Something extra…

This was sometime ago – Peter, the very nice boss of Payung Café, made these lovely popiah (spring rolls)…

Popiah from Peter 1

…for his mum and he made some extra and went through the trouble of sending them all the way to my house for me. Luckily, I had not cooked dinner yet so I could just enjoy those…

Popiah from Peter 2

…that evening.

Then when we dropped by the café the other day, he let us try this…

Fish with sak chai & potatoes

– a dish cooked by one of his boys, a Bangladeshi. He and his team will go round on Sundays to do some people’s gardens and there was one where they had a lot of this vegetable and they were asked to help themselves and take all they wanted and the Bangladeshi said he knew how to cook it and he did.

I don’t know what vegetable that was – they call it sak chai in Hokkien, probably a variety of spinach, maybe Ceylon spinach. My missus said that it is easily available at the market but she has never bought it as according to her, it has a certain smell that she is not particularly fond of. However, there was no smell in what we had that day – the fish (ikan sultan/sotan) cooked with the vegetable and potatoes. We thought that was really very nice and we finished all of it! Peter said that he would consider adding it to his menu since at this point in time, they do not have many fish options for customers to choose.

And that wasn’t all! He also treated us to this special dessert…

Payung Cafe dessert, dreamy nite

…with a lovely name – Dreamy Nite. I used to enjoy it a lot but I have not ordered it for a while now as there is wheat in it and oats too, I think, so it is not gluten free. My girl could not eat that and my missus just ate a bit as she said she was way too full after our very lovely lunch so in the end, I got to finish it off all by myself.

Actually, we went there that day as my girl said that she liked their chicken dish (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe Payung chicken with rice

…with its thick rich yogurt-based gravy but personally, I was not so fond of it as it was very strong with the smell/taste of the green peppers in it. I was thinking that she would want to order that and enjoy it for lunch but when we got there, she said she would like one of her favourites here, the lamb masala (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe lamb masala

…and in the end, we had both!

The lamb was great, as always and we were delighted that the chicken was also very nice. I noticed that they seemed to have toned down the green peppers a bit – it was still there but it was not as strong and I did enjoy it very much.

I asked for the very popular and one-of-its-kind Payung rojak (RM12.00)…

Payung Cafe Payung rojak

…and Andy served us one very huge serving of that!

My missus stuck to one of her favourites here, the green curry chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe green curry chicken with rice

…but she was not able to put in her usual request – for it to be extra spicy as we were sharing our orders and my girl, though she can handle some very hot stuff, is not into it as much as her mum. In the end, Andy gave my missus this…

Extra chili

– their own-made extra hot habanero chili dip, to add as it pleased her.

Yes, the green curry chicken…

Payung Cafe green curry chicken

…was really good too and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch that day. My girl was absolutely delighted – she always is every time we come here as she enjoys the food a great deal and she likes the place, the ambiance and all, and the people are so very friendly that it makes her feel so at home.

We were so very full after all these, including the special treats from Peter, that we just had a light and simple dinner at home that evening.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

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Incompatible…

We have not been here for a long long time for the simple reason that there is nothing much on their menu that is gluten-free. Most of the things either have soy sauce or are made from wheat flour.

However, last Sunday, after the 11.00 a.m. service at the cathedral in the town, we stopped by here for lunch and my missus had their sizzling spicy sambal seafood kampua (RM14.73, incusive of GST)…

Noodle House spicy seafood sambal kampua 1

…which I do recall having before way back in 2010 when it was only RM12.90 – I guess it was not all that cheap then and it is even worse now! I did not think the two were all that compatible at the time and I did not like it at all – given a choice, I would much sooner go for the sizzling beef kampua.

My missus said it was good though – the kampua was to her liking and she enjoyed the spicy sambal seafood…

Noodle House spicy sambal seafood kampua 2

I guess my mistake then was I mixed everything together and ended with something that tasted quite weird, or to me, at least and I did not see her doing that but frankly, for that kind of money, I would much rather go for something a whole lot nicer here…or here or elsewhere. Obviously, a lot of people think otherwise for this place is always so very crowded (and noisy) and not only is it often difficult to grab a table, there is a problem as well when it comes to parking one’s car…unless you park at a distance and walk, not something I would be all that keen to do especially in the scorchingly hot midday sun.

I had their kway chap special (RM8.69, inclusive of GST, up from RM8.37 before)…

Noodle House kway chap special 1

It did not matter than it did not quite taste the same – even the chili dip was no longer like what we used to enjoy before. It used to be something like the dip for chicken rice but now, it is thick and sticky like chili sauce, Thai chili sauce, to be more precise, but thankfully, the saving grace was that it was very nice and very spicy too and I quite enjoyed eating the “kway chap” with a whole lot of it.

But wait a minute!!! Kway chap, you said? Where were the broad white rice sheets? Why was there kway teow

Noodle House kway chap special 2

…in it instead? If I wanted kway teow, I would have gone some place else to eat that and the worse thing was they did not even have the decency and courtesy to apologise and ask, “We’re sorry we’re out of kway chap. Would you mind if we use kway teow instead?”  No, they just served it like that as if nothing was amiss.

I ordered their grilled pork chop mantao (RM10.39, inclusive of GST, for two pieces)…

Noodle House grilled pork chop mantao

…to try but at best, I would say it was all right – not all that compatible, the meat and the steamed bun and definitely not anything I would want to order again. It would have been a lot nicer with their stewed pork belly but still, considering the price, if that is what I want, I would just come here for that at less than half the price for three!!!

Actually, my real intention in dropping by there that day was to buy some of their very nice pork belly kompia (RM5.51, inclusive of GST, for a set of 3)  for my mum and their salted caramel macarons (RM10.00, exclusive of GST, for a set of 3) that she liked a lot the last time I got some for her. She was not able to chew the kompia all that well though so I guess I would not be buying those for her anymore next time…but yes, she still enjoyed the macarons.

NOODLE HOUSE (2.291369, 111.829233) is located in the vicinity right behind the Sibu Central Police Station at No, 2B Ground Floor, Lorong Lai Chee 1, on your left if you are turning in from Hua Kiew Road or on your right if you are coming from Jalan Lai Chee.

Fourth time around…

Actually, my girl wanted to drop by here that day for their sizzling beef on a hot plate that she likes a lot but I told her that I had a feeling that there would be a bit of tomato sauce in the gravy and maybe some soy sauce too, hence the dark tone so it would be best that we gave that a miss.

In the end, we ended up here, our fourth time so far and yes, the very nice boss who is also the chef/cook, was there to take our orders and as always, he was ever ready to see to all our needs and wants.

If anyone is staying at this hotel in the town centre…

RH Hotel, Sibu

…he or she can walk at an angle of 45° upon coming out of the entrance and will reach this small restaurant in a couple of minutes.

My girl wanted the kian sor hu, literally translated as salty crusty fish…

Home Cook kiam sor hu

…which was to everyone’s liking.

We also had what we ordered before on our previous visits and enjoyed very much and that included the sweet potato leaves, ching chao (fried plain)

Home Cook sweet potato leaves

…with a sprinkling of fried finely-chopped garlic on top.

We loved his homemade tofu

Home Cook ang sio tau hu

…which we would place among the best in town and we had that again and as for the salted fish pork belly minus the soy sauce that we had last time, we asked for dried chili to be added this time…

Home Cook salted fish dried chili pork

…and we liked that too.

We had four dishes that day – on our previous visits, we had three with one soup, one meat and a veg and the total was around RM30.00. For our two meat and two vegetable dishes (including the tofu), the total came up to RM39.00. I guess that’s pretty reasonable and considering that we did like what was served each time we dropped by here, we certainly would not mind coming back again.

HOME COOK CORNER (2.292756, 111.825335) is located at No. 73, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to RUBY RESTAURANT with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

Glass…

This place is new…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat 1

…located round the corner from my house and when we came back from fetching my girl home from her school in the jungle last Wednesday, that evening, we went to check it out…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat 2

It opened over two weeks ago and I was planning to come over already that Wednesday as my girl was home too then but we were invited to a birthday celebration so all plans had to be put on hold until last week.

My attention was drawn to the cookware used for the steamboat and for barbecuing the meat. It was made of glass…

Glass cookware for steamboat & BBQ

…very thick, most probably some special tempered glass that is able to withstand the heat.

It was raining all afternoon and soon after we got there, it poured cats and dogs and since it was not hot that night, we opted to sit in the non-air-conditioned section. They do have one side that is air-conditioned…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat air-conditioned section

…and I like how they have those individual exhaust hood over each table so the place would not be filled with smoke and one would not leave the place smelling like what one has been cooking.

The prices are very reasonable…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat prices

…cheaper than here…or here and obviously they do believe in the age-old maxim that “it’s the early bird that catches the worm”. You can click the link to their Facebook page

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat Facebook page

…and have a look at more of what they have there.

They did not have much in their pre-cooked buffet spread, just the F4 but no, not that one-time very popular Taiwanese boy band but fried rice and fried bihun

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat fried rice & fried bihun

…and fried kway teow and fried mee

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat fried kway teow & fried mee

…and there were some sausages and french fries and fried chicken wings in a food warmer. I did try the latter and thought it was pretty good. For dessert, they just had ice cream and watermelon, nothing much.

However, they did have a very wide range of choices in the sections for the barbecue and steamboat…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat some options

…and we loved the homemade chili dip…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat chili dip

– it sure was very good.

I did not take photographs of everything but we had a lot of seafood – the prawns…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat prawns

…and the cockles…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat cockles

…and the clams…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat clams

…and there were bamboo clams too.

The pre-marinated meat for the barbecue…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat meat

…was very nice. I liked especially the beef and the lamb, not so much the chicken and all in all, I would say that we had a really delightful BBQ & steamboat dinner…

The Kitchen BBQ & steamboat steamboat

…that night.

We sure would not mind going for it again soon.

THE KITCHEN BBQ & STEAMBOAT (2.309579, 111.844828) is located at No 19, Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada. You turn left into the road after Starbucks Sibu, right before the Petronas petrol station and it is on your right at the other end of the blocks of shops where the Grand Wonderful Hotel and Italian Coffee are located. 

Exception to the rule…

The other day, my girl was saying that she would like to stay off deep fried stuff and anything spicy for a while so when I suggested dropping by here…

The Cafe Ind, Sibu

…the mum was not in favour of it but she jumped at the idea right away insisting that her favourite here, the bryani rice with mutton curry (RM21.00)…

Cafe Ind mutton bryani

…was not spicy as in that hot chili kind of spicy so this could be considered as an exception to the rule. As a matter of fact, North Indian cuisine would be bursting with the flavours and fragrances of those spices used in the cooking but no, it is not spicy at all.

So there we were that day and my girl got to enjoy what she liked a lot…

Cafe Ind lamb/mutton curry

…and even though the serving was huge, enough to be shared by two, I think, she managed to finish all the rice but she did leave a few pieces of the lamb behind…and don’t ask who ate all those up! LOL!!! Back home, we would only give her just a bit of rice, plain white rice, that is and even the little that we give her, often she would not be able to finish all of it.

The mum went for the Indonesian menu – she seems to prefer that to anything in the Indian menu…

Cafe Ind Indonesian or Indian

…and had the ayam penyet rice (RM14.50)…

Cafe Ind ayam penyet rice

…and of course, she asked for it to be extra spicy. Unfortunately, the girl told her that the only thing in that platter that they could make extra spicy would be the sambal. That, of course, left her with no choice – she would just have to be happy with that.

I wanted the fish curry with basmati rice from the Indian menu but I was informed that it was not ready, whatever that meant. Probably the authentic Indian chef had not defrosted the fish yet so he would not be able to cook what I was hoping to have.

I was feeling like having fish curry that day and they only had fried ones in their Indonesian menu and also their ikan sumbat so in the end, I asked for their seafood curry rice (RM18.00)…

Cafe Ind seafood curry rice

…with all the mussels, prawns, sotong (squid) and of course, fish. It had been a while since I had that and like their kalio ayam, the curry is different from what we are more familiar with. It was very lemak and had its own special taste…

Cafe Ind seafood curry

…I did find bits of pineapple in it and my guess is that it did contribute to the overall taste of the curry, very nice – I must try that at home one of these days. Of course, I did ask for it to be extra spicy and it was…quite spicy. I think it will take a lot more than that to sweep me off my feet.

All in all, the bill came up to RM61.50 and the kind and generous boss just collected RM55.00 from me, drinks on the house, and of course we’ll be back again for more, not because of the discount but because the food here is really very much to our liking.

CAFE IND (2.290813, 111.829294) is located along Laichee Lane, right behind one block of shops facing the main road (Jalan Kampung Nyabor) where the Bank Simpanan Nasional, Sibu branch (2.290561, 111.829071), is located.

Be like that…

We did not intend to drop by this outlet of our Sarawak’s own chicken rice franchise that day but after we had walked around all the coffee shops in that row and we did not see anything that tickled our fancy, we decided to just have our lunch there before heading home.

I liked how the members of the staff were nice and friendly, ever ready to answer my questions, and they were very prompt and efficient – our orders were served in no time at all. After I had settled my bill, the cashier gave me these…

SCR Sg Merah complimentary sweets

…not that I would eat those things but I thought that was a very nice touch. I do wish that many at some coffee shops and restaurants could be like that too, especially those whose success seems to have gone into their heads and they have grown too big for their feet – after all, the customers are the ones who bring in the money so they should be treated well and with a lot more respect, never mind how good you are…and such little gestures sure will go a long way, I am sure.

Both my missus and I had the 3-layer teh-c special (RM4.15)…

SCR Sg Merah 3-layer teh-c special

…again even though the one here is more expensive than at the coffee shops but theirs is a whole lot nicer with the richness of the milk added and the sweetness of the gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) and the tea is so strong one can taste it unlike the watered-down versions elsewhere.

I asked for their chicken rice (RM2.10 a plate)…

SCR Sg Merah chicken rice & complimentary soup

…and that came with a bowl of complimentary soup and we could help ourselves to all the special chicken rice chili dip and ginger…

SCR Sg Merah chili and ginger

…we wanted.

We ordered the salted fish bean sprouts (RM6.45)…

SCR Sg Merah salted fish bean sprouts

…that we also had on our previous visit and yes, it was nice, not overdone though I did wish they could get rid of the tails – that shouldn’t be too difficult to do if everyone chips in to help when there are not that many customers around. For one thing, it was cheap – a plate of vegetables at most places, big or small, would be RM8.00-10.00 a plate at least.

This was new, their butter milk chicken (RM10.20)…

SCR SG Merah butter milk chicken

…and it reminded me of the butter scotch prawns or whatever that we used to order here and loved a lot. Again, this is cheaper than those other places where the meat dishes would be at least RM12.00 and above, a lot more if one orders seafood, of course – prawns or fish.

I enjoyed it very much and I sure would love to bring my daughter here to try this so I asked the boy what they coated the chicken with before deep frying it for use and he quickly went into the kitchen to find out. When he emerged in no time at all, he told me that they used corn flour – now, that’s great! It’s gluten-free!

We also had their chicken meat roll (RM3.90)…

SCR Sg Merah chicken meat roll

…their ngor hiang/lor bak except that it was chicken, not pork but we thought it was nice too.

Incidentally, all the aforementioned prices are inclusive of GST and the total for the two of us that day came up to RM33.05 altogether, around AUD10.00…but I did feel that the servings were rather huge, enough for 3 or perhaps even 4 people and the two of us could have shared the rice, one plate between the two of us – we always ask for half or less at the chap fan/nasi campur (mixed rice) places but of course, there, they would just charge as usual, never mind that they are giving you less.

SCR, SG MERAH (2.327275,111.840781) is located  along Jalan Teng Chin Hua, somewhere opposite the Catholic and SIB churches, in the blocks of shops to the left of the Everwin Supermarket there.

Nice guys…

They’re all very nice guys at Payung Café…

Payung Cafe decor

… including Peter, the boss and Chen, his business partner/co-owner and Andy, one of the boys there, is no exception.

Well, Andy celebrated his birthday…

Andy, the birthday boy

…two days ago on Wednesday and he sent me a message asking me to drop by for some long life noodles…

Birthday egg

…our longevity noodles, the mee sua served with the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Mee sua in traditional red wine chicken soup

The mee sua was under the chicken, not visible in the photograph and boy, it really was so so so very nice! I don’t know what went into the cooking of the soup – Peter just said there were “a lot of things” and I did spot some wolfberries and red dates in it.

I told him that if he had that on their menu, I would come back again and again just for this – it was that nice and I dare say I have not had any other that is of this same standard, none that can even come close. Perhaps he could have it as their Saturday special like how their lei cha is their Friday lunch special and I hear it is doing very well.

For our drinks, we were served this…

Anjung smoothie

– what they call anjung smoothie, a concoction made out of roselle, cucumber and lime and there was this birthday cake too…

Birthday cake from Marcus

There’s no mistaking who made that – the instant I shared the photograph on Facebook, somebody commented, “I see Marcus’ cake!” Yes, he’s that famous around here and even though he has been around for such a very long time (he made my wedding cake), he is still as popular today as he was way back then.

Andy did tell me that Peter would be cooking something special for the birthday celebration and for a start, we had this papaya salad…

Payung's papaya salad

…which was a whole lot nicer than the one we tried not too long ago. That time, I thought it was just all right and I would still prefer their pomelo salad but this time around, it could give the latter a really good fight plus Peter made it extra spicy so of course, my missus loved it to bits and enjoyed it so much!

There was this beef dish with kiwi fruit…

Beef with kiwi fruit

…that we also liked. I was thinking that perhaps, I could try cooking that at home and use pineapples instead. Other that the stronger taste, it is definitely a whole lot cheaper than those kiwis – they cost a bomb here, not something I would be buying to enjoy on a regular basis!

The ladies loved the sour chicken…

Payung's sour chicken
*Archive photo*

…a variation of the traditional Cantonese sour duck but the photograph I took was a little blur so I am using this one from sometime ago when I had it for lunch.

As for me, my vote went to this new creation by Peter, chicken with daun sireh (betel leaves)…

Daun sireh chicken

I thought that was very good and I was surprised for as far as I know, those leaves were bitter – Peter said that once cooked, the bitterness would be gone.

Gosh!!! We were so full after that scrumptious dinner – in fact, we were already very full after the awesomely nice mee sua but obviously, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you so very much for inviting us, Andy and to you too, Peter for this most delightful treat to celebrate Andy’s auspicious day. Happy birthday once again, Andy – hope your day was great and may you be blessed with a truly wonderful year ahead. Cheers!!!

PAYUNG CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.