369299) is  located at G02 Ground Floor, Crown Square Shopping Centre, Jalan Pending in Kuching.

A mother’s son…

My ex-Kanowit students had planned a get-together at their classmate’s restaurant that Saturday afternoon after the wedding on Friday before going our separate ways.

However, we were there just two nights ago and I did hear that my ex-student, the owner of that restaurant, has a son…

Kenny

…who has branched out to open his own restaurant…

Kwang Chin Seafood

…so I suggested going there instead and everybody…

With ex-Kanowit students and colleagues

…agreed.

While waiting for the food, they took out their old photographs…

Old photographs
*Ex-student’s photograph*

…and everyone was stunned to see that after 40 years, I could still remember the names of so many of their classmates when I asked them where so and so was at this point in time. Sometimes, I truly amaze myself! LOL!!!

Ah Lee brought along yet another tengalan but I was at the back of the restaurant at the time and by the time I got back to the table, the waitress had cut the fish up…

Tengalan

…so it was not a pretty sight. Nonetheless, it was really good and all of us enjoyed it to the max.

The fried midin (wild jungle fern)…

Fried midin

…and mani chai/cangkuk manis

Fried cangkuk manis

…were all right, pretty much like what one can get anywhere and everywhere else but the prawns…

Prawns

…and sweet and sour pork…

Pork

…were really great and very much to my liking.

However, it was the claypot yam…

Claypot yam

…that I enjoyed the most and I kept going back for more till there was none left.

They were saying that they would use the money left over from the reunion they had some years ago in Penang to pay for the lunch but the mother of the bride was free to join us that afternoon and she quietly went and paid for everything!

She even insisted on giving me a BIG ang pao even though I said that I was fine and could pay for all my expenses and just being invited to her daughter’s wedding was such a special honour and privilege already. Not everyone would remember their teacher, much less want the old fogies around for their special occasions. Gee!!! She gave me more than enough for the air fare and the hotel as well, thank you so so much, Sok Hiong!

Thank you also, Ah Lee, for the tengalan and everybody for everything and not forgetting Pek Suan for the Tan Kim Hock durian dodol

Durian dodol

– so thoughtful of you to bring all of us one each all the way from Melaka.

Hopefully, the plans for the next reunion there next year will materialise and we will all get to see one another again. In the meantime, take care and here’s wishing one and all blue skies and everything nice! God bless, everyone!

KWANG CHIN SEAFOOD 广进小厨 (1.530845, 110.367471) is located at the ground floor, Sublot 3, Lot 33, Soho West Phase 2, Jalan Wan Alwi in Kuching, two doors away from CS Supermarket, Kuching Soho branch.