Ribs…

My missus came home all excited that day with this…

Smoky racks

…in hand.

It seems that our regular fruit & food shop round the corner is bringing this in from this place in Kuching…

From Howdy Grillhouse

…for sale. There were two, opening around the same time some years ago but I never went to any of them, not this one nor the other but I did go to this one instead.

A cousin of mine did tapao the ribs from here for me once but I ate it in the middle of the night that night in the hotel, cold already – the chiller/mini-fridge in the room was not working, so it did not leave a lasting impression and that was way back in 2013!

This is precooked so it is very easy and very convenient to just heat it up…

Easy to prepare

…and eat.

Of course, we wasted no time in doing that and having it for lunch the very next day…

Ready to eat

I would say it was very nice, real juicy and fall off the bone tender…

Juicy & tender

…but at RM49.00, I would not say it was all that cheap.

I did go and check out their menu on their website and I found out that they are selling a kg for RM89.00. This pack is only 500 gm, RM44.50 if we divide it by two which means that the shop is selling it at a reasonable price and making only  a few ringgit profit.

Of course we would not be having it all that often – perhaps I would grab a few packs and keep in the freezer for some special occasions or maybe, one of these days, I shall drop by our favourite char siew shop here to find out how much they are selling their very nice roasted pork ribs per kg and make a comparison before I decide.

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 and HOWDY GRILLHOUSE (1.522251, 110.356387) is located at Brighton Square, Sublot 8, Block 16 Ground, Jalan Song in Kuching.

Mooo…

I heard of this place on my last trip to Kuching – they said the beef noodles were nice but I did not have the chance to go and try as it was a little out of the way from where I was staying and even more so where I was staying on my recent trip to the city. Why! I read somewhere that it even has a branch in Uptown PJ, Selangor.

Much to my delight, I spotted this stall…

MOOnCUP BY NUROMEN, Plaza Merdeka, Kuching

…on the lower ground floor of the mall adjoining the hotel so of course, I just had to stop by to give it a try.

For the uninitiated, nuro (牛肉/niúròu) means beef and men (面/miàn) means noodles so nuromen (牛肉面/niúròu miàn) actually means beef noodles.

I asked for the beef noodles special (RM10.50)…

MOOnCUP by Nuromen, Kuching beef noodles special

…and got the very nice kolo mee-like noodles, kosong (empty/without meat)…

Mee kosong

…and this lovely beef soup…

Beef soup

…which had quite  a lot of beef, beef tripe and tendons in it…

Beef, tripe and tendons

The chili dip was great and on the whole, I sure did like it a lot more than the Ah Mui beef noodles that I had at one of their current outlets – we so loved the old man’s beef noodles at the Open Air Market in Kuching a long long time ago, way back in the 70’s!

As I was leaving, I noticed this sign…

Sign

My missus did buy some hay peah (prawn fritters) from a stall in the food court on the 3rd floor and took some back to the room and yes, we thought it was really good, as nice as Peterson’s which some say is not so nice these days, not like before.

Of course I bought some…

Hay peah

…for my girl and the mum to try and yes, the hay peah was just as good and cheaper too plus there was a lot of crushed peanut in the chili dip – there wasn’t any in the one they bought earlier.

I sure would not mind stopping by for the beef noodles and/or hay peah should I happen to be passing by this way again.

MOOnCUP BY NUROMEN is located on the Lower Ground Floor of the Plaza (1.558279, 110.344049) at No. 88, Jalan Pearl in Kuching.

Love it here…

After the somewhat disappointing brunch the day before, I told my girl that I would take her to some place really nice when she woke up the next morning. Since we were on some kind of holiday, we would want to go for the best around, not some mediocre stuff that would come nowhere near the things we would be able to get back home.

I was here before but only for the cakes and even though the tea ceremony would be held there the very next day, I did not expect anything too elaborate served for the buffet brunch or lunch.

I dropped by a day earlier to find out what they would have on their breakfast menu but they said they did not have one. Nonetheless, all that they had on their regular menu would be available from 10.00 a.m. onwards – that’s when they open for business.

So there we were that morning, past 10.00, almost eleven and yes, my girl was so fascinated with the place and had her photographs taken here, there and everywhere and once she was done, we settled down at a table…

Commons, Kuching

…and placed our orders.

She had their pineapple ginger iced tea (RM10.00)…

Commons, Kuching pineapple ginger iced tea

…and not only did it look great, it tasted really great too and she loved it! I was quite happy with my iced Americano (RM10.00) that you can see in the background in the photograph.

The mum had their apple ginger mojito (RM12.00)…

Commons, Kuching apple ginger mojito

…and never the adventurous type, she went for what she would usually go for at such places if they have that on their menu, the mee mamak (RM22.00)…

Commons, Kuching mee mamak

…and she was surprised that the yellow noodles were quite different from our bigger alkaline-free ones in Sibu. Well, there was no complaint from her after that so I guess it was all right.

My girl enjoyed her patty melt (RM30.00)…

Commons, Kuching patty melt

…very much while I went for the fish & chips, sea bass (RM38.00)…

Commons, Kuching fish and chips

…the instant I saw in the menu that it wasn’t dory and yes, it was really good.

We were already very full by the time we finished so we only ordered a slice of their carrot cake (RM14.00)…

Commons, Kuching carrot cake

…to share and yes, that was good too!

At the tea ceremony the next day, the buffet spread included one Indonesian-style chicken with its very nice sambal to go with it, chicken bolognese spaghetti, sweet & sour fish fillet and pineapple fried rice and for dessert, we had carrot cake, a somewhat simpler one than the one we had the day before with a finer texture, no cream but it was nice too, plus a free flow of iced drinks and tea and coffee.

I could not resist ordering their basque burnt cheesecake (RM14.00) which was sold out and not available the day before and their lemon meringue pie (RM14.00)…

Commons, Kuching burnt cheesecake and lemon meringue pie

The latter was very nice but the former was like the usual no-bake cheesecake minus the crust at the bottom plus the burnt layer on top, not something that I would enjoy. My girl said that she had that at a coffee place in Sibu and that was what it should be like – nothing like the one I had where the cake was something like the Japanese baked cotton cheese cake but that would be something right down my alley.

Well, we sure enjoyed our brunch that morning and that afternoon, we had high tea at my auntie‘s house, a family reunion of sorts and of course, there were lots to eat but unfortunately, I forgot to take any photographs there so there will not be any post on it.

COMMONS (1.559665, 110.344973) is located at the Old Court House, Jalan Tun Abg Haji Openg, facing the Kuching waterfront.

Little things…

On our 2nd night in Kuching, my cousin, the sister of the one whose daughter was getting married – I met the groom-to-be for the first time that night,  invited us to dinner here…

Little Chef Garden, Kuching

Her son and daughter in Perth, Australia and their families were all coming back for the wedding so she was throwing this huge welc0me home party for them and asked us to join in too.

I loved the fish…

Fish

…and the prawns…

Prawns

…and needless to say, the braised pork trotter…

Pork leg

…too, served with steamed mantao.

The tofu was great…

Tofu

…as well and the midin kerabu

Midin

…was a hit!

There was also this soup…

Soup

…but no worries! It looked like it, it tasted like it but it wasn’t it! There wasn’t any of that not-be-mentioned thing in it. I still see people having that in their dinner menu though and honestly, I do think it is so foolish to do that as because of that one dish with hardly any of the tasteless stuff, just a few miserable strips swimming in the soup, the bill for the whole dinner would be so very expensive!

The cousins’ children loved the Emperor mee

Emperor mee

…so they also had that but personally, it did not really overwhelm me.

The flight that the son and his family and in-laws were taking from KL that night was delayed so there were a few vacant seats at the tables and a lot of food leftover and they had to get it all packed for them to take home.

The grand-daughter, the daughter’s girl, was celebrating  her 4th birthday and they got this very nice cake…

Birthday cake

…and presents for her and all the party noisemakers and the commotion that ensued left her stunned and speechless – I guess living on their own Down Under, she was more accustomed to all the peace and quiet all around, devoid of all of us noisy and boisterous people all around. LOL!!!

The mango cheese cake was so very very nice, something like the Japanese baked cotton cheese cake and with the delightful cream, I simply could not resist a second serving, can’t remember if I had a third!

Thank you so much, Tina, for the inviting us to join the delightful dinner and thank you also for the buah tangan

Buah tangan

– the kueh chap and the hong choi peah – both were really very nice.

LITTLE CHEF GARDEN (1.506096, 110.361964) is located in this new area in Kuching called Saradise – you can go in to that lane on your left via Jalan Saradise, off Jalan Stutong.

Stone cold…

Back to my Kuching posts, another of my maternal cousins invited us to dinner that 2nd night there and after our brunch earlier that morning, we did not want a heavy lunch as we were saving tummy space for the scrumptious feast that awaited us. That was why we just went to check out this place…

Stone Ice, Plaza Merdeka Kuching

…on the lower ground floor of the mall adjoining the hotel where we were staying.

Initially, I was wondering why it was thus named – Stone Ice but later, it dawned on me that it was actually the direct translation of the Malay term for ice, air batu.

We tried the ABC or air batu campur special (RM6.00)…

Stone Ice Kuching ABC

…that I ordered to share. It had cendol, red beans, cincau (black jelly)…

Stone Ice Kuching What's in the ABC

…and whatever else inside but no, it did not get us jumping with delight. I think if that is what one wants, the best place to go to in Kuching would be here. Word has it though that their branch at Satok has been taken over by someone else and the quality has gone down.

My girl and the mum had their Sarawak laksa (RM8.00)…

Stone Ice Kuching Sarawak laksa

…and according to them, at best, it was edible – not anything they would want to have again and if it is authentic and truly great Sarawak laksa, maybe you would want to go for the one here.

I do believe that generally, the rule of thumb is you will need to know where to go for the best of anything and all you can get at shopping malls and food courts…and for that matter, upscale cafes like the one here and at the hotels as well, will be some more expensive, half-baked versions of the real thing that may be nice but not quite there, not really like the real thing!

I also ordered this sotong kangkong RM10.00)…

Stone Ice Kuching sotong kangkong

…and yes, that was all right and I had the belacan bihun (RM8.00)…

Stone Ice Kuching belacan bihun

…which I swore I would never want to eat again after the first time here.

Now, why on earth did I go and order that again, you may ask? That was simply because I seemed to notice that this is the favourite of many in Kuching and many would be dying to come home to appease their craving for it…and I wanted the two ladies to try.

Well, my fears were confirmed – they did not like it at all and since I had ordered it already, I might as well eat it myself. I squeezed the juice of the calamansi lime over it and mixed the prawn paste and chili with everything in the bowl and ate…and I actually thought it was quite nice after all! I sure wouldn’t mind going for it again sometimes.

This STONE ICE outlet is located on the lower ground floor of the award-winning Plaza Merdeka (1.558279, 110.344049) at No. 88, Jalan Pearl in Kuching.

Sweet dessert…

After our scrumptious Vietnamese dinner on our first night in Kuching, we adjourned to this dessert place

Cocopuri Kuching

…a few doors away to the left. It’s not all that big, a pleasant place to hang out and I’ve seen alluring photographs of what they serve on their Facebook page so of course, I would not want to miss the chance to drop by and give it a try.

I wasted no time in ordering one of my favourite sweet desserts, the pulut hitam (black glutinous rice)…

Cocopuri pulut hitam

…but it was not black. The very handsome and amicable boss said that the supplier sent them this red version instead of the usual black one but he would want to go back to the latter soonest. I did buy a pack of this red variety when I was in Miri that day and I did not mind it one bit as the taste was more or less the same, just like humans, don’t you think? Our colours may be different but basically, we are all the same.

Another difference from the one I had here was the use of their own-made coconut ice cream with a bit of gula Melaka (palm sugar syrup) on top instead of coconut cream – maybe it was not as strong on the richness and fragrance of santan (coconut milk) cream but it was all right. The addition of those lenggeng kua (dried longans) sure brought the taste to a whole new level and yes, I would say that I did enjoy it very much.

I also had their red rubies, topped with the same coconut ice cream…

Cocopuri red rubies

…instead of santan and yes, it was good – a whole lot nicer than the disastrous one that I had at that Thai franchise place in Miri.

My cousin ordered all kinds of ice cream…

Cocopuri ice cream 1

…different flavours…

Cocopuri ice cream 2

…probably most of what they had, so many that I jolly well can’t remember all of them. I think one of the brown ones was coffee, a tad too strong and bitter for me and the green ones were matcha (green tea) and kedondong (ambarella) with asamboi (sour plum) added which made it all the more sour, thank you very much. The yam waffles stuck by the side must be good as before I would give it a try, they were all gone!

Incidentally, according to them, they make all the ice cream served here themselves with a coconut milk base and only natural ingredients are used, no artificial colouring, no preservatives whatsoever.

This one was new, their mango…

Cocopuri mango ice cream

…which was a bit too sourish for me as well. They couldn’t wait and had already started eating before I could snap a photograph of it. Duh!!!

They had more ice cream served on coconut waffles…

Cocopuri ice cream on coconut waffles

…but I felt I had had enough of ice cream plus I was so very full from dinner so I did not give it a try.

One of my cousins ordered this glass of coffee, dunno if it was Irish or what, but with coconut ice cream on top…

Cocopuri coffee with coconut ice cream

…and I did try a bit, just a bit for fear that I would not be able to sleep when I got back to the hotel that night and yes, I thought it was o.k.

Thank you so much to my cousins for the very sweet treat. We sat there, chatting and laughing away till late and all too soon, it was time for them to send us back to the hotel to hit the sack. It had been a long day – we just flew in from Sibu before noon that very morning!

COCOPURI (1.515662, 110.352832) is located on the ground floor of Sub Lot 4, Block A, Emporium Kuching, Jalan Tun Jugah.

Save the date…

This goes all the way back to my last trip to Kuching – I was fully-booked throughout the duration of my stay there at the time so when I came back, my cousin sent word asking me to save the date – 11th December, the day when we would arrive in Kuching, to go for dinner with him and his family here

Le Saigon

…in the building they have constructed right in front of their house (not accessible through any back door, fortunately or unfortunately), followed by dessert a few doors away (but that will be in the next post).

In the meantime, I went to one in Miri and let’s just say that it did not sweep me off my feet and I was not that inclined to go for another round of Vietnamese but since this was pre-arranged, there we were, all of us, that night.

The mum gave me a big loaf of her most delightful Christmas fruit pudding…

Auntie's Christmas fruit pudding
*Archive photo*

…that she would give me without fail every year and the sister rummaged through her belongings and found an old Hallmark card (I so love this commercial of theirs!!!) going all the way back to the 80’s and knowing how I love those old school greeting cards, she decided to part with it to give to me, isn’t that so sweet of her? Hallmark, no less!!!

Christmas fruit pudding & Hallmark card

Dinner was absolutely overwhelming, to say the least, and personally, my pick of the night would be this pork cooked in coconut water dish…

Le Saigon pork in coconut water

It was so so good, nicer than the lemon grass one…

Le Saigon lemon grass pork

…which was good too but I thought it paled in comparison.

We had these mini banh khot cakes…

Le Saigon mini banh khot cakes

…in Miri and were not all that impressed but the ones here were really very good and we sure enjoyed it a whole lot more than what we had previously.

The deep-fried spring rolls…

Le Saigon deep fried spring rolls

…were good too just that there was nothing that made them stand out as exclusively Vietnamese other than the fact that they used the traditional Vietnamese rice paper – we had tried frying our own and it was quite disastrous, definitely nowhere near as nicely-done as the ones here.

The Vietnamese rolls…

Vietnamese rolls

…on the other hand, were great – we could detect something in it that made it stand out, something like daun sireh (betel leaves).

The banh mi

Le Saigon banh mi

…was good – we had two versions, pork and prawn but no, my opinion of the French colonial-influenced Vietnamese delight has not changed – at the end of the day, it is what it is, a sandwich.

We liked the grilled eggplant in Miri and the one here…

Le Saigon grilled eggplant

…was no exception – it was just as nice!

The fried rice…

Le Saigon fried rice

…did not get me too excited and I thought our local chee loi (the balitong or the type that sticks to logs in the river) are much nicer than these gong gong, the Asian version of those escargots…

Le Saigon escargot

…another French-influenced Vietnamese dish, probably.

The pho

Le Siagon pho

…was good but it was this mangosteen salad…

Le Saigon mangosteen salad

…dish that caught me by surprise. I am never a fan of buah manggis – seasons come and seasons go and you will never see me eating it much less go out and buy but I enjoyed the salad so much that I made up my mind right away that come the next season, I would definitely go out and buy to try and make my own.

There certainly was a lot of food for the seven of us that night but we somehow managed to finish everything. My cousin said that she ordered a whole lot of dishes in small portions to let me try as many as possible, thank you so much to my uncle, auntie and cousins for an unforgettable dinner and the fruit pudding & card.

This place, I hear, is owned by a lawyer (son of a retired politician, Bintangor) who left his profession to go into the food business with his Vietnamese wife who holds the helm in the kitchen and judging by the crowd on an extremely wet (pouring cats and dogs) weekday night, it certainly looks like it is doing very well. We certainly had the most delightful dinner there that night and I can say without any reservations whatsoever, that if you are looking for a great place to go for dinner in Kuching, you should check this one out!

LE SAIGON VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT (1.515866, 110.352728) is located on the ground floor, Lot G6 & G7, Emporium, No.9, Jalan Tun Jugah in Kuching.

Sealed with a kiss…

We flew to Kuching on Wednesday last week for my niece’s wedding on Saturday, the 14th of December.

The beautiful wedding ceremony was held that morning here and after the lovely couple had exchanged their vows and rings, they sealed their union with a loving kiss…

Sealed with a kiss

In line with our Chinese tradition, there was the tea ceremony at The Commons, formerly Kopi C Cafe and the wedding banquet followed that night at a leading hotel in town.

Cross-cultural marriages is nothing new in my family and this one is no exception. The bride, my niece, is actually Bidayuh and her mum (my cousin) is Chinese/Melanau while her husband’s father is Chinese and his late mum was an Iban. They made their grand entrance in their very colourful traditional ethnic outfits, the groom dressed as an Iban warrior and the bride, a Bidayuh princess…

Iban warrior & Bidayuh princess

Don’t you think they looked absolutely smashing?

The food was all right – I did not bother to take photographs of all the dishes, just this one…

First dish

…and the prawns…

Prawns

There was a band in attendance and what a surprise it was when I chanced upon my very old friend, going back all the way to 1976/1977 when we were together in college and we had not seen each other since. Matthew Ngau Jau taught for around 10 years only, he said, and he left the profession to join the Sarawak Cultural Village. Now, he’s a celebrity in his own right, Sarawak’s Living Heritage, known especially for his sape-playing and he even makes them for sale.  He was invited to perform at the banquet that night…

Matthew Ngau Jau

…and so were these ladies who entertained the guests with a couple of traditional dances…

Traditional dances

It was the atmosphere of love and joy in the air that made it a truly beautiful and most unforgettable evening, with a whole lot of merry-making, singing and dancing.

Heartiest congratulations once again, Sherene and Andy – may God bless the two of you abundantly with endless love and everlasting happiness in the years ahead…and congratulations too and thank you so much to my cousin, Isabella and Jawing, the father of the bride, for inviting my family and I to join you all in this joyous celebration.

I apologize…

Here, I would like to apologize to all those who got in touch with me to invite me out during my brief stay in Kuching. I was there for the sole intention of attending my ex-Kanowit student’s daughter’s wedding and over those few days, to have a reunion of sorts with the classmates who were able to be present.

I was able to go for lunch with my cousins upon my arrival in the city and dinner with my aunt and her family that first night in Kuching. Other than that, on the final night, Saturday, I managed to go out with a very old friend, his parents were friends of my parents too. It was his birthday before I flew over so I sent him a birthday message. He replied saying that he would be in Sibu in a couple of weeks and if we could, perhaps we could meet for dinner or something.

I told him that I would be in Kuching over the next few days and right away, he asked me when I would be free. I did not know what my ex-students had planned then so I said I was not able to commit but he tentatively picked Saturday night and we would confirm it later.

It turned out that there was nothing on that night so we ended up here for dinner. There was another restaurant here before, a certain Mr. Ho, a West Malaysian franchise and we ate there once and quite liked the food but it looked like they had called it a day or moved elsewhere.

We shared the Gana Club salad (RM15.00)…

Salad

…which was all right and my friend had their chicken cutlet with barbacue sauce (RM19.00)…

Chicken

…and he did not say anything so I guess it was all right too.

I picked the Argentise lamb (Argentine chimchurri) served with homemade Argentine sauce (RM32.00)…

Lamb

…or at least, that was what it said on the menu and I thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, I did not think it was anything spectacular, a little on the tough side and quite a hassle to wrestle with it to get it off the bone

I liked the place though, not many customers and very quiet so we could chat to our heart’s content, no need to shout to be heard and service was great – the people were very nice especially the sweet girl who waited at our table. I would say it is a good place to meet friends for drinks and to talk.

I sure enjoyed chatting with my friend – both our parents were gone now and after all these years, there sure were a lot of things to catch up with in our lives, our families, our friends and memories of the good ol’ days a long long time ago to recall. Thanks so much, Jon, for the lovely evening – it sure was great to see you again.

GANA GARDEN BISTRO (1.551153, 110.369299) is  located at G02 Ground Floor, Crown Square Shopping Centre, Jalan Pending in Kuching.

A mother’s son…

My ex-Kanowit students had planned a get-together at their classmate’s restaurant that Saturday afternoon after the wedding on Friday before going our separate ways.

However, we were there just two nights ago and I did hear that my ex-student, the owner of that restaurant, has a son…

Kenny

…who has branched out to open his own restaurant…

Kwang Chin Seafood

…so I suggested going there instead and everybody…

With ex-Kanowit students and colleagues

…agreed.

While waiting for the food, they took out their old photographs…

Old photographs
*Ex-student’s photograph*

…and everyone was stunned to see that after 40 years, I could still remember the names of so many of their classmates when I asked them where so and so was at this point in time. Sometimes, I truly amaze myself! LOL!!!

Ah Lee brought along yet another tengalan but I was at the back of the restaurant at the time and by the time I got back to the table, the waitress had cut the fish up…

Tengalan

…so it was not a pretty sight. Nonetheless, it was really good and all of us enjoyed it to the max.

The fried midin (wild jungle fern)…

Fried midin

…and mani chai/cangkuk manis

Fried cangkuk manis

…were all right, pretty much like what one can get anywhere and everywhere else but the prawns…

Prawns

…and sweet and sour pork…

Pork

…were really great and very much to my liking.

However, it was the claypot yam…

Claypot yam

…that I enjoyed the most and I kept going back for more till there was none left.

They were saying that they would use the money left over from the reunion they had some years ago in Penang to pay for the lunch but the mother of the bride was free to join us that afternoon and she quietly went and paid for everything!

She even insisted on giving me a BIG ang pao even though I said that I was fine and could pay for all my expenses and just being invited to her daughter’s wedding was such a special honour and privilege already. Not everyone would remember their teacher, much less want the old fogies around for their special occasions. Gee!!! She gave me more than enough for the air fare and the hotel as well, thank you so so much, Sok Hiong!

Thank you also, Ah Lee, for the tengalan and everybody for everything and not forgetting Pek Suan for the Tan Kim Hock durian dodol

Durian dodol

– so thoughtful of you to bring all of us one each all the way from Melaka.

Hopefully, the plans for the next reunion there next year will materialise and we will all get to see one another again. In the meantime, take care and here’s wishing one and all blue skies and everything nice! God bless, everyone!

KWANG CHIN SEAFOOD 广进小厨 (1.530845, 110.367471) is located at the ground floor, Sublot 3, Lot 33, Soho West Phase 2, Jalan Wan Alwi in Kuching, two doors away from CS Supermarket, Kuching Soho branch.