Back alley…

The sign says that this started in 1965…

1965

…around the time when I was just entering secondary school. I can’t remember where the very thin guy, assisted by his equally thin mum, both skin and bone actually had his roadside stall first – whether it was in the back alley behind the Chartered Bank here or at the back of the open space in between Rex Cinema and the shops by the side of the Sarawak Hotel but the locals here generally refer to his noodles at the Chartered Bank kampua.

Well, I don’t know when he disappeared or where he went after that but the next thing I knew, they said that he was running his stall…

Teochew Roasted Mee Flat Mee stall

…at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market. According to them, he only opened at night and he would cook the noodles himself and at times, he would take so long but no, one must not go and ask as he would start scolding away. Later, I heard that the stall was open on Sunday morning, operated by the son or somebody but I never took the time to go and check it out even though during our growing up years, we loved his noodles so so so much.

When I went upstairs one morning, I saw him getting the stall and everything ready but when I walked over to see, he said he was not ready yet, period! He did not say when he would start the ball rolling so I decided to go some place else.

Well, I went back again on another morning and yes, he was open, assisted by a young girl, probably his grand daughter. I ordered the noodles…

Chartered Bank kampua 1

…and I wanted the soup but the girl said that there was only the complimentary soup, a very nice one with a bit of tang chai in it . I vaguely remember a very nice chap chap (mixed) soup before but perhaps, I remembered wrongly – that was so very long ago.

The noodles were somewhat disappointing – it had its own unique taste and was all right but I don’t remember it tasting like that and I did hear that he used to make his own flat noodles but not anymore.  The texture was not quite there and it made me feel kind of sad that what I loved so very long ago wasn’t quite the same anymore. The meat wasn’t any consolation either.

I was told that he only opens in the morning these days, not at night anymore as he has grown too old for all those late nights. When I was done, I stood up and as I was leaving, he was standing by his stall, taking a breather and when he saw me, he smiled. I don’t know if he could recognise me or he really isn’t as grumpy as what they say. I must say that he has put on weight and looks a lot better, no longer skin and bone anymore.

The TEOCHEW ROASTED MEAT FLAT MEE stall is located at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market (2.287444, 111.829169) at the junction of Channel Road and Workshop Road/Mission Road.

Do it my own way…

There was a Thai chef, a lady, here once and all that she dished out was really good. Unfortunately, the boss of the café saw it fitting to close down the place and got her to pack her bags and head on home. However, the final month when she was here, I did manage to go and enjoy her food a few times before they finally called it a day and I remember particularly her prawn toast that we liked a lot.

Well, last Friday, I had a loaf of sandwich bread in the fridge and a packet of the fish paste from Sarikei and it occurred to me that perhaps, I could try and do it my own way to see if I could come out with anything just as good. I added some ingredients to the paste…

Added ingredients

…not much as I would not fancy a somewhat overpowering taste, a bit of serai (lemon grass) and kunyit (turmeric), pounded and finely-chopped Thai basil leaves. I was thinking that perhaps they would give it a bit of that unmistakably exotic Thai taste to what I was about to cook.

I broke an egg and beat it well to use as a holding agent. After that, I cut the bread into squares, applied a bit of the egg on one side and spread the fish paste over it. Then I dipped a prawn in the egg and placed it on top…

Ready for frying

I only used half a packet of the fish paste and managed to come out with 30 pieces, that was all.

I heated some oil in a pan till really very hot before putting the pieces in, a few at a time, face down…

Frying, face down

…so as to cook the toppings.

Once nicely browned, I turned them over…

Turning over

…to let them fry for a while, making sure that I removed them quickly from the oil when they were all golden brown, not overdone and I let them stand on some kitchen towel to soak the oil and to let it drip first before moving them onto a serving plate.

My girl came home from school that afternoon and we had them…

Prawn and fish paste toast

…for lunch. She took one to eat and much to my delight, she exclaimed, “This is very nice!”

Yes, I would say they were all right, nice but somewhat disappointing in more ways than one. I should have been more generous with the added ingredients as I could hardly detect them in the pieces of toast. The fish paste shrank terribly till there wasn’t much of it left – next time, I must make sure that I add a lot more…and I sure would want to cut the bread a little bit bigger – they were rather small, I thought and perhaps, I can add a sprinkling of chopped spring onion or daun sup (Chinese celery) and chili on top for a bit of colour.

Anybody wants to give this a try?

Step right in…

Yes, I do frequent this shop in the next lane, round the corner from my house quite a lot. Other than the usual supply of all kinds of fruits, local and imported, they also sell fresh vegetables in the morning and meat too, pork and chicken, anything and everything. If you want fish or prawns, they have those but frozen and kept in the freezer.

It is very convenient for me, after sending my girl to school, to stop by and park beside the shop and step right in, no need to find a place to park and walk quite a distance…and carting all my purchases back to the car like when I go to the wet market.

I do like their steamed paos and I would buy that once in a while. Their tee piang is not bad too, not the best but good enough…and their mang ngee (only in the afternoon) as well. They have others for one to pick and choose and lately, they have added angku kuih to the list except that theirs are yellow/orange (pumpkin) and green (pandan), not red.

I bought the former to try, the yellow/orange ones with the mung bean paste filling, so I was told, and was quite pleased with it. That was why I went back a few mornings later and bought some more…

Angku kuih

I particularly like how, instead of the usual banana leaf, they line the bottom with pandan

Pandan

…and that gives the kuih an added fragrance.

Unfortunately, that morning, I was stunned to discover that the yellow/orange ones had peanut filling…

Peanut filling

…inside. I did not ask to confirm and if I could read Mandarin, I would have seen on the label that it was 花生 or huāshēng

Label

…and I would know that it was peanut, not mung bean.

The green ones had mung bean…

Mung bean filling

…all right and yes, I do prefer that.

They are cheaper than most, RM2.30 for a pack of three, less than 80 sen each. Others are going for at least a ringgit and there is a bakery near my house selling theirs for RM1.20 the last time I bought some. No doubt, theirs are bigger but I found their quality inconsistent – sometimes, the skin is hard, not soft and chewy so I have not bought any from there since.

So far my favourite would be the ones here but I have not gone there to buy for a while now, not that convenient as far as their location and opening times are concerned, so I would not know if they are still making and selling them at RM1.00 each.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

2 places…

I am going to blog about 2 places in this post – the first one was once my favourite kampua mee place in town but you can say that I have fallen out of love with theirs even though it is still very popular and the place is always crowded at any time of day.

At one time, I really liked the Foochow fried noodles from the chu char stall at the back of the coffee shop. Why, when my West Malaysian blogger friends came to town in 2012, I took them here not just for the kampua mee and everything from the stall in front but also for the aforementioned fried noodles.

I cannot remember the last time I had anything from that stall…

Soon Hock chu char place at the back

…but that morning, I decided I would go back there to see if it was still as good. It looked pretty much the same like before and I was wishing that after all these years, someone would do something to spruce up the place and make it more presentable. One look at the surroundings would be quite enough to put one off from ordering something from there to eat.

There was a lady there assisted by some young boy and girl, probably the children – I think there was a guy there before so I reckoned these were not the same people anymore and the ones I saw there had taken over at this point in time.

The Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Soon Hock Foochow fried noodles

…was served in a stainless plate, not in those hideously colourful plastic plates – I certainly would give them a bonus mark for that and I also liked how they seemed quite generous with the vegetables. There were bits of meat as well, not much and nothing else.

It tasted all right but I would not rank it among my favourites in town. I know of one other place not too far away where the Foochow fried noodles is very nice but if we confine ourselves to this commercial square of shops, as far as I know, the one here was not bad and here too though I am not sure if the latter opens that early. Perhaps one of these days, I’ll go and try the rest and see which I would rank at the top.

The 2nd place that I am going to blog about is this one…

Wang Wang Lai

…located at the right end of the block of shops where this one is located. As a matter of fact, I went back to the latter as I wanted to try the RM2.70 kampua mee (no, I had no intention of going for the lor mee again) but one of the ladies there said that the guy in charge would only get there by 7.00 a.m. so they were not quite ready to start their business for the day yet. In the end, I decided to go to this other coffee shop, right next to this one that I went to not too long ago.

I placed my order at the stall…

Kampua stall

…the only one open, for their kampua special (RM5.00) and got this plate of kampua mee kosong (no meat)…

Kampua mee kosong

…and yes, it was good, not the best but good.

The chap-chap (mixed) soup…

Mixed soup

…that came with it was very good too. I could detect a hint of the liver in it but the three bits of intestine in it were quite a chore to chew. That did not matter all that much to me just that the whole time, I was wishing that they would give their own-made chili dip with a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste) like the ones they will give at other places when one orders this soup instead of the bottled chili sauce.

Yes, and here too, I would most certainly give them a pat on the back for not using plastic.

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

One day too late…

The people here…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu

…were having a promotion – one main meal for RM3.00 from a choice of 4 but I was one day too late as when I finally got down to dropping by there, it had already ended and they had started a new one.

I saw a lot of friends going there when it first opened and their reviews on Facebook were not encouraging – they all said the food was just so-so and very expensive. Only one sang praises of their baked buns and egg tarts. That was why I was not all that keen to check the place out but since the meals in their promotion were somewhat cheap, I thought I would take the chance and go there and see for myself.

We went early, just past 8.00 a.m. when they had just opened and the place was packed! Luckily there was a small table for two by the door and we asked to be seated there…and we were promptly given the menu to browse through. There were some Mandarin-speaking young boys and girls waiting at the tables and they sure looked really busy but somehow or other, I do not see things getting done. I had to wave frantically to get their attention so we could place our orders.

The table beside us was just about 6 inches away and there was a young boy with an older lady, probably the mum, seated there. They could speak Hokkien and were very helpful in telling us how the current promotion worked – we could have a choice of 3 types of dim sum at RM2.00 each and that was it! Anything else that we would want, we would have to pay the prices as stated in the menu…and they were nice enough to tell us, based on what they had, what was good and what would be best avoided.

The steamed char siew pao or what they call their Supreme BBQ Pork Bun..

Nam Heong Ipoh char siew pao

…were very good and at RM1.00 each (2 for RM2.00 in the promotion), that sure was a steal.

I wish I could say the same about the siew mai (RM2.00 in the promotion)…

Nam Heong Ipoh siew mai

…but unfortunately, they were quite disappointing as far as the taste and texture went. We would be able to get some a lot nicer here or here.

The crispy prawn rolls (RM2.00 in the promotion)…

Nam Heong Ipoh crispy prawn roll

…were all right, nothing to get excited about.

Well, since we were there already, I ordered the Nam Heong egg tart (RM3.80) and the Nam Heong chicken sou (RM4.00)…

Nam Heong Ipoh egg tart and chicken sou

…à la carte to try. We can get egg tarts a lot nicer (and cheaper) at places around town but I thought the sio pao was very good – I particularly loved the nice flaky pastry but my missus said the filling was a bit too sweet for her liking while on my part, I was quite all right with it.

I saw in their menu what looked like the West Malaysian wanton mee, their egg noodles with BBQ pork and wanton and of course, I wanted that to try but the girl did not key that in so it was left out of our order list…

Nam Heong Ipoh order list

No love lost though as the nice people at the next table also ordered that. When theirs was served, I thought it looked really good but as they started to eat, I heard the lady/mum saying, “Huang ti mien!” They probably used the instant Emperor noodles instead of their own freshly-made wanton mee, I wouldn’t know. By the time they had finished and the waiting staff removed the plate, I saw that there was, at least, half of the noodles left. Obviously, it was not nice and they could not finish it, bless my lucky stars!

My missus had the iced honey lemon (RM5.30) while I tried their iced Signature Coffee “O” (RM4.50). It was decent, different from our local coffee which I would very much prefer, something like those instant ones in sachets like Ah Huat, for instance.

The overall total, inclusive of 5% SST, came up to RM24.80 and the guy asked if I had RM4.80 or a 5-ringgit note. WHAT? You are the ones running a grand and impressive business, not that you are some small roadside stall or something like that so you should make sure you have the change for the customers – even if I had, I would not give it to you. Tsk! Tsk!

By the time we had finished and were leaving, the queue outside…

Nam Heong Ipoh queue

…had started to build up. I heard that there were queues every day when they were having their RM3.00 per main meal promotion. I wouldn’t know of course, as I wasn’t there!

Incidentally, today, the 7th of March, marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog, 12 years of (almost) a post a day and still crazy after all these years! Do stick around for more – I do enjoy the company!

NAM HEONG IPOH, Sibu outlet (2.301121, 111.843386) is located along Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, formerly Jalan Pedada, facing the left side of Gafu Supermarket, round the corner from Kim Hock Premier Food Court.

My sacrifice…

It’s already the 2nd Friday in Lent today. The penitential season this year started on Ash Wednesday last week, the 26th of February, a day of fasting and abstinence for all Christians. This…

Lent

…may be of some use to anyone who would like a bit more information on what this is all about.

I remember in my growing up years, we would abstain from meat every Friday throughout the year and eat fish instead. Fish was bountiful and cheap in those days but these days, they are very expensive and may be considered a luxury so I would not consider it much of a sacrifice to forego meat for it or prawns or all kinds of seafood, for that matter.

Fasting way back then would mean porridge all day long and fish or salted fish which incidentally, does not come cheap these days either. Ah well! What is cheap these days? I do not have to fast anymore – senior citizens over the age of 60 are exempted but abstinence from meat is a must but anyway, I still try to fast the best I can.

Last Friday, I cooked this…

What I cooked

…for the family for our meals, something light for lunch and dinner. All of us skipped breakfast that morning but the general ruling is we would be allowed two light meals, the amount less than a regular meal on other days and come evening time, we could have a full meal for dinner.

These days, it is very easy for us as we can get fresh fish paste (frozen) from Jakar and Sarikei, mackerel/ikan tenggiri no less…

Fish paste

…and we can use that to make our own fish balls.

I bought some tau kua (bean curd cakes), cut them into halves and cut a slit in them into which I stuffed the fish paste and I deep fried them lightly for use. I used the rest of the fish paste to make fish balls and cooked them with a few cloves of garlic and tang chai (preserved vegetable) in water for the soup and after it had started boiling, I added the stuffed tau kua. I served it with tang hoon (glass noodles) and some khiew chai (curly vegetables) by the side, garnished with some fried sliced shallots and finely chopped daun sup (Chinese celery). I think they have salt and msg in the fish paste so I did not need to add any – the soup was salty and tasty enough.

We had a lot of leftover rice and my missus cooked some kim chi fried rice…

Kim chi fried rice

…for dinner and of course, my girl loved it! No, I did not touch it – I just stuck loyally to my tang hoon in tau kua fish ball soup.

I’m not sure what we’ll be having today but considering how times and things have changed, I do feel that instead of having fish, while abstaining from meat, one can abstain from say…using the smartphone or going online, things that we enjoy, for one day…or more.

After we’re through…

We would usually have our dinner real early on Saturdays, at around 4.30 and head to church after that for the novena at 6.00 p.m. followed by the sunset service at 7.00 p.m. However, last Saturday, there was a change in our routine and we did not eat earlier and only went for dinner later after we were through…past 8.00 p.m. that night.

Most places close at around 10.00 p.m. so there was ample time and my girl wanted to go here for her favourite sizzling beef (RM15.00)…

Nice House sizzling beef

…so of course, her wish was granted.

I also ordered the pork belly with dried chilies (RM15.00)…

Nice House pork belly & dried chilies

…which came in a claypot. The pork sure looked lean and pale but it was nice, just that we had had some better ones elsewhere like here or here, for instance, but this place sure seemed a lot more generous with the meat.

My girl also wanted their salad prawn balls (RM13.00)…

Nice House salad prawn balls

…and I would say that this dish was my favourite of the three.

They were out of baby kai lan, probably all sold out as it was close to closing time and in the end, we settled for the midin (RM8.00)…

Nice House midin

The total for the food came up to RM51.00 for the 3 of us which came as no surprise since we had three meat dishes but actually, when we got there, we were very hungry and ordered more than what we would normally have. I guess there is some truth in what people say – never go shopping for food or out to eat on an empty stomach.

NICE HOUSE RESTAURANT (2.29201,111.82739) is located in the vicinity of the Tunku Osman shops, opposite Rejang Bookstore.

It’s all your fault…

Yes, it’s all your fault, Phong Hong! After seeing your post on the claypot rice that you had, I was dying for it…

Claypot King special

The last time I had that was in August last year and we had not been there since as it was out of the way on that side of town that we seldom frequent.

Left with no choice, I had to make my way there…

Claypot King

…for lunch that day and thankfully, after all this time, it was still around and enjoying brisk business.

Of course I would settle for…

Claypot King menu

…nothing less than the chicken and pork special (RM14.00)…

Claypot King chicken & pork special 1

…and I sure was thankful that despite the spiralling prices of virtually anything and everything these days, the price was still the same as when we had it before.

Oh my!!! That was so good and I definitely enjoyed it…

Claypot King chicken & pork claypot special 2

…to the fullest.

I was speaking to the lady manning the stall with an Indonesian guy/helper at the point in time and I found out that they now have another outlet here and that is definitely a whole lot closer to my house. It sure looks like I am going to have claypot rice for lunch or dinner on a more regular basis now.

CLAYPOT KING is located at WANG SENG FOOD STREET (2.342889, 111.831740) in UniCity along Jalan Wawasan.

Make up my mind…

I liked their bak chang (glutinous rice meat dumplings) and also their sio bee before as well as their kolo mee when they were at their former place and the other day, I got to try the latter two at their current location.

Well, I happened to be around there again the other morning and I decided I would want to try their bak chang

Sin Kiaw Cafe bak chang

…first before I made up my mind whether to buy any home or not.

I asked for the big one (RM5.00)…

Sin Kiaw Cafe bak chang, unwrapped

…the one with the salted egg yolk inside…

Sin Kiaw Cafe bak chang, inside

…and a bit of meat, not a lot but at least, there was meat unlike some around here that I had had the displeasure of eating. I also tasted a bit of the shitake mushroom as I was eating but what I loved most of all was the glutinous rice – not undercooked and hard and not overcooked and soggy and over-sticky, just perfect.

I enjoyed it a lot and decided to buy some home for everyone to enjoy but I asked for the smaller ones (RM3.00) as the ladies in the house are not particularly fond of salted egg in their  bak chang.

In case anyone is interested, the ones here are nice too, 20 sen cheaper for the big ones with salted egg, RM4.80 each and also RM3.00 each for the small ones, much nicer than others that I have tried, like these, for instance.

SIN KIAW CAFE (2.291287, 111.826611) is located along Ramin Way, the first shop on your right as you turn in from Jalan Kampung Nyabor, right behind the petrol station located at the bend.

Don’t be surprised…

Yes, don’t be surprised because I actually dropped by here…

KFC

…that day. No, I did not join the mad rampage when they had their two snack plates for RM20.00 promotion, thank you very much even though I did buy that once for my girl. If I remember correctly, it was over RM12.00 a set.

For reasons unknown, she loves the food at these fast food franchises and that day, she wanted to go for the chicken tenders. There is a promotion right now – 5 chicken tenders plus 10 nuggets for RM15.00 (I think normally, that would be RM19.00) and she wanted to eat it there. Well, since she would only eat the tenders, we had to go with her so we would be able to help her finish off the nuggets.

When we got there, she changed her mind about ordering the set and had this 6-piece crispy tenders (RM17.80, plus a drink)…

KFC chicken tenders

…instead.

The mum had this one-piece chicken set with fries and wedges by the side…

KFC 1-piece chicken set

…their Super Jimat box for RM9.20 something, with a drink.

I decided to try their zinger cheezilla combo (RM20.50, plus a drink)…

KFC zinger cheezilla combo

…which, unfortunately, did not sweep me off my feet. The zinger was fine, hot and spicy and was to my liking. Inside, there was a fried chicken patty with melted mozzarella cheese but I failed to make out the taste of either , neither the patty nor the cheese plus it was rather soggy so I was quite put off by it in the end.

The total for the three of us came up to RM44.80 altogether, not cheap but as long as it made my girl happy that was perfectly all right by me.

After having had our fill, we went strolling around the mall – the ladies went to the shops upstairs while I headed to the supermarket in the basement to browse around. I spotted this…

Whitakers strawberry cremes

…in the special little room where they stock up on all the imported stuff and grabbed it right away as I was very sure that my girl would love it.

At that point in time, I was thinking that it was the very popular New Zealand brand until my girl pointed out that the Kiwi ones had a double “t“. We quickly checked and were quite relieved to find that it was manufactured in the UK, not in some neighbouring country – for the uninitiated, the Tim Tams from Indonesia are cheap but far from nice, nothing like the originals from Down Under! This was only RM10.40, less than £2, not that expensive, I would say.

As we had run out in the house, I also bought a few cartons of fresh milk from Australia, only RM4.80, so very much cheaper than our own Malaysian brands and I certainly was ecstatic to see these…

Button mushrooms

…button mushrooms, one thing that is very rare here, harder to find than gold!

My girl feasted on these when she was in Wellington, New Zealand but not since coming back as chances of getting any here are few and far between. I have the feeling that the western restaurant upstairs (they’re all inter-related, I think) would order for their own use and any extras, they would place on the shelf in the supermarket for sale.

We used to get the white ones but lately, we have been getting these brown ones but never mind, something is better than nothing. They’re not cheap, that’s for sure – RM15.60 a tub but I’m o.k. with that. After all, we only get them once in a blue moon.

KFC, Pedada outlet and THE MARKET PLACE supermarket are located on the ground floor and in the basement of The Delta Mall (2.311762, 111.846818) respectively, along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.