One and only…

Yes!!! I got one…

Mooncake

…and one only.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) or the Zhōngqiū Jié, also known as the Mooncake Festival, falls on the 15th of Sepetember this year and already, the shops and supermarkets here are flooded with the much-coveted delights of different flavours and brands including the more popular and of course, more expensive ones.

I did take a look around and I saw some lotus paste ones going for around RM11-12.00 each and those with a single egg yolk, for around RM14-15.00. No, thank you! I can take that money and have a really good meal and derive a lot more pleasure from it.

Well, my niece in Singapore was home for her mum’s birthday that day and I think she bought a tin for the parents, probably from the airport in Johore as it would be a lot cheaper there especially after conversion into the currency that she earns in the republic…and I sure was delighted when they gave us one. I don’t know what brand that was as there was no indication on the wrapper but it was lotus paste, single yolk…

Lotus paste single yolk 1

…and I am pretty sure this was one of the better known brands seeing how thin the pastry was and how fine the lotus paste was plus the good quality of the salted egg yolk used…

Lotus paste single yolk 2

Both my girl and the mum do not like mooncakes with salted egg yolks so of course, I had the pleasure of feasting on it all by myself. Hehehehehe!!!!

Now, how do you cut your mooncakes usually? Normally, I would cut a cross and then cut smaller slices parallel to one of the lines but if there is an egg yolk in it, I would cut diagonally so that each slice would have a bit of the salted egg yolk…

Lotus paste single yolk 3

Ok, now that I have had one already this year, I would not have to burn a hole in my pocket anymore to buy and eat in keeping with the tradition.

Leaving today…

My Kuching cousins were here for three nights and were leaving on Monday so I sent them to the airport. I had to make two trips though because one of them and my friend/ex-colleague were taking the early morning flight as they had to work that very afternoon.

I sent my other cousin, her daughter – my niece and her baby later and while I was at the airport, I received a Facebook message from Stephanie‘s dad. It was his birthday on Sunday and I actually met them at that same restaurant that night when we went there for dinner. He wanted to send me a slice of the birthday cake…

Birthday cake

…that his wife made and these banana chocolate chip cupcakes…

Stephanie's banana chocolate chip cupcakes

…from Stephanie…

Stephanie's banana chocolate chip cupcakes, inside

Yes, they were very nice, thank you all for them, but I must say that my favourite is still the marble cupcakes – they’re really good…and belated birthday greetings once again to the dad. All the best and God bless always in the year ahead. Cheers!!!

I went to pick up my cousin and niece and baby a little earlier than promised as the kid was getting a bit cranky in the hotel room,  probably wondering why they were not going out that morning like what they did in the previous two days and since we were way too early for the flight, I took them here…and here…in the hope that they could enjoy the chao chai hung ngang before leaving town but both of them were closed. I assume that they do not open on Mondays, their off day.

In the end, we went here (2.307201, 111.849154), the Good Happiness Restaurant…

Good Happiness Restaurant
*Archive photo*

…instead for the very nice dim sum that I have had many times before.

Yes, the har kao

Good Happiness dim sum har kao

…were very good and so were the char siew pao

Good Happiness dim sum char siew pao
*Niece’s photo on Facebook*

We also had these steamed bean curd skin with shrimp filling…

Good Happiness dim sum steamed bean curd skin with shrimp filling

…and the tri-flavour siew mai

Good Happiness dim sum three-flavour siew mai

Everyone thought that everything was great but I did not like the siew mai with the msg overload. They were all right the previous times we had those – probably the cook spilled the msg or something or maybe he had already added and he forgot all about it and added again.

I’ve had the Foochow fried noodles here on my previous visits and I love it so what fitting send-off could there be than to order a plate of that…

Good Happiness Foochow fried noodles

…for them to enjoy before leaving town. Yes, they enjoyed it and yes, they thought the one here was even nicer than the one that they liked a lot at our dinner the previous night.

After that, we went straight to the airport – it was baby’s feeding time! Thanks for coming, everybody. It sure was a lovely weekend and we had a really good time – do come again…soon!

That’s my kind of night…

I had a call from my friend and ex-classmate,  Robert, on Wednesday last week inviting me to his house…

Chef & wine

…that night for dinner. He said that his missus, Angela, would be cooking and this would be an opportunity for me to sample it. Now, who could turn down an invitation like that? So of course, I accepted and made sure I got there on time – he lives on the other side of town, not all that near by our local standards.

Besides me and my other half, they had invited a few other guests including our dear friend, Mary, from the Thai restaurant in town, and a few other regular dining companions of ours.

There was this very lovely steamed chicken…

Steamed chicken

…and the rice…

Chicken rice

…and we also got to enjoy the ulam with the very special sambal

Ulam & sambal

…that everyone loved to the max. Hey!!! I tried the ulam raja once and I did not really like it so I just had the blanched paku (wild jungle fern). After much friendly persuasion, I gave it one more try and I loved it! Hmmm…you would get to see it now at our dinner table from now on – word has it that those leaves have a lot of health benefits.

It so happened that I went to the market that morning and bought a whole lot of buah emplam, a local fruit from the mango family that is very sour, for my missus to make the sambal and we brought some…

Buah emplam sambal

…there to share. It was a hit too!

There was this vegetable dish…

Vegetables

…but I kept going back for more of the buah petai (stink beans) with udang kering (dried prawns)…

Petai

– I sure enjoyed that!

I have not had the salt-baked fish dish for a long time – the last time was in Bintulu in 2014 and at one place here also in 2014 and it was not very nice and before that, after that first time in KL, I had a really good one here but I never went back for more as the restaurant is quite a distance away, on the other side of town as well…and to my delight, Angela cooked one that night…

Salt-baked terubok 1

…and while all the rest would use our Batang Ai tilapia, she used the much-coveted ikan terubok (longtail shad)…

Salt-baked terubok 2

As a matter of fact, I was looking for it at the market that morning but could not see any and needless to say, I enjoyed that very much and had quite a bit more than my fair share. Hehehehe!!!

I also loved the wonderful black vinegar pork trotter that Angela cooked but unfortunately, the photos came out blur and for dessert, she made one of my favourite nyonya kuehs, steamed tapioca cake…

Tapioca cake

…that one can hardly find around here and of course, that sure made a fitting end to the superb dinner.

Thank you so much, Robert and Angela, I sure had a great time – great food, great company, who could ask for more?

Here and there…

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday on Sunday and we had a little celebration at their house on Satuday night, just the immediate family including my sister-in-law from Kuching and my brother-in-law and his wife from Bintulu plus the grandson from KL and the grand-daughter from Singapore.

In previous years, we would all go out to some restaurant outside but this year, my mother-in-law is no longer all that mobile and considering the hassle of getting her there just to eat and all the way back again, we decided to have the dinner at home instead.

My in-laws went and ordered a few dishes from here and there, including these Foochow sio bee (RM1.60 each)…

Hock Chiu Leu sio bee

…from here and also a few dishes from here, such as the sweet and sour fish fillet…

Sweet and sour fish fillet

…and these huge freshwater prawns (RM90.00)…

Freshwater prawns

…as well as the sea cucumber soup and my brother-in-law’s favourite egg omelette with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and when they said that they paid RM150.00 for all those, I knew that most of that went to the prawns – those things are a killer really!

They also got the mee mamak and this curry bihun

Curry bihun

…from this restaurant but we did not go out to get anything as my missus said she would want to cook a few dishes of her own.

Her kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma chicken

…was a hit all round and my mother-in-law especially enjoyed it so much! Unfortunately, like our daging masak hitam, it is not all that photogenic for any snapshot to do it much justice.

Her asparagus with sambal udang kering (dried prawns)…

Sambal asparagus

…were very nice too and she also cooked this chicken curry…

Chicken curry

…another of my in-laws’ favourites everytime they came to dinner at our house. At the end of the day, I would say that nothing beats one’s own home-cooked delights, that’s for sure.

It was a simple celebration, nothing grand but it was indeed most meaningful and an opportunity to get together with one’s loved ones to share the joy on a very special and auspicious occasion.

Once, twice, three times…

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI to all my Muslim relatives and friends, God’s abundant Blessings be upon you all and all your loved ones this festive season and the whole year through.

I did not go to the Ramadhan Bazaar all that many times this year – I think I did mention in my post the other day that the older I get, the lazier I become. However, I did stop by this one here that day on my way to the airport to pick my girl and the mum when they flew back from Korea via Kuala Lumpur.

Last year, everyone was telling me how good the nasi kerabu here…

RASCOM Ramadhan Bazaar nasi kerabu
*Archive photo*

…was so I simply had to buy and try but no, I did not think it was all that good, nowhere near our favourite one here, and there was all this talk about this nasi kak wok at the time so when I saw that the lady at the next stall was selling that, I bought a packet to try. Nope, I did not think it was anything I would want to buy again…unfortunately. I did buy her laksam for my girl though and she liked it very much, a whole lot nicer than what she had here…and anyway, that place has closed down already and let’s just say I am not in the least surprised.

I was quite disgusted, however, by the fact that at least 75% of the stalls there were using polystyrene containers even though the use of those not-environment-friendly things is banned here in Sibu. Never mind whether what they were selling was nice or not nice, I simply refused to buy from any of them. For one thing, I do think that to get to the root of the problem, the authorities should go round and nab the suppliers – I have seen them being blatantly sold at some supermarkets in town. Otherwise, why bother passing the ruling when everybody seems to be flaunting it openly right under your very nose…and you just turn a blind eye? I certainly hope all that campaign is not like most other campaigns we have had at one time or another, only just for show – NATO, no action, talk only! Tsk! Tsk!

Then, on Tuesday last week, I had to drive to my girl’s school in the jungle to get her back to town so she could fly off to Kuching early the next morning to attend a course there. That was why we did not cook that day and that was a good excuse to drop by the Ramadhan bazaar that I went to quite a lot last year – the one at Bandong here to pick up some things for dinner…and of course, I told them specifically not to buy anything in polystyrene containers. Period.

It had been almost a year ago when I last had satay and that was in Kuching and I cannot even remember the last time I had the ones here. I would order some very nice ones from this stall everytime we went for the ayam penyet around there but we had not gone there for quite a while now…ever since my missus heard people talking about some dengue cases in that area at one time, dunno whether there was any truth in it or not. I saw on Facebook some friends/ex-students enjoying the ones from this stall but no, I never did get the chance myself to go and try.

Now, this one…

MUC satay 1

…goes back quite a long way, actually. People were telling me that the best satay in town would be the ones at MUC, short for Malay Union Club. I did drive there once but it was kind of dark and we were early – they did not look like they had started their business for the day so we just drove away. Right now, that place is undergoing renovations – hopefully, it will be nicer once the job gets done. According to the very nice and friendly guy, it should be ready after Hari Raya.

I placed my orders and waited for them to be done…

MUC satay 2

– RM10 lamb (10 sticks) and RM10 beef (20 sticks), RM20.00 altogether so that would be around USD5.00 or AUD 7.00 for 30 sticks…

MUC satay 3

The lamb was very good, very nice and tender but the beef was a bit hard so that took away a bit of the enjoyment, unfortunately. I was rather disappointed that they did not have any ketupat nor did they give any complimentary cut cucumber and shallots that one might get elsewhere.

They were selling these barbecued chicken…

MUC BBQ chicken

…at the stall too but no, I did not buy any of those.

Here, you can catch a glimpse of one section of the bazaar…

Bandong Ramadhan Bazaar

…and this…

Mail Olen

…was right across the road at the proper designated stalls along the revamped and upgraded Bandong Walk. It has been around like…forever so obviously, business must be good to keep it going all this while. Incidentally, if I am not wrong, they are open even on ordinary days, not just for this Ramadhan bazaar.

Here, you can see some more chicken being barbecued…

BBQ chicken

…and these grilled sardines…

Grilled sardines

…were ready for sale at RM8.00 (USD2.00) each.

These were the packs of ayam berempah (spiced chicken) with rice and pickles…

Ayam berempah packs

…all ready for anyone thus inclined and my girl did buy one (RM7.00, less than USD2.00)…

Ayam berempah pack

…home for her dinner. I thought the chicken was nicer than the ones my missus bought for me and for herself (RM8.00)…

Ayam berempah nasi bryani

…with nasi bryani and I did not think the rice was all that nice since we have been enjoying the authentic Indian one all this while but with the dhal curry that came with it, it was all right.

My missus bought this tub of bamboo shoots (RM5.00)…

Rebung masak rebus

…cooked masak rebus kampung style and of course, I did not touch it for fear of a gout attack.

My girl also bought some of these vadai

Vadai

…a deep-fried lentil snack, an Indian delicacy made with kacang dhal and a whole lot of spices and the mum bought these kacang kuda (chick peas)…

Kacang kuda

…with curry leaves added. That sure brought the taste to a whole new level, very nice!

So, at the time of writing, I had gone once…and I had gone twice. Let’s see whether I did go a third time or not this year. Stick around!

Much to my surprise…

This was last Saturday night, the evening before Father’s Day.

Actually, we were planning to go to that new Thai place after the sunset service in church – my girl wanted to check it out and at the same time, give me a special dinner treat that night. We could not do it on the actual day, Sunday, as I would have sent her back to her school in the jungle before classes resumed the very next day. However, it was raining that night and the air-conditioning was extra cold and my girl, who is not so well-insulated like me, felt somewhat unwell by the time the service ended so we had to head straight home.

It so happened then that coincidentally, I got an unexpected call from Peter, the boss of Payung Café, asking me to drop by to collect some things that he had cooked and packed nicely for me to take home and enjoy. That sure was a pleasant surprise! I thought it would be some new dish that he had created, nothing really substantial, nothing to get excited about but boy, how wrong could I be!

There was salmon…

Salmon from Payung Cafe 1

…two thick slabs of it…

Salmon from Payung Cafe 2

…with the special dip for it…

Dip for salmon

…but it was good on its own so we did not really need that.

No, that wasn’t all! There was also the salad…

Salad from Payung Cafe

…celery, tomato and sliced Bombay onions on one side and potatoes and egg on the other and the dressing that came with it was so very nice as well.

As if those weren’t quite enough, there were also these delightful wedges…

Potato wedges from Payung

I could not really figure out what went into the cooking but my guess was there was garlic and a lot of herbs. They tasted really good and I did mention to Peter that he should add it to their menu – that should go down well with the regulars, I’m sure…plus it would be something parents could order for their kids to enjoy.

That sure was a lot for the three of us – we only managed to finish one slab of the salmon and had to save the other for the next day and there was at least half of the salad left as well. Of course, we did not get the nice plating that they had at their café, he and his staff that night…

Salmon platter at Payung Cafe 1
*Karan’s photo on Facebook*

They’re really so creative and I do feel that such nice presentations sure go a long way in making something taste a whole lot better…

Salmon Platter at Payung Cafe 2
*Karan’s photo on Facebook*

I wonder if they are going to have this as a permanent feature in their menu – that big platter would be enough for 4 or more, at least, I think.

That was indeed a pleasant surprise, a truly delightful dinner and an unexpected Father’s Day treat, thank you so very much, Peter.