Go out…

We went out for dinner last Sunday evening which was a welcome change from eating at home most of the time and we asked my sister to join us as well.

If I am not wrong, the last time we were here was in February when my niece, the one working in Singapore was home for Chinese New Year and I did drop by too with my West Malaysian blogger-friends when they were in town and as a matter of fact, my girl said we had not been here for quite a while so she would not mind if we went there that day. I suggested going there early, past 5.00 p.m. so if there were others, there would not be so many people around.

Talking about my niece in Singapore, actually, the following day would be her birthday and normally, she would be home every year to celebrate the day with her parents and the rest of us but this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was not able to come home, not for her birthday nor anybody else’s, for that matter.

We had the Thai-style chicken…

Ruby Thai-style chicken

…which was very nice but the salted egg pork…

Ruby salted egg pork

…was a little bit too salty. Probably the eggs used were thus inclined and actually, we do feel we are getting quite bored with salted egg anything. Personally, I think it has served its time.

The hot plate tofu

Ruby tofu

…turned out different from the usual that we are more familiar with, the one with the dark (soy) sauce but it was all right.

The fried cangkok manis with egg…

Ruby cangkok manis

…was good, as always and we enjoyed the hot and sour Szechuan soup…

Ruby Szechuan soup

…too.

I forgot to tell them to cook for 2 or 3 – usually, there would be enough to go round – so the servings were huge, probably for 4, as a result of which we were so very full by the time we managed to finish everything. All in all, the total for the food was RM71.00 which, I thought, wasn’t all that cheap since we had neither fish nor prawn but it was all right – after all, we do not go out all that often anymore these days.

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.

Move it…

The food court here has called it a day and some new people have moved in and taken over and they have renamed it thus…

23 Food Court

I don’t know why 23 – I am very sure that is not the number of the shoplot.

I thought the lady at the kampua mee stall…

23 Food Court kampua mee stall

…looked familiar but the waitress serving the drinks said they are all new except for the laksa stall. However, when I walked around, there was a stall selling those mantao stuffed with stewed pork that I do love a lot. I had it here before but the stall was closed so I am not sure if it is the same person or somebody else.

I dropped by at around 3 in the afternoon and all the stalls were closed except the aforementioned kampua mee stall (which also started cleaning up and calling it a day while I was there) and the chu-char (cook & fry) place at the back. This looks like the crispy noodles in Kuching…

23 Food Court mee dawai

…the one served with tomato gravy and I would have loved to give it a try if that stall had been open. I guess I will just have to go back another day.

In the end, I ordered the char kway teow (RM4.00)…

23 Food Court char kway teow

…from the nice young boy there and yes, it was very nice even though it did not have a lot of ingredients in it and it had that lovely wok hei fragrance.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested, followers of the very popular fat guy especially, he is no longer there and has moved to the coffee shop right next to this food court (formerly Kampung Grandma), at the moment still unnamed. According to the people at the shop, he opens from  7.30 a.m. till 1.30 p.m.

Well, one thing’s for sure, I shall be back around these parts to check out the stuff available and see what is good. The people here are very nice and friendly and as a matter of fact, I forgot my umbrella and the guy from the kampua mee stall (probably the lady’s husband) came running after me shouting, “Towkay! Towkay!” to return it to me.

23 FOOD COURT (2.297349, 111.824644) is located among the shops opposite Kin Orient Plaza (where the “old’ Sing Kwong Supermarket is) along Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, in the vicinity of Gabriel’s Recipe – both The Coffee Code and Kampung Grandma there have closed down.

That day will come…

Yes, it will come in around two weeks’ time – the Mooncake Festival or the Mid-Autumn or Lantern Festival, on the 1st of October this year.

I guess everyone has been busy buying or making and enjoying eating those mooncakes for sometime now.  I did go out and buy those made-in-Sarikei pek guek tong chiew (8th Month Autumn) Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits…

Foochow pek guek tong chiew pia

…and thankfully, my favourite brand still mengandungi lemak babi (contains pork fat/lard) even though one can hardly detect it in the biscuits these days and thankfully, the price has not gone up – it’s still the same as last year.

For one thing, without the fat, not only is it not fragrant but it will be kind of hard, probably because of the sugar. Other than that, it also lacks the fragrance and taste of kacang (peanut) and sesame but the consolation is it still tastes all right. Many have complained that their favourite brands, for reasons unknown, no longer contain lard so of course, they are all so disappointed. I hear there is a really good one in Miri but during these troubled days and times, I guess I will not get the chance to try those.

I have not seen these very nice affordable ones at my regular fruit and food shop in the next lane but my girl did buy me a pack of pretty nice ones, lotus paste, made in Johore. As a matter of fact, I have not gone out to look around at what is available this year and what the prices are like this time around.

In the meantime, my sister dropped by my house that day and gave me this…

Sweet Factory mooncake 1

…from this bakery here, selling at only RM3.80 each.

I don’t know what those Mandarin characters on the box say but it looked like those Shanghai mooncakes just that the pastry was not layered and flaky. Having said that, I must say that I did enjoy it a lot more with its delightful taste and it was crumbly, not hard, and inside, there were salted egg yolk and meat floss wrapped in red bean paste or at least, that was what I thought it was…

Sweet Factory mooncake 1, inside

…nothing like anything I’ve tried before and yes, it was really very nice. I sure would not mind dropping by there one of these days to buy some more.

This was another one…

Sweet Factory mooncake 2

…from that same bakery, also RM3.80 each and yes, it was nice too – pandan lotus paste with red bean paste and salted egg yolk inside…

Sweet Factory mooncake 2, inside

…but between the two, I think I liked the former more.

Well, there is still sometime left before the festival, still time to go around and see what they have this year. Who knows I may stumble upon some really nice and affordable ones.

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.

Doing it wrong…

I was in the vicinity the other day and I felt like having their curry puffs

Junction curry puffs

…chicken curry filling with egg…

Junction curry puffs, chicken curry filling with egg

…selling at RM2.00 each but if you buy 5, you will get one free and that was what I did! Unfortunately, there were only 4 left in the warmer cabinet but the girl said that the fresh ones would be out in around 10 minutes. That was fine by me so I told her I would wait.

We have had their curry puffs a couple of times before and yes, we rather enjoyed them. They are deep-fried though – thankfully, they are not oily – and personally, I do prefer the oven-baked ones.

In the meantime, I wandered around the area and went to the coffee shop a stone’s throw away. While I was there, this photo display…

Jiali Cafe or chian stall

…caught my attention – now that’s the Kuching version of the or chian or oyster omelette that some call the Kuching pizza…

Kuching or chain/oyster omelette

The omelette part is thin and crispy – the texture is something like that of the rempeyek and the oysters are all in the middle. I do enjoy that but I did not want to buy that to bring home to eat. I am sure it will not be crispy anymore and will not be as nice.

In the end, I asked the lady for the or chian that everyone in the peninsula would be more familiar with and she started working on it right away. First, she started frying the egg, beaten and with a whole lot of chopped spring onion added…

Fry the egg

After the egg had cooked, she started breaking it up into smaller bits and pieces and I was wondering why she did not scramble the egg earlier – it certainly would be a lot easier to get it the way she wanted it.

After that, she added the oysters…

Add oysters

…and after cooking everything together for a bit, it was done!

Wait a minute! Where was the cornstarch or whatever solution? That would give that gluey bit to the or chian. Obviously, she was doing it all wrong. It was just a regular omelette with oysters added (RM15.00)…

Jiali or chian/oyster omelette

and even though I would say it was nice – well, I do enjoy omelettes, any which way they cook it – for or chian the way everyone knows it, I would go back here instead – they do it the way it should be done, the right way and is a little cheaper and it tasted really good too.

JIALI CAFE (2.292140, 111.841524) is located among the shops behind Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo, a few doors away to the right of JUNCTION CAFE,  facing the road leading to the Medan Hotel there.

Everything is not what it seems…

That day, I had to go to the bank on the other side of town to settle some matters. I guess I could have gone to one of the branches in the town centre to get them to do what I wanted them to do but I don’t mind the car ride once in a long while (the last time I went there was in January and there were a few times when I chose not to go because of the lockdown) and I get to see what is going on in that part of the woods.

I’ve been to this coffee shop…

J.U. Cafe

…before a long time ago, many times but I never took note of the name. I am not sure whether it was thus called or it had a different name in the past. I’ve had their kampua mee and whatever and I remember I quite liked what I had everytime.

I noticed that morning that they have done up the place nicely, Italian-tiled floor and what not and they have moved the kampua mee stall…

J.U. Cafe kampua mee stall

…to the other side, against the wall, where I used to sit before. There was a young girl running the stall and a young helper but I did see an old lady around – if I am not wrong, there used to be some elderly people here and definitely not somebody this young. That got me wondering – perhaps I should have gone some place else but I had already placed my orders so I decided I would just stick around and hope for the best.

The pain sip/meat dumplings (RM2.80)…

J.U. Cafe pian sip

…looked really good but when I tried, I thought it was all right, nice and that was it. It was kind of generic, something we can get at a lot of places elsewhere, more or less, and I sure would not want to come all the way here just for this.

Having said that, it was a completely different story altogether with the kampua mee (RM2.80)…

J.U. Cafe kampua mee

I thought it looked kind of overcooked and was quite sure it would not be nice and firm and to my liking but contrary to what I was thinking, it was absolutely perfect. I sure enjoyed it and I loved the very delicious stewed pork except that there were only five miserable pieces altogether. I sure would not mind it one bit if they could add a few more pieces and charge RM3.00 instead. After all, that is what you will have to fork out, sometimes even more, if you go and eat kampua mee elsewhere in town and some are not even nice!

I saw some people having the Sarawak laksa and it looked quite good. Other than that, there are only the usual stuff you can get at such stalls, nothing much else.

The young guys at the stall in this coffee shop to the right of the bank are no longer there – there is a young girl running the kampua mee stall there now but she does not seem to be getting much business. There was a Muslim stall before that seemed quite popular but no, it is no longer there now either. There are two coffee shops close by that seemed rather popular – there were a lot of people and most of them were having the fried stuff from the chu char (cook and fry) stalls there. Of course I did not check them out – whenever I see so many people at a place, I would just leave and go somewhere else.

The one I went to was all right – there were customers but not that many and I liked how it was open on one side and tables were spaced out, some placed outside so it was not so cramped and I did not mind one bit, eating there.

J.U. CAFE is located at the junction of Lorong Upper Lanang 12 and Lorong Upper Lanang 12B, across the road from Horisen Furniture, in the far end to the left of the block where the Hong Leong Bank Berhad branch is. 

It just happened that way…

I did not intend to go here…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu

…that morning – it just happened that way. Actually, I was planning to go to the supermarket opposite and I thought I would go back to the coffee shop at the back to see what else they may have but it was closed, probably their off day.

I did drop by once when it first opened early this year before the pandemic outbreak but no, I was not all that impressed by what we had. I was quite put off by the crowd too and the service wasn’t great either especially when they were mono-lingual, conversant in Mandarin only.

This time around, it was quite different. I went to have a look at the posters in front and instantly, the young and very friendly eager beavers came out like flies fluttering around one’s head, speaking in fluent English, persuading my to go in and try some of what they had on their menu. Well, since there was nobody in that front section (I think there was a table inside, maybe two), no worries about social distancing, I stepped right in.

I ordered their Gula Melaka Trinity coffee (RM5.90)…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu Gula Melaka Trinity coffee

…but no, I don’t think it was anything I would want to order again unlike the one at our own Sarawak fast food franchise (RM4.00/RM4.90 at the airport outlet) – I love that one so much!

I also asked for the marble tea egg (RM2.00)…

Nam Heong Ipoh, Sibu marble tea egg

…expecting it to be like those herbal ones at the malls that one can smell a mile away but unfortunately, it…

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu marble tea egg, peeled

…did not taste more than just soy sauce – I’m afraid I could not detect any tea and the egg white was rather salty. I’d go for those stewed eggs at my regular roast meat and chicken rice stall anytime.

I ordered their Nam Heong chicken hor fun (RM11.50)…

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu Nam Heong chicken hor fun

…which turned out tasting different from what I had at Old Town or Pappa Rich – it did not have that hint of sweetness in the soup but yes, I thought it was good and I enjoyed it.

I particularly loved the fine, smooth and translucent hor fun

Nam Heong Ipoh Sibu hor fun

…used, quite unlike our rather coarse, thick and white kway teow. Yes, it was nice and yes, I may want to order it again some other time but no, it did not sweep me off my feet and I would not say it was something that would get me rushing back for more.

I certainly would want to drop by again though because there are so many things in their extensive menu that I would love to try and I loved how the place was so quiet, not so crowded like some places around here – I certainly would not want to throw social distancing out the window and step into those places to squeeze with every Tom, Dick and Harry and another plus point here is there are ample parking spaces and it is free!!!

NAM HEONG IPOH, Sibu outlet (2.301121, 111.843386) is located along Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, formerly Jalan Pedada, facing the left side of Gafu Supermarket, round the corner from Kim Hock Premier Food Court.

You never tried…

My mum would have been 90 today, born on this day, September 11th in the year 1930. Of course, my sister and I and also my girl and the mum made our way to my parents’ resting place to offer flowers and prayers…

On mum's birthday, 2020

…last Sunday. We decided to go earlier as today, my girl would be working and it would not be so convenient to go in the afternoon, especially considering that it is always raining cats and dogs here past lunch time these days.

It was past 11, almost noon when we got back into town and I took them here…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap

I did tapao something that day for my sister but the other two had never tried it before.

I cannot remember whether we went to the original place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to eat or not but I positively remember taking them over there on a holiday some years ago when my girl was still in school, probably lower secondary at the time – the only thing that comes to mind is the awesome boat cruise that my wonderful cousin took us on across the sea to Pulau Gaya and the unforgettable experiences we had there with a scrumptious dinner thrown in for good measure. It seemed we could exchange our boat tickets for dinner at the restaurant there and of course, we enjoyed our walk around the Gaya Street tamu on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, back to our lunch here that day, my missus had the Sabah-style konlou mee

Kah Hionh Ngiu Chap konlou mee

…with a bowl of the beef soup (RM9.80) and yes, she loved it very much!

My girl had the beef balls and meat slices noodles (RM9.80)…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap beefballs and meat slices noodles

…and if you are familiar with the Singaporean Food King show, she gave it one star and declared it as being food-king good!

My sister had ngiu chap kah liao (with added ingredients) hor fun/kway teow (RM13.80)…

Kah Hiong ngiu chap kah liao hor fun

…and yes, she enjoyed it. They charge RM3.50 for each added ingredient and since this item on their menu has both tripe and tendon, it sure is a better deal to ask for this one than to order them separately.

I ordered the ngiu chap soup (RM12.80) and asked for the tendon and tripe (RM7.00, RM3.50 each add-on) to be added…

Kah Hiong ngiu chap soup

…and I had their beef stew (RM12.80)…

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap beef stew

…with rice too.

Everybody tried the beef stew that the guy told me that day was very nice and that was why I wanted to check it out but unfortunately, we were not that impressed. One major contention was that it was a tad too sweet for everyone’s liking.

My girl said it was very Chinese, not quite like the ones in western cuisine – as a matter of fact, we had one like that at this very place many years ago in 2014 and we all loved it so much! Too bad that place did not last very long and we never had the chance to go back for more. Funny how nobody could remember we had that six years ago either and I remember it as clear as day. Not bad, eh, this old man?

That first time I was here, I felt that the soup was not as nice as what I used to love so much at the original place in Kota Kinabalu and this time around, I was of the opinion that it was not even as good as that first time – they certainly would have to look at their quality control for at best, I would say it was nice but not that nice! The ladies, on the other hand, were quite happy with what they had, especially when they had not had it before and could not make any comparison, and yes, they enjoyed it very much.

KAH HIONG NGIU CHAP, SIBU (2.293094, 111.825429) is located across the lane to the left of AmBank, Jalan Tunku Osman branch in the same block as Ruby Restaurant, at the end on the far right. 

We were…

…born when Sarawak was a British colony, subjects of the Queen of England. My birth certificate even has a postage stamp with the head of King George VI who passed away in February that very year when I was born, 1952.

Later, we were brainwashed to think that the colonist took advantage of the colonies and bought their products at very low prices and used them as dumping grounds for their exports.

Yes, we had a lot of British products – cars, for instance, were from the Ford Company and Vauxhall and the mini Austins were very popular. We had continental cars too, the favourite being the or kui chia (turtle car), the Volkswagen. Cars from Japan made their appearance later but they were frowned upon – anything that would spoil easily at the time including children that fell sick frequently would be called Ji-pun hoi (Japanese product).

There were made-in-England food products too including Bovril and Marmite, and even the curry powder…

Made in England curry powder

…that we used at the time. To this day, we still hear people lamenting as to how the made-in-England Milo in the good ol’ days was so much nicer than what we have today.

We had all kinds of biscuits from names like Huntley & Palmers or Jacobs. There were gems, marie and a favourite of mine, Nice – pronounced niece as in that place in France. According to Wiki, it is a plain or coconut-flavoured biscuit, thin, rectangular in shape, with rounded bumps on the edges, and lightly covered with a scattering of large sugar crystals, often with the word “NICE” imprinted on top in sans-serif capital letters.

We can still get those biscuits these days but no, they all seem to pale in comparison like the Nice from Australia…

Nice

…and the gems and the marie biscuits, most probably local-made, that we can get very easily here and of course, we have our own cream crackers…

Cream crackers

now, a whole lot nicer than Jacobs but then again, those Jacobs products are not made in England anymore.

Even Osborne biscuits are made locally now, by Julie’s and all the rest. As a matter of fact, I never heard of it in my growing up years. We had those oval, hard-as-a-rock, bland/tasteless biscuits that we called Cabin. I vaguely remember the name being embossed on each biscuit – that is why when people these days talk about roti kaben, I know exactly what they are talking about while those younger ones simply cannot understand why everyone calls those Osborne biscuits roti kaben – well, this is the reason.

I did not know of Osborne biscuits until after I got married. My missus enjoys eating them so she would buy some to keep in the house to eat. Even when my mum steamed those Cabin biscuits in coconut milk with pandan leaves added, what they call bubur roti kaben, till soft and soggy, I was never a fan.

We still can get a lot of made-in-England biscuits here, more often than not, a lot nicer than the rest but to be fair, some are really over-rated and we do have some nice local-made biscuits as well, maybe even nicer ones minus the snob appeal since they are not imported from countries overseas.

These…

Ping Pong coconut biscuits

…remind me of Nice biscuits except that they are not coated with sugar…

Ping Pong coconut biscuit

…and of course, the name is not embossed on them and needless to say, they are not as nice but they’re not too bad, I would say.

What about you? What biscuits do you enjoy?

Get out of my way…

When I was here last month and had the kampua mee special that wasn’t all that special – they just added a hard-boiled egg, I thought the guy at the other/new stall…

Delta, the other stall

…looked very familiar. It was only when my friend/ex-student mentioned it to me that I remembered – he was the guy at the kampua mee stall here, the one with the very nice dongquai soup! I also went back for his Sarawak laksa and it was very good too.

I felt like having his pek ting eyok (Eight Treasures) but he said he did not have it that day and added that his pek ting eyok too kha (pork leg) would be available the following day at RM6.00 a bowl – that was the sign in Mandarin at the bottom in the photograph.

He also had bitter gourd noodles, curry mee, pan mee and zha jiang mian but I did feel like having those. In the end, I settled for the mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup (RM5.00)…

Delta Cafe, mee sua 1

…and yes, it was good.

Let’s start with the good things first! Of course I was delighted that it did not come in those horribly-coloured plastic bowls and after the guy had served it, he came back and poured a lot more of the red wine, one cup, at least., into the soup. It was not red – it was translucent golden orange, one of those better quality ones.

I loved the meat used, that of those better quality chicken that they call pua chai kay (mixed breed chicken) – the meat is firm, tastes nicer and is a little bit sticky. I would love to buy this type of chicken when I cook but unfortunately, the people in the house are not fond of the hoo-mo-nik (breast meat) and I would have to struggle to finish eating all of it over the next few days.

Delta Cafe, mee sua 2

The guy did not add any wolfberries (nor red dates) to his soup so it lacked the sweetness of these two ingredients but yes, I did enjoy it very much, just that I had to pick out all the bits of ginger in it – I am not fond of biting into it in anything that I eat.

After I was done, I spoke to the nice guy and he told me that the owner of the former coffee shop took the place back – it now has a different name – and he told him to get out of the way as he wanted to run the kampua mee stall himself. According to the guy, he said that there is a lot of money to be earned in selling kampua mee…but every day, when I drive past, I do not see any customers eating there.

He cannot sell kampua mee (with or without the dongquai soup) and Sarawak laksa as the existing stall there is already selling those. No worries, seeing how he has quite a lot to pick from, I certainly would go back again another day to try something else from his stall.

DELTA CAFE (2.312530, 111.847067) is the first shop in the block of shops immediately to your right when you turn left at the junction of the lane after Delta Mall, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

I beg to differ…

The people of the celebrated instant Sibu kampua mee had their humble beginning here at this coffee shop, the first of many to come. Since then, they have grown by leaps and bounds, coming out with all kinds of varieties over the years. Of course, there have been no shortage of competitors crawling out of the woodworks – I wonder how many of them have survived and are doing all right.

I saw one made in Sarikei that claims to be “Nature sun dry” [SIC]. Well, the aforementioned pioneer was doing that too when they started but I saw somebody complaining about creepy crawlies in the noodles when he took it out to cook and that is why they no longer do that and all their noodles are machine dried now. I guess that is the problem when you dry the noodles  outdoors. In my younger days, when I threw the mee kua (mee sanggul) into the hot boiling water, all the insects (boll weevils) would float up in the water and I had to use a sieve to scoop them out and get rid of them.

Well, there are other brands here in Sibu too and the other day, my missus came home with this one…

Sibu Nan Huong instant kampua

…that declares itself to be 100% preservative free. I think this goes across the board – all of them do not contain preservatives so they have a short shelf life of around 3-4 months only. She cooked a pack to try but because of the difference in the texture of the noodles, one would have to cook it longer or it would be rather hard.

A day or two later, I decided to give it a try myself and I rummaged inside the plastic pack for these – the noodles and the sachets…

Noodles & sachets

They are loosely and separately packed – you do not get them altogether in one nice tray. However, there are 3 sachets and the extra one contains fried shallots…

Fired shallots

I remember the Kitchen Food people also had that when they first started, crispy/crusty and dry…not wet and soggy like this one but for reasons unknown, they chose to discontinue that. I vaguely remember them selling that separately – I don’t think they do that anymore.

Taking my missus’ advice, I boiled the noodles a while longer so that it will not be on the hard side and once done, I tossed it with all the contents in the sachets. There was some stewed pork belly and eggs that my missus cooked so I took those and served the noodles with them…

Sibu Nan Huong instant kampua 1

…garnished with some chopped spring onion from my garden.

As I was cooking the noodles, I thought the smell was something like mee kua (mee sanggul) which would have to be cooked longer as well and when I sat down to eat, I thought it tasted a little bit like that too, not quite like kampua mee. The taste was different from the ones we are more familiar with but then again, the noodles at each kampua mee stall may be different from the ones right next door and the onus is on each individual to pick the one he or she likes the most.

My missus felt this was nicer but I beg to differ. All in all, I would say that it…

Sibu Nan Huong instant kampua 2

…was nice, just that I would not say there was anything that would make it stand out above the rest. My missus did say also, however, that it is cheaper so that may be a consideration to buy this one to cook and eat at home