Last one left…

This is the last post, just this one left, on my trip to Kuching in mid-December last year.

We walked past this Indian place…

Restoran Mahashafi, shop sign

…that morning before we went for our lovely brunch here.

The vadai looked really good and we bought 10 of them, 50 sen each…

Vadai

We rarely have this in Sibu, not so many Indians around, but we do get a good one sometimes. However, I think these days, ours is machine-blended so it is way too fine, so much so that we can’t see any of the dhal in it.

We tried one each and we loved it! Since we had planned ahead to go for brunch,  we did not eat anymore and in the end, we took them to our family reunion high tea at my aunt’s house – they were all snapped up in no time at all and anyone who had the chance to sample one said it was really good.

We went into the shop…

Restoran Mahashafi Kuching

…to look at the food and it did appear really good too. We were hoping we would be able to come back another day to eat there but we just simply did not have the time. I guess that would have to wait till our next trip to Kuching.

I did go back to the shop though before we came back to Sibu and I bought a whole lot of the vadai to bring back. Coincidentally, when I reached home, I got word from my friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, asking me to go and get some coconut mango…

Mangoes from Peter & Lim

…that they had plucked from the tree at his house so I gave him and our Indian friends some of the vadai to enjoy, saving only a few for ourselves. I don’t think I got to eat any, other than the one I had in Kuching – my girl ate them all, she loves them so much.

In the meantime, my good friend, Lim, dropped by to give me his mangoes – he also has a tree at his house, the long/oval ones. My missus took the red pulut hitam that I bought in Miri that day and cooked her version of the Thai mango sticky rice…

Mango pulut hitam

It was nice but I do prefer it with the regular pulut or glutinous rice. The red pulut hitam was not that sticky, best used to cook in its own way, not that suitable for this.

Thank you so much, Peter & Lim, for the lovely mangoes and I must thank Lim too for the goodies he brought back from his family trip to Sabah…and also for the serimuka that his mum made. He said that she was in town and his kids love serimuka but we can’t get any good ones here in Sibu so he was learning how to make it from her. Hmmm….when can I place my order, Lim? How much per tray? LOL!!!

RESTORAN MAHA SHAFI (1.559559, 110.344461) is located at 9.21, Jalan Barrack in Kuching to theleft from its junction with India Street, facing the left hand side of The Old Court House located right across the road.

One step away…

We were there a few times during our stay in Kuching for the simple reason that it was just one step away, so to speak, around 100 metres or so.

On our first morning there, I went for the kueh chap that I quite enjoyed but someone was telling me that the one at night with its stronger broth would be nicer.

I was there again another time with the ladies and my sis who had arrived in Kuching by then for the wedding and she and my missus had the kolo mee pok (flat noodles)…

Lau Ya Keng, Kuching kolo mee pok

…while my girl had the kiaw, dry…

Lau Ya Keng kiaw, dry

…and yes, she loved it! They also ordered the kueh chap to share and we did finish it but nobody said anything about it though my missus did comment sometime later that it was not really to her liking – she did not elaborate as to the reason why. Personally, I thought it was quite good – to each his/her own, I guess!

The morning before we left Kuching, I went there again because I wanted to try the kolo mee (RM5.00)…

Lau Ya Keng, Kuching kolo mee

…first hand for myself. It was o.k. but I did not think it was anything to shout about. Long long ago, way back in the 70’s, I used to drop by here for the kolo mee – the stall was where the Sarawak laksa stall is today and it was so very nice that everytime I was in the vicinity, I would stop for a bowl.

I had their kiaw, soup (RM8.00)…

Lau Ya Keng, Kuching kiaw, soup

…too and was somewhat shocked when told the price – I think it would work out to 80 sen A dumpling!.

This meat dumpling dish is something like our pian sip in Sibu but it has a lot more meat inside…

Lau Ya Keng, Kuching kiaw, close up

…not something that I would fancy especially when it was all lean minced meat so it was a little coarse.

I think there is more fat in the meat here in Sibu and they just smear a bit onto the skin like applying butter onto bread so when eating it, we are actually enjoying eating the smooth and slippery no-chewing-needed skin, not so much the meat. Even the taste of the soup base was not the same and all in all, I do prefer our good ol’ Sibu Foochow pian sip to the Kuching kiaw.

My girl went there later that same morning with the mum, my sis with some of my Kuching cousins and all the rest – she had the very popular meat porridge but she did not like it simply because it was what they told me, the Teochew style – the rice grains while softened from cooking, are still whole and not in an overly starchy state so it was not what she is accustomed to.

Earlier, I went back there again too – I think that was on Saturday, the day before – in the afternoon because I wanted to try the pork satay. The stall…

Lau Ya Keng pork satay and fish ball stalls

…only opens in the afternoon and boy, the place was packed!

There was not a single table available so I asked two sweet young things if I could sit with them and they did not mind it one bit. It turned out that one of them was from Kuching and both were working in Kuala Lumpur. The Indian girl was having the Sarawak laksa and no, I did not want to order that as someone, I can’t remember who it was now, told me to give it a miss. I asked the girl for her opinion and she confirmed that it would be better that I went for that elsewhere.

I ordered this bowl of fish balls, stuffed tofu and tang hoon (glass noodles) soup…

Lau Ya Keng fish ball tofu & tang hoon soup

…from the stall next to the pork satay one and YES!!! At least there is something that I wouldn’t mind going back there for – it was really very nice! I loved the dip and I really enjoyed it. Ah well! I always have this soft spot for clear soups so you may beg to differ, if thus inclined.

I can’t recall how much that was but I do remember that the satay was 80 sen per stick and you will have to order in multiples of 5…

Lau Ya Keng pork satay with ketupat

…and I would not want 10, that for sure. I asked for a bit of the ketupat too – I always love that with my satay, if and when available.

Unfortunately, despite all the fave reviews, I did not think the satay was all that nice. I felt the peanut sauce tasted different from the usual ones we would get here, there and everywhere or maybe it so happened that they burnt it a bit that day so even the colour was a bit different from photos of it that I had seen elsewhere.  It was all right, edible but not something that would get  me all that excited about, thank you very much.

LAO YA KENG (1.558573, 110.345601) is located at No. 19, Carpenter Street, Kuching.

Quiet night…

Gosh! It’s New Year’s Eve today and I still have a backlog of Kuching posts yet to be published.

This was on our last night in Kuching and we had kept that evening free so that my girl would be able to go out with her friends, going back all the way to primary school. The mum went to the mall next door again and she had an early dinner while she was there so I was left to my own devices.

Thinking that I would like to have some rice after so many days, I strolled to The Open Air Market which despite its name, is not a market but a hawker food centre instead, and that other section of the place…

Open Air, Kuching chu char hawker stalls section

…was open, all ready to roll but I had a change of heart and walked to the other section…

Open Air Kuching, hawker stalls section

…to see what I could have instead.

The place looked quite pathetic, quite dead with so very few people around, nothing like the way it used to be in its glory days in the 70’s when the customers would spill over onto the road, figuratively speaking, that is…or maybe, everyone was suffering from a hangover after Saturday night.

The steamed paos and siew mai stall was open but I did not feel like having those, not for dinner. Ah Mui, the beef noodles stall, was closed – they do not open on Sundays, I hear…and many of the other stalls were closed too. Maybe they do not open at night, a Sunday night especially.

I asked for  the tomato kway teow from this stall…

Open Air Kuching fried noodles stall

…but they were out of kway teow and I settled for the crispy mee (RM4.50)…

Open Air Kuching fried tomato crispy mee

…instead. It was nice, just as good as the (more expensive) one I had here the last time I was in the city though it did not look as presentable.

Back in the 70’s, we would frequent one particular kolo mee stall here. We called the fat lady running it, “Gypsy Woman” by virtue of the huge ring earrings that she wore. She was no longer there, of course but this one…

Open Air Kuching red kolo mee stall

…did seem to attract quite a number of customers so I asked for the big bowl (RM5.00)…

Open Air Kuching red kolo mee

…to see if it was any good. It was all right, nice but not anything that would make me go out of my way for.

I walked sadly back to the hotel that quiet night feeling kind of down and disheartened that all these places that used to bring us so much joy way back in the good ol’ days had turned into pale shadows of what they used to be.

THE OPEN AIR MARKET (1.559021, 110.342409) is located across the road from Electra House along Jalan Power in Kuching.

Walking in the dark…

I would usually go to bed early, at around 9.00 p.m. and get up at around 4 or 5 when it is still dark. Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy and wise, so they say.

However, when I was in Kuching, I did not call it a day that early, past 10 or later and yet, I would wake up at around that same time. That was why I could go out and walk around in the dark in search of something I could try for my pre-breakfast breakfast.

The first morning there, I had the kueh chap at Lao Ya Keng and the second morning, I went around the area to see what else I could find. This one…

Duck mee coffee shop

…was open and looking at what was available at the stall in front, much to my delight, I saw that they had duck noodles!

I loved the duck kolo mee at Sg Tenggang, a little bazaar along the road from Kuching to Sibu so of course, I wasted no time in ordering that…

Duck kolo mee Carpenter Street Kuching

I can’t remember how much that was now – I think it was RM4.50-5.00 – things are not as cheap as in Sibu there. The duck was fine but they tossed the noodles in the gravy from cooking the braised duck so it drowned out the kolo mee taste plus it was way too strong on the ginger and I did not really enjoy it. In the end, I just finished the meat and left most of the noodles behind.

There was a lane beside the shop and there were a kueh chap and a chicken rice stall there and tables and chairs laid out for customers to sit and eat. I did not bother about those, of course.

I did notice this coffee shop…

Nyan Shin Cafe Kuching

…at the corner of Carpenter Street and China Street that morning because of the lovely blue windows and all the plants around them…

Blue windows

One of my cousins told me the following day that their traditional Hakka handmade noodles from this stall there…

Traditional Hakka handmade noodles stall

…was nice so I went back on another morning to give it a try…

Nyan Shin Cafe, Kuching traditional Hakka handmade noodles
*Oopsss!!! Sorry for the blurry pic!*

I can’t remember how much that was either, probably the same as the duck mee and I also asked for a bowl of the kiaw, dry…

Nyan Shin Cafe, Kuching kiaw

…or what we call pian sip in Sibu except that they only look the same – the ones here had more meat and all lean, it seemed so it was kind of “coarse”. Other than that, perhaps it was the preparation, the ingredients added and maybe the texture of the skin as well so it did not taste the same either. My girl had this at Lao Ya Keng and she liked it – as for me, I think I would stick to our good ol’ Sibu pain sip.

I saw that they had mutton noodles at the stall and later, somebody told me that it was nice, and their beef noodles too but I did not have time to go back and try. Another time perhaps!

The duck mee coffee shop (1.558132, 110.34614) is two doors to the left of Ann Lee Restaurant along Carpenter Street in Kuching, separated from the Kuching Hainan Association to its left by a small lane and Nyan Shin Cafe (1.558215, 110.345923) is located to the right at the corner, at the junction of the aforementioned street and China Street. 

As time passes by…

On our first morning in Kuching, I had gone out at the break of dawn for the kueh chap at Lao Ya Keng – I had blogged about that in yesterday’s post and when my girl was up around mid-morning, we walked all the way here…

Oriental Park Kuching

I was here once in 2011 and actually, my girl was with me at the time but it had completely slipped my mind.

Yes, the kolo mee stall was still around…

Oriental Park kolo mee stall

…enjoying really brisk business with a whole of of people stopping by for the noodles. It is a lot more expensive now though – the price had gone up from RM2.80 in 2011 to RM4.00 for a small bowl and RM5.00…

Oriental Park kolo mee

…for the large one.

I noticed that they served a complimentary bowl of clear soup now, something that they did not use to do before but I did not think it was all that nice this time around. The char siew was kind of dry and hard and though on the whole, it was quite all right with a very strong garlicky taste, it did not sweep me off my feet, unlike the first time we were here.

I asked my girl and she too felt that same way. I guess we shall not go through all that effort to make our way there anymore should we happen to hop over to Kuching again.

After we had had our fill, we walked back to India Street…

Inida Street, Kuching

…and browsed around the shops in the vicinity on our way back to the hotel.

I strolled over to my favourite pastry shop at Kai Joo Lane…

Chong Chon Biscuit Maker

…but I guess it was still early in the morning and they did not have everything in their list…

Chong Chon price list

I bought a few of their meat pastry or what they call siew pau

Chong Chon siew pau

…but no, sad to say, these too were not as nice as when the old folks were making them way back in the 70’s. Back then, the filling was a bit moist and one could see chunks of char siew and green peas but these days, it is all minced meat and rather dry but to give credit where credit is due, it still tasted quite good and the main draw, the pastry, is still as nice as I remember it to be.

The yam puffs…

Ching Chon yam puffs

…are more expensive by a ringgit but it is very much bigger and even though they do not seem to be able to make it like how people usually do it – with a nice fibrous exterior, I thought they were very nice, perhaps even nicer than the siew pau. I regretted not buying more – I only asked for three, one for each one of us, to eat in our hotel room.

ORIENTAL PARK CAFE 国泰东方古早味 (1.558891, 110.341900) is located at Market/Gertak Lane where the now-closed-down Cathay Cinema was and CHONG CHON BISCUIT MAKER (1.559214, 110.343394) is located at No. 6, Kai Joo Lane, off India Street, on the left in Kuching.

Meant to be…

Early that morning, at 6.30 a.m., the day when I was going to fly back from Kuching to Sibu, I walked back to the coffee shop as I wanted to buy some of the very nice popiah home.

When I got there, I found that only the kolo mee stall was in full swing, the porridge lady was just getting ready but there was no sign of the laksa and popiah people. According to the aformentioned lady, the popiah stall would only open at around 7.30 a.m.

I decided to have something for breakfast but I did not want the kolo mee again. In the end I asked for their loti kiap (kaya toast) with two half-cooked eggs and a cup of coffee, the true blue Malaysian breakfast…

Choon Hui Malaysian breakfast

As far as I know, their loti kiap is very popular – at around 3.00 p.m. in the afternoon, you can see cars stopping by to buy that. My late uncle, my late maternal aunt’s husband, used to do that and there was this story going round about him buying the toast and because they tied the plastic bag with nylon string in one corner, when he got home, he found that the toast had fallen out of the bag so he did not have any for tea that day.

I can’t say I was impressed by the loti kiap – we can easily get that anywhere and everywhere. I noticed some nyonya chang on the counter and I asked for one to try but no, it was not worth the calories so I did not bother buying any to take home.

I did not want to sit there and wait so I went to the shops across the road and walked to the other side, not facing the main road, to this coffee shop…

Yang Guan Cafe

…where I had the lek tao suan (RM2.00)…

Lek tao suan

…the previous morning, one for the road, so to speak.

The lady…

Stall

…asked if I wanted any yew char koi/you tiao (Chinese crullers) but no, I did not want any as I already had breakfast but I could not resist ordering these steamed chai koi

Chai koi

…to try. The skin was really very good, so soft and so smooth but I only liked the plain sengkuang filling so I bought some of those home. My girl enjoys these and yes, she thought they were good. I wish they could be a bit more generous with the filling though, lots of empty spaces inside.

While I was there, I saw her frying…

Frying

…these…

Fried

…so I asked her what those were. She said it was her own steamed tee koi (kuih bakul) with yam and sweet potato. I was keen on trying so I bought two to take home to Sibu and lived to regret it.

It was so so so good, a slice of tee koi sandwiched between a slice of yam and a slice of sweet potato coated with batter and deep fried (RM1.50 each)…

Tee koi with yam & sweet potato

If I had known it was so nice, I would have bought a dozen, at least!

After that, at around 7.20 a.m., I went back to the earlier coffee shop to see if the popiah stall had started their business for the day. There was no sign of the two Chinese ladies but there was a helper getting the stall ready. I asked her, “Belum buka?” and she just replied curtly, “Belum!” Then I asked her, “Bila buka?” and this time, she replied somewhat rudely, “Tak tahu!!!” I was so pissed off by her attitude that I decided there and then not to buy any to take home and walked back to the hotel.

I had intended to use the hotel shuttle service to the airport, only RM6.99 per head but I did not make any prior reservation and it looked like nobody else would be taking it that day so the driver had taken the day off. In the end, I contacted one of my cousins to see if she could give me a lift and yes, she could. God must have been watching me from a distance because when she showed up at the hotel with her brother, guess what they had bought for me to take back to Sibu. Popiah!!!

They got the ones from this stall…

Popiah stall
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…here…

Gala Food Court
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…at Gala City, a new area in Kuching and yes, the popiah

Gala City popiah
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…was really very good. My cousin thinks it is the best in the city! It certainly looked like it was meant to be – my bringing home some popiah for everyone to enjoy. LOL!!!

Gosh!!! I was in Kuching for only four nights and all in all, I managed to cover the whole trip every step of the way in 16 posts! I had a great time – thank you so much to everybody for everything and I sure am looking forward to the next opportunity to hop over again. Just give me a reason!

CHOON HUI CAFE 春园茶室 (1.552768, 110.354468) is located at No. 34, Jalan Ban Hock in Kuching to the left of the Hotel Grand Continental there and YANG GUAN CAFE 阳光茶室 (1.553644, 110.354284) is along that same road among the shops across the road from Choon Hui but facing inside, not the latter nor the main road while GALA FOOD COURT (1.513013, 110.353807) is in Gala City at the Gala Street Mall SL11-SL12, 801-2B Jalan Tun Jugah, Kempas Heights.

Left or right…

I do enjoy lek tao suan or split mung bean sweet soup (绿豆爽)very much but the only place where I could have that here in Sibu had since closed down.

I could recall walking past a stall once when I was in Kuching and I spotted a stall selling it. I made up my mind to have that on the way back but unfortunately, I walked round the blocks of shops and went back to the hotel using a different route and forgot all about it completely. Later, when I mentioned it to one of my cousins, she said she had that before and it was pretty good.

That was why when my cousin picked me up at the hotel that morning, I asked her to drive over to the place to see if it was still available there and indeed, it was…at a stall in front of the coffee shop on the left…

Yang Guan/Ang Hor

My cousin went to the one on the right – obviously she had something in mind so we had the lek tao suan

Lek tao suan

…sent over and yes, it was very good. I sure was glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy that this time around.

I saw some nyonya kuehs at that same stall, the kuih cangkeh

Kuih cangkih

…and the serimuka/kuih salat with black glutinous rice…

Serimuka

…but they were both very disappointing, not lemak at all and not anything I would want to have again.

My cousin wanted to go to the other coffee shop because she wanted the yong tofu

Yong tofu

…from the stall there and she also ordered this…

Ginger pork noodles

I couldn’t possibly eat anymore as I had had my breakfast earlier but I did try a piece of the meat and it was very very strong on the ginger and that was why it did not tickle my fancy – usually, I am not really into anything with a lot of ginger. I guess the noodles were tossed in the sauce so I don’t think this is one thing I would ever want to order for myself.

My cousin also tapaoed some stewed spare ribs from that same stall and I did try a bit – now, that was nice but no, I was way too full for that or anything else for that matter.

We left the place once we were done and she took me around the newer parts of the city, all the unfamiliar places and we even went to one of the malls until it was time for her to drop me off at the place where I was going to have my lunch – do come back tomorrow for that!

YANG GUAN CAFE 阳光茶室 and ANG HOR CAFE (1.553644, 110.354284) are located at Jalan Ban Hock, Kuching, among the shops across the road from Choon Hui Cafe but facing inside, not the latter nor the main road.