Wire…

I did say the other day when I dropped by this food court that I would go back there to try the mee dawai, literally translated as wire mee, from this stall there…

23 Food Court mee dawai stall

Gosh!!! Can’t they find a more flattering name for it? This is the Kuching-style fried mee – they call it crispy mee or tomato mee or crispy tomato mee there. It is called crispy mee because they fry the mee first till nice and crispy and it is known as tomato mee because of the tomato sauce-based gravy that they pour all over the mee prior to serving it. The last time I had it was when I was in Kuching for my niece’s wedding at the end of last year and I also had it earlier when I went over to attend my Kanowit ex-student’s daughter’s wedding.

When I was in college in the mid-70’s, my Foochow college mates from Sibu and the towns around here hated it and they hated the Kuching kolo mee too – they could not understand how anyone could eat those things, so hard – and needless to say, they missed our Sibu kampua mee and Foochow fried noodles so much in the two years they were there.

In 1986 in KL, or PJ Old Town to be exact, there was this restaurant/coffee shop near the cinema where I used to go and watch reruns of old movies that I could not go to see in my school days. After the movie, I would surely tapao a packet of the Cantonese fried mee to take back to the hostel and enjoy…secretly, of course – no non-halal stuff allowed in the college campus. They also fried the noodles till nice and crispy and then they poured the egg sauce (like what you get in wat tan hor) over it. Of course, by the time I ate it, it would have gone all soft, no longer crispy but yes, it was still very nice.

After I had placed my order that morning, I went snooping around to look at all the other stalls. Yes, the same people are running the Sarawak laksa stall, the father and the son – the ladies are in charge of another stall at another coffee shop in the town centre and yes, the same guy is still there at another stall selling the mantao with stewed pork (RM5.00) set…

23 FOOD COURT stewed pork and mantao

…and I simply could not resist ordering that to enjoy. He must have mistaken me for somebody else as he insisted that I was his long lost neighbour in Sg Merah who had left town to go some place and have finally come home! Gee! I’m The Prodigal Son or what? LOL!!!

The stewed pork…

23 FOOD COURT stewed pork

…was nice but not as nice as how my missus cooks hers – hers is not so diluted, the sauce is a bit more concentrated and sticky and has a stronger garlic and whatever taste.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it very much and considering that steamed bak paos are between RM2.00 to RM3.00 each, this (around RM1.60 each with 3 mantaos) can be considered really cheap…and especially with all that meat! I shall go back for the one with the stewed pork with mui choy (preserved vegetables) soon.

When the mee dawai (RM6.00)…

23 FOOD COURT mee dawai

…was served, I must say I was a bit disappointed. It was a bit too watery, the noodles were drowning in the sauce which was a bit too diluted. It tasted all right but I sure would not mind a little less sauce and one that is a little thicker, a bit more concentrated – perhaps a pinch of corn starch will do the trick.

I did not like all those frozen stuff as well, the fish balls, the fish cake, the imitation crab sticks and what not. In Kuching, you would get some char siew slices, maybe a prawn/shrimp, two pieces of sotong (squid) and fresh fish slices but I do not mind not getting all those – just a bit more minced meat and green vegetables will do.

Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t know of any place here in Sibu selling fried mee like this, like the ones in Kuching and thankfully, it was good enough…should one be craving for that but no, it was not so good that you would see me rushing back for more anytime soon.

23 FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, in the vicinity of Gabriel’s Recipe – both The Coffee Code and Kampung Grandma there have closed down.

Take advantage…

The other day, the people at the fruit and food shop near my house asked me to buy these mooncakes from Sarikei…

Sing Hing Leong traditional mooncakes

Yes, I am quite familiar with this bakery. I would buy their lung ngor (Foochow egg cake)…

Sing Hing Leong lung ngor

…sometimes. I wouldn’t say they’re the best but they’re good enough for me.

Their pek guek tong chiew pia (eighth month autumn festival biscuit), the Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits…

Pek guek pia

…are not to my liking though (I prefer another brand, also from Sarikei) as theirs do not contain lard but as far as I know they’re very well-marketed, available even in Kuching. I guess most people are not that fussy about what they eat – as long as it is nice, that is good enough for them.

Inside the paper wrapping, the mooncakes are wrapped in plastic…

Wrapped in plastic

Now, that was not what we had in my younger days. In the past, they would be wrapped with white paper – which, of course, is a whole lot more environment-friendly than using plastic. Personally, I feel kite paper is a good substitute.

This is the pek tau sar (mung bean paste)…

Traditional moonckae pek tau sar

I don’t know if this was available when I was small – probably not. Every year, my dad would buy home the or tau sar (the black red bean paste) ones for us to enjoy…and those Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits, of course. There was another variety, the mixed nuts with bits of pork fat and whatever inside. Nobody liked that so my dad never bought any home. These days, there are all kinds available, most of which have strayed so far from what would be traditionally acceptable. I would go for the lotus paste ones, with or without salted egg yolk – we never had that either in the past.

There are four inside so at RM14.00 a tube, that works out to RM3.50 each. That, of course, is a whole lot cheaper than those ridiculously astronomical prices that we have to fork out for those renowned names brought over from the peninsular but still, that got me thinking.

If one tau sar peah is 80 sen a piece and if we stack two, one on top of the other, that will be RM1.60 altogether. Since the filling is the same, both pek tau sar, what is it in the skin or the process of making these mooncakes that justifies the price? Are they jumping on the bandwagon, taking advantage of the festival and cashing in on the special occasion to make more than they should? If that is what they are doing, may God forgive them!!!

This is my favourite Sibu homemade one…

Sibu homemade mooncake, pek tao sar

…which is even more expensive, RM6.00 each but one can feel the difference in the quality, how fine the filling and skin are. I enjoyed them last year and I liked them so much that when I went over to Kuching, I even bought some for my uncle and cousins and their families there. They were not available earlier and even when they just made their appearance the other morning, there weren’t many to choose from when I dropped by – hopefully, the one making will come out with my favourite, the hēi zhīma (黑芝麻) – black sesame, soon.

Surprisingly, my girl is not that enthusiastic about these nicer ones from Sibu – she likes the cheap(er) Sarikei ones even though she is not really a fan of the Bintangor tau sar peah. I guess those are the ones that I shall be buying from now on for the festival.

These mooncakes are available at SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to the Bethel Hair Salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Too blue…

On Sunday morning at around 7.30 a.m., I drove to the lovely rainbow stalls at Kampung Nangka…

Rainbow stalls, Kpg Nangka

…because I saw on Facebook a whole lot of promotion going on showcasing the nasi kerabu here…

Nasi kerabu stall

I wish they had not put up those ghastly-looking canopy and banners as they kind of spoiled the pleasant appearance and the uniformity of the place as a whole. I can imagine everyone eventually putting up everything of their own and in the end, the whole place would become one terrible mess, overshadowing all the beautiful stalls and their vibrant colours. What a waste!

From what I saw on Facebook, they would open at 7.00 a.m. but when I got there, it looked like they had just arrived and were very busy unloading everything from the car.

I saw these tofu sumbat (stuffed tofu)…

Tofu sumbat

…and these green sandwiches, egg and sardine…

Egg & sardine sandwiches

I wonder where they got the pandan bread or at least that was what I thought it was, judging from the green colour. I don’t think I’ve seen any around or maybe I wasn’t looking.

I spotted the laksam (RM5.00 a pack)…

Laksam packs

…and wasted no time in grabbing three to take home.

I waited for them to unload everything and it was already around 8.00 a.m. when they were ready to roll. There were two or three others who were there before me so they started doing their orders first…

Packing nasi kerabu

I wouldn’t say they were all that fast so I had to carry on waiting for quite a while.

In the meantime, I went snooping around and I was aghast when I saw the rice…

Bluer than blue nasi kerabu

It was way too blue, clearly not the nice and pleasant hue of blue when one uses the butterfly pea flower (bunga telang), horror of horrors! The artificial colouring even stained the side of the plastic container! I will never forget that one time when I ate something like that and for three days, what came out was that same colour. Tsk! Tsk! I never went back to that shop ever again!

Of course, I quickly cancelled my order for 3 packs – don’t expect to go home with that horrendously blue thing but yes, I did buy the laksam that I had requested for earlier. Thankfully, it was really very very nice, definitely the best that I have ever tasted…

Laksam

…not that I have had many.

The chee cheong fun-like white rice rolls were simply perfect, not hard, not chewy, very nice and though the gravy was a bit diluted, it had enough mashed fish in it to give the desired taste. In my opinion, too much fish may put off some people who are not so into the fishy taste and smell, this one was just right! I could also detect the fragrance of the torch ginger added and all in all, I would give it a 5 out of 5.

When my girl got up, she had a pack for brunch and she loved it so so much that she said she would reserve the remaining pack for dinner. In the end, the mum only got to try a bit of what she had and yes, she too said it was good! I certainly would want to go back and buy some more and it sure looks like I shall have to buy extra next time.

NASI KERABU ASLI KELATE (2.311303, 111.820699) is located to the extreme left of the stalls at Pelangi Food Kiosks in front of Wisma Azra, Jalan Kampung Nangka.

Teach me…

In the good old days, nobody went to schools or colleges to learn the culinary arts.

If it was a family business, they helped out at the shop or stall and picked up the skills from their parents or elders, the ones who would teach them everything. If they were working for somebody, they would start from the bottom with the menial tasks like peeling and slicing onions, cutting the vegetables and what not and with the teaching and guidance from their peers and seniors, they eventually graduated into the actual cooking.

No, there were no qualified or certified chefs then, no Michelin stars, nothing – just real hard work, sweat and toil and true grit but were they able to dish out really awesome dishes? That, of course, goes without saying and some of the dishes were so good that none today, even with their list of credentials, could replicate.

All this came to mind when we went out for dinner here…

Hai Bing Seafood, new

…last Friday night to celebrate my girl’s birthday.

This is the sparkling new branch of this old place

Hai Bing Coffee Shop, original

…that has been around for such a long time but nothing has changed there since Day 1, this dark, unimpressive place with no decor whatsoever to shout about but what it lacked in appearance, it more than made up for it with the awesome dishes they serve here, notably its crabs – second to none. Why, as a matter or fact, my West Malaysian blogger-friends loved it so much and chose it to be, in their opinion, the best in town!

The new place is very nice, very spacious – I love its simplicity, not horrendously over-decorated like some places and it is so white, so clinically clean. They do not have a lot of tables, those marble top ones with simple but beautifully-designed chairs, which I feel is a good thing at this point in time. Even if they had a full house, there would still be a lot of spaces in between the tables to swing a cat! There were at least 10 tables that night but it did not feel like there were so many people – otherwise, I would have left and gone some place else.

Of course we HAD to have the crabs and for a change, I ordered the Singapore chili crab (RM120.00)…

Hai Bing Singapore chili crab

…instead of their usual style that everyone here is very familiar with. I asked what their going price for crabs was and the young man said RM120.00. Gosh!!! And I thought what I bought that day at RM80.00 a kg was expensive – and those were huge ones. What we had that night were rather small, nothing much to eat and it certainly did not taste anything like those very nice ones I had way back in 1973 at Bedok or Changi with French baquette to dip into the wonderful gravy to enjoy.

No, we did not have any of those loaves, just golden-fried mantao (RM4.00 for a set of 4)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden fried mantao

Well, there were 6 of us so I had to request for 2 sets so there would be enough to go round.

According to the guy, this is the chef’s signature dish, his golden beancurd (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden tofu

…and yes, we all thought it was nice. The tofu was yellowish, not white, inside so my guess was that it was their own-made egg tofu or what people call Japanese tofu. I would say that it was like something you can expect at a classy Chinese restaurant, most likely in a hotel or some Hong Kong franchise – not that great but not entirely all that shabby either.

Their Thai-style Mango three-layer pork (RM20.00)…

Thai-styl mango three-layer pork

…was all right but nowhere near the Thai-style mango chicken here – that one there is definitely a class above this one. Why, this one did not even look half as nice. As a matter of fact, for a place like this, I would expect more effort in their presentation, not the dump-in-the-plate-and-serve impression that I got.

My girl said the salty crusty prawns (RM58.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood salty crusty prawns

…were nice but the rest felt there are a lot of places around town that can do it a whole lot better than this and a whole lot more cheaply too even when they use those huge udang galah (freshwater prawns) like this place here.

We had two vegetable dishes, the baby kai lan, ching chao/fried plain (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood baby kai lan ching chao

…and the sambal kangkong (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood sambal kangkong

…both of which I did not get to try as there were so many things to eat but the ladies said they were o.k.

They also loved the zao cai fresh fish soup (RM25.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood zao cai fresh fish soup

…but good grief!!! It was so so so very sour that I had a sip and left the rest in the bowl. My brother-in-law shared the exact same sentiments. I guess guys do not like sour things all that much but honestly, if it was dependent on the preserved vegetables for its sour taste, it would not be so sour, no way! I don’t know what was added to it and personally, I did not think it tasted anything like our traditional Foochow zao cai soup, far from it!

While we were eating, I saw the chef stepping out of the kitchen to have a look at the customers enjoying what he had dished out. He was dressed in his white chef uniform, complete with his tall chef hat. I am quite sure he has all the formal qualifications of a chef to show but I’m afraid I did not think what we had that night, on the whole, was anything to shout about, nothing to get us rushing back for more.

The aforementioned guy, who took our orders, happened to be that same guy at the very nice chicken rice place (they’re all inter-related, one way or another) and he did ask me how the food was and I was very straightforward and honest in my reply, “Much nicer at the old place!” Indeed, what we can get there or at any cheap restaurant or chu char (cook & fry) stall in a coffee shop from the cooks doing all the cooking, not professional qualified chefs, would be a whole lot nicer.

It did not matter that the bill, inclusive of rice and drinks, came up to RM290.00 but I had my hopes up high, hoping that it would be so good as I wanted something really very special to celebrate my girl’s birthday. Unfortunately, what we had kind of dampened our happy mood over those two days but at least we tried and now we know. Maybe we did not know what to order as looking at the photographs on their Facebook page, some of the dishes look really good. Would we take the chance to go back there again to try? Probably not. Once bitten, twice shy!

HAI BING SEAFOOD since 1980 (2.290414, 111.820900) is located at No. 5, Lorong Lau King Howe 1. Tel. No.: 084-311975.

The day after today…

Last Thursday, the 17th of September, was my girl’s actual birthday. I am quite sure I’ve mentioned it before that as a result of a blunder on the part of the registration people, when we got the birth certificate, it was stated in it that the following day, the 18th, was the date of birth. We just left it like that and did not bother to get it rectified.

For reasons unknown, my missus went and ordered a cake from Marcus…

Marcus' birthday cake for Melissa

…to be collected on Friday afternoon and because of that, we did not plan any kind of celebration for Thursday. After all, it was a working day and so was the day after.

Actually, a few of her colleagues invited her out for dinner on Tuesday night (Wednesday was a public holiday) and there was cake and they gave her a present too – that was really sweet, so very nice of them. That is one thing that I am not accustomed to these days. In my time, if it was my birthday, I would throw a party and invite my friends to come and celebrate. It seems that they do not do that anymore. They would just wait for somebody to arrange a celebration and invite the birthday celebrant…so if nobody does that, then the special day will just go by unnoticed. So sad and so strange!

Come Thursday, the actual day, in keeping with our tradition and to preserve our cultural heritage, I went and bought a “phua chai kay” (mixed breed chicken) which, I feel, tastes a whole lot nicer than the regular ones. My missus cooked it in the traditional Foochow red wine and ginger soup and we had mee sua (string or thread longevity noodles) for lunch that day, with hard boiled eggs, of course. We couldn’t have it first thing in the morning as she would have to be in school by 6.00 a.m. to help with the SOP and what not.

The day after that day, Friday, after my missus had collected the cake – my girl wanted the blueberry – we had the cake-cutting at home and had it for tea. Needless to say, it was very very nice, simply the best, second to none. I would say that his cakes can easily put all those from the new and trendy bakeries to shame.

My brother-in-law, her uncle, and his wife sent the curry puffs from Farley, our favourite in town…

Farley curry puff

…oven-baked, with the lovely shortcrust pastry and the very nice butter cake that can give the celebrated Mita ones from Kuching…

Mita Cake

…a run for the money except that theirs is smaller but they are only RM6.00 a loaf and my sister, her aunt and godmother, also sent presents to the house. Of course, we asked them to join us when we went out for dinner that night.

At the dinner, we brought along the cake that her good friend gave her…

Melissa's birthday cake from Dayang

from this bakery and we had another round of cake-cutting there.

I sure am glad to say that my girl’s birthday did not go by unnoticed – that would be very sad, wouldn’t it?. Do stick around – I shall be blogging about the dinner in tomorrow’s post.

You can order a special homemade MARCUS’ CAKE via telephone at 084-311333 and collect it on the day at the time agreed upon from his house at No. 6B. Lorong Delta 3, Delta Estate (2.305015, 111.826185).

Best in the west…

That morning, when I had the fried kway teow with prawns and cockles here, I saw some nice colourful boxes placed on a table by the side. When I was done, I walked over to have a look.

They turned out to be products from this place in the west of the country, Penang, to be exact. It is listed among the 5 recommended places in this website to get your Penang local products. I saw they had the celebrated tambun biscuits and something else, I can’t quite remember now, either tau sar peah or heong peah. I don’t think it’s the latter as those would usually come in big foil packs, not small dainty boxes.

However, it was this box that caught my attention, the only one left…

Ban Heang

– their box of mooncakes…

Ban Heang mooncakes

It seems you can buy direct online from them…

Ban Heang details

…or via those online shopping websites like Lazada and Shopee. The thing is I got that box for only RM20.00 but it costs more online and if I am not wrong, the prices stated do not include shopping/postal charges.

The lady rattled through all the six different flavours of the mooncakes and I only managed to catch three – the one in the middle on the left was lotus paste…

Ban Heang mooncake lotus paste

…and on the right, there was or tao sar (red bean paste) at the top and durian…

Ban Heang mooncake, durian

…at the bottom.

That was why I shared the photograph of the mooncakes on Facebook to seek the help of all and sundry. The response was swift and I got all the information I wanted in no time at all. At the top on the left was the coconut and at the bottom, pandan/jade. The one in the middle on the right was white coffee.

Thankfully, they were inexpensive, quite affordable unlike the others that we get from the peninsula but generally, we were not impressed as most were rather hard and dry except for the pandan/jade. Surprisingly, the one that I thought I would like the least – the coconut and left till last turned out to be the nicest of the lot. The pandan-flavoured (green colour) grated coconut inside was not hard, not dry and tasted very nice.

The lady said this box was the last one but if anyone is interested in the other products from this renowned bakery in Penang, there were some still available at the time, dunno now.

BAN HEANG (M) Sdn. Bhd. (萬香餅家) is located at No. 200, Macalister Road in Penang and you may get some of their products here at GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) which is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

It’s so good…

I went to this bakery in the centre of town that day because I wanted to buy the mee sua.

Sure we have a lot at the shops round the corner from my house, factory packed in plastic with all kind of brands or those nameless ones sold in plastic bags. I usually buy one of those, some are good, some are all right and some may chao hoon – they have that stale smell of flour that has gone a bit off and of course, I would avoid those.

I never bought any from this bakery though and I did not know how it got into my pantry and I only saw it when it was about to expire at the end of the month. We probably got it from my sister for somebody’s birthday – they would give us the chicken soup plus the noodles and the eggs, uncooked and we probably had our own mee sua at the time so we just cooked our own.

I bought two big packs, expiring at the end of March next year – that should last for quite a while and at the same time, I grabbed two packs of these honey puffs…

Big Thumb Bakery honey puffs

…that my girl enjoys a lot. Oh? No butter in those? Never mind! They taste really great and are soft and cushiony…

Big Thumb Bakery honey puffs - inside

They should be a bit careful when placing them on the racks after baking though as those lines look rather unsightly…

Big Thumb Bakery honey puffs - lines

– they never had those before, always nice and smooth and round, absolutely perfect.

I also bought this flavour…

Big Thumb bakery mango chiffon

…and it was good too. They have durian as well but I don’t think anybody in the house would enjoy that.

I bought their bak pao (steamed meat bun) with egg (RM2.30)…

Big Thumb Bakery bak pao with egg

once at their branch in Ulu Sg Merah, RM2.00 each only at the time and the filling sure looked a whole lot nicer. It was all right, still, a little peppery but nice – the egg was definitely a lot bigger than what you can find in paos all around town but no, I did not think it was anything to get me going back for more.

The char siew pao (RM2.00)…

Big Thumb Bakery char siew pao

… was nicer but smaller and did not have any egg inside. Wowww!!! That was only RM1.40 ten years ago in 2010. Personally, if I were to pay the same, RM2.00 each, I would much sooner go for the dim sum-like char siew paos from here – same price and so much nicer!

I saw these packs of chai kueh (RM4.50 for a pack of 5, 90 sen each)…

Big Thumb Bakery chai kueh

…on the counter beside the cash register and I asked the old lady manning the counter if they made those themselves but she said no – they were homemade and left there for sale. I asked her if they were good and she unconvincingly replied that they were quite all right.

My girl loves these but we do not get very good ones here – the skin especially is not quite there and they are never generous with the filling. Anyway, I decided to buy and try and there were two packs left so I took both.

I tried one when I got home and was VERY impressed. My missus tried TWO and started praising them to the skies. My girl was going out with some friends for dinner and did not want to try so I put them in the fridge and steamed them…

Big Thumb Bakery chai kueh, steamed

…for breakfast the next morning. The skin was so soft and smooth, so translucent that one can see the filling inside so clearly and there was hay bee (udang kering/dried prawns) in the filling too, not too much and too over-powering like the ones my cousin brought for me me once from Kuching – more like those Lulu Nyonya Kueh ones in KL that I enjoyed very much too, definitely a whole lot nicer than these more expensive ones that I bought from another bakery here – those aren’t worth a try even, I assure you.

I had another one that morning and I dunno how many the mum had but when my girl woke up and was through with it, there was none left. In her own words, “Now we know where to go and buy very nice chai kueh!”

BIG THUMB BAKERY (2.293889, 111.826492) is located at No.71-73, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

More than three…

I went back to that food court where I had the lor mee the other day but I did not feel like having anything from that same stall so I walked around to see what I could have instead.

The people at this stall…

Grand Wonderful Fooc Court Stall No, 5

…seem to imply that they are selling some nyonya stuff but what caught my attention was their char kway teow…with prawns and cockles!

Of course I wanted to try that so I placed my order and took a seat to wait for it to be served (RM7.50)…

Grand Wonderful Food Court char kway teow 1

While I was waiting, my Facebook friend whom I had never made the acquaintance before, happened to walk past, the one who shared the photograph of the much nicer bowl of lor mee that day. I was surprised that he was able to recognise me – I, of course, had no problem telling who he was as he has shared a lot of his photographs online. We chatted a bit but he was busy and had commitments elsewhere and had to go – it sure was nice to bump into him, small world indeed!

Anyway, back to the plate of kway teow, no, there were more than three prawns…

Grand Wonderful Food Court char kway teow 2

There were at least two more hidden under the noodles unlike one place here where you will only get three and only three, no more no less, never mind big or small. It is like some kind of trademark.

I liked how the prawns were very fresh and succulent but unfortunately, though there were quite  a lot of cockles hidden in the kway teow, they were so tiny, barely visible to the naked eye. However, despite that and the fact that I could not detect any wok hei fragrance, I thought the kway teow tasted great – you really can’t go wrong with prawns (and cockles).

Of course, I would be back again – I might try something else from this stall or the previous one and I spotted another stall that might be of interest to me – the photographs look interesting but everything is in Mandarin so I would have to go and ask to see if there is anything I fancy the next time I am here.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Not how it’s supposed to be…

There was an open packet of sambal laksa in the freezer so last Friday, I decided to take it and cook Sarawak laksa

Sarawak laksa

…for our lunch and dinner. I left out the thin shreds of boiled chicken meat as it was on Friday last week and we had fish balls instead. Yes, it turned out really well, very nice and my girl enjoyed it so much that she had seconds.

The next day, Saturday, I decided to make popiah (spring rolls) because my missus bought home one big mangkuang/sengkuang (jicama). No, I did not have a problem with cooking the filling even though it would entail quite a bit of work. Well, after all, a retiree like me would have all the time in the world to do everything slowly, bit by bit, a step at a time. However, it turned out eventually that I had a problem with the skin.

I liked the square ones in black packets that we had been using for quite sometime now – not all that ideal, not quite like the real thing but it was thin enough and not rubbery plus it was very easy to peel and use. I bought it at one supermarket, since closed down and taken over by another one, and the last time I managed to grab some was at the supermarket near my house. However, after the lockdown, I did drop by and I did not see any of that brand. There was another one that I was not familiar with so I did not buy it.

My cousin in Bintulu used this one…

Fabulous popiah wrapper

…and we’ve used it before too.

Steaming is required so you will have to take the wrappers out ahead of time to thaw…

Thawing

According to the instructions, they have to be peeled to separate them and arranged, one by one overlapping…

Overlapping

…and by that, I guess that was what they meant. I covered it with a piece of muslin cloth and steamed it till soft – originally, it was kind of rubbery, not quite like the real thing but after steaming, it turned out really good, almost like those freshly-made popiah skin.

Initially, we did not have a problem and we were able to use the skin to wrap each popiah nicely…

Popiah, nicely rolled

…but after a while, the skin started to stick together – maybe when it had cooled down a bit – and it was near impossible to get them apart without tearing them and we ended up with the skin, tattered and torn and were not able to use them to wrap anymore popiah.

There are 20 sheets in a pack – the top one ended up kind of shrivelled and did not look too good after thawing so I threw it away and I steamed 10, out of which 6 were all right, 2 were not completely disastrous and the last 2 could not be salvaged at all.

That evening, my missus steamed the rest for dinner. Maybe she did not keep time so the skin on top got stuck to the muslin cloth and the rest was so very hard to peel without destroying them and in the end, instead of wrapping it like this…

Popiah, ready to roll

…we just had to wrap the filling using the lettuce and eat it like that.

One thing’s for sure, you will not see me buying this brand ever again! Tsk! Tsk!

Go out…

We went out for dinner last Sunday evening which was a welcome change from eating at home most of the time and we asked my sister to join us as well.

If I am not wrong, the last time we were here was in February when my niece, the one working in Singapore was home for Chinese New Year and I did drop by too with my West Malaysian blogger-friends when they were in town and as a matter of fact, my girl said we had not been here for quite a while so she would not mind if we went there that day. I suggested going there early, past 5.00 p.m. so if there were others, there would not be so many people around.

Talking about my niece in Singapore, actually, the following day would be her birthday and normally, she would be home every year to celebrate the day with her parents and the rest of us but this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was not able to come home, not for her birthday nor anybody else’s, for that matter.

We had the Thai-style chicken…

Ruby Thai-style chicken

…which was very nice but the salted egg pork…

Ruby salted egg pork

…was a little bit too salty. Probably the eggs used were thus inclined and actually, we do feel we are getting quite bored with salted egg anything. Personally, I think it has served its time.

The hot plate tofu

Ruby tofu

…turned out different from the usual that we are more familiar with, the one with the dark (soy) sauce but it was all right.

The fried cangkok manis with egg…

Ruby cangkok manis

…was good, as always and we enjoyed the hot and sour Szechuan soup…

Ruby Szechuan soup

…too.

I forgot to tell them to cook for 2 or 3 – usually, there would be enough to go round – so the servings were huge, probably for 4, as a result of which we were so very full by the time we managed to finish everything. All in all, the total for the food was RM71.00 which, I thought, wasn’t all that cheap since we had neither fish nor prawn but it was all right – after all, we do not go out all that often anymore these days.

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.