Said I wouldn’t…

In my post the other day, I said I would not blog about what we would buy from the chap fan (mixed rice) stall here but the other day, the ladies in the house were out all morning and I could see that my missus would not have time to cook for lunch or dinner so I took the tiffin carrier and headed to the food court.

All this time, it was my missus who went to buy while I waited in the car. I never went myself even though it is very near my house and I can easily hop over anytime. My! My! There certainly were a lot of choices but I was not quite ready to take the road not taken, so to speak and I went for the sweet and sour pork ribs…

We had that the first time we bought anything from there and we all loved it…a lot!

Next, I had to decide on which chicken dish to choose. Well, we had the sauce in the sweet and sour pork ribs dish already so I opted for the fried chicken…

After all, fried chicken is fried chicken and it should be nice enough, no matter what. Sometimes, there is beauty in simplicity – we really do not need all those ingredients that some people add to their cooking.

We had this fried tofu and mixed vegetable dish (RM5.00)…

…and we enjoyed it very much and of course, my girl loved the brinjal (RM5.00)…

…that we also bought once before.

It certainly was so very cheap – RM30.00 altogether, enough for our meals for TWO days!!! I wonder why though?

Maybe they have to order fresh supplies of food for their restaurant so to get rid of what is left, they will cook everything and sell at their chap fan stall. There was this hotel in town that used to have eat-all-you-can buffet dinners at RM10.00 per head every Saturday night and yes, I did go and enjoy myself a few times. I asked the manager and she said that they had to order the food regularly no matter what so they had this buffet dinner to finish off whatever they had left before they could order any fresh supplies.

I remember many years ago, there was an economic downturn and all hotels and restaurants were struggling to stay afloat except one. They had eat-all-you-can buffets every weekend and you can order and eat as many dishes as you like at their Chinese restaurant (no wastage allowed) every day. Gosh!!! The place was packed to the brim – they even had to put out tables in the lobby and the pub so many more people could go for the buffet. The manager said that they only needed 30 customers – they would start reaping the profit from any number after that!

Perhaps this is why everything is so cheap here but for one thing, when I looked at the choices, I had the feeling that they would have more or less the same dishes day in, day out so after a while, we would probably get sick and tired of it all…and will start looking elsewhere to see if there are any other good places around.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163)…

…is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your right. You can also go in via Jalan Pipit from Jalan Pahlawan – go straight ahead till you get to it on your left.

Failed…

I think I did see the photo at the stall the first time I had something from there and yes, I thought it looked good. However, all this while, I never felt like having it – the pek ting eyok (八珍汤) or eight treasures tonic/soup also known as bai zen tang so I never ordered it. The mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup was pretty decent, not the best in town but it was good enough but my favourite is their clear fish soup that I always had with kway teow (flat rice noodles). I enjoyed that so much that I kept going back for more.

Finally, that morning, at long last, I felt like having it so I decided to order the bai zen too khao (pork leg) to give it (RM8.00)…

…a try but my heart dropped the instant it was served. It did not even look good like what I had had elsewhere, here…

…or here…

There were small bits of meat in this one, most of them so small that I could not tell whether all of those came from the leg or elsewhere. There were two pieces that had a bit of skin and fat…

…but I still could not be sure that it was the leg! On the whole, the texture of the meat was “siap-siap“, not quite what I would enjoy so I just ate a bit and left all the rest behind.

The soup was so watered-down, so diluted. When I go for these herbal soups, I usually enjoy them thick and strong so I can enjoy the taste and the fragrance. I could tell it was pek ting eyok all right – I could detect the hint of it but no, it did not live up to my expectations. I just ate the mee sua

…as much as I could and I did not even manage to finish all of it and left all the rest behind.

I think whenever I drop by here, I would just stick to my favourite – their clear fish soup with kway teow.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163)…

…is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your right. You can also go in via Jalan Pipit from Jalan Pahlawan – go straight ahead till you get to it on your left.

We’re so good together…

I used to enjoy eating Quaker oats, boiled till nice and mushy and sweetened with condensed milk. Eventually, they came out with the instant version where we just need to add hot water, no need for any boiling for a prolonged period of time.

I don’t know when or why I stopped eating it but I always enjoyed those rich and creamy oats cookies/biscuits from Jacobs and anyway, it is not easy to get hold of condensed milk here these days – what they are selling everywhere are sweetened creamers made from palm oil, not cow’s milk.

It so happened that I read somewhere that if I take three tablespoons of oats every day for a month, it will help lower my cholesterol. Remembering how I used to enjoy eating that, I made my way to one of the neighbourhood shops to buy a pack. Yes, they have Quaker but the instant ones and I think I saw somewhere that those aren’t as great.

In the end, I settled for a pack of these organic rolled oats…

…which I have to boil for quite sometime before they become mushy and soggy enough to be eaten.

Of course, I cannot add any condensed milk as I am supposed to stay away from dairy products as well. Needless to say, they are not very palatable, bland and quite a chore to eat and at times, I added a little bit of honey or our low GI gula apong (nipah sugar) but even so, after a while, I, more or less, gave up.

I told my sister about it and she went and ordered this huge pack of dried cranberries…

…for me. It’s from the same people who came out with these sambals that my dear friend, Mandy, sent me sometime ago. I am not supposed to eat those because like raisins, they are soaked in sugar syrup before drying so the sugar content is very high – I can’t eat raisins either!

However, my sister said that cranberries are good for the kidneys so I can mix a bit with my oats for the sweetness and also the delightful taste of the cranberries would make it a lot easier for me to eat the oats.

I tried cooking just a bit with the three tablespoons of oats…

…in low fat milk (it is all right for me to drink that)…

…till it is mushy and soggy…

…and it turned out to be rather nice – I love the taste of the cranberries and there is a hint of sweetness in the oats that makes it a lot easier to eat.

My sister said that I can eat it on alternate days, no need to eat it every day if I am worried about the sugar and incidentally, perhaps I can buy a can of sweetened creamer to add to the oats sometimes – after all, it is not a dairy product so except for the sweetness, it should be fine for me…once in a while. What do you all think?

Pale shadows…

When people mention Sibu, what immediately comes to mind? Kampua mee? Kompia? Actually, there was something else that this little town was famous for throughout the state, rojak Kassim

This is our local version of the rojak thamby (Indian rojak) or what they call pasembur in the peninsula

…but personally, I do feel that it is more like the Indonesian gado-gado

…which I also enjoy a lot!

To cut a long story short, the last I heard of him, that Hj. Kassim ended up selling his rojak in Kuching but word had it that he had passed away and the rojak at his stall was not so nice anymore.

In the meantime, others have started selling their own versions of the rojak thamby and they call theirs by their own name, now that rojak Kassim has become a pale shadow of what it used to be during those glory days. Some are all right, not bad while others may need to try a little harder.

That day, I went back to the coffee shop where the original Rojak Kassim stall started in 1993 – Kok Cheng, now Popular Food Court. The stall, once renamed Rojak Udin (after Hj Kassim’s son) is now called Rojak Mem (I think that is named after Hj Kassim’s daughter-in-law).

I bought the RM5.00 packet…

…to see if it was anything like what it was like before.

Gosh! I must say they were not very generous with the ingredients, despite the price, just some cucumber, tofu puffs and the cucur (fritters) that seemed to have shrunk so much…

…but thankfully, they were still nice, the texture and the taste. No, there weren’t any potatoes, no egg, not even taugeh (bean sprouts).

I poured the peanut sauce over everything…

…and sat down to eat.

The taste was almost like what it was like before…

…and I do mean ALMOST!!!

I guess that’s the way it is with most things as time goes by – everything changes but sadly, not for the better.

POPULAR FOOD COURT (2.290134, 111.826863) formerly KOK CHENG COFFEE SHOP, is located at No. 6, Ramin Way/No. 2, Jalan Morshidi Sidek, across the road from what was formerly the Star Cineplex and before that, the Cathay Cinema.

James…

I did blog about this char siew sauce

…before, more than once, perhaps because we have been using it ever since the first time we tried it and it turned out to be very much to our liking. Yes, we did try Lee Kum Kee and/or some brand from Cosway but no, they were not as nice.

Well, the other day, my missus took two slabs of meat, the tenderloin and marinated them in the sauce the whole day. Come evening time, just before dinner, she grilled them in the oven till they were nicely done…

She cut them up into slices…

…and served…

Yes, we sure enjoyed that and the next morning, since there was a bit left, I cooked a plate of The Kitchen Food – Sibu Instant Kampua – 厨艺食品, dark soy sauce and served that with a few slices of the char siew on top…

…like how they would do it outside.

That sure looked good, don’t you think so? You can grab a packet of the char siew sauce to try if you have yet to do so. It should be available at all leading supermarkets and grocery stores.

Take my advice…

I did mention in an earlier post that I kept telling my missus to just go out and buy a few dishes from the chap fan stalls for our meals instead of sweating it out in the kitchen but she always turned a deaf ear.

Well, during the week-long school holidays recently, my girl went and stayed with my sister, her godmother, while she was nursing her fractured wrist after the surgery she had to go through. At the same time, we also cooked or bought food from here, there and everywhere to take to the house and enjoy eating our meals together.

On one of those days, I stopped by this food court to let my missus go and pick the dishes that she liked from the chap fan options and seeing how easy it was to do that, compared to cooking one’s own, and how much cheaper it was, it came as no surprise at all that finally, she would just follow her old hubby’s advice, just that I did not expect it to be this soon.

The other day, on Tuesday, two days after school reopened, she took the tiffin carrier and said that she wanted to go and tapao some food for our meals that day as she had run out of meat in the freezer. Of course, I had no objection as I was the one who suggested it in the first place.

It turned out that she only bought two dishes – she insisted that our girl said she loved this one that she thought was the butter chicken we had that day

I remember that was nice but I thought the colour was a bit off and they did not do a good job with the egg floss. I opened the tiffin carrier when we got home and saw that this time around, it was their cereal fish fillet and not only did it look nicer, it tasted great too!

My missus asked for RM10.00 of it and was given the whole tiffin carrier full so she divided it up into smaller containers for us to eat slowly bit by bit in the days to come.

She also bought some ladies’ fingers fried with ikan bilis (dried anchovies), RM5.00 of that…

The girl was not as generous with the vegetable so we did not bother saving a part of it for another day. I must say that I liked how green it looked – more often than not, the vegetables that we get served at the restaurants would turn dull and grey after cooking, not at all a sight to behold.

I asked my missus if they had the very nice pork ribs that I enjoyed a lot, the one with the hint of some Chinese cooking wine and yes, they did! Seeing how I liked it, she insisted on going back to the stall to buy it…

…and once again, for RM10.00, the girl there filled the whole tiffin carrier and there was more than enough for us not only to eat that day but also to divide and keep for our meals in the days to come. It was chicken though which was nice too but personally, I would prefer the pork ribs we had the other day.

I suppose we shall be dropping by here again and again till we get sick and tired of the food there but perhaps I should stop blogging about what we buy from here too as I am pretty sure everyone is getting rather tired of reading all about it again and again.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163)…

…is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your right. You can also go in via Jalan Pipit from Jalan Pahlawan – go straight ahead till you get to it on your left.

To tide us over…

My appetite has not been very good ever since I have not been feeling too well especially when I cannot eat this and cannot eat that. Besides, if I have had something substantial for brunch or lunch, I would feel so full the rest of the day and would not be able to eat much come dinnertime.

That was why last Sunday, since we were planning to go out for dinner to celebrate my girl’s birthday, I was saving my tummy space and only had two half-boiled/cooked eggs in the morning, that was all.

The ladies in the house, on the other hand, were quite happy to buy some stuff for lunch from Colonel Sanders…

…at the mall not far from our house.

I drove my missus over and waited patiently in the car while she went to buy. She sure took a mighty long time because according to her, they had a new girl manning the counter and she seemed to be at a loss as to what she was supposed to do.

I think my missus bought two sets of whatever they had on promotion and this was one of them…

She got these two pieces of fried chicken, barbecue flavour…

lav

…in one box and another piece, the drumstick, in another box with the two tubs of mashed potatoes…

Looking at the ad, there should be one with the potatoes and there should be coleslaw in the other, instead of two of the same…

…and because there were two per set, there were four altogether!!!

My girl wanted six of their crispy cheesy fingers but my missus was told that they were out of stock. I browsed through their Facebook page and I saw a whole lot of comments from disgruntled customers – obviously, they are always running out of this and that these days. Probably that was why there wasn’t any coleslaw.

Much to our surprise, despite what the girl said, there were two crispy cheesy fingers…

…in one of the sets. Don’t ask me where those came from and why they were available – I really have no idea whatsoever what was going on.

There was also a zinger burger…

…and two complimentary drinks for the two ladies to enjoy and to tide them over till dinnertime.

There was supposed to be something from Lays as well, a pack of chips, but obviously, that was out of stock and unavailable too and no, there was no special discount or something else given as a replacement! I saw in one of their ads a clause that said, “Sementara masih ada stock!” (While stocks last!) Luckily I was not the one who went to buy – I most certainly would have made a scene on the spot! I imagine them telling every customer that they have run out of stock and at the end of the day, they will take all the packets home to enjoy while watching their favourite movie on Netflix!

Needless to say, the two sets did not come cheap. According to my missus, she had to pay around RM39.00 altogether, around RM20 per head!

This KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN outlet is located on the upper ground floor of the Delta Mall (2.311909, 111.846792), at Lot 2831, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (Pusat Pedada).

Someplace new…

This restaurant isn’t exactly new. In fact, they opened this branch in 2018 but we never dropped by to give it a try. I did have a look inside once and I told my friend, the manager of the adjoining hotel in that same building, that they only had those big 10-seater Chinese banquet tables and there would only be the three of us. “Go ahead!” she said. “They have people to clean and wash everything once you’re done!” So far, we never did even though it is located pretty near where I live. As they say, so near, yet so far!

That evening, however, Sunday, we decided that we would go there for dinner to celebrate my girl’s birthday – the three of us with my sister and my brother-in-law and his wife, six of us altogether so I went two days earlier to book a table and order the dishes from their very elaborate menu.

Of course, we had to start with the longevity noodles, the mee sua, fried…

…served with the “golden eggs” by the side and much to everyone’s delight, it was very nice, nicer than any that we had had elsewhere before. My sister-in-law kept praising it for it was not oily at all, a nice change from the usual that we had been served.

When they served the next dish…

…I was bewildered for a while as I was pretty sure that I did not order any pickled jellyfish but my sister said that was their Thai-style chicken. She was here not too long ago with some of her friends and they had this dish which they all enjoyed to the max. She kept telling me to order that, adding that she was sure my girl would love it…and so she did and everybody else.

My sister also had a very nice pork rib dish but she could not remember what it was like. I asked the lady in charge at the counter at the restaurant and she suggested two, both their signature dishes. There was a rack of ribs in one dish but I felt that was a bit too much for us to finish so I settled for the other alternative…

…instead, also a very popular signature dish of theirs, served with their very nice pickled jellyfish by the side.

The lady said that they would cut the rack of ribs into individual pieces and there would be six pieces altogether, just right for the six of us. From the way she was gesturing using her fingers, I expected the ribs to be finger-sized but it turned out to be much bigger…

– at least, double the size of what I had imagined.

It did not really matter really as it was so very nice and unlike the rack, this was their pai kut ong (spare ribs in Hokkien) so there were no bones and hardly any fat, mostly lean…

I also ordered their steamed cod fish…

I saw a photograph of the dish in their Facebook page where they had a thin slice of the fish (like the one we had not too long ago), steamed on one half of the plate and another slice, deep-fried, on the other side. The lady said that that would be for 10 people so I told her that just one slice would be enough for the six of us and I asked for it to be steamed.

I was stunned when the fish was served as we got a slab so big that there would probably be enough for six slices, no less! Gee, I thought to myself, this dish alone would cost a bomb as we paid around RM70.00 for that thin slice that we had the other day. I guess it did not matter one bit as it was to celebrate my girl’s birthday and birthdays come but once a year. We did manage to finish around half of it and asked for the rest of it to be packed for us to take home.

My girl loved this broccoli with four types of fresh mushrooms…

…a lot! She always enjoys mushrooms and would buy them ever so often when she was studying in Wellington, New Zealand – they have all kinds of varieties there and can be quite affordable during their weekend promotions.

She also enjoyed the sea cucumber soup…

…a lot more than what we had had elsewhere because of the addition of crab meat in it. She said that it made the soup taste like sharks’ fins soup that she loved so much (and would have at least two helpings everytime) before it became taboo to add it to any menu at a restaurant.

The total for all the aforementioned dishes came up to RM220.00 altogether and seeing how everyone was in agreement that the food served here was top-notch and they would love to come again, it sure was worth it unlike that year in 2020 when we celebrated my girl’s birthday at the sparkling new restaurant. The food was disappointing and on the whole, it was a lot more expensive – of course, we never stepped in that place ever again after that!

The GRAND WONDERFUL RESTAURANT is right beside the GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163)…

…to the left, in that same building where the GRAND WONDERFUL HOTEL is located, along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your right. You can also go in via Jalan Pipit from Jalan Pahlawan – go straight ahead till you get to it on your left.

Your special day…

The 17th of September was my girl’s birthday, the actual day but the registration department made a slip so on paper, it was one day later, on the 18th.

Of course, like what we would do every year, we started off the celebration on the morning of the 17th with this scrumptious breakfast of our traditional Foochow longevity noodles, the mee sua

…served in the most delightful Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup with two symbolic hardboiled eggs by the side.

The mum did an exceptionally good job in cooking the soup this time around, beginning with the frying of the ginger in sesame oil for the added fragrance, instead of just cooking oil and she also added some wolfberries and red dates for the sweetness, dried shitake mushrooms (pre-soaked to soften) for the fragrance and a bit of dong quai (當歸) that elevated the taste of the soup to a whole new level. It was so so so delicious!

My girl got this lovely cake…

…strawberry, no less – my girl’s favourite –

from this bakery and this hamper of snacks…

…from her good friend, Dayang (also an English teacher like her), who never fails to give her a little something for her birthday every year.

Her colleagues, Geraldine and Chai Hong, sent this delightful layered sponge cake with its very rich cream cheese topping…

…and this very nice mee sua

from here via food delivery to the house. That sure was a pleasant surprise, indeed!

We did not plan to go out for dinner or anything as the 17th fell on a Saturday and we would always go to church in the evening for the sunset service every week. We did plan, however, to do that the following evening but that, of course, will be in the next post. You’ll stick around for that, won’t you?

Everybody loves me…

Last Friday was Malaysia Day, a public holiday and my sister asked me if I could drive her around to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Of course, I could – nothing much else that a retiree has to do, right? She is still nursing her post-surgery fractured wrist so she is not about to drive anywhere herself just yet.

I noticed that a lot of the shops in town, including the coffee shops, were closed but no, I did not think those people were that patriotic as to take the day off. I suspect they were not willing to pay their workers extra for working on a public holiday (the regulation here) so most of those shops that were open would be the family-owned ones where members of the family would chip in to do everything in running the business.

It was already 10 something when we were done and I suggested going for brunch so my sister would not need to go home and heat up something for her lunch. She is trying to cope the best she can but with one hand immobilised, there are limits as to what one can do. When we got to the restaurant, she suggested sitting outside because it looked like there were quite a number of customers inside the air-conditioned section. That was why we ended up dining al fresco that morning.

It was a Friday, my no-meat day, so I decided to go for the Foochow char chu mee (fry & cook noodles, soup) with fresh fish fillet (RM18.00)…

I had their tomato kway teow with fresh fish fillet (tapah) once and it was very good.

My missus loves this char chu mee and will order it sometimes and my sister said that she and my brother in Auckland, New Zealand enjoy it too, this exclusive upgraded version with fresh fish fillet. She said that they would drop by here to eat quite often everytime he is home. On the other hand, I am not all that fond of anything this soupy – I have this feeling that the taste would be kind of diluted with the addition of so much water to the noodles.

Besides, our local yellow noodles…

…are alkaline-free so there is no offensive smell but the noodles may not stay firm that long especially when it is swimming in the soup. They may soak it all up and become over-soft and soggy especially if one does not eat them all up quickly like when one buys them home.

Much to my delight that morning, my first sip of the soup swept me off my feet – with the fish added, the taste was absolutely awesome. It was so so so good!!! They did not have any tapah so they substituted it with some other type of fish. The lady boss did tell me the name but I can’t remember it now.

My sister had their kampua mee (RM4.50)…

…which I feel is among the best in town! I had it a couple of times before and I sure would not mind ordering it sometimes but there are so many nice things here to pick and choose so it has to wait for quite sometime before I get round to it again.

I paid for our orders the moment mine was served but the daughter-in-law (who would help with the serving and everything in the restaurant) brought my money back to return to me. It seemed that our family/church friends, Lawrence and Annie (I taught all their sons at my English Language tuition class, wonderful boys all of them!) were eating inside and they had picked up the tab. Good grief!!! And I was having something SO expensive!!! Blush! Blush! Thank you so so much to the two of you, Lawrence and Annie -that was so very generous and thoughtful of you.

Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753)…

…is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where the branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located with its back entrance facing the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.