Cherished memories…

Everytime it was my parents’ birthday, I would buy something for them and maybe a cake as well, perhaps and at times, flowers for my mum too.

I remember buying this very nice casserole…

Casserole 1

…for her but I cannot for the dear life of me remember where or when. I don’t remember how much I paid for it either but I guess it was not much, probably something in the region of RM50.00. With my measly salary as a teacher, I wouldn’t be able to afford something very costly, that’s for sure.

All I can remember is I thought it was very nice and I was quite sure that my mum would love it. I do not know if she did. Typical Asians like us do not express our feelings all that much and all through the years, I did not see it in the display cabinets at the house and I don’t think I ever saw it being used either.

Anyway, the other day, I asked my sister if she had seen it lying around anywhere in the house and if it was still in one piece, I would love to have it back and she said yes and promptly sent it over to my house…

Casserole 2

When I bought it, I never checked the place of manufacture even. I only remember it looking quite classy, somewhat English or continental with images of ladies and gents dressed in clothes from the Dickens era like those on the lovely Quality Street toffee tin in the good old days but no, there were fruits by the side with lots of roses and leaves all over.

There was a plate…

Plate

…underneath and when I turned it over, I saw this sticker…

Sticker

Now, that’s interesting! It was made in Japan!

I turned the casserole over and I saw this…

Bottom

SANYO? Maybe it was a free gift with some SANYO product and they put it up for sale? And maybe that was why it was at a price quite affordable to the likes of me? I am pretty sure that otherwise, it would be mighty expensive.

At this point in time, I am not sure whether I will ever use it but I have  rearranged some of my collection in my cabinet to make way for it…

Casserole 3

…and there it will stay in its special place, in the meantime, cherished and treasured for the precious memory it holds of one so dearly loved.

Big nose…

This…

Dapi

…is my friend/ex-classmate’s coffee shop. I don’t know why he has named it da pi – I gathered that it means big nose. Perhaps he has one, a big nose but then again, many Asian Chinese have the same, and more often than not, it’s flat some more! Anyway, back to the coffee shop, I do recall my friend having one at Market Road but eventually, he moved here sometime ago. He kept asking me why I never dropped by – well, I just never did.

So what made me go there the other morning? Recently, my brother-in-law told me that the lady from one of his favourite kampua mee places in town has moved here. Oh? No wonder I’ve noticed quite a crowd there every morning when I drove past – obviously, the fans have shifted over here as well…but I do recall going to try at the old place and no, I was not all that impressed. Nonetheless, I decided to stop by to check it out one more time – after all, I probably caught them on a wrong day the last time and it is indeed very popular among the locals.

The coffee (RM1.70)…

Coffee

…that I had was really good – I would rank it among the best in town and the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Kampua

…was very nice too and I liked those bits of minced meat in it, something different from a lot of the rest.

I also ordered the beef tripe soup, small (RM3.00)…

Gu tor

…and I was glad that the serving was not as huge as what I had here. The beef tripe could have been a bit softer – the one here was just nice – but though the soup had a different taste altogether, it was very nice as well and thankfully, it did not have any offensive smell like the one here.

I was delighted to see that they did not use those plastic plates and bowls here and I would give them a bonus point for not using plastic spoons…

Spoon

…as well. Actually, I do like the floral designs very much, the ones on the plate and the spoon and should I see these in the shops, I sure wouldn’t mind grabbing some for my own collection.

While I was there, I saw these…

Stuffed tau kua tang hoon

…on the counter, the pre-soaked tang hoon (glass noodles) and the fried tau kua (bean curd cake) stuffed with minced meat. I would love that! Well, no prize for guessing what I will order the next time I drop by here.

DAPI SEAFOOD CANTEEN (2.286508, 111.831739) is located at No. 2A, Ground Floor, Lanang Road, directly opposite the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Not the usual type…

I saw this…

Chapati chicken wrap 1

…here at the recent Ramadan Bazaar at Bandong Walk and I grabbed one to take home for my girl to try. She liked it so much that she quickly went back to buy another one but before she could go again, Ramadan was over.

Well, I was at the stall one morning last week and I saw it being sold so of course, I quickly got one for my girl and and one for myself…

Chapati chicken wrap 2

…since I had never tried it before.

I can’t say I liked the flimsy plastic packaging used, not all that environment-friendly, I think but I guess it helped make it look a bit classier and more presentable. Ah well! After all, when you buy those cold sandwiches at convenience stores in the cities here or overseas, they are all in some similar triangular plastic packs that all get thrown away once the sandwich inside had been taken out and eaten.

Well, they did state quite clearly that this was a wrap, though not the usual type that most would be more familiar with. Instead of those wraps or tortillas, they used chapati instead and inside, they had one piece of fried chicken, a bit of lettuce and a thin slice of cheese and I think there were traces of mayo and chili sauce squirted over everything…

Chapati chicken wrap 3

…but it was not in the least spicy.

Prior to eating that, I heated it up in the oven so the chapati became a bit crispy especially around the edges but it was still soft like Indian roti, not the hard kind of crispy like those wraps or tortillas…

Chapati chicken wrap 4

Generally, I would say it was all right – maybe it would be nicer if they had added a bit of coleslaw as well but no, it did not get me jumping with delight and no, you wouldn’t catch me rushing back for more. At RM4.50 each, I am of the opinion that there are a lot of other nicer things that I can get with that kind of money…or less.

Come over here…

This place…

Lau Dato Si' Canteen/Catholic Centre Sibu *Archive photo*

…is located in the same compound as my girl’s present school, where the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral is.

I have been here twice, the first time for the kampua noodles and pian sip (meat dumplings) soup and the second time, I had the Foochow fried noodles but I got the dry version even though that was not actually what I had in mind.

It is very convenient for my girl to just walk over for a bite to eat especially during lunch hour if she has extra classes or activities in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, she used to do that when she was studying at that primary school and she did that again last week, once, and she had the wat tan hor, flat rice noodles in thick egg sauce (RM4.00) which she said was decent but nowhere near the one that she likes a lot here

Wat tan hor Colourful Cafe
*Archive photo*

…but that one sure does not come cheap, RM12.50, the last time we had it there.

On days when we are not that keen on cooking our own, we can always buy the chap fan (mixed rice) dishes from here – I did go and have a look and they all seemed very nice but I was not able to buy as I did not bring my own container. In an effort to save the environment, they will not provide plastic bags or containers here.

Well, it so happened that I dropped by here before 4.00 p.m. the other day. I saw that it was still open even though I heard that they would close at 2.00 p.m. every day and would not open on Sundays, this being a church-run eatery and all the people helping out are parishioners, all volunteers – Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day. I guess after two, one can drop by for drinks, nothing much else but that day, I saw a group of (old/elderly) ladies making paos (steamed buns) – tausar (black bean paste) and peanut filling.

Usually, one can get these and sio bee (meat dumplings) too at times at the coffee shops, those with the steamer by the side but I do not know where theirs came from, probably made in bulk somewhere and delivered everywhere for sale. I think I did try some here and there but no, I was not impressed.

I asked if they had any meat ones and the nice young girl said that they were not making any that day but they had some, frozen. I told her I did not mind – I could take them home and steam them the next morning for breakfast so I bought five of this…

Bak pao

…at only RM1.30 each. That was so very cheap – I am pretty sure bak pao anywhere else would definitely be more than RM2.00 each…and in line with their policy of being environment-friendly, they pack them in brown paper bags, strictly no plastic.

It tasted very nice even though there seemed to be more tang chai (preserved vegetables) in it…

Bak pao, inside

…and yes, there is a bit of egg too.

There is an old lady, now based at a stall at one of the pillars in the Sibu Central Market. Before the construction of the market in its present location, she was at the old market, right in front, across the road from Palace Theatre. Her chai pao (steamed vegetable bun) was the favourite of many and her meat ones were very good too. I did buy some from her sometime ago but the prices had gone up drastically and the quality seemed to be lacking so I never went back to buy from her anymore. This bak pao reminded me of hers but it was very much bigger – the old lady’s was RM1.20 in 2011, dunno now. I sure would be back for more of the ones here, that’s for sure.

LAUDATO SI’ CANTEEN is located in what was previously known as the Catholic Centre in the compound of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Jalan Lanang and St Rita’s Primary School, Jalan Bukit Assek.

Answered prayer…

This was sometime ago when we got wind of the news that my girl had been successful in her application for a transfer from her school in the jungle to one right here in town. Because of that, we decided to offer some flowers at the church that we frequent as a gesture of thanksgiving that our prayers at the weekly novena on Saturdays had been answered.

That was why I dropped by the florist I usually went to and I asked for five white lilies to signify the five decades of the Holy Rosary and ten red roses for the ten Hail Mary’s in each decade. What I did not know was that to her (the florist), five lilies meant five stalks and actually, on each stalk, there would be three or more lilies. In the end, I just let her do as she liked though I was not all that pleased with the end result…

Flowers 1

…and furthermore, the newly-arrived lilies had not bloomed yet. When I got home, I added some wild non-edible ferns from my garden and I felt that it looked a little better after that. That was on Ascension Thursday and by Saturday, a few days later, all the lilies had fully bloomed…

Flowers 2

…and yes, in my opinion, it did look much nicer after that.

Talking about those ferns, they sprout out of nowhere, here, there and everywhere, all along the fence at the back of my garden. This…

Fern 1

…is a different variety that I do not quite like so I would just pull them out and throw away whenever I do the weeding.

I prefer this one…

Fern 2

– the leaves have a nicer pattern so they look more attractive…or to me, at least. When I spot any, I would pull them out by the roots and transplant them in my pot of ferns…

Pot of ferns

…and they do seem to grow pretty well there.

There was another variety, the creeping kind that actually looked very nice, dangling from the pot but I hated how the tendrils would reach out to the neighbouring plants and start strangling them. In the end, I had no choice – I pulled them all out and threw them away.

You don’t bring me flowers…

I was delighted when I saw my mint flowering…

Mint flowers

…the other day. Generally, I do not have flowers in my garden – I would only plant things that I can use in my cooking or are edible so whatever flowers there may be are purely incidental or coincidental.

However, I have decided that I could do with a bit of colours in my life, not all green and I started working on this…

Floral circle

…what I call my floral circle.

These…

Golden showers 1

have yet to flower…

Golden showers 2

…but I think I will have to keep an eye on it. There were some lilies originally and my missus went and planted these at that same spot. They grew fast and furious and the lilies did not stand a chance against them. I have since planted the bulbs elsewhere in my garden and they do not seem to be doing too well – it has been a long time but they have yet to flower.

I have planted a couple of periwinkle seedlings here too and they are starting to flower…

Periwinkle

I don’t know where it came from originally – they just appeared out of the blue.

My missus planted these balsam plants as well a long time ago and the ones I have in the circle look very “fertile”…

Balsam

…but they have yet to flower. They are called cheng kak hua in Hokkien or fingernail flowers and are believed to be a natural remedy for fungal growth in toe nails. I had that problem once and a distant relative by marriage, a doctor in Australia prescribed some medicine for it – he said it was not a big problem just that the toe nails were a ghastly sight. Well, I went and googled and saw a list of the side effects of the medicine so of course, I did not bother to go and buy and take it. Thankfully, for reasons unknown, the problem just disappeared by itself eventually and because of that, I have never tried these flowers so I do not really know whether it works or not.

These were weeds that grew out of the cracks in my driveway and I took some to transplant in a more orderly manner and they have been growing well all this while. The purple flowers…

Purple

…are very nice but sadly, they will bloom in the morning and wither away when it gets a bit too hot. The good thing is they flower in abundance and there will be quite a lot at any one time every day.

I got the cuttings for this giant hibiscus…

Hibiscus

…from my girl’s school in the jungle. The mother plant that I planted in a big pot is doing well and I planted some cuttings from there here and they have started to flower. What caught my attention way back then was their size – bigger than a saucer, around the size of the plate by the side for your dinner roll in a western table setting or a bit bigger!

I do hope I will be able to add more flowering plants to the aforementioned circle so if anybody has some seedlings to give away, I shall be glad to accept and take them off your hands…

Times have changed…

When I was still working, school started at 7.00 a.m. and by 6.00 a.m. or earlier, I would be on my way even though it would only take around 5-10 minutes for me to reach my destination. More often than not, the place would still be pitch dark and at times, it would still be all locked up when the caretaker/groundsman was running a little late.

Driving at that time of day was sheer delight as there would only be a sprinkling of other cars on the road, if any. These days, there are so many cars…and though I am thankful that there are no traffic jams (yet), what I simply cannot understand is why they have to drive so fast. There IS a speed limit here, 60 kmph in the town area…and they will weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes as and when it pleases them. People have the impression that cars here are not equipped with indicators as they will NEVER signal to let you know their intention when they turn left or right.

Frankly, I fail to understand what their hurry is – school does not start till after 7.00 a.m. and Sibu is such a small town that even before one song finishes on the radio, you would have reached your destination already! Maybe they are in a foul mood having to wake up so early to send their kids to school or maybe they are in rush to drop off their offspring and head back home to bed and sleep some more before it is time to go to work…or maybe there are a lot more cars these days and they have the tendency to drive in that unruly manner, I wouldn’t know.

Another impression that I get is that these days, people are real lazy. At that time of the morning, except for a few odd ones out, most of the coffee shops are not open yet.

I dropped by a hawker centre one morning and most were not open so I went to the market instead to see if I could buy some fish and prawns. On the way back, I saw one already open so I asked if I could order something for breakfast. They replied in a not-too-friendly manner (some people are simply not in a very good mood when they wake up in the morning) that they had just arrived and were not ready to start their business for the day yet – and that was past 6.30 a.m. going to be 7.00 a.m. soon.

In my younger days, coffee shops opened way before the crack of dawn and unlike many today, they did not close at or before noon either and if you wanted a plate of kampua mee at a very odd hour like 3 or 4.00 pm. they would only be too happy to restart their fire to cook the noodles for you and a plate was only 30 cents (without meat) or 50 cents (with meat) then. They must have worked so very hard and scrimped and saved to be able to afford their children’s fees and living expenses overseas unlike what some people think – that all of them were so very rich!

Well, I spotted one coffee shop that was open…

Happy Sweet Garden Food Centre

…the other morning so I decided to stop by for a plate of kampua noodles for breakfast. Now, this is another thing about drivers these days – there were ample parking spaces all around, no parking fee at that time of day but no, as you can see in the above photograph, they just had to park right beside the shop to go in and eat. I am quite sure they would drive right into the coffee shop if they could! Tsk! Tsk! I really wonder about the mentality of people nowadays and what has gone wrong along the way.

Now, if I am not wrong, that guy at the stall…

Kampua mee stall

…is Ah Kow’s son. We grew up eating his father’s kampua noodles every Sunday after church, our weekly special treat, but only if my brother and I behaved well throughout the service or we would head straight home and have rotan (cane) for breakfast instead.

When I got to the coffee shop, I was amazed by the number of people there – it was almost full! It appeared to me that they were all parents bringing their children for breakfast before heading off to school. Is that why they drive so fast? They have to stop somewhere for a bite to eat first?

Golly gee! Don’t people cook and eat their own breakfast at home anymore? All throughout my schooling years, my mum would get up early to prepare breakfast and by the time we were up and ready for school, all would be ready and we could eat before getting on our bicycles and making our way to school by ourselves. For one thing, I cannot imagine those kids eating all the msg in the noodles every day and drinking those unhealthy drinks as well – no wonder we see news reports of young boys and girls getting ill, coming down with diabetes, cancer…heart problems and stroke even! It probably has something to do with the way of life these days.

Anyway, back to the kampua mee (RM2.70)…

Kampua mee 1

…that I had, it was pretty good, cheaper than many around here by 10 sen or 30 sen or more and I liked how they did not dye the meat red…

Kampua mee 2

…plus they did not use a plastic plate even though they did use a plastic bowl for the soup.

Well, since most other places are still closed, I guess if one wants kampua mee so early in the morning, this is one place they can head to.

HAPPY SWEET GARDEN FOOD CENTRE (2.301085, 111.835842) is located at No. 16, Jalan Merdeka Barat, back to back with the Sibu Polyclinic, Jalan Oya.