How you’ve grown…

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Sunrise, sunset…

Sunset over the mighty Rejang

…Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze…
*Lyrics from “Sunrise sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof*

Well, my friend/ex-classmate, Robert’s son, who happened to be a student of mine in school, now residing in Melbourne, Australia, just had a baby girl not too long ago so of course, Robert and his wife, Angela, have had the honour and privilege of being elevated to the status of grandparents. Quite recently, they were back in Melbourne again and this time, it was for their daughter’s wedding…and last Saturday evening, they hosted a grand banquet here…

Kek Sheng & Jacqueline's wedding banquet, Sibu

…for their relatives and friends in Sibu and I was one of them there to share the joy…

Main table

…of that very happy and special occasion.

It was not really bright, the ballroom, so I did not bother to take the photographs of all the dishes we had that night, just this Four Seasons platter…

Four Seasons

…and as always, here in Sibu, you can expect more than just four, everytime.

I certainly was glad that they had replaced the not-to-be-named soup with this very much nicer chicken and fish maw soup…

Chicken and fish maw soup

…and it came in such a huge bowl that everyone at my my table had more than just seconds!

Being in one of the leading hotels in town, of course, this place is halal…or pork-free, at least, so the usual stewed pork belly slices for stuffing the steamed mantao was replaced with some other meat…

Stuffed mantao

…and while the guys at my table were debating as to whether it was chicken or duck, I just ate! Hehehehehe!!!!

Among the other dishes, there was also this huge piece of fish…

Steamed fish

They said it was cod – I wouldn’t know as I am not all that good at telling one fish from another…but yes, it was very nice and I sure enjoyed it.

Robert got a country & western band all the way from Miri for the entertainment that evening and look at who was in the building!!!…

Elvis was in the house!

He’s an old friend of mine – we used to hang out at the same karaoke pub here in the 90’s but of course, he’s a much better singer than I ever was and he is still actively singing, going here, there and everywhere doing his Elvis impersonations while my vocal cords have already called it a day. For one thing, way back then, he was singing all the oldies but goodies by Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and the like while I had a much wider repertoire that included the more current hit songs like this one or this one or this one, just to give a few examples.

Anyway, getting back to the event, thank you, Robert and Angela, for the invitation and congratulations to you two too, the proud and happy parents…and congratulations to Jonathan & missus on your latest addition to the Chew family…and to Jacqueline and Kek Sheng, wishing you two everlasting happiness in the years ahead. God bless, all! Cheers!!!

We will meet again…

It was on Malaysia Day, September 16th last week – the reunion gathering…

SMK Kanowit reunion September 2016

…that I was invited to by my ex-students in Kanowit where I taught from 1978 till 1982.

As a matter of fact, an ex-student of mine, not the same year – probably a year younger than the ones organising the function, from that same school owns this restaurant…

168 Restaurant Sibu 1

…where the reunion was held on the first floor…

168 Restaurant Sibu 2

…of the Sibu Express Terminal…

Sibu Express Wharf
*Archive photo*

 I did hear of him running this restaurant there and I even met him once at the wharf when I was waiting for someone but somehow or other, I never got round to dropping by to check this place out.

I was glad that this batch of students decided to hold the gathering there – that would be an opportunity for me to drop by, killing two birds with one stone so to speak. The food was good – there was this more-than-four seasons…

168 Restaurant more-than-four seasons

…and this pumpkin dish…

168 Restaurant pumpkin dish

…came towards the end when I was very full already so I did not eat whatever that was inside and after this one, there was a prawn dish but I did not take any photograph of it as I was up and about, mingling when it was served and when I came back, the rest at the table was already halfway through – I did try one though despite the fact that I could hardly take in anymore and I thought it was pretty good.

So what did we have, other than the three aforementioned dishes plus a fruit platter? They got somebody to cook a few local Cantonese delights such as the sour duck…

Sour duck

…and the kampung chicken dish…

Kampung chicken

Both were very nice but I did not eat much of the meat. Instead, I just enjoyed the gravy with my rice and between the two, I thought the sourish and very much stronger-tasting duck sauce had an edge over the chicken.

There was a sourish soup of pork knuckle and dried cuttle fish and I just had the soup – I had a HUGE bowl of pork knuckle for lunch that day (This will be in my next post!) so I did not want to have anymore and for that same reason, I only had a piece of what is called in Hokkien, the Dayak pig (lakia too)…

Pork

…which probably means that the meat was organic, the product of some livestock rearing in some ethnic village or longhouse, hence the name.

Then, this…

Ikan semah 1

…was served – the exclusive worth-its-weight-in-gold ikan semah from the upper reaches of the Rejang River, second only to the empurau, known as Wang Poo Liao (unforgettable) in Mandarin…and I always say that for the amount of money you would have to pay for the fish, it would come as no surprise at all that you will never ever forget it.

One of the students had these specially ordered and delivered for the dinner that night and of course, I feasted on it…

Ikan semah 2

Opportunities like this to enjoy the fish would be extremely few and very very far between…and somebody even commented that each spoonful is worth at least RM50.00 so you can imagine how expensive one is.

There was karaoke too…

Karaoke

…that night but no, I did not sing though not too long ago, I would have gone on stage singing my heart out. I had a terrible cough once and lost my voice completely and when I finally got it back, I was speaking like Rod Stewart for quite sometime before I got my normal voice back. To my horror, I discovered that I could no longer sing – my voice would be all over the place and after a verse or two, my voice would be gone. I guess it looks like I will be never ever be able to sing again. Sobssss!!!!

Well, I certainly enjoyed the dinner and meeting all my lovely ex-students again…

One for the memory
*Photo through the kind courtesy of one of my ex-students*

– thank you all for remembering and inviting me again. We had our first ever reunion in December last year and this is the second time we got together and hopefully, we’ll meet again.

Like no other…

Last Saturday, we dropped by here…

Payung Cafe table decor

…again for lunch…

Payung Cafe floral decor

…as we did not get to enjoy their green chicken curry (RM16,with rice)…

Payung Cafe green chicken curry

…on our previous visit and I wanted to take my girl there for that before she went back to her school in the jungle the following day.

Of course we had to have other things to go with it so I ordered the Payung rojak, small (RM10.00)…

Payung Cafe Payung rojak

…and the ikan bilis special  (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe ikan bilis special

– note how they have had all the heads and insides removed unlike some places here…and also the mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll 1

…and here’s a glimpse of what it looks like inside…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll, inside

…in case you’re wondering.

It so happened that the boss, Peter, celebrated his birthday the day before, September 16th – Malaysia Day…and he treated us to a slice of his birthday cake…

Secret Recipe - Chocolate Indulgence

I guess most everyone would be able to tell what cake that was – the Chocolate Indulgence from Secret Recipe which was nice, very sweet…and would come nowhere near the cakes here made by Marcus who, as you can see, has an eye for detail…

Marcus' cake - icing 1

…and is really good with his hands in the decoration of his cakes…

Marcus' cake - icing 2

…and this blueberry one that we got for my girl…

Blueberry cake from Marcus

…who celebrated her birthday the following day, 17th September (and hence our little celebration, the simple lunch that afternoon – she was going for a wedding dinner that evening, her good friend’s brother got married that same day), is no exception – of course, it was very very nice, like no other, true and true.

On Sunday…

…after the morning service in the church, I was thinking of having something light as I did not have anything for breakfast prior to leaving the house that morning. I was thinking of the roti canai here but the stall was closed probably because it was Hari Raya Haji the very next day and Janggut’s stall was not open either – well, I did notice that his was always closed on Sundays.

In the end, we adjourned here

Sri Pelita

…as it is located a couple of minutes’ walk away. That nice and friendly Indian guy looks like he has put on a bit of weight and is much more handsome now. Hmmm…Sibu sure is a great place to live, eh? LOL!!!

My missus had their mee mamak (RM3.50)…

Sri Pelita mee mamak

…which was way nicer than what she had here and so much cheaper too, a difference of RM2.00!!! Even if you have to fork out the parking fee of 40 sen for half an hour around here, it will not come up to that much.

My girl did not want to eat anything as she wanted to save her tummy space for my mum’s birthday lunch at my parents’ house later but when we got there, she saw that they had dosai or tosai and she could not resist ordering one (RM2.20)…

Sri Pelita tosai

It came with this special dip…

Sri Pelita tosai dip

…and yes, she liked it a lot and sure enjoyed herself. We do not get this a lot here, maybe just at one other place, if I am not wrong.

She also helped herself to the very nice curry dips…

Sri Pelita curry dips

…that I got for my orders.

I was a little slow in walking from that other shop and by the time I got there, she and the mum had already placed their orders and I was not aware that she had asked for the dosai. That was why I requested for one roti canai (RM1.20) and one roti telur (RM2.00)…

Sri Pelita roti canai & roti telur

…and I had to finish both all by myself. Personally, I thought the roti canai was nicer – more fragrant, crispier and I enjoyed it a lot more than the other one with egg.

We had not been here for quite a while now, no particular reason, but looking at how we enjoyed our little breakfast, we certainly would be back again…soon.

FOOTNOTE:
It’s the 16th of September, the actual day in 1963 when all the states in the mainland peninsula, then-called Malaya, and Sarawak and Sabah across the South China Sea on the island of Borneo came together to form the Federation of Malaysia along with Singapore which left on August, 9th 1965.

Happy Malaysia Day!

I love you this much…

We did not plan on dropping by here for lunch last Saturday because usually, it would be virtually impossible to find a parking space in the vicinity but it so happened that we were around that part of the town centre and luck was on our side so there we were at this same ol’ place having more or less the same ol’ dishes.

Well, it was the weekend of our annual Sibu International Dance Festival so all the dancers from all the different countries in the world were here and it so happened that they were at that same restaurant for lunch, groups and groups of them! Thankfully, their lunch was pre-ordered so as soon as one group was seated, the dishes came out really fast…and thankfully, we did not have to wait a long time for ours either.

The ones I saw included those from Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong…and a whole lot of other countries but I only spotted three Caucasians at a table quite near to ours, dunno which country they came from. Suddenly one of them, a guy, exclaimed out loud repeatedly, “I love this so much! I really love this! It is so nice!” Of course I was curious as to what got him so excited so I went and peeped. It was our local wild  fern, the midin

Nice House midin with belacan 1

Coincidentally, we also ordered it that day, fried with belacan (RM8.00)…

Nice House midin with belacan

…and though I had never seen it cooked with Bombay onions before, it was really very very nice and the gravy went absolutely well with rice.

Yes, we had the sizzling beef on a hot plate (RM13.00)…

Nice House sizzling hot plate beef 1

…again as well – one of my girl’s favourites at this restaurant and yes, it was as good as ever…

Nice House sizzling hot plate beef 2

– the beef was so nice and tender and we certainly enjoyed that.

I remember the last time we were here, we did not quite enjoy their plum sauce chicken as it was kind of hard but we decided to take the chance and asked for it again (RM12.00)…

Nice House plum sauce chicken

…as this is among their many nice dishes that we would love to have each time we drop by and yes, it was perfectly done this time around.

I noticed that the prices had gone up a bit – the beef was RM12.00 the first time we were here when they moved to their new location and the chicken was only RM10.00 then. That, of course, is to be expected as the prices of everything have been going up and up and up. Having said that, I am of the opinion that it is still very cheap – there were three of us and we ordered for two but the servings were huge enough for at least, four persons…and most importantly, the food was nice and we sure enjoyed our lunch that day. Without doubt, we will be back…if we can find a place to park, that is.

FOOTNOTE:
Well, it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) or the Zhōngqiū Jié, also known as the Mooncake Festival so here’s wishing everybody a Happy Mooncake Festival. Enjoy eating your mooncakes. Planning anything special for dinner tonight?

The same day…

9/11 is one day that everyone throughout the world will remember. It has been 15 years – those who were kids at the time would be teenagers now and they may not feel that same horror that everybody felt when it all happened.

9/11 is also my mum’s birthday and every year, we would all go out to some restaurant in town for dinner and that year was no different. We got home at around 9 in the night and that would be around 9 in the morning in the US. I switched on the tv and saw it on the news – a plane stuck in the burning tower and I called out to my girl and the mum thinking that it was the Millennium Bug gone awry and that was when the second plane came and crashed into the next tower and my blood ran cold. It certainly was something a lot more serious than I thought.

We no longer go out for dinner anymore, not since my mum became bedridden in 2007, 9 years ago so every year, we would go to my parents’ house to have a little celebration and that was what we did the other day.

My sister went and ordered a few dishes from this restaurant including the must-have longevity noodles, the mee sua, fried…

New Capitol birthday mee sua

…and served with the lightly-fried golden eggs…and also my girl’s favourite – their deep fried bawal putih (white pomfret) fillet with the very nice sauce

New Capitol white pomfret fillet with special sauce

Other than the two, we also had these chicken…

New Capitol chicken

…and sea cucumber…

New Capitol sea cucumber

…dishes and also one vegetable dish…

New Capitol vegetable

…as well.

I went to another restaurant in town – this one – and bought the fish maw clear soup…

A Plus Restaurant fish maw soup
*Archive photo*

…that I do enjoy a lot without fail everytime I get the chance to have that and I also bought their prawn fritters and ngor hiang (meat rolls)…

A Plus Restaurant prawn fritters and ngor hiang

…that we have enjoyed for as long as I can remember and that sure has been a long long time now.

It was quite simple, the lunch with my parents and sister and me and my missus and my girl, just the six of us but what mattered most was how happy it made my mum to see everybody gathered together on her special day – she certainly was smiling and talking a lot more and eating much more too. Nothing beats having one’s loved and dear ones around on such special occasions, that’s for sure.

Honey honey…

We were here two years ago

Honey Lemon Cafe and Zakka

…and once before that when it was under another name and we had not been back since as we did not have anything that would get us running back for more.

For the uninitiated, it is along Jalan Pedada (2.308429, 111.846071) right across the road from this building where the recently-opened Starbucks outlet is located…

Starbucks Sibu

However, I heard a friend singing its praises saying how good the lamb chop was and how she loved the mushroom gravy, so much nicer than all the rest plus those people had been pretty active lately on Facebook sharing the photos of the lunch box takeaways at RM5.00 each. That was why I decided to drop by the other day to check it out. Who knows, they might have a new chef now and what they have on their menu could have improved by leaps and bounds.

They have this photo printer…

Honey Lemon photo printer

…that you can make use of – you can take a photograph using your smartphone and use it to scan and print and take home or stick it on the wall along with all the rest…

Honey Lemon photos on the wall

Why, they even had one of the local Mandarin singing sensation from Sarikei, Nick Chung, but the photograph I took of that snapshot turned out blur.

As far as the zakka part of this place is concerned, it isn’t very different from what it used to be – nothing much, maybe even less than before. I did see these owls…

Honey Lemon owls

…and this one…

Honey lemon owl

…that may be of interest to my friends – the owl memorabilia collectors, Annie and Nick…and no, not Nick Chung – this Nick is more handsome. LOL!!!

My missus had this iced green apple 7-Up drink (RM4.90)…

Honey Lemon iced green apple 7-up

…and she did not say anything about it so I guess it was all right. I am more familiar with Ribena 7-Up that is available at a number of places here, there and everywhere.

She had the teriyaki chicken rice (RM11.90)…

Honey Lemon teriyaki chicken rice

…and the chicken was pretty good but from my personal point of view, the fried egg…

Honey Lemon fried egg

…that came with it was an absolute disaster.

The girl who came to take our orders could only speak Mandarin and I had a hard time trying to understand what she was saying especially the somewhat “technical” part regarding the making of the ice blended black coffee (RM7.90)…

Honey Lemon ice blended black coffee

…but I could make out that bit about it not being black, nothing like the very nice blended kopi-o-peng here and I decided to order it anyway. So what did I think of it? Well, I would say it was all right even though I am never into coffee with milk but at that price, I would probably go for something else should I ever happen to drop by here again.

I decided to try their nasi lemak with chicken curry (RM14.90)…

Homey Lemon nasi lemak with chicken curry

…and considering the huge serving for just RM3.00 more, I would think this would be a better deal than what my missus had but perhaps they could try and work a little harder on the presentation to come out with something looking a bit more impressive. Maybe if they had lined the plate with banana leaf, that would help a bit.

Hmmm…a sausage by the side in a plate of nasi lemak? I guess that’s ok and it was one of those ordinary sausages from the supermarkets, nothing special. My main concern whenever I have nasi lemak would be the rice and no, the one here was not lemak – I could hardly detect any santan (coconut milk) nor any pandan (screwpine leaf) fragrance in it but thankfully, it was not hard and dry and there were all those things in the platter to save the day.

The sambal

Honey Lemon nasi lemak sambal

…was completely out. No, no…it tasted all right, just that it was nothing like any sambal one would usually get with one’s nasi lemak, not even remotely close and eyewww….I can see the ikan bilis (dried anchovies) head! Frankly, perhaps they should just go and buy the very nice sambal at the roadside stall in the early morning at Bandong, just RM5.00 for one big tub, and dish out a spoonful of it every time somebody orders that.

I love this cheap salted fish…

Honey Lemon salted fish

…RM2.00 for a bagful, but I would usually soak in water prior to frying and eating so it would not be so salty…and the chicken curry…

Honey Lemon chicken curry

…was not too bad though that was the first time I had ever seen people garnishing their bowl of curry with fried shallots and chopped spring onions prior to serving. Hehehehehe!!!!

We did not get to try their lunch box takeaway – if I understood the girl correctly, those are not for eating in. You would have to call them to order and then come to collect to go and eat some place else. They are open from 10.00 a.m. in the morning right through till 10.30 p.m. at night and are closed on Mondays…and right now, they are giving a 15% discount in conjunction with the restaurant’s anniversary.

Well, we did not get to try the aforementioned lamb chop so who knows, we may just drop by again one of these days.

P.S.
Hey! It’s our National Day today so Happy National Day, folks! Keep the peace and spread the love and in conjunction with this special event. here’s a song by another of our local Sarawak’s own singers, Bob Yusof…