Such a long time…

This restaurant…

New Capitol Restaurant

…is now the oldest in town after some other people took over the other one and I hear they have a new menu, not quite the same old school dishes as before anymore.

I did mention the other day that they are making curry puffs for sale now so I dropped by in the hope of grabbing a few to try. Unfortunately, the lady told me that they are made to order and if I would leave my contact number, they could call me when there is an order and they could set aside some for me. I decided not to take up the suggestion because of the traffic congestion in that area and parking is near impossible. Now that the lockdown is more or less over, things have gone back to normal around here.

Anyway, since I was already there that day, I decided to grab a pack of 20 of their Sibu Foochow sio bee (meat dumplings)…

New Capitol Restaurant sio bee

Gosh!!! It had been such a long time since when I last had any, the lovely ones from here. We did not have them at our anniversary reunion lunch in April last year nor when I was there with some ex-schoolmates/classmates more recently in February this year. I think it was in September last year when my cousin and hubby and her son were here from Brisbane, Australia.

Yes, we really enjoyed the ones I brought home that day so so much! I did not take note of how much I paid for them that day – I remember at one time, it was RM1.60 each, probably more than that now but I would say it is value for money as it is clearly a cut above all the rest, the cheaper ones with prices ranging around RM1.00 each.

Another thing that I had not had for such a long time would be our pulut panggang, glutinous rice with santan (coconut milk) wrapped in banana leaf and cooked slowly and painstakingly over hot charcoal. For a long time, the best would be the Haji Luguk ones or what we call Kate panggang and the last time I bought any was in December last year when I ordered a lot to cart over to Kuching to give to everybody when we went for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding and even then, I only managed to get them via special order through the nice lady at Bandong.

That morning, I dropped by the Malay kuih stalls at Simpang Tiga to see if they had any and the nice and pleasant guy there told me that they have stopped making already. No love lost, I’d say, as it seemed that since the old man died, the quality had gone down the drain. Of course, I bought some, still RM1.00 each…

Pulut panggang 1

…and cheaper than the Hj. Luguk ones by 10 sen.

The guy asked me where I went for so long and I told him I was here in Sibu all the time, didn’t go anywhere. Obviously he could still remember me as I used to drop by quite frequently when my parents were still around – their house was 500 metres up one of the roads from Simpang Tiga and he had not seen me for such a long time.

I had the pulut panggang

Pulut panggang 2

…that I bought with brown sugar as there was neither kaya not condensed milk in the house (my missus likes eating it just like that) and yes, these were very good – no need to go and look for the Hj. Luguk’s ones anymore.

Incidentally, I’ve tried the other tub of Häagen-Dazs ice cream that I bought at Ta Kiong that day, the cookies and cream (RM38.90)…

Häagen-Dazs cookies & cream

…and no, it sure did not get me jumping with delight, not like the mango raspberry one.

When I removed the seal, I found it was hard like any other ice cream so I had to wait quite a bit and by the time I could scoop some out to try, I noticed that it was already melting – just like the vanilla in a cup one that I bought to try that first time at Bukit Bintang in KL and ended up finishing it like drinking milk. It wasn’t anything sensational, just vanilla ice cream with those bits of (Oreo) cookies – at that price, I sure would not want to buy it again, thank you very much!

New Capital Restaurant 新首都酒家 (2.288619, 111.830057) is located at No. 46, Lebuh Tanah Mas, off Jalan Kampung Nyabor, in the block of shops opposite the Sarawak House/King’s Trioplex/Premier Hotel at the very far end on the right while the KAMPUNG HILIR MALAY KUIH STALLS (2.306488, 111.818695) are located near Simpang Tiga at the end of Jalan Kampung Hilir, with the SEDC HAWKER CENTRE behind it and the MDS MART facing those hawker stalls and TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

I love them both…

My girl loves them both, not me – kim chi and tofu so that was why when I spotted this…

MR KIMCHI tofu kimchi snack

…at that supermarket in town, the one that brings in all the imported stuff from countries all over the world, I wasted no time at all in grabbing two packs to take home for her to enjoy. She and her mum love anything Korean…

Made in Korea

…and this was made there. Anything and everything Korean is very expensive but much to my surprise, this was only RM1.75 a pack. She did finish one and after some time, I saw the 2nd one sitting there, opened but not finished so I took it and tried. I am not into such tidbits aka junk food but I actually thought it was very nice.

So, what is it actually?…

What is tofu kimchi?

I could not taste the tofu in it though – maybe it was mixed with the wheat flour and whatever else to get the batter and fried. Thankfully, the seasoning – the salt and the msg – was not as strong as in the other junk food available…like for instance, I’ve tried some potato chips from Australia or wherever and they were extremely salty!!! Definitely not for human consumption, if you asked me! This one was all right but if there was any taste of kim chi in it, it was so light that I could hardly detect it (and perhaps that was why I liked it – I am no fan of kim chi!).

Well, it so happened that one of her outings to stock up on food and stuff in the house, my missus brought home another pack. Obviously my girl was not going to eat that especially when the mum bought her a whole lot of other options so no prize for guessing who opened it…

Tofu kimchi

…and finished it all by himself. LOL!!!

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Said I would…

I said I would come back here to try the fried noodles and I did – the other day when my friend/ex-student, Louis, was in town on a work-related trip.

The last time I saw him was in February when we went for that lady’s kampua mee, my favourite in town. Incidentally, I did drive past there to see but no, there was still no sign of her. Anyway, Louis is now residing with his family in Kuching and of course, all this while, he was not able to come back to Sibu until now and even then, the airfare sure was not cheap – over RM500 return, Kuching -Sibu.

Louis saw my post on the kampua mee that I had that day and he said he would like to drop by there and try. His office was on the 1st floor next door when he was still single and working in Sibu and that was exactly what he had that morning…

A-Plus kampua special

…and yes, he enjoyed it, of course!

I had the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version…

A-Plus fried mee, moon

…and yes, it was very nice. I think that would be RM5.00 a plate and RM6.00, if you ask for the special. As I was leaving, I saw the boss frying a plate of tomato kway teow, special and it looked very good too. Now that would be what I would have the next time I drop by here.

Thank you so much for the breakfast treat, Louis. We’ll do it again the next time you’re in town – my treat, of course!

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Cross the road…

Now that I do not have to go and get my girl from her jungle school every Friday and send her back every Sunday, I am saving a lot on petrol and car maintenance. Those days, I would top up on Friday to make one trip and back and again on Sunday for our trip that day and that would not last till the next trip – I would have to go and top up on Tuesday or Wednesday so all in all, that would be around two to three times a week.

I sent my car for an oil and filter change every 7,000 km and because of the distance covered, I had to go back and get it serviced once every month or so plus I would get everything checked to make sure it was in perfect condition. I would not want it to break down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The last time I got that done was in October last year and there were still 2,000 km left till the next scheduled oil change but I just went and got it done anyway.

While I was there, I noticed that the coffee shop on the other side

Uncle Lau

…has shrunk to half its former size. It used to occupy two shoplots but not anymore.

In the meantime, I heard that this coffee shop has closed down. I mentioned that on Facebook and somebody said that he heard they had moved here…

June Cafe

…so that morning, I went to have a look. Another friend went and had something from one of the stalls and the lady confirmed that she came from that aforementioned coffee shop. I did not see anybody familiar though (not that I am so familiar with the people there – I have not dropped by for a long long time) and the stalls did not seem ready to start the ball rolling except for the kampua mee stall and it was on my no-meat Friday so I was abstaining from that.

In the end, I decided to cross the road to this coffee shop right opposite where all the four food stalls were already in full swing at that point in  time. Nobody insisted on any SOP but there seemed to be some kind of social distancing at each table…

Kopitiam Fantasy social distancing

The people running the coffee shop did not look like the ones there before – perhaps, they are the same ones just that I was never all that observant before but the coffee that morning…

Kopitiam Fantasy kopi-o-peng

…was so so good, better than all the rest – the best that I have had for a long time now.

I ordered the sambal kway teow from this stall there and asked the lady to leave out the meat but I requested for one fried egg to go with it (RM5.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow plus fried egg

I guess my regular readers would know right away that I was not too happy the moment it was served and why. LOL!!!

However, the kway teow in itself…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow

…made up for the disappointment. It was super yummy, so very fragrant and very spicy and I’ve always loved the lady’s very nice own-made chili dip.

That was most certainly a delightful breakfast and I sure would not mind going back for more again…and again…and again.

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.

She forgot…

My girl bought some instant ramen once and she was praising it to the skies and of course, she finished it in no time at all. I remember the packet was white but she went and bought another pack, the packets were black. Unfortunately, this time around, it was kind of disappointing – the one she bought earlier was sold out.

Well, the mum came home from the supermarket at the mall near our house one day with these…

Nissin Ramen

…and I thought they looked like those that my girl bought once. I asked her if those were the ones she bought before but she said she could not remember.

This is a Singapore product but made in Indonesia and inside, you will find the noodles and three sachets…

Nissin Ramen, noodles & sachets

– one with the seasoning, another with the oil and the last one with some dried garnishing.

I chose the white and red packet to try – the Tokyo Shoyu – premium bonito blend and once cooked, I served it with some char siew I had in the fridge and paper-thin dried seaweed sheets…

Nissin ramen, cooked and served

…for a more authentic Japanese touch and garnished it with some chopped spring onion from my garden. LOL!!! It turned out that there were some minute slices of narutomaki alongside some dried spring onion in the sachet with the garnishing…and other than that, this one’s probably fish (bonito) flavoured.

I sat down to eat and I must say I was impressed. It was very nice! A tad salty for me though (especially since we hardly eat much salt and msg at home) so I would want to add more water next time…or use only half of the sachet of seasoning. I’d most probably do the former since I thought the soup was very nice.

DELTA – THE MARKETPLACE (2.311968, 111.847043) is located in the basement of the Delta Mall, Taman Seduan 8, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

Big…

There was an old lady here once and her char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) was quite good and I did drop by for it a few times. However, I did not see her the last few times I was in the vicinity so my guess was she had called it a day and the other day, I heard there is a big-size lady there now and word has it that her char kway teow is good too. That was why I dropped by that morning to check it out.

True enough, there she was…

Happy Hours fat lady's stall

…but she was not occupying the stall where the old lady used to be – it is now a Sarawak laksa/nasi lemak stall. Instead, she is at that stall on the right while the kampua mee stall is to the left, the front part of the coffee shop.

I ordered the char kway teow (RM5.00)…

Happy Hours char kway teow 1

…and she asked me whether I wanted lap cheong (Chinese sausage) or prawns and of course I chose the latter – one can’t go wrong with those.

I must say that it was good…

Happy Hours char kway teow 2

…and would be something worth dropping by for. I had a chat with the lady and she told me she was here before but she was not selling kway teow there. Instead, she was running the stall selling mee sua which I did go and eat once or twice and I did think it was very good.

She was telling me how she will not order a lot of the ingredients as business these days is not so good and she does not want to buy a whole lot and use the less-than-fresh ingredients in the days that follow. Instead, she will just buy enough and once finished, she will close her stall for the day.

While we were talking, the whiff of the fragrance from the traditional Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup that she was simmering came drifting to my nose and it did smell really good. I think I shall drop by there one of these days for that!

HAPPY HOURS CAFE (2.307165, 111.837312) is located at one corner of the Rejang Park shops/commercial centre in that residential area, beside the volleyball stadium and the surau, facing the vast parking area there.

You’re early…

Yes, I was very early, 7 something that morning but the coffee shop was already open and there were a few customers, old folks mostly, sitting around having their morning coffee while a few were having kampua mee for breakfast.

I ordered coffee, black and the guy asked if I wanted it in a cup (RM1.00)…

Kian Hock kopi-o

…or a glass and I asked for the former. I think it is smaller so it was only a ringgit.

I’ve been here a few times before. Once, I had the kampua mee and on another occasion, I had the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version but no, I never went back for more even though we did stop by for a very nice lunch once.

So what brought me there that morning, you may ask? Well, I saw some friends sharing photographs of the KL Hokkien mee they had there and it looked good. I had that at the brother’s place before and yes, it was quite good but I had not gone back since, if you catch the drift.

My order that morning took a long time coming because the one doing the cooking at the back had not arrived yet and it was almost 8 already when I was served (RM8.00)…

Kian Hock KL Hokkien mee

It was good – there were lots of ingredients including a few prawns and bits of sotong (squid) , a couple of fried fish slices and some vegetables plus the pork fat crusts (bak yu phok) but I would not mind a stronger wok hei fragrance. Yes, they do not use plastic here too – a pat on the back for that.

I can’t say I am all that crazy about KL Hokkien mee but should I feel like having that again, it will most probably be this one…or the one at the brother’s place. I tapao-ed back for my missus to try and even though she never liked KL Hokkien mee here or anywhere, for that matter, much to my surprise, she actually liked this one!

KIAN HOCK COFFEE SHOP (2.284853, 111.831557) is located along Jalan Maju to the left of the River Park Hotel, right across the road from The Ark and the Rejang Esplanade.

Close…

This coffee shop…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe

…is so very close, just two doors away from this very popular one that many will declare without any reservation whatsoever that the kampua mee is the best in town, talk about stiff competition! There were others before them, two, at least – the names were different but obviously, they did not last very long. This one, if I can remember correctly, commenced business not long before COVID-19 struck.

I decided to give it a try the other morning and was greeted by this very friendly and chatty woman. The guy…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe kampua mee stall

…looked quite familiar and he seemed to recognise me. I asked a few questions and the woman said they were at a coffee shop beside the fire station before even though she did not specify exactly which one.

I ordered the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe kampua mee

…but I did not think it was anything spectacular enough to get me to come to this part of the woods where traffic congestion (pre-COVID 19) is the order of the day and parking can be such a pain. Even that celebrated one to the right couldn’t get me to come back for more but yes, I would say it was very good, very original/authentic/old school.

I sure was glad to see that they used stewed pork instead of the usual boiled pork coloured red and kudos to them for not using those horrendously coloured plastic plates and bowls.

I also asked for the liver soup (RM6.00)…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe liver soup

…and I specifically asked for the vegetables to be left out – I saw that in the photograph in front of the stall. It tasted great – the liver was very fresh and perfectly done so it was not hard but it was completely different from the usual traditional Foochow red wine and ginger liver soup. Maybe it was the quality of the red wine used or perhaps they used some other kind of Chinese cooking wine so it simply was not the same and from my personal point of view, I would prefer it the way it is usually served.

All in all, I would say this is one place worth dropping by for a bite to eat if you happen to be in the vicinity or if you are staying at the hotels around that area.

BAI WEI XUAN CAFE is located to the right of Li Hua Hotel, town branch along Lorong Lanang 2 and Sing Hin Corner 新兴阁 (2.284607, 111.832116) is located two doors down.

When life is good again…

These are hard times. Many have not had any income for the last three months, many have been retrenched or have had their salaries cut but personally, I do feel there are ways by which one may earn a little bit to make one’s ends meet until the time comes when life is good again…hopefully!

There was this muscle-packed fitness instructor who went and worked for a vegetable seller and this flight steward from Sibu who used his time to make those lovely Sarawak ethnic traditional costumes for Barbie & Ken dolls and I saw on Facebook an Indian guy who set up a stall by the roadside to sell nasi lemak and there was also one guy who lost his job and went into Grab food delivery and of course, there are that Indian girl and her hubby, now Youtube celebrities and everything is going so well for them.

I am quite sure there are things one can do if one wants to do it instead of depending on charity, lining up all day in the sun and the rain for the government’s meagre handout. I pay the guy who comes once a month to cut my grass and sweep it all up RM50 each time and an extra RM50 on special occasions like Hari Raya or Christmas or Chinese New Year. There are many things to do in my garden and how much I will pay will depend on how hard the job is and how long it will take…if anyone is interested.

We are not being confined that much anymore these days but no, things are not getting any better, definitely nothing like those days before COVID-19. Business at the restaurants and coffee shops is obviously very quiet and very slow and if you remember, I did mention the other day that the people here have resorted to making steamed meat paos and sio bee (meat dumplings) and there is another restaurant where they are making curry puffs for sale to supplement their income.

Likewise, those at one of our favourite restaurants in town have set up a kampua noodles stall…

A-PLUS kampua mee stall

…in front of their shop with the boss doing all the cooking, the wife taking care of the drinks and the children doing the serving. My good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, shared a photo of the kampua mee pok he had here and the very next day, his cousin, meowsai_foodie on Instagram, shared his photographs on Facebook so I wasted no time at all in dropping by to check things out.

The kampua mee (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS kampua mee

…was so very good, bursting with the fragrances of the fried shallots and fried garlic and the guy sure was very generous with those. He uses his special kampua noodles, different from all the rest as extra eggs are used in the making to make it more Q-Q (firmer). not unlike their own handmade noodles here.

Another plus point in this guy’s favour is how he uses real char siew (roasted/barbecued meat/pork) unlike most of the other places where they will give you boiled pork coloured red…and at one time, there was a ban on the artificial colouring used.

I also asked for the pian sip (meat dumplings) and fish balls soup (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS pian sip & fish balls soup

– if you ask for the special, you will get both the mee and the soup for RM6.00. Yes, it was very nice – the pian sip was great but I thought there was too much pepper in the fish balls and I am not exactly fond of that. The next time I have this, I shall ask for just the pian sip.

You can also order some fried noodle dishes and the boss will cook it for you. I had their Foochow fried noodles once but I did not like how the gravy was clear and even though it was nice, it wasn’t something I would want to order again. However, as I was leaving that morning, I saw him frying some mee in the hot wok and it looked really good – I asked him and he said it was the moon version. Now, I sure would want to try that the next time I come here. He also told me they are serving zhao chai hung ngang and that Foochow delight with ikan patin fish head. Well, I am neither crazy about the fish nor the dish so I’d probably opt for something else instead.

Incidentally, this kampua mee stall opens from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. only, off days on Tuesdays, because from 10.30 a.m. onwards, they have economy fast food with 17 dishes to choose from in their buffet spread. We were here for that once and even though at that time, they did not have so many choices, we thought it was very nice and we sure enjoyed what we had. I guess they are going out full swing to attract more of the crowd on their lunchtime break to come here.

They open in the evening for dinner at 5.00 p.m., the boss said and I told him I was here a couple of times to tapao some food home but they were still closed and he said the workers will come at 5 and they will have to eat first before they open the doors and start work. I guess the early bird does not always catch the worm.

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Not my first time…

It was Campari’s somewhat suggestive slogan some years ago that says, “The first time is never the best,” and I must say that there is some truth in that as far as my first time with the celebrated Häagen-Dazs branded ice cream was concerned.

I cannot remember exactly when that was, many years ago, that’s for sure, when I spotted it sold in cups at a 7-11 shop at Bukit Bintang in KL, across the road from the hotel where I was staying. I wasted no time whatsoever in grabbing one to try – the vanilla, and it was by no means cheap, around RM10.00 a cup, maybe a little bit more and that kind of money in those days was quite a lot actually…but I simply had to give it try.

I did not wait till I got back to the hotel – I just stood by the roadside outside the door of the convenience store and ate! Unfortunately, it did not sweep me off my feet and one thing I noticed was how it melted real fast and towards the end, I was like drinking milk from the cup.

Fast forward to just the other day when our local supermarket, the one that brings in all the imported stuff from countries all over the world, shared this photograph…

Wishing you joy

…on Facebook to tell everyone that Häagen-Dazs is now available right here at their place.

I shared the above photo, uncropped, on Facebook and it did not dawn on me at the time but my friend in Singapore posted a comment instantly, “…and happiness…but above all this, I’m wishing you love…and I…I…will always love you!” That Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston classic is an all-time favourite of mine! I must say that was a good one, Alvin! LOL!!!

Well, during the COVID-19 partial lockdown, I saw people flaunting online tubs of the ice cream delivered to their homes for them to enjoy and the last straw was when two of my (blogger) friends shared the special hamper they got from Häagen-Dazs – there were two one-pint tubs inside and one ice cream on a stick among some other things and I particularly love that rattan “suitcase” with everything inside. One of them commented on my post and said the cantaloupe melon was very nice but unfortunately, that flavour was not available here.

I checked online and found that it is priced at around RM30.00 in West Malaysia for one pint, cheaper if there is some kind of a promotion but it costs a bomb here – RM38.90, don’t play-play but bonjour! It is made in France…

Made in France

I was kind of disappointed that there were very limited choices in the exclusive freezer – I don’t know where they got the photograph from as there was no sign of any “festive edition” flavours. I did not want the matcha – I do not like anything green tea and even though I am a coffee guy, I am not a fan of it in ice cream. In the end, I got the two remaining flavours…

Cookies & cream and mango & raspberry

– the cookies & cream and the mango & raspberry.

I decided to try the latter first and when I opened the lid, I found that it was tightly sealed…

Sealed

The pictorial instruction seemed to suggest that I should wait for 10-15 minutes but I didn’t. I removed the seal right away and it did look a bit hard…

Open

…to me but when I scooped out a spoonful, I was so very pleasantly surprised to find that it was soft…

Nice

…nothing like the other brands where it would be quite a challenge to get anything out the instant you take it out of the freezer – as hard as a rock! However, with the seal removed, when we took it out of the freezer again, it was hard like any other and we had to wait a bit before scooping.

I gave it a try and boy, it sure swept me off my feet! That was so so so good! The mango ice cream tasted like fresh mango – nothing like the others which I never bother giving a second glance when I see any at the shops and supermarkets and it went really well with the raspberry swirls. The texture of the ice cream was so very smooth and so fine and it was so very rich and creamy. The ladies in the house tried it too and yes, they loved it!

Of course, at those prices, you would not see me buying all the time, God forbid! I was thinking it would make a really nice dessert at dinners on special occasions like Christmas and New Year – once a year ain’t too bad…and besides, I’ve stopped buying “numbers” even though punting has resumed a couple of weeks or so ago – yes, congratulations are in order as this means that I shall be saving over RM100 each week, over RM400 a month…and yes, I sure do deserve this reward, don’t you think? LOL!!!

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.