He’s the new guy…

My ex-colleague dropped by here…

New Hee's Food Corner

…the other day and had the lor mee that looked very good in the photograph that he shared on Facebook. I asked him where he ate that and he said it was from the kampua mee stall at this coffee shop in the corner. That took me by surprise as I did not know that the fat, not-so-friendly guy sold that.

Well, it so happened that I wanted to go to the bookstore at the mall next door so I decided to stop by there on the way to check it out. I was here twice before for the mee sua, the first time and again, another time and we went there for dinner one evening to try the dishes from the chu char (cook & fry) place at the back. Yes, these two are still there but the stall in the middle, between the kampua mee stall and the mee sua stall, has called it a day.

The aforementioned guy at the kampua mee stall…

Coffee shop guy & the kampua mee stall

…was no longer there – the new guy had no idea whatsover what had happened to him and no, that handsome young and friendly boy in pink is not him – he’s the one behind, blocked from view. This one saw me taking snapshots of the stall and he insisted on posing for the photograph. Actually, he runs the coffee shop there but even though I insisted that I did not see him on our previous visits, he said he is not new and has been there for a long time now. Maybe he’s in school or works somewhere else but with the schools and offices closed during COVID-19, he is able to stick around here to help out.

The instant I sat down, somebody came to take my temperature and get me to record my name and telephone number in a book. I asked for the lor mee (RM6.00)…

New Hee's Corner lor mee

…and it came in no time at all. Yes, it was very nice though I would not mind a thicker broth with a bit more egg in it – I could see some bits of the egg but there was so little of it, it might as well not have been there.

The guy did ask me for my verdict but I just told him it was very nice and that’s a fact – I certainly would go back there again to try the other stuff on his menu.

Incidentally, the nice restaurant next door, for reasons unknown, has closed shop and its place has been taken over by people selling fresh meat – actually, it was going to open earlier but COVID-19 struck and it had remained closed until very recently.

NEW HEE’S FOOD CORNER (2.311365, 111.846638) is located along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Datuk Wong Soon Kai, the very first one in the block of shops to the left of the Delta Mall, with the Astro Sibu office at the other end of that same block.

Not thrilled…

I saw these noodles…

CINTAN non-fried noodles

…in somebody’s blog sometime ago and yes, I’ve seen it in a lot in the shops and supermarkets. Obviously, it is very well-marketed.

I can’t remember whose blog that was or how she cooked it and what she thought about it but I went ahead and bought a pack in March at the beginning of the MCO/partial lockdown as I thought if we had nothing else left in the house, we would be able to cook this – there are 10 pieces in a pack…

10 pieces

…enough for the 3 of us for 3 meals, at least. Now that the lockdown has eased somewhat, I was thinking that I might as well open the pack to cook and eat to get it out of the way.

I decided to use it to cook my usual Bovril mee so I fried two peeled and thinly-sliced shallots in a bit of oil in a pan till golden brown after which I took them out and used the fragrant oil to toss the noodles. I added all that was left in the old bottle I had in the fridge – no, I have not started using the new bottle yet – plus a bit of dark soy sauce and a pinch of msg. I boiled four pieces of the noodles for 3 minutes, drained it well and tossed it with the aforementioned ingredients.

I bought some quite nice char siew (for once – we do not get good char siew around here) from the fruit and food shop near my house and I had a bit leftover so I heated that in a pan and sliced it thinly to serve with the noodles…

Bovril mee with char siew

…garnished with the fried shallots and chopped spring onion from my garden.

As we all know, all noodles, instant or otherwise, may vary in taste and texture and I felt that this one too isn’t quite the same as the rest. Yes, it was quite nice but no, I was not all that thrilled by it. It reminded me of some made-in-China so-called “Hong Kong Noodles” that I bought a long time ago. Personally, I would prefer our own mee sua or dried kampua noodles or kolo mee or even our mee sanggul (mee kua).

I still have six pieces left and I intend to cook it some other way – who knows it may be very much nicer. We’ll see!

Not far…

That day, when I stopped by here to buy some food home for dinner, while I was waiting for them to cook and get my orders ready, I went outside and strolled down the road, not far, less than 100 metres away, maybe around 50 only, to this place…

Little Umbrella

…round the corner.

This used to be a very popular place for people to hang out at night, very crowded every evening those days before COVID-19. There is a small chu-char section to the right but I did not buy anything from there as I had already ordered the food from the aforementioned restaurant.

I was here once a long long time ago when my ex-students from overseas wanted to meet there. It did not even have a name/signboard at the time but everyone called it siaw yee sang (小雨傘/little umbrella) probably because of the many umbrellas that they put up over the tables outside in the open air.

They had the place done up nicely not too long ago and they put up the signs with their name on them so it is very much nicer-looking now. I don’t think I ate anything that night or if I did, I guess it was not anything that would get me going back for more. I never did.

This time around, I saw this sign…

Little Umbrella pork burger sign

…there. Gee! It has been so long since I last had a burger and I don’t think I ever had a pork burger before so of course I wanted one to try. I asked for one and said that I wanted the whole works, everything (RM9.00) and stood there waiting.

I saw this girl frying the egg…

Frying the egg

…and assumed that she would be the one making the burger. Obviously I was mistaken as once she was done, she placed the egg on a saucer and brought it over to this guy…

Making the burger

…at his counter. He was the one making the burger while the girl makes the roti john using those long hot dog buns. It’s probably quite good as while I was waiting for my burger, a lady in a flashy 4WD stopped by and placed her order for a few to take home. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

Once the burger was done, I took it…

Little Umbrella burger and fries

…home and tried it right away to see if it was any good.

It was somewhat disappointing, rather bland…

Little Umbrella homemade pork burger

…and it did not help much at all even when I added my own bottled chili sauce. I guess one can tell by the look of the patty, so pale – nothing like the one in the photograph.

Well, I don’t know if I will ever drop by here again and should I happen to do so, perhaps I’ll try the girl’s roti john or something from the chu char section, no more pork burger for me, thank you very much.

LITTLE UMBRELLA CAFÉ & RESTAURANT (2.291920, 111.827852) is located at No. 1-2, Brooke Drive.

Times are hard…

Some days, we will have leftovers from the previous day for lunch and cook something else for dinner. I am not entirely fond of that as we will not be able to finish and the next day, we will be eating leftovers again. That was why the other day, I said instead of cooking, I would go out and buy a few dishes for our dinner.

I was rather early, around 5.00 p.m. and most of the Chinese chu char places were still closed. Much to my delight, as I was driving past this one, one of our favourites in town, it was open so I parked the car and went in with my tiffin carrier and placed my orders.

The lady boss was not her usual cheerful self so I asked her if things were getting any better. She said, “Char th’nee, char tay!” (An expression in Hokkien meaning, “Far from it!”) Indeed, it did seem very quiet, a far cry from what it was like before. In the past, if you did not have a reservation, you might as well go some place else as the place was always full.

There wasn’t anybody there when I went in but I noticed that somebody had ordered a few dishes to be taken home for some kind of celebration…and by the time I was done, a couple with a kid and an old man went in. They were making steamed bak paos and sio bee probably to supplement their income and make up for the loss brought about by this COVID-19. I did not buy any to try as the next day was Friday, our no-meat day.

I asked for my girl’s favourite sizzling beef (RM18.00)…

Nice House sizzling beef

…but of course, since I was taking it home to eat, we would have to do without the hot plate.

I also wanted another dish that we enjoy a lot here, their ang sio tauhu (RM9.00)…

Nice House ang sio tauhu

…using their very special own-made tofu and their very nice pepper and honey prawn balls (RM16.00)…

Nice House pepper & honey prawn balls

…totalling RM43.00 altogether.

The lady who took my orders asked if they should cook servings for two which usually would be enough for three and of course, it would be cheaper but I told her no, I wanted servings for three. After all, I don’t think we will be coming here to eat, not anytime in the near future, I’m sure and besides, we had not enjoyed their dishes for some three months or more now.

When I got home, my girl was super delighted and she asked for more rice for dinner that evening. We managed to finish the beef and we had the rest of the prawns the following day, Friday but the tofu had to wait till Saturday. Nothing went to waste.

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

Pineapple…

It sure was a pleasant surprise when out of the blue, my friend/ex-English tuition student, Alex, dropped by my house that day to give me  a pineapple…

Pineapple from Alex

…a very huge one, weighing 2.5 kg…

2.5 kg

I was thinking of planting my own when I saw others doing that and showing off the fruits in their blogs or on Facebook but when I googled to find out more about how I could go about it, I was horrified to learn that it would take 2 years or more, 3 to 4 years even, before one can expect any yield from the plant. Never mind! I’ll just go and buy when I feel like eating  any pineapple.

Usually, we will just eat it like that or with rojak sauce to go with our meals but on special occasions like Chinese New Year, my missus would cook her specialty – her kunyit (turmeric) pineapple with udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Kunyit pineapple with udang galah

However, I don’t recall her doing that this Chinese New Year. That was why that day, I was thinking perhaps she would want to cook it for us to enjoy since we had not had it for a while now.

We did not have any udang galah in the freezer – I had not gone to the central market for over three months now but I did buy some very big and fresh pek hay (sea prawns) from Mukah not too long ago so early that morning, I peeled the pineapple and cut it into chunks…

Peeled and cut

…for her to cook the dish…

Kunyit with big prawns

Needless to say, we sure enjoyed eating it that day – the gravy went so well with rice and we loved the sweet pineapples and succulent prawns too.

Thank you so much for the pineapple, Alex. It was so kind and thoughtful of you. God bless always and take care, you and your loved ones.

Nicer…

It should be the same because it was the one and the same plant…

The original

Originally, it was one of those potted bamboos that people buy to display in the house during Chinese New Year for good luck. My missus bought one and somehow or other, in the end, she went and planted it in a pot and it grew, not that well but it stayed alive.

When I started gardening, I tried the best I could to spruce it up a bit and yes, it did grow quite well but eventually, it got too cramped inside the pot – all roots, not much soil left so I decided to dig it out and split it into two pots. Yes, both survived and are doing fine but the one in the other pot…

The new one

…looks a bit nicer with the broader leaves, lines and all. Don’t ask me why because I really do not know why they have turned out different!

Moving on from my plants, have you tried these…

Potato crisp

…before?

No, I’m not into junk food, none of those snacks that are the favourite of many and no, I did not buy these. During the COVID-19 MCO partial lockdown, my sister bought some of the vegetable flavour ones for my girl and she loved them very much. After that, she got her the sour cream ones and my girl said that between the two, the latter was nicer.

I gave them a try and yes, I too share the same opinion – they are very nice. Paper thin and very brittle, very crispy and the best part would be how they are not salty and overloaded with msg, unlike most of the rest – the potato chips, the prawn crackers and what not. As for which one is nicer, I think I like the vegetable one…

Vegetable & sour cream

…the one with the darker shade and specks of vegetable and seaweed. I don’t know how much they cost of course since I have never bought my own. You will not regret it, I assure you.

My favourite one…

Some of my regular followers may remember that I was looking for curry-flavoured instant noodles that taste like curry as we know it and all that I tried did not seem to be what I was looking for.

I did try this brand and thought it was quite awful – the rest might not taste quite like it but they were definitely better than this one. Somebody did suggest the Chef series from that very same brand and I was quite sure I did try it before but I could not remember exactly whether I liked it or not.

Well, during this COVID-19 MCO partial lockdown, my missus had been buying all kinds of instant noodles and it so happened that she bought a pack of the aforementioned brand…

Mamee Chef noodles

It states “mee tarik” (pulled noodles) quite clearly on the packet but personally, I could not tell the difference. At the end of the day, it is what it is – instant noodles.

My missus seems to enjoy it a lot and would cook a packet for herself quite often when she wakes up in the morning so the other morning, I decided to give it another try.

There are three sachets inside, two with two sections…

Sachets

…one with the oil and what looks like soy sauce and the other, the curry seasoning and what looks like santan (coconut milk) powder. The third sachet contains dried tofu and dehydrated vegetables.

I cooked one poached egg using this method that seemed to work very well for me and yes, I kept vigil to make sure that the egg yolk would be nice and runny…

Poached egg

…not overcooked.

I fished out the egg and put it aside and used the water to boil two huge prawns and one tofu puffs. That way, the bits of egg white that had gone swimming in the water would not go to waste. I removed the prawns and the tofu puff and threw in the noodles, adding all the contents in the sachets.

Once cooked, I poured everything into a bowl and placed the prawns by the side. I cut the tofu puff into quarters and in it went as well, together with a few thinly-sliced tomato, left over from my breakfast platter that day. Finally, I garnished it with chopped spring onions from my garden and some fried shallots…

Mamee Chef curry laksa

…and served.

Yes, I thought it was very nice, whatever you call it – curry laksa or curry mee. There was that delightful curry taste, not obtrusively lemak and yes, I did enjoy it even though I thought the dried tofu was a bit on the hard side, nothing to shout about and if there were traces of any dehydrated vegetables, I sure did not notice.

All things considered, I think if it is curry-flavoured instant noodles that I want, I would go for this one, my favourite so far.

First hand…

My missus bought a pack sometime ago but she happily ate it all by herself and she did not say a word about it. She went on to buy all the other varieties and tried them one by one. When I asked her, she just said they were all more or less the same – like kampua mee, nothing more, nothing less. Well, unlike the spicy vinegar one, she did not finish them all off so I was able to try them as well here and here.

In the meantime, my cousin in Bintulu posted a snapshot of the spicy vinegar one that she had and said it was good and in response to that, my cousin in Kuching commented that the meepok was good too but my missus went out and bought a pack of the regular, with dark soy sauce. That was why the other day, I went and got myself a pack…

Spicy vinegar meepok

…so I could try it myself, first hand! It is RM8.00 for 4 packets whereas the regular kampua mee, be it black or white, is RM8.50 for a pack of 5.

There are 4 sachets…

Sachets

…inside, two of which look like the fragrant oil (lard) and the light soy sauce that one would get with all the other flavours and there are two more – one that looks like chili oil and the other was something black, not too sure whether that is black vinegar or not but when I emptied all the contents onto a plate, I could detect its sourish fragrance.

As always, I boiled the noodles to perfection, drained well and tossed everything together…

Meepok spicy vinegar with ang chao pork belly 1

I heated up what was left of the ang chao pork belly my missus cooked the day before and served it by the side and garnished the dish with some chopped spring onion from my garden. I tried the noodles and felt it was very nice.

I would not say it was exactly like the regular or usual ones – I could detect a little difference, just a bit but when I mixed it with the thick and slightly sweet and sourish ang chao pork belly gravy with its traditional Foochow red wine and strong ginger fragrance…

Meepok spicy vinegar with ang chao pork belly 2

…it sure brought the taste to a whole new level. That was so so good!!!

Unfortunately, that was all that was left of the pork belly so we would have to finish the remaining three packs without it.

THE KITCHEN FOOD shop (2.304994, 111.847404), home of the original, the one & only Sibu instant kampua, is located in the Sibu Bus Terminal area at Lorong 7A, Jalan Pahlawan, right next to the UOB Bank there.

Don’t leave me out…

I saw my friend/ex-student’s post on Facebook praising this line of ice cream…

Kit Kat ice cream

…to the skies. Not wanting to be left out, I made my way that morning to the SHELL station along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng where it is currently available to grab a few to try. Right now, it is selling at the promotional price of RM4.00 each (and if you’re a BonusLink member, you can get a few points for your purchases).

When I bit into it…

First bite

…my initial response was, “Wow!!! It’s so sweet!” I don’t know what ice cream that is inside as it is not mentioned in the packaging and seeing how it is slightly brown, not entirely white, my guess is that it is very lightly chocolate-flavoured vanilla. The smooth chocolate coating has bits of the wafer which all Kit Kat lovers would be very familiar with.

I would say that once I got quite accustomed to the initial sweetness, I quite enjoyed it…

Kit Kat ice cream, inside

…with the richness and the delightful flavours but personally, I think my favourite is this one which I feel is less sweet than most.

There are two varieties, the other one’s a cone like Cornetto but I am never a fan of that so I did not bother to buy those.

SHELL LING KAI CHENG (2.323746, 111.852130) is located at LOT 2481, BLOCK 3, SUNGAI MERAH TOWN DISTRICT, Jalan Ling Kai Cheng across the road from SMK Bandar Sibu and Swan Square.

From a distance…

I saw the char pek koi in zmun2’s blog that morning and I made up my mind right there and then that I would go out and have some at the coffee shop near my house – my girl loves the one there.

When I got there, I had a change of heart. After all, I had char pek koi twice already, once when my girl fried it and another time when I finished off what was left in the packet of white rice cakes. I placed my order and sat down to be served.

There was social distancing in the shop all right…

Ah Kau social distancing

The tables were placed very far apart and there were two chairs only at each table except for the bigger tables where there were four chairs. There were very few customers, a far cry from before COVID-19 when every morning, without fail, the people would be spilling onto the road. My neighbour spoke to me over the fence one day and he said that the kampua lady told him that they would be lucky if they could make RM30-40 a day from the few dropping by and those buying takeaways to eat at home.

So what do we have now? The Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). A rose by any other name! Whatever they choose to call it, things will take a long long time to recover and one thing’s for sure, it will never be the same again! There was a file and a pen on the table in front and a sanitiser spray on the chair beside it but I did not see a temperature gun. Anyway, nobody was bothered to go through the SOP – I do think what is most important is to keep one’s distance from any other living soul around- avoid crowded places and wear a mask.

Soon, my order arrived (RM8.00)…

Ah Kau Foochow fried noodles, moon

– my Foochow fried noodles, the moon version, special with all the liver and innards, char siew, strips of meat, fish cake slices, fried tofu and oh me oh my, it was as good as it looked.

I can’t remember the last time I had it here and anywhere else for that matter but this time around it had gone up by RM2.00 from RM6.00 in 2018., that time when the special was already RM8.00 at the other places that I used to go to. I must say that I enjoyed it so much after having been deprived of this local Foochow delight for so so long – three months, at least!

Incidentally, I did tapao the char pek koi (RM4.00)…

Ah Kau char pek koi

…for the ladies at home. My girl said it was nice but not as nice as the other times she had it. Of course, there is a difference between eating it there and tapao-ing and eating it at home and of course, the one I cooked was nicer – I had a whole lot of prawns in mine, none in this one here.

AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located along Jalan Ruby, off Jalan Lim Han Swee, in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.