Said I would…

I said I would come back here to try the fried noodles and I did – the other day when my friend/ex-student, Louis, was in town on a work-related trip.

The last time I saw him was in February when we went for that lady’s kampua mee, my favourite in town. Incidentally, I did drive past there to see but no, there was still no sign of her. Anyway, Louis is now residing with his family in Kuching and of course, all this while, he was not able to come back to Sibu until now and even then, the airfare sure was not cheap – over RM500 return, Kuching -Sibu.

Louis saw my post on the kampua mee that I had that day and he said he would like to drop by there and try. His office was on the 1st floor next door when he was still single and working in Sibu and that was exactly what he had that morning…

A-Plus kampua special

…and yes, he enjoyed it, of course!

I had the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version…

A-Plus fried mee, moon

…and yes, it was very nice. I think that would be RM5.00 a plate and RM6.00, if you ask for the special. As I was leaving, I saw the boss frying a plate of tomato kway teow, special and it looked very good too. Now that would be what I would have the next time I drop by here.

Thank you so much for the breakfast treat, Louis. We’ll do it again the next time you’re in town – my treat, of course!

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Cross the road…

Now that I do not have to go and get my girl from her jungle school every Friday and send her back every Sunday, I am saving a lot on petrol and car maintenance. Those days, I would top up on Friday to make one trip and back and again on Sunday for our trip that day and that would not last till the next trip – I would have to go and top up on Tuesday or Wednesday so all in all, that would be around two to three times a week.

I sent my car for an oil and filter change every 7,000 km and because of the distance covered, I had to go back and get it serviced once every month or so plus I would get everything checked to make sure it was in perfect condition. I would not want it to break down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The last time I got that done was in October last year and there were still 2,000 km left till the next scheduled oil change but I just went and got it done anyway.

While I was there, I noticed that the coffee shop on the other side

Uncle Lau

…has shrunk to half its former size. It used to occupy two shoplots but not anymore.

In the meantime, I heard that this coffee shop has closed down. I mentioned that on Facebook and somebody said that he heard they had moved here…

June Cafe

…so that morning, I went to have a look. Another friend went and had something from one of the stalls and the lady confirmed that she came from that aforementioned coffee shop. I did not see anybody familiar though (not that I am so familiar with the people there – I have not dropped by for a long long time) and the stalls did not seem ready to start the ball rolling except for the kampua mee stall and it was on my no-meat Friday so I was abstaining from that.

In the end, I decided to cross the road to this coffee shop right opposite where all the four food stalls were already in full swing at that point in  time. Nobody insisted on any SOP but there seemed to be some kind of social distancing at each table…

Kopitiam Fantasy social distancing

The people running the coffee shop did not look like the ones there before – perhaps, they are the same ones just that I was never all that observant before but the coffee that morning…

Kopitiam Fantasy kopi-o-peng

…was so so good, better than all the rest – the best that I have had for a long time now.

I ordered the sambal kway teow from this stall there and asked the lady to leave out the meat but I requested for one fried egg to go with it (RM5.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow plus fried egg

I guess my regular readers would know right away that I was not too happy the moment it was served and why. LOL!!!

However, the kway teow in itself…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow

…made up for the disappointment. It was super yummy, so very fragrant and very spicy and I’ve always loved the lady’s very nice own-made chili dip.

That was most certainly a delightful breakfast and I sure would not mind going back for more again…and again…and again.

KOPITIAM FANTASY, otherwise popularly known as Tiam Tiam Lai (2.292435, 111.835066), is located among the shops in the Jalan Chew Siik Hiong area of shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre, facing Jalan Mahsuri.

Big…

There was an old lady here once and her char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) was quite good and I did drop by for it a few times. However, I did not see her the last few times I was in the vicinity so my guess was she had called it a day and the other day, I heard there is a big-size lady there now and word has it that her char kway teow is good too. That was why I dropped by that morning to check it out.

True enough, there she was…

Happy Hours fat lady's stall

…but she was not occupying the stall where the old lady used to be – it is now a Sarawak laksa/nasi lemak stall. Instead, she is at that stall on the right while the kampua mee stall is to the left, the front part of the coffee shop.

I ordered the char kway teow (RM5.00)…

Happy Hours char kway teow 1

…and she asked me whether I wanted lap cheong (Chinese sausage) or prawns and of course I chose the latter – one can’t go wrong with those.

I must say that it was good…

Happy Hours char kway teow 2

…and would be something worth dropping by for. I had a chat with the lady and she told me she was here before but she was not selling kway teow there. Instead, she was running the stall selling mee sua which I did go and eat once or twice and I did think it was very good.

She was telling me how she will not order a lot of the ingredients as business these days is not so good and she does not want to buy a whole lot and use the less-than-fresh ingredients in the days that follow. Instead, she will just buy enough and once finished, she will close her stall for the day.

While we were talking, the whiff of the fragrance from the traditional Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup that she was simmering came drifting to my nose and it did smell really good. I think I shall drop by there one of these days for that!

HAPPY HOURS CAFE (2.307165, 111.837312) is located at one corner of the Rejang Park shops/commercial centre in that residential area, beside the volleyball stadium and the surau, facing the vast parking area there.

You’re early…

Yes, I was very early, 7 something that morning but the coffee shop was already open and there were a few customers, old folks mostly, sitting around having their morning coffee while a few were having kampua mee for breakfast.

I ordered coffee, black and the guy asked if I wanted it in a cup (RM1.00)…

Kian Hock kopi-o

…or a glass and I asked for the former. I think it is smaller so it was only a ringgit.

I’ve been here a few times before. Once, I had the kampua mee and on another occasion, I had the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version but no, I never went back for more even though we did stop by for a very nice lunch once.

So what brought me there that morning, you may ask? Well, I saw some friends sharing photographs of the KL Hokkien mee they had there and it looked good. I had that at the brother’s place before and yes, it was quite good but I had not gone back since, if you catch the drift.

My order that morning took a long time coming because the one doing the cooking at the back had not arrived yet and it was almost 8 already when I was served (RM8.00)…

Kian Hock KL Hokkien mee

It was good – there were lots of ingredients including a few prawns and bits of sotong (squid) , a couple of fried fish slices and some vegetables plus the pork fat crusts (bak yu phok) but I would not mind a stronger wok hei fragrance. Yes, they do not use plastic here too – a pat on the back for that.

I can’t say I am all that crazy about KL Hokkien mee but should I feel like having that again, it will most probably be this one…or the one at the brother’s place. I tapao-ed back for my missus to try and even though she never liked KL Hokkien mee here or anywhere, for that matter, much to my surprise, she actually liked this one!

KIAN HOCK COFFEE SHOP (2.284853, 111.831557) is located along Jalan Maju to the left of the River Park Hotel, right across the road from The Ark and the Rejang Esplanade.

Close…

This coffee shop…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe

…is so very close, just two doors away from this very popular one that many will declare without any reservation whatsoever that the kampua mee is the best in town, talk about stiff competition! There were others before them, two, at least – the names were different but obviously, they did not last very long. This one, if I can remember correctly, commenced business not long before COVID-19 struck.

I decided to give it a try the other morning and was greeted by this very friendly and chatty woman. The guy…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe kampua mee stall

…looked quite familiar and he seemed to recognise me. I asked a few questions and the woman said they were at a coffee shop beside the fire station before even though she did not specify exactly which one.

I ordered the kampua mee (RM3.00)…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe kampua mee

…but I did not think it was anything spectacular enough to get me to come to this part of the woods where traffic congestion (pre-COVID 19) is the order of the day and parking can be such a pain. Even that celebrated one to the right couldn’t get me to come back for more but yes, I would say it was very good, very original/authentic/old school.

I sure was glad to see that they used stewed pork instead of the usual boiled pork coloured red and kudos to them for not using those horrendously coloured plastic plates and bowls.

I also asked for the liver soup (RM6.00)…

Bai Wei Xuan Cafe liver soup

…and I specifically asked for the vegetables to be left out – I saw that in the photograph in front of the stall. It tasted great – the liver was very fresh and perfectly done so it was not hard but it was completely different from the usual traditional Foochow red wine and ginger liver soup. Maybe it was the quality of the red wine used or perhaps they used some other kind of Chinese cooking wine so it simply was not the same and from my personal point of view, I would prefer it the way it is usually served.

All in all, I would say this is one place worth dropping by for a bite to eat if you happen to be in the vicinity or if you are staying at the hotels around that area.

BAI WEI XUAN CAFE is located to the right of Li Hua Hotel, town branch along Lorong Lanang 2 and Sing Hin Corner 新兴阁 (2.284607, 111.832116) is located two doors down.

When life is good again…

These are hard times. Many have not had any income for the last three months, many have been retrenched or have had their salaries cut but personally, I do feel there are ways by which one may earn a little bit to make one’s ends meet until the time comes when life is good again…hopefully!

There was this muscle-packed fitness instructor who went and worked for a vegetable seller and this flight steward from Sibu who used his time to make those lovely Sarawak ethnic traditional costumes for Barbie & Ken dolls and I saw on Facebook an Indian guy who set up a stall by the roadside to sell nasi lemak and there was also one guy who lost his job and went into Grab food delivery and of course, there are that Indian girl and her hubby, now Youtube celebrities and everything is going so well for them.

I am quite sure there are things one can do if one wants to do it instead of depending on charity, lining up all day in the sun and the rain for the government’s meagre handout. I pay the guy who comes once a month to cut my grass and sweep it all up RM50 each time and an extra RM50 on special occasions like Hari Raya or Christmas or Chinese New Year. There are many things to do in my garden and how much I will pay will depend on how hard the job is and how long it will take…if anyone is interested.

We are not being confined that much anymore these days but no, things are not getting any better, definitely nothing like those days before COVID-19. Business at the restaurants and coffee shops is obviously very quiet and very slow and if you remember, I did mention the other day that the people here have resorted to making steamed meat paos and sio bee (meat dumplings) and there is another restaurant where they are making curry puffs for sale to supplement their income.

Likewise, those at one of our favourite restaurants in town have set up a kampua noodles stall…

A-PLUS kampua mee stall

…in front of their shop with the boss doing all the cooking, the wife taking care of the drinks and the children doing the serving. My good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, shared a photo of the kampua mee pok he had here and the very next day, his cousin, meowsai_foodie on Instagram, shared his photographs on Facebook so I wasted no time at all in dropping by to check things out.

The kampua mee (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS kampua mee

…was so very good, bursting with the fragrances of the fried shallots and fried garlic and the guy sure was very generous with those. He uses his special kampua noodles, different from all the rest as extra eggs are used in the making to make it more Q-Q (firmer). not unlike their own handmade noodles here.

Another plus point in this guy’s favour is how he uses real char siew (roasted/barbecued meat/pork) unlike most of the other places where they will give you boiled pork coloured red…and at one time, there was a ban on the artificial colouring used.

I also asked for the pian sip (meat dumplings) and fish balls soup (RM3.00)…

A-PLUS pian sip & fish balls soup

– if you ask for the special, you will get both the mee and the soup for RM6.00. Yes, it was very nice – the pian sip was great but I thought there was too much pepper in the fish balls and I am not exactly fond of that. The next time I have this, I shall ask for just the pian sip.

You can also order some fried noodle dishes and the boss will cook it for you. I had their Foochow fried noodles once but I did not like how the gravy was clear and even though it was nice, it wasn’t something I would want to order again. However, as I was leaving that morning, I saw him frying some mee in the hot wok and it looked really good – I asked him and he said it was the moon version. Now, I sure would want to try that the next time I come here. He also told me they are serving zhao chai hung ngang and that Foochow delight with ikan patin fish head. Well, I am neither crazy about the fish nor the dish so I’d probably opt for something else instead.

Incidentally, this kampua mee stall opens from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. only, off days on Tuesdays, because from 10.30 a.m. onwards, they have economy fast food with 17 dishes to choose from in their buffet spread. We were here for that once and even though at that time, they did not have so many choices, we thought it was very nice and we sure enjoyed what we had. I guess they are going out full swing to attract more of the crowd on their lunchtime break to come here.

They open in the evening for dinner at 5.00 p.m., the boss said and I told him I was here a couple of times to tapao some food home but they were still closed and he said the workers will come at 5 and they will have to eat first before they open the doors and start work. I guess the early bird does not always catch the worm.

A-PLUS FOOD CENTRE/RESTAURANT (2.293355, 111.823653) is located among the shops along Jalan Kampung Datu, behind the block of shops (where Fresh & Pay Supermarket is) near the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Lost again…

One thing about Facebook is that you may be reminded of things a long time ago via its memories feature. The other day, a photograph of my favourite kampua mee from here popped out of nowhere and of course, I made up my mind to go and eat it that very morning.

The lady had closed shop owing to personal reasons and I sure was delighted when she emerged again here. Of course, I went to enjoy her noodles a number of times before this COVID-19 thing. Unfortunately, when I got to the coffee shop that morning, she was not there. The guy running the coffee shop said that she had not resumed business and he did not know whether she would be back or not. Oh dear!!! Don’t tell me I’ve lost my favorite kampua mee place yet once again!

Disappointed, I made my way here for the nasi lemak

Kopi Kopi nasi lemak

…another thing that I had not eaten since the lockdown started.

I asked for the sambal sotong (squid sambal)…

Kopi Kopi sambal sotong

…to be added and the nice lady boss gave me a bit of her rendang kerang (cockles rendang)…

Kopi Kopi rendang kerang

…on the house to try.

That sure was good. I guess the kampua mee will have to wait till another day – hopefully, the lady will show up eventually.

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.

He’s the new guy…

My ex-colleague dropped by here…

New Hee's Food Corner

…the other day and had the lor mee that looked very good in the photograph that he shared on Facebook. I asked him where he ate that and he said it was from the kampua mee stall at this coffee shop in the corner. That took me by surprise as I did not know that the fat, not-so-friendly guy sold that.

Well, it so happened that I wanted to go to the bookstore at the mall next door so I decided to stop by there on the way to check it out. I was here twice before for the mee sua, the first time and again, another time and we went there for dinner one evening to try the dishes from the chu char (cook & fry) place at the back. Yes, these two are still there but the stall in the middle, between the kampua mee stall and the mee sua stall, has called it a day.

The aforementioned guy at the kampua mee stall…

Coffee shop guy & the kampua mee stall

…was no longer there – the new guy had no idea whatsover what had happened to him and no, that handsome young and friendly boy in pink is not him – he’s the one behind, blocked from view. This one saw me taking snapshots of the stall and he insisted on posing for the photograph. Actually, he runs the coffee shop there but even though I insisted that I did not see him on our previous visits, he said he is not new and has been there for a long time now. Maybe he’s in school or works somewhere else but with the schools and offices closed during COVID-19, he is able to stick around here to help out.

The instant I sat down, somebody came to take my temperature and get me to record my name and telephone number in a book. I asked for the lor mee (RM6.00)…

New Hee's Corner lor mee

…and it came in no time at all. Yes, it was very nice though I would not mind a thicker broth with a bit more egg in it – I could see some bits of the egg but there was so little of it, it might as well not have been there.

The guy did ask me for my verdict but I just told him it was very nice and that’s a fact – I certainly would go back there again to try the other stuff on his menu.

Incidentally, the nice restaurant next door, for reasons unknown, has closed shop and its place has been taken over by people selling fresh meat – actually, it was going to open earlier but COVID-19 struck and it had remained closed until very recently.

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.

Not far…

That day, when I stopped by here to buy some food home for dinner, while I was waiting for them to cook and get my orders ready, I went outside and strolled down the road, not far, less than 100 metres away, maybe around 50 only, to this place…

Little Umbrella

…round the corner.

This used to be a very popular place for people to hang out at night, very crowded every evening those days before COVID-19. There is a small chu-char section to the right but I did not buy anything from there as I had already ordered the food from the aforementioned restaurant.

I was here once a long long time ago when my ex-students from overseas wanted to meet there. It did not even have a name/signboard at the time but everyone called it siaw yee sang (小雨傘/little umbrella) probably because of the many umbrellas that they put up over the tables outside in the open air.

They had the place done up nicely not too long ago and they put up the signs with their name on them so it is very much nicer-looking now. I don’t think I ate anything that night or if I did, I guess it was not anything that would get me going back for more. I never did.

This time around, I saw this sign…

Little Umbrella pork burger sign

…there. Gee! It has been so long since I last had a burger and I don’t think I ever had a pork burger before so of course I wanted one to try. I asked for one and said that I wanted the whole works, everything (RM9.00) and stood there waiting.

I saw this girl frying the egg…

Frying the egg

…and assumed that she would be the one making the burger. Obviously I was mistaken as once she was done, she placed the egg on a saucer and brought it over to this guy…

Making the burger

…at his counter. He was the one making the burger while the girl makes the roti john using those long hot dog buns. It’s probably quite good as while I was waiting for my burger, a lady in a flashy 4WD stopped by and placed her order for a few to take home. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

Once the burger was done, I took it…

Little Umbrella burger and fries

…home and tried it right away to see if it was any good.

It was somewhat disappointing, rather bland…

Little Umbrella homemade pork burger

…and it did not help much at all even when I added my own bottled chili sauce. I guess one can tell by the look of the patty, so pale – nothing like the one in the photograph.

Well, I don’t know if I will ever drop by here again and should I happen to do so, perhaps I’ll try the girl’s roti john or something from the chu char section, no more pork burger for me, thank you very much.

LITTLE UMBRELLA CAFÉ & RESTAURANT (2.291920, 111.827852) is located at No. 1-2, Brooke Drive.

From a distance…

I saw the char pek koi in zmun2’s blog that morning and I made up my mind right there and then that I would go out and have some at the coffee shop near my house – my girl loves the one there.

When I got there, I had a change of heart. After all, I had char pek koi twice already, once when my girl fried it and another time when I finished off what was left in the packet of white rice cakes. I placed my order and sat down to be served.

There was social distancing in the shop all right…

Ah Kau social distancing

The tables were placed very far apart and there were two chairs only at each table except for the bigger tables where there were four chairs. There were very few customers, a far cry from before COVID-19 when every morning, without fail, the people would be spilling onto the road. My neighbour spoke to me over the fence one day and he said that the kampua lady told him that they would be lucky if they could make RM30-40 a day from the few dropping by and those buying takeaways to eat at home.

So what do we have now? The Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). A rose by any other name! Whatever they choose to call it, things will take a long long time to recover and one thing’s for sure, it will never be the same again! There was a file and a pen on the table in front and a sanitiser spray on the chair beside it but I did not see a temperature gun. Anyway, nobody was bothered to go through the SOP – I do think what is most important is to keep one’s distance from any other living soul around- avoid crowded places and wear a mask.

Soon, my order arrived (RM8.00)…

Ah Kau Foochow fried noodles, moon

– my Foochow fried noodles, the moon version, special with all the liver and innards, char siew, strips of meat, fish cake slices, fried tofu and oh me oh my, it was as good as it looked.

I can’t remember the last time I had it here and anywhere else for that matter but this time around it had gone up by RM2.00 from RM6.00 in 2018., that time when the special was already RM8.00 at the other places that I used to go to. I must say that I enjoyed it so much after having been deprived of this local Foochow delight for so so long – three months, at least!

Incidentally, I did tapao the char pek koi (RM4.00)…

Ah Kau char pek koi

…for the ladies at home. My girl said it was nice but not as nice as the other times she had it. Of course, there is a difference between eating it there and tapao-ing and eating it at home and of course, the one I cooked was nicer – I had a whole lot of prawns in mine, none in this one here.

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.