Bring it back…

When they reopened and resumed business when they were allowed to, mainly for takeaways at the time, they removed a lot of items from the menu. From the business point of view, there was no point cooking a whole lot of stuff and storing in the freezer just to throw them away in the end when nobody ordered those. I guess it made more sense to just concentrate on the more popular dishes with a higher turnover.

One was this Payung fish (ikan keli)…

…that my girl and I liked a lot. I don’t think this is our Melanau ethnic style, more likely one of the Chinese dialects even though my late mum and all the rest in the family would cook it this way too and we all loved it so much and she would always add a dash of brandy (XO no less) to hers.

Later when my mum was bedridden, she would sometimes ask my sister to go and buy to cook for her so now, my sister knows how to cook it, just that the thought of buying the fish and cleaning and preparing it does not appeal to her. She said it would take her the whole morning to do that, 30 minutes to cook and 5 minutes to eat. Why go through all that trouble when we can just go and buy and enjoy to appease the craving once in a while?

I did speak to Ah Peng, one of the guys at Payung Café and yes, he described the whole process to me that would include cleaning the fish with boiling water TWICE and everything, definitely not something I would want to do. He also said that he could not get any good ikan keli lately – all those available at the market were the farmed ones, fed with chicken innards or something – I can’t remember what he said now and they would be very big, the texture would not be nice plus there would be some kind of an offensive smell. I guess when fish is too big, there is the tendency for it to be “loco” – rubbery, tough and hard, not nice at all.

When I shared the above photo on Facebook, praising it to the skies and lamenting that it was no longer available, Andy got in touch with me and told me that they had it over the last few days but it was all finished. Of course I was delighted when he said that they would cook some more the following day but the next day, he contacted me to let me know that they could not get the fish so I would have to wait another day. Finally, the good news came the next morning – they had the fish and they would cook it that afternoon and of course, I wasted no time in going over to grab some.

I bought three servings for ourselves and one for my sister and since we did not have a vegetable dish, we agreed to drop by here…

…now occupying the shop right behind the stall…

…to buy their Indian rojak or what they call the rojak thamby (RM5.00)….

…which to me, is more like the Indonesian gado gado

…because of the peanut (satay) sauce, not quite the Indian rojak or pasembur

…that I am quite familiar with. I had it a long time ago, 2017, to be exact…

when the shop was at another location (in Sg. Merah) and I thought it was really good.

My missus would not touch ikan keli with a 10-foot pole so she bought this beef satay

…from there. It was very nice but a little bit on the tough side – thankfully, it was not as tough as when I bought the same from there before, so hard that I could not manage to eat it! That is why when I buy satay from the Malay shops and stalls, I would ask for lamb or chicken.

Because we had so much to eat, we agreed to keep the ikan keli till our no-meat Friday (today) but we did heat up one of the servings (RM15.00, without rice)…

…to be shared between my girl and I. We thought it looked a bit different from before (I don’t think it was the lighting) but it tasted just as great with the fragrance of the serai (lemon grass) and other aromatics and they sure seemed extra generous with the salted black beans this time around.

We enjoyed our dinner that evening, especially after desperately trying to finish the leftovers from our reunion dinner some one or two weeks ago!

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 and NOOR SATAY ISLAMIC CAFE is located at the shops in the vicinity of Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) in the corner at the back of the parking spaces to the right of the now-shaded hawker centre..