Teach me…

In the good old days, nobody went to schools or colleges to learn the culinary arts.

If it was a family business, they helped out at the shop or stall and picked up the skills from their parents or elders, the ones who would teach them everything. If they were working for somebody, they would start from the bottom with the menial tasks like peeling and slicing onions, cutting the vegetables and what not and with the teaching and guidance from their peers and seniors, they eventually graduated into the actual cooking.

No, there were no qualified or certified chefs then, no Michelin stars, nothing – just real hard work, sweat and toil and true grit but were they able to dish out really awesome dishes? That, of course, goes without saying and some of the dishes were so good that none today, even with their list of credentials, could replicate.

All this came to mind when we went out for dinner here…

Hai Bing Seafood, new

…last Friday night to celebrate my girl’s birthday.

This is the sparkling new branch of this old place

Hai Bing Coffee Shop, original

…that has been around for such a long time but nothing has changed there since Day 1, this dark, unimpressive place with no decor whatsoever to shout about but what it lacked in appearance, it more than made up for it with the awesome dishes they serve here, notably its crabs – second to none. Why, as a matter or fact, my West Malaysian blogger-friends loved it so much and chose it to be, in their opinion, the best in town!

The new place is very nice, very spacious – I love its simplicity, not horrendously over-decorated like some places and it is so white, so clinically clean. They do not have a lot of tables, those marble top ones with simple but beautifully-designed chairs, which I feel is a good thing at this point in time. Even if they had a full house, there would still be a lot of spaces in between the tables to swing a cat! There were at least 10 tables that night but it did not feel like there were so many people – otherwise, I would have left and gone some place else.

Of course we HAD to have the crabs and for a change, I ordered the Singapore chili crab (RM120.00)…

Hai Bing Singapore chili crab

…instead of their usual style that everyone here is very familiar with. I asked what their going price for crabs was and the young man said RM120.00. Gosh!!! And I thought what I bought that day at RM80.00 a kg was expensive – and those were huge ones. What we had that night were rather small, nothing much to eat and it certainly did not taste anything like those very nice ones I had way back in 1973 at Bedok or Changi with French baquette to dip into the wonderful gravy to enjoy.

No, we did not have any of those loaves, just golden-fried mantao (RM4.00 for a set of 4)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden fried mantao

Well, there were 6 of us so I had to request for 2 sets so there would be enough to go round.

According to the guy, this is the chef’s signature dish, his golden beancurd (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden tofu

…and yes, we all thought it was nice. The tofu was yellowish, not white, inside so my guess was that it was their own-made egg tofu or what people call Japanese tofu. I would say that it was like something you can expect at a classy Chinese restaurant, most likely in a hotel or some Hong Kong franchise – not that great but not entirely all that shabby either.

Their Thai-style Mango three-layer pork (RM20.00)…

Thai-styl mango three-layer pork

…was all right but nowhere near the Thai-style mango chicken here – that one there is definitely a class above this one. Why, this one did not even look half as nice. As a matter of fact, for a place like this, I would expect more effort in their presentation, not the dump-in-the-plate-and-serve impression that I got.

My girl said the salty crusty prawns (RM58.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood salty crusty prawns

…were nice but the rest felt there are a lot of places around town that can do it a whole lot better than this and a whole lot more cheaply too even when they use those huge udang galah (freshwater prawns) like this place here.

We had two vegetable dishes, the baby kai lan, ching chao/fried plain (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood baby kai lan ching chao

…and the sambal kangkong (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood sambal kangkong

…both of which I did not get to try as there were so many things to eat but the ladies said they were o.k.

They also loved the zao cai fresh fish soup (RM25.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood zao cai fresh fish soup

…but good grief!!! It was so so so very sour that I had a sip and left the rest in the bowl. My brother-in-law shared the exact same sentiments. I guess guys do not like sour things all that much but honestly, if it was dependent on the preserved vegetables for its sour taste, it would not be so sour, no way! I don’t know what was added to it and personally, I did not think it tasted anything like our traditional Foochow zao cai soup, far from it!

While we were eating, I saw the chef stepping out of the kitchen to have a look at the customers enjoying what he had dished out. He was dressed in his white chef uniform, complete with his tall chef hat. I am quite sure he has all the formal qualifications of a chef to show but I’m afraid I did not think what we had that night, on the whole, was anything to shout about, nothing to get us rushing back for more.

The aforementioned guy, who took our orders, happened to be that same guy at the very nice chicken rice place (they’re all inter-related, one way or another) and he did ask me how the food was and I was very straightforward and honest in my reply, “Much nicer at the old place!” Indeed, what we can get there or at any cheap restaurant or chu char (cook & fry) stall in a coffee shop from the cooks doing all the cooking, not professional qualified chefs, would be a whole lot nicer.

It did not matter that the bill, inclusive of rice and drinks, came up to RM290.00 but I had my hopes up high, hoping that it would be so good as I wanted something really very special to celebrate my girl’s birthday. Unfortunately, what we had kind of dampened our happy mood over those two days but at least we tried and now we know. Maybe we did not know what to order as looking at the photographs on their Facebook page, some of the dishes look really good. Would we take the chance to go back there again to try? Probably not. Once bitten, twice shy!

HAI BING SEAFOOD since 1980 (2.290414, 111.820900) is located at No. 5, Lorong Lau King Howe 1. Tel. No.: 084-311975.

Go out…

We went out for dinner last Sunday evening which was a welcome change from eating at home most of the time and we asked my sister to join us as well.

If I am not wrong, the last time we were here was in February when my niece, the one working in Singapore was home for Chinese New Year and I did drop by too with my West Malaysian blogger-friends when they were in town and as a matter of fact, my girl said we had not been here for quite a while so she would not mind if we went there that day. I suggested going there early, past 5.00 p.m. so if there were others, there would not be so many people around.

Talking about my niece in Singapore, actually, the following day would be her birthday and normally, she would be home every year to celebrate the day with her parents and the rest of us but this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was not able to come home, not for her birthday nor anybody else’s, for that matter.

We had the Thai-style chicken…

Ruby Thai-style chicken

…which was very nice but the salted egg pork…

Ruby salted egg pork

…was a little bit too salty. Probably the eggs used were thus inclined and actually, we do feel we are getting quite bored with salted egg anything. Personally, I think it has served its time.

The hot plate tofu

Ruby tofu

…turned out different from the usual that we are more familiar with, the one with the dark (soy) sauce but it was all right.

The fried cangkok manis with egg…

Ruby cangkok manis

…was good, as always and we enjoyed the hot and sour Szechuan soup…

Ruby Szechuan soup

…too.

I forgot to tell them to cook for 2 or 3 – usually, there would be enough to go round – so the servings were huge, probably for 4, as a result of which we were so very full by the time we managed to finish everything. All in all, the total for the food was RM71.00 which, I thought, wasn’t all that cheap since we had neither fish nor prawn but it was all right – after all, we do not go out all that often anymore these days.

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

Doing it wrong…

I was in the vicinity the other day and I felt like having their curry puffs

Junction curry puffs

…chicken curry filling with egg…

Junction curry puffs, chicken curry filling with egg

…selling at RM2.00 each but if you buy 5, you will get one free and that was what I did! Unfortunately, there were only 4 left in the warmer cabinet but the girl said that the fresh ones would be out in around 10 minutes. That was fine by me so I told her I would wait.

We have had their curry puffs a couple of times before and yes, we rather enjoyed them. They are deep-fried though – thankfully, they are not oily – and personally, I do prefer the oven-baked ones.

In the meantime, I wandered around the area and went to the coffee shop a stone’s throw away. While I was there, this photo display…

Jiali Cafe or chian stall

…caught my attention – now that’s the Kuching version of the or chian or oyster omelette that some call the Kuching pizza…

Kuching or chain/oyster omelette

The omelette part is thin and crispy – the texture is something like that of the rempeyek and the oysters are all in the middle. I do enjoy that but I did not want to buy that to bring home to eat. I am sure it will not be crispy anymore and will not be as nice.

In the end, I asked the lady for the or chian that everyone in the peninsula would be more familiar with and she started working on it right away. First, she started frying the egg, beaten and with a whole lot of chopped spring onion added…

Fry the egg

After the egg had cooked, she started breaking it up into smaller bits and pieces and I was wondering why she did not scramble the egg earlier – it certainly would be a lot easier to get it the way she wanted it.

After that, she added the oysters…

Add oysters

…and after cooking everything together for a bit, it was done!

Wait a minute! Where was the cornstarch or whatever solution? That would give that gluey bit to the or chian. Obviously, she was doing it all wrong. It was just a regular omelette with oysters added (RM15.00)…

Jiali or chian/oyster omelette

and even though I would say it was nice – well, I do enjoy omelettes, any which way they cook it – for or chian the way everyone knows it, I would go back here instead – they do it the way it should be done, the right way and is a little cheaper and it tasted really good too.

JIALI CAFE (2.292140, 111.841524) is located among the shops behind Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo, a few doors away to the right of JUNCTION CAFE,  facing the road leading to the Medan Hotel there.

It just happened that way…

I did not intend to go here…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu

…that morning – it just happened that way. Actually, I was planning to go to the supermarket opposite and I thought I would go back to the coffee shop at the back to see what else they may have but it was closed, probably their off day.

I did drop by once when it first opened early this year before the pandemic outbreak but no, I was not all that impressed by what we had. I was quite put off by the crowd too and the service wasn’t great either especially when they were mono-lingual, conversant in Mandarin only.

This time around, it was quite different. I went to have a look at the posters in front and instantly, the young and very friendly eager beavers came out like flies fluttering around one’s head, speaking in fluent English, persuading my to go in and try some of what they had on their menu. Well, since there was nobody in that front section (I think there was a table inside, maybe two), no worries about social distancing, I stepped right in.

I ordered their Gula Melaka Trinity coffee (RM5.90)…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu Gula Melaka Trinity coffee

…but no, I don’t think it was anything I would want to order again unlike the one at our own Sarawak fast food franchise (RM4.00/RM4.90 at the airport outlet) – I love that one so much!

I also asked for the marble tea egg (RM2.00)…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu marble tea egg

…expecting it to be like those herbal ones at the malls that one can smell a mile away but unfortunately, it…

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu marble tea egg, peeled

…did not taste more than just soy sauce – I’m afraid I could not detect any tea and the egg white was rather salty. I’d go for those stewed eggs at my regular roast meat and chicken rice stall anytime.

I ordered their Nam Heong chicken hor fun (RM11.50)…

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu Nam Heong chicken hor fun

…which turned out tasting different from what I had at Old Town or Pappa Rich – it did not have that hint of sweetness in the soup but yes, I thought it was good and I enjoyed it.

I particularly loved the fine, smooth and translucent hor fun

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu hor fun

…used, quite unlike our rather coarse, thick and white kway teow. Yes, it was nice and yes, I may want to order it again some other time but no, it did not sweep me off my feet and I would not say it was something that would get me rushing back for more.

I certainly would want to drop by again though because there are so many things in their extensive menu that I would love to try and I loved how the place was so quiet, not so crowded like some places around here – I certainly would not want to throw social distancing out the window and step into those places to squeeze with every Tom, Dick and Harry and another plus point here is there are ample parking spaces and it is free!!!

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.

Still new…

Of course I was thrilled when I heard that this celebrated beef noodles place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, has opened an outlet in Sibu…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap Sibu

I loved it so much and would never miss the chance to go and enjoy it whenever I was there – some say there is one that is nicer – with thick steak-like slices of beef but no, I was not impressed by the meat and I did not think it tasted better.

They told me this new place is beside a bank in that area which, of course, puts me off somewhat as it would be virtually impossible to find a parking space even if you hope to find one far far away. Nonetheless, hoping against hope, I headed into town to have a look – it was where John’s Pie was and later, it was taken over by Galilee Eatery and after that, something else so now, it is Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap, Sibu.

I managed to find a parking space on the other side of the area, quite far away but somebody in the shop to the left wanted to reverse his car out so I left and round the corner, I saw a little white car reversing and driving away. Oh no!!! There wasn’t a parking space there right outside the gate of a building that was undergoing some renovation – the gate was locked and no one was working, it seemed so I simply left my old car there. I was not the first and definitely not the last and after all, I would not be very long.

It’s not a very big place, just one shoplot, half of which is not air-conditioned while the other half that was at one time, a boutique, is. I’m afraid I can’t say much about the decor…

Photo display

…either but of course, personally, I feel that as long as the food is good, that is the most important thing.

I remember at the one in Kota Kinabalu, the moment one stepped out of the car, the strong whiff of the beef soup would sweep one off one’s feet…all the way in the parking lot! I did not detect any of that awesome fragrance at the one here but when I went to the washroom, I walked by the kitchen and yes, I could smell it and the memories came flooding back. Gee whiz! I sure am gonna love it here, I thought!!!

I asked for one bowl of ngiu chap soup (RM12.80) and one bowl of kolo mee kosong (RM1.50) but this was served – ngiu chap mee with yellow noodles (RM9.80)…

Kah Hiong ngiu chap mee

…and after a while, another bowl came – ngiu chap soup with kolo mee in it (RM14.30, promotional price RM12.80).

There was only me alone so how on earth could they expect me to finish TWO huge bowls of noodles with all that meat and soup! No common sense whatsoever…but no, I did not make a scene. I think I’ve mellowed over the years so I do not throw tantrums in public as I please anymore. After all, they are still new – their first day on the job, the day of their soft opening so I just told them to tapao the bowl with the kolo mee for me to take away and I quietly enjoyed the former with their signature killer cili padi dip…

Kah Hiong cili padi dip

I felt the ones I had in KK were nicer – the soup was much stronger and the dip was extra hot while this one here was rather mild in comparison. Still, I would say it was very good, can give our favourite here a good fight and much nicer than all the rest. I sent the takeaway to my sister’s place for her to try and she too shared the exact same sentiments.

Before I left, I ran through their menu once again, all in Mandarin – our discussion, a lot more carefully this time and thoroughly. It seems that you can order the beef soup with the noodles but if you want tripe or tendon or beef balls and everything else, you will have to add on and of course, each will come with a price tag.

I would want to drop by again soon and bring my girl and the mum to go and try if I can find a place to park my car, of course, and the next time around, I would want to order everything, the complete works…and hopefully, they would have got over their teething problems already by then!!! After all, at those prices, I sure would not be coming here every day…

KAH HIONG NGIU CHAP, SIBU (2.293094, 111.825429) is located across the lane to the left of AmBank, Jalan Tunku Osman branch in the same block as Ruby Restaurant, at the end on the far right. 

Something for myself…

Last Thursday was a public holiday so I told my girl we would go out for lunch and of course, this time around, unlike that place we went to that day, we chose a less crowded place where social distancing would not be a problem.

When we got there, I was kind of disappointed that they had not put out the tables and chairs on the covered pavement outside – it is rather dim inside, not ideal for great-looking photographs plus I am not all that fond of air conditioning and would prefer the fresh air outside.

My girl wasted no time at all in placing her order for the mutton biryani (RM21.00)…

Cafe IND mutton biryani

In her own words, she would always order the biryani rice everytime we drop by her – she loves it so much and we could order whatever we want. Well, the last time we were here in February before COVID-19, she had it with their Indian butter chicken curry so this time around, she went back to what she used to order all the time before – the lamb curry.

I saw this (RM13.50)…

Cafe IND cheese masala omelette

…in their menu and even though the very nice and friendly lady waiting at the table did not seem too enthusiastic about it – it’s just omelette with cheese and garam masala, she said – I insisted on ordering that to try. They also have omelette in their Indonesian menu and according to her, that one is just plain omelette, nothing more, nothing less. Well, I’m afraid the lady was right. It sure wasn’t anything to get excited about, nowhere near our very lovely Peranakan/nyonya cincaluk omelette.

I remember I had their beef rendang a long time ago (in October, 2018) and I felt like having it again so that was what I ordered for myself (RM17.50)…

Cafe IND beef rendang

…and yes, it was good and I enjoyed it very much except that it used to be dry (and was served more impressively in a cabbage leaf) and did not have this much gravy. In a way, I was quite happy it was so as the gravy went great with the rice which would have been kind of dry without it.

On our last visit, my missus declared that the servings here were too huge and on our next visit, she would want to share with one of us as without fail, whenever we dropped by here, she would not be able to finish her order and I would have to clean it all up for her. Unfortunately, she obviously did not remember that and ordered her regular – the kalio ayam (RM14.50)…

Cafe IND kalio ayam

…for herself.

My girl could not finish her lamb so I had to help her with the last chunk but I just could not eat anymore (after all, I had to eat that omelette all by myself) so when the mum could not finish the last piece of chicken, I told her to just leave it there. In the end, she finished the chicken and left some of the rice behind. Actually, we could have ordered another plate of rice and shared the rendang – that would be just nice for two and don’t forget, we had the omelette too that day.

The bill came up to RM79.50 – I paid the boss two RM50 notes and he gave me, after a little discount, RM25.00 change. That sure was a delightful lunch and seeing how the place was not crowded, no problem keeping a safe distance from the other customers, we sure would love to drop by again.

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.

Take it or leave it…

If anyone is wondering what I was doing in the vicinity of this café that morning, actually, I went with the intention of dropping by this place there to buy their very nice beef pies that I had before there here and here and yes, I remember I did buy some before to enjoy at home too.

Yes, they…

Outright beef pie

…were still nice.

The pastry reminded me of my favourite Kai Joo Lane meat pastries in Kuching but the filling…

Outright beef pie, filling

…this time around was kind of dry, not as moist and as nice as before – this is quite obvious if you compare with the ones in the photos in my earlier posts – but generally, I would say they were still good even for RM1 more. Yes, the price had gone up to RM10.00 since that last time I had it, only RM9.00 then.

The chicken is RM8.00 but no, if it is chicken that I want, I would much sooner go here for the very nice ones at half the price, only RM4.00 each…

Aroma Bakery chicken pies

Many years ago, we had this outlet of the Kuching pie franchise here but it closed down after a while and at one time, they were selling their pies at this place here but that too didn’t last too long. No, it wasn’t because the pies were not good – yes, I would say  that I like these present ones more but those were pretty decent. I know a guy here, formerly PR Australia but home for good – he would go time and time again to buy those pies to enjoy. I guess he missed those frozen ones that one could easily buy at any supermarket there – I’ve tried a few and yes, some of those were pretty good.

Too bad we can’t get those here now – there’s an outlet of that pie shop at the Kuching International Airport, that much I know and we used to buy frozen beef pies at one supermarket in Kuching though I have not heard of the folks there doing that anymore these days. Unfortunately, for us here in Sibu, we do not have much of a choice – when it comes to beef pies, we’ll just have to take it or leave it.

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lau King Howe Memorial Museum and AROMA BAKERY (2.311151, 111.831515) is located at No. 36 (G/F), Taman Damai along Jalan Dewan Suarah, the second shop in the block on your right as you enter from Jalan Melur, after the Maju Tyre shop.

Back with a vengeance…

The last time we were here was before or in early November last year, so long ago. Well, last Saturday afternoon, my girl went out with her mum and she said she wanted to go and eat sushi. They went to the outlet of one of the Japanese food franchises in town but it was full so they had to abandon the plan and went next door for something else.

When I heard that, I decided to take things into my own hands and announced that we would go for sushi for lunch the following day, Sunday and finally, we went back to that place again after way over half a year! They were very particular about the SOP and where you sit but the place was so very crowded – I would much sooner go some place else but no, we wanted sushi so sushi we would have!

There we were, the three of us, back with a vengeance and knowing that we would not be going out all that much these days and might not be coming back again for some time, I took a whole lot from the carousel for us to enjoy.

This…

Sushi 1

…was nice so I took two plates of that – actually, the shade of the egg was different…

Sushi 2

– probably one was a little overdone and I thought they were different.

These were good too…

Sushi 3

…and we had two plates of those and I liked this one…

Sushi 4

…as well.

My girl did not want any with raw salmon after all the bad press the fish has been getting lately so we did not have any and had unagi

Sushi 5

…instead. The blue plate is more expensive. RM3.70 while the red ones are RM2.80 each.

My missus loves those inari ones in the tofu pouches and she had this…

Sushi 6

…and also this…

Sushi 7

For one thing, I seemed to notice that there wasn’t that much variety to choose from that day unlike on our previous visits. If it was because of COVID-19, that was no excuse at all for them to cut down on the types of sushi made available – the place was crowded, almost full and if there are any plates left on the carousel, those would be the cheap, unimpressive ones that most people would not cast a second glance at.

I had the Shiro ramen (RM12.80)…

Shiro ramen

Everything was drowned in the soup, completely submerged, so I had to meticulously bring the onsen egg, the fried chicken cutlets and the noodles to the surface to take a photograph of it and no, I did not enjoy it much. The broth was way too thick and rich, rather strong on the taste of garlic AND sesame oil. I am no fan of the latter, that’s for sure…plus it did not have any seaweed by the side – I was positive I saw that in the photograph in their menu. It reminded me of this one which I did not enjoy all that much either. All in all, I would just say it was edible, not anything I would want to order again and no, I did not lick the bowl clean – what I would do when something is really so very nice, not at all!

I ordered this kabocha korokke (RM6.80)…

kabocha korokke

– their pumpkin croquettes and yes, they were very nice. Perhaps I can try to cook our own one of these days.

My girl wanted the spider tempura (RM15.80)…

Spider tempura

… with the soft shell crab and all the vegetable fritters and for her main, she ordered her favourite, the unagi don (RM20.40)…

Unagi don

She wasn’t all that happy with it as it was in dire need of more of the very nice sauce from the unagi to go with the plain white rice.

The total came up to RM87.70, RM101.73 inclusive of 6% SST and 10% service charge.

SUSHI MENTAI, Sibu (2.303279, 111.843161) is located at Wisma Sri Minyak, Lot 3065, S/L4, No. 23&25, Ground Floor, Pedada Lane 7 (Now Jalan Dr. Wong Soon Kai).

The bakery…

This bakery needs no introduction. Their plain sandwich loaves are well distributed to all the shops and supermarkets. I don’t know if they still have it there as I have not been to that part of the woods for a while now but I did know that their base was at a shop in Rejang Park here – I think they did all the baking there. I don’t think they did any retail; they did not need to as we could get their bread anywhere and everywhere.

I was walking past this place among the shops in the Sibu Waterfront area, somewhere in between this coffee shop and this food court when I noticed a clinically clean, air-conditioned café there. Except for two young girls, there weren’t any other customers inside. There wasn’t any sign visible from the pavement so I had to walk out to the road and this…

The Michael Cottage Bakery & Cafe

…was what I saw. That sure took me by surprise as I did hear of them setting up a place but I just assumed they were relocating their bakery and I did not expect them to start their own café.

I decided to go in and check it out – I would much sooner go in there than the aforementioned super crowded and unbearably hot coffee shop and food court, that’s for sure.

I spotted their bread on the shelf…

Bread on the shelf

…and some cakes too but no, I did not feel like buying any of the latter to try.

There was this sign…

Greek to me

…but unfortunately, I only know nasi lemak and tom yan [SIC].

A nice lady came to take my order and yes, the menu had the English versions of the names of what were available and despite having to converse in Mandarin the whole time, I managed to get my orders across correctly and in no time at all, my coffee (RM3.00)…

The Michael Cottage Bakery & Cafe coffee

…was served.

Yes, it was good, very kao (strong) and very much to my liking but for that kind of money, I was thinking that perhaps a saucer would be in order. Hehehehe!!!

I think one of the girls had their laksa and from a distance, I thought it looked quite decent – maybe I would go back there and give it a try one day. If I am not wrong, the other girl had their zhao chai hung ngang, something that never really tickles my fancy. There was an item in Mandarin only in the menu and the lady said that included all the chu-char (cook and fry) noodle dishes.

In the end, I asked for the beef noodles and when it was served (RM8.00)…

The Michael Bakery & Cafe beef noodles

…I must say that I was a tad disappointed. It did not cross my mind when I was ordering to ask if it was the clear soup version and obviously, it wasn’t. I guess this is the Taiwanese version with its rich flavourful soup, savoury, very lightly sweet and a little bit spicy too. This was the first time I had this version with a hint of spiciness, probably the influence of the currently very popular mala.

Well, after the initial uneasiness with the taste, once I got used to it, I started to enjoy it a lot. It sure was good till the last drop…

The Michael Bakery & Cafe good till the last drop

…and of course, I was delighted with the fact that no plastic was used! Bravo! Bravo!!! However, there was one thing that fell short of my expectations – the chili dip. I think that was light soy sauce that came with it, not the usual chili and ginger in lime dip that one would get at the other beef noodle places.

I certainly will drop by again should I happen to be in the neighbourhood to see what else is nice there.

THE MICHAEL BAKERY & CAFE (2.290718, 111.820633) is located along Lorong Lau King Howe 1, right next door to Mytown Pharmacy in the block after De’House Hotel.

Tainted blue…

My friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, dropped by my house that day to pass me the nasi kerabu that he cooked himself. He did call me earlier to let me know but I said I could go and get it myself, no need to trouble him to come all the way but the nice guy insisted.

He said that he ate it somewhere but he was not impressed so he went asking around the people at the market and one knew of a Kelantan lady who was willing to share with Peter the tips on how to cook that Kelantan culinary delight.

To be honest, I did not get my hopes up too high as except for one place here, all the rest that I tried failed to make the mark. I looked at what Peter gave me…

Nasi kerabu from Peter

…and I liked how the rice was very lightly tainted blue. Some of those that I had had the displeasure of eating before were so horrendously blue and because what came out over the next few days was that same colour, I was pretty sure it was all artificial colouring. I really wonder why they cannot use the flower – if they do not have any, they can come to my house and pluck – all along my back fence!

There was an assortment of vegetables including kangkong and cabbage , herbs like mint and flowers such as the very fragrant bunga kantan (torch ginger flower) and they were all cut so very thinly, till real fine. What I always thought was kerisik (toasted grated coconut), a must-have with nasi kerabu was, according to Peter, a combination of kerisik AND serunding ikan (fish floss). Gee!!! I didn’t know that before.

Other than those, there were the fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and the salted egg. I did not see any air budu (salted/fermented fish sauce) nor sambal chili, just one type of sambal. My guess was he mixed them altogether, all-in-one, so to speak and Peter gave me quite a lot of it.

Usually, when we eat this at the shops, we would have something by the side to go with it – we love ayam percik but it could just be fried chicken or ayam berempah…or a fried fish but there wasn’t any in Peter’s nasi kerabu. What I didn’t know at the time was Peter’s nasi kerabu did not need any of those…unlike the nasi lemak at so many places that needs the curry or the rendang or whatever to camouflage the lack of lemak-ness in the rice and how plain and ordinary it is.

I had that for dinner that evening and like what one must do when eating this, I mixed everything together thoroughly and ate. Boy!!! It sure swept me off my feet – I never expected it to be so so so good and I really enjoyed it! I sent word to Peter right away that he must make this their weekend special and rest assured, without fail, I would be the first in line!!!

Thank you so much, Peter! Bravo! Bravo! I must say that you did a really good job!

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.