The joke…

It’s Day 4 of the Movement Control/Restricted Movement Order and yesterday morning, the Chairman of our local municipal council posted on Facebook that the crab seller at our wet market was selling the crustaceans at half price. Jokingly, I commented and tagged my friend, Eric, saying, “Go, Eric, go! Grab some and send to my house!

The weather was good and I spent the morning, like on all other days, doing my gardening. I finished past 10.00 a.m. – I usually do that as it would be a little too hot by then. I went upstairs, bathed and changed and rested, my regular routine.

Later, I came downstairs and my girl told me that somebody sent something to our house and she did not bother to go and have a look. By the time she did, whoever it was had left and she saw a black plastic bag hanging at the gate…and it was still hanging there when I came downstairs! Sigh!!! I went out to take it in and when I opened the bag, I was stunned to see what was inside…

Crabs
*photo taken using my cheap antique handphone*

Crabs!!! I knew straight away who was behind it! Eric!!! I checked on Facebook and yes, he replied to my aforementioned comment saying that he had left the crabs at my gate and did not stay as he was not wearing a mask and was practising social distancing!

I took them out and tried to take a nicer photograph but they started crawling all over the place…

Crawling

…so I quickly put them back into the bag.

It was the 3rd Friday in the season of Lent yesterday , a day of fasting and abstinence, so we decided to save them for dinner. My missus cooked them in exactly the same way my mum used to cook crabs and prawns all throughout my growing up years…

The way my mum would cook it

…and according to her, her mum, my mother-in-law, would cook them that exact same way too. Perhaps that was the traditional way, how everyone would cook crabs and prawns at home way back then, I wouldn’t know.

We sure enjoyed our crab feast…

Our crab feast

…to the max that evening.

The last time we had any was way back in August, 2018 when my girl was still in her school in the jungle and in need of food therapy when she came home on weekends and that day, she felt like having crabs. We do not usually go and eat that outside nor do we buy our own to cook because they are mighty expensive. My friend/regular reader in Perth, Australia said that when he came home for Chinese New Year earlier this year, he had to fork out RM260.00 for three like the ones Eric gave me, over RM100 a kg so even at half price, that would be over RM100.00.

Thank you so much, Eric! I must make sure not to crack any more jokes from now on – my girl was somewhat embarrassed and was grumbling yesterday, “Next time, don’t go and ask anybody for anything!” The last time I did that back in 2015, the same thing happened and you said these exact same words, “Ask and ye shall be given!” Talk about History repeating itself, eh? LOL!!!

Stay at home…

I had to go out the 17th instant, the day before the Movement Control Order/Restricted Movement Order was to commence, to settle some urgent matters after which I would go back to the house to stay indoors for the two-week duration.

On my way home, I stopped by my regular grocery store as there was something I wanted to buy but the shop was not open…at 8.30 a.m.! My guess was that it would open late so I went to the coffee shop next door for a plate of kampua mee

Tung Ming kampua mee 1

…which obviously would be the last one for quite a while.

They had a new menu…

Tung Mee new menu

…now and looking at the old one, it looked like they had increased the prices so they were more or less the same as most places around town. I would have expected things to be a little cheaper here being in the outskirts, not in the town centre, and they probably owned the shop as well so there would not be any need for them to pay rent.

The coffee…

Tung Ming coffee

…was great and so was the mee

Tung Ming kampua mee 2

I noticed the lady taking the complimentary soup from a big pot on the gas stove at the back, not from the cauldron like what they do at most places and yes, it was heaps nicer than the plain water with light soy sauce and msg and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions elsewhere.

While I was enjoying my order, I heard the people next door moving the stuff out onto the pavement, opening for the day. Yes, the shop was open so once I was done, I went over, grabbed what I wanted and headed straight home.

TUNG MING CAFE (2.307601, 111.824983) is located along Lorong Delta 10, the second shop in the first block of shops on your right, after the first one – a grocery store, as you turn into the lane from Jalan Delta in the vicinity of the houses behind the Delta Public Swimming Pool.

Stand in line…

I’ve tried it before a long long time ago when there was just a stall by the roadside in front of the surau at Bandong here and I tried it a second time but I would not say it was something I would be dying for and one thing’s for sure, it was definitely not anything I would stand in line for. However, come Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, I would see people queuing up by the mile to buy and no, I never bothered.

Then, they opened this shop…

Nasi Kak Wok

…without a sign initially but it sure seemed that everyone knew it was there and everytime I drove past, I would see the crowd and at times, there might be queues outside the shop even…like they were giving out the food for free or something. No, of course I did not bother to join the rampage to check the place out, no way.

That day, it was already around 4.00 p.m. and I noticed that it was still open. There were a number of tables occupied but no, it was not full, no crowd, so I decided that I would give them another chance.

Hmmm!!! It looked like the price had increased by a ringgit from those previous times when I had it…

Nasi Kak Wok, menu

I asked for the regular (RM5.00)…

Nasi Kak Wok, regular

…at the counter…

Nasi Kak Wok, counter

…and took my seat at a vacant table for it to be served.

Once again, it failed to win me over, not when it was just plain rice drowned with some gulai (curry) gravy that was a little sweet, I thought and the fried chicken was just fried chicken, no more no less…all breast! At best, I would say it was all right but given a choice, I would rather go for something else.

Somebody did tell me before that the sambal

Nasi Kak Wok, sambal

…was super spicy and indeed, it was! However, they only gave a little bit of it and I mixed it all with the rice so that made it quite bearable, not a problem at all…for me.

NASI KAK WOK (2.318622, 111.832323) is located among the Sg Antu shops at No. 1, Jln Tapang Timur, Off Jalan Kampung Nangka, directly facing RTM Sibu.

Better than all the rest…

My favourite kaya (coconut jam) is the made-in-Singapore Glory Brand, the pandan flavour. Incidentally, kaya in Malay means rich so if you are a multi-millionaire, you are a very rich man, orang kaya. It seems that kaya is also used to describe food as in kaya dengan Vitamin C, rich in Vitamin C and in the case of our local coconut jam, it probably derived its name from its richness which depends on the amount of santan (coconut milk) used in the making.

It so happened that I wanted to buy some kaya the other day but I could not find any at the neighbourhood shop – usually, they would stock up on a lot of bottles of the brand I like there. I went around looking for some good kaya – there were some Singapore-made ones at the supermarket near my house, not cheap, of course but I did not feel like buying those and no, I would not give those made in some places in West Malaysia a second glance. For one thing, they are all so green so I wonder how much of that is artificial colouring.

I stopped by this bakery and I saw that they were selling their own-made kaya

C&C Gallery kaya

…at RM5.00 a tub.

Of course, I had to buy some bread to eat it with and these days, I love toasting my bread with those grill pans, the one with lines so the toast would have lines on them…

Toast

…nicely toasted but not all brown and hard, lightly crusty on the outside, still soft on the inside.

I applied some butter on the toast, followed a generous layer of the kaya

Kaya & butter on toast

Wowww!!! It was so so so nice!

It was like that extra-lemak green layer on the nyonya kuih, the serimuka – the special homemade ones that I had in Kuching that had so much coconut milk and egg that it was not hard, not so firm, very wobbly…but absolutely out of this world! You can tell from its light green colour that a lot of santan went into the making, no artificial colouring, just pandan and I could taste the egg custard in it. I don’t know how to make serimuka but one of these days, I am going to buy some pulut (glutinous rice) to cook and enjoy it with this kaya.

In the meantime, I shall have kaya toast for tea or breakfast…

Traditional Malaysian breakfast

…the traditional Malaysian way, with two half-boiled eggs!

C&C Gallery (2.311247, 111.846177) is located at No.24, Lot 62, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai among the shops in Pusat Pedada at the extreme end of the block of shops to the right of Delta Mall, back entrance.

Somewhere down the lane…

My foodie friend shared some photographs on Facebook and Instagram of what he called a “typical old-school kampua that used to be at Tsingtao Kopitiam along Channel Road some twenty over years ago” and I thought what he had looked rather good so I clicked the link to see where it was. Unfortunately, it was a self-generated Facebook page and I could not see anything on my antique handphone, no address, no map…unless you go and check it out on your PC or maybe use a smartphone or notebook, I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, it so happened that I was walking along that lane the other morning and lo and behold, purely by chance, I stumbled upon the coffee shop…

Ah Chiong Cafe

Good grief! The shop sign must be very very old! That NK logo  was actually that of the Ngo Kian Aerated Water Company, Sibu’s No. 1 soft drink in my growing up years – I loved their ice cream soda and their sarsi and if you drink their cherry, your teeth would all turn red. OMG! The colouring…but we were o.k. with it or so it seemed. LOL!!!

I wasted no time at all in ordering the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Ah Chiong Cafe kampua mee

…which I thought was just all right, nothing to get excited about. It was a bit too firm for my liking so I would not mind if the guy had cooked it just a little longer for a softer texture.

However, when it came to the pian sip/meat dumplings (RM3.00)…

Ah Chiong Cafe pian sip

…it was a different story altogether! I tried one and it was so good. It tasted quite different from all the rest in the town that I have had before and yes, there were some that I did enjoy but personally, I feel that this one is a cut above.

I sure would want to stop by again for this if I happen to be in the vicinity but I may want to try something from the other stall or from the coffee shop opposite which looked rather popular.

AH CHIONG CAFE (2.288140, 111.829220) is located along that lane at the back of the shops along Market Road and Channel Road. You can cross over from the shops in between KTS & Pansar along Workshop Road/Jalan Bengkel into that lane that leads to Jalan Lembangan. The coffee shop is on your left.

It is good…

The first time I was here, I saw that the kampua mee was going for only RM2.70 only, between 30-60 sen cheaper than most, but I did not have that that morning.

The second time I went, I was a bit too early at around 6.45 a.m. and one of the two ladies there told me that the guy…

Emas Corner Baru kampua mee guy

…would only be there by 7.00 a.m. so in the end, I went to the coffee shop at the far end of that same block.

Well, I stopped by there again that day at around 11.30 a.m. so of course, I was able to get what I wanted…

Emas Corner Baru kampua mee 1

…and yes, the complimentary soup had taste! I guess if you do not go at the crack of dawn and the broth has had the chance to simmer the whole morning, it would be a lot tastier.

Now, if you go around town and ask which kampua mee is good, you will get a whole lot of conflicting answers. Everyone would declare his or her choice as the best in town and as a matter of fact, I’ve gone and tried them all. Suffice to say, some were o.k. while I could not see why some of the others are in some people’s favourite list when there are others a whole lot nicer.

Well, if it is the original kampua mee taste that you are looking for, the authentic old school flavour that we grew up enjoying, I would rank this one here (RM2.70)…

Emas Corner Baru kampua mee 2

…as among the best in town.

There was that very much coveted fragrant shallot oil (lard) and the generous garnishing of spring onion and fried shallots…

Emas Corner Baru kamoua mee 3

…sure contributed towards my enjoyment of the dish.

However, if we are looking for authenticity or originality, this one fell a little bit short when it came to the meat as it wasn’t the char-siew wannabe – boiled meat, coloured red and sliced extremely thinly. This one tasted a little bit sweet – I think it was stewed or braised pork which I enjoyed very much, of course!

My favourite is still this lady’s here, more or less the same as the one here but the die-hards will tell you those are not authentic and do not taste like the original, more a cross between Sibu kampua mee and Kuching kolo mee. Well, if that is what they prefer, I am pretty sure they will like this one.

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.

You like that…

Somebody told me that the tomato kway teow

Tomato kway teow 1

…here was very nice, the favourite of many so of course, I simply had to drop by the coffee shop…

Spring Coffee

…and try.

I was here before when it did not have an English name and I had their kueh chap in December, 2018 and the second time around in February, 2019, I had their Sarawak laksa. The fact that I never went back again since sure speaks volumes, don’t you think?

Well, since they said that they liked the tomato kway teow, there I was early that morning to see how good it really was. I went to the chu char (cook & fry) stall at the back run by a not-very-young couple and ordered. The guy told the lady and she said, “All right!” and then she added, “With chicken!” Probably I was too early and they had yet to defrost the pork, I wouldn’t know.

When I was served (RM4.00)…

Tomato kway teow 2

…I must say that I was somewhat disappointed as it did not look half as nice as in the photograph.

I tasted it and it was as bad as it looked.  I don’t know if they had run out of tomato sauce/ketchup or what (but there is a 7 Eleven store right next door) as there was so little of it in the gravy and it was VERY sour like they added vinegar or something. Ok, to be fair, it was edible, just that no, it was not to my liking, nowhere near the very nice one that I had here or my one-time favourite here or the so-so ones here or here.

Maybe I was way too early and they had not warmed up yet or I had caught them on a wrong day. I would want to drop by again one of these days though as I have yet to check out the kampua mee from that stall in front – everyone else seemed to be eating that.

SPRING COFFEE (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.

Back to the 80’s…

There used to be an old guy here…

Hock Lok Hong Cafe Shop

…and at one time, many would declare that his kampua mee was the best in Sibu. I was never that impressed, nice but I would not go to the extent of declaring it as THE best in town. I did give it a try a couple of times when he moved to his present location but still, it did not change my mind.

Since the old guy left, if I am not wrong, at least two other people took over the stall here but they did not last very long. Eventually, they closed down the shop and reopened a few days later, nicely repainted and looking a lot nicer than it ever did before.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine, an ex-student, shared a photo of the kampua mee he had here. It looked good so I asked where he had that. He responded, telling me the place and added that the guy…

Hock Lok Hong, kampua guy

…used his own handmade noodles and he even suggested that I should go and try.

I had been wanting to do so but every time I drove past at the break of dawn, the shop would be open but it did not look like they were quite ready to start their business for the day just yet. Well, it so happened that I was close by that day and I decided to walk over there  to check the place out.

I ordered the kolo mee (RM4.00)…

Hock Lok Hong kolo mee 1

…and yes, it came with the typical kolo mee sliced fresh chili soaked in vinegar dip, not the bottled chili sauce. I certainly would give them a double thumbs up for using the nice ceramic bowl for the complimentary soup instead of those horrendously colourful plastic ones.

It…

Hock Lok Hong kolo mee 2

…was good and wasn’t anything like those at some places that come across like kampua mee in disguise. I sure would want to come back and check out the kampua mee (RM3.00) to see if it would be just as nice.

I had a shock that morning when I wanted to pay and the lady doing the serving said that it was on the house – the boss would like to give me a treat. Gee! I was completely baffled even though when I placed my order at the stall, I did think that the guy looked familiar. It turned out that he was my student, going all the way back to the 80’s, thank you so so much! I sure am glad that he still remembers me and acknowledges the fact that I was his teacher – many do not bother and would pretend they have never seen me before in their lives, much less give me a treat!

HOCK LOK HONG CAFE SHOP 福樂園茶室 (2.284690, 111.832669) is located at No. 1, Lorong Lanang 2 at the traffic lights where you turn in from Lanang Road heading toward the Sibu Rejang Esplanade and the Li Hua & Kingwood Hotels

Tempted…

My friend, Eric, of The Kitchen Sibu instant kampua fame posted a photograph of the kampua mee he had here…

PYP Kopitiam

…on Facebook and when he did that again, I was so tempted to go and check it out and I did!

It had a different name before but they had to change it in the process of getting registered as a sendirian berhad (limited private company) or something like that. I would say it is a notch above the regular kopitiam or coffee shop…

PYP Kopitiam, inside

…a little bit nicer and thankfully, the prices are generally the same as all the rest.

I placed my order and sat down to wait and it did not take long to be served… …

Kampua mee with siew yoke & stewed egg

I simply could not resist asking for one stewed egg…

Stewed egg

…and that was RM1.00 each. Needless to say, I enjoyed that very much.

Eric had their kampua mee with their very nice siew yoke (roasted pork belly)…

siew yoke

…and that would be RM5.00, the boy told me so I had to pay RM6.00 for mine.

The noodles had its own unique taste, not quite like the regular kampua mee but I would say it was very nice – personally, I still like this lady’s kampua mee more but I wouldn’t mind coming back here again for this one with the extras by the side…and perhaps, they may have other things for me to pick and choose or other dishes that I may want to try.

PYP KOPITIAM (2.307674, 111.849120) is located at No. 1, Lorong Sena 8, the first shop on your left as you go into the lane leading to the shops directly SMK Deshon. The back of the coffee shop faces the right hand side of the Good Happiness Restaurant.

It’s not like that anymore…

Those days, when my girl was teaching in the school in the jungle, we would send her back there on Sundays after the weekend at home so dinner on Sunday night would be a quiet affair, usually leftovers, the mum and I.

Well, it is not like that anymore these days. We would usually go out for lunch on Sundays as come evening, my girl may be busy getting ready for school the next morning. Last Sunday, however, my girl said she would like to go out for an Italian dinner, her treat, and of course, we made our way to our favourite in town. Looking through my posts, it seemed that we had not been here since May last year, so long ago!

To start off, my girl picked the mushroom soup (RM8.00)…

Mushroom soup

…which came with two slices of garlic baguette. We had had this before here and it was always good but not this time around. It was rich and creamy all right but we could hardly detect any taste of mushroom in it. Perhaps we caught them on one of those not-so-good days.

Usually, we would order their seafood aglio olio pasta that we enjoyed a lot but this time around, my girl wanted the pasta al nero di seppia, the one with squid ink (RM24.00)…

Squid ink pasta

…for what she called “the smell of the sea”. Yes, we all agreed that it was very nice, despite the colour and no, there was no unpleasant “chou chor” or fishy smell. I sure would not mind having that again the next time we drop by here. As a matter of fact, among the customers who came in after us, there was a big group and they too asked for the same. It sure is rather popular, it seems.

We did not want a meat dish as we thought that would be too heavy and we decided to order another pasta dish instead. My girl wanted to try their salmone (RM22.00)…

Salome pasta

…with its tomato-based sauce which I quite liked as it was freshly made and did not taste like tomato or bolognese sauce straight from the bottle. Both the ladies loved it too!

Needless to say, my girl wanted a pizza, her favourite here, the Bracio di Ferro, no less or what they now call their spinach egg pizza (RM32.00)…

Bracio de Ferro

…and yes, as always, it was very much to our liking.

Ever since I saw the panna cotta in my blogger friend’s post that day, I had been thinking of going for the one here but much to my dismay, for reasons unknown, they had taken it and also their very nice chocolate fondant off their menu. Now there is just a choice of either their tiramisu or their crème brûlée and I did not feel like one nor the other that night and decided to go without dessert in the end.

Service was great and prompt – the very nice and friendly young boy and girls were conversant in English and even though they did make some attempt to communicate with us in Mandarin, we would not let them. After all, this is a western restaurant, period. They used to play nicer songs – that night, there were mostly Chinese songs on their playlist except for this one and this one. Somehow it feels kind of different when you are not playing the right songs to match the ambiance and the mood.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that night and the total came up to RM86.00, not cheap but it sure was worth it considering that we did enjoy the dinner very much.

BISTECCA & BISTRO (2.307630, 111.848188) is located off Jalan Sena – you drive into the area of shops directly opposite SMK Deshon and go straight to the end, make a u-turn and head back to where you come from – you will see it in the first block of shops on your left.