Big nose…

This…

Dapi

…is my friend/ex-classmate’s coffee shop. I don’t know why he has named it da pi – I gathered that it means big nose. Perhaps he has one, a big nose but then again, many Asian Chinese have the same, and more often than not, it’s flat some more! Anyway, back to the coffee shop, I do recall my friend having one at Market Road but eventually, he moved here sometime ago. He kept asking me why I never dropped by – well, I just never did.

So what made me go there the other morning? Recently, my brother-in-law told me that the lady from one of his favourite kampua mee places in town has moved here. Oh? No wonder I’ve noticed quite a crowd there every morning when I drove past – obviously, the fans have shifted over here as well…but I do recall going to try at the old place and no, I was not all that impressed. Nonetheless, I decided to stop by to check it out one more time – after all, I probably caught them on a wrong day the last time and it is indeed very popular among the locals.

The coffee (RM1.70)…

Coffee

…that I had was really good – I would rank it among the best in town and the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Kampua

…was very nice too and I liked those bits of minced meat in it, something different from a lot of the rest.

I also ordered the beef tripe soup, small (RM3.00)…

Gu tor

…and I was glad that the serving was not as huge as what I had here. The beef tripe could have been a bit softer – the one here was just nice – but though the soup had a different taste altogether, it was very nice as well and thankfully, it did not have any offensive smell like the one here.

I was delighted to see that they did not use those plastic plates and bowls here and I would give them a bonus point for not using plastic spoons…

Spoon

…as well. Actually, I do like the floral designs very much, the ones on the plate and the spoon and should I see these in the shops, I sure wouldn’t mind grabbing some for my own collection.

While I was there, I saw these…

Stuffed tau kua tang hoon

…on the counter, the pre-soaked tang hoon (glass noodles) and the fried tau kua (bean curd cake) stuffed with minced meat. I would love that! Well, no prize for guessing what I will order the next time I drop by here.

DAPI SEAFOOD CANTEEN (2.286508, 111.831739) is located at No. 2A, Ground Floor, Lanang Road, directly opposite the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Come over here…

This place…

Lau Dato Si' Canteen/Catholic Centre Sibu *Archive photo*

…is located in the same compound as my girl’s present school, where the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral is.

I have been here twice, the first time for the kampua noodles and pian sip (meat dumplings) soup and the second time, I had the Foochow fried noodles but I got the dry version even though that was not actually what I had in mind.

It is very convenient for my girl to just walk over for a bite to eat especially during lunch hour if she has extra classes or activities in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, she used to do that when she was studying at that primary school and she did that again last week, once, and she had the wat tan hor, flat rice noodles in thick egg sauce (RM4.00) which she said was decent but nowhere near the one that she likes a lot here

Wat tan hor Colourful Cafe
*Archive photo*

…but that one sure does not come cheap, RM12.50, the last time we had it there.

On days when we are not that keen on cooking our own, we can always buy the chap fan (mixed rice) dishes from here – I did go and have a look and they all seemed very nice but I was not able to buy as I did not bring my own container. In an effort to save the environment, they will not provide plastic bags or containers here.

Well, it so happened that I dropped by here before 4.00 p.m. the other day. I saw that it was still open even though I heard that they would close at 2.00 p.m. every day and would not open on Sundays, this being a church-run eatery and all the people helping out are parishioners, all volunteers – Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day. I guess after two, one can drop by for drinks, nothing much else but that day, I saw a group of (old/elderly) ladies making paos (steamed buns) – tausar (black bean paste) and peanut filling.

Usually, one can get these and sio bee (meat dumplings) too at times at the coffee shops, those with the steamer by the side but I do not know where theirs came from, probably made in bulk somewhere and delivered everywhere for sale. I think I did try some here and there but no, I was not impressed.

I asked if they had any meat ones and the nice young girl said that they were not making any that day but they had some, frozen. I told her I did not mind – I could take them home and steam them the next morning for breakfast so I bought five of this…

Bak pao

…at only RM1.30 each. That was so very cheap – I am pretty sure bak pao anywhere else would definitely be more than RM2.00 each…and in line with their policy of being environment-friendly, they pack them in brown paper bags, strictly no plastic.

It tasted very nice even though there seemed to be more tang chai (preserved vegetables) in it…

Bak pao, inside

…and yes, there is a bit of egg too.

There is an old lady, now based at a stall at one of the pillars in the Sibu Central Market. Before the construction of the market in its present location, she was at the old market, right in front, across the road from Palace Theatre. Her chai pao (steamed vegetable bun) was the favourite of many and her meat ones were very good too. I did buy some from her sometime ago but the prices had gone up drastically and the quality seemed to be lacking so I never went back to buy from her anymore. This bak pao reminded me of hers but it was very much bigger – the old lady’s was RM1.20 in 2011, dunno now. I sure would be back for more of the ones here, that’s for sure.

LAUDATO SI’ CANTEEN is located in what was previously known as the Catholic Centre in the compound of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Jalan Lanang and St Rita’s Primary School, Jalan Bukit Assek.

Times have changed…

When I was still working, school started at 7.00 a.m. and by 6.00 a.m. or earlier, I would be on my way even though it would only take around 5-10 minutes for me to reach my destination. More often than not, the place would still be pitch dark and at times, it would still be all locked up when the caretaker/groundsman was running a little late.

Driving at that time of day was sheer delight as there would only be a sprinkling of other cars on the road, if any. These days, there are so many cars…and though I am thankful that there are no traffic jams (yet), what I simply cannot understand is why they have to drive so fast. There IS a speed limit here, 60 kmph in the town area…and they will weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes as and when it pleases them. People have the impression that cars here are not equipped with indicators as they will NEVER signal to let you know their intention when they turn left or right.

Frankly, I fail to understand what their hurry is – school does not start till after 7.00 a.m. and Sibu is such a small town that even before one song finishes on the radio, you would have reached your destination already! Maybe they are in a foul mood having to wake up so early to send their kids to school or maybe they are in rush to drop off their offspring and head back home to bed and sleep some more before it is time to go to work…or maybe there are a lot more cars these days and they have the tendency to drive in that unruly manner, I wouldn’t know.

Another impression that I get is that these days, people are real lazy. At that time of the morning, except for a few odd ones out, most of the coffee shops are not open yet.

I dropped by a hawker centre one morning and most were not open so I went to the market instead to see if I could buy some fish and prawns. On the way back, I saw one already open so I asked if I could order something for breakfast. They replied in a not-too-friendly manner (some people are simply not in a very good mood when they wake up in the morning) that they had just arrived and were not ready to start their business for the day yet – and that was past 6.30 a.m. going to be 7.00 a.m. soon.

In my younger days, coffee shops opened way before the crack of dawn and unlike many today, they did not close at or before noon either and if you wanted a plate of kampua mee at a very odd hour like 3 or 4.00 pm. they would only be too happy to restart their fire to cook the noodles for you and a plate was only 30 cents (without meat) or 50 cents (with meat) then. They must have worked so very hard and scrimped and saved to be able to afford their children’s fees and living expenses overseas unlike what some people think – that all of them were so very rich!

Well, I spotted one coffee shop that was open…

Happy Sweet Garden Food Centre

…the other morning so I decided to stop by for a plate of kampua noodles for breakfast. Now, this is another thing about drivers these days – there were ample parking spaces all around, no parking fee at that time of day but no, as you can see in the above photograph, they just had to park right beside the shop to go in and eat. I am quite sure they would drive right into the coffee shop if they could! Tsk! Tsk! I really wonder about the mentality of people nowadays and what has gone wrong along the way.

Now, if I am not wrong, that guy at the stall…

Kampua mee stall

…is Ah Kow’s son. We grew up eating his father’s kampua noodles every Sunday after church, our weekly special treat, but only if my brother and I behaved well throughout the service or we would head straight home and have rotan (cane) for breakfast instead.

When I got to the coffee shop, I was amazed by the number of people there – it was almost full! It appeared to me that they were all parents bringing their children for breakfast before heading off to school. Is that why they drive so fast? They have to stop somewhere for a bite to eat first?

Golly gee! Don’t people cook and eat their own breakfast at home anymore? All throughout my schooling years, my mum would get up early to prepare breakfast and by the time we were up and ready for school, all would be ready and we could eat before getting on our bicycles and making our way to school by ourselves. For one thing, I cannot imagine those kids eating all the msg in the noodles every day and drinking those unhealthy drinks as well – no wonder we see news reports of young boys and girls getting ill, coming down with diabetes, cancer…heart problems and stroke even! It probably has something to do with the way of life these days.

Anyway, back to the kampua mee (RM2.70)…

Kampua mee 1

…that I had, it was pretty good, cheaper than many around here by 10 sen or 30 sen or more and I liked how they did not dye the meat red…

Kampua mee 2

…plus they did not use a plastic plate even though they did use a plastic bowl for the soup.

Well, since most other places are still closed, I guess if one wants kampua mee so early in the morning, this is one place they can head to.

HAPPY SWEET GARDEN FOOD CENTRE (2.301085, 111.835842) is located at No. 16, Jalan Merdeka Barat, back to back with the Sibu Polyclinic, Jalan Oya.

Little bit too much…

This food court is just round the corner from the car wash that I frequent and the other day, after I had got my car sparkling clean, I decided to drop by and check the place out. We had gone there a few times before, here and also here, for instance but we did not think there was anything to get us coming back for more.

The iced coffee, black (RM1.70)…

Grand Wonderful Food Court, kopi o peng

…was good and so was the kampua noodles…

Grand Wonderful Food Court kampua mee

…that I ordered from Stall No.2…

Grand Wonderful Food Court, stall No. 2

…right next to the first one, the chicken rice stall. Hmmmm…usually, I would not cut my spring onions that long but I guess it does not make much of a difference.

The pork intestine soup…

Grand Wonderful Food Court, pork intestine soup

…that I had with the noodles was good too, very peppery and I enjoyed eating the innards with the own-made chili dip provided. However, there was just too much of it, enough to be shared by two. I sure would not mind a smaller serving for a little less than what I had to fork out for it, RM8.00 altogether!

Incidentally, while I was there, they started taking out the dishes for the chap fan (mixed rice) and they sure looked good. Perhaps I would drop by one of these days to give it a try.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada, 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.

I’ll come back for you…

I was out real early that morning as I intended to stop by here on my way to town to try what I said I would go back and try, their beef tripe, liver and fish ball combo soup (RM10.00)…

Beef tripe liver fish ball combo soup

That was during the mid-year school break so the kids were able to help out at the shop…

Noodle Shop

I must say that is truly praiseworthy as that probably would be the last thing children nowadays would want to do especially when they will have to get up so very early after having stayed awake the whole night through playing online games on their smartphones.

The grandma asked me if I wanted noodles with my order and she did tell me that the serving would be quite big. Of course I told her no but when it…

Noodle Shop combo soup

…was served, it did not look that big after all or not to me, at least. There were quite a lot of the ingredients in the soup, that much I would say and I rather enjoyed eating everything dipped in the extra-spicy own-made chili dip.

Having said that, I would prefer liver in the traditional Foochow red wine soup and even though I did not think I would like it better with noodles, I sure would not mind some tang hoon (glass noodles) in it. All in all, I certainly would come back here again but not for this combo, not at RM10.00 a bowl, thank you very much.

NOODLE SHOP is located right next to BAKELICIOUS, a few doors to the left of LE CAFE(2.299452,111.830832) along Brooke Drive at the Brooke Business Centre, on your left if you are driving from town, in that block of shops past Jalan Kumpang after you have gone past the building where the Sheraton Restaurant is, before you get to the traffic lights where you turn right to get to the KPJ Sibu Medical Centre.

For the last time…

When the two-week mid-year break ended last Monday, we had to drive my girl back to her school in the jungle because at the time, she had not received the official letter yet. We left home early as we wanted to stop by the district education office in Selangau to see if the letter had arrived but unfortunately, we had to leave empty-handed.

We decided to have a bite to eat before proceeding to the school and we did not feel like having rice so we did not hop over to this shop a few doors away from the office in that same block. We felt like having noodles instead and I remembered we quite liked what we had once at this corner shop so we made our way there.

I wanted kampua noodles with pian sip (meat dumpling) soup but they had run out of the latter so I settled for the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Selangau, Foochow fried noodles

…that I had on our previous visit and my missus also wanted the same. I could recall also that though it was nice, I felt it could do with a little less msg so I told them that and yes, it was much better this time around.

My girl wanted fried bihun, wet – with sauce/gravy, that is (RM4.00)…

Selangau, fried bihun

…and though it did not look like much, she liked it.

Seeing that she was formally dressed in her work attire, the lady at the shop asked if she was a new teacher reporting for duty. It turned out that she was a teacher too at the Chinese primary school a stone’s throw from the bazaar and she grumbled that their school was short of 6 teachers and it did not look like there was any forthcoming.

Of course, my girl told her happily that she had got her transfer and wanted to check if the official letter had arrived…and I guess since we would not be passing that way again, not in the near future, that probably would be the last time we would be dropping by there for a bite to eat.

Waiting for your letter…

Well, my girl got a transfer to her alma mater

SK St Rita

– she studied here for 6 years from Year/Primary One till Year/Primary Six and emerged as one of the top students in the UPSR Examination, straight A’s no less.

This time around, she would be going back there as a teacher – as a matter of fact, she would be taking the place of HER teacher who had just retired. However, she would not be able to leave the old station until she had received the official letter that would state in no uncertain terms in black and white that she had been successful in her application for a transfer and would move from there to here plus for reasons unknown, there seemed to be some degree of confidentiality surrounding the whole thing until the letter had come.

For inter-state transfers, they will only tell you via their website whether you are successful or not in your application and if you are, which state you are going to. Other than that, you will have to wait for the letter for further details. In the case of those within the state, for successful applicants, they will state the name of the school so I asked my girl to print screen the web page quickly so she would have on record the official result…just in case.

The school shares the same compound as the cathedral…

Sacred Heart Cathedral

…and also the Catholic Centre…

Catholic Centre

…where this church-run eatery is – I’ve been there twice, here and here and the food is decent and very cheap. I guess in time to come, my girl can hop over when she is free for a quick breakfast or on days when she has something on in the afternoon, she can go there for lunch.

That day, she dropped by the school to make an informal courtesy call on the headmistress – it was the school holidays then so there wasn’t anybody else around, other than her and the clerk in the office, and yes, they did have a very long chat.

After my girl came out, we went for brunch and perhaps, with all that excitement and everything, she just wanted porridge (RM5.50 with century egg)…

Porridge

…so we stopped by here, the stall where I had the very nice pork ribs noodles, for that.

The mum had the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Foochow fried noodles

…from the very popular chu-char (cook and fry) place at the back and it sure took a very long time because they were busy cooking the orders for customers to take home and enjoy with their families in conjunction with the Duanwu or Dumpling Festival that day.

I decided to try the kampua noodles – they have some new people running the stall there now and I asked for the set with fish balls soup (RM6.00)…

Set

The noodles were great…

Kampua mee

…and so was the soup…

Soup

…with their own-made bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel) fish balls though it was pretty obvious they would need to polish up their skill of making round fish balls. LOL!!!

Yes, I would give them a double thumbs up for not using those plastic plates and bowls but on the whole, I would not mind a little less msg.

MEI LE CAFE (2.313147, 111.846968) is located along Jalan Gambir, a stone’s throw away from the Delta Mall, straight ahead from the first turning to your left as soon as you turn into that road from Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Datuk Wong Soon Kai.