Wire…

I did say the other day when I dropped by this food court that I would go back there to try the mee dawai, literally translated as wire mee, from this stall there…

23 Food Court mee dawai stall

Gosh!!! Can’t they find a more flattering name for it? This is the Kuching-style fried mee – they call it crispy mee or tomato mee or crispy tomato mee there. It is called crispy mee because they fry the mee first till nice and crispy and it is known as tomato mee because of the tomato sauce-based gravy that they pour all over the mee prior to serving it. The last time I had it was when I was in Kuching for my niece’s wedding at the end of last year and I also had it earlier when I went over to attend my Kanowit ex-student’s daughter’s wedding.

When I was in college in the mid-70’s, my Foochow college mates from Sibu and the towns around here hated it and they hated the Kuching kolo mee too – they could not understand how anyone could eat those things, so hard – and needless to say, they missed our Sibu kampua mee and Foochow fried noodles so much in the two years they were there.

In 1986 in KL, or PJ Old Town to be exact, there was this restaurant/coffee shop near the cinema where I used to go and watch reruns of old movies that I could not go to see in my school days. After the movie, I would surely tapao a packet of the Cantonese fried mee to take back to the hostel and enjoy…secretly, of course – no non-halal stuff allowed in the college campus. They also fried the noodles till nice and crispy and then they poured the egg sauce (like what you get in wat tan hor) over it. Of course, by the time I ate it, it would have gone all soft, no longer crispy but yes, it was still very nice.

After I had placed my order that morning, I went snooping around to look at all the other stalls. Yes, the same people are running the Sarawak laksa stall, the father and the son – the ladies are in charge of another stall at another coffee shop in the town centre and yes, the same guy is still there at another stall selling the mantao with stewed pork (RM5.00) set…

23 FOOD COURT stewed pork and mantao

…and I simply could not resist ordering that to enjoy. He must have mistaken me for somebody else as he insisted that I was his long lost neighbour in Sg Merah who had left town to go some place and have finally come home! Gee! I’m The Prodigal Son or what? LOL!!!

The stewed pork…

23 FOOD COURT stewed pork

…was nice but not as nice as how my missus cooks hers – hers is not so diluted, the sauce is a bit more concentrated and sticky and has a stronger garlic and whatever taste.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it very much and considering that steamed bak paos are between RM2.00 to RM3.00 each, this (around RM1.60 each with 3 mantaos) can be considered really cheap…and especially with all that meat! I shall go back for the one with the stewed pork with mui choy (preserved vegetables) soon.

When the mee dawai (RM6.00)…

23 FOOD COURT mee dawai

…was served, I must say I was a bit disappointed. It was a bit too watery, the noodles were drowning in the sauce which was a bit too diluted. It tasted all right but I sure would not mind a little less sauce and one that is a little thicker, a bit more concentrated – perhaps a pinch of corn starch will do the trick.

I did not like all those frozen stuff as well, the fish balls, the fish cake, the imitation crab sticks and what not. In Kuching, you would get some char siew slices, maybe a prawn/shrimp, two pieces of sotong (squid) and fresh fish slices but I do not mind not getting all those – just a bit more minced meat and green vegetables will do.

Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t know of any place here in Sibu selling fried mee like this, like the ones in Kuching and thankfully, it was good enough…should one be craving for that but no, it was not so good that you would see me rushing back for more anytime soon.

23 FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, in the vicinity of Gabriel’s Recipe – both The Coffee Code and Kampung Grandma there have closed down.

More than three…

I went back to that food court where I had the lor mee the other day but I did not feel like having anything from that same stall so I walked around to see what I could have instead.

The people at this stall…

Grand Wonderful Fooc Court Stall No, 5

…seem to imply that they are selling some nyonya stuff but what caught my attention was their char kway teow…with prawns and cockles!

Of course I wanted to try that so I placed my order and took a seat to wait for it to be served (RM7.50)…

Grand Wonderful Food Court char kway teow 1

While I was waiting, my Facebook friend whom I had never made the acquaintance before, happened to walk past, the one who shared the photograph of the much nicer bowl of lor mee that day. I was surprised that he was able to recognise me – I, of course, had no problem telling who he was as he has shared a lot of his photographs online. We chatted a bit but he was busy and had commitments elsewhere and had to go – it sure was nice to bump into him, small world indeed!

Anyway, back to the plate of kway teow, no, there were more than three prawns…

Grand Wonderful Food Court char kway teow 2

There were at least two more hidden under the noodles unlike one place here where you will only get three and only three, no more no less, never mind big or small. It is like some kind of trademark.

I liked how the prawns were very fresh and succulent but unfortunately, though there were quite  a lot of cockles hidden in the kway teow, they were so tiny, barely visible to the naked eye. However, despite that and the fact that I could not detect any wok hei fragrance, I thought the kway teow tasted great – you really can’t go wrong with prawns (and cockles).

Of course, I would be back again – I might try something else from this stall or the previous one and I spotted another stall that might be of interest to me – the photographs look interesting but everything is in Mandarin so I would have to go and ask to see if there is anything I fancy the next time I am here.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Move it…

The food court here has called it a day and some new people have moved in and taken over and they have renamed it thus…

23 Food Court

I don’t know why 23 – I am very sure that is not the number of the shoplot.

I thought the lady at the kampua mee stall…

23 Food Court kampua mee stall

…looked familiar but the waitress serving the drinks said they are all new except for the laksa stall. However, when I walked around, there was a stall selling those mantao stuffed with stewed pork that I do love a lot. I had it here before but the stall was closed so I am not sure if it is the same person or somebody else.

I dropped by at around 3 in the afternoon and all the stalls were closed except the aforementioned kampua mee stall (which also started cleaning up and calling it a day while I was there) and the chu-char (cook & fry) place at the back. This looks like the crispy noodles in Kuching…

23 Food Court mee dawai

…the one served with tomato gravy and I would have loved to give it a try if that stall had been open. I guess I will just have to go back another day.

In the end, I ordered the char kway teow (RM4.00)…

23 Food Court char kway teow

…from the nice young boy there and yes, it was very nice even though it did not have a lot of ingredients in it and it had that lovely wok hei fragrance.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested, followers of the very popular fat guy especially, he is no longer there and has moved to the coffee shop right next to this food court (formerly Kampung Grandma), at the moment still unnamed. According to the people at the shop, he opens from  7.30 a.m. till 1.30 p.m.

Well, one thing’s for sure, I shall be back around these parts to check out the stuff available and see what is good. The people here are very nice and friendly and as a matter of fact, I forgot my umbrella and the guy from the kampua mee stall (probably the lady’s husband) came running after me shouting, “Towkay! Towkay!” to return it to me.

23 FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, in the vicinity of Gabriel’s Recipe – both The Coffee Code and Kampung Grandma there have closed down.

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.

Everything is not what it seems…

That day, I had to go to the bank on the other side of town to settle some matters. I guess I could have gone to one of the branches in the town centre to get them to do what I wanted them to do but I don’t mind the car ride once in a long while (the last time I went there was in January and there were a few times when I chose not to go because of the lockdown) and I get to see what is going on in that part of the woods.

I’ve been to this coffee shop…

J.U. Cafe

…before a long time ago, many times but I never took note of the name. I am not sure whether it was thus called or it had a different name in the past. I’ve had their kampua mee and whatever and I remember I quite liked what I had everytime.

I noticed that morning that they have done up the place nicely, Italian-tiled floor and what not and they have moved the kampua mee stall…

J.U. Cafe kampua mee stall

…to the other side, against the wall, where I used to sit before. There was a young girl running the stall and a young helper but I did see an old lady around – if I am not wrong, there used to be some elderly people here and definitely not somebody this young. That got me wondering – perhaps I should have gone some place else but I had already placed my orders so I decided I would just stick around and hope for the best.

The pain sip/meat dumplings (RM2.80)…

J.U. Cafe pian sip

…looked really good but when I tried, I thought it was all right, nice and that was it. It was kind of generic, something we can get at a lot of places elsewhere, more or less, and I sure would not want to come all the way here just for this.

Having said that, it was a completely different story altogether with the kampua mee (RM2.80)…

J.U. Cafe kampua mee

I thought it looked kind of overcooked and was quite sure it would not be nice and firm and to my liking but contrary to what I was thinking, it was absolutely perfect. I sure enjoyed it and I loved the very delicious stewed pork except that there were only five miserable pieces altogether. I sure would not mind it one bit if they could add a few more pieces and charge RM3.00 instead. After all, that is what you will have to fork out, sometimes even more, if you go and eat kampua mee elsewhere in town and some are not even nice!

I saw some people having the Sarawak laksa and it looked quite good. Other than that, there are only the usual stuff you can get at such stalls, nothing much else.

The young guys at the stall in this coffee shop to the right of the bank are no longer there – there is a young girl running the kampua mee stall there now but she does not seem to be getting much business. There was a Muslim stall before that seemed quite popular but no, it is no longer there now either. There are two coffee shops close by that seemed rather popular – there were a lot of people and most of them were having the fried stuff from the chu char (cook and fry) stalls there. Of course I did not check them out – whenever I see so many people at a place, I would just leave and go somewhere else.

The one I went to was all right – there were customers but not that many and I liked how it was open on one side and tables were spaced out, some placed outside so it was not so cramped and I did not mind one bit, eating there.

J.U. CAFE is located at the junction of Lorong Upper Lanang 12 and Lorong Upper Lanang 12B, across the road from Horisen Furniture, in the far end to the left of the block where the Hong Leong Bank Berhad branch is. 

You never tried…

My mum would have been 90 today, born on this day, September 11th in the year 1930. Of course, my sister and I and also my girl and the mum made our way to my parents’ resting place to offer flowers and prayers…

On mum's birthday, 2020

…last Sunday. We decided to go earlier as today, my girl would be working and it would not be so convenient to go in the afternoon, especially considering that it is always raining cats and dogs here past lunch time these days.

It was past 11, almost noon when we got back into town and I took them here…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap

I did tapao something that day for my sister but the other two had never tried it before.

I cannot remember whether we went to the original place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to eat or not but I positively remember taking them over there on a holiday some years ago when my girl was still in school, probably lower secondary at the time – the only thing that comes to mind is the awesome boat cruise that my wonderful cousin took us on across the sea to Pulau Gaya and the unforgettable experiences we had there with a scrumptious dinner thrown in for good measure. It seemed we could exchange our boat tickets for dinner at the restaurant there and of course, we enjoyed our walk around the Gaya Street tamu on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, back to our lunch here that day, my missus had the Sabah-style konlou mee

Kah Hionh Ngiu Chap konlou mee

…with a bowl of the beef soup (RM9.80) and yes, she loved it very much!

My girl had the beef balls and meat slices noodles (RM9.80)…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap beefballs and meat slices noodles

…and if you are familiar with the Singaporean Food King show, she gave it one star and declared it as being food-king good!

My sister had ngiu chap kah liao (with added ingredients) hor fun/kway teow (RM13.80)…

Kah Hiong ngiu chap kah liao hor fun

…and yes, she enjoyed it. They charge RM3.50 for each added ingredient and since this item on their menu has both tripe and tendon, it sure is a better deal to ask for this one than to order them separately.

I ordered the ngiu chap soup (RM12.80) and asked for the tendon and tripe (RM7.00, RM3.50 each add-on) to be added…

Kah Hiong ngiu chap soup

…and I had their beef stew (RM12.80)…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap beef stew

…with rice too.

Everybody tried the beef stew that the guy told me that day was very nice and that was why I wanted to check it out but unfortunately, we were not that impressed. One major contention was that it was a tad too sweet for everyone’s liking.

My girl said it was very Chinese, not quite like the ones in western cuisine – as a matter of fact, we had one like that at this very place many years ago in 2014 and we all loved it so much! Too bad that place did not last very long and we never had the chance to go back for more. Funny how nobody could remember we had that six years ago either and I remember it as clear as day. Not bad, eh, this old man?

That first time I was here, I felt that the soup was not as nice as what I used to love so much at the original place in Kota Kinabalu and this time around, I was of the opinion that it was not even as good as that first time – they certainly would have to look at their quality control for at best, I would say it was nice but not that nice! The ladies, on the other hand, were quite happy with what they had, especially when they had not had it before and could not make any comparison, and yes, they enjoyed it very much.

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. 

Get out of my way…

When I was here last month and had the kampua mee special that wasn’t all that special – they just added a hard-boiled egg, I thought the guy at the other/new stall…

Delta, the other stall

…looked very familiar. It was only when my friend/ex-student mentioned it to me that I remembered – he was the guy at the kampua mee stall here, the one with the very nice dongquai soup! I also went back for his Sarawak laksa and it was very good too.

I felt like having his pek ting eyok (Eight Treasures) but he said he did not have it that day and added that his pek ting eyok too kha (pork leg) would be available the following day at RM6.00 a bowl – that was the sign in Mandarin at the bottom in the photograph.

He also had bitter gourd noodles, curry mee, pan mee and zha jiang mian but I did feel like having those. In the end, I settled for the mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup (RM5.00)…

Delta Cafe, mee sua 1

…and yes, it was good.

Let’s start with the good things first! Of course I was delighted that it did not come in those horribly-coloured plastic bowls and after the guy had served it, he came back and poured a lot more of the red wine, one cup, at least., into the soup. It was not red – it was translucent golden orange, one of those better quality ones.

I loved the meat used, that of those better quality chicken that they call pua chai kay (mixed breed chicken) – the meat is firm, tastes nicer and is a little bit sticky. I would love to buy this type of chicken when I cook but unfortunately, the people in the house are not fond of the hoo-mo-nik (breast meat) and I would have to struggle to finish eating all of it over the next few days.

Delta Cafe, mee sua 2

The guy did not add any wolfberries (nor red dates) to his soup so it lacked the sweetness of these two ingredients but yes, I did enjoy it very much, just that I had to pick out all the bits of ginger in it – I am not fond of biting into it in anything that I eat.

After I was done, I spoke to the nice guy and he told me that the owner of the former coffee shop took the place back – it now has a different name – and he told him to get out of the way as he wanted to run the kampua mee stall himself. According to the guy, he said that there is a lot of money to be earned in selling kampua mee…but every day, when I drive past, I do not see any customers eating there.

He cannot sell kampua mee (with or without the dongquai soup) and Sarawak laksa as the existing stall there is already selling those. No worries, seeing how he has quite a lot to pick from, I certainly would go back again another day to try something else from his stall.

DELTA CAFE (2.312530, 111.847067) is the first shop in the block of shops immediately to your right when you turn left at the junction of the lane after Delta Mall, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

Like that…

I saw the photo of the lor mee that my friend had on Facebook…

Joshua's lor mee

…and it got me wanting something like that too. Don’t you think that looked really good?

I quickly asked him where he had that and he told me, he had it here. That’s pretty near my house – I can go by the back route via Lorong Taman Seduan 8 and would not need to go out onto the main roads at all even. Other than that, the other plus points about this place are there are ample parking spaces and it is free and it is not that crowded – not when I went that day, that is.

I managed to locate the stall selling the lor mee, No. 8…

Grand Wonderful Food Court, Stall No. 8

…and quickly placed my order for it. It was manned by a lady, not very young and a young girl plus two more, a boy and a girl in school uniform – they are probably in the afternoon session and were there to lend the mum a hand until it was time to go to school.

I saw a lot of those blue and white bowls, maybe 20 or more, all licked clean, at the next table. It sure looked like they had a lot of customers earlier and did not have time to wash up yet. Well, they did get down to it eventually while I was there and cleared away and washed everything in no time at all.

My order came soon enough (RM4.00)…

Grand Wonderful Food Court, Stall No. 8 lor mee 1

…but I thought it did not look as impressive as what my friend had. On the whole, I thought it tasted all right – not quite like the lor mee that I used to enjoy a long long time ago but it was good.

I went online on my antique 3310 handphone and checked my friend’s photograph. Only then did I realise why I thought his looked much nicer – he asked for another egg so he had three halves while I only had one…

Grand Wonderful Food Courst Stall No. 8 lor mee 2

No, I was fine with half an egg but I thought the gravy could have been a little bit thicker and a little stronger on the five-spice fragrance and the fermented beans but of course, there are people who are not into those. However, if ever I should go back there for this again, one thing that I would definitely ask the lady to leave out would be the fried shallots – if I am not wrong, she used those factory produced ones sold in huge packs at the supermarkets. A lot of the Malay shops and stalls use those and no, I am not fond of the taste and the smell.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Painted…

I was at this food court here…

Grand Wonderful Food Court

…that day for something else and while I was there, one particular stall caught my attention.

Instead of photographs like all the rest, they had hand-painted pictures…

Calvin's Bakery, Grand Wonderful Food Court

…of the buns they were selling. As a matter of fact, never before had I come across a stall in a coffee shop or a food court selling nothing but buns, baked on the spot…

Chocolate Bun, Calvin's Bakery

No, I did not buy that chocolate bun but I did ask for a few of their garlic bread (60 sen each)…

Calvin's Bakery garlic bread

…which looked and tasted like my favourite here which made me wonder whether these two young guys at this stall were the guy’s apprentices before or they worked at the hotel where he was before he branched out on his own…or they came from the same baking school.

I also bought their polo buns (RM2.00)…

Calvin's Bakery polo bun

…to try. Believe you me, I did not know what that was but now I do – it is a type of sweet bread, very popular in Hong Kong, Macau and Japan. I asked the boys and one of them told me that it had milk butter filling inside…

Polo bun, filling

…and yes. I thought it was really nice.

I also grabbed two of their Mexican coffee buns (RM2.00 each)…

Calvin's Bakery Mexican coffee bun

…or what they call roti boy here in Malaysia. I used to love them so much and would buy on a regular basis but I had not done so for a long time now. Come to think of it, I do not see it much around these days – I guess it had done its time. Once it was so popular that everywhere you went, be it at a mall or some hawker centre, you would catch the fragrance of the coffee from the stall baking and selling them. I loved the coffee crust on top and inside the soft bun, there was that same milk butter filling as in the polo bun.

I certainly would want to go back again to see what else they have and I probably would want to try this next time, the one with all the melon seeds…

Calvin's Bakery melon seed bun

…that I did not buy that day.

STOP PRESS:
Oh dear! I went back to the food court the following day as I did not buy enough to go round and was hoping to grab some more of the delightful buns. Much to my surprise, the stall was closed!!! I asked the lady at the next stall and she said that they had moved back – they were here only temporarily while their actual place, somewhere in the Medan Mall area, was under renovation…wherever that may be. Sigh!!!!!

Not that far away…

I was in the vicinity of this coffee shop

Hock Kee Corner

…or what they call UniCity here that day when I decided to stop by and see if they had anything of interest.

I saw two sweet young things enjoying what looked like nasi kak wok, not that I would want to have that too, thank you very much but I went looking for the stall to see what else they had.

I went to the Malay food stall where I had the very disappointing not-lemak-at-all nasi lemak the last time I was here but it did not look like the nasi kak wok came from there. The dishes for their nasi campur were ready even at around 10 something in the morning and there was a queue of customers lining up to get what they wanted. No, I did not feel like having that so I went to look elsewhere.

I saw a stall directly opposite that had nasi kerabu, nasi biryani, nasi aruk and all the rest on their menu so I asked if they had nasi kak wok and they said yes. They asked if I would like to have that but I said no and ordered their nasi kerabu ayam (RM6.00) instead…

Nasi Kerabu, Hock Kee Corner at UniCity 1

I was glad to see the light blue colour of the rice – I would take that as an indication that the butterfly pea flower (bunga telang) was used instead of some artificial colouring that would give it a shocking blue colour like the ones at some places here. Once was one time too many – I never went back there to eat their nasi kerabu ever again.

They gave the air budu (fermented salted fish sauce)…

Air budu

…and the very nice sambal

Sambal

…in little saucers and the sambal cili beside the rice but I was of the opinion that they could be a bit more generous with those and also the kerabu (raw vegetables) and the kerisik

Kerisik

…because although on the whole, it was very nice, I thought it was not quite there. I loved the stuffed chili and salted egg and the fried chicken was so well marinated with kunyit (turmeric) and whatever else and was very very nice plus it was not over-fried till hard and dry like the ones at some places here.

All in all, I enjoyed it…

Nasi kerabu Hock Kee Corner@UniCity 2

…very much and I sure would not mind having it again if I happen to be around this part of the woods but I’m afraid I have to say that in my honest opinion, it pales in comparison with my favourite on the other side of town. Unfortunately, that one is so far away that I get tired from the mere thought of having to drive all the way just for it !

HOCK KEE CORNER is located at Lorong Wawasan 9C, directly opposite the Mr DIY outlet in the vicinity of Unicity (2.342337, 111.831781) off Jalan Wawasan, on your left if you are coming from Bulatan Teng Chin Hua in the vicinity of the University College of Technology, Sarawak, Kolej Laila Taib and Woodlands International School, heading towards the Batang Igan Bridge.