Not ready…

They have lifted the MCO here in Sibu and switched to the more relaxed CMCO though I really wonder why as the cases are not decreasing and new clusters are sprouting out here, there and everywhere.

It seems that they are confining the lockdowns to specific areas with a lot of cases instead of the whole Sibu Division, including all the surrounding districts. As a result of this, it is generally business as usual elsewhere but with strict adherence to the stipulated SOPs (hopefully). I, for one, am not ready to venture out freely just yet and even though dining in is now allowed, I would prefer to keep my distance.

The other day, I saw that we had run out of butter in the house so I went to the nearby shops in the next lane to buy and I purposely went very early, at the break of dawn, so there would not be a lot of people around. The first shop that I went to had just opened and the two employees on the early morning shift were mopping the floor.

Unfortunately, they did not have any, out of stock so I went to the other shop in the vicinity. The boss went to the fridge to have a look and informed me that the brick ones (less than RM15.00 each) were all sold out but they did have the ones in tins, Golden Churn, no less – RM26.00 each so I bought that.

Since I was out already, I decided to go and tapao (takeaway) breakfast for everybody. I got my tiffin carrier from the car boot and went to the back of the coffee shop where the chu char stall was and placed my orders through the back door. I did not know whether there were any customers in the coffee shop or not at the time – I did not bother going in through the front as I was not keen on encountering any fellow human-beings around.

I bought this Foochow fried noodles, the “moon” version (RM4.00)…

Ah Kau Foochow fried noodle, moon

…for myself and my missus. Of course by the time I got home, it would have dried up – the noodles would have soaked up all the sauce/gravy but as a matter of fact, we find that some are very much nicer this way, not all but yes, there are places where we prefer buying the noodles home to enjoy. There are also people who say the same about the kampua mee at some places, not as nice when eaten there, much nicer when taken home to eat.

I bought the char pek koi (RM5.00)…

Ah Kau char pek koi

…for my girl – hers was dry so the aforementioned problem was not applicable here. I wanted to pay the guy RM12.00 for the three but he said the total was RM13.00 as char pek koi is RM5.00 a plate.

He started telling me that a packet of pek koi (rice cake) is over RM4.00, so very expensive so that is why he would have to charge more. No, I did not linger to chat with him – I just paid the money and left quickly. I think this COVID-19 has made me kind of anti-social – I used to enjoy small talk, mingling and chatting with people that I meet, ever strangers but not anymore. Sighhh!!!

AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located along Jalan Ruby, off Jalan Lim Han Swee, in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.

Sad…

I was here in October, 2019, way before the COVID-19 pandemic and even then, I would not say that the lady was enjoying bustling business at her stall. I did not like the noodles I had but even though she did not bother to warm up the bak chang before serving it, I liked it so much that I grabbed the two she had left and took them home to enjoy.

I did go back again once to grab some more and I even gave some to my sister to try but it was quite horrible that second time around – the taste was not quite the same and it was super salty. That was why I never went back since.

Well, it so happened that I was walking past that day and I spotted the lady in the corner, about to dose off to sleep. I could imagine how boring it must be sitting there, hoping and praying for customers and how few there would be in our current situation. My neighbour told me the other day that the people at the kampua mee stall near our houses said that they’d be lucky if they could make RM50.00 a day! I wonder how much this lady would make seeing that this place seems quite deserted most of the time.

Anyway, I decided to help her a bit and buy some of her bak changs home. Hopefully, they would not be so bad. They are RM3.50 each, still…

Mei Le bak chang

…more expensive but much bigger than such regular ones (no salted egg inside) elsewhere. We all had one each for lunch that day and it was filling enough – it was that big!

The rice…

Mei Le bak chang, unwrapped

…was perfect, not hard like some, not too soft and soggy like others but I was quite sure there was a lot more meat…

Mei Le bak chang, inside

…inside before. Yes, there was that piece of pork fat still and I loved that!

No, I don’t think that would get me rushing back there for more but yes, I don’t mind grabbing a few if I happen to pass by the stall again in the hope that it may help ease her burden a bit during these sad times.

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.

Try another one…

I had to go all the way to the other side of town that morning as I had something to settle at the branch of the bank there.

I got there early so I decided I would have breakfast first. I did not want to go for the kampua mee here again and the one here (not the one in the blogpost) did not look all that promising – there was only one customer in that coffee shop.

In the end, I decided to give this one…

Carfie Kopitian

…a try.

The shop sign appears old and faded but the shop itself does not look as shabby…

Coffee shop

…and there were quite a lot of customers there, not too many or else I would go some place else so I went inside to see what they had.

There are three stalls but only one was open. I did not actually look at all the photographs stuck all over the stall though. I saw they had Taiwanese beef noodles so I just ordered that and went to take my seat.

Instead of the usual own-made chili sauce that one will get when eating beef noodles, they brought a teeny weeny bit of pounded chili with dark soy sauce added…

Sylvester & the chili dip

As you can see, even Sylvester was somewhat flustered by that! LOL!!!

The noodles (RM7.00)…

Carfie Kopitian Taiwanese beef noodles

…came soon enough and yes, it was not too bad. Their own handmade noodles could have been less firmer – I thought it was a little on the hard side and personally, I wouldn’t mind if they had used our local alkaline-free not-so-yellow noodles instead. They were very generous with the beef and yes, it was tender enough – I did not have a problem with it.

On the whole, I would say there are nicer ones elsewhere but this would be good enough if you happen to be in the vicinity and you have beef noodles on your mind. Should I be dropping by here again, chances are I would try something else instead.

CARFIE KOPITIAN (2.264438, 111.845137) is located at CityVine, along Lorong Upper Lanang 12B, in the block to the right of the bank there.

Long, long, long…

My girl wanted chicken rice for lunch that day so we stopped by here…

Sing Long Cafe

Gee! It was only 11 something, not noon yet and they…

Sing Long roast meat stall

…were running out of most of what they had. There wasn’t any char siew left, none of the regular roast chicken either.

I just asked for whatever they had in a mixed platter for three…

Sing Long meat platter

…and this was what we got.

The steamed chicken…

Steamed chicken

…was great and the orange-coloured one was very good too. I liked how the guy would debone the chicken drumstick and slice the meat into bite-sizes and serve it on top of the bone.

The siew yoke

Siew yoke

…was different from the usual and at best, I would say it was all right – I’ve had nicer ones elsewhere. I remember it wasn’t quite like this when I had it once and I rather enjoyed it then.

Of course, I simply HAD to order the stewed eggs…

Stewed eggs

…as well. All those plus three plates of fairly nice chicken rice and three bowls of complimentary soup came up to only RM25.00. I thought that was pretty reasonable.

I also ordered the yong tofu from the stall further inside, the RM9.50 set…

Yong tofu

…for the soup to share but I shouldn’t have bothered. The complimentary soup from the chicken rice stall was very nice, maybe even nicer than the yong tofu one. Usually, at such chicken rice places, the soup they will give you would be a somewhat watered-down salted vegetable one, more often than not, with a chicken claw in it. This one was seaweed and the broth was thick and we all loved it a lot.

I was delighted that there were not many people around that day. My girl and I did drive past once but it was so crowded so we went elsewhere (and had something a lot more expensive and not even half as nice). We certainly would want to come back here again.

I WANT BBQ CHICKEN RICE & the yong tofu stalls are located at SING LONG CAFE (2.292595, 111.835979) located in the Fortune Commercial area (behind Rejang Medical Centre), Lorong Chew Siik Hiong, directly opposite the nursing college (KOLEJ ITA).

Out of the way…

You wouldn’t believe what had happened! I deleted all the photographs I took before I had the chance to use them. Now, I only have this one…

Chang Lok Chiu kolo mee special

…that I shared on Facebook and actually, it was the one that I liked the least among all that I had taken.

This coffee shop is so out of the way for me on the other side of town. I did try to drop by a few times when I happened to be in those parts of the woods but it was always so crowded and even in those pre-COVID-19 days, I did not quite fancy any place where there were too many people.

Well, early that morning, I had some business to see to at the car workshop across the road so I made my way there a little early to go and check this place out. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was that was so good here and everyone was sharing the photographs on Facebook.

I noticed that they had placed the tables at least two metres (6 feet) apart so there was ample space to observe physical distancing. Even at around 8.00  a.m. in the morning, it was full – all the tables were occupied, that is but there were always people leaving so I did not see anybody standing around, waiting.

In the food section on one side (the drinks section and most of the tables were on the other side plus some more all along the corridor outside), there was a stall inside serving all the fried noodles and stuff and next to it was a fried kway teow stall. I saw a photo of a plate with see ham/kerang (cockles) so I asked the guy but he said there was none so I went to the next stall. I think that one was selling pan mee which did not tickle my fancy and directly opposite it was that Sibu franchise selling those chu nu miang (those softer and a little bit sweet version of kompia) burgers. Right in front was a stall selling kampua and kolo mee and whatever else.

I decided to go for what you can see in the above photograph – the kolo mee special (RM7.00). This guy in his Youtube video clip…

…was praising it to the skies. You can click the link and watch but it is all in Mandarin (and a bit of Foochow), no English subtitles.

Yes, I would say that I did enjoy it but no, it was nothing like any kolo mee that I had had before in Kuching or anywhere else. Like what the guy in the video clip said, it was suan suan tian tian (sour sour sweet sweet). I might have eaten kolo mee that was sweet because of the red char siew sauce added but it would not be sour unless I poured in the vinegar in the pickled chili. I loved the fried pian sip (dumplings) and there was REAL char siew and of course, I enjoyed the innards in the special.

I sure would not mind going for it again but only if I happen to be around there. No, I have no intention of going all the way to the other side of town just for this.

CHANG LOK CHIU CAFE (2.277376, 111.850765) is located along Jalan Bukit Lima, just before the Bukit Lima roundabout, right across the road from the Proton Service Centre (NGU’S MOTOR SERVICE SDN BHD – PROTON 4S DEALER).

Last but not least…

This is the last of the coffee shops…

Huangjia Cafe

…(not including the classier noodle place) in the row of shops at the junction of Tong Sang Road and Lorong/Jalan Langsat. I’ve tried the kampua mee here and then I went for the one here but the one I like the most is this one here.

I did stroll over once before the pandemic breakout after I had something at one of the three aforementioned coffee shops to see what they had. There was a young chap there who seemed to know me and claimed that I was his teacher. I did not recall having such a student – perhaps he was in another class and I did not actually teach him or perhaps, I simply could not remember. I told him I had already eaten and he asked me to drop by some other time and I never did until the other day.

I did not see him this time around. I don’t know if this…

Huangjia Cafe kampua mee stall

…was his father or somebody else has taken over.

I tried the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Huangjia Cafe kampua mee

…regular, but much to my disappointment, it was rather bland, quite tasteless and I would say the same thing about the complimentary soup too. Perhaps I should have ordered the black, the one tossed in dark soy sauce – everyone else seemed to be having that, that or tossed in chili sauce. Nobody else had it plain, like me.

For one thing, this place does seem to have its own following. Within a few minutes after I had placed my order and taken my seat at one of the vacant tables, the customers started coming in and soon, every table was occupied…at around 7 something in the morning, so early.

HUANGJIA CAFE (2.290928, 111.837679) faces the junction where the turning from Bukit Assek Road joins Tong Sang Road. 

Live to regret…

I’ve been to this commercial area many times already and I’ve eaten at a lot of places there but for no particular reason, not at this food court…

Unicity Food Court

This is not a big area but there is a hotel and a university hostel, a supermarket and a Mr DIY outlet, a bakery and a pizza place, lots of coffee shops and two food courts and this is one of them.

For want of something to do that morning, I went roaming around there and decided to go and check it out. Nothing seemed to appeal to me except this porridge stall…

Unicity Food Court porridge stall

…that sells nothing but porridge in various combinations. The bubur tiga rasa (RM7.00), bottom extreme left, looked rather appealling so I decided to give it a try. I placed my order and sat down to wait. There were not so many people around, no problem keeping my distance from everybody else – I picked a table along the corridor, the very last one in the far end, not far from the stall.

While I was waiting, I saw the girl serving two bowls of her porridge to some other customers and I couldn’t help noticing that she was using those horrendously brightly coloured plastic bowls! I went over to talk to the girl but she was conversant only in Mandarin and she insisted it was not plastic. She did tell me a name in Mandarin, two characters but unfortunately, it was Greek to me. Maybe she was telling me it was melamine in which case it may not be all that safe either. I did not bother to argue with her, a duck talking to a hen, so telling myself that this would be the first and the last time I would come for her porridge, I just went back to my seat and waited to be served.

I must say I was rather disappointed when it…

Unicity Food Court bubur tiga rasa 1

…came. It looked kind of plain, nothing like what I saw in the photograph.

The minced meat porridge was all right – there are others elsewhere a whole lot nicer, like this one, for instance and I am no fan of those supermarket factory-produced fried shallots…

Unicity Food Court bubur tiga rasa 2

…plus I was thinking that a sprinkling of a little bit of chopped spring onion would give it a bit of colour and make it look more presentable.

All in all, I would say it was all right, edible but not anything to shout about. Honestly, I should have gone to the other food court a stone’s throw away and have their porridge instead but I didn’t and yes, I live to regret it. I do not know if theirs is any nicer or not but at least they serve it in a claypot, not in a PLASTIC bowl.

UNICITY FOOD COURT (2.342786, 111.831480) is located at No. 16-18, Lorong Wawasan 9A in UniCity.

Better together…

I was in the vicinity of this coffee shop as I wanted something and I remember I got it once from a shop there.

I remember an ex-student of mine from my English language tuition class posted a video of all the places she went to in Sibu and all the nice stuff that she had…

…and this coffee shop was included in her list! She had the kampua pian sip and captioned it as “simply the best“!

We did not have that when we went there so very long ago – my missus had something from the chu char (cook & fry) place at the back and she was not impressed. I had the nasi lemak from the Malay stall there which was all right but not good enough to get me to go back there for more.

Of course, I had to have the kampua mee this time around so I went straight to the stall…

Ing Choon Corner kampua mee stall

…and placed my orders.

I thought the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Ing Choon Corner kampua mee

…was a bit on the dry side while the pian sip, dry (RM3.00)…

Ing Choon Corner pian sip, dry

…was just right. In the end, I decided to mix the two together in one bowl so the oil and other ingredients in the pian sip would rub on to the kampua mee and yes, that did the trick! It was nice after that. I did not have to resort to the chili sauce provided to save the day.

I certainly would give them a pat on the back for using ceramic bowls but no, I am not a fan of those paper-thin slices of boiled meat coloured red even though over the years, it has traditionally been what is served with the noodles. In my younger days, it was just 50 sen with meat, 30 sen if you chose to go without it.

The complimentary soup was quite tasteless. I remember we loved the ones we used to get from this guy named Ah Kow at Kiaw Siong Coffee Shop (across the road from the fire station, diagonally) and enjoyed it till the very last drop. He did mention in passing to my father that it would be all right to have that in the morning, very nice but they would add water to the bones and whatever and simmer all day long…and by night time, there would hardly be any taste left. Well, it was still morning so that made me wonder why it was so bland…and yes, it came in a PLASTIC bowl! I shall have to deduct some marks for that.

All in all, I would say it was good, pretty much as good as many of the rest here, there and everywhere. I’m afraid there is nothing that stands out and will get me rushing back for more. However, I would like to give a special shout out as to how the coffee shop looks clinically clean, all white, Italian tiles and all. I love it when people make an effort to make sure their place is spick and span…which is more than what I can say about a lot of places around town. Tsk! Tsk!

ING CHOON CORNER (2.32652,111.840234) is located directly opposite Mega Store Supermarket, off Lorong Sungai Merah 2.

Room for improvement…

I’ve been here a couple of times for the mee sua, one of my favourites in town and another time for dinner…and I did drop by once for the lor mee from the kampua noodles stall in front.

I stopped by a few times on my way home after dropping off my girl at school at around 7, before 8 or so but the shop would be open, the stall too. just that somebody there would tell me that the boss had gone marketing and had not come back yet so no, there would not be anything for me to eat. It really pisses me off as to why he cannot do that earlier.

Well, that morning, it was much later when I drove past, around 9.00 a.m. so I decided to stop by there for a bite to eat. I opted for this set of kampua mee with stewed pork slices and meatball soup (RM5.50)…

Hee's Corner kampua mee with stewed pork slices & meatball soup

I think these sets are usually RM6.00 at most places but I did see on their menu that if you pair the noodles with gu tor (beef tripe) or too kua (pork liver) soup, you will have to fork out RM6.30 per set. A regular plate of kampua mee is RM3.00 here, same as most of the rest.

The kampua mee

Hee's Corner kampua mee

…was very good and I loved that the guy used stewed pork unlike many other places where they would give you paper thin slices of boiled pork coloured red in the hope that it would look like char siew.

The meatball soup, however…

Hee's Corner meatball soup

…paled in comparison with the old lady’s but of course, she had called it a day and her daughter-in-law or whoever could not do it quite as well as her…nor those ladies employed by her before.

The soup was all right but it just wasn’t thick and rich enough – they would need to simmer the pork bones a lot longer. I noticed that the old lady even cooked the meatballs in the stock/broth and she would fish them out from the huge pot if you wanted the soup. Other than that, he could have been more generous with the spring onion and fried shallots for the much coveted added fragrance and taste. Yes, I was given the traditional Foochow red wine and pepper to add to the soup but no, I would prefer it unadulterated so I could appreciate it for its original taste.

I would not mind going back for the kampua mee but perhaps I would want to try the beef tripe or pork liver soup instead the next time around.

NEW HEE’S FOOD CORNER (2.311365, 111.846638) is located along Jalan Pedada, now Jalan Datuk Wong Soon Kai, the very first one in the block of shops to the left of the Delta Mall, with the Astro Sibu office at the other end of that same block.

That’s what counts…

Many years ago, I cannot remember exactly when now, during Chinese New Year – either on the eve or the day itself, Ol’ Faithful’s wipers suddenly went haywire. I quickly called my workshop guy but unfortunately, he was away, spending the festive holidays in Kuching. However, he sent one of his trusted employees who came right away.

The guy said that the bar or whatever inside controlling the wipers was broken and since all shops were closed for Chinese New Year, there was no way he could get the spare part. He suggested welding it back together again, adding that many had that same problem and that was what they all did, no need to get a new replacement. Of course, I agreed, not that I had much of a choice and thankfully, after he had repaired it, it had been doing well all this while.

I was so glad and so very grateful that I paid him for his services and I gave him an ang pao and also ang paos for his children plus cakes and cookies and Mandarin oranges, whatever we had in the house for them to enjoy. He was reluctant to accept but of course, I would not take no for an answer.

Well, it had been raining quite a lot here lately and the other morning, I noticed that one of the wipers had started misbehaving so I drove to the workshop to get them to fix it. I asked for that whole thing to be changed so it would be as good as new.

In the meantime, I went strolling around the supermarket and the shops in the vicinity and I stopped by this coffee shop. I went there before but I do not recall anything I had that was so nice that I couldn’t wait to rush back for more – I think that was the first and last time I dropped by there and that certainly speaks volumes.

Anyway, this time around, for want of something to eat, I decided to check out their nasi lemak special (RM6.00)…

Udak Kitchen nasi lemak special 1

Who knows, sometimes miracles do happen!

I told one of the guys what I wanted and sat down to wait but nothing came. After sometime, a girl came to my table to ask me what I wanted. For fear of ending up with a duplicate order, I told her that I had already told the guy. She said that he probably had forgotten so I had to order again. When you are in the food industry, EVERYTHING counts, not just the food, and this slipshod kind of service sure got them into my little black book right away.

After that, I continued to wait. I waited and waited and waited. I asked if they had not cooked their nasi lemak yet – I could try something else instead if that was the case…but they just brushed me off saying that it was coming. Finally, after what seemed like forever, it came and no, I was not at all impressed by that horrendously-coloured orange plastic plate that they used.

When I had a closer look, I was HORRIFIED!!! They had burnt the egg…

Over-fried egg

…and the yolk was overcooked, not runny at all. Well, I’ve said this more than once and I say it once again – anyone who cannot even fry an egg has no business to be in the food business. Period.

The rice was yellow – usually, nasi lemak is white…or green, if they add a bit of pandan in the cooking. Well, never mind the colour! What’s important is how lemak (rich in coconut milk) the rice is – that’s what counts the most! Sadly, it was not lemak at all but no, it was not plain white rice tinted yellow. It had its own taste but unfortunately, that could not save the day.

I was already half way through, when the girl who took my order came and served me the complimentary soup…

Complimentary soup

No, it was not the usual sup tulang that you will get at the Malay shops and stalls nor the chicken soup. To give credit where credit is due, it was quite nice but I was already so mood-spoilt and I just had a sip to taste and left the rest of it in the PLASTIC bowl, thank you very much.

The fried chicken was all right, thank goodness they did not burn that too and no, they did not bother to remove the heads and the insides of the ikan bilis (dried anchovies) either plus they sure were not very generous with the sambal

Udak Kitchen nasi lemak special 2

All things considered, you will never catch me coming back for this or anything else for that matter ever again. I should have gone for the old lady’s here instead – she’s at the coffee shop at the other end of that same block. Hers may not be the best in town, not anything to get excited about but at least, it was decent and a whole lot better than this one here.

They do have their following though – that is why they have been around for a very long time now and what I’ve noticed about this place is their fried fritters are mighty popular. I’ve never tried them though, not that I’m going to especially when the batter is so orange in colour and I am quite sure they are very strong on the essence. Those people seem to love it that way.

UDAK KITCHEN/CAFE & CATERING SERVICES (2.328095, 111.840865) is located along Jalan Teng Chin Hua, to the left of Everwin Sg Merah.