I loved you once…

This used to be our favourite…

Soon Hock Cafe & Restaurant

…when it came to kampua noodles here in Sibu. In fact, I held it in such high esteem that when my blogger friends came over for a visit sometime ago, I even brought them here. It was already very popular then and the crowd that you could see eating there would be testament to the fact.

I did hear some ex-colleagues saying that they would never go there to eat as the lady boss had waist-length hair and it might get into the food. That, of course, was absolutely nonsense. We ate there so often and we never did see a single strand of hair in the noodles. As a matter of fact, she hardly ever did the cooking herself; she had a couple of Foochow-speaking Indonesian helpers and they could do it really well so she left everything to them. We did not mind, of course, until those girls left and she had some new ones and we did not like what they dished out so we stopped going.

It seems that the husband does all the cooking these days assisted by some Indonesian helpers…

Soon Hock boss at work

…and yes, they do it well and the place would be as crowded as ever all the time unlike the other coffee shop that I went to the other day at the end of that very same block of shops.

However, I don’t know if business was too good or what but the guy seemed to get my orders messed up more than once. I went and tapao-ed home some pian sip kampua mee once and when I got home, I found that there was only pian sip, no mee.

The other morning when I dropped by for breakfast, I asked for pian sip kampua again but I got what-we-call-mee pok instead…

Soon Hock mee pok

…It did not really matter as our mee pok is actually the same as kampua mee, except that it is flat and if you are wondering why I always ordered piansip

Soon Hock pian sip

…our version of the wanton (meat dumplings), it’s just that I would rather have those than the few very thin slices of boiled meat, coloured red to make it look like char siew which it most definitely isn’t though I am quite positive that I used to get more, not just three…

Soon Hock pian sip mee pok

…For one thing, the price here has gone up to RM3.20 a plate while elsewhere, one can easily get some decently good kampua mee for RM2.50-3.00 or less.

Yes, it is still very nice like before but at that price, I think I would much sooner go elsewhere even though it sure does not stop all the people, their regular customers probably, from coming every day.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312434, 111.845917) is located in the Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.

Looks can be deceiving…

If you see a crowd, it may not mean that there is anything nice like how this place was so very packed when we stopped by there in the morning two Sundays ago before we went on our way to send my girl back to her school in the jungle.

Yes, the chicken rice is consistently good but the kueh chap

Chopsticks kueh chap
*Archive photo*

…that I had that morning was way too salty and my girl had the Sarawak laksa which looked rather pale even though she said it was all right and the Foochow fried noodles had the clear gravy, not dark and not the way I would like it.

We ended up here because this place was packed too that morning and this one as well. My missus and I dropped by the latter a few days later and she had the Foochow noodles, soup (RM4.00)…

Mei Le Foochow noodles, soup

…from the chu-char people at the back. It sure looked good, lots of added ingredients but she said it could do with a little less msg.

I had the mee sua in the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup (RM6.00, or was it RM6.50?)…

Mei Le mee sua in Foochow red wine chicken soup

…and it sure looked extremely red.

Sometimes they use ang chao (the lees or residue from the fermented red yeast rice used in making of the wine) and some may use the cheap red wine that has not been filtered well till completely clear so there is still a bit of the residue in it and that would give it the colour. Unfortunately, in both the aforementioned cases, the soup will lack the fragrance of the wine but thankfully, what I had that morning was all right, not great but at least, there was a very light hint of the wine used in the cooking, anytime better than the one I had here.

On another day, we dropped by here…

Yum Yum Cafe

…directly opposite this supermarket in the Sibu Bus Terminal area…

Everwin, Sibu Bus Terminal

…and my missus had their egg soup hung ngang

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup hung ngang 1

Actually, one could have a choice of either that or mee sua or bihun. She would cook her own at home sometimes, with lots of red wine and ginger but this one did not look like it had a lot of the former…

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup mee sua 2

…However, she said that it was very good – there was the nice red wine taste so my guess was the lady used the good quality unadulterated wine so it was not all that red.

I had the nasi lemak (RM4.00)…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak

…from another stall there. No, the rice was not lemak and the sambal did not taste all that nice but it was all right.

The oil in the wok must be extremely hot when the lady fried the egg…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak, fried egg

…but thankfully, the yolk, though not runny…

Fried egg, yolk

…was not overcooked.

I also ordered the murtabak daging (RM5.50)…

Yum Yum Cafe murtabak daging

…from the roti canai stall there and though it was quite nice, lots of meat and potatoes inside…

Yum Yum Cafe muratbak daging, inside

…I was already very full from the nasi lemak so I just tapao-ed most of it and took it home.

I guess the bottom line is not everything at all those crowded places is necessarily nice and what looks good may turn out quite disappointing while on the other hand, something that does not look that appealling may turn out quite nice in the end.

P.S.: Incidentally, this place round the corner that I quite liked is no longer there – the shop has been taken over by one huge KTV joint that occupies at least 3 shoplots in that block.

YUM YUM CAFE (2.305757, 111.849137) is located among the shops in the vicinity of the Sibu Bus Terminal, directly opposite the Everwin Supermarket there.

Not too late…

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim members of my family, friends and readers…

Hari Raya greeting

Of course, by now, all the Ramadan bazaars everywhere would have come to a close and one would have to wait till next year, perhaps, to enjoy all the culinary delights that one would not be able to get normally unless one cooks one’s own, like this delightful charcoal-grilled lamb…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 1

…here…

Grill lamb leg slice

…for instance.

When my girl was home the previous weekend, my missus bought some for her to take to her school in the jungle to eat. She had it on Monday night and enjoyed it so very much, especially with its very nice mushroom and black pepper gravy…and could not wait to tell us about it.

Knowing that it would be too late by the time she would be home again (Thursday) as most of the stalls would have called it a day, I went the very next day, Tuesday, to buy some and keep for her to enjoy at a later date.

When I got there, the guy…

Adi Lamb
*That friend of his had just knocked off work and happened to drop by – I remembered him as the guy at his cousin’s or somebody’s burger stall, no longer in business for a long long time now.*

…had just started for the afternoon and was still getting his fire going though I did see some of the meat, raw, on the grill already…

Meat on the grill

…He told me I would have to wait for at least an hour and I found out that it was his last day at the bazaar, no more the following day. So, I told him I would like three of those slabs of lamb…

Menu

…and I would come back later to collect them.

When I got back around an hour later, they were done…

Meat on the grill, done

…so I was able to go home happily with my loot!

I did cut a bit…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 2

…to try myself and yes, it was indeed, really very nice.

I sure would not mind going back for more sometimes but unfortunately, the guy, Adi Lamb, he told me his name was, said he is not in this business, full time but if anyone is interested, they can contact him and place an order for say, a kilo or two or more, and he would even do home deliveries. I do not foresee hosting any home parties/dinners in the near future and I would probably not be ordering till say, Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year next year. However, if anyone is interested, he or she can post a comment with a genuine e-mail address and I can forward to him or her Adi‘s handphone contact…or if we’re Facebook friends, you can always PM me and get the number from me there.

Butterscotch…

Anybody coming back to Sibu via KLIA2 would cart home lots of the loaves of bread, butterscotch especially, the one that is claimed to be so nice you can eat it on its own. I used to like it a lot but eventually, I grew tired and did not quite like the smell…or maybe, some people would say that is the fragrance.

A bakery here came out with their own and I did buy theirs once to try but no, it was a long shot – nowhere near “the real thing”. Then there was another bakery where they made butterscotch muffins and yes, I did enjoy them and I went back for more a couple of times – I have not gone back for a while now though.

Now, there is this bakery here that is affiliated to our Sarawak-own fast food franchise and I rather like their buns and my favourite is their butterscotch…

UniqBUN butterscotch 1

…but they do have other flavours as well. The blueberry and cream is nice too but I never tried their taro nor their durian.

The bun is very cushion-y soft, very nice…

UniqBUN bun

…and inside, there is the butterscotch plus a bit of cream…

UniqBUN butterscotch 2

I do feel that their buns are pretty good and I would buy once in a while for breakfast or afternoon tea, something different sometimes for a change.

Their cakes are also nice, I must say. I’ve bought their red velvet, and maybe some of the others as well, before and I do like the fact that now, they have this assortment of little cup cakes of different flavours…

UniqBUN assorted cakes

…for sale in packs of 6. There is the red velvet, top left, and the green velvet is in the middle with the chocolate on the right while in the bottom row, from left to right are their banana, vanilla and orange. This way, one can buy a pack and try to see which one one likes best …

UniqBUN green velvet 1

…before going to buy the whole loaf…

UniqBUN green velvet 2

…without having to throw the whole thing away if it is not to one’s liking.

Looking at how these are available at most supermarkets and elsewhere, even at the Sibu Airport, it sure shows that they are doing well…which is good.

Changing partners…

I happened to be in the vicinity that morning and I decided to stop by here at this coffee shop…

e Cafe

…right behind the Delta Mall…

Delta Mall, back view

…the first one in the block before this somewhat more popular one, the second one in that same block.

I had the kolo mee there a long long time ago, in 2011, but it looked like somebody else is running the stall now, a very pleasant lady…

Kampua mee stall

The coffee that I had…

e Cafe kopi-o-peng

…was good and I liked the very nice and efficient workers (male) waiting at the tables – I think they were Indonesians. I took my seat at a table and one came quickly to wipe it clean and take my order. After he had served the drink, when I moved the glass for the “photo shoot” and the table was a little wet again, he came right away to wipe it again. At some places here, you would have to wave frantically and at times, even holler out loud to get some attention.

I ordered the kampua-kway teow combo…

e Cafe kampua kway teow combo

…to see if it was any good.

Yes, if you do not want the kampua noodles, at many places here, you can ask for kway teow or bihun or even ngiau choo boi (rat’s tail) instead, tossed in that same manner and served. These are gluten-free but I would be a little wary as I am not sure if there is any wheat in the chio cheng ( light soy sauce) used like how there is wheat in the bottled dark soy sauce.

Having said that, if you are not that fond of kway teow or you do not want the kampua mee, you can always ask for a different combination or change partners, so to speak. LOL!!!

Back to what I ordered that morning…

e Cafe kampua kway teow combo 2

…I thought it was all right, not anything to get me running back for more.

Gee!!! I can’t even remember how much I paid for that but if I am not wrong, that was RM3.00 a bowl…and looking at what the other customers were having, it looked like her fried kampua would be a better bet.

e-CAFE (2.311913, 111.846213) is the first shop right behind Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada – the block a little to your left if you are coming out of the mall via the back entrance.

I like it here…

That morning, my missus and I dropped by here…

Ju Lai Xiang

…for breakfast. I liked how the place seemed so very clean and how the people there were all so nice and friendly. It sure makes one’s day to see smiling faces and hearing sweet and polite thank you’s, something that some people at a few places here would need to learn and emulate.

The coffee (RM1.60)…

Ju Lai Xiang kopi-o-peng

…was good and in the fridge, they had all kinds of own-made fruit and Chinese cooling drinks and I could not resist buying the red bean and mung bean sago…

Ju Lai Xiang red bean & mung bean sago drink

…and the pumpkin sago…

Ju Lai Xiang pumpkin sago drink

…and also the dragon fruit sago…

Ju Lai Xiang dragon fruit sago drink

…home to try. Initially, I was not so keen on the latter because of the colour – it reminded me of air bandong – but I saw a young lady buying and taking away lots of that so I guess it must be good.

My missus had the fried kway teow (RM4.00)…

Ju Lai Xiang fried kway teow

…from the stall at the back and I think there is a chicken rice and roast meat stall in the middle but it was not open when we were there.

I ordered the kampua special (RM5.50)…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua special 1

…from the first stall…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua stall

…as I liked what it looked like in the photograph.

I put some of the added ingredients into the complimentary soup…

Ju Lai Xiang complimentary soup

…and I don’t know if it was actually very nice originally or whether that brought the taste to a whole new level – it certainly was very nice and I enjoyed it. I think the lady at the stall saw me doing that and told the guy and they were looking at me, smiling away, looking somewhat amused. Next time, I would ask for a bigger bowl…and I would ask them to leave out the fish balls and give me more liver or minced meat instead…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua special 2

…and I wouldn’t mind if I do not get any tofu either but I am fine with it.

Yes, that was very nice and I sure would not mind going back there again for more.

JU LAI XIANG CAFE (2.310920, 111.831572) is the first shop in the block right behind the Sibu Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah), opposite the block where Aroma Bakery and this coffee shop are  located.

Not what I wanted…

I wanted to buy some stuff from the store round the corner that day so we decided to just drop by here…

Chopsticks Chicken & Rice

…for lunch.

I was thinking of having some chicken rice with steamed chicken and perhaps some char siew and roast pork as well on top and the very diluted (Chinese) curry gravy poured all over it like what I used to enjoy a lot in the 70’s at one old-school restaurant at Carpenter Street in Kuching – Ang Lee, no relation whatsoever to that celebrated movie director.

However, when we got there, my missus said she would have what I would be having – normally, she would order something else from one of the other stalls there so that called for a change of plans as I would not know whether she would enjoy that or not. Anyway, they had run out of the curry and probably, the steamed chicken as well as I did not see any hanging in the display cabinet even though it was only 11 something, not quite lunchtime yet.

I ordered some roast chicken, roast pork and char siew for 2…

Chopsticks meat platter

…to go with the very nice chicken rice, one of the very few around that I truly like a lot…

Chopsticks chicken rice & chili dip

…and their special chicken rice chili dip is pretty good as well.

I also asked for two five-spice stewed egg…

Chopsticks 5-spice egg

…and I was pleasantly surprised to note that they are still RM1.00 each…

Chopsticks menu & prices

…here.

I am not all that fond of the char siew at the stalls around here in general. Either theirs would not taste quite like it or it would be rather dry and hard too usually…and in the past, they did not have that here – just some roasted honey pork or something but I saw they had it that day and I asked for some…

Chopsticks Chicken & Rice char siew

…to be included in our meat platter. To our delight, it was very nice – no, still not quite like the regular char siew but yes, we liked it and we sure would not mind going for it again the next time we drop by here.

The best part, of course, was the fact that for all that we had, we only had to fork out RM17.50 for two persons, inclusive of rice and complimentary soup – around USD4.00 only, believe it or not…or around AUD5.50!

CHOPSTICKS CHICKEN & RICE (2.312434, 111.845917) is located in the Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.