A better place to be…

I did mention in a recent post that we dropped by here but we were told that the chu char (cook & fry) people at the back had moved to a new location and would only be open sometime around the middle of this month.

True enough, they resumed their business on the 15th and my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, asked us to join him and his family and friends here…

New Dragon Seafood Restaurant

…on their opening night…

Opening night

They are still running their usual coffee shop setting downstairs (and I noticed that there was a kampua mee stall there) but they now have an air-conditioned section upstairs on the first floor…

First floor

I wouldn’t know if that is solely meant for groups of 10 or more but my guess is they would not mind on nights when they are not fully/heavily booked. It is not very big though – that night, I counted 8 tables altogether only but they may be able to fit in one or two more, perhaps.

Looking at the newspaper articles on display…

Newspaper articles

…it is pretty obvious that the owner is quite a celebrity around here and that night, we had his Four Seasons…

Four Seasons

…and this was followed by the steamed empurau

Steamed empurau

– the freshwater fish from upriver that is worth its weight in gold. You can read this article about it if you are thus inclined and I quote, “…the most expensive edible fish in Malaysia, with a reputation that reaches all the way around the world…” unquote.

I absolutely loved the roast duck with honey…

Roast duck with honey

…and I had quite a lot of it, seeing that there were a few at my table who were not all that fond of the poultry, my missus included.

This was really good, absolutely out of this world and so very spicy – the sambal seafood (prawns & squid)…

Sambal seafood

…and there I was, wishing that they had added some petai (stink beans) to it but this being a Chinese restaurant, it may not go down too well with the general public or a section of it, at least, not with that stinky odour that would fill the whole place when it is served.

When I got there that evening, I saw one guy sitting by the side removing the anthers from the durian flowers…

Durian flowers

…and there I went, keeping my fingers crossed that it would be served to us that night. Unfortunately, that was the first and the last I saw of it…and actually, they could have added a handful to the above sambal dish – I bet that would be really very nice!

They probably made their own mantao (steamed buns)…

Mantao

…as they were really huge, so much bigger than the usual ones sold at the stalls and shops around town and the stewed pork belly…

Stewed pork belly

…filling was truly heavenly! The fat simply melted in the mouth…and I had to resist the temptation of helping myself to another one.

There was a fruit platter at the end – yellow watermelon, I think…and complimentary ice cream, one of the local Malaysian brands, for those whose bill came up to RM200 or more.

My girl had always enjoyed what we had before at this restaurant when it was at its former location and since this was on a Friday night and she was home from her school in the jungle, she was delighted that she did not miss the chance to join all of us at this dinner. Thank you so much, Robert, for including us in the group.

We were not able to drop by as much as we wanted before as parking in that area was such a pain – I do think this is a much better place for the restaurant to be and we certainly look forward to dropping by a lot more often from now on.

THE NEW DRAGON SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (2.291430, 111.828736) is located along Hua Kiew Road in the first block of shops on your right behind the Sibu Central Police Station.

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See what you get…

What you see in the menu here may not be what you can get, I’m afraid.

I saw they had sup kambing (mutton soup), something that I have not had for a long time as we can’t get that here…or at least, not that I know of. Of course, I asked for it but I was told that it was not available. I did not want the sup tulang (bone soup) in case I will get some rather diluted, watered-down soup with a lot of bones and hardly any meat like what I had here or here so the girl suggested their beef soup (RM5.00) and yes, I decided I would give it a try.

They certainly took a very very long time cooking the soup – I would expect that they would have it ready in big pots or cauldrons, just waiting to be served. Usually, I would simmer the soup with the meat and bones for as long as I can to bring out the sweetness and flavours of the meat. Obviously, they don’t do anything of the sort here so when you order, you will get something cooked on the spot, fresh from the wok.

It looked something like the beef soup noodles (RM6.00)…

Sara Cafe beef soup noodles

…that my missus had – with very little meat (and not much noodles too in my missus’ bowl) and a whole lot of taugeh (bean sprouts). Now, where is the daun sup (Chinese celery)? I would want that in beef soup/noodles…and I wish they would not use those factory-produced fried shallots sold in big packs in the supermarkets. They have a smell that I am not particularly fond of, not fragrant at all, and nothing like own-fried hand-peeled and sliced shallots.

Surprisingly though, the soup actually tasted very nice or let’s say it was a whole lot nicer than what I had expected it to be and my missus did like her noodles but no, I don’t think we would want to order those again the next time we drop by here.

I had yet to try their bryani rice so I wanted that but no, they did not have the kambing (mutton) so I asked for the sapi (beef) and no, they did not have that either and that left me with the Hobson’s choice, ayam (chicken), RM9.00…

Sara Cafe nasi bryani, ayam

I was quite put off already by then seeing how they did not have this nor that – how on earth can people run a business like that, I was wondering! But thankfully, the bryani rice was very nice – I thought it was really flavourful, nicer than what I had here or here and at a number of places elsewhere and I liked how they served the curry gravy separately in a bowl…

Sara Cafe ayam & kuah kari

…instead of drowning the rice with it and yes, they did use the nicer, more expensive long-grained rice…

Sara Cafe long-grained rice

By now, I’ve had my fair share of what is available at this shop and I must say that among all that I’ve tried, this one is the nicest of the lot.

SARA CAFE (2.307544, 111.820744) is located among the shops at Simpang Tiga, Sibu, where the Bisonte Grocer & Deli is, one of the two facing Jalan Bunga Normah 4.

Round the corner…

I had to go and get this

The Kitchen kampua survival kit

…for my cousin from Brisbane, Australia who would be coming to town that weekend but they do not open on Saturdays and Sundays nor public holidays.

These are the ingredients needed to toss the noodles in the preparation of a plate of kampua mee and as it may not be so convenient to cart the heavy packs of noodles home, this is the practical solution, just that one would have to use the dried egg noodles sold at the supermarkets instead. Of course, it will not be the same as the original authentic mee but I guess when you are so far away from home, you do not have much choice. As they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

Well, since we were in the vicinity, we decided to go right round the corner from the collection centre and stop by here for their chap fan (mixed rice) lunch

One O One chap fan. meat selections

Priced now at RM7.00 for two meat and three vegetables…

One O One chap fan, vegetable selections

…up by 20 sen from RM6.80 previously, the guy explained that it was to solve the problem of having to prepare loose change for customers. Interestingly, egg and also tofu are categorised as vegetables here, not meat.

My missus had the cangkuk manis with egg and also some chives with egg and some green vegetable and for the meat choices, she picked the stewed pork leg…

Missus' picks 1

…and also the ang chao (紅糟) bak (meat cooked with the lees or the residue from the red yeast rice in the making of our traditional Foochow red wine)…

Missus' picks 2

…which they served separately with the rice so they could give a bit more of the sauce/gravy.

For my pick of vegetables, I had their brinjal fried with minced meat and soy sauce, their very nice tofu with whatever on top and also the green gourd (I think in Hokkien, they call it pek kua or pek pu, literally translated as white gourd) with fried tofu

My picks 1

…and I also had the stewed pork leg…

Stewed pork leg

…and I asked for the chicken curry…

My picks 2

…to be served with the rice, gravy and all.

Everything tasted fine including the somewhat diluted/watered-down Chinese-style curry and at RM7.00 per head, I would not say it was very expensive. They certainly were very generous with everything, including two huge chunks each of our meat choices. At the Malay places that we frequent, one chunk/piece would be RM2.00 each so that would be RM4.00 already plus RM1 for the rice leaving RM2.00 for the three vegetable choices and there is also a free flow of iced tea or orange cordial and complimentary soup – that day, it was sweet corn.

A friendly reminder here if you are thinking of dropping by for the same, they only have this on weekdays – Tuesdays (their off day is on every Monday) to Fridays from around 11.00 onwards excluding public holidays and for some reason, they do not have this during school holidays as well.

ONE O ONE CAFE (2.305823,111.84837) is located in the Jaya Li Hua Commercial Centre along Lorong Pahlawan 7C, opposite the wet market, among the shops on the other side from the Sibu Bus Terminal area.

Same as before…

I was driving past this place the other day and I felt like having their coffee (RM1.70)…

Choon Seng coffee
*Archive photo*

…reputed to be one of the best and some say it is THE best, in Sibu, provided it is the boss himself brewing it and not anybody else. Yes, it was really very good, the same as before, and I sure enjoyed it.

We had not been here since January this year after our three visits in November last year, here, here and here and this time around, my missus had this (RM4.50)…

Choon Seng chap fan

…from the chap fan place at the back. As always, it did appear mighty popular – a lot of people were going for that to eat in the shop or buying their lunch packs to take away. I must say that they were very generous with the vegetables but no, somehow I am not all that fond of the Chinese mixed rice places so despite my missus insisting that it was very nice, I chose to go for something else.

I like the roti telur with curry gravy…

Choon Seng roti telur
*Archive photo*

…from this halal Muslim stall…

Choon Seng Muslim stall

…but I did not feel like having it that day.

Instead, I had their nasi campur (RM5.50)…

Choon Seng nasi campur

…with two “meat” (the fish and the salted egg) and two vegetables but there sure were a lot of prawns in the long beans…

Choon Seng long beans with prawns

I wonder how many of you cook long beans cut diagonally like this. Usually, I would just break the strings into pieces an inch long – I would only slice French beans diagonally but very very thinly, not long beans.

I loved their beef liver but it did look like they had that that day. As a matter of fact, they did not seem to have as many choices as before but nonetheless, I did enjoy what I picked very much, done in their local Malay/Melanau kampung style of cooking. I sure would not mind going for it again.

春陞茶室 CHOON SENG COFFEE SHOP is located at Lorong Wong Ting Hock 1, off Jalan Wong Ting Hock, off Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg in the vicinity of the Sungai Merah Bazaar here.

 

Moon…

The Mooncake Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn or Zhongqiu Festival falls on the 4th of October this year which means that there are some two to three weeks to go.

Needless to say, they are getting more expensive by the year so I will not bother getting any of those “branded ones”. With the kind of money, I could go out with my family and have a really nice dinner and derive a lot more pleasure from that instead. As a matter of fact, I saw somebody sharing a post on Facebook that day that there are imitations/counterfeit not only in Hong Kong or elsewhere in China but right here in Malaysia so that would be another reason not to go for those.

We do have a bakery here that makes very nice ones but the last time I bought some…

Famous Bakery, Sibu mooncake
*Archive photo*

…from there was 5 years ago in 2012 mainly because it is located at the far end of town, very far!

I’m sure the prices have gone up by leaps and bounds now – my Miri friend ordered from them for sale at RM38.00 for a box of 12. Back in 2012, they were only RM11 for a pack of 6 or RM13.00 for the ones with salted egg yolk…

Famous Bakery, Sibu yolk puff
*Archive photo*

…inside.

Even our local Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits or what we call Pek Guek Tong Chiew pia

Pek guek tong chiew pia
*Archive photo*

…are selling for RM6.00 a pack now. I remember at one time they were priced at only RM4.00. My cousin in Melbourne, Australia calls them Foochow shortbread and she loves them so much, more than the Scottish ones, it seems.

I did buy a pack of those mooncakes, lotus paste, from a manufacturer in Johore, halal ones, selling at only RM10.00 for 4. I would not say it was great but at that price, I shall not complain.

I also bought these…

Sibu home-made mooncakes

…the other day from a shop round the corner from my house, RM3.00 for a pack of three, just RM1.00 each. They said they were home-made, somebody made them and left them there for sale.

Kids would probably love the Doraemon mould used…

Doraemon mooncake

…but they only had two types of filling – or tau sar (red bean paste) or pek tau sar (mung bean paste) and I bought the latter which I do prefer.

Yes, the pastry was indeed kind of thick…

Thick pastry

…but I did not mind – for one thing, I do enjoy eating it and for another, it sure helps to reduce the sweetness of the filling. I cannot understand why people would insist on it being paper thin as an indication of a very well-produced top quality mooncake. One would hardly be able to taste the pastry at all so much so that he or she might as well go and buy the filling and eat it straight, just like that.

These days, they have the snow skin and the agar-agar (jelly) but no, I am no fan of those. It has to be the real thing, the original, authentic mooncakes…or nothing at all.

Right now, I am not sure if I would be getting more to try – maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We’ll see! I still have a few weeks to look around to see if there are any other affordable ones available but one thing I am certain of is that I will not be buying those worth-their-weight-in-gold ones, thank you very much!

FAMOUS BAKERY (2.250418, 111.84679) is located at No. 8, Lorong Upper Lanang 29A in the Grand Height area of shops between Jalan Mantis and the aforementioned lane..

Not always…

If you think that if the place is very crowded, the food must be great, that may not always be true. I do find some of the “unsung heroes” around here a lot nicer that the ones that a lot of people go to but I guess they have their reason(s).

This place has always been crowded and the last time we were here, there were hits and misses. We liked two of the dishes we ordered but the third one was not to our liking but as that Meatloaf song goes, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Actually, we wanted to drop by here for the very nice nasi kerabu that day but it was closed and I noticed that it now has a different name. I will have to go there again one of these days to see if there are some new people running the show or what and whether their nasi kerabu is as nice as the one we used to love a lot. In the end, we decided to have our lunch here that day as it would be very convenient for my girl to stroll over to the mall close by to shop for a few things once we were done.

As always, the place was very packed and it sure did not help that it was a Saturday and a public holiday but luckily, we were able to grab a table for three by the side. The nice matronly lady from the chu char place at the back came and took our orders and she was very accommodating, taking note of our request not to suggest anything with wheat flour and soy sauce. She said that the hot plate tofu would have soy sauce as it would be used for marinating the minced meat in the dish so she was of the opinion that it would be better if we had the ang sio version…

Mei Le ang sio hot plate tofu

…instead. It was very nice – we did enjoy it – but we thought it paled in comparison to the one here or here.

The salted vegetable tofu soup…

Mei Le salted vegetable tofu soup

…was nice too, nicer than here but the one here is still better – more like what we would cook ourselves at home. I am not too sure but somehow I felt that the sour taste of the soup was not completely from the salted vegetables. It seemed to me like they had added some vinegar to it so even though it was all right, it just was not the same.

I ordered their bitter gourd omelette…

Mei Le bitter gourd omelette

…to give it a try and it was all right too, just that personally, I would prefer the one here with the lap cheong (Chinese sausage) or here.

After she assured us that they would coat the meat with tapioca flour, not wheat, to deep fry, I ordered their kiam sor (salty and crispy/crusty) pork…

Mei Le kiam sor pork

…but we were served a plate of sweet and sour pork instead. Of course, we had to ask them to take it back as there is wheat in tomato sauce too even though we did not mention it to the lady since we did not order anything with ketchup. Once again, we could detect the use of some bottled essence as in the case of the salad sotong that we had on our previous visit so this was not to our liking.

The total came up to RM36.60, inclusive of 3 plates of rice, which was not as cheap as I had expected but it was all right, just that I was thinking that if we had gone some place else, we probably would have enjoyed the lunch a lot more.

MEI LE CAFE (2.313147, 111.846968) is located along Jalan Gambir, a stone’s throw away from the Delta Mall, on your left as soon as you turn into that road from Jalan Pedada.

Where did she go…

She was here, initially and then she disappeared but later, we found her here and not long after that, she wasn’t there anymore. We really liked her beef noodles so of course, when I heard that she had moved here, we made a beeline to the place to see if she was the one.

I saw the celebrated kampua noodles guy there, popularly known by his nickname, Ang Kau (monkey), but I did hear that his name is actually Ah Soon. He has moved here too, it seems and has taken over the kampua noodles stall…

Yong Garden Angkau kampua mee stall

…and I noticed that he was also selling laksa and kueh chap.

I ordered a bowl of the latter (RM5.00)…

Yong Garden kueh chap

…to try and yes, I thought it was really very good even though it did not have any pig’s intestines nor liver in it and instead, there was a lot of the pig’s ears but I am not fond of eating that because of the hard white layer in it, the cartilage.

The soup was very light, not really like the regular kueh chap one would get here, there and everywhere, and was more like bak kut teh instead and I must say that I rather enjoyed it. Other than that, instead of the special chili dip that usually goes with kueh chap, they gave some sambal belacan (dried prawn paste)…

Yong Garden kueh chap & sambal belacan

…instead and with the generous squeeze of calamansi lime juice in it, I did like it quite a lot too.

Much to our disappointment, the beef noodles was closed – the lady had called in sick that morning so we decided to try some of the fried stuff from the stall next to it instead…

Yong Garden fried noodles stall

My missus loved the fried noodles (RM6.00)…

Yong Garden fried noodles 1

…very much and the lady sure was very generous with the prawns…

Yong Garden fried noodles 2

Of course, you simply can’t go wrong with prawns and anything with a lot of those is bound to taste really great.

When I paid her, she spoke in Malay, “Terima kasih!” (Thank you) and we only realised later that she was Iban (one of our Sarawak’s ethnic races) – I wouldn’t know whether she was the employee or the wife of the Chinese owner (who showed up later to close up the stall) but obviously, she knows what she’s doing and does what she does very well.

I had her tomato kway teow (RM6.00)…

Yong Garden tomato kway teow 1

…and yes, it had a lot of prawns too…

Yong Garden tomato kway teow 2

…and it was really very nice – not too strong on the tomato sauce like what I’ve had elsewhere and more like a cross between the Kuching-style tomato kway teow and the wat tan hor/ying yong version with the egg sauce/gravy. I sure wouldn’t mind coming back for this again or perhaps I would give something else in her menu a try.

Well, it looks like we will have to come back here again another time for the elusive beef noodles and if you’re thinking of doing the same, do take note that this coffee shop has its rest day on Thursday every week.

YONG GARDEN RESTAURANT CAFE (2.290559, 111.832248) is located at Foochow Lane in one corner at the back of the shops as you turn right into the lane. It is also accessible via Hardin Walk and as a matter of fact, it is more convenient to use this road to get there instead of the one aforementioned as it is actually beside this road on the left.