What’s that…

This coffee shop…

Emas Corner Cafe Baru

…is probably the branch of this one with the same name in the very congested part of town, hence the “baru” (new) in the sign.

Located to the extreme right of the blocks of shops where this coffee shop was, it sure looked like the lane had been gazetted and given a name…

Road sign

…by the municipal council.

Like the latter, this one too is located along the way home from my girl’s school and it opens real early as well, by around 6.30 a.m. which means that it is very convenient for me to stop by for a bite to eat for breakfast before heading home after dropping off my girl at her school at the break of dawn.

I did not want to try the kampua mee that day as I figured that I have had quite enough of that in my recent posts. According to the sign, it’s only RM2.70, 30 sen cheaper than most and looking around at the other customers that morning, it sure seemed very popular. There were a few people going for their steamed paos too – I wonder if those came from the very popular shop a few doors away. There was one stall in the middle that was not open yet but the chu char  (cook & fry) place at the back was in full swing already at that point in time.

I decided to try the lor mee from this stall…

Emas Corner Cafe Baru stall

…in front and was struck dumbfounded when it was served (RM5.00)…

Emas Corner Cafe Baru lor mee

Now, what on earth was that? It sure did not look anything like any lor mee that I had had before, nothing else other than the noodles, minced meat, green vegetables and one hardboiled egg.

However, to be fair, I would say it was quite nice even though it did not taste like the regular lor mee anywhere else. The broth was something like what one would find in stewed five-spice pork leg or duck, slightly thickened with cornflour but unfortunately, I would not say it was anything that I would want to go for again the next time I drop by here.

EMAS CORNER CAFE BARU (2.292229, 111.838162) is located to the extreme right of the blocks of shops along Lorong Tong Sang 1B at the junction of Jalan Tong San and Lorong/Jalan Langsat.

Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t…

Despite being Sibu born and raised, my girl is not all that crazy about kampua mee but lately, she has acquired the taste and she does like the ones at selected places in town. Well, last Sunday, after the morning church service, I took her here to try the lady’s kampua mee – maybe she would like it, maybe she would not.

When the lady was running her own shop, I never took her there as it was so out of the way and besides, when she was in the school in the jungle, she was only home briefly on weekends. In fact, I would not bother to go there at all unless there were family or friends in Sibu for a visit and I wanted them to enjoy what I liked so much and I think my missus did go with me a few times.

She had the “white” (RM3.00)…

Ciak Pa Boi kampua mee, white

…the version with light soy sauce and yes, she liked it very much except that the serving was too big for her so she did not manage to finish all of it. No prize for guessing who licked the bowl clean! LOL!!!

Of course, the mum had hers tossed in chili sauce (RM3.00)…

Ciak Pa Boi kampua mee, chili

She likes anything spicy hot with lots of chili and she insisted that my girl tried a bit and no, she did not like it as the chili sauce drowned out the lovely subtle taste of the ingredients, the same reason why I am not a fan of the “black” version (with dark soy sauce).

I also ordered a bowl of pian sip soup (RM3.00)…

Ciak Pa boi pian sip soup

…to share. The ladies loved the green vegetables but if I were to order that for myself, I would ask the lady to leave the greens out as they would affect the taste of the soup. A double thumbs up to the lady for using a ceramic bowl, not plastic like what they do at a lot of places and yes, it was nice and everybody enjoyed it.

I did not have any kampua mee myself that morning as on one of my previous visits, I saw somebody having the tomato kway teow from the chu char place at the back and it looked really good and I just had to give it a try. When it was served (RM4.50, the extra 50 sen was probably for the tomato sauce)…

Ciak Pa Boi tomato kway teow

…I was kind of disappointed as no effort had been made to make it look more presentable plus other than those bits of minced meat and the vegetables, it did not have any other added ingredients. However, much to my surprise, it was really very nice and I would rank it among the best in town. I sure would not mind going for that again some time.

CIAK PA BOI CAFE (2.311420, 111.830729) is located in the Dewan Suarah area of shops in the block facing Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg with Captain Roseley’s PETRONAS petrol station right across on the other side of the main road.

I’ve been here so long…

Well, this coffee shop…

Chu Lai Cafe

…opposite the now fully-restored mosque, the one and only one here all throughout my growing up years…

Sibu old mosque, restored

…has been around for so long but I’ve been there once only.

I heard some people praising their fried noodles to the skies so I went to try but I thought it was all right and no, it did not get me rushing back for more. They say the chap fan (mixed rice) is good too but never mind, I’m not so into that. Anyway, when I went there that day, they were closed. I don’t know if if they have called it quits or taken sometime off – I didn’t bother to ask.

In my post about it on my last visit, I did mention the Malay stall…

Chu Lai Cafe Malay stall

…in front and how the lady’s nasi biryani would only be available on Saturdays and that day, I went there because I wanted to give it a try. Like the coffee shop, she has been around for so long too. Since time immemorial, teachers from the schools in town would order from her packs of her nasi biryani when they wanted to give their colleagues a special treat for whatever reason…and yes, I did hear people saying that it was good.

It came with this dhal vegetable curry…

Chu Lai Cafe dhal vegetable curry

…that I quite enjoyed and yes, the rice and the chicken curry and the pickles (RM6.50)…

Chu Lai Cafe nasi biryani

…were all right as well but if it is the authentic Indian biryani rice with all the fragrant spices and what not, then perhaps, you should try elsewhere. This one is quite typical of the nasi biryani at the Malay shops and stalls, nice colour, tastes great but not quite there.

Well, I would say it was good enough for me to want to go for it again should I happen to be around there and looking for a bite to eat but that place is in a VERY congested part of town and parking can be a nightmare, especially with the main branch of that forever busy “tiger bank” a few doors away. We’ll see!

CHU LAI CAFE (2.292279, 111.824598) is located along Jalan Kamoung Nyabor beside/behind the WTK Building directly across the road from the old Sibu mosque and two blocks of shops away, within walking distance, from the RH Hotel.

The dance…

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva. It marks the night of the heavenly marriage and consummation between Shiva and Parvati and it is also the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance.

There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar on the 13th night/14th day, but around February/March, they celebrate the Maha Shivaratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”.

No, I did not know all this but that night I was invited by my Indian friends, Andy and Varun, at Payung to a special thali (a set Indian meal) they were hosting to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Unfortunately, all the photographs that I took did not come out well except this one of the poori


…that we had, a deep-fried bread made from unleavened whole-wheat flour. It went very well with everything that was served on a banana leaf…

Special thali dinner
*Andy’s photo*

…and I even asked for a second helping, another two or three pieces, I can’t remember now.

There seemed to be two main dishes, one that looked like minced meat but cooked using black chickpeas, probably the kala chana curry and the other, the potato bhaji – you can see a bit of that in the above photograph. The other one that you can see in the photograph, top right, is the gajar halwa, an Indian carrot pudding served as a dessert along with the Indian rice kheer, a rice and milk dessert – both of these were slightly sweet, very slightly and I enjoyed them very much.

Varun made a vadai too, not quite the same as the ones that I am accustomed to. He said that was his first attempt as that is a South Indian delicacy and he comes from the north and he did say that they do not serve meals on a banana leaf there either as the plant is not common in the colder climatic conditions unlike the places in the south.

There was a soup using red beans, the bigger version and also an Indian drink that reeked of spices and ginger.

That certainly was a delightful and most interesting evening – we enjoyed the exquisite dinner and the pleasant company…

Thali dinner at Payung
*Andy’s photo*

Thank you so much, Andy & Varun, for inviting us to your celebration of this very special Indian festival.

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.


Well, they are expanding all right. First, there was this place, still going strong and doing really well and then, they opened this one, a gelato place basically and that too was doing so well that they extended upwards to the first floor and now, before Chinese New Year, they opened this new outlet…


…but unlike the other one, there are more food choices here and that was why I wanted to drop by…

Nica+ entrance

…and see what they had on their menu.

My girl wanted the dumplings but they were out of chicken so we had to go for the beef (RM14.50)…

Nica+ beef dumplings

…and even though they turned out completely different from the usual, she said they were all right. I did taste one and yes, they had their own recipe for the filling – I spotted some teeny weeny bits of carrot or whatever, quite different from the usual very-strong-on-the-ginger xiao lung pao kind of filling, be it pork or chicken. Ah well, I am never a fan of these dumplings, anyway.

She also had the smoked Borneo satay (RM10.90)…

Nica+ satay

…which came with a bit of pulut panggang by the side. I did not get to sample these but she said they were nice.

Knowing how much she loves sotong (squid), I asked for their crispy squid ring (RM13.50)…

Nica+ sotong

…which we all enjoyed even though the batter was quite different from the usual, hence its pale colour.

I had the nasi biryani with chicken curry and rendang beef (RM16.90)…

Nica+ biryani + curry + rendang

…and while both the curry and the rendang were fine by me, I particularly liked their rice because unlike those that I had at their sister restaurant, this one had a clear hint of the Indian spices that went into the cooking, not as strong as the nice Hyderabadi vegetable biryani from the airline but I could detect a hint of it (and see some seeds, probably cumin, in the rice) and I loved it. If you go for the ones from the Malay stalls and shops, it will be more or less the same as their nasi kuning or nasi minyak or whatever you call it, nothing more than just the colour and they call it nasi biryani.

My missus had their spicy zao cai chicken ramen (RM14.50)…

Nica+ spicy zao cai chicken ramen

…and she did enjoy that. I did not get to try it but I could catch the whiff of the zao cai as it was served and it did smell really good.

Once we were done, I proceeded to the counter to settle the bill and the sweet and friendly girl told me that it had been paid for…by the boss. The boss? But I did not see him anywhere and I did not know that he knew I was there. Probably he was there in his office watching me on CCTV! LOL!!! Never mind! Thank you so much, Anthony, for the treat, so kind and generous of you – we certainly enjoyed the lunch and sorry, we had to turn down to invitation to free gelatos – we were way too full to do them justice. Another time, perhaps!

NICA+ or NICA PLUS (2.296883,111.825859) as it is called, is located on the ground floor of the block of shops to the right of the Old Sing Kwong Supermarket (Kin Orient Plaza) along Jalan Tun Abang Hj Openg, directly below the KIMCHEE KOREAN BAR.BQ restaurant on the first floor.


A long long time ago, around the late 80’s and early 90’s, I would go out on Friday nights to destress at a local karaoke pub here, mingling with friends, drinking and singing.

My girl was just a baby then and most of the time, I had to take care of her singlehandedly especially since my missus was often on afternoon shifts (2.00-9.00 p.m) or night (9.00 p.m. – 7.00 a.m.), not including the time taken to go to work and come back. If both of us were working, we would leave her in the care of my mother-in-law. We did manage pretty well somehow just that I felt I could use a break just once a week.

My usual routine whenever I went out would be to stop at a coffee shop close by where my friend’s sister had a stall at night. She would boil some water in a claypot, add the instant noodles (Maggi) and the flavouring (curry) and then she would add one big freshwater big-headed prawn/udang galah and some khiew chai (curly vegetables), put the lid on and let it simmer a bit before serving. That was RM5.00 only – can’t get that price anymore these days if there is a prawn – and of course it was so so good.  You simply can’t go wrong with those crustaceans but somehow or other, I never got round to trying it myself at home.

Well, the other day, my KL friend, one of the seven who came to Sibu that day, had a post on Facebook about some MAMA Thai noodles somewhere in Kepong that had been going viral on social media and she made her way there to try. MAMA? That name sure rang the bell so I went to check in the pantry and true enough, there was this…

MAMA shrimp creamy tom yam noodles

My girl bought a pack not too long ago and had been eating it. There were only two packets left so I quickly took one to cook.

I boiled the noodles, drained it and put it aside in a bowl with some leaves of lettuce by the side. I boiled an egg and sliced it and arranged the slices in the bowl. To cook the soup, I boiled some (seawater) prawns in some water for the stock and added the seasoning and the oil provided in the two sachets that came with the noodles in the packet. Once done, I poured the soup into the bowl and arranged the prawns in it…

MAMA shrimp creamy tom yum noodles 1

…and garnished it with some daun sup (Chinese celery) from my garden.

I did ask my girl earlier and she did not sound too enthusiastic when she said it was all right, not really creamy and indeed, it wasn’t but I was all right with that – I don’t think I would have liked it creamy, so creamy that one would feel jelak (cloy) after eating a bit…and it wasn’t really sour either, just a bit and that suited me fine. I would say that it was a cross between red and white tom yum seeing how it wasn’t spicy and not that reddish in colour…nor was it white.

On the whole, I quite enjoyed it…

MAMA shrimp creamy tom yum noodles 2

…and I am pretty sure my girl would have loved it more if she had taken the trouble to add all those extra ingredients to her bowl of noodles.

I have a Tupperware container of the udang galah in the freezer, frozen in ice to keep for some fine day but that would take a very long time for the ice to melt and the prawns to defrost. That was why I decided not to use those, the way my friend’s sister did way back then (and it was even in the photo, the serving suggestion, on the wrapper). Perhaps I shall do that one of these days…

Show me how…

This lady was working at this place when they were at their original location here, serving the drinks and helping to cook the kampua mee before they closed down owing to some issues at the time and eventually, they reopened at where they are to this very day. She, of course, went on to set up her own place but she too closed it down and at this point in time, she is here.

Well, there are others like her, I’m sure, many of them from the ethnic races (Ibans) or Indonesians. Of course, somebody must show them how to cook and prepare the noodles and once, they are able to do it on their own, they can be entrusted to do the task on their own. There are a number of places here where they leave everything to these people and after being on the job for sometime, they are very fluent in Mandarin…AND Foochow!

I drive past this coffee shop…

Lifestyle Cafe

…right below the gym with that same name, virtually every weekday/working day as it is located along the way from my girl’s school back to our house and I noticed that it opens early every day and there are always quite a lot of people there.

Well, that day, I decided to stop by and check it out. The kampua mee stall…

Lifestyle Cafe kampua mee stall

…is run by an Iban lady, possibly one of those that I mentioned earlier.

I asked for the kampua mee with egg (RM3.00) and got the noodles, kosong (without meat)…

Lifestyle Cafe kampua kosong

…and one wok-fried egg…

Lifestyle Cage fried egg

Yes, the mee was great and the egg was done the way I love it!

I sure would not mind stopping by here again when I feel like it. No, it does not stand out but it is good, good enough for me to want to eat it again as and when the need arises and definitely nicer than the kampua mee that I have had the displeasure of eating at a number of places here.

I did not strike up a conversation with the lady – usually, I tend to do that, something that my girl says is quite typical of old people and something one would not catch her doing, speak to strangers like we’ve known each other all our lives! That is why I do not know anything about her – where she comes from, where she learnt to cook kampua mee and so on. Perhaps I shall do that the next time I go there.

LIFESTYLE CAFE (2.289728, 111.835320) is located right below Lifestyle Gym, among the blocks of shops beside the Jalan Tong Sang/Lorong Langsat junction.

Let’s not go there…

I’ve been telling everyone that this lady’s kampua mee here is one of my favourites in town, much nicer than all those that many would declare as the best. However, when I went there last Saturday morning, I was quite disappointed with what I had.

I asked for the mee pok (RM3.00)…

Hock Sing mee pok

…the flat noodles, for a change from the usual round and thin ones.

It looked great but no, it did not taste great. No, it couldn’t be because there were too many people and her quality control went flying out the door. For some reason, there wasn’t the usual crowd there that morning.

There was talk going round that shallots were not available in town, the ones from the usual source (India?) and they switched to those from Indonesia or some place and it lacked the fragrance and wasn’t nice. Perhaps that was the reason.

Other than that, after I had finished all the noodles, I discovered that there was a lot of water underneath, enough to fill a tablespoon. Maybe she did not drain the noodles well and the ingredients used in tossing the noodles were diluted by the excess water and that, I must say, was a real shame as I had always held the lady’s kampua mee in high esteem, not anymore.

The pian sip soup (RM2.00)…

Hock Sing pian sip soup

…was all right or at least, the dumplings were but that too was not the best – the soup was kind of weak and bland. Still, it was fine by me. Hopefully, it was just because I caught her on one of those days but frankly, I do wish she would do away with those plastic bowls and plates and not use them to serve anything hot.

A few days later, my ex-student/friend, Louis, was in town and he suggested coming here for breakfast. Of course I said, “Let’s not go there!” and told him everything about what had transpired. We agreed to meet here instead for the kampua mee

Ciak Pa Boi kampua mee

…from the lady that I stumbled upon not too long ago. Yes, he did go to eat her noodles when she was running her own shop single-handedly and yes, he loved it. Well, this time around too, the noodles sure did not disappoint.

I did ask the lady and she said she would be at the shop by 6 but she would have to prepare everything so it would be best to go a little later, past 6.30 a.m. so one would not have to wait too long to be served.

HOCK SING CAFE (2.290070, 111.827620) is located along Jalan Wong Nai Siong, facing the Sibu Taxi Station, the Sibu Heritage Centre and the Sarawak Hotel and  CIAK PA BOI CAFE (2.311420, 111.830729) is located in the Dewan Suarah area of shops in the block facing Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg with Captain Roseley’s PETRONAS petrol station right across on the other side of the main road.

Who’s in charge…

The ladies were here a long long time ago and they told me they were in the town centre before that, the coffee shop beside the Cathay Cinema/Star Cineplex and then, they moved to a coffee shop among the shops across the road from the school where I was teaching before I retired. After that, they moved here and the last time I saw the ladies, they were here. They did tell me at that point in time, that they were still running the stall at their previous location…

Bateras Food Court food stall

…but they had left the men in charge there. I happened to stop by there the other day and true enough, the father and the son were there, holding the fort.

I asked for a bowl of Sarawak laksa with an egg added (RM6.00)…

Bateras Food Court Sarawak laksa with egg

…RM5.00 for the regular, RM1.00 for the extra egg. I said that I did not want any meat and the guy told me that there would not be any in their laksa, no shredded chicken – just the few tiny prawns, the thinly sliced omelette and the taugeh (bean sprouts).

If you ask for the special, you will get a lot of those prawns…

Bateras Food Court Sarawak laksa

…probably bigger ones, with their shell intact but I am not all that fond of those crustaceans, the cheaper ones with the hard shell, not the pek hay and no, don’t ever dream that you will get any tiger prawns!

I remember I did enjoy it somewhat the last time I had it a long long time ago and yes, I thought it was o.k. too this time around, not the best in town and definitely not the worst and no, I wouldn’t say that I would go out of my way to come all the way here for this.

BATERAS FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, right after Coffee Code, Gabriel’s Recipe and a shophouse lot hotel, immediately before Kampung Grandma.

I won’t disagree…

A foodie friend of mine drops by here ever so often and each time, he will post photos of what he eats on Facebook and Instagram and sing their praises to the skies. One of his favourites here would be the Chinese fried carrot cake or chai thow koi

Kadai Kopi Sibu/Sibu Cafe chai thow koi 1

…also known as koay khak at places in the peninsula.

I’ve been there twice but both times, I had their beef noodles which I would say is pretty good and one may consider going for that when one is in the vicinity but it’s the dark version, what they say is the Taiwanese style. I prefer beef noodles in clear beef soup.

Anyway, I dropped by the other morning as I wanted to try their chai thow koi. I liked how clean the place was…

Kedai Kopi Sibu/Sibu Cafe

…and how pleasant the people were. I placed my order for the dish and the drink and was served in no time at all.

Yes, it was very nice – I won’t disagree with my foodie-friend on that and I particularly liked how each cube was fried till golden brown and crusty on the outside…

Kedai Kopi Sibu/Sibu Cafe chai thow koi 2

I think I tasted some chai po (preserved radish) among the egg and though I am not particularly fond of chai po omelette, I actually liked it here and I was feeling that perhaps they could add a little bit more as it did serve to enhance the taste of the dish.

It did not come cheap though – RM6.00 but they did take quite a while to dish it out and even though it did not look like a lot, I found it very filling, good enough for breakfast or brunch.

KEDAI KOPI SIBU/SIBU CAFE (2.295345, 111.839757) is located at Pusat Tanahwang, the area of shops opposite Sacred Heart Secondary School along Jalan Oya. You turn left into the lane right after the SHELL petrol station and go straight ahead. It is in the last block along that lane on your right, before you turn round the corner where you can go straight ahead and that will take you to Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.