It’s not like that anymore…

Those days, when my girl was teaching in the school in the jungle, we would send her back there on Sundays after the weekend at home so dinner on Sunday night would be a quiet affair, usually leftovers, the mum and I.

Well, it is not like that anymore these days. We would usually go out for lunch on Sundays as come evening, my girl may be busy getting ready for school the next morning. Last Sunday, however, my girl said she would like to go out for an Italian dinner, her treat, and of course, we made our way to our favourite in town. Looking through my posts, it seemed that we had not been here since May last year, so long ago!

To start off, my girl picked the mushroom soup (RM8.00)…

Mushroom soup

…which came with two slices of garlic baguette. We had had this before here and it was always good but not this time around. It was rich and creamy all right but we could hardly detect any taste of mushroom in it. Perhaps we caught them on one of those not-so-good days.

Usually, we would order their seafood aglio olio pasta that we enjoyed a lot but this time around, my girl wanted the pasta al nero di seppia, the one with squid ink (RM24.00)…

Squid ink pasta

…for what she called “the smell of the sea”. Yes, we all agreed that it was very nice, despite the colour and no, there was no unpleasant “chou chor” or fishy smell. I sure would not mind having that again the next time we drop by here. As a matter of fact, among the customers who came in after us, there was a big group and they too asked for the same. It sure is rather popular, it seems.

We did not want a meat dish as we thought that would be too heavy and we decided to order another pasta dish instead. My girl wanted to try their salmone (RM22.00)…

Salome pasta

…with its tomato-based sauce which I quite liked as it was freshly made and did not taste like tomato or bolognese sauce straight from the bottle. Both the ladies loved it too!

Needless to say, my girl wanted a pizza, her favourite here, the Bracio di Ferro, no less or what they now call their spinach egg pizza (RM32.00)…

Bracio de Ferro

…and yes, as always, it was very much to our liking.

Ever since I saw the panna cotta in my blogger friend’s post that day, I had been thinking of going for the one here but much to my dismay, for reasons unknown, they had taken it and also their very nice chocolate fondant off their menu. Now there is just a choice of either their tiramisu or their crème brûlée and I did not feel like one nor the other that night and decided to go without dessert in the end.

Service was great and prompt – the very nice and friendly young boy and girls were conversant in English and even though they did make some attempt to communicate with us in Mandarin, we would not let them. After all, this is a western restaurant, period. They used to play nicer songs – that night, there were mostly Chinese songs on their playlist except for this one and this one. Somehow it feels kind of different when you are not playing the right songs to match the ambiance and the mood.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that night and the total came up to RM86.00, not cheap but it sure was worth it considering that we did enjoy the dinner very much.

BISTECCA & BISTRO (2.307630, 111.848188) is located off Jalan Sena – you drive into the area of shops directly opposite SMK Deshon and go straight to the end, make a u-turn and head back to where you come from – you will see it in the first block of shops on your left.

One day too late…

The people here…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu

…were having a promotion – one main meal for RM3.00 from a choice of 4 but I was one day too late as when I finally got down to dropping by there, it had already ended and they had started a new one.

I saw a lot of friends going there when it first opened and their reviews on Facebook were not encouraging – they all said the food was just so-so and very expensive. Only one sang praises of their baked buns and egg tarts. That was why I was not all that keen to check the place out but since the meals in their promotion were somewhat cheap, I thought I would take the chance and go there and see for myself.

We went early, just past 8.00 a.m. when they had just opened and the place was packed! Luckily there was a small table for two by the door and we asked to be seated there…and we were promptly given the menu to browse through. There were some Mandarin-speaking young boys and girls waiting at the tables and they sure looked really busy but somehow or other, I do not see things getting done. I had to wave frantically to get their attention so we could place our orders.

The table beside us was just about 6 inches away and there was a young boy with an older lady, probably the mum, seated there. They could speak Hokkien and were very helpful in telling us how the current promotion worked – we could have a choice of 3 types of dim sum at RM2.00 each and that was it! Anything else that we would want, we would have to pay the prices as stated in the menu…and they were nice enough to tell us, based on what they had, what was good and what would be best avoided.

The steamed char siew pao or what they call their Supreme BBQ Pork Bun..

Nam Heong Ipoh char siew pao

…were very good and at RM1.00 each (2 for RM2.00 in the promotion), that sure was a steal.

I wish I could say the same about the siew mai (RM2.00 in the promotion)…

Nam Heong Ipoh siew mai

…but unfortunately, they were quite disappointing as far as the taste and texture went. We would be able to get some a lot nicer here or here.

The crispy prawn rolls (RM2.00 in the promotion)…

Nam Heong Ipoh crispy prawn roll

…were all right, nothing to get excited about.

Well, since we were there already, I ordered the Nam Heong egg tart (RM3.80) and the Nam Heong chicken sou (RM4.00)…

Nam Heong Ipoh egg tart and chicken sou

…à la carte to try. We can get egg tarts a lot nicer (and cheaper) at places around town but I thought the sio pao was very good – I particularly loved the nice flaky pastry but my missus said the filling was a bit too sweet for her liking while on my part, I was quite all right with it.

I saw in their menu what looked like the West Malaysian wanton mee, their egg noodles with BBQ pork and wanton and of course, I wanted that to try but the girl did not key that in so it was left out of our order list…

Nam Heong Ipoh order list

No love lost though as the nice people at the next table also ordered that. When theirs was served, I thought it looked really good but as they started to eat, I heard the lady/mum saying, “Huang ti mien!” They probably used the instant Emperor noodles instead of their own freshly-made wanton mee, I wouldn’t know. By the time they had finished and the waiting staff removed the plate, I saw that there was, at least, half of the noodles left. Obviously, it was not nice and they could not finish it, bless my lucky stars!

My missus had the iced honey lemon (RM5.30) while I tried their iced Signature Coffee “O” (RM4.50). It was decent, different from our local coffee which I would very much prefer, something like those instant ones in sachets like Ah Huat, for instance.

The overall total, inclusive of 5% SST, came up to RM24.80 and the guy asked if I had RM4.80 or a 5-ringgit note. WHAT? You are the ones running a grand and impressive business, not that you are some small roadside stall or something like that so you should make sure you have the change for the customers – even if I had, I would not give it to you. Tsk! Tsk!

By the time we had finished and were leaving, the queue outside…

Nam Heong Ipoh queue

…had started to build up. I heard that there were queues every day when they were having their RM3.00 per main meal promotion. I wouldn’t know of course, as I wasn’t there!

Incidentally, today, the 7th of March, marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog, 12 years of (almost) a post a day and still crazy after all these years! Do stick around for more – I do enjoy the company!

NAM HEONG IPOH, Sibu outlet (2.301121, 111.843386) is located along Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, formerly Jalan Pedada, facing the left side of Gafu Supermarket, round the corner from Kim Hock Premier Food Court.

After we’re through…

We would usually have our dinner real early on Saturdays, at around 4.30 and head to church after that for the novena at 6.00 p.m. followed by the sunset service at 7.00 p.m. However, last Saturday, there was a change in our routine and we did not eat earlier and only went for dinner later after we were through…past 8.00 p.m. that night.

Most places close at around 10.00 p.m. so there was ample time and my girl wanted to go here for her favourite sizzling beef (RM15.00)…

Nice House sizzling beef

…so of course, her wish was granted.

I also ordered the pork belly with dried chilies (RM15.00)…

Nice House pork belly & dried chilies

…which came in a claypot. The pork sure looked lean and pale but it was nice, just that we had had some better ones elsewhere like here or here, for instance, but this place sure seemed a lot more generous with the meat.

My girl also wanted their salad prawn balls (RM13.00)…

Nice House salad prawn balls

…and I would say that this dish was my favourite of the three.

They were out of baby kai lan, probably all sold out as it was close to closing time and in the end, we settled for the midin (RM8.00)…

Nice House midin

The total for the food came up to RM51.00 for the 3 of us which came as no surprise since we had three meat dishes but actually, when we got there, we were very hungry and ordered more than what we would normally have. I guess there is some truth in what people say – never go shopping for food or out to eat on an empty stomach.

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

Don’t be surprised…

Yes, don’t be surprised because I actually dropped by here…

KFC

…that day. No, I did not join the mad rampage when they had their two snack plates for RM20.00 promotion, thank you very much even though I did buy that once for my girl. If I remember correctly, it was over RM12.00 a set.

For reasons unknown, she loves the food at these fast food franchises and that day, she wanted to go for the chicken tenders. There is a promotion right now – 5 chicken tenders plus 10 nuggets for RM15.00 (I think normally, that would be RM19.00) and she wanted to eat it there. Well, since she would only eat the tenders, we had to go with her so we would be able to help her finish off the nuggets.

When we got there, she changed her mind about ordering the set and had this 6-piece crispy tenders (RM17.80, plus a drink)…

KFC chicken tenders

…instead.

The mum had this one-piece chicken set with fries and wedges by the side…

KFC 1-piece chicken set

…their Super Jimat box for RM9.20 something, with a drink.

I decided to try their zinger cheezilla combo (RM20.50, plus a drink)…

KFC zinger cheezilla combo

…which, unfortunately, did not sweep me off my feet. The zinger was fine, hot and spicy and was to my liking. Inside, there was a fried chicken patty with melted mozzarella cheese but I failed to make out the taste of either , neither the patty nor the cheese plus it was rather soggy so I was quite put off by it in the end.

The total for the three of us came up to RM44.80 altogether, not cheap but as long as it made my girl happy that was perfectly all right by me.

After having had our fill, we went strolling around the mall – the ladies went to the shops upstairs while I headed to the supermarket in the basement to browse around. I spotted this…

Whitakers strawberry cremes

…in the special little room where they stock up on all the imported stuff and grabbed it right away as I was very sure that my girl would love it.

At that point in time, I was thinking that it was the very popular New Zealand brand until my girl pointed out that the Kiwi ones had a double “t“. We quickly checked and were quite relieved to find that it was manufactured in the UK, not in some neighbouring country – for the uninitiated, the Tim Tams from Indonesia are cheap but far from nice, nothing like the originals from Down Under! This was only RM10.40, less than £2, not that expensive, I would say.

As we had run out in the house, I also bought a few cartons of fresh milk from Australia, only RM4.80, so very much cheaper than our own Malaysian brands and I certainly was ecstatic to see these…

Button mushrooms

…button mushrooms, one thing that is very rare here, harder to find than gold!

My girl feasted on these when she was in Wellington, New Zealand but not since coming back as chances of getting any here are few and far between. I have the feeling that the western restaurant upstairs (they’re all inter-related, I think) would order for their own use and any extras, they would place on the shelf in the supermarket for sale.

We used to get the white ones but lately, we have been getting these brown ones but never mind, something is better than nothing. They’re not cheap, that’s for sure – RM15.60 a tub but I’m o.k. with that. After all, we only get them once in a blue moon.

KFC, Pedada outlet and THE MARKET PLACE supermarket are located on the ground floor and in the basement of The Delta Mall (2.311762, 111.846818) respectively, along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

The dance…

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva. It marks the night of the heavenly marriage and consummation between Shiva and Parvati and it is also the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance.

There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar on the 13th night/14th day, but around February/March, they celebrate the Maha Shivaratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”.

No, I did not know all this but that night I was invited by my Indian friends, Andy and Varun, at Payung to a special thali (a set Indian meal) they were hosting to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Unfortunately, all the photographs that I took did not come out well except this one of the poori

Poori

…that we had, a deep-fried bread made from unleavened whole-wheat flour. It went very well with everything that was served on a banana leaf…

Special thali dinner
*Andy’s photo*

…and I even asked for a second helping, another two or three pieces, I can’t remember now.

There seemed to be two main dishes, one that looked like minced meat but cooked using black chickpeas, probably the kala chana curry and the other, the potato bhaji – you can see a bit of that in the above photograph. The other one that you can see in the photograph, top right, is the gajar halwa, an Indian carrot pudding served as a dessert along with the Indian rice kheer, a rice and milk dessert – both of these were slightly sweet, very slightly and I enjoyed them very much.

Varun made a vadai too, not quite the same as the ones that I am accustomed to. He said that was his first attempt as that is a South Indian delicacy and he comes from the north and he did say that they do not serve meals on a banana leaf there either as the plant is not common in the colder climatic conditions unlike the places in the south.

There was a soup using red beans, the bigger version and also an Indian drink that reeked of spices and ginger.

That certainly was a delightful and most interesting evening – we enjoyed the exquisite dinner and the pleasant company…

Thali dinner at Payung
*Andy’s photo*

Thank you so much, Andy & Varun, for inviting us to your celebration of this very special Indian festival.

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.

Expand…

Well, they are expanding all right. First, there was this place, still going strong and doing really well and then, they opened this one, a gelato place basically and that too was doing so well that they extended upwards to the first floor and now, before Chinese New Year, they opened this new outlet…

Nica+

…but unlike the other one, there are more food choices here and that was why I wanted to drop by…

Nica+ entrance

…and see what they had on their menu.

My girl wanted the dumplings but they were out of chicken so we had to go for the beef (RM14.50)…

Nica+ beef dumplings

…and even though they turned out completely different from the usual, she said they were all right. I did taste one and yes, they had their own recipe for the filling – I spotted some teeny weeny bits of carrot or whatever, quite different from the usual very-strong-on-the-ginger xiao lung pao kind of filling, be it pork or chicken. Ah well, I am never a fan of these dumplings, anyway.

She also had the smoked Borneo satay (RM10.90)…

Nica+ satay

…which came with a bit of pulut panggang by the side. I did not get to sample these but she said they were nice.

Knowing how much she loves sotong (squid), I asked for their crispy squid ring (RM13.50)…

Nica+ sotong

…which we all enjoyed even though the batter was quite different from the usual, hence its pale colour.

I had the nasi biryani with chicken curry and rendang beef (RM16.90)…

Nica+ biryani + curry + rendang

…and while both the curry and the rendang were fine by me, I particularly liked their rice because unlike those that I had at their sister restaurant, this one had a clear hint of the Indian spices that went into the cooking, not as strong as the nice Hyderabadi vegetable biryani from the airline but I could detect a hint of it (and see some seeds, probably cumin, in the rice) and I loved it. If you go for the ones from the Malay stalls and shops, it will be more or less the same as their nasi kuning or nasi minyak or whatever you call it, nothing more than just the colour and they call it nasi biryani.

My missus had their spicy zao cai chicken ramen (RM14.50)…

Nica+ spicy zao cai chicken ramen

…and she did enjoy that. I did not get to try it but I could catch the whiff of the zao cai as it was served and it did smell really good.

Once we were done, I proceeded to the counter to settle the bill and the sweet and friendly girl told me that it had been paid for…by the boss. The boss? But I did not see him anywhere and I did not know that he knew I was there. Probably he was there in his office watching me on CCTV! LOL!!! Never mind! Thank you so much, Anthony, for the treat, so kind and generous of you – we certainly enjoyed the lunch and sorry, we had to turn down to invitation to free gelatos – we were way too full to do them justice. Another time, perhaps!

NICA+ or NICA PLUS (2.296883,111.825859) as it is called, is located on the ground floor of the block of shops to the right of the Old Sing Kwong Supermarket (Kin Orient Plaza) along Jalan Tun Abang Hj Openg, directly below the KIMCHEE KOREAN BAR.BQ restaurant on the first floor.

Rich dad, poor dad…

My girl was feeling a bit unwell last Saturday so we did not go for the novena and sunset service that day and since she was feeling better the next morning, we went to the early morning service instead.

It ended at past 8.30 a.m. and we headed here…

Pappa Rich Sibu, Sarawak

…presently the only outlet in the whole of Sarawak, for brunch. I did google earlier and found out that their opening hours begin at 7.30 a.m. in the morning and they will stay open till 11.00 p.m. at night.

Much to my surprise, the place was full of people even though it was still so early in the morning but thankfully, we were able to grab a table and so did a few others who came after us. The rest who came later had to sit outside and wait to be called once a table was available.

My missus wanted their char kway teow (which I did hear someone say was nice) and I told her that if that was what she wanted, we could have gone some place else for that and it would be just as nice or even nicer with the wok hei and lard fragrance, one thing you would definitely not find here, for half or even a third of the price! I was so amazed to see that there were customers there for their kaya toast and half-boiled egg!

I did go to their Bukit Bintang outlet in KL a long time ago here and here and my objective that morning was to try those dishes, though common in West Malaysia, that are not available here and in the end, my missus settled upon the curry laksa special (RM15.94)…

PappaRich curry mee 1

…and yes, it was very nice but it was chicken curry with noodles…

PappaRich curry mee 2

…and cockles as well, not anything like the Singapore/Melaka nyonya curry laksa. We had a very nice one here once but they had called it quits for quite a while now.

My girl had the wat tan hor (RM17.45)…

PappaRich wat tan hor

…which was very nice but I was quite positive it looked a whole lot nicer in their promotional video, big prawns, sotong and all!

I’ve always loved the kway teow th’ng in Penang and elsewhere so I asked for the kway teow soup and steamed chicken (RM15.00)…

PappaRich kway teow soup & steamed chicken

…and yes, I sure enjoyed the noodles in the clear, refreshing soup…

PappaRich kway teow soup

…and I’ve had steamed chicken at a lot of places here but for reasons unknown, I thought the one here…

PappaRich steamed chicken

…was a cut above the rest and I did like it a lot.

However, I felt the drinks weren’t that great and rather expensive as well. The coffee o (iced) that I had was a let down and definitely not worth the RM5.19 price tag – my missus had the coffee hot (RM4.25) and she was not impressed either. We can get coffee a lot nicer at our local coffee shops at not even half the price. My girl’s organic sweet soy milk was a whooping RM10.28 and she complained that there were what felt like lumps of blended soya bean inside. Probably, should we ever happen to drop by here again, we’ll just ask for plain water, not sure whether they charge for that or not (some places do).

Though our orders did not come cheap, I must say that we all enjoyed what we had and service was great and prompt so I had no complaints about that. We may or we may not drop by again to try whatever else they have on their menu that we can’t get here…but for now, while somebody’s pappa somewhere may be getting richer and richer, this dad walked out of the place over RM70.00 poorer. Sighhh!

PappaRich (2.291606, 111.821291) is located at Lot 23-35, Jalan Lau King Howe in the block to the right of the Lau King Howe Hospital Museum, to the left of the Sushi King outlet there.