Such a long time…

This restaurant…

New Capitol Restaurant

…is now the oldest in town after some other people took over the other one and I hear they have a new menu, not quite the same old school dishes as before anymore.

I did mention the other day that they are making curry puffs for sale now so I dropped by in the hope of grabbing a few to try. Unfortunately, the lady told me that they are made to order and if I would leave my contact number, they could call me when there is an order and they could set aside some for me. I decided not to take up the suggestion because of the traffic congestion in that area and parking is near impossible. Now that the lockdown is more or less over, things have gone back to normal around here.

Anyway, since I was already there that day, I decided to grab a pack of 20 of their Sibu Foochow sio bee (meat dumplings)…

New Capitol Restaurant sio bee

Gosh!!! It had been such a long time since when I last had any, the lovely ones from here. We did not have them at our anniversary reunion lunch in April last year nor when I was there with some ex-schoolmates/classmates more recently in February this year. I think it was in September last year when my cousin and hubby and her son were here from Brisbane, Australia.

Yes, we really enjoyed the ones I brought home that day so so much! I did not take note of how much I paid for them that day – I remember at one time, it was RM1.60 each, probably more than that now but I would say it is value for money as it is clearly a cut above all the rest, the cheaper ones with prices ranging around RM1.00 each.

Another thing that I had not had for such a long time would be our pulut panggang, glutinous rice with santan (coconut milk) wrapped in banana leaf and cooked slowly and painstakingly over hot charcoal. For a long time, the best would be the Haji Luguk ones or what we call Kate panggang and the last time I bought any was in December last year when I ordered a lot to cart over to Kuching to give to everybody when we went for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding and even then, I only managed to get them via special order through the nice lady at Bandong.

That morning, I dropped by the Malay kuih stalls at Simpang Tiga to see if they had any and the nice and pleasant guy there told me that they have stopped making already. No love lost, I’d say, as it seemed that since the old man died, the quality had gone down the drain. Of course, I bought some, still RM1.00 each…

Pulut panggang 1

…and cheaper than the Hj. Luguk ones by 10 sen.

The guy asked me where I went for so long and I told him I was here in Sibu all the time, didn’t go anywhere. Obviously he could still remember me as I used to drop by quite frequently when my parents were still around – their house was 500 metres up one of the roads from Simpang Tiga and he had not seen me for such a long time.

I had the pulut panggang

Pulut panggang 2

…that I bought with brown sugar as there was neither kaya not condensed milk in the house (my missus likes eating it just like that) and yes, these were very good – no need to go and look for the Hj. Luguk’s ones anymore.

Incidentally, I’ve tried the other tub of Häagen-Dazs ice cream that I bought at Ta Kiong that day, the cookies and cream (RM38.90)…

Häagen-Dazs cookies & cream

…and no, it sure did not get me jumping with delight, not like the mango raspberry one.

When I removed the seal, I found it was hard like any other ice cream so I had to wait quite a bit and by the time I could scoop some out to try, I noticed that it was already melting – just like the vanilla in a cup one that I bought to try that first time at Bukit Bintang in KL and ended up finishing it like drinking milk. It wasn’t anything sensational, just vanilla ice cream with those bits of (Oreo) cookies – at that price, I sure would not want to buy it again, thank you very much!

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/King’s Trioplex/Premier Hotel at the very far end on the right while the KAMPUNG HILIR MALAY KUIH STALLS (2.306488, 111.818695) are located near Simpang Tiga at the end of Jalan Kampung Hilir, with the SEDC HAWKER CENTRE behind it and the MDS MART facing those hawker stalls and TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Said I would…

I said I would come back here to try the fried noodles and I did – the other day when my friend/ex-student, Louis, was in town on a work-related trip.

The last time I saw him was in February when we went for that lady’s kampua mee, my favourite in town. Incidentally, I did drive past there to see but no, there was still no sign of her. Anyway, Louis is now residing with his family in Kuching and of course, all this while, he was not able to come back to Sibu until now and even then, the airfare sure was not cheap – over RM500 return, Kuching -Sibu.

Louis saw my post on the kampua mee that I had that day and he said he would like to drop by there and try. His office was on the 1st floor next door when he was still single and working in Sibu and that was exactly what he had that morning…

A-Plus kampua special

…and yes, he enjoyed it, of course!

I had the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version…

A-Plus fried mee, moon

…and yes, it was very nice. I think that would be RM5.00 a plate and RM6.00, if you ask for the special. As I was leaving, I saw the boss frying a plate of tomato kway teow, special and it looked very good too. Now that would be what I would have the next time I drop by here.

Thank you so much for the breakfast treat, Louis. We’ll do it again the next time you’re in town – my treat, of course!

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

When life is good again…

These are hard times. Many have not had any income for the last three months, many have been retrenched or have had their salaries cut but personally, I do feel there are ways by which one may earn a little bit to make one’s ends meet until the time comes when life is good again…hopefully!

There was this muscle-packed fitness instructor who went and worked for a vegetable seller and this flight steward from Sibu who used his time to make those lovely Sarawak ethnic traditional costumes for Barbie & Ken dolls and I saw on Facebook an Indian guy who set up a stall by the roadside to sell nasi lemak and there was also one guy who lost his job and went into Grab food delivery and of course, there are that Indian girl and her hubby, now Youtube celebrities and everything is going so well for them.

I am quite sure there are things one can do if one wants to do it instead of depending on charity, lining up all day in the sun and the rain for the government’s meagre handout. I pay the guy who comes once a month to cut my grass and sweep it all up RM50 each time and an extra RM50 on special occasions like Hari Raya or Christmas or Chinese New Year. There are many things to do in my garden and how much I will pay will depend on how hard the job is and how long it will take…if anyone is interested.

We are not being confined that much anymore these days but no, things are not getting any better, definitely nothing like those days before COVID-19. Business at the restaurants and coffee shops is obviously very quiet and very slow and if you remember, I did mention the other day that the people here have resorted to making steamed meat paos and sio bee (meat dumplings) and there is another restaurant where they are making curry puffs for sale to supplement their income.

Likewise, those at one of our favourite restaurants in town have set up a kampua noodles stall…

A-PLUS kampua mee stall

…in front of their shop with the boss doing all the cooking, the wife taking care of the drinks and the children doing the serving. My good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, shared a photo of the kampua mee pok he had here and the very next day, his cousin, meowsai_foodie on Instagram, shared his photographs on Facebook so I wasted no time at all in dropping by to check things out.

The kampua mee (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS kampua mee

…was so very good, bursting with the fragrances of the fried shallots and fried garlic and the guy sure was very generous with those. He uses his special kampua noodles, different from all the rest as extra eggs are used in the making to make it more Q-Q (firmer). not unlike their own handmade noodles here.

Another plus point in this guy’s favour is how he uses real char siew (roasted/barbecued meat/pork) unlike most of the other places where they will give you boiled pork coloured red…and at one time, there was a ban on the artificial colouring used.

I also asked for the pian sip (meat dumplings) and fish balls soup (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS pian sip & fish balls soup

– if you ask for the special, you will get both the mee and the soup for RM6.00. Yes, it was very nice – the pian sip was great but I thought there was too much pepper in the fish balls and I am not exactly fond of that. The next time I have this, I shall ask for just the pian sip.

You can also order some fried noodle dishes and the boss will cook it for you. I had their Foochow fried noodles once but I did not like how the gravy was clear and even though it was nice, it wasn’t something I would want to order again. However, as I was leaving that morning, I saw him frying some mee in the hot wok and it looked really good – I asked him and he said it was the moon version. Now, I sure would want to try that the next time I come here. He also told me they are serving zhao chai hung ngang and that Foochow delight with ikan patin fish head. Well, I am neither crazy about the fish nor the dish so I’d probably opt for something else instead.

Incidentally, this kampua mee stall opens from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. only, off days on Tuesdays, because from 10.30 a.m. onwards, they have economy fast food with 17 dishes to choose from in their buffet spread. We were here for that once and even though at that time, they did not have so many choices, we thought it was very nice and we sure enjoyed what we had. I guess they are going out full swing to attract more of the crowd on their lunchtime break to come here.

They open in the evening for dinner at 5.00 p.m., the boss said and I told him I was here a couple of times to tapao some food home but they were still closed and he said the workers will come at 5 and they will have to eat first before they open the doors and start work. I guess the early bird does not always catch the worm.

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Lunch…

Last Sunday, Father’s Day, since we were planning to have a special dinner, I told the ladies not to cook anything for lunch and I would go out and buy something to tide us over till evening.

I dropped by here…

Pizza box

…and ordered a pepperoni pizza, takeaway (RM28.00)…

Pepperoni pizza

We had not had pizza for so long that I could not even remember exactly when that was. I think the last time was at their sister restaurant in early March, before COVID-19, and of course, there, we would not settle for anything less than their very nice spinach and egg pizza.

Yes, that was as good as it looked – thin crust with cheese and pepperoni, nothing really exciting but beggars can’t be choosers. We do prefer the pizzas (and most everything else) at that other place.

I also ordered their seafood pasta aglio olio (RM28.00)…

Seafood aglio olio

…and yes, this was very good, very generous with the herbs used and that gave it a really nice fragrance and flavour. They use their own-made pasta here – I always see them sharing the photographs on their Facebook page and it looked like there were two types in what we had – yellow and green…

Ownmade pasta

My girl was deliriously happy to get the chance to enjoy pizza again, never mind that it could have been better. I sure do know her very well and what makes her happy…and I sure wasn’t wrong.

CAFFEINE CAFE (2.302620, 111.842988) is located on the ground floor of Wisma Liberty, Block 3, Lorong Dr Wong Soon Kai 7, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada) – on your left, past the Jalan Ulu Oya Road (Sacred Heart School) traffic lights if you are coming from town.

Just wait…

I mentioned in my blogpost that day that on days when we did not have any food for dinner, instead of cooking something, I would just go out and buy. That was what I did on one of those days and this…

Sugar Bun promotion
*This promotion has been extended till mid-July*

…was where I went, our Sarawak’s own fast food franchise.

I bought two sets, fish and rice…

Sugar Bun fish & rice

…and one set eco-fish meal…

Sugar Bun eco-fish meal

…and I also asked for three pieces of their broasted chicken…

Sugar Bun broasted chicken

The girl said that I would have to wait for 15 minutes and I said I was perfectly all right with that.

I guess I was charged the regular prices as I did not ask them about the aforementioned promotion so I was charged RM47.00 altogether, a bit more than what I had to fork out here, but it was all right. I gave them a fifty and told them to keep the change. After all, I wasn’t there because of the bargains – I went merely because my girl does enjoy the stuff from these fast food franchises. Personally, I find the things a bit expensive and with that kind of money, one can easily get something a whole lot nicer (and cheaper) elsewhere.

I told the girls I would go off somewhere and will be back to collect my orders. I went to the bank at the end of that same block and then I went to the bakery opposite to grab some croissants for my girl for breakfast. There was no one there initially but when I got back, there were three others waiting. One by one, they got their orders and left and after half an hour or so, I was still there waiting.

I asked the girls and they told me to just wait. I saw pieces of the chicken, already ready, in the food warmer but it seemed they were waiting for the fish. The guy had fried one earlier but the girls gave it to somebody else so I was made to wait for another one. Once fried, the fish went into the food warmer while the girls just stood around dilly-dallying and chit-chatting away. My patience was growing thin so I gave them a piece of my mind. They quickly got all my orders together and passed me the bags – if looks could kill, I would have been dead already!!!

Honestly, I do not mind paying more if the food is great and the service is good but I just can’t stand this kind of shoddy service – we are treated a whole lot better at some cheap coffee shops.

Another thing I noticed was how the tables were all over the place, not arranged nicely and neatly, like they were not having any customers dining in…or maybe, they would have to go to the inner section beside the washrooms. A file and a pen and a bottle of sanitiser were placed on one of the tables – I don’t recall seeing a temperature gun and they did not give a damn whether you follow the SOP or not. I do think the management should look into a few things at this outlet and set things right before it gets worse!

SUGAR BUN@PEDADA, the Delta Mall outlet (2.310929, 111.846391), is located facing Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Datuk Wong Soon Kai, in the block of shops on the left – ASTRO Sibu is the first shop in the block on the right.

Not far…

That day, when I stopped by here to buy some food home for dinner, while I was waiting for them to cook and get my orders ready, I went outside and strolled down the road, not far, less than 100 metres away, maybe around 50 only, to this place…

Little Umbrella

…round the corner.

This used to be a very popular place for people to hang out at night, very crowded every evening those days before COVID-19. There is a small chu-char section to the right but I did not buy anything from there as I had already ordered the food from the aforementioned restaurant.

I was here once a long long time ago when my ex-students from overseas wanted to meet there. It did not even have a name/signboard at the time but everyone called it siaw yee sang (小雨傘/little umbrella) probably because of the many umbrellas that they put up over the tables outside in the open air.

They had the place done up nicely not too long ago and they put up the signs with their name on them so it is very much nicer-looking now. I don’t think I ate anything that night or if I did, I guess it was not anything that would get me going back for more. I never did.

This time around, I saw this sign…

Little Umbrella pork burger sign

…there. Gee! It has been so long since I last had a burger and I don’t think I ever had a pork burger before so of course I wanted one to try. I asked for one and said that I wanted the whole works, everything (RM9.00) and stood there waiting.

I saw this girl frying the egg…

Frying the egg

…and assumed that she would be the one making the burger. Obviously I was mistaken as once she was done, she placed the egg on a saucer and brought it over to this guy…

Making the burger

…at his counter. He was the one making the burger while the girl makes the roti john using those long hot dog buns. It’s probably quite good as while I was waiting for my burger, a lady in a flashy 4WD stopped by and placed her order for a few to take home. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

Once the burger was done, I took it…

Little Umbrella burger and fries

…home and tried it right away to see if it was any good.

It was somewhat disappointing, rather bland…

Little Umbrella homemade pork burger

…and it did not help much at all even when I added my own bottled chili sauce. I guess one can tell by the look of the patty, so pale – nothing like the one in the photograph.

Well, I don’t know if I will ever drop by here again and should I happen to do so, perhaps I’ll try the girl’s roti john or something from the chu char section, no more pork burger for me, thank you very much.

LITTLE UMBRELLA CAFÉ & RESTAURANT (2.291920, 111.827852) is located at No. 1-2, Brooke Drive.

Times are hard…

Some days, we will have leftovers from the previous day for lunch and cook something else for dinner. I am not entirely fond of that as we will not be able to finish and the next day, we will be eating leftovers again. That was why the other day, I said instead of cooking, I would go out and buy a few dishes for our dinner.

I was rather early, around 5.00 p.m. and most of the Chinese chu char places were still closed. Much to my delight, as I was driving past this one, one of our favourites in town, it was open so I parked the car and went in with my tiffin carrier and placed my orders.

The lady boss was not her usual cheerful self so I asked her if things were getting any better. She said, “Char th’nee, char tay!” (An expression in Hokkien meaning, “Far from it!”) Indeed, it did seem very quiet, a far cry from what it was like before. In the past, if you did not have a reservation, you might as well go some place else as the place was always full.

There wasn’t anybody there when I went in but I noticed that somebody had ordered a few dishes to be taken home for some kind of celebration…and by the time I was done, a couple with a kid and an old man went in. They were making steamed bak paos and sio bee probably to supplement their income and make up for the loss brought about by this COVID-19. I did not buy any to try as the next day was Friday, our no-meat day.

I asked for my girl’s favourite sizzling beef (RM18.00)…

Nice House sizzling beef

…but of course, since I was taking it home to eat, we would have to do without the hot plate.

I also wanted another dish that we enjoy a lot here, their ang sio tauhu (RM9.00)…

Nice House ang sio tauhu

…using their very special own-made tofu and their very nice pepper and honey prawn balls (RM16.00)…

Nice House pepper & honey prawn balls

…totalling RM43.00 altogether.

The lady who took my orders asked if they should cook servings for two which usually would be enough for three and of course, it would be cheaper but I told her no, I wanted servings for three. After all, I don’t think we will be coming here to eat, not anytime in the near future, I’m sure and besides, we had not enjoyed their dishes for some three months or more now.

When I got home, my girl was super delighted and she asked for more rice for dinner that evening. We managed to finish the beef and we had the rest of the prawns the following day, Friday but the tofu had to wait till Saturday. Nothing went to waste.

NICE HOUSE RESTAURANT (2.29201,111.82739) is located in the vicinity of the Tunku Osman shops, opposite Rejang Bookstore.

Miss you much…

That day, I dropped by Payung Café because we had run out of the traditional Foochow red wine.

One of Peter’s sisters makes that and everytime she would have to let the mother, the matriarch of the family, taste first. Only when she gives her nod of approval would she be able to leave the bottles at Peter’s café for sale. I have not bought the more-often-than-not-rather-diluted ones (even though they tell you it  is unadulterated and sell it to you at a jacked-up price) sold elsewhere for a long long time now, worse if it is sour!

They had this awesomely stunning display of lotus flowers from the pond at Peter’s house…

Lotus flowers at Payung

…there the day before but when I went the following day, the blooms had withered and it did not look as nice anymore. I guess beauty is like that, only temporary.

While I was there, I decided to buy a few things that I had been missing a lot to take home and enjoy – three months sure is a long long time!

I asked for two tubs of their tempoyak – their very special cooked durian paste…

Payong tempoyak

… and Andy insisted on giving me an extra-spicy one for my missus as he knows jolly well that she would love it to bits. We had that for lunch and yes, it was very spicy and we sure loved it to the max. It certainly took a whole lot of effort on our part not to go for a second plate of rice!

I also bought their special own-made beef bolognese sauce with chunks of the meat, not minced, and lots of fresh tomatoes, garlic, mixed Italian herbs and all the rest. I am not a fan of bolognese elsewhere as more often than not, they come across to me like something straight from a bottle of tomato ketchup.

That evening, my girl cooked our own stock of spaghetti to eat with the sauce…

Payung beef spaghetti bolognese

…and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top. Of course it was so good and my girl was thrilled to no end. There is still another pack of the sauce in the freezer – she can cook herself another round of that lovely beef spaghetti bolognese anytime she feels 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.

Come on in…

FINALLY…after over two months, Payung Café decided to open its doors and resume business again. Come on in, everybody!

No, I did not rush there right away to enjoy all the dishes that I loved so well but I did have the intention of ordering some of them to takeaway and enjoy eating them at home even though I do feel everything is best eaten on the spot, piping hot from the stove.

As far as I know, they did carry out a thorough disinfecting process prior to reopening and as for social distancing, that place was never really crowded, anyway and the tables are few and far apart – their big tables for six would be just right for four, if you stick to the 2-metre rule and if you have more than four, you can always ask them to join the tables, no problem at all – plenty to go round.

I also heard that they now open at 8.30 a.m. (usually, 9.30-10.00 a.m.) and they do open on Sundays, formerly their off day. Like before, lei cha is served every Friday and they may have it on other days as well, depending on the demand but what caught my attention was their Facebook post last Friday regarding their chicken biryani. Varun, their authentic North Indian chef, did give us a tub when he dropped by our house during Chinese New Year and we loved it, my girl especially. Of course, we could not eat that on our no-meat day, Friday so I reserved sets for three (RM20.00 each) and collected them the next day, Saturday.

When I opened the tub with the rice…

Payung chicken biryani rice

…the overwhelming fragrances of the exotic spices used in the cooking blew me away!

It came with this chicken dish…

Chicken for the biryani rice

…which looked like curry but was not curry. It had its own taste and had a whole lot of cashew nuts in the gravy and yes, it was so very nice!

The chicken biryani came with these two accompaniments…

Shorba & mint chutney

…the shorba and the mint chutney. The former is a nutty vegetarian lentil soup and we all enjoyed it though I was of the feeling that the chicken dish was quite enough to go with the rice.

The ladies loved the mint chutney which was on the sourish side and actually, my missus says she prefers the biryani rice here. I would say they are different – both good in their own ways, my girl said and anytime nicer than those thus named at the Malay shops and stalls. Well, like I always say, to each his or her own!

Yes, all in all, we did enjoy our lunch and there was so much of everything that we had the same for dinner that evening! Of course, if we were to have it there, one look at it…

Payung Cafe's chicken biryani with shorba & mint chutney

…would sweep us off our feet already even before we start eating it. Somehow or other, a lovely presentation does help in making a dish a lot more enjoyable.

I did hear some talk about them having this as a weekend special and yes, that would be very nice – available on Saturdays and maybe, Sundays as well and leave Fridays to those lei cha lovers, present company not included, thank you very much! LOL!!!

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.

Black…

When I stopped by my neighbourhood shop/mini-supermarket that day and bought the box of dates from Tunisia, the lady boss of the fruit and food shop at the far end in the other block of shops there happened to drop by as well. When she saw me, she said there were packed dishes available at her shop and asked me to go over and have a look.

I bought the beef rendang from those people here not too long ago but we did not think it was all that nice, definitely not something we would want to buy again. This time around, I saw that there was curry but it did not look all that nice either. The boss suggested that but I told him that in my opinion, we would be able to cook better. I did not want the stewed pork as well – we can cook our own too – but I do think it would be nice to have that with mantao.

That left me with just one more choice – the black vinegar pork leg/trotter. I had that the first time when my good friend, Lim’s wife just gave birth and the confinement lady cooked that. Not to be outdone, my missus went and cooked that soon after and yes, she could do it very well – hers was just as nice or maybe even better! Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, she never cooked it again. In the meantime, I had had it here and there – there are people selling it at a few places around town.

Well, after seeing what zmun2 had and drooling all over hers, in the end, I simply could not resist buying a tub (RM30.00)…

Black vinegar pork leg

– at least, that would save my missus the trouble of having to cook something for a day.

It did not look like a lot, not quite enough for two meals – lunch and dinner so I boiled some eggs…

Eggs

…to stew in the sauce when heating up the dish. See my nicely-peeled eggs, Phong Hong! LOL!!!

Yes, there was just enough…

Black vinegar pork leg with stewed eggs

…for our lunch and our dinner that day and yes, I did enjoy it very much. It was a little on the sweet side and I thought it could do with a little bit more black vinegar but on the whole, it was quite all right the way it was. I sure would not mind buying that again the next time I see it at the shop.

OPPS KOPITIAM (2.294073, 111.827333) is located off Jalan Keranji, among the shops opposite the Sibu Public Library while 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. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.