My dream came true…

I saw some of my blogger friends sharing photographs of their black vinegar pork trotter/leg and of course, that got me drooling away and wishing that I could get to enjoy it too. Why, one of them even shared the recipe in her blog!

There are a few places here selling that – here and also here on Sundays only and here as well. As a matter of fact, I did buy the one from that last place from the neighbourhood fruits and vegetables sundry shop in the next lane from my house. At one time, they left a few tubs there for sale and I did get to buy one to try…

…and yes, it was very nice.

I was thinking of going to one of those places to tapao home to enjoy but I was not that keen on going out and venturing here and there, not with the pandemic raging on like nobody’s business! That was why I kept putting it off one day after another!

Imagine my delight that day when I saw that my missus had cooked it…

…for us. Of course, hers is second to none and likewise, her phak lor too kha (braised five-spice pork leg) as well.

There was a coffee shop/restaurant in Kanowit where I used to go for my meals. The lady boss could cook it in that exact same way -she’s no longer around, of course. My guess is it was because she was Hokkien or some other dialect, not Foochow. Both my mum and my mother-in-law could cook it that same way too but sadly, I’ve yet to come across a place here that can cook it half as nice as them.

Ooooo…I so loved how my missus also went and added some hardboiled eggs to the stew. Those are one of my weaknesses – I love them so much!!! But the best thing about the dish was how my missus had taken the trouble to simmer it long enough so the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the skin was so soft, so jelly-like that it melted in the mouth. Eating that sure felt like heaven, you can take my word for it!

I did buy some mantao (steamed buns) from the aforementioned shop sometime ago to keep in the fridge to take out and steam in the morning to heat up and eat for our breakfast so of course, we took a few of them out…

…to eat with the pork trotter and the sauce…

Boy! that was so so so good!!!

Now that I have had my fill of that one dish that I was dreaming of, I guess I shall not be craving for it…for a while! LOL!!!

Convenience…

I guess everyone knows by now that I do not usually venture very far to shop for my food supplies and other daily needs as I can get most of what I want at the nearby shops and stalls in the next lane in my neighbourhood and my favourite fish & seafood stall is pretty close by as well.

Other than the convenience, these places are not so crowded unlike some of those popular malls and supermarkets around town. They may claim that all their employees are fully vaccinated and insist on ALL their customers being fully vaccinated too before they are allowed to enter but still, their names would appear so frequently in the daily list of places where there have been positive cases. That sure is kind of worrying! It is the same with the Sibu Central Market and at the time of writing, it is closed because there have been a lot of cases there, so I was told.

I do not usually go early in the morning as I’ve noticed a lot of shoppers doing their marketing for the day at that time, not only ladies but men too, some of whom have just finished their regular morning jog/walk obviously. I cannot understand why they have to do it every day – I would grab a whole lot each time I go out and dump everything in the house and my missus would do the same so we would not have to go out so often. My cousin in KK called me that day and I assured him that we would have no problem with food whatsoever as we have so much in store at home – like a kedai runcit (grocery store), he said. LOL!!!

I would stock up on things for breakfast too as we jolly well can’t be eating instant noodles all the time and I am cutting down on sweet cakes, biscuits, cookies and crackers. That is why I would buy bread and buns and mantao and steamed paos…

…all of which are easily available in the aforementioned shops and talking about the paos, they are RM2.20 each now, an increase of 20 sen since the pandemic broke out but they have insisted on each pao being wrapped in a plastic bag…

…so they would not be lying there, all exposed, waiting for somebody to buy and I do know of some people who have this horrible habit of poking everything or touching and taking something and then putting it back. I simply do not understand why they must do that – the vegetable seller (the old man in the afternoon) complained to me once about his bruised tomatoes, the result of people taking and pressing them one by one. Of course, nobody would want to buy them anymore!

Anyway, back to the paos, I would buy a few and keep in the fridge to steam and heat up for my breakfast when I get up in the morning. These days, I like to boil an egg and cut it into wedges and push them into the paos…

I so love egg in my paos.

There are quite a lot of things I can buy at that same shop for breakfast or tea and other than that, I can also drop by the coffee shop to the left of the block of shops on the left and tapao something home like what I did the other morning. The chu-char stall is at the back so I can go and order through the back door. That way, I do not have to go through the whole coffee shop which means that I can avoid any physical/close contact with any fellow human beings who may be there at the time.

That day, I bought this char pek koi/fried rice cake (RM5.00)…

…for my girl. She does enjoy it and now that we do not go out to eat here, there and everywhere these days, she will not get to eat it unless I buy it home for her. Yes, she loved it but the serving was a bit too big for her to handle so she saved half of it…

…for her lunch that day.

I got the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version (RM4.50)…

…for the mum and yes, it was good too.

Of course, by the time I got home, it would have soaked up all the sauce/gravy…

…but it did not matter. Sometimes. these noodles taste even nicer when they have absorbed the sauce/gravy – it will make them tastier! Yes, like the daughter, she could not finish all of it too so she put aside the rest for her lunch.

No, I did not buy anything for myself. I usually wake up very early, around 3 or 4 something in the morning. I’ve noticed that some of you are up and about around that same time too, already active on Facebook and may, at times, leave a comment in my blog even. Of course I must have my breakfast so usually I will see what I can eat in the house and that morning, I tried this instant mi goreng and with the added egg and sausage, I was already too full for anything else.

Of course, there may be things that are not available at those aforementioned stalls and shops. For instance, cheddar cheese is easily available, block or slices and cream cheese too but if you are looking for parmesan and the rest, I’m afraid you will have to go elsewhere. I guess at a time like this, we will just have to learn to live without certain things and make do with what we can get while making safety our priority at all times – #staysafe #staywell.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to The Bethel Hair Salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket while AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.

Tell it as it is…

The sister-in-law and his brother used to have their fried kway teow stall here but they have since moved here. In the meantime, this guy had his at a coffee shop in the town centre but I heard that owing to some issues regarding the rent, after seven years there, he has moved here…

I was out and about early that morning and I had to head into the town centre for something and I was driving past the area on my way home. I heard from my sister that she had had his fried kway teow and he had cockles (kerang)…

…in the dish so I decided to stop by and tapao home to try.

I got really put off at a lot of places here where they declared in no uncertain terms that they had cockles in their kway teow but when I ordered, they told me that they did not have any that day. Liar, liar, pants in fire!!! I am sure they never had any and had no intention whatsoever of having any at all. Just a sales gimmick to pull wool over the customers’ eyes! Somebody should sue these people for false advertising!!! Tsk! Tsk!

I ordered one dish of fried kway teow with cockles (RM6.00) and sambal (an additional RM1.00) for my missus, hoping that it would be spicy as I felt she would like that. As the guy was frying it…

…I caught the whiff of the fragrance of the sambal and boy, it sure was good. The thought that I should have ordered the same for all of us did creep through my mind at that point in time.

I asked for another two packets, kway teow with cockles (RM6.00) and prawns (an additional RM1.00 as well) and as soon as they were done, I headed straight home so the ladies could enjoy what I had bought for them for breakfast.

I must say that the fragrance that filled the car all the way back was simply awesome but somehow or other, it…

…did not sweep me off my feet, not even the one with the sambal. It sure tasted great with my missus’ own blended chili sauce/dip but on its own, I can think of a number of places around town where the fried kway teow is very much nicer.

23 FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located at No. 13/15, Lorong Tun Abg Hj Openg 1, among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) in the vicinity of Gabriel’s Recipe and TowerMas Hotel.

Stuck together…

Sometime ago, somebody was complaining about buying noodles home or getting them delivered to the house. I do not remember whether he or she was talking about Sibu kampua or Kuching kolo or whatever mee but it is true that when you buy and take them home nicely wrapped in plastic bags like this…

…the strands of the noodles will all get stuck together and stay in that shape when you take them out especially when you buy them in the morning from here to take some place else, like to KL, for instance, to appease somebody’s craving there and he or she will only get to eat it come evening time and they will take it out and eat it while in a clump like eating a bun.

Well, I found out by accident that there is a solution to this problem. Before taking out the noodles, press them from the outside to loosen those strands and get them to come apart…

It was quite easy for me to do that as I went home straight away after buying them at the shop so they were not so “stuck” yet but had it been much later, it probably would have taken me longer to do that.

Once I was through, I emptied the noodles onto a plate and arranged the slices of meat on top and served them with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions from my garden…

There you are! Don’t you think that looks exactly like how you would get it at the shops? It certainly comes across a whole lot nicer and more appetising than what I see some bloggers eating when they buy noodles home or get them delivered to the house.

Up up and away…

I was out and about very early that morning. Usually, I would take the car out for a spin around the neighbourhood to recharge the battery but I would venture out later in the morning or mid afternoon.

I was somewhat surprised when I drove past this very popular coffee shop and saw that the customers around there at the time were rather few and far between. In the past, it was always so crowded at any time of day and it was quite difficult to get a seat and if you want to tapao (takeaway), you probably would have to wait a mighty long time. I decided to buy something home for the ladies for breakfast so I parked my car right beside the kampua mee stall and went and placed my order.

During my more recent visits, either the boss or the Indonesian helpers would be doing the cooking – very rarely would I see the lady boss taking over the helm. That morning, however, there was a young girl doing it and from what I observed and heard, she was the daughter of the boss and his wife. Oh me oh my!!! How time flies! All these years, I never saw any children around the stall and suddenly, there was one, so big already!

She took the kampua noodles…

…and threw them into the cauldron…

…with the hot boiling water.

Then she put all the ingredients in a big stainless steel bowl/basin…

– the shallot oil (lard) and the light or dark soy sauce and a sprinkling of fried shallots and chopped spring onions plus of course, the msg. They do that at most places here, toss the noodles separately before pouring them into a clean plate to serve. At places where they do not do that, you may be served something that looks quite a mess, not a pleasant sight at all.

Once the noodles were cooked, she tossed them well with the ingredients…

…and poured them into the plastic bags…

The Indonesian helper added the slices of meat, tapao-ed (wrapped) everything before collecting the money and handing them over to be taken away.

My girl loves pian sip (meat dumplings) so I also ordered those…

…for her and after cooking them in a separate cauldron, they were packed as well for me to take home…

Things used to be more expensive here than most, RM3.20 while elsewhere, they were selling for RM3.00 or even less, depending on where you go. That was why I paid the Indonesian helper RM10.00 expecting to be given the change but when she did not do that, I asked her and she told me that I would have to pay her another 50 sen. The lady boss came over and told me that the prices had increased to RM3.50 now. Oh dear!!! I can’t say I was surprised though because that is what I have seen all round lately, the prices of virtually everything going up, up and away!!!

Thankfully, the ladies enjoyed what I bought for them. My missus said that both the kampua mee and the pian sip were great and she really enjoyed them especially when she had not had any for a long long time. When I told her about the increase in price, she said that she was not surprised either as there seemed to be a lot more meat…

…unlike before and they were a bit more generous with the noodles than elsewhere.

As far as I am concerned, as long as what they dish out is very nice, value for money, a little increase in price at a time like this is only to be expected. I did not bring along my tiffin carrier – it is in the boot of my Ol’ Faithful (the Wira) and I was not using it that morning. That was why I rushed home right away to take everything out of the plastic bags – I did not feel that comfortable, all that hot stuff wrapped in plastic. Maybe I should get another tiffin carrier, one in the boot of each car.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312181, 111.845824) is located among the Delta Mall/Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the Methodist church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir

I had my hopes up high…

My friend classified the tee peang here, our Sibu Foochow version of the oyster cake, as her favourite in town so of course, I was keen on going there to grab some and try.

The first time I was there, it was around 9 something in the morning and they were all sold out so I went some place else. The second time I went, the people making the tee peang had taken the day off and the couple running the coffee shop kept reminding me to go early, around 7 to 8.00 a.m. as they would be sold out very quickly. That was why I had my hopes up high – they must be really good if they sell so well, like hot cakes!

I was out and about early one morning so I decided to try my luck and yes, the very nice and friendly old couple were there. Obviously, they were the ones making and they sat there selling their kuihs themselves. The couple told them that I had been there so many times and finally, I managed to get what I was looking for.

I bought the tee peang, kosong (no filling), 5 for RM2.00…

…but no, I did not think they were like what we used to eat and enjoy in the good ol’ days…

One look at it and you would be able to tell right away that they were different – those way back then did not look anything like that but yes, it was all right, nice, just that it was not the same if you are looking for the original authentic taste.

I was there early, around 7.30 a.m. and there were only five left – the ones with the meat filling (RM2.00 each)…

…and I bought all of them.

These too were nice…

…but I think I prefer the former pasar malam (night market) ones or even these homemade ones

…available at our neighbourhood shop in the next lane in the morning – go early to avoid disappointment!

I must say that I was kind of disappointed because as I have said earlier, I had my hopes up high and they did not live up to my expectations. However, if it is any consolation, their chai peah (vegetable fritters)…

…also 5 for RM2.00, were really VERY good. I loved the taste and also the lovely chewy texture plus the crispy edges, crispy but not hard like some and if I were to go back again, without doubt, I certainly would buy more of the chai peah.

You can park your car at the parking area at the back and come in via the back entrance – very convenient, no need for any close encounters with other fellow human beings who may be at the coffee shop at the time.

ZHEN SAN MEI CAFE (2.312704, 111.847134) is located in the block of shops to the right of Delta Mall along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, beside Dynapower, the shop selling all the electrical appliances and what not.

Take two…

I did mention in my blogpost yesterday that I took two of the steamed paos…

…that day at the stall located at the back of the coffee shop. Well, there were only two left so I did not have much choice.

The skin did not look that good – it did not have those nice creases on top and actually, it was not quite there. I found it kind of hard, not soft and cushiony so I was rather disappointed with it. On the other hand, the filling…

…was very nice. I would say that of all the steamed paos that we have around here, I like the filling in this one the most…

…just that I was wishing the whole time that there had been an egg in it, even if it had been just one eighth of it.

Honestly, I cannot understand why these people making steamed paos are so stingy with the egg especially when it is actually not expensive at all. I cannot remember how much I paid for these, probably RM2.00 each but unless they do something about the skin, never mind the egg, I do not think I will buy them again. However, much to my surprise, my missus had the other one and she liked it a lot! Ah well! Like what I always say, to each his/her own!

After making my purchases at the stall that morning, I stopped by my neighbourhood shop in the next lane and much to my delight, I saw they had midin (wild jungle fern)…

I asked for TWO bags full, RM6.00 each. I did not bother to find out the net weight even though RM6.00 did seem a bit on the high side. The boy did say that they had smaller bags, RM4.70 each but no, I was quite happy with the big ones. I remember vaguely that it was RM4.00 a kilo or something like that a long long time ago – that was what I paid for the paku I bought that day and boy, we sure enjoyed that to the max.

Usually, we would buy these wild jungle ferns at the jungle produce section at the Sibu Central Market but I was always so pissed off by how dishonest those ethnic sellers were. They would tie the ferns in bundles, wrapped in some leaves and sell for RM2.00 each but upon reaching home, when we opened up the bundle, we would find all the withered ones hidden in the middle and those would have to be thrown away. In the end, we would not have very much left. That was why when dealing with those people, it would be best to buy two bundles at a time.

I did mention time and time again that I have not gone to the central market since the outbreak of the pandemic, not when we see news of cases among the sellers or the customers again and again and again. Thankfully, we can get these ferns around here once in a while.

That day, my missus fried one bag with sambal hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns)…

…and one can see quite obviously from the photograph how fresh and “fat” (fertile) they were and yes, they were really very crunchy, so very nice, indeed…unlike the miserable shrivelled, semi-withered ones from those people selling the jungle produce at the market, may God forgive them!

ZHEN SAN MEI CAFE (2.312704, 111.847134) is located in the block of shops to the right of Delta Mall along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, beside Dynapower, the shop selling all the electrical appliances and what not while SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Day off…

A friend of mine told me once that she bought her favourite tee peang, our Sibu Foochow version of the oyster cake, from this coffee shop here

…but all this while, I did not bother to go and check it out.

Finally, at long last, one fine Saturday morning, I decided to stop by. It was only around 9 something in the morning but I was told that they were all sold out. That was the morning when I went to this stall at another coffee shop to the left a stone’s throw away. They told me to come back on Monday and advised me to go a bit early, around 7 or 8 as they would be sold out quickly.

I did not go back on Monday but on Tuesday morning, at around 8, I went to check it out. Unfortunately, I was told that the one making was taking the day off and they asked me why I did not show up the day before. Gee! They remembered!

In the end, I decided to buy their popiah (RM1.20 each)…

…for breakfast since I was already there. I can vaguely recall buying it before to try and though it was all right, it just wasn’t anything to shout about, nowhere near the ones we make ourselves. Probably that was why I never went back for more.

True enough, it was all right…

…much nicer with my missus’ own blended chili.

There were only two steamed paos left; according to the guy, they were made by the same people making the popiah but I did not take a photograph of those before putting them away in the fridge. I’ll blog about them if they are any good, otherwise they will join the ranks of the rest of the forgettables I’ve had the displeasure of sampling before.

I also bought these huat koi/发糕 (RM1.20 each)…

…and while the texture was nicely done, I would agree with my girl that it was a bit too strong on the fermentation smell and taste. I’ve had nicer ones elsewhere.

I guess the tee peang will just to wait till another day. If anybody is heading this way soon, park your car in the parking area at the back of the shop where the “stall” is – that way, it will be much easier to go and buy without any close encounters with the customers dining in at the coffee shop. #staysafe #staywell

ZHEN SAN MEI CAFE (2.312704, 111.847134) is located in the block of shops to the right of Delta Mall along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, beside Dynapower, the shop selling all the electrical appliances and what not.

Around here…

Well, this stall…

…is new around here.

I spotted it at the back of the coffee shop near my house when I hopped over there to buy the roast chicken, roast duck and char siew but it was already mid-afternoon and they were closing down for the day. You can park your car at the parking area at the back and come in via the back entrance – very convenient and no need for any close encounters with other fellow human beings who may be at the coffee shop at the time.

I noticed the cooking oil in the wok – it looked so clean and fresh unlike those that I’ve seen elsewhere so of course, I made up my mind to buy some of what they had for sale to give them a try.

The chai peah (vegetable fritters)…

…looked really good with the very generous sprinkling of the chives and they were bigger than the regular ones, that’s for sure.

However, whatever these were, they…

…caught my attention the instant I saw them.

The nice lady did say they were not tee peang (our Sibu Foochow version of the oyster cake) though there did seem to be a little similarity…

…in their appearance on one side. She did explain to me what it was but in Mandarin and I wasn’t really paying attention so I did not catch what she said.

Taking a closer look at it on the other side…

…I saw what looked like bubuk (very tiny shrimps, dried) and this was what it looked like inside…

My girl liked it and personally, I would say it was nice, something I would not mind having once in a while, selling for RM1.00 a piece but no, I could not detect the taste of the bubuk and no, I would not say that it swept me off my feet.

The chai peah

…were nice, 3 for RM2.00 – the regular ones at the Ban Chang Kuih (Chinese pancake) stall in the next lane from my house are 5 for RM2.00 (used to be 6) and I do enjoy those very much as well. As far as these were concerned, other than the size and the extra chives, I did not think there was anything else that would make it stand out above the rest.

The lady told me that the guy was going to start frying the yew char koi/youtiao (油条/Chinese crullers) – no wonder the cooking oil in the wok looked sparkling new…and if I would wait for around 10 minutes or so, they should be ready pretty soon. I told her I would come back another time for that and left.

There are a number of people making and selling yew chai koi here, many of them Malays and they call it cakoi but unfortunately, none is like the ones I grew up eating way back in the good old days. So far, one good one that I came across was this one here – not some place that I would want to go all the way and with the pandemic dragging on and on, I am not even sure if it is still there or not.

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.

Free of charge…

All throughout my growing up years, I enjoyed the kampua mee at this stall run by a guy called Ah Kow at the Kiaw Siong Coffee Shop along Central Road opposite the Sibu Fire Station, at the corner to the right. Of course, he had passed away quite sometime ago but to this day, his son is carrying on the trade and presently he is here at this coffee shop right behind the Sibu Polyclinic Jalan Oya (now Jalan Brother Albinus).

Just like his father before him and all the other kampua mee sellers in town, his noodles would be served with a bowl of complimentary soup…

…something you will not find when you go for a bowl of kolo mee in Kuching.

I remember how we loved the soup long ago in the old days but somebody did tell my dad then that it would only be nice in the early hours of the day. They would be adding water to the stock made from simmering the pork bones on and on the whole day so by night time, there would not be any taste left and all you would get would be nothing more than plain water with the shallot oil and msg and light soy sauce with a sprinkling of fried shallots (if you’re lucky) and chopped spring onions like what you will get today – at any time of day…

Indeed, more often than not these days, the soup is completely bland, quite tasteless and it sure does not help one bit that they usually serve it in a plastic bowl even when they are using a ceramic plate for the noodles…

They might as well not bother as I, for one, would just leave the soup untouched.

On the other hand, at the Malay shops and stalls, I find that it is a different story altogether. Of course, their kampua mee is lard-free, 100% halal, served with either chicken or beef and with it…

…they will serve you a really nice bowl of sup tulang (beef bone soup)…

…that is so very delicious, definitely good till the last drop.

Elsewhere, they may give you the chicken soup made from boiling the meat that they serve with the noodles…

…and yes, that is very nice too!

Yes, the best things in life are free but if they are going to serve that kind of tasteless soup with their kampua mee even though it is free of charge, they might as well don’t bother.