Different ways…

My Facebook friend, Lucas, dropped by my house to pass me this…

Dabai paste

He cooked the dabai (our local black olives) and went through the chore of peeling off the  skin and using the very rich and creamy inside to make the paste which he said would go so well with bread.

I’ve done that before but I only needed a few to cook my dabai fried rice. It was very nice, much nicer than using the salted/fermented version but because it was so tedious, I never did it again. That day, since I had this paste, I decided to use a bit to fry some leftover ethnic brown rice that I had in the fridge…

My dabai fried rice

…and yes, it turned out really well.

I thought it would be nice with chips or nachos like those avocado guacamole dips but I did not have any in the house so I had it with some Osborne biscuits and yes, it was really good.

Of course, Lucas did not go home empty-handed – I gave him some of my best-in-the-world rambutans

My rambutans

…but initially, I did not get any comment from him so I did not really know what he thought of it. Later, he told me that when he got back to his workplace, his workers ate all of them and did not even leave one for him. Oh dear!!!

I did give some to the people at the workshop I go to too that day when I took my car for its routine servicing. Initially, nobody batted an eyelid – I guess durians would draw a whole lot more attention, not rambutans but the boss tried one and he exclaimed, “Ha mik angmotan chee leh anay ho ciak eh?” (What rambutan is this, so very nice?) and he kept eating one after another. Everybody rushed for it and the whole bagful was gone in no time at all. LOL!!!

I have been plucking the fruit and giving to family and friends and of course, everyone loved it so much. Unfortunately, the tree has grown very high and wide so it is rather difficult to get to the fruits – I would have to saw the trunks to bring them down to pluck them. I wonder how long it will take to grow back and start bearing fruits again – the last time I had it trimmed and got all those parasitic plants and wild orchids on the branches cleared was in March last year and it did not take all that long to grow back again and yield a bountiful harvest.

Of course, I gave some to the wonderful people at Payung who had helped me with the tree twice already – Andy, in particular, likes it very much and talking about the café, I did drop by the other day and they had this (RM19.00)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken spaghetti 1

…on the menu now, their very nice butter chicken served with spaghetti.

I’ve always enjoyed the dish with rice and they came out with this idea of serving it in a different way – with pasta. There were a whole lot of tomatoes…

Payung Cafe butter chicken spaghetti 2

…in the gravy so it came across like a very mild version of the bolognese sauce…thankfully! I am not a fan of this tomato-based pasta sauce especially when it is too strong on the tomato and comes across like tomato sauce straight from the bottle.

I enjoyed it all right but I was not crazy about having to wrestle with the bones – I mentioned that to Andy and he said that they were just trying it out and in future, they would use deboned chicken cubes instead like the meat in their chicken or beef spaghetti.

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


Still remember…

One of the most rewarding things about being a teacher is when the students still remember you, even those whom you do not have the opportunity to teach. I feel sad for those whose names their students cannot even remember – that thin one, wore spectacles…or that fierce one with a very loud voice and so on and so forth. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Well, this group of ex-students of mine in Kanowit around 1980…

Ex-SMK Kanowit students
*Ex-student’s photo forwarded via Facebook*

…sure remember me still, praise the Lord. They could even recall that I was their Form Teacher for two years when they were in Form 2 and Form 3. I was not able to attend their 2017 reunion in December that was held in Bintulu and the other day, out of the blue, one of them contacted me and  invited me to join them for dinner here, upstairs…

Sibu Town Cafe

I was quite surprised as I was not expecting it at all – I did hear from one of them that they will hold another reunion in Sibu sometime later this year and this wasn’t it. It sure was great to see all of them again and I felt so very happy that they are doing so well in their lives. I guess nothing makes a teacher happier than seeing ex-students making it good once they have left school.

My photographs did not come out too well except for this plate of the Four Heavenly Kings…

Sibu Town Cafe Four Heavenly Kings with canned pork cubes

…that went so very well with the canned pork cubes it was fried with and this one, a sourish pork leg soup…

Sourish pork leg soup

According to them, they were all their traditional Cantonese Hakka dishes including the sour duck, roast and soy sauce kampung pig pork and there was a plate of kampung chicken too plus the fried sweet potato leaves were very nicely done as well.

One of them went and bought this ikan semah

Steamed ikan semah
*Ex-student’s photo forwarded via Facebook*

…the upriver Kapit fish, second only to the very expensive wang poo liao (cannot forget) or the empurau and this one did not come cheap either – RM180 a kilo and the one we had was 1.4 kilo altogether. He got it from the brother of one of their classmates who was not with us that night and of course, it was very very fresh and very very nice unlike some empuraus that I have had lately, frozen too long and I thought they were kind of bland, quite tasteless and could have been any other fish.

We had a joyful evening filled with lots of smiles and I sure look forward to the next time we can get together like this again. Thank you all for the invitation and thank you especially to Hoi Kian, the host for the evening. May God bless you abundantly and everybody too in this new year and all the years ahead. Cheers!!!

SIBU TOWN CAFE (2.328216, 111.855481) is located at Ulu Sungai Merah 18F, opposite the Wonderful Supermarket and Departmental Store in that area of shops.

Put it together…

If you see these red lanterns here, there and everywhere around town…

CNY lanterns 1

…you will know right away that Chinese New Year is drawing very near…

CNY lanterns 2

…but of course, when it comes to the one and only Payung Café here, you can expect to see something unique, something very different from the rest every year.

This was what they had last year, 2017…

Payung CNY decor 2017

…and some people wanted that same thing for the Chinese New Year decoration at their premises this year.

It so happened that I dropped by that afternoon and Peter and his boys were very busy working on it. He had all the things…

Putting it together 1


Putting it together 2

…and all they had to do was to put everything together…

Putting it together 3

…step by step…

Putting it together 4

…piece by piece…

Putting it together 5

…till it was done…

Putting it together 6

Peter never planned ahead – I had expected a rough sketch or something that he could work on but no, he just followed his instincts so of course, it would not be an identical replica of the old one. I have yet to see it on display with the lights and everything on but for one thing, the one this year is vertical as opposed to last year’s which was horizontal – probably that has something to do with the wall at the place, the space available.

While I was there, I had the opportunity to sample their durian cake…

Payung durian cake

This was their 3rd attempt at making that. The first time was very successful – I thought it was really nice but the second attempt failed to meet the mark – too much flour and not enough fresh durian cream so it was back to the drawing board and the third time around, I thought it was really very good, very fine and smooth – something like a cross between cake and bingka, not really like dodol, and like their banana cake…

Payung banana cake with ice cream

…it went so very well with a bit of ice cream…

Payung durian cake with ice cream

I don’t know if it is on their menu now or not – I have not dropped by since. Do give it a try if it is and see if you like it!

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.

My friends…

I dropped by Peter’s place the other day because I saw on Facebook that he had some cooked durian paste, his own version of the tempoyak but non-fermented…

Payung's tempoyak 2017

…for sale at RM18.00 per plastic tub.

I’ve tried it before…

Payung's tempoyak 2015
*Archive photo*

…when he gave me a tub in 2015 and it was so very nice – that was why I quickly rushed there the very next morning to grab some for myself. We could just eat this with rice and nothing else and finish one tub in one sitting but of course, we went a bit slow with it and stretched it to two sittings, lunch and dinner.

When I got there, the whole place was buried with durians – it seemed that one of Peter’s staff went back to Kapit for the new year and she kept sending him a whole lot from somebody’s orchard. He had to pay for them, of course, and that guy was just too nice to say no, don’t send anymore. I wanted three tubs of the tempoyak but they gave me four, one extra on the house. Aren’t they such wonderful people, these guys at Payung?

Well, one thing’s for sure, they now have a whole lot of fresh durian cream for their durian ice cream…

Payung durian ice cream
*Archive photo*

…and I just could not resist ordering one myself that day to enjoy. For one thing, the cream at this point in time was really very fresh and was simply out of this world…and because they had it in abundance, I specially requested for extra durian cream and yes, Andy gave me a whole lot of it! The most embarrassing thing was I was so caught up with everything, all that chit chat and all, that not only did I forget to take a new snapshot of it, overflowing with the cream, but I also forgot to pay for it even! *Face palm*

Actually, I went back there that very afternoon as that morning, they gave me some of the dabai


…they got from the same source and it was so very good, so very rich and creamy and the skin was very thin, the best I have had this season and I just had to go and buy more. I insisted on paying for it, of course – after all, they did not get it free but they only took RM15.00 from me for 1 kilo and Andy filled the bag with so much, easily 2 kilo, at least!

I noticed that they had started on their Chinese New Year decorations…

Payung Chinese New Year decoration 1

…but they were so caught up with this whole thing with the fruits…

Payung Chinese New Year decoration 2

…that they had to leave it unfinished for the time being…

Payung Chinese New Year decoration 3

I sure can’t wait to see when it is all done…

Payung Chinese New Year decoration 4

…and knowing Peter, I bet it will be really awesome.

In the meantime, another dear friend of mine, Mary, sent word asking me to drop by her place to collect this huge platter of steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Mary, Flavours Thai Kitchen 1

Oh dear!!! She gave me that before

Steamed kampung chicken from Mary, Flavours Thai Kitchen

…and I do recall another time before that, the chicken with her very nice butter chicken rice) and frankly, I just don’t know how I can reciprocate in return for their kindness and generosity.

I truly am blessed to have such great friends, praise the Lord! May God bless them all this day and every day throughout the new year, 2018!

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 while FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Sign on the door…

We dropped by here

Cafe IND

…on Christmas Eve but the sign on the door said they were closed right through the weekend till after Boxing Day.

When we went back again the day after Boxing Day, though the place was open, the sign said CLOSED. Thankfully, that was because they forgot to flip over the OPEN/CLOSED sign hanging there and finally, my girl was able to sit down to enjoy her vegetable bryani

Cafe IND vegetable bryani

She was planning to order that the previous time we were here so this time around, she got to give it a try. She enjoyed it very much, just that for want of a little bit of gravy, she wished it had been the bryani rice served with vegetable curry by the side. In the end, she had to help herself to what was in her mum’s Indonesian kalio ayam

Cafe IND kalio ayam

…which was rather overly spicy – the mum would always request for her orders to be tambah pedas as she loved it that way.

I didn’t have much gravy in my order that day either – the Indonesian beef rendang with rice…

Cafe IND beef rendang with rice

…but it was all right as I could mix the very very nice rendang

Cafe IND beef rendang

…or the lovely kacang (peanuts) and ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

Cafe IND kacang & ikan bilis

…with the rice and enjoy eating it that way.

I would say the rendang was very much nicer than the one I had here, truly like rendang as I know it to be, and an added bonus would be the fact that it was spicy, unlike the one at that other place.

Needless to say, that sure was one delightful lunch at one of our favourite cafés/restaurants in town and if you’re wondering why I have not mentioned the prices in this post, I seem to have misplaced the chit from the cash register and that was quite sometime ago, a bit too long for this cranky old brain to retain. LOL!!!

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.


Day two…

The second day they were here, my cousins and the mum went for the kampua mee and the pian sip here…

Hock Lok Hong Cafe Shop
*Cousin’s collage on Facebook*

Some would swear by it and insist it is the best in town but I did go and try once and I was not all that impressed. I did like their pian sip very much though but considering how parking in that area can be such a pain, I do not mind settling for less. It was easy for them as they were staying at the hotel round the corner – they could just walk over and yes, they shared the same sentiments as mine – they thought they preferred what they had at the coffee shop in Sungai Merah that I took them to the day before, the moment they arrived in town.

After that, they went shopping and for lunch, they managed to come here for the Foochow delights – the mee sua in traditional red wine chicken soup, the char bee lau (fragrant root) and the pek ting eyok (eight treasures) pork leg…

Wan Jia He Cafe
*Cousin’s collage on Facebook*

Of course, they enjoyed their picks to the max and I would say they were lucky as they went there past noon and they were still open and they still had what they wanted left.

I had to be at my mum’s place as usual that morning so I could only pick them up here after they had had their lunch. I took them here to buy some freshly ground coffee

Mui Hock coffee
*Cousin’s photo on Facebook*

…to take home and then we went to a shop in the vicinity of the Sibu Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah) to try the lung ngor (Sibu Foochow egg cake) but they did not think it was all that great and did not buy any. Next, we were off to Rejang Park to buy the kompia and chu nu miang from my favourite shop there. Only the mum was around and she was closing shop for the day – luckily, there were still some left so my aunt was able to buy and take back to Kuching.

Next, we were off to this factory, Sing Aik Seng at No. 1, Ek Dee Road, off Lanang Road here, the importer and distributer of the Shandong groundnuts

Sibu groundnuts
*Archive photo*

Actually, my aunt just bought 4 kg (RM50.00) through my uncle who came that day and he also bought 4 kg for himself. Well, as a matter of fact, it was I who went all the way there to buy for them. You can buy them at some of the local sundry/grocery shops too but at a higher price and they also pack them in nice pink or orange foil bags for sale at the shops and supermarkets but of course, those would be even more expensive. Well, they’re not all that cheap now, RM12.50 for a kilo and to think that three years ago, it was only RM9.00.

Well, what happened was when one of my cousins told her friends she would be coming here, they asked her to buy the “Sibu groundnuts” and she asked me to buy 2 kg for her and I had done that before they came. I passed them to her and in their hotel room, the sister tried and of course, she too wanted to buy some for herself. That was why I had to go there again, the third time in a month. LOL!!!

After that, we headed back to their hotel and that night, we had dinner here and of course, we had their specialty, the ikan bawal putih (white pomfret)…

New Capital white pomfret

…but they did not want the checkerboard duck that is my girl’s favourite.

For the vegetable dish, we tried their dou miao (snow pea shoots/豆苗) with taugeh (bean sprouts)…

New Capital dou miao taugeh

…and everyone enjoyed it and yes, they agreed to try the bitter gourd omelette too and they liked it as well.

No, we did not miss their very nice Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

New Capital sio bee

…and yes, of course, they bought some frozen ones to take home too!

The mum insisted on ordering a pork dish and we had these ribs…

New Capital pork ribs

…which were to everyone’s liking too.

Next post, Day Three – the morning before their flight back to Kuching. Stay tuned!

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 and WAN JIA HE CAFE 万家合茶室 is at No.28 & 30, Jalan Mission, back to back with the Hong Leong Bank, Sibu Gateway branch, while the NEW CAPITAL RESTAURANT 新首都酒家 (2.288619, 111.830057) is located at No. 46, Lebuh Tanah Mas, off Jalan Kampung Nyabor, in the block of shops opposite the Sarawak House/Premier Hotel at the very far end on the right.

Who’s comin’ now?…

My maternal uncle and his family from Kuching were here earlier in December and a paternal cousin from Sydney, Australia was in Sibu around Christmas and on Boxing Day, my maternal cousins and their mum came over from Kuching for two nights only.

That morning, we had an early lunch here and of course, the ladies had their nasi kerabu with ayam percik (RM6.50)…

Warong Cafe nasi kerabu with ayam percik

…but I wanted to give their nasi ayam (RM5.50)…

Warong Cafe nasi ayam

…a try and yes, it was very good, another option I would not mind having when we drop by here again.

After that, I dropped my missus off at the house and my girl and I headed to the airport to pick our visitors flying in on the noontime flight – there wasn’t enough space in my little car for the 6 of us, 5 would fit in quite nicely.

They wanted kampua noodles the moment they landed and they did not want the very popular one here as they use the thinner curly noodles, not all that authentic and yes, I would agree that although theirs is really very nice and I do enjoy it a lot myself, like what some people say, it is more like a cross between Sibu kampua and Kuching kolo mee.

It was already past 1.00 p.m. so many places would have been closed by then but thankfully, the one here at Sungai Merah was open. My cousins had the “black” version…

Choon Seng coffee shop kampua mee, black

…with dark soy sauce while the mum had the “white”…

Choon Seng Coffee Shop kampua mee, white

…and they ordered this bowl of pian sip

Choon Seng Coffee Shop pian sip, soup

…too. Needless to say, they enjoyed their orders and of course, they had the coffee too, the favourite of many, locals and visitors alike.

They brought along with them a whole lot of things including these packs of bee pang, literally translated as fragrant rice…

Bee pang

…and this special homemade pumpkin dodol

Pumpkin dodol

…and one of my cousins bought these gluten-free goodies for my girl…

Gluten-free goodies from Kuching

…and the other cousin, who is into baking those artisan breads, brought along this…

Panettone 1

…specially for us, her own homemade panettone…

Panettone 2

I tried that once in New Zealand but I was not at all thrilled by it – I thought it was something like a cross between bread and cake and my friend, Annie, in KL sent me one one year and no, it did not get me jumping up and down with delight either, other than the fact that it was indeed a very much appreciated VERY expensive gift.

This one, however, was a different story altogether – looking at all her photos on Facebook of the tedious process she had to go through, it truly was a labour of love. The candied orange peel alone took one week but all that effort put into the making of this sure paid off. It was so very very nice…

Panettone 3

…soft and fluffy with the most delightful fragrance and taste of the orange peel and whatever else that went into it. Now, THIS pannetone is definitely to die for, truly a class of its own, not the ones at the shops and supermarkets in the big cities, thank you very much.

Perhaps, my somewhat mediocre snapshots don’t do much justice to it but my cousin did give one to my uncle and his family too – the ones who were here in Sibu and one of his daughters shared this gorgeous collage of photographs of the one they got…

Pannetone 4
*Cousin’s collage on Facebook*

Thank you all so much for the gifts you brought and of course, that night, I took them out for dinner…

Dinner at Payung
*Cousin’s collage on Facebook*

…and no prize for guessing where we went.

Even before they came, one of my cousins were already saying that she would want to drop by here for the jelly pisang and banana cake. Of course, we had a lot more than just the belimbing prawns and the green chicken curry but they were so excited by all the nice dishes that they dived in right away the moment they were served and did not take any photographs of the rest…and they even made bookings for their otak-otak and their Payung fish (ikan keli) to take home to Kuching.

More on their visit coming up in the next post. Stick around!

WARONG CAFE (2.318841, 111.831732), formerly Sri Tanjung Cafe, is located among the shops in between Jalan Tapang and Jalan Tapang Timur towards the end of Jalan Kampung Nangka on the left – RTM Sibu is located right across the road on the right while CHOON SENG COFFEE SHOP /春陞茶室 (2.324218, 111.838197) is located along along Lorong Wong Ting Hock 1, off Jalan Wong Ting Hock, off Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg at the Sungai Merah Bazaar here and 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.