The simple things…

It was Rudyard Kipling who wrote, “Teach us delight in simple things…,” and I would be one who would go for those instead of following trends and spending a fortune on what everyone seems to enjoy drinking or eating…and taking selfies of themselves doing that and sharing on social media, Facebook or Instagram, for instance.

Unlike today, we did not have much – I do not recall eating paos (steamed buns) as a child but I do remember the ones with red (coloured) meat at one coffee shop, Kiaw Siong, at the corner on the right opposite the fire station in Sibu, where we would go after the church service for our weekly kampua mee treat, not that we bought it very often to enjoy – kids way back then were not so fortunate as the ones today.

The only cakes we got to enjoy were the ones my mum made come Christmas or Chinese New Year. No, we did not have birthday parties every year – I had one when I was small and another later when I was in primary school and one more when I was 20. My mum made the cake for that last one and a cousin of mine helped with the icing. I can remember the “cupcakes” at Kiaw Siong though – wrapped in red paper all around the sides and at the bottom.  It was very nice, something like what my friends got me from a bakery in Kapit but no, we did not get to enjoy that all that often, once in a blue moon, perhaps.

We had bread, the sandwich loaf, and buns with tau sar (red bean paste) filling. If I am not mistaken, there were those with coconut filling too. These days, I often buy the buns…

Buns

…from this bakery…

Lian Yu

…here, RM4.30 for 9 buns so that works out to less than 50 sen each. They do have red bean paste, butter, peanut, yam but I prefer their kaya (coconut jam)…

Kaya filling

…and they are very generous with it. The texture is not quite the same as the buns in the old days, finer and not as airy, but I guess we cannot expect everything to stay the same as time moves on.

I love their cupcakes too, only RM4.30 a pack…

Cupcakes

…with 6 inside so they are a little more than 70 sen each. I would say they are not that cheap actually but definitely a whole lot cheaper than those cakes from the modern bakeries and the ones served in the cafés here, there and everywhere.

The texture…

Texture

…is nice – soft and fine and not dry, which is more than what I would say about some trendy ones that I had had the displeasure of eating. I like the light buttery fragrance though chances are they would use some butter alternative, not real butter especially at that kind of price.

I do think this is good…

Served

…to serve as dessert at dinner parties or gatherings like the one that we had not too long ago.

I guess those more into those buns and cakes that are more fashionably acceptable, never mind that they cost a bomb, would frown on these but on my part, I am quite happy to have these simple delights in the house for tea.

LIAN YU BAKERY CAKE STORE, according to the wrapper, is located at 35A, Jalan Berjaya but I have not seen any bakery around the area of houses, houses and more houses, just a block with a shop making kway teow and somebody makes paos (steamed buns) somewhere there too, available in the mid-afternoon. However, you can easily get these buns and cakes from them as they are delivered regularly to most shops and supermarkets in town.

Yours, not mine…

This goes back a very long way to the time when somebody commented somewhere that she liked Ah Pui’s pao (steamed buns) the most. I asked her where I could get them and she said Lanang Road. I replied that it was a very long road so she would have to tell me exactly where but she never replied. Sighhhhh!!!

I have seen a lot of people posting photos of nice food on Facebook but they never mention where and when somebody asks, they would give the name of the place and when they ask where that is, they would give the location but I can never imagine how anyone can ever find the place when the directions are, more often than not, so vague or at times, even misleading. They might as well not bother sharing the photos at all – honestly, I cannot see why they do that!

It so happened that I saw a coffee shop with more or less that same name and I did go to check it out but, no, that wasn’t it! Well, finally, at long last, an ex-student said that he liked Ah Pui’s pao, the vegetable one especially and when I asked, the direction/location he gave was pretty clear and when I went to Google Maps to look and see, I managed to find it…

Kung Fung Food Industries

For one thing, there was no Ah Pui (Fatty) there, except for the guy in the logo, just a lady selling the paos in the steamer…

Steamer

…and it is a few metres from a roundabout so anyone driving past would have his or her eyes on the oncoming traffic from the right and will not be looking left to where the shop is.

It sure looked like they had a very large order…

Big box

…that morning and they had packed everything in a big box, awaiting collection or delivery.

The filling of the vegetable pao (70 sen each)…

Vegetable pao

…is similar to the ones the old lady at the market sells and is even nicer, I must say. It seems fresher or not so overcooked. However, I did not like the skin. It was so white, probably one of those bleached flour specially for paos that I’ve seen in the shops and supermarkets, and it is so fine and dense, obviously over-beaten by machine, nothing like the pao skin of those in the good old days.

The char siew pao (RM2.10)…

Char siew pao

…was not as nice as the ones here, as far as the filling goes and of course, the skin was not to my liking either and as for the filling in the bak pao (also RM2.10), the minced meat is pressed into a lump, something like a meat ball, just that it is not round…

Bak pao

I did not get my hopes up too high but when I bit into it…

Bak pao, filling

…I found that it was really very nice, tasted a bit like luncheon meat and there was a bit of an egg, hard-boiled, in it though barely noticeable. Too bad about the skin, otherwise I sure would not mind coming back here to buy this particular one again and maybe the vegetable pao as well.

In the meantime, I went and bought these (RM2.00 each)…

Swee Hung pao

…at the shop near my house. They have been selling these homemade paos for as long as I can remember but I never felt inclined to buy as I did buy some from the shop at the end of that same block and they did not get me all excited.

I was pleasantly delighted to find that the skin…

Texture

…was almost like what I had been looking for, not quite old school but pretty close. You can see that it is not so dense, more airy and cushiony and very much more to my liking.

The filling…

Filling

…is very nice too and there is a chunk of egg inside.

All in all, I must say that I was kind of disappointed with Ah Pui’s – after looking for it for so so long, it turned out that it may be the favourite of a lot of people but no, it isn’t mine! I would prefer the latter a whole lot more and it’s cheaper too!

KUNG FUNG FOOD INDUSTRIES (2.279053, 111.837881) is located along Jalan Lanang in the last block of shops on your left a few metres from the roundabout at the junction of that road and Jalan Aman and SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

Different people…

I heard that some different people would be taking over the biryani rice place here and had brought in four chefs from India to cook at the café…

Tandoori Cafe

…so of course, I couldn’t wait to go and give it…

Welcome

…a try.

There were a few very friendly girls waiting at the tables, a very happy lot but I wish they had been more efficient. My bottle of water came without the glass of ice that I asked for – in fact, they just gave me the bottle, no glass. Our two orders of the biryani rice came and we were not given individual plates for us to use – I specifically asked  for that as we would be sharing the rice and as if that wasn’t bad enough, we were given one set of fork and spoon and when I asked for two more, they brought three so in the end, we had four sets between the three of us.

The mutton biryani (RM17.90)…

Mutton biryani

…was served first and then another plate came – we thought that was the chicken but no, it was mutton too so it was taken away. I was already fuming but my girl never liked me making a scene in public so I just kept quiet. Then, the chicken biryani (RM15.90)…

Chicken biryani

…came.

Just then, an Indian guy arrived and he greeted me and came over to talk – it turned out to be the boss, some guy from Penang, Malaysian, and he went over to the nasi campur cabinet and brought us these gravies…

Gravies

…to go with our rice which was a good thing as there would be nothing else other than whatever sauce they had in a little bowl by the side and a rather diluted raita in another.

According to one of the girls, you can pick your choices from the cabinet (which was not closed the whole time we were there)…

Food display

…if you want to start eating right away but if you choose to go à la carte, then you will just have to wait.

I suggested to the boss that he could have banana leaf, maybe as their Saturday or Sunday lunch special – I kept telling the boss at this other place that but it had fallen on deaf ears – but the guy misunderstood me and from his reply, he thought that I was asking him to line the plates with the leaf like what they do here.

Back to the rice, they were pretty good, bursting with flavours and tasted different – the mutton had a hint of mint while the chicken daun ketumbar (coriander leaves). The very nicely done and very tender meat was buried in the rice…

Meat in the rice

…like what I had once in Penang but thinking that there wasn’t any meat, I asked for the curry, silly ol’ me but it was good in a way as I would want the gravy to go with the rice.

Having said that, generally, I am of the opinion that the prices were a bit steep – just a few ringgit cheaper than that place that we frequent a lot but that one is a nice, classy cafe, not some food court/coffee shop kind of place (and I thought it looked nicer when the previous guy was running the place) plus we actually felt that the biryani selections there were nicer than the ones here…but the ones here had an edge over the rest in town – those were very much cheaper though, I think.

I did not want to order the tandoori chicken but I asked for the chicken tikka (RM9.00)…

Chicken tikka

I assumed that they would taste more or less the same, anyway and yes, we quite liked it – went well with that what-I-guessed-was-mint-sauce with a peculiar shade of green except that it was all breast meat.

Our garlic naan never came – the chef in the kitchen forgot all about it –  and we had ordered this paneer lababdar (RM13.80)…

Paneer lababdar

…that we thought we could use as a dip when eating the naan. Now, this was really very nice and all of us loved it except that initially, this goondu thought that was tofu in it when actually, it was goat’s cheese. We just had  a bit of it and asked for the rest to be packed for us to take home.

All in all, I would say it was a nice enough lunch and we sure would want to go back again some day to try the rotis and whatever else they have in their menu that we haven’t tried yet.

TANDOORI CAFE (2.289696, 111.828366) is located at the back section of the Sibu Heritage Centre, ground floor, along Central Road – its back/side entrance is beside the entrance into Daesim Mart in that back lane to the right of the centre and is not visible if you are going along or coming from Jalan Wong Nai Siong.

It wasn’t us…

A long long time ago, probably in the 70’s, we used to go to this coffee shop…

Hong King Cafe

…very regularly because there was a guy there – if I remember correctly, word had it that he was from Kuching and his kampua mee was very nice but the star attraction was his soup, something like what one would find at some places in Kuching, like here or here.

There was a chicken rice stall…

Chicken rice stall

…to the right that was very popular too. I asked the lady, probably the wife of the kampua mee guy, and she said that it wasn’t them – they were not in any way related to the aforementioned but yes, that same chicken rice business is still going on, run by the children now.

I did drop by here not too long ago but I was way too early and the guy said that the water had not started boiling so he was not quite ready to start his business for the day. Well, somebody told me that the kampua mee was nice – that was why I went back again to give it a try.

I ordered what I wanted at the stall…

Kampua mee stall

…and sat down to wait.

The coffee was decent but it was only RM1.50, with ice, cheaper than a lot of places around here and yes, the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Kampua mee

…was very good but of course, there are other good ones elsewhere too.

It was the piansip (meat dumplings) soup (RM2.00, small)…

Piansip soup

…that impressed me the most. I thought it was really very nice, much nicer than many/most of the rest. I watched the guy making it – it looked like he mixed the dumplings with the seasonings first before adding the bone stock soup while usually, they would just add the soup to the seasoning, dump in the dumplings when cooked and serve…and yes, I would give the people here a pat on the back as well for not using any plastic plates and bowls.

Something on the menu caught my attention – mee sua sup hati babi (mee sua in liver soup). I’d probably would want to try that the next time I drop by here.

皇京饮室 HONG KING CAFE (2.290089, 111.829197) is located along Jalan Kampung Nyabor, the second one in the block of shops on your left after the SHELL station.

Stranded…

In the midst of the school holidays last week, we went shopping at a mall here in town and despite the persistent dry weather and resulting haze at the time, by the time we were done and were about to leave, we saw that it was raining cats and dogs outside. It looked like we were stranded there and we had not had our lunch yet so we decided that we might as well go for something to eat in the mall while waiting for the storm to ease instead of venturing some place else in the pouring rain. That was why we ended up at the outlet of this Japanese franchise here.

I had not set foot at the place for a long time, not since our not-so-pleasant experience there when they first opened in 2013. I think my girl did and she also went to the other outlet in town – after all, she is a lot more into Japanese than the rest of us. We did go to the latter not too long ago too and yes, we had a delightful dinner there so give and take a little here and a little there, we certainly have moved on from the initial not-so-impressed impression that we had of the franchise.

While waiting for our individual orders, my girl picked the ebi ten (RM6.00, purple plate)…

tempura prawns

…from the carousel, the one with the tempura prawns.

I had the chuka kurage (RM4.00, pink plate)…

Jellyfish

…the one with the jelly fish – my girl did not want that but she sure helped herself to the cuttlefish with the thin strips of cucumber in the chuka lidako (RM6.00, purple plate)…

Cuttlefish

…that I took.

My missus loves the ones with the bean curd skin, the inari (RM3.00, beige plate)…

beancurd skin

…but she did not want any as she was saving tummy space for what was to come. In the end, I just ate both of them myself and I really liked the taste – nothing in it, just the rice in the skin but I thought it tasted great, slightly sweet and very nice.

My girl picked something from the donburi selections for herself, the yakiniku don (RM15.90)…

Yakiniku don

…and it was very nice – there sure was a lot of beef in the bowl and she was pleased with her choice.

I opted for the bento – I always like the somewhat artistic presentation that I see in other blogs at Japanese restaurants here, there and everywhere but I wish I could say the same about my yakini ebi fry (RM17.90)…

Yakini ebi fry bento

The beef was the same as what my girl had in her bowl and there was a wedge of fake crabstick, something like omelette in the shape of a ball and a teeny-weeny bit of long bean and corn kernel and whatever salad in the bottom right corner. I gave the three strips of tempura long beans to my girl and had the prawns myself – I wouldn’t say I was impressed though. I have had much nicer prawn fritters elsewhere.

My missus’ piri piri chicken set (RM18.90)…

Piri piri chicken set

…was the most impressive of the lot served in that very nice food warmer except that there was neither candle nor lighting fuel of any kind underneath. That came with a bowl of chawnmushi, a bowl of miso soup and rice. Well, not only did it look great, it tasted great too!

The total, inclusive of iced green tea, free flow (RM3.00), came up to RM74.70 but with the 6% SST and the 10% service charge, it was RM86.65 altogether. I used my credit card and I must say that I was pleased that they had the decency and courtesy to ask if I wanted to key in my PIN number or to waive unlike one place here – somehow, I am not all that keen on going back there ever again.

This SUSHI KING outlet is located at the Star Megamall (2.304298, 111.863053) along Lorong Tunku Abdul Rahman 6, off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, the road leading to the Sibu Airport.

Right here, right now…

My missus loved the sambal kway teow that I bought home for her so the other morning, I took her and our girl to the shop to enjoy it right there and then on the spot, straight from the wok. More often than not, when you buy something back to eat, it may not be so nice anymore but I have heard people saying how sometimes, kampua mee tastes better when bought home and likewise, our Foochow fried noodles too.

My missus stayed steadfast to her sambal kway teow (RM4.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow

…while our girl went for the Penang char kway teow (RM5.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy Penang char kway teow

…that I had the last time I was here and yes, both of them enjoyed their orders very much.

I can’t say that I am all that fond of the melamine plates she used though…nor the plastic one on my previous visit. The lady’s predecessor, Ah Eng, used to serve hers on thick waxed brown paper in a basket – I certainly would prefer that a lot! Plus she could just throw away the paper, no need to wash the basket so that would save water and detergent.

I did not feel like having kway teow that day so I went for the kueh chap from the next stall. I’ve always liked the one right here, going as far back as 2011 (and her bak kut teh as well) and the special chili dip…

Chili dip

…that came with it.

It was only RM5.50 then but right now, it…

Kopitiam Fantasy kueh chap

…has gone up to RM6.00. I am not saying that it is the best in town – as a matter of fact, I do not recall any kueh chap here that blew me away. All are pretty decent, worth going for sometimes for a change.

KOPITIAM FANTASY, otherwise popularly known as Tiam Tiam Lai (2.292435, 111.835066), is located among the shops in the Jalan Chew Siik Hiong area of shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre, facing Jalan Mahsuri.

One in a row…

I did mention in my previous posts that in this little square of shops around the market, almost every other shop is a coffee shop and this is one in the row…

Yih Jiin Cafe

…where only the 2nd shop (closed) is not a coffee shop and there are so many people in each and every one of them.

I was in the vicinity again that morning and went walking around to see if there was anything I would like to buy and I saw my missus’ ex-colleague and her daughter enjoying the kampua mee from this old lady’s stall…

Kampua mee stall

…at that corner coffee shop.

She said it was good and yes, it was not their first time there. Upon hearing that, I could not resist giving it a try so I placed my order and sat at a table to wait.

The kopi-o (black coffee, no ice)…

Kopi-o

…was decent and only RM1.60 a glass unlike the RM2.00 one that I had here.

The noodles that I ordered came soon enough…

Kampua mee & soup

…with the complimentary soup which was rather diluted, not anything that I would want to finish till the last drop.

The kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Kampua mee

…on the other hand, was all right, nice enough even though I felt it tasted a little different from many of the rest but being so far from the town centre, I had expected it to be a little cheaper.

As a matter of fact, I found that things here are generally more expensive – I bought some bananas from the market at RM5.00 a kg and I just bought the same from the central market in town for only RM4.00 a kg. I guess for the people staying around here, it is quite all right as it will save them the petrol to make their way all the way to town, the parking fee and what not but for us, perhaps I should stick to my regular places and not buy anything that is available elsewhere here.

YII JIIN CAFE (2.298387, 111.894177) is located along Jalan Permai Barat 1, the first turning to the left if you are coming from the Sibu General Hospital, the first shop in the row of shops on your right, going towards the Permai Market.