You won…

This place…

Ming Cafe Miri

…in Miri won the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award in a different category that same year when Payung Café won theirs. It is located diagonally across the traffic lights junction beside the hotel where we were staying so of course, I could not wait to walk over and check the place out.

I did ask my cousin about it and he said that it was a watering hole – people would go their for drinks…

Watering hole

…and he didn’t know if the food was good or otherwise. In fact, he did not even know they served food there but he said that it would only open by late afternoon or early evening around 4 – I am not sure how accurate his information was but it definitely was not open for lunch.

We went around 6 that day and there was quite a crowd already. A very young Filipino boy came and took our orders – there were a couple of hiccups but later, I found out that it was his first day on the job and since he was very pleasant and nice, all was forgiven.

My missus wanted the seafood noodles, wet (RM5.00)…

Ming Cafe Miri seafood noodles

…so I ordered that to share. It sure was cheap, especially for an upscale, classier café and it was all right, nothing to shout about but good enough.

The lamb shank (RM20.00)…

Ming Cafe Miri lamb shank

…was kind of disappointing though as it was not fall-off-the-bone-tender and it was not served on a bed of mashed potatoes plus whatever gravy that was, it did not get me jumping with delight…but at that price, I really do not see any cause for complaint.

The pork meatballs (RM10.00)…

Ming Cafe Miri pork meatballs

…were really good and we absolutely loved their herby sausage and mash (RM25.00)…

Ming Cafe Miri herby sausage & mash

They have an air-conditioned section but we did not want to go and sit in there as the atmosphere was much nicer outside with music and those happy people all around.

MING CAFE, MIRI (4.397216, 113.988902)is located at one corner of the traffic lights junction of Jalan North Yu Seng and Jalan Merbau.

Say cheese…

This Taiwanese franchise…

Grand Castella Cake

…had people queuing up for a mile to buy the cake and somebody did buy one for my sis once from their outlet here and I did give it a try but I failed to see what the frenzy was all about. I did not think it was anything I would buy, much less queue up for.

Well, they have an outlet at the megamall that we went to in Miri that day and no, there wasn’t anybody there at the time, no queue, nothing. I guess the novelty has worn off and it no longer has that appeal when it took the country by storm.

This…

special offer

…caught my attention and since I so love those baked Japanese cotton cheesecake, I decided that I must grab this Taiwanese one…

Golden Cheese Cake

…to try.

It was good, pretty much like all the rest…

Cross section

…but it had a sprinkling of raisins at the bottom, not that this was anything to get excited about.

I bought two – one to eat ourselves in our hotel room and the other for my cousin’s wife, a little something for her trouble in coming all the way to see us at the megamall.

This GRAND CASTELLA CAKE outlet is located on the ground floor, turn left upon entering the main entrance of the Bintang Megamall (4.396911, 113.993408) in Miri.

Escapade…

That day when we arrived, my cousin’s wife left specific instructions to call her the following day if we wanted to go anywhere but we did not do that as we did not have any place in mind, just that megamall up the street and we could jolly well walk there ourselves, no need to bother her.

The megamall has been around for a long long time now and I hear there is a new wing but it has been so well maintained that I could not tell the difference – the whole place looks really good with all the branded names and truth be told, what we have here in Sibu comes nowhere close.

When we got there, I called my cousin’s wife to tell her where we were and ask her not to trouble herself as we were fine and could get around by ourselves. In no time at all, there she was at the mall and she insisted on taking us here…

Excapade, Bintang Megamall

…for lunch…

Excapade

…even though we were so very full from breakfast and had no plans whatsoever to eat anything till later. Incidentally, this Brunei franchise has another outlet in the vicinity of the Tanjong Lobang beach in Miri.

My girl had her favourite – the unagi don

Excapade unagi don

…and she said it was all right, same as what one would get anywhere else.

The mum ordered their tako meshi (mixed rice with octopus)…

Excapade tako meshi

…which looked like fried rice to me and she too said it was all right.

I have had ramen at Japanese restaurants a few times, very few and I did not think I had any that swept me off my feet and I fail to understand why a lot of people seem to rave over the ones they have here, there and everywhere. That was why that day, I asked for the beef ramen in miso soup…

Excapade beef ramen in miso soup

…and at best, I would say that I quite enjoyed it but I liked the Taiwanese beef noodles I had the day before a lot more as I would very much prefer beef soup/broth to miso soup in a bowl of beef noodles. To each his own, I guess.

The onsen tamago

Excapade onsen tamago

…was a little overcooked – the yolk was moist but not quite runny. I sure can do a better job at cooking that.

My cousin’s wife ordered these…

Excapade sushi

…to share and they were all right too.

After that, we continued our tour of the megamall to see what we could buy and cart home.

This EXCAPADE outlet is located on the ground floor to the left of the main entrance of the Bintang Megamall (4.396911, 113.993408) in Miri.

Chatterbox…

Some of you may know the coffee house by this name at the Mandarin Singapore – it was around already when I was there in 1973. These days, it seems to be the place to be when one wants to eat chicken rice – in style at almost SGD30 a set. I know of people who went and tried and according to them, at the end of the day, it was what it was – chicken rice…with a touch of class.

Well, the coffee house at the hotel where we stayed in Miri has that same name and when I did the booking, I opted for their breakfast as my girl used to love that when she was small. I guess the novelty of going through the buffet spread, picking a bit of this and a bit of that was a novelty, something that she enjoyed. After all, it was only RM10 per head – I don’t know if that is what you will have to fork out if you are not a house guest though.

I remember once, I went to see a friend at a hotel here in Sibu and she insisted that I joined her and her sis for breakfast and  I had the shock of my life when she had to pay RM50.00 for mine (their hotel room rate was inclusive of breakfast for two). It wasn’t even anything that I would look forward to, not many selections to pick and choose and nothing really nice.

Well, our family room was inclusive of breakfast for two adults and two children. I told the nice receptionist when I checked in that I only had one child and she was no longer a child and he said that would not be a problem and he converted it to breakfast for three adults instead.  As for what we had for breakfast, it was more or less like any other breakfast that you would get at any hotel here, there and everywhere – you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

The first morning we were there, I had this…

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast 1

…for my first round. The nasi in the nasi lemak was so-so, not as lemak as I would have liked it and the sambal was so very salty – I did not have it anymore on subsequent mornings but when my missus had it a day or two later, she said it was all right. The chicken curry was salty too and all in all, I only enjoyed the fried bihun.

I think I enjoyed what I had for my second round…

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast 2

…more except for the potato wedges – that too was very salty! The omelette from the egg station was great and I liked the croissant stuffed generously with butter and the beef rashers. The waffle and pancake were fine and so were the sausage and the baked beans.

On another morning, I went for the waffle and pancake again and I asked for scrambled eggs by the side…

More pancake & waffle plus a danish and egg

Unfortunately, the scrambled eggs were not done the way I like it, with lots of cheese and butter and milk, rich and creamy – it was like a badly-messed up omelette…

Scrambled egg

I had one of the Danish pastries that morning and I quite enjoyed it so on another morning, I had some more…

More danish, croissant and a cupcake

…alongside another croissant and a cupcake.

They had kolo mee at the noodles station that first morning but they had run out of noodles and I did not want the kway teow. I was thinking they would have it again over the next few days but no, they did not and I was kind of surprised that they did not have Sarawak laksa either. They had other soup noodles, a different one each morning and I tried the beef noodles…

Maga Hotel Miri buffet breakfast - beef noodles

…but no, I was not all that impressed.

I didn’t quite enjoy the porridge…

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast - porridge

…either – the salted egg was not to my liking and adding one half-boiled/cooked egg in it did not save the day.

I did not think much of the fried 老鼠粉 ( lǎo shǔ fěn)…

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast lǎo shǔ fěn

…that I had on the second morning as well and the fried kway teow

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast fried kway teow

…on another morning did not sweep me off my feet either.

I remember on one of the previous times I was here, they had mashed potatoes with lots of cheese and the fragrance filled the whole place. I enjoyed that a lot and there has been no turning back since – everytime I cook mashed potatoes, I must add cheese to it. This time around, they no longer have the cheese in it and I did not quite fancy the black pepper on top – it would have been nicer without that.

As you can see, after a few days, we were back to the same things in the buffet spread but there was fried mee on one of the mornings and the nice and friendly chubby boy at the egg station who did not get my fried eggs quite right the first time…

Mega Hotel Miri buffet breakfast fried eggs

…got them perfectly done that second time…

Mega Hotel buffet breakfast fried mee & the rest

Actually, he did it very well but he flipped the eggs and the second time I got him to fry some more for me, I told him not to do that.

On the whole, I felt the food was decent, just that we would be so full and would not be able to have much for lunch even so we were not able to go round and enjoy the local delights at the coffee shops and hawker centres.

CHATTERBOX is on the ground floor of the Mega Hotel, Miri (4.396921, 113.987965), located right in the heart of Miri city centre at 907, Jalan Merbau.

I’m wondering…

If you’re wondering why this place…

Wondering Seafood Restaurant Miri

…is called Wondering, well, actually, I’m wondering that same thing too! LOL!!!

My cousin and his missus insisted on taking us out for dinner on our first night in Miri and that was how we ended up here with one of their daughters and one of their sons, 7 of us altogether.

The sweet and sour pork was really very good…

Sweet and sour pork

…and I loved their sizzling tofu with minced meat in a hot plate…

Sizzling tofu

…too.

The belacan (dried prawn paste) that they used for their fried midin

Midin

…was not quite to my liking but we sure enjoyed their salted egg fried lotus root slices…

Salted egg lotus root

I hear we can get these in Sibu too but so far, I have only come across pumpkin done this way.

This looked like it was their signature dish – most everybody was having it, their curry fish…

Curry fish

I loved the gravy but no, to me, it was not exactly curry but something like nyonya asam curry with a slightly sourish taste. Personally, I like this more than curry per se.

That sure was an awesome dinner and a wonderful start to our holiday in Miri, thank you so much, Raphael & Amy – we must go out some place for dinner the next time you two are in town!

WONDERING SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (4.387101, 113.984213) is located at Shoplot 1433, Block 10, Centre Point Commercial Centre Phase 2, Off Jalan Kubu.

Hotel room…

When my girl was little, I would call to make the hotel reservation. As soon as they answered, I would ask them straight away, “Do you have a swimming pool?” If the answer was no, I would just say thank you and end the call. I do not have to do that anymore these days as my girl is no longer so into swimming unlike before.

For our trip to Miri, I went online in search of a family or triple room. In the past, we could all squeeze into a king or queen-sized bed but all of us have grown much bigger now so I would need to book two rooms if there was none available. I managed to get a family room here…

Mega Hotel Miri

…one of the more established hotels in the city. I did stay there before when I went round conducting courses for English language teachers in the city or state. Yes, it has a nice swimming pool but during those few days when we were there, we did not bother to go and have a look.

We had a nice room with a lovely view…

Mega Hotel Miri - city view

…of the city centre and Canada Hill in the background – that is where the Grand Old Lady, the first oil well in Miri, is located.

It has been around for a while now and I was delighted to see that it has been very well-maintained, everything in good shape and working order and most importantly, it did not have that unpleasant carpet smell that some old hotels seem to have.

Our room…

Mega Hotel family room

…was HUGE…

Spacious

…unlike the little cubicles that one would have to put up with in the newer hotels these days. The queen and single beds were just perfect for the three of us and the room rate was very cheap too, only around RM225.00 inclusive of breakfast, RM195.00 if you choose to go without.

When we were in KL and stayed in one of the bigger rooms at the hotel with cheaper ones that do not have much space left once I get into one of them – there was a double bed and I had to ask for an extra bed and the total was over RM300.00 without breakfast…and that was some years ago in 2013 – I am not sure if I can get it at that price now. If anyone is interested, a standard room here is only RM135.00 and RM155.00 if you opt to have breakfast (for two) in the coffee house in the morning. You can’t even get to stay at a decent shophouse block kind of hotel in KL with that kind of money!

There is free wifi – the ladies logged in on their smartphones and said it was very fast. You can opt for cable connection too – there is a USB port by the side of that board with the television screen.

You have the usual coffee/tea making facilities…

Coffee/tea making facilities & so on

…and in the cabinet, there are a mini fridge and also a safe, a hair dryer and an electric iron plus the ironing board and in the washroom…

Washroom

…you are provided with the usual soap, little bottles of conditioning shampoo and bath gel, a complimentary toothbrush & toothpaste, a shaving kit, a comb, cotton buds, a shower cap and so on.

The bathtub looked very comfortable with the headrest at one end but no, I did not attempt getting into it, completely filled with water, for fear that I would flood the whole place. LOL!!!

When you wake up every day, you will find the morning paper hanging at your door…

Morning paper

…and there is also a free shuttle service to places of interest upon request.

One thing I noticed those few days when I was in Miri was how minimal the Christmas decorations were at the malls and places where we went for dinner. The most that I saw was at this hotel lobby…

Mega Hotel Christmas decor

…which also had Christmas trees all over and a fireplace too – they are currently collecting pre-loved shoes for the poor in the rural areas, their 5th year hosting this charity campaign, and folks can bring their shoes and deposit them in the fireplace…and they had Christmas songs playing 24-7 too!!!

The members of the staff are very efficient and friendly and I was amazed by the handsome and friendly young boys at the concierge counter – they would be by the door in an instant to open it for you and to greet you good morning or whatever depending on the time of day no matter how many times you walk in and out – I sure did that quite a lot!

MEGA HOTEL, MIRI (4.396921, 113.987965) is located right in the heart of Miri city centre at 907, Jalan Merbau.

We are here…

Our plane to Miri landed on schedule but just when we were going to board the aircraft, the rain came down in buckets and we had to go through the downpour, walking through and over the puddles of water everywhere and we were quite wet by the time we got to our seats. Luckily, it was not delayed and in around an hour or so, we landed in Miri.

My cousin and his wife met us at the airport and they insisted on taking us for a bite to eat before sending us to the hotel even though we did have an early lunch when we got to the airport in Sibu.

We ended up here…

Miri Taiwan Restaurant

…for the beef noodles.

The ladies had this…

Beef vegetable noodles

…while I went for this…

Beef tendon noodles

…the one with the tendons and all. Yes, it was very very nice but I had a glimpse at the price in the menu, the one that I had and it was a whooping RM18.00 a bowl!!! *faints*

This  certainly is a very popular place – even at around 3 something in that Sunday afternoon, there were quite a lot of people and even though they were supposed to close at 4.00 p.m., I saw people going in…regardless!

台湾風味館 MIRI TAIWAN RESTAURANT  (4.400196, 113.989056) is located at Jalan Helenium in Miri in one of the lanes behind the blocks of shops across the road from Imperial Mall.