How have you been…

I guess these days, at a time like this, this will be the first question people will ask when they meet somebody that they have not seen for a very long time.

Well, that was what those nice & friendly people asked me when I dropped by my regular Malay kuih and food stall…

…at the Bandong shops here that day.

Maybe it was already mid-morning so there were not many choices available or perhaps, they haven’t gone back full swing yet. The lady boss said that things were getting better now – it was very bad before this. Thankfully, they managed to sail through.

I saw these packs of curry puffs (RM3.00 for a pack of 2)…

…so I grabbed a few to take home and try.

I really admire people who can make such fine, uniform layers…

…in their puff pastry. I, for one, will never be able to do that! The pastry tasted very nice but maybe because it was cold already, it was not flaky nor crusty – I would love it that way.

The filling…

…tasted great, slightly spicy but if the D written on the pack was supposed to stand for “daging” (meat), I’m afraid one would be hard-pressed trying to find any inside.

I went over to have a look at the ice cream in their freezer and I bought two of these (RM4.50 each)…

…for the ladies in the house to try. I believe this is new as I don’t think I have seen it before. Of course I did not buy any for myself since I am on a low-sugar diet. Sobssss!!! Well, they did give it a try eventually and yes, they loved it!

I also bought the classic…

…because my girl likes it very much. They also had the almond but I did not buy any nor all the different types of ice cream that they had in the freezer from that same company.

I really enjoyed dropping by here before to have a bite to eat or to buy some of the things they had for sale. I hope that things will pick up slowly and go back to normal – I certainly will want to go back there again!

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.

Brownies…

No, I did not go out to buy these brownies…

…that’s for sure, not when I am presently on a low-sugar diet!

So how did we end up having these beauties to enjoy? Well, my girl’s friend got these for her birthday from a friend who stays next door to my friend/ex-student whose wife runs this homebased business…

…making brownies and everything else and he got them from them for her. You can hop over to their Facebook page to have a look. My girl’s friend gave my girl some to try so that was how we managed to get some in the end. Gosh!!! That’s so complicated! LOL!!!

I tried the one with the Kit Kat on top…

…and yes, I would say it was very nice. It was sweet but not too sweet.

A long long time ago, I used to buy the brownies from what was called the Applebee Bakery then, now Uniqbun, the bakery section of our Sarawak own franchise, the Sugar Bun. Theirs were very nice but very very sweet, with cherry slices and strawberry jam squiggles on top – it was all right then as I was not on a low-sugar diet. I enjoyed them so much at the time that I just could not resist buying one once in a while to nibble nibble.

We also got the ones with the almond flakes…

…but I guess the only difference would be what’s on top.

Of course we shall not be ordering these…

…from them unless we want to give them to somebody but if any of you is thus inclined, you can call them or check out their Facebook page and PM them from there.

When two worlds collide…

First and foremost, my heartiest congratulations to my friend, Dennis, and Outright Coffee

…on winning the 9th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Environmental Award, 2019/2020. If you drop by the place, you can see the trophy and certificate on display – I was there the other day but somehow, the idea of taking a snapshot of them did not cross my mind at that point in time. There is no formal grand presentation ceremony this time around because of the pandemic.

I went there that day because I wanted to buy a slice of this cake…

…to see what it was all about. I saw people talking about this onde onde cake, two worlds in one – a fusion of East and West and it sounded like something I would enjoy.

For the uninitiated, onde onde is also called kuih Melaka…

– those springy sticky (glutinous) rice flour balls (something like mochi or 汤圆/tang yuan) with gula Melaka inside that will squirt out when you bite into one, the more the better, coated with desiccated coconut.

I could not figure out what the cake would be like. Would it be made up of those onde onde arranged in the shape of a cake, held together by some santan cream, with gula Melaka inside the balls and all over the cream and desiccated coconut on top? That was why when I heard that they had the cake here, I quickly went to buy a slice…

…to try. At over RM12.00 a slice, it sure did not come cheap, I must say.

It turned out to be layers of pandan (screwpine leaves) cake with cream in between – i was quite positive I could detect a hint of santan (coconut milk) in the cream and a little bit of gula Melaka, so little that I could hardly taste it. Perhaps adding too much of it may spoil the cake, I wouldn’t know.

On top, they had this desiccated coconut…

…and that was about all there was to that onde onde cake.

Yes, I would say it was nice, just that there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, more or less just a well-made pandan cake with a little bit of this and that and yes, at least I’ve tried. This Youtube video tells it as it is and calls it a “Coconut Pandan Cake With Gula Melaka/Ondeh Ondeh Cake 班兰椰糖蛋糕“.

I did enjoy it on the whole even though the texture of the cake was like cakes these days – a bit too dense for me. Personally, I prefer those old school cakes way back in the time when electrical appliances were unheard of and the cakes were not so fine.

Anyway, now that I have tried this onde onde cake, the next one that I would wanna check out would be the nasi lemak cake. Know of any good one in town, anybody?

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lau King Howe Memorial Museum.

Lucky sometimes…

I guess I was lucky when I dropped by this bakery that morning and managed to grab hold of two butterfly fritters/ma ngee (horse’s ears) selling at a discounted price as they were left over from the previous day. I went there again the other morning but no, I was not so lucky this time around. I asked the girl there and she said I could drop by around 1 something in the afternoon – the freshly-made ones would be available then.

I rummaged through all the items on sale in the tray and managed to find these…

They are something like pita bread or the Indian naan and they cut them in halves and cut a slit into which they will stuff a slice of ham, cheese and lettuce. My girl enjoys these half pockets (sandwiches)…

…so whenever I see any available, I will surely buy for her, a nice change from the usual sandwiches.

These kosong (empty) ones are RM2.20 each but that morning, they were going for RM1.00 only. So cheap! I would love to buy more but unfortunately, there were only two of them.

I did not have any ham in the house but I took a slice…

…and toasted it in a non-stick pan to make my own version of the sandwich using the bak kua (barbecued meat slices) that I bought that day. I think it would be very nice to eat it with curry as well. My missus had the other slice with canned chili tuna and yes, she enjoyed it. I certainly would love to buy some more should I happen to see them again.

On another day, I went to one of my neighbourhood shops and I bought these burger buns…

from this bakery and on another morning, I had one with yes, a slice of the bak kua! My girl took one of the pork patties, still in the freezer after all this time and made herself a burger with fried mushrooms added and she enjoyed that very much.

I love these buns a lot more than their regular sandwich bread because when I toast it in the oven, the outer part becomes slightly crusty while the inside is so very soft, so soft that it is quite impossible to cut into halves so to make a burger, I would have to cut it first before toasting.

I also love the mini buns from this same bakery, their kaya and butter buns, a whole lot nicer than this one and all the rest, also sold at that same shop. The butter ones can give those delightful ones from Sarikei a good fight. I did not plan on blogging about them so I did not take any photographs that day – I shall do that the next time I get hold of some more from the shop…or from the bakery itself.

I bought their pizza stick too – I think it was RM2.80 each but it wasn’t anything to shout about, nothing more than a plain bread stick with a little bit of some kind of pizza sauce or whatever on top. This chocolate cheese bun (RM3.50)…

…on the other hand, was VERY nice, particularly so after being toasted lightly in the oven. Unfortunately, it was very sweet so I just had a bit since I am on a low-sugar diet and let the ladies in the house enjoy it all.

More recently, in the morning, I stopped by the fruit & vegetable sundry shop in the next lane from my house and got these ang ku kuih (RM1.00 each)…

…with mung bean filling…

…except that they were yellow in colour, not red. Yes, they were nice and I particularly liked how they were not sweet. I sure would not mind buying some more should I happen to see them at that shop again.

I bought a few of these tapioca fritters (RM1.00 each)…

…to try as well but no, they did not sweep me off my feet.

I liked the tapioca inside…

…but its very light taste was overshadowed by the taste and smell of the deep fried batter that the cucur (fritter) was coated with. I think I would enjoy plain boiled tapioca…

…a lot more.

I guess this is the case when you go around buying this and that to eat and try – if you are lucky, you will get something very nice that you will want to go back for more but on the other hand, you may not be as lucky and end up with something you wouldn’t mind if you would never get to see it again.

All about that bass…

We enjoyed eating it…

…so much at Mary‘s awesome Thai restaurant, since closed down, but we called it barramundi and I did not know that it was actually ikan siakap in Malay and, thanks to Google, I also found out that it was called Asian sea bass as well.

The other day, there was this uproar regarding a customer paying over RM1,000 for the one he had at a restaurant in Langkawi. I looked at the photograph in the news report that I had linked here and it did not even look nice, nowhere near what we had before and no, we did not have to pay THAT much for ours, nowhere near!

Anyway, last Thursday, the weather was good so I went over to my favourite fish and seafood stall near my house – I do not like to go out on wet mornings and the next day being Friday, I had to go and see if there were any nice fish that I could buy for our no-meat lunch and dinner. We had finished all the salmon and cod fish that I bought the other day though we still had quite a lot of the prawns.

The very nice and generous lady boss was not around leaving the stall in the hands of her very young and friendly, very capable, efficient and trustworthy, multi-lingual ethnic helper.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much fish that morning – perhaps it was due to the North-East Monsoon around this time of the year. We do face a shortage of fish because the ships will not be able to go out to sea in the bad weather to catch. There were no or chio/ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret), no ikan tenggiri (mackerel), just some unfamiliar ones and the boy painstakingly told me about all of them – which were good, which would be better, how to cook them and what not.

Finally, he asked me to buy the ikan siakap – now, that name sure rang the bell but I did not know it was the barramundi that we used to enjoy so much as I never did see it uncooked at the time. The boy told me that it would be as nice or perhaps even nicer than the ikan sultan minus all those bones and in the end, I asked him for two, RM22.00 altogether, roughly RM11.00 ONLY each, since he said it would be good and after all that hoo-ha about the ikan siakap in Langkawi, I was curious as to what the fish was like.

Of course he cleaned the fish for me and since I was not sure at that point in time, how we would cook them, he cut one for steaming…

It could be open and laid out flat in the plate so the ingredients on top of the fish would be in contact with the part which would otherwise be underneath.

My missus said that her late mum used to tell them that this fish would only be good for sweet and sour. I wouldn’t know as I do not recall ever eating it before but I told her that since the boy had cut it this way, we might as well steam it…

…and give it a try. It turned out to be really good – very fresh and sweet, not quite as smooth as some other kinds of fish but it was good enough and there was no fishy or any unpleasant smell!

If we eat one whole steamed fish and one this size at a simple chu-char (cook & fry) place outside, it will definitely set me back by at least RM30.00, much more at the bigger restaurants, I’m sure. This was only RM11.00 each, so very cheap!!! We managed to finish it for lunch that day and we enjoyed it to the max and I sure would not mind having it cooked this way again.

The boy cut the other one for deep frying so my missus cooked sweet and sour with it…

…for our dinner that evening. Yes, it was good too, done this way.

I did go and buy RM1.00 bean sprouts from the fruit and vegetable sundry shop in the next lane from my house and my missus fried them with the aforementioned prawns…

…and that was good too. There was enough for both meals.

Yes, now that I know what fish that ikan siakap actually is and it is nice, never mind how we cook it, I sure will want to buy it again…when I see it at the stall.

The fish & seafood stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, if you go in via the entrance where San Len Tyres is located, just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall.

6 months…

It had been 6 months already, time to send my car…

…for its regular servicing that would include changing its engine oil and its oil filter.

In the case of my Ol’ Faithful, the Wira…

…I used to send it for servicing every 5,000 km and later, after the workshop guy switched to a better brand of engine oil, it could wait a while longer, till 8,000 km.

Of course, when my girl was teaching at that school in the jungle, some 300 km. or so away, I had to go quite frequently, around 0nce a month as I had to make at least two trips every week, sometimes more, 600 km return, 1,200 km per week.

These days, we hardly go anywhere so I would never be able to cover the distance, both cars. That is why I will just keep track of the time and send them for servicing once every 6 months. I certainly can save a whole lot of money on petrol and also on these regular visits to the workshop in the “good ol’ days”.

Well, that day, it was time for one of them, the former, so I called the service centre a day earlier to make an appointment for 8.00 a.m. in the morning. Everything was confirmed, all settled and within minutes, I received an sms from them through their service provider with the booking number and all the relevant details. Talk about being very efficient, eh?

The next morning, I got there at around 7.50 a.m. and I dropped off the car at the workshop section and proceeded to the office. The staff members manning the service counter were somewhat amused as I was there before them. I said at a time like this, it would be good to go extra early as it would be safer with no other living soul around, get it done quickly and head straight home and of course, they all agreed with me. They are all very nice and polite there – they all call me “Uncle” unlike other places where they may call me “towkay” or whatever instead.

The girl said it would take around 1 hour but everything was done in less than half an hour. After paying for everything, I left and went to this very popular coffee shop across the road. I was there around a year ago when I sent my car for servicing and like that previous time, this time around, I had the kolo mee special (RM7.00)…

…again from this stall…

…in the coffee shop.

The deep fried wantons (meat dumplings)…

…were great and so were the fish balls, one of them fried…

Yes, the char siew (barbecued meat) and minced pork were fine too and there were a few bits of pork fat crusts buried under the noodles.

I was not entirely fond of the tofu puffs and I thought the prawns…

…were somewhat bland, not nice and sweet like the ones I buy from my favourite fish & seafood stall near my house.

The complimentary soup that came with the noodles was so diluted that it was almost tasteless. I tried to salvage it by dunking all the green vegetables in it but it did not help one bit. In the end, I just left it untouched…almost!

Should I drop by again the next time around, which probably would be another six months from now, I don’t think I shall ask for the special and will just go for the regular instead. I suppose they will just give the char siew and the minced pork and pork fat crusts, that’s all…plus the green vegetables…or perhaps, I shall try something from the other stalls there.

CHANG LOK CHIU CAFE (2.277376, 111.850765) is located along Jalan Bukit Lima, just before the Bukit Lima roundabout, right across the road from the Proton Service Centre (NGU’S MOTOR SERVICE SDN BHD – PROTON 4S DEALER).

How much more…

The other day, when I shared on Facebook the photos that I took here

…somebody commented that it was a tempat kayangan or something like that, implying that the things were more expensive than elsewhere but she made no mention as to how much more nor where I would be able to get such nice ones and how much they would be going for so don’t ask me – honestly, I do not know!!!

Well, I do know of one place where the tee peang (Fuzhou oyster cake) was cheaper, dunno now and that was the stall at the Sibu Central Market but of course, these days, wild horses will not drag me to that hot spot – that high risk place. I did go and buy to try a long time ago before the pandemic but no, others might praise it to the skies but I was not that impressed so I never went back to buy again.

I quite liked the ones at the fruits & vegetables sundry shop near my house but if I remember correctly, the prices were more or less the same. According to the lady boss, the old lady concerned had not been well lately so she would not be making those (nor the pretty good mang ngee in the afternoon) anymore. Other than those, there were others here and there – I don’t remember the prices but anyway, they did not tickle my fancy, including the ones from here…or here.

Well, I stopped by the shop again the other day to see what else they had. I did not want the meat ones as I had just bought them not too long ago. Unfortunately, the kosong ones, those without any meat filling, were all sold out.

I did not feel like having the deep fried stuffed kompia (RM1.00) each…

…either but I did ask for three of the Chinese French toast with meat filling (RM1.00 each)…

My girl enjoyed these but she prefers the ones at one bakery here in the town centre.

I also bought the sweet potato fritters (50 sen each, 6 for RM3.00)…

…and yes, they were pretty good.

I asked for the chai peah to try as well, also 50 sen each, 6 for RM3.00, a bit more expensive than the ones here…and not as nice! The taste was all right but the ones here were not as thin and crispy, a bit chewy/rubbery and a tad more oily so I did not really enjoy them.

I did not want the cucur pisang (banana fritters) but I did ask for two of their ngor hiang (meat rolls, RM3.00 each)…

…to see if theirs were any good.

So far, our favourite would be the ball-shaped ones here and we liked the one we had here too. I do not remember any others that we had had before so if we had any, I guess they were all quite forgettable. My missus used to make really good ones but for reasons unknown, she has stopped making for quite sometime now. Yes, I would say they were nice enough but I wouldn’t say they got us jumping with delight especially when my missus can make very much nicer ones. They tasted great but the filling was a little mushy – one does not get that all-meat feeling, unfortunately.

So other than the cucur pisang, I have tried everything that they sell at the stall. Never mind that the things may cost a little bit more, not much, but other than the tee peang, personally, I don’t think I would be making my way back there for any of the rest.

HOCK LOK HONG CAFE SHOP 福樂園茶室 (2.284690, 111.832669) is located at No. 1, Lorong Lanang 2 at the traffic lights where you turn in from Lanang Road heading toward the Sibu Rejang Esplanade and the Li Hua & Kingwood Hotels.

Pass you by…

I have walked past this coffee shop…

…so many times before and I did notice that everytime, there were very few or no customers at all. Normally, people would assume that there would be nothing nice there and opt to go elsewhere but at a time like this when there is a need for physical distancing, I certainly would prefer to go to such places and avoid all those crowded ones and that was exactly what I did that morning.

I sat at a table outside at the pavement and there was another guy at another table there a short distance away and there was nobody inside the shop. However, as I was sitting there, a couple of customers showed up and they sat inside, each at his own table…

There was a young girl manning the kampua mee stall and if I am not mistaken, they do cook some stuff in their chu-char (cook and fry) kitchen at the back.

I placed my order of their gu tor mee (beef tripe noodles) at RM6.00 a set and sat at my table waiting to be served.

I requested for the kampua mee to be white…

…as I am not fond of it black, tossed in dark soy sauce as that would overpower the fragrance of the shallot oil (lard) and everything else.

Much to my delight, it was nice and had that original authentic kampua mee taste and when I added a bit of the chili dip…

…that they gave for the gu tor

…that certainly brought the taste to a whole new level.

The gu tor was very nice, soft and it did not have any offensive smell, not even a bit unlike what I had here once but I did not really enjoy the soup…

…because of the excessive amount of the traditional Foochow red wine added. I know many who would love it like that but not me as I would like enjoy the sweetness and taste of the clear bone stock soup. I don’t mind a hint of it but not too much so should I stop by here again, I certainly would tell them to skip the wine or just add a bit of it.

Everything else aside, I must say that I would give them my double thumbs up for not using those plastic plates and bowls in all kinds of gaudy colours that you see at a lot of places around here!

QI YUN CORNER (2.284420, 111.832886) is located along Lanang Road to the right of Wisma Chua Chong Seng with Boulevard Motors (TOYOTA) on the left hand side of that building and Prudential Insurance in between.

Ouch…

I was at my neighbourhood fruit & vegetable sundry shop the other day looking for some fruits that I could buy.

The local ones did not tickle my fancy and there wasn’t much left of the imported ones, just some red grapes plus a few kiwi fruits and avocadoes – I still have the latter two in my fridge. The lady boss said I would have to wait till the next shipment – I sure hope we are spared of the problem with the shipping and transportation that is causing a shortage worldwide, leaving the shelves at the supermarkets empty!

Anyway, while I was in the shop, my attention was attracted to this packet of bak kua (barbecued meat slices)…

…by its bright red colour.

Unfortunately, except for a sprinkling of a few Mandarin characters, there wasn’t much else on the packet so I had to ask the lady boss for more information about it. Of course, she said it was very nice and was selling well…and she did tell me that it was homemade by someone in Kuching.

In the end, I decided to just buy a packet to try and upon reaching home, I took it all out and was going to cut the slices into little squares to store in a Nescafe bottle to enjoy slowly. However, I found that they were all individually vacuum-packed…

…so I decided to just open one…

…first to try.

It was very nice, not too sweet like some and not too hard either. Lately, I have been having problems with my teeth and gums especially when eating something hard like meat that is a bit tough but no, I was fine with this bak kua. Another thing that I liked was how it was easy to open to take it out – I had some difficulty with some brands that required a bit of heating up in a microwave or whatever. Those were such a nuisance and anyway, I do not have one!

I did not feel a thing when I paid for it, RM45.00 for a packet but when I took everything out and counted…OUCH!!! There were only 9 slices inside, RM5 EACH!!! I thought that was VERY expensive!!! I never counted the number of slices in a packet of those celebrated ones from KL or Singapore so I cannot make a comparison but this much I can say – those do not come cheap either. No wonder I see everybody making their own these days, especially come Chinese New Year!

It was quite a big slice though, too big for one sandwich but cutting it into smaller pieces, it would be just nice for 6 mini-sandwiches. I tried it with cheese and also with egg but no, I did not think I enjoyed those. I loved it plain in buttered toast, that’s all.

However, even though I did like it, I don’t think I shall be buying it again or at least, not this soon. In the meantime, I hope to drop by this pork shop to buy this…

Photo from their Facebook page

…and try.

This is one of their outlets here, the one not far from my house, that pork shop franchise that has branches all over the state. They claim that they export their meat to Singapore and of course, that speaks volumes of the quality of what they sell – that little red dot is very strict about what they import, food, in particular. Let me finish this one that I’ve bought first!

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

I’ll make it on my own…

The other day, I mentioned how the pork sellers here were facing some kind of problem because the machine that they used for slaughtering broke down and everything had to be done manually. At that point in time, the news was going round via the Chinese newspapers that there might be a shortage of the meat so I went out right away to stock up on whatever I could lay my hands on and store it in my freezer.

I bought two bags of pork leg/trotters, half in each so the two together would be one complete leg and my missus cooked all of it already the other day. I also asked the lady at the shop to pick two slabs of pork belly that had less fat and a lot more lean and upon coming home, I packed them in two separate bags – they are still in the freezer.

We have cooked most of the chunks of lean meat available that morning. I do not know which part those cuts came from but they were very nice – not hard, not siap-siap unlike some lean meat that I had had the displeasure of eating.

When I checked the other morning, I found that there were two left so I marinated them in the char siew sauce…

…that I got from the roast meat stall when I bought the barbecued pork from there last month.

My colleague in one of my former schools used to make really nice char siew paos (steamed buns with barbecued meat filling) and she told me that she would just go to those stalls to buy the char siew sauce/oil to cook the filling.

I did not see them putting it in the plastic bag that day or I would have told them not to bother. Sometimes, I would use it for my fried rice but nobody in the house seemed to be crazy about it so most of the time, I would just throw it away. This time around, I thought I would try and make some char siew on my own with the lean meat that I had left.

My missus did make it once using that Uncle James’ char siew sauce…

…and it turned out to be very nice so she bought a few more packets to keep in the pantry and use when she feels the mood to cook that again. By the way, the herbs and spices for bak kut teh is also good, in case anybody is interested.

After a few hours, I placed the meat in the oven to cook for over an hour…

…just in time for our lunch that day. I had to turn the meat once or twice and brush it with the juices that came out of it.

It turned out great…

– very nice and tender. I sure enjoyed it but I think I would want it a bit more charred and siew-ed (burnt) so the next time around, I shall have to cook it a lot longer than just around one hour.

I guess the next time I buy anything from that roast meat stall, I shall happily accept the complimentary sauce that they give so I shall be able to cook more char siew on my own again.