A million thanks to you…

Of course, we went out for dinner on the night of my girl’s birthday and she did ask a friend of hers to join us and I also got her to invite her aunt, my sis to come along as well…and of course, we picked one of our favourite places in town for this very special occasion.

When I was placing my orders for the dishes that night, my dear friend, Mary, kept telling me not to order this and not to order that for fear that we would not be able to finish. What I did not know then was that she had something up her sleeves…so imagine our very pleasant surprise when the crew came out with this…

Special birthday treat for Melissa

…and sang a few lines of the Happy Birthday song. We were stunned, absolutely speechless at the sight of the gorgeous and so very impressive platter!!!

This was a special treat for my girl from the ever so thoughtful and generous, Aunty Mary – the giant udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Giant freshwater prawns

…that we also had on her birthday and I loved it so so much, a lot more than the lobster that we had that night and lining the side of the platter were these birthday eggs…

Birthday eggs

…served with some very nice special sauce.

They do not serve mee sua here so I asked for the Hing Hua bihun with specific instructions not to add any soy sauce but Thai fish sauce would be fine and we got this pale-looking plate of the noodles (RM28.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried bihun

My sister tried and commented that it looked rather plain and yet, it tasted so good and I certainly would agree with her on this. I thought it was very much nicer than the Hing Hua bihun we had here before – it did not have any cangkuk manis in it but I so loved the fragrance and the taste of the chives with the very nice extra-fine rice vermicelli.

My girl wanted the beef manao or beef with lime (RM37.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen beef manao

– one of her favourites here and despite all the protests from Mary, I insisted on ordering it and when I said that my girl wanted it, she relented and added it to the list.

I asked for the pla sam rod or the barramundi with three-flavours sauce (RM82.00)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pla sam rod 1

…for a change from the pla tod samoon prai that we had had on several of our past visits for some time now…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pla sam rod 2

…and though we felt that between the two, we now liked the latter better, this was good too.

For our vegetable dishes, we had the som tam/papaya salad (RM17.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen som tam

…and also the sweet potato leaves fried with garlic (RM15.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen sweet potato leaves

We also ordered this tom khai kai (RM25.00)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen tom khai kai

…for a change from the very nice creamy and spicy tom yam soup we would order usually and we requested for fish instead of chicken.

Well, we did manage to finish all our orders and had the most delightful evening enjoying the food and the company – a million thanks to Mary for the special treat and to Joch & Su for all those scrumptious dishes and the wonderful crew for the unfailing excellent and efficient service. All of you sure made my girl so very especially happy on her special day!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN (2.292836, 111.828287) is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Birthday morning…

My girl had a gluten-free baked Japanese cheesecake…

Melissa's Japanese baked cheesecake - birthday 2018

…for her birthday this year – her mum baked one…

Melissa's birthday cake, 2018 - sliced

…like the one she baked last year (but with brown sugar) so she could enjoy it and of course, the first thing in the morning on her birthday, in keeping with the tradition, we had to have the mee sua (Foochow longevity noodles) in traditional chicken soup…

Birthday mee sua in traditional chicken soup

…but since the noodles, being made from wheat flour, are not gluten-free, only I could have that while she had hers with hung ngang (the big bihun) instead.

Later that morning, we went out and it was way past lunchtime when we stopped by here…

Outright Coffee

You can place your orders at the counter…

Outright Coffee, counter

…and pay first before going to take a seat – they will serve your orders to you once they are ready.

You can help yourself to all the water you can drink, free of charge…

Water, all you can drink

…and because I was still full from the mee sua, having had a lot of the noodles and two eggs, I did not want anything to eat.

My girl wanted something light so she just had the mushroom cheese omelette (RM9.50)…

Outright Coffee mushroom cheese omelette

…with her iced spice chai tea latte (RM11.00)…

Outright Coffee iced spice chai tea latte

…that she would always order everytime she drops by here with her friends.

She enjoyed the omelette – 3 eggs went into it, so we were told and a lot of cheese…

Outright Coffee mushroom cheese omelette, inside

…as well. Normally, that would come with a few slices of baguette toast or whatever bread – no, my girl would not be able to eat that as it would not be gluten-free but I saw some guys at another table having their omelette with fries so I quickly asked my girl to request for a switch and in the end, she got the fries instead and yes, they were very nicely done – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside though I must say they were not very generous with them. LOL!!!

This metal cabinet in the corner caught my attention…

Outright Coffee metal cabinet

– and it turned out to be some sort of a “secret passage” into their kitchen and bakery…

Passage into the kitchen & bakery

The mum just had the ice blended banana espresso (13.50)…

Outright Coffee ice blended banana espresso

…while I had the banana mango milkshake (RM15.50)…

Outright Coffee banana mango milkshake 1

…which I thought was very nice and had a lot of mango in it, not only on top…

Outright Coffee banana mango milkshake 2

This came out of the kitchen…

Outright Coffee fried chicken dish

– the people at the next table were having that and I could detect the delightful smell but no, I was not tempted to order that for myself. It looked like the meat was coated with batter so I guess that would not be gluten-free but we could always go for something else on their menu on our next visit.

Service was great – the people were very pleasant and friendly and conversant in English. We certainly wouldn’t mind dropping by again sometime…and do stick around – I will have another post on this place soon.

Well, the Mooncake Festival or the Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节) is tomorrow, Monday, the 24th of September. Have you bought any to enjoy yet? Or perhaps you have made your own? I did buy some that day and the morning we were here, my missus bought a few from here…

Mooncakes from Outright Coffee/Bakemore Bakery

…to try. Theirs are cheaper than most and I like the lotus paste and salted yolk as it is not as sweet as all the rest. The Ferrero Rocher cheese is nice too but for me, it is a tad too sweet – not so good for old folks like me. To preserve the culture, if not for any other reason, do hop over and see if there are any left, if you haven’t had any yet.

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lay King Howe Memorial Museum.

Reciprocate…

My niece who’s working in Singapore will always make it a point to come back to Sibu specially for the birthdays of anyone in the family and she will always invite us to join in the celebration and everytime, the sweet girl will bring us “a little something” special from the island republic.

Well, this time around, it was on the occasion of her own birthday last Friday and to reciprocate, I asked her and her parents and also her good friend to join us for dinner here…

Dinner at Payung Cafe

…the following night, Saturday.

This isn’t really a fine dining place, more a casual, a very relaxing and comfortable place to hang out with very good service and really great food to enjoy.

Yes, there would always be fresh flowers…

Fresh flowers

…and pua kumbu (the tradition ethnic blanket) table cloth but we had something special that night – they gave us a sarong instead!

I would prefer some ethnic music (the traditional sape) or keroncong or perhaps some light Indian music (the sitar perhaps) which would be more in line with the lovely ambiance of the place but lately, it seems that they’ve been playing some covers of retro songs, acoustic versions usually and I quite enjoyed them though at times, I wished they would turn down the volume a little.

We had my girl’s favourite, their lamb masala and I asked for three servings of that (RM19.00 each, with rice) as usually they would have three chunks of meat in each so there would be enough for the 7 of us. We also had three servings of their butter chicken (RM18.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken

…and two servings of the pomelo salad (RM8.00 each)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…but I only asked for one serving of their out-of-this-world belimbing prawns (RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 1

…as I know the very nice and generous boss, Peter, would take it upon himself to cook this specialty of theirs for us himself and he would also give us a lot of prawns, definitely enough to go round and that night, he even picked the biggest ones…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 2

…for us. When you get first class treatment like this, is it any wonder at all that we keep going back again and again?

We also brought our own gluten-free corn spirals and asked them to cook it for us and serve with their very nice beef bolognese sauce…

Gluten-free corn spirals with Payung's beef bolognese sauce
*niece’s photo on Facebook*

…but I only asked for two servings of the sauce (RM10.00 each) because it did not look like there was a lot in that packet of pasta until after it was cooked. It would be great if I had requested for three servings – that would be just nice, I think.

Peter, the boss, was most apologetic – he insisted it was overcooked and not al dente but I thought it was all right except that there wasn’t enough sauce and that wasn’t their fault but I did think they could have drained the pasta a little more so it would be completely dry at the bottom of the plate. Believe it or not, a few days later, he showed up at my door with four packs of the lovely beef bolognese sauce that he specially cooked himself for my girl to enjoy at home or in her school in the jungle with her own gluten-free pasta – of course, she was delighted. Isn’t that so very nice and sweet of him?

He also brought me this super awesome chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup…

Chicken in traditional red wine soup from Peter

that I love so much and of course, I had mee sua

Mee sua

…the following morning on his birthday, following the Chinese lunar calendar. Thank you so much, Peter – you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble. We truly were fine with everything that night.

Anyway, back to the dinner, I did not want to order those dishes that my niece had eaten before that night – I always had those for our dinners at home during Chinese New Year  and though I did not order a lot, there was more than enough to go round, so much, in fact, that we could not finish it all so we took one serving of the butter chicken home and gave the rest of the pasta, more than half of it to the staff to enjoy and it sure was a pleasant surprise when we were served this medley of ice cream…

Payung Cafe ice cream medley

– the flavours from left to right were durian, chocolate, peppermint and mango (quinee), a special treat for the birthday girls, my girl’s birthday was two days later. We were served glasses of drinking water without our asking for it and that prompted my niece’s friend, her first time here, to remark, “The service here is really very good!!!”

The total inclusive of drinks, came up to RM171.00, more or less the same as the dinner we had the previous night.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

Not one but two…

In fact, it wasn’t two either…but THREE altogether!

My niece, my brother-in-law’s daughter, the one working in Singapore, flew home last Friday to celebrate her birthday with her parents here in Sibu. Her father got her a cake…

Birthday cake from her father

…from Marcus, her favourite, and she got her friend to get her one as well…

Birthday cake with crushed peanut coating

– she likes the crushed peanut coating all along the sides and her aunt, my missus, got her the third one with grated cheese coating…

Birthday cake from her aunt

…and as a matter of fact, if I am not wrong, there was a fourth one that she collected the next day for her to take back to Singapore and enjoy slowly there.

We got together here…

Birthday celebration at Ruby Restaurant

…for dinner that night and seeing the cakes, the boss commented that after we had finished all of them, we would be too full to eat anything else. LOL!!!

My brother-in-law made the reservation and placed the orders for his favourite dishes such as the egg trio…

Ruby Restaurant egg trio

…and the sweet and sour fish fillet…

Ruby Restaurant sweet and sour fish fillet

…which my girl could not eat as there was tomato sauce and it was not gluten-free.

She could not eat the bread crumb coated prawn balls served with mayo as well (I did not take a photograph of that) and the lady boss declared in no uncertain terms that we would have to stick to the orders made but we could add to the list if we wanted.

In the end, my niece and I agreed to go for their very nice Thai-style mango chicken…

Ruby Restaurant Thai-style mango chicken

…that we had had on all of our recent visits and they said they had durian flowers that night so I asked for those to be fried with hay bee (dried prawns) and belacan (dried prawn paste)…

Ruby Restaurant durian flowers

…and yes, that was very good indeed!

My girl could eat their own-made tofu, deep-fried and served with mayo and also the fried cangkuk manis with egg  (I did not take any photographs of those either) but she could not have the fried mee sua (longevity noodles)…

Ruby Restaurant fried mee sua with golden eggs

…just those lightly-fried golden eggs by the side.

The total for the food for 7 of us altogether came up to RM165.00, over RM170 if we include the two bowls of rice and the drinks that we had.

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.

It’s your birthday…

September 11th, 911 for short, is a significant date that will never be forgotten and it happened to be my mum’s birthday as well – she would have been 88 this year.

We had to send my girl back to her school in the jungle that day after the extra long weekend so we left the house earlier than usual to stop by my parents’ resting place…

Mum's birthday, 2018

…along the way to offer flowers and prayers and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Normally we would have our lunch first but that day, we agreed to stop by the shop here in Selangau Bazaar for that.

We had their bitter gourd omelette…

Hua Kee, Selangau bitter gourd omelette 1

…which was all right…

Hua Kee, Selangau bitter gourd omelette 2

…and though the cangkuk manis with egg…

Hua Kee, Selangau cangkuk manis with egg

…was kind of watery, it was good too.

I asked for the bawal hitam (black pomfret) to be just deep fried like that, no flour, no sauce, nothing and this was what we got (RM18.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau deep fried or chio

They got it right the first time but the 2nd time, they coated it with flour prior to frying and thankfully, it was tapioca, not wheat. This time around, they sprinkled some soy sauce over it and I was quite pissed off by how they could not stick to my specific instructions. We quickly removed the skin and the soy sauce on the outside so my girl was able to eat the soy sauce-free inside of the fish.

The total for the food and the rice for three came up to over RM30.00 only but I think the next time, I would just cook myself or buy some dishes from somewhere and bring the food and rice in a  tiffin carrier to heat up and eat at my girl’s quarters when we get there.

Sweet Mary…

Gee!!! How time flies! It seemed like yesterday when we got together to celebrate her birthday and once again, we were invited to join the ever sweet, forever young and gorgeous Mary at her birthday bash this year…

Mary's birthday dinner 2018

Her authentic Thai chef, Jos, got her a birthday cake…

With Jos

– the very nice New York cheesecake from a leading hotel in town. I do think that their cheesecakes are second to none.

Jos and her counterpart, Su, did an excellent job in preparing the menu for the evening, starting with this very nice bihun with the lightly-fried golden eggs…

Bihun and eggs

…for longevity and prosperity and I so loved the soup…

Soup

…which was served in individual bowls. One was supposed to be for the guest sitting next to me but he showed up rather late by which time I had finished both bowls. Hehehehehe!!! As the English proverb goes, “it’s the early bird that catches the worm.”

For our vegetable dishes, there was this fried garlic chives with beef…

Asparagus with beef

…and the very very nice Thai young mango salad…

Mango salad

The fried chicken wings…

Chicken wings

…were very nicely done too, so very tender and juicy and the grilled barramundi…

Fish

…was absolutely superb too!

The giant udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Prawns

…were so very big…

So big

…and absolutely out of this world and the HUGE lobster…

Lobster

…sure took everybody’s breath away.

I wonder if you’ve noticed that a few of the dishes were served on a bed of ulam raja leaves. Well, Mary proudly declared that they all came from her garden – the pot of seedlings I gave her on her birthday last year flourished and grew and are doing so well that these days, they do not need to buy any from the market anymore.

Happy birthday once again, Mary – it sure was a fun-filled and delightful evening and it was indeed an honour and our utmost pleasure to be able to join you and everybody that night, thank you so much for the invitation. May God bless you abundantly always, cheers!!!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN (2.292836, 111.828287) is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

This is us…

Yes, this is us! Our culture, our heritage which should be preserved and cherished and kudos to the organisers for doing a great job in holding this event…

Borneo Cultural Festival arch

…every year – the Borneo Cultural Festival.

This year’s was from the 19th until the 28th of July and one of the main attractions would be this Melanau swing, called the itut

Itut

I was there early that evening so the people had not got into the swing of things yet, so to speak. If I am not wrong, it is called by different names depending on the locality where the Melanaus come from, one of which is the tibow. One thing peculiar about the Melanau language is that if you are from different parts of the Rejang Basin, the Melanau that you speak may be quite different – like what we here in Sibu speak compared to those in Matu or Oya…or Dalat and Mukah.

I did drop by this place…

Rumah Melanau

…but it was still closed so I did not get to go in but I did manage to get a photograph of these mannequins dressed in the traditional Melanau costumes…

Melanau traditional costumes

…through the window and this is one of the Chinese booths…

Chinese booth

…and no, there was nothing going on at the time when I was there.

All the food stalls were in the thick of things already though and there were a lot of people around buying whatever they fancied. This is one of the many ethnic/Iban stalls selling their traditional pansoh (food cooked in bamboo) and barbecued pork belly…

Pansoh & babi panggang

It seems to be a popular practice here to marinate the meat with the red coloured asamboi (sour plums) giving it that horrendous colour, even the chicken wings and what not at a lot of places. Personally, I would prefer that they do not do so like at this stall…

Babi panggang

…where the meat would be barbecued till a lovely shade of brown.

I saw these…

Roast pork trotters

…at another stall but no, they were definitely not of our authentic Borneo origin. My missus did buy a bit to try…

Cooking

…and she said that they told her it was Italian or something…and yes, she loved it!

This strictly-not-halal pork burger stall…

Burger Babi

…caught my attention – the boys were certainly very nice and friendly but no, I did not grab one of theirs nor this giant one…

Giant burger

…the size of a seat cushion, that I saw at another stall.

I thought the tempura seafood in a cup…

Tempura seafood

…looked very good but they could not tell me if any wheat flour was used in the making so I did not buy that either nor did I buy any of these that I saw at a vegetarian stall…

Vegetarian

…whatever that was. I did buy something from there though, this serimuka

Serimuka

…that looked really nice. However, it was not lemak enough for me and had a sort of herbal taste to it, something remotely like the guilinggao (tortoise/turtle jelly) so at best I would say it was all right but no, I certainly did not go running back there for more.

These chang (glutinous rice dumplings)…

Chang

…looked very nice and big but at that price, I decided I would not take the chance.

There was somebody making the tee peang

Tee peang

…with meat filling too and one handsome boy was frying the char koay kak (Chinese fried carrot cake) while the guy beside him was cooking some bihun kueh or something…

Handsome boy & his koay kak

Even though it rained earlier that afternoon and it was not that hot, I still felt the heat and was sweating uncomfortably and did not feel like eating anything. That was why I did not buy anything in the end but I must say I was very impressed by all that I saw.

One year, I dropped by and saw a whole lot of deep-fried stuff – those Taiwanese street food kind of thing and I was quite disgusted as this festival should be a showcase of our own culture and should have a lot of our local culinary delights…and those days, what they had at their stalls looked like things they had bought at the pasar malam (night market) and brought over to sell at marked up prices. This year, I did see a lot of things being made or cooked on the spot.

I’ve heard a lot of people grumbling that the festival was just slightly over a week long and should be extended to two weeks or even a month. This year’s did coincide with a long weekend, July 22nd being a public holiday here but it probably would be nice if, in future, the dates are planned to include the school holidays so people from other parts of the state or the country can come as well.