You said…

My friend/ex-student shared her photograph of the chao chai hung ngang

…that she had here…

…on Facebook and sang its praises so enthusiastically.

Chao chai is a variety of (Chinese) preserved vegetables – a bit fermented, a little sour and a little salty while hung ngang is the big bihun (rice vermicelli). Of course I had to make my way there to give it a try but it was not open that morning – I think it was Ching Ming (the Chinese Tomb Cleaning Festival) that day.

Not long after that, more recently, she put another photograph on Facebook insisting that it was so very nice that she simply had to go and enjoy it again and of course, I went there again too but once again, the stall…

…was not open! The nice lady at the stall next to it told me that they do not open on Mondays.

Well, last Friday, I went to the wet market in the vicinity and seeing that it was open, I went right in and placed my order with a special request for extra fish balls and NO meat (RM12.80)…

It was served soon enough and finally, I got the chance to give it a try.

The soup was very nice, sour and flavourful (with the taste and fragrance of the chao chai) enough but I did feel that it paled a little, just a little, in comparison with the one I had here that day. The fish fillet in my order then was bland, not nice at all but I did try one of my missus’ fishballs and it was very nice. The ones here were obviously own-made too and they were bigger but I thought they were a bit bland and not as sweet when it came to the taste of the fish used in making them.

I must say, however, that the egg here…

…was perfectly poached, with the yolk still runny, exactly the way that I like it and yes, they got my order spot-on – there was no meat in it!

On top of all that, this one here is a lot more expensive than the ones we had at that other place (around RM8.00 only). I think if I were to give that one over there a 10, I would give this one a 9…or maybe just an 8.

DIANDIANLAI CAFE (2.310079, 111.831103) is located in the block of shops facing the Sibu Civic Centre (car park) along Jalan Dewan Suarah that links Jalan Melur and Jalan Suarah.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

13 thoughts on “You said…”

  1. Don’t know if I can find this in JB.
    I don’t think I have seen it before anyway.
    We don’t usually have big bihun either.
    We do have a famous fish ball called Ah Koong.
    Their fishball soup noodles are not bad. Not sure they got any branches in Sarawak…

    1. Impossible, no big bihun. We call it hung ngang in Foochow, up north they call it laksa (bihun)
      by virtue of the fact that it is used in Penang asam laksa. Well, you have Penang asam laksa in Johore
      and everywhere for that matter, even in the UK so how can there not be any big bihun there?
      As a matter of fact, in 1994, in Plymouth, I went to the Asian shop to buy mee sua/longevity noodles
      to cook for my birthday and the Hong Kong lady gave me something like our big bihun
      and insisted THAT was longevity noodles, and she did not know any such thing as mee sua!

      This one’s with chao chai soup – if it is just fish ball soup, here they will use tang hoon (glass noodles).
      Dunno any Ah Koong here – the day somebody from Johore comes here to set up his business, that will be the day!
      Most likely, people from here will go over there to do that – where all the money is!

      1. Actually, asam laksa is also rare in Johore.
        But Penang char kway teow is quite common, we do have that in my little kampung.

        Yes, we do have fishball soup too but I don’t think we use glass noodles in it.
        Usually have glass noodles in steamboat.

        I have not been to Ah Koong for a very long time, it’s located in Bodi (local term used by us Johoreans to refer downtown JB). Oddly, S’poreans also refer their downtown (Central Business District area) Bodi, same like us. Ha! It’s a very colloquial term, rarely heard outside Johore/ Singapore. Anyway, back to Ah Koong. They also make dried noodles with a big bowl full of goodies of your choice, a bit like yong tahu. And it’s customary to add black vinegar to the dried noodles, do you do this in Sarawak too?

      2. Ya, never heard of Bodi before, not in our Foochow town, that’s for sure!
        Eyewwww!!! Black vinegar in noodles? I love black vinegar pork leg and we do add a bit to say, sea cucumber soup.
        We do add glass noodles to steamboat too at the restaurants…and yes, to fish ball soup as well at the stalls.
        I am amazed that Penang asam laksa is not that popular in Johore – we do have it here
        but of course, we all prefer our own Sarawak/Kuching laksa.

      3. Then, you should try it one day.
        The black vinegar will enhance the mee flavour a lot.
        But we don’t add black vinegar to any dried noodles, only that particular type of dried noodles (just plain kosong with sauces and no meat) that come with a big bowl of fish soup or pork soup. The trick is not to overdo it, you just wanna give the noodles a faint taste of vinegar.

        Yes, Bodi actually comes from XinjiaBO (Singapore in Chinese) + di (bottom), which refers to the bottom part of Singapore, ie their downtown core area. South Johoreans probably borrowed the term from our neighbour.

      4. I sure would love to try if I get to see it anywhere.
        Black vinegar has taken a back seat here since sharks’ fins soup went out of style.
        Black vinegar pork leg is available here at some places, not many, just a few
        and that night, I think they added some to our sea cucumber soup and it tasted so good!

  2. The chao chai hung ngang looks pretty inviting from the pix. Yes, agree that the sourish taste should come from the preserved vegetables and not the whole lot of vinegar used. My bad experience once at Peach Garden but I do have nice one at Premier 101. Maybe one of these days will drop by again at that place to eat.

    Thank goodness we do not have this with vinegar added here or not that I know of. For the dish to be nice, not only do we need that sour taste, the chao chai fragrance and taste are also important. That is what separates the boys from the men – some do not measure up, unfortunately.

  3. I don’t know whether I can find this chao chai noodle here. I must try because it sounds so appetizing. We have salted vegetable (kiam chai) added to noodles and that is appetizing too.

    I don’t think we have kiam chai noodles here but I am sure this is a whole lot nicer. Maybe you can find it in Sitiawan, a Foochow dish. They import the chao chai in packets, dried, from China.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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