Once bitten, twice shy…

This was on the eve of Chap Goh Meh and my missus was busy in the kitchen preparing for our dinner that night.

I decided to hop over to that Colonel Sanders’ outlet at the mall near my house to buy something for a bite to eat for lunch. I knew jolly well what my girl would like – the nuggets and cheesy wedges and I asked for a piece of their fried chicken, hot and spicy, for the mum. However, the guy told me that two would be the minimum so I agreed to take two instead.

Now, one reason why I wanted to drop by there was because there was something I wanted to try. The ad kept popping up on Facebook and it looked very nice, all packed in a box. I went to their website but I did not see that there. They did have this very nice photograph…

KFC nasi atuk

…of the same thing served in a lovely banana leaf-lined basket though but if you think you will have it served to you like that if you eat this there, dream on!!!

Never mind, I ordered that and asked for just one piece of chicken – I did not want two and was given this and that in different boxes and containers so when I got home, I had to put it all together and this was what it looked like (RM14.90)…

Nasi atuk, in reality

…in reality.

First and foremost, I asked for a drumstick but when I opened the box, I was quite put off to see that the guy had given me the upper part of the thigh. Ah well!!! Count my blessings, he could have given me breast instead!

It was rather obvious that they were not very generous with the sambal unlike what we see in the photo and anyway, it was not very nice so it was no big deal that they gave just a spoonful of it. I loved the super spicy one at McD – this one sure paled in comparison.

We can see VERY clearly in the photograph that the set came with one whole hardboiled egg and it did not matter that what I got was some badly messed-up omelette (I refuse to call that scrambled eggs) but there was so very little of it…

KFC nasi atuk, egg

The rice…

KFC nasi atuk, rice

…wasn’t anything to shout about, the lemak-ness was barely noticeable so all things considered, except for the disastrous fried egg and getting it in a cup (they said I could ask for it in a plate if I would be dining in), I must say that the one I had at McD was heaps better.

As for this one, it is sadly a case of once bitten, twice shy. One thing’s for sure, this is one thing I will never ever order again, thank you very much!!!

KFC DELTA MALL (2.311909, 111.846792) is located on the ground floor of the mall located at Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, formerly Jalan Pedada.

What it’s like…

I mentioned in my post the other day that I tapao-ed some of the delights that we do enjoy a lot at Payung to store in the freezer and take out to heat up and enjoy when we feel like it.

One of them is this…

Payung otak fish

…that they called Payung otak fish, which is their version of the otak-otak, different from the celebrated Muar otak-otak…

Muar otak-otak

…or the Penang ones…

Penang otak-otak

…with the egg custard wrapped in banana leaf. Correct me if I am wrong, but I do think that theirs is similar to the Thai ones that I’ve tried before somewhere except that theirs may come in different shapes and sizes…

Absolute Tribal Thai-style otak-otak

Andy did tell me that the ones I bought the other day might not be the same as the usual because they could not get hold of the bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel). This being the rainy season, fish and all kinds of seafood may be hard to come by and around this time of the year, the sellers may start to stockpile to sell at jacked-up prices come Chinese New Year. He said that they would normally use 3 kg of fish but they only had 2 kg and they went ahead to make but with less fish in the ingredients.

I bought three…

Payung otak, frozen

…and that day, because we had leftovers for lunch and there was nothing left for dinner, I decided to take one out of the freezer to defrost…

Payung otak, before heating

…and heat up for dinner to see what it was like.

Yes, it was very nice…

Payung otak, hot from the oven

…and no, it did not feel like there was less fish in it. I’d probably save the remaining two for Chinese New Year.

A gentle reminder here, if you are thus inclined, you can order food delivery at 0165787614 or call Andy, 01153375498 and they will send via Grab (RM5.00 within Sibu) – payments can be made via Sarawak Pay. If I am not wrong, they will give you free delivery if you buy more than RM60.00.

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.

Sister…

My sister celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday, the 13th of January, 9 years my junior. If I am not wrong, there was another one in between us but sadly, my mum had a miscarriage.

No, she did not have a grand celebration, not at a time like this but over the weekend, she did get us and also our paternal aunt and her family over to her house for a little get-together.

We ordered a cake specially for her…

Birthday cake from Marcus

…from Marcus, no less. She said that every year, when he was still around, fit and able, our father would call Marcus himself to order a cake for her and on the actual day, at exactly 3.00 p.m., he would drive over to his house to get it.

She ordered a few dishes from this very old-school restaurant, going all the way back to the 60’s and 70’s, at least,  one of the oldest survivors  in town and one of the most popular when it came to catering for home parties at the time and of course, she specially asked for the fried mee sua (longevity noodles) with the golden eggs…

mee sua with eggs

…by the side.

I did not take snapshots of all the dishes but I would say that they were all very nice including this braised pork leg…

Braised pork leg

Of course, I have a weakness for that and yes, I enjoyed it to the max.

There were around 8 dishes altogether and we decided to have it buffet-style instead of a sit-down dinner so we could take the food and sit some place in the big house to enjoy eating – that way, we could ensure there was physical distancing the whole time.

I must say that I enjoyed all the dishes that night and the cake, of course. A very Happy Birthday once again to my sis, may God bless you with a wonderful year ahead and many more awesome birthdays in the years to come.

SIONG LOKE YONG RESTAURANT (2.311051, 111.831036) is located in the Dewan Suarah area of shops, off Jalan Melor, a stone’s throw away from the SESCO Customer Service Centre there, to the left of Jen Pharmacy. 

Red zone…

Sibu has been declared a red zone on Saturday following this case at Pasai Siong where a girl came home from Johore via KL (and Kuching too, if I remember correctly) to attend her father’s funeral.

I guess she was not to blame as she tested negative all the way and by the last test that turned out positive, it was already too late. At that point in time, this so-called super spreader had infected 37 others.

One thing about these ethnic groups here, when there is a wedding, a festival or whatever event, even a funeral, everyone in the longhouse and all the longhouses around would commune to drink and feast away, casting whatever SOP and physical distancing to the wind. In another cluster recently, they were celebrating Christmas at the longhouse.

Instantly, the roads were deserted Saturday night and according to Andy, there wasn’t a single customer at Payung…

Payung backdrop

…the whole night through. We went there for lunch on Sunday and there were noticeably fewer cars on the road but we did see some coffee shops that were full of people. There wasn’t anybody else at Payung but we still went through the SOP and maintained our physical distancing.

My girl wanted the beef spaghetti bolognese (RM17.00)…

Beef spaghetti bolognese

…which she enjoyed tremendously after not eating it for so long. I am not fond of bolognese in general but their own-made sauce with fresh tomatoes here is da’ bomb!

My missus had their green curry chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Green curry chicken

…and the serving that Andy gave her was so huge that he had to give the extra gravy separately in another bowl.

I was keen on going there as I wanted to try their nasi kerabu (RM12.00)…

Payung nasi Kerabu

The first and the last time I had it, Peter sent it to my house and I had not had the chance to eat it since. Yes, the rice was nicely tinted blue using the colour from the butterfly pea flowers from my garden that I had been sending to them regularly. If you go and eat this at most of the Malay shops and stalls, you will be horrified at the sight of their shade of blue, the result of using artificial colouring!

It seemed that they added a bit of santan (coconut milk) and dunno what else to the rice to enhance its taste so it did not come across like the blue-coloured plain rice that you will get elsewhere.

Having said that, elsewhere, they serve this with a piece of meat, chicken usually, or fish but you do not get that here even though Peter did tell me once that there is fish in the kerisik

Kerisik, saled fish & ikan bilis

…and they do give some fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and these salted fish that I do enjoy. I was thinking that they can make some mini version of their very nice otak-otak and serve it by the side for a few ringgit more – that would probably bring the dish to a whole new level. Otherwise, this is almost vegetarian, not quite something down my alley even though it was very nice and I did enjoy it. I would say that the serving was HUGE, enough for two to share.

My girl wanted their jelly pisang (RM9.00)…

Jelly pisang

…for dessert and asked for it to be served in a bowl instead of the usual tall glass as it would be easier to eat it this way.

That certainly was a delightful lunch and as we were leaving, I was glad to see a young couple dropping by for lunch. A number of places here have closed down and the way things are going, there would be some more, I’m sure.

I don’t know when we would be dropping by here again – the way things are going, we would most likely prefer to stay at home but I did tapao some of their dishes to store in the freezer to heat up and eat whenever we feel like it and incidentally, I just saw that we can order food delivery at 0165787614 or call Andy, 01153375498 and they will send via Grab (RM5.00 within Sibu) – payments can be made via Sarawak Pay. Do give them a tinkle if you are thus inclined!

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.

Just can’t get enough…

The other day, we dropped by here and my missus had their kacangma chicken. It was so good and she enjoyed it to the max. I told Peter, the boss and he said that his sidekick, Andy, cooked it! That was amazing, I must say, Andy being Indian but of course, he has been here for so many years (He sure looked different way back in 2012!) and his favourite foods to date are kampua mee and mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup.

In the past, Peter’s sister-in-law did most, if not all, of the cooking – the others would help to peel, cut and chop but eventually, she decided to call it a day and retired. After that, Peter had to do the cooking himself but Andy did help by cooking some of the dishes as well. Well, Peter is no spring chicken himself and it is good that Andy has picked up the skills and is able to replicate more and more of those lovely dishes at Payung including this traditional Chinese/Hakka post-natal confinement dish for convalescing ladies after child birth. You can read more about it here and here.

I did not get to eat much of it myself that day as I had my own pick for the day and seeing how my missus liked it, I went back there and tapaoed some…

Payung kacangma chicken

…to eat at home. Gosh!!! It truly was so very good, very hiam (lots of ginger) and so very generous with the pek chiew thow (Chinese white wine). It has been raining quite a lot here lately, every morning, more or less, for around half the day so it is nice and cool – just perfect for kacang ma. I would not want to have that on very hot days as with all that ginger, it is very heaty, good for brand new mums to protect them from the “cold” that may lead to ailments in their old age.

Sibu, being a Foochow town, is not known for this. As a matter of fact, at this point in time, this is the only place in Sibu selling it. If you say this is an acquired taste, I would most certainly agree and my girl, for one, is not really into it. That was why I bought this Payung fish…

Payung fish

…specially for her, their ikan keli cooked with soy sauce, ginger, serai (lemon grass), chili and what not. She loves that!

This is in a way an all-in-the-family dish – my mum used to cook that and we loved it so much. My sister has stepped into her shoes and she will cook this sometimes. My missus can cook it too but she is no fan of ikan keli nor unagi so she would never bother to do it. My cousins from Kuching had not eaten it for so long and when they had it here, they were all head over heels in love with it!

I guess this will have to do for the time being but needless to say, we just can’t get enough and shall go back there soon enough for more.

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.

On a Friday…

New Year’s Day, the first day of the year, fell on a Friday, usually our no-meat day and we decided we would not make it an exception that day.

That was why, the first thing in the morning, we had the traditional Foochow longevity noodles, the mee sua, with Bovril…

Bovril mee sua

…instead of having it in the usual Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup plus some hard-boiled eggs by the side.

We thought of going here for lunch as they would have more non-meat choices on their menu but for reasons unknown, it was closed so we ended up at my late father’s favourite located right round the corner.

Of course we had their sweet and sour fish fillet…

Sweet & sour fish fillet

Theirs is our favourite in town – so far, we have yet to come across any that comes anywhere near the one here.

Other than that, there wasn’t much else without meat so we went for the vegetables, the fried cangkok manis with egg…

Cangkok manis with egg

…and the kangkong with belacan (dried prawn paste)…

Kangkok belacan

We thought both were really good, very much to our liking.

There was a breakdown in communication, most likely the lady boss made a mistake when jotting down our orders and instead of the Foochow tofu soup with canned oysters minus the bit of minced meat they would usually add, we got this bowl of tofu with salted vegetables…

Tofu salted vegetable soup

…instead. It did not matter much as the soup was great even though no meat was added in the process of cooking that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’ll give them my double thumbs up for using those ceramic plates and bowls unlike so many places in town that stick recalcitrantly to those horrendously gaudily-coloured PLASTIC crockery, so NCAA (no class at all)!!! They used to use an assortment of sorts here before, ceramic too, not plastic but with all kinds of different designs. I do like the ones they use now a lot more.

The total for the food came up to RM50.00 and as you can see, I forgot to request for smaller servings for two (instead of three) but it did not matter as we did manage to finish everything,

Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753) is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where the branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located with its back entrance facing the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.

Same as always…

We have not been here for such a long time! The last time was most probably before the COVID-19 pandemic breakout and then came the lockdown starting in March during which time the place was closed and no, they did not bother about doing home food deliveries and all that stuff at the time.

Eventually, when the situation got better, it reopened and I did drop by a couple of times. They did some renovation to make the place a bit more spacious and put in more six-seater tables – if three (0r four) persons occupy one, there would be a whole lot of room for physical distancing plus it is never really crowded here most of the time so you do not have to worry about people getting too close for comfort.

My girl had to go back to school and there were always a lot of things going on. Our weekend outings had to be shelved and when we did go out, it would be to some places close by (that were not crowded) and we would not need to go out of our way. Right now, the schools are having their holidays and I would try to take everybody out for lunch as frequently as possible – that would be a break for the mum, having to cook every day…and for us too, having a change from what she would cook in the house.

Well, that day, my girl said she would like to go to Payung and so Payung, it was!

The mum wanted the kacangma chicken (RM16.00 with rice)…

Payung kacangma chicken

…and it was so so good that she kept singing its praises. For one thing, she had not cooked her own at home for a long time now and we were missing it much!

My girl wanted the mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung mushroom roll

…and it was the same as always and to everyone’s liking.

She also wanted the Payung rojak (RM12.00)…

Payung rojak

I forgot to say that I wanted the small so we were served this huge serving. Never mind! We loved it and managed to finish most of it. After all, we had not had that for such a long time.

Both my girl and I wanted the lamb dishes and we saw this notice on the wall…

Payung new prices

They used to be RM21.00 (with rice), if I remember correctly but like what I’ve been saying all this time, with the prices of things going up and up and up, any increase in the price of anything is to be expected but most importantly, they must maintain the quality and not scrimp and save on the ingredients and shortchange the customers.

For one thing, the servings seemed a lot bigger than before, so much so that it would be best to order just one of the two to share and an extra rice plus maybe a salad and/or a side dish.

Incidentally, the increase affects the lamb dishes only – lamb is getting more and more expensive especially when you want the good quality Australian or New Zealand ones that do not have that strong a smell that may put some people off. Other than those, they have maintained the prices of all their other dishes even in these pressing times.

The lamb masala (RM25.00 with rice)…

Payung lamb masala

…that my girl had was great and so was the curry lamb (RM25.00 with rice)…

Payung curry lamb

…that I picked.

We sure enjoyed our lunch there that day and we certainly look forward to going back there again soonest.

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.

Little…

Xiao (小) in Mandarin means little and lao ban (老板) means boss so the name of this shop…

Xiao Lao Ban Noodle

…is actually Little Boss. I heard a lot of raving reviews regarding this place and some of our local Sibu foodies have been spotted enjoying the noodles there so of course, I simply had to go and try it first hand.

Gosh!!! Talk about starting on the wrong foot, it was quite a chore trying to place our orders as they seemed to be mono-lingual here and could speak none of the Chinese dialects. I speak Hokkien and my missus’ Foochow will put any Foochow to shame but no, they can only speak Mandarin here.

I had no  choice but to struggle with the little bit of Mandarin that I know and I ordered this bowl of kampua mee, original, with REAL char siew (RM4.00)…

Xiao Lao Ban kampua mee

…for myself.

I vaguely understood from what the lady said that there were a whole lot of other options like having braised pork or siew yoke and whatever else in their list instead of the char siew and she did say something about having the noodles red, thank you very much.

Now, RM4.00 certainly is more expensive than kampua mee elsewhere but then again, they gave REAL char siew, not those lame imitations – the thin slices of boiled pork coloured red plus the place is nicer than your regular coffee shop and it is air-conditioned.

I could detect the very strong fragrance and taste of lard in the noodles but I wished they had cooked it a bit longer – it was hard, not soft enough for my liking and my first impression was that the rising prices of shallots and spring onions have taken their toll on the barely noticeable garnishing and no, there was no complimentary soup that came with the bowl of noodles, nice or otherwise.

I also ordered this bowl of lor mee (RM7.50)…

Xiao Lao Ban lor mee

…to share and try and yes, it was nice. No, it wasn’t anything like what we ate and enjoyed so much a long time ago – why, it did not even have kangkong in it, just bok choy, but it was all right.

My girl asked for the laksa (RM8.50)…

Xiao Lao Ban laksa

…which certainly LOOKED disappointing. The least they could do when they reheated the broth was to sieve away all the bubbles. No, it did not look nor taste anything like authentic Sarawak laksa but yes, it did taste pretty good.

My missus wanted the mee sua (RM7.00)…

Xiao Lao Ban mee sua

…which took us by surprise. No, it was not served with the traditional Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup and came instead in some clear soup that one would probably get in a bowl of kway teow th’ng but with ginger. To give credit where credit is due, it was quite nice as well.

All in all, we thought everything was all right but no, we did not think there was anything that got us all excited and jumping with delight and no, you would not catch us rushing back there for more – they would have to do a whole lot better than that!

XIAO LAO BAN NOODLE (2.300887, 111.843561) is located at Lorong Dr Wong Soon Kai 4D between Rice King and The Yunique Tea 御黑堂 Sibu.

The other…

My girl wanted biryani rice for lunch that day so of course, we made our way back to that same ol’ place, our favourite in town when it comes to Indian or Indonesian cuisines.

The previous time we were here, she had it with their Indian butter tandoori chicken so this time, she had the other favourite of hers…

Masala mutton & biryani rice
*photo taken by my girl using her smartphone*

– the masala mutton/lamb and biryani rice combination (RM21.00).

She also ordered this cheese aloo gobi naan (RM12.00)…

Cheese aloo gobi naan

…with the lovely mashed cauliflower and potato filling to share.

The mum wanted the tandoori garlic naan (RM5.00)…

Tandoori garlic naan
*Archive photo*

…and she asked for the aforementioned  butter tandoori chicken (RM15.50)…

Tandoori butter chicken
*Archive photo*

…to go with it.

I decided to try something from the Indonesian menu and ordered the ayam bakar berempah rice (RM14.50)...

Ayam bakar berempah with kerabu and rice

The chicken was very nice, very different from the ayam berempah at the Malay shops and stalls – theirs are dry whereas this one had a lovely coating of its very delightful sauce. I let my girl try and yes, she agreed that it was very nice too.

We were still seated inside owing to the SOP requirements and taking snapshots in the dim conditions can be quite challenging. I tried using the torch in my antique smartphone and it did not turn out too bad – a lot nicer than trying to shoot in the dark, I must say.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab and the bill came up to RM74.00 but the nice and generous boss gave her RM30.00 change for the RM100.00 that she paid.

The 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.

I insist…

I did not feel like going out, that day on my 68th birthday on the 2nd of December, but my girl insisted that we went out for dinner, her treat.

She and her mum ordered this very nice blackforest cake from Marcus…

Marcus' blackforest cake

…and they went to collect it at the house at 4.00 p.m.

We asked my sister to join us as well and we agreed to go early, at around 6.00 p.m. so that if there would be a crowd, they would most probably come later, past 7 perhaps, by which time we would have finished and could take to our heels if there were too many people.

We had lunch here once, their special weekend lunchtime menu, but we never went back again even though we quite liked what we had there that day. However, we had never had anything from their regular menu so we were looking forward to giving it a try.

We ordered this bacon mashed potato (RM12.00)…

Hideout bacon mashed potato

…as our side dish but the other dishes were a bit slow in coming so by the time the next one came, we had licked this one clean…and yes, of course it was nice! You just can’t go wrong with bacon – I think I shall do the same when I make my own one of these days.

My girl wanted the cheesy truffle fries (RM22.00)…

Hideout cheesy truffle fries

…for our other side dish. According to Wiki, “because of their high price and their pungent aroma, truffles are used sparingly,” and yes, I could detect the smell and frankly, I was quite put off by it so no, I did not think I liked it very much but the ladies seemed to enjoy it.

We had the aglio olio bacon pasta (RM16.00)…

Hideout aglio olio bacon pasta

…which was good, of course, since there was bacon too but I was already too full by the time the cured salmon pasta (RM26.00)…

Hideout cured salmon pasta

…came so I did not try that. It seemed that they did not like the pasta so they just left it in the plate while my daughter finished off the cured salmon – she did enjoy that…I think.

I expected my girl to order her favourite pepperoni pizza but instead, she asked for the bacon alfredo pizza (RM28.00)…

Hideout bacon alfredo pizza 1

…thin crust…

Hideout bacon alfredo pizza 2

…and yes, we did like it!

My sister that she had the pork burger once when she was here before and it was very good so I wanted that (RM26.00)…

Hideout prok burger

…too especially after I saw the one KY had! Oh? He didn’t really enjoy his truffle chips either – in his own words, “as for the truffle chips, it was a disappointment, there’s a hint of truffle oil perhaps but it’s also like saying you can see a hint of Chow Yun Fatt in me cos we’re both Asian.” LOL!!! Well, the burger was nice but it wasn’t anything to get me jumping with delight and no, you will not see me rushing back for more.

The total came up to RM130.00 and water was FOC. There were quite a number of tables though it was not really crowded but boy, that place was HOT!!! It opens at 5.00 p.m. so if they had switched on the air conditioning at that time, by the time we got there at 6.00 p.m., it should be nice and cool already. I don’t know when they turned it on but the whole time I was there, I kept a copy of their menu and used it to fan myself vigorously. By the time we left, at around 7.30 p.m., it was just a little bit cooler, not really that comfortably cold yet.

I did not like the songs they were playing either. I guess those were the current hits, the favourites of the young and trendy – this old ancient relic, a dinosaur, did not know a single one of them…but personally, at such places, I am quite particular about songs that they choose to be included their repertoire, something light and easy, songs that will create a pleasant ambiance and put one in the right mood for a lovely evening. I think I did mention that in this post sometime ago. Well, I guess I should be thankful and bless my lucky stars that they did not play any of those K-pop songs, the current craze.

All in all, however, I would say that we quite enjoyed the food and mingling among ourselves, thank you so much to my girl for the special birthday treat!

HIDEOUT 2.301547, 111.843569) is located at 4-D, No. 31, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada) in the area of shops around Kin Hock Supermarket (formerly Gafu) in the block of shops at the back behind Kim Hock Premier Food Court, on your left in the lane/road to the right of Nam Heong Ipoh.