I loved you once…

This used to be our favourite…

Soon Hock Cafe & Restaurant

…when it came to kampua noodles here in Sibu. In fact, I held it in such high esteem that when my blogger friends came over for a visit sometime ago, I even brought them here. It was already very popular then and the crowd that you could see eating there would be testament to the fact.

I did hear some ex-colleagues saying that they would never go there to eat as the lady boss had waist-length hair and it might get into the food. That, of course, was absolutely nonsense. We ate there so often and we never did see a single strand of hair in the noodles. As a matter of fact, she hardly ever did the cooking herself; she had a couple of Foochow-speaking Indonesian helpers and they could do it really well so she left everything to them. We did not mind, of course, until those girls left and she had some new ones and we did not like what they dished out so we stopped going.

It seems that the husband does all the cooking these days assisted by some Indonesian helpers…

Soon Hock boss at work

…and yes, they do it well and the place would be as crowded as ever all the time unlike the other coffee shop that I went to the other day at the end of that very same block of shops.

However, I don’t know if business was too good or what but the guy seemed to get my orders messed up more than once. I went and tapao-ed home some pian sip kampua mee once and when I got home, I found that there was only pian sip, no mee.

The other morning when I dropped by for breakfast, I asked for pian sip kampua again but I got what-we-call-mee pok instead…

Soon Hock mee pok

…It did not really matter as our mee pok is actually the same as kampua mee, except that it is flat and if you are wondering why I always ordered piansip

Soon Hock pian sip

…our version of the wanton (meat dumplings), it’s just that I would rather have those than the few very thin slices of boiled meat, coloured red to make it look like char siew which it most definitely isn’t though I am quite positive that I used to get more, not just three…

Soon Hock pian sip mee pok

…For one thing, the price here has gone up to RM3.20 a plate while elsewhere, one can easily get some decently good kampua mee for RM2.50-3.00 or less.

Yes, it is still very nice like before but at that price, I think I would much sooner go elsewhere even though it sure does not stop all the people, their regular customers probably, from coming every day.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312434, 111.845917) is located in the Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.

Looks can be deceiving…

If you see a crowd, it may not mean that there is anything nice like how this place was so very packed when we stopped by there in the morning two Sundays ago before we went on our way to send my girl back to her school in the jungle.

Yes, the chicken rice is consistently good but the kueh chap

Chopsticks kueh chap
*Archive photo*

…that I had that morning was way too salty and my girl had the Sarawak laksa which looked rather pale even though she said it was all right and the Foochow fried noodles had the clear gravy, not dark and not the way I would like it.

We ended up here because this place was packed too that morning and this one as well. My missus and I dropped by the latter a few days later and she had the Foochow noodles, soup (RM4.00)…

Mei Le Foochow noodles, soup

…from the chu-char people at the back. It sure looked good, lots of added ingredients but she said it could do with a little less msg.

I had the mee sua in the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup (RM6.00, or was it RM6.50?)…

Mei Le mee sua in Foochow red wine chicken soup

…and it sure looked extremely red.

Sometimes they use ang chao (the lees or residue from the fermented red yeast rice used in making of the wine) and some may use the cheap red wine that has not been filtered well till completely clear so there is still a bit of the residue in it and that would give it the colour. Unfortunately, in both the aforementioned cases, the soup will lack the fragrance of the wine but thankfully, what I had that morning was all right, not great but at least, there was a very light hint of the wine used in the cooking, anytime better than the one I had here.

On another day, we dropped by here…

Yum Yum Cafe

…directly opposite this supermarket in the Sibu Bus Terminal area…

Everwin, Sibu Bus Terminal

…and my missus had their egg soup hung ngang

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup hung ngang 1

Actually, one could have a choice of either that or mee sua or bihun. She would cook her own at home sometimes, with lots of red wine and ginger but this one did not look like it had a lot of the former…

Yum Yum Cafe egg soup mee sua 2

…However, she said that it was very good – there was the nice red wine taste so my guess was the lady used the good quality unadulterated wine so it was not all that red.

I had the nasi lemak (RM4.00)…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak

…from another stall there. No, the rice was not lemak and the sambal did not taste all that nice but it was all right.

The oil in the wok must be extremely hot when the lady fried the egg…

Yum Yum Cafe nasi lemak, fried egg

…but thankfully, the yolk, though not runny…

Fried egg, yolk

…was not overcooked.

I also ordered the murtabak daging (RM5.50)…

Yum Yum Cafe murtabak daging

…from the roti canai stall there and though it was quite nice, lots of meat and potatoes inside…

Yum Yum Cafe muratbak daging, inside

…I was already very full from the nasi lemak so I just tapao-ed most of it and took it home.

I guess the bottom line is not everything at all those crowded places is necessarily nice and what looks good may turn out quite disappointing while on the other hand, something that does not look that appealling may turn out quite nice in the end.

P.S.: Incidentally, this place round the corner that I quite liked is no longer there – the shop has been taken over by one huge KTV joint that occupies at least 3 shoplots in that block.

YUM YUM CAFE (2.305757, 111.849137) is located among the shops in the vicinity of the Sibu Bus Terminal, directly opposite the Everwin Supermarket there.

Changing partners…

I happened to be in the vicinity that morning and I decided to stop by here at this coffee shop…

e Cafe

…right behind the Delta Mall…

Delta Mall, back view

…the first one in the block before this somewhat more popular one, the second one in that same block.

I had the kolo mee there a long long time ago, in 2011, but it looked like somebody else is running the stall now, a very pleasant lady…

Kampua mee stall

The coffee that I had…

e Cafe kopi-o-peng

…was good and I liked the very nice and efficient workers (male) waiting at the tables – I think they were Indonesians. I took my seat at a table and one came quickly to wipe it clean and take my order. After he had served the drink, when I moved the glass for the “photo shoot” and the table was a little wet again, he came right away to wipe it again. At some places here, you would have to wave frantically and at times, even holler out loud to get some attention.

I ordered the kampua-kway teow combo…

e Cafe kampua kway teow combo

…to see if it was any good.

Yes, if you do not want the kampua noodles, at many places here, you can ask for kway teow or bihun or even ngiau choo boi (rat’s tail) instead, tossed in that same manner and served. These are gluten-free but I would be a little wary as I am not sure if there is any wheat in the chio cheng ( light soy sauce) used like how there is wheat in the bottled dark soy sauce.

Having said that, if you are not that fond of kway teow or you do not want the kampua mee, you can always ask for a different combination or change partners, so to speak. LOL!!!

Back to what I ordered that morning…

e Cafe kampua kway teow combo 2

…I thought it was all right, not anything to get me running back for more.

Gee!!! I can’t even remember how much I paid for that but if I am not wrong, that was RM3.00 a bowl…and looking at what the other customers were having, it looked like her fried kampua would be a better bet.

e-CAFE (2.311913, 111.846213) is the first shop right behind Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada – the block a little to your left if you are coming out of the mall via the back entrance.

I like it here…

That morning, my missus and I dropped by here…

Ju Lai Xiang

…for breakfast. I liked how the place seemed so very clean and how the people there were all so nice and friendly. It sure makes one’s day to see smiling faces and hearing sweet and polite thank you’s, something that some people at a few places here would need to learn and emulate.

The coffee (RM1.60)…

Ju Lai Xiang kopi-o-peng

…was good and in the fridge, they had all kinds of own-made fruit and Chinese cooling drinks and I could not resist buying the red bean and mung bean sago…

Ju Lai Xiang red bean & mung bean sago drink

…and the pumpkin sago…

Ju Lai Xiang pumpkin sago drink

…and also the dragon fruit sago…

Ju Lai Xiang dragon fruit sago drink

…home to try. Initially, I was not so keen on the latter because of the colour – it reminded me of air bandong – but I saw a young lady buying and taking away lots of that so I guess it must be good.

My missus had the fried kway teow (RM4.00)…

Ju Lai Xiang fried kway teow

…from the stall at the back and I think there is a chicken rice and roast meat stall in the middle but it was not open when we were there.

I ordered the kampua special (RM5.50)…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua special 1

…from the first stall…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua stall

…as I liked what it looked like in the photograph.

I put some of the added ingredients into the complimentary soup…

Ju Lai Xiang complimentary soup

…and I don’t know if it was actually very nice originally or whether that brought the taste to a whole new level – it certainly was very nice and I enjoyed it. I think the lady at the stall saw me doing that and told the guy and they were looking at me, smiling away, looking somewhat amused. Next time, I would ask for a bigger bowl…and I would ask them to leave out the fish balls and give me more liver or minced meat instead…

Ju Lai Xiang kampua special 2

…and I wouldn’t mind if I do not get any tofu either but I am fine with it.

Yes, that was very nice and I sure would not mind going back there again for more.

JU LAI XIANG CAFE (2.310920, 111.831572) is the first shop in the block right behind the Sibu Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah), opposite the block where Aroma Bakery and this coffee shop are  located.

Not what I wanted…

I wanted to buy some stuff from the store round the corner that day so we decided to just drop by here…

Chopsticks Chicken & Rice

…for lunch.

I was thinking of having some chicken rice with steamed chicken and perhaps some char siew and roast pork as well on top and the very diluted (Chinese) curry gravy poured all over it like what I used to enjoy a lot in the 70’s at one old-school restaurant at Carpenter Street in Kuching – Ang Lee, no relation whatsoever to that celebrated movie director.

However, when we got there, my missus said she would have what I would be having – normally, she would order something else from one of the other stalls there so that called for a change of plans as I would not know whether she would enjoy that or not. Anyway, they had run out of the curry and probably, the steamed chicken as well as I did not see any hanging in the display cabinet even though it was only 11 something, not quite lunchtime yet.

I ordered some roast chicken, roast pork and char siew for 2…

Chopsticks meat platter

…to go with the very nice chicken rice, one of the very few around that I truly like a lot…

Chopsticks chicken rice & chili dip

…and their special chicken rice chili dip is pretty good as well.

I also asked for two five-spice stewed egg…

Chopsticks 5-spice egg

…and I was pleasantly surprised to note that they are still RM1.00 each…

Chopsticks menu & prices

…here.

I am not all that fond of the char siew at the stalls around here in general. Either theirs would not taste quite like it or it would be rather dry and hard too usually…and in the past, they did not have that here – just some roasted honey pork or something but I saw they had it that day and I asked for some…

Chopsticks Chicken & Rice char siew

…to be included in our meat platter. To our delight, it was very nice – no, still not quite like the regular char siew but yes, we liked it and we sure would not mind going for it again the next time we drop by here.

The best part, of course, was the fact that for all that we had, we only had to fork out RM17.50 for two persons, inclusive of rice and complimentary soup – around USD4.00 only, believe it or not…or around AUD5.50!

CHOPSTICKS CHICKEN & RICE (2.312434, 111.845917) is located in the Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir.

Better than that…

I had been wanting to go back ever since I saw an ex-student of mine running the kampua mee stall…

Happiness Cafe kampua stall

here but when we dropped by for breakfast that morning, there was no sign of him and I did not know if the ones there that day were in any way related.

On our previous visit, we were quite put off by what we had from one of the stalls there but for some reason or other, my missus went and ordered their sambal fried kway teow (RM5.00)…

Happiness Cafe sambal kway teow

…which was extremely salty the first time around and she could barely finish half of it. Maybe she had forgotten all about it and thankfully, it was very nice that morning, a whole lot better than what she had before – very spicy upon special request and very fragrant and tasty with the sambal, lots of tiny prawns in it and yes, she enjoyed it a lot.

I tried the kampua noodles…

Happiness Cafe kampua mee

…and they asked me whether I wanted an egg and I said ok…

With egg

…and I also asked for their gu tor (beef tripe) soup…

...and gu tor soup

…to go with my order.

The whole thing cost RM7.00 altogether but in my humble and honest opinion, it was pretty much the same as many around town and they would have to do better than that before I would want to go back again for more and the gu tor soup was just the beef tripe served in the usual bone stock soup. At some other places where I had this, they had their own special soup that was a whole lot nicer with a hint of ginger but I sure was glad that they gave the special chili dip that one would get when ordering this – I wouldn’t like it at all if they had given the usual chili sauce that one would get when eating kampua mee at most places here.

While I was there, I spotted Eric, the guy behind The Kitchen instant kampua thing, so I went over to say hello. No, of course, he was not having any of the kampua noodles – I am sure he would have had more than his fair share of that. He was having the popiah (spring roll)…

Happiness Cafe popiah

…there and he said it was quite good so I bought some home to try. Yes, it was nice, I think it was RM2.50 each…

Happiness Cafe popiah inside

…but I was wishing they had added crushed peanut in their filling to bring the taste to a whole new level, and I also bought some of the ang koo kuih (RM1.20 each)…

Happiness Cafe ang koo kuih

…which were all right too.

HAPPINESS CAFE, (2.306608, 111.827179) formerly KONG MA MA, is located along Lorong Delta 4, off Jalan Delta. The left turn into Lorong Delta 9 will lead you straight to the Delta Public Swimming Pool.

Take me to the king…

On our last visit here, I noticed that they have what they call laksa king on their menu and I was keen on going back there to try to see what it is all about…and when my girl said she would like to go for their curry beef with (chicken) rice (RM6.00)…

Colourful Cafe curry beef & (chicken) rice
*Archive photo*

…again there, I happily agreed.

Of course I wanted the laksa king (RM7.50)…

Colourful Cafe laksa king

…and it turned out to be just a very much larger serving of the usual so I got more than those standard three little prawns…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa, regular
*Archive photo*

…and there did seem to be a lot more of the shredded chicken as well.

It so happened that we were here a day earlier for their Sarawak laksa

Thomson Corner Sarawak laksa, big
*Archive photo*

…and we thought that one tastes a lot nicer and beats the one here (and everywhere else) hands down, more authentic, more like some of the nice ones one can get in Kuching. However, I had their large serving too once, RM7.00 only, but I counted four prawns, just as tiny as the ones here and I found both of them a little bit too much for me so it was quite a struggle trying to finish the whole bowl. I would just stick to the regular/small from now on.

I noticed two more new dishes…

Colourful Cafe fried bitter gourd & fried bean sprouts

…on their menu here, both vegetables and available only at night or maybe they were not entirely new, just that I did not notice them before.

I think they are not all that strict about their day or night menus and the day & night one as my missus ordered their fried rice with curry (RM8.00)…

Colourful Cafe fried rice with curry

…with one fried egg on top from their night menu and she did get what she wanted, no problem whatsoever. I guess the relatively higher price is all right as it came with one huge chicken drumstick…

Colourful Cafe curry chicken drumstick

…and my missus enjoyed the fried rice very much too.

COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints and SIBU THOMSON CORNER (2.296517, 111.840710) is located at Pusat Tanahwang, opposite Sacred Heart Secondary School, Oya Road or you can go to their other outlet on the 1st floor of the Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo..