Happy enough…

Well, it’s that time of the year when I see the shops and supermarkets flooded with mooncakes, mostly from the peninsula but sadly, they are not all that affordable, the cheapest being AT LEAST around RM15.00 EACH going up to over RM20.00 and beyond…and those are the cheap ones!!!

When my parents and my mother-in-law were still around, I would go and pick one of those popular celebrated brands packed in their very nice special boxes or tins for them to enjoy. No, I would not buy any for myself. At best, maybe I would just grab a few of the local made ones, not very nice but at least, I got to observe and preserve the tradition.

These days, however, there are people making their own at home for sale and it sure looks like they are getting very good at it. I got these…

Mooncakes

…from the shop near my house, only RM6.00 each, but the problem was though I am quite conversant in Mandarin, when it comes to the writing, I am buta huruf – I do not know how to read it. That was why I had to depend on the boss there to tell me what each one was – there were pandan, coffee, matcha (green tea), the one with a lot of nuts and what not inside and so on and so forth.

In the end, I settled for the pek tao sar/mung bean…

Mung bean

…and what I guessed from the sound of what the guy was saying in Mandarin, hazelnut…

Hazelnut

Both were very good but I probably picked the wrong pack from the stack. I must have got all confused because there were so many flavours. What I thought was hazelnut came across to me like pandan with a hint of matcha (green tea), not too strong or I would not have enjoyed it…and it was a little less sweet than the former.

I am sure the self-proclaimed true blue die hard mooncake connoisseurs would be up in arms declaring in horror that the skin was way too thick. It seems that one criteria by which they would judge mooncakes would be how thin the skin is, the thinner the better.

I went back a few days later and this time, I made sure I got the hazelnut, or at least, that was what I thought it was…

Hazelnut

It was more expensive, RM10.00 each and inside, the filling was a shade of black…

Hazelnut, filling

Obviously, it was not hazelnut but hēi zhīma (黑芝麻) – black sesame which actually sounds a bit like hazelnut in Mandarin. LOL!!! It tasted really great and the guy did say it was not as sweet as the rest and that was quite true, I must say. It was sweet but not that sweet and nice…and one can see from the second photograph that the skin was not thick but for RM4.00 more, I think I’d settle for the cheaper ones.

Well, I, for one, love the skin. I do enjoy the pastry with the filling and it helps in some small way to balance the sweetness. If they want the skin to be paper thin, almost not noticeable, they might as well just buy the filling and eat it like that, don’t you think? Yes, I am happy enough with these that I bought, no need to pay through my nose to buy those ultra-expensive ones and burn a big hole in my pocket.

They do have red bean paste too but my missus insists she has some kind of allergy and cannot eat it – it makes her giddy so I would never buy anything with that filling, be it buns or steamed paos. I certainly would go back and buy the aforementioned mooncakes to stock up for when the festival comes around just in case there will be no more left by then…but no, I would not be buying to eat between now and then – whatever it is, they are sweet, best to just nibble a bit each time.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

The mother…

…was celebrating her birthday that day, my sister-in-law, so of course, her daughter, my niece working in Singapore, came home to celebrate and yes, we were invited to the dinner here that evening.

There was, as always when it comes to birthdays and other auspicious occasions, the longevity noodles – our mee sua, but fried and served with those golden eggs…

Mee sua and eggs

…and yes, it was very nicely done that night – everyone enjoyed it.

For our meat dishes, we had this claypot pork with dried chilies and salted fish…

Pork

…and the simmering venison on a hot plate…

Venison

We also ordered the lamb with lime sauce…

Lamb

…and I only found out that night that they had mayonnaise in it with the lime. It was nice but I think it was nicer when we had it before – the meat was not grilled that well enough.

My brother-in-law wanted his omelette…

Egg

…and we also had this own-made tofu served with mayo…

Tofu

For our vegetable dish, we had this – the Green Dragon vegetable (青龙菜) or the royale chives …

Royale chives

…which seems to be the current craze, available only by special order and I noticed that every table was having that. I had that before here but I would not say it got me all excited. Personally, I think I would prefer our own local midin or paku or mani chai/cangkok manis.

Needless to say, we had to have a birthday cake from Marcus…

Cake by Marcus

We had half of it, 7 of us altogether, and my niece took the rest back to Singapore to enjoy it slowly there. The sweet girl picked up the tab that night and the total for the food came up to RM165.00 only, around SGD50.00 only.

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

One call away…

The other day, I dropped by a supermarket here and there was an event going on right outside the entrance. I did not bother to find out what it was all about but I did see something like a children’s colouring competition about to begin. I noticed there were stalls all lined up selling things so out of curiosity, I decided to stroll around to see what they had in store.

I saw one selling this kao teng koi (9-layer cake)…

Kao teng koi

…and this serimuka or kuih salat, the glutinous rice lightly stained blue using the butterfly pea flower (bunga telang)

Serimuka

…and I was rather surprised that they were selling them at only RM3.00 each! Normally at such events, fund-raising usually, they would jack up the prices and the kuihs were cut into around 10 small pieces inside a packet so in comparison, considering that I would have to pay RM1.00 for 3-4 pieces at the Malay kuih stalls, it did look like the price they were asking for was very reasonable.

The ang koo kueh

Ang koo koi

…was RM4.00 a packet and there were 5 pieces inside so it worked out to only 80 sen each. You will not get anything for less than RM1.00 here or here but these were a little bit smaller.

The lady was telling me in Mandarin about how no artificial colouring, all natural, was used in the making and whatever else she said – I wasn’t paying attention as I was not in the mood for any small talk that day. I only wanted to take the stuff, pay the money and leave.

I took my purchases home and sat down to try right away. Wowwww!!! Much to my delight, the kao teng koi was so very lemak, the texture was perfect – a whole lot nicer than the nice one that I stumbled upon here and the serimuka likewise. These certainly put those sold all over town to shame – I would never want to buy those! I think there is a Malay expression or something that says that those are not worth getting one’s teeth dirty for!

The ang koo koi was very good too – the skin was absolutely perfect and either there was no added sugar or they cut down a bit on it (perhaps that was one of the things the lady was rattling on and on in Mandarin about) so it was not as sweet as the ones sold commercially elsewhere.

I was thinking that these would make lovely desserts if one is hosting a dinner gathering like what we had the other day or they would be perfect for some light refreshment with tea or coffee after a prayer meeting or something along those lines at home.

You can place your order at this number…

Who do you call

…and go to the house to collect if they do not provide home deliveries. You can always ask about this and other details if you are keen – after all, it’s just one call away…

My pleasure…

Nothing beats getting together with loved ones on special occasions and that was why when my cousin invited me over to his Hari Raya Haji open house that day, I wasted no time in replying and telling him that it would be my pleasure and I would be very happy to be there with him and all in his family.

It so happened that his missus celebrated her birthday a few days earlier so when everyone was home, the daughter went and got a cake from none other than Marcus – just like us and everybody else, they love his cakes too – and got her to cut it, surrounded by all her grandchildren…

Birthday

It sure was a beautiful moment – one could feel all the love and joy all around.

Of course, there was a whole lot of food…

Buffet

I so loved the ayam masak merah

Ayam masak merah

…that I went back for more, twice, at least!

There was Sarawak laksa too, cooked by their West Malaysian daughter-in-law but by the time I had feasted on everything, I was way too full to go and have a try but I did try a bit of the broth from my daughter’s bowl and it was really very good.

My cousin will always get one caterer here everytime, the sister of the people at this cafe that is very popular for their kampua mee and they had that…

kampua mee

…in the buffet spread too. I did go for it and I would say it was a cut above their mee goreng

Mee goreng

I enjoyed the ikan terubok masin

Ikan terubok masin

…to the max and my cousin’s wife cooked this pajeri nenas

Pajeri nenas

…and it was very good too.

There were cakes and a lot of other things too and we sure had a great time there, sitting and chatting and laughing…and meeting other next-of-kin and old friends from the kampung.

Thank you so much to my cousin, his missus and all in the family for the invitation and the wonderful hospitality. I sure wouldn’t want to miss special occasions like this for the world!

Ties that bind…

Despite the not very conducive conditions at the school in the jungle and the horrendous hazardous journey on the yet-to-be-completed highway to go there and back, after over six years there, my girl did have some kind of bond with her colleagues there.

They are very nice people and they did help my girl out a lot of times…but when she left, it was kind of abrupt. The letter came and she had to report in her new school right away so there was a simple assembly that morning, the 12th of last month, before the pupils dispersed and all the goodbyes were said there and then and we left as soon it was done.

That was why I told her we could host a gathering and invite everybody to get together to express our sincere appreciation of the friendships made and the good times spent together over the years. We picked Sunday, the 21st of July, as Monday was a public holiday here, Sarawak’s Independence Day. It turned out that it was not really a good day as some of them had made plans to go home to the peninsula or to Kuching or go somewhere so not all of them could make it that night.

For the venue, we picked this place where I had my high school reunion parties in 2013 and again, in April this year and I picked my personal favourites here.

The daging masak hitam (beef)…

Li Hua masak hitam

…was a hot favourite. In fact, theirs is so good that people would specially order it to take home and serve, for instance, for Chinese New Year. They are selling it at RM60 a kg.

Everyone sang praises of the kiam sor hay (salty and crispy prawns)…

Li Hua kiam sor hay

…how fresh and how deliciously done they were. Those crustaceans that size sure do not come cheap here, around RM55 a kg.

My girl had quite a number of the honey chicken wings…

Li Hua honey chicken wings

…and I did have one or two as well and yes, they were nice too.

The curry was good…

Li Hua chicken curry

…though I was wishing there were a lot more potatoes in it. I love them in curry!

I did not try the mixed vegetables…

Li Hua mixed vegetables

I heard some people saying that it was good but everyone loved the cangkuk manis

Li Hua cangkok manis

…and I had quite a lot of it myself.

I asked for plain rice as some of those dishes would go well with it but I had a lot more of the fried noodles…

Li Hua fried mee

…and even packed what was left to take home.

There were fruits and some very nice agar-agar (jelly) in the buffet spread but I went and bought these coconut tarts

Aroma coconut tarts

…and also their mini sponge cake tarts…

Aroma mini sponge cake tarts

…for something a little bit extra special for dessert. They were a hit and no prize for guessing which one the kids loved the most.

My girl’s colleagues bought her a very nice cookware set……

Gifts

and I did invite some of my friends as well for what I called a makan selamat especially those who followed my posts on Facebook faithfully and never failed to wish us well on our perilous weekly drives up and down the Pain-Borneo highway over the years. Thank God we survived that without any untoward incidents or accidents, praise the Lord. Some of them did bring a little something for us though they shouldn’t have – thank you so much, and most of all, thank you to everybody for taking the time off to attend our simple get-together.

I sure enjoyed myself – the food, the company and also the karaoke singing. Should I have an excuse to host another party like this again, I most certainly would not hesitate to do so.

LI HUA HOTEL RESTAURANT (2.284477, 111.8316940) is located on the 1st floor of the hotel at the T-junction of Lorong Lanang 2 and Jalan Maju.

Serve…

Last Thursday night, we had prayers at the house in conjunction with the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s demise the following day – Friday, the 12th of July.

My sister went to this bakery…

Sweet Factory

…to order a few things for the light refreshment to serve to those who came.

Everyone gasped at the size of the curry puffs…

Sweet Factory curry puff

– they were huge and they could not believe their ears when told that they were only RM1.00 each.

The pastry was all right…

Curry puff, inside

and though we could hardly detect the curry in the filling, it tasted o.k. We really can’t complain when it was so cheap and it tasted pretty good too.

I just bought some curry puffs from this shop here a few days earlier and the pastry had that lovely buttery fragrance, much nicer and the filling too, though there was so little of it, an almost paper thin layer inside…and those were RM2.50 each!

The sio pao (RM1.70)…

Sweet Factory sio pao

…was very good, both the pastry and the filling…

Sio pao, inside

…and it had quite a lot of meat in it.

The filling…

Chicken pie, inside

…in the somewhat much smaller chicken pie (RM1.80)…

Sweet Factory chicken pie

…was nothing like that in the regular chicken pies that we are more accustomed to but it tasted great and of the three, I loved the pastry of the chicken pie the most.

Considering that everything was reasonably priced and seeing how everybody seemed to enjoy them all, we certainly wouldn’t mind going back to order more in future.

SWEET FACTORY is located right next door to NIANG JIA, formerly LADOREE CAFE & EVENTS (2.302891, 111.842997), at Wisma Liberty, Lot 4047, Block 3, Jalan Pedada (now Jalan Dr. Wong Soon Kai). There are a few tables by the side for anyone thinking of having tea there.

Another year…

It has been two years now since the day my father passed on from this world – the anniversary was on Friday, the 12th of July. We had prayers at the house the previous night as there was something on in the church on Friday and it was not so convenient to get everybody together on the actual day.

My girl was working in the morning…

Morning

…so we could not go to my parents’ resting place…

Resting place

…to offer flowers…

Flowers

…and prayers till that afternoon on the aforementioned day.

It was almost 4.00 p.m. when we got back into town and we stopped by here for tea before sending my sister back to the house and going back home ourselves. It was a hot day so all of us had the ang tao peng or iced red bean (RM3.50)…

Ang tao peng

…with a special request for extra gula Melaka and it sure was very good. My missus, however, chose to have their cendol instead.

For want of something to eat, I ordered my girl’s favourites, the sotong kangkong, large (RM10.00)…

Sotong kangkong

…which seems to get increasingly expensive each passing year and the salad sotong (RM7.00)…

Salad sotong

…which was only RM5.00 in 2012 but never mind that the prices are escalating by the day, as long as we enjoyed our orders, that was all that mattered and we sure did.

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.