Once again, here we are…

We were here once before and actually, we did not plan on dropping by again but as I was driving past, I saw that at that point in time, it was very shady in front of the building as the mid-morning sun was blocked by it plus there were vacant places available and parking in that area is free.

This was what I had…

Liza Cafe nasi campur

…for my brunch that morning, their nasi campur (mixed rice). No, no…it was not my intention to take so much but when I went to see what they had, everything looked so good I did not know where to start…nor where to stop.

I saw their fried eggs…

Liza Cafe fried eggs

…and how could I resist one of those beauties…

Liza Cafe fried egg

…fried to perfection the old school way with the golden frills all along the edges served with a squirt of chili sauce?

The salted egg…

Liza Cafe salted egg

…looked so perfect I just had to take it too and out of all the curries available, I chose the chicken…

Liza Cafe chicken curry

…and helped myself to one chicken wing and two chunks of potatoes. Theirs is the Malay-style curry, not as thick and rich as what I would usually cook. When I was with my Malay colleagues in the UK in 1994, one of them staying in the same house asked why my curry was like that and when one of them cooked some for one of our gatherings, he pointed out saying that usually, their curry would be like that, not so lemak and more watery. Maybe mine is more the nyonya kind of curry, I wouldn’t know, but all my life, that curry we had at home had always been a little drier but whatever it is, curry is curry and I do enjoy it whichever way it is cooked…and of course, I had to flood the rice with the gravy that morning. It sure beat eating plain white rice, that’s for sure.

For the vegetables, I chose the ladies fingers and the cangkuk manis

Liza Cafe cangkuk manis and ladies fingers

…while my missus picked the latter as well and the paku (wild jungle fern)…

Liza Cafe paku

…and for her meat, she picked the beef curry…

Liza Cafe beef curry

It could have been a little bit more tender but tastewise, I think the beef had a slight edge over the chicken.

I had my usual kopi-o-peng (and it was nice – usually, the ones at these Malays shops aren’t great) and my missus had one iced lemon drink. When the drinks came, I asked the lady how much everything was and she said, “Makan dolok!” (Eat first!) So, that was what we did, and when we had finished, I called for someone to collect the payment and a guy came. He asked what drinks we had and we told him and then, he told us the total for everything – RM13.00.

It was RM11.20 the last time but RM13.00 for all that we had was very cheap too. At the regular coffee shops, the drinks would add up to RM3.80 so what we ate probably cost around RM9.00 altogether then, take away RM3.50 for my missus’ one meat and two veg, that would leave RM5.50 for all that I had – 5 items and the rice.

For one thing, one could help oneself to the food, buffet style and one could easily pile up a lot of everything should one feel like it…and like in my case, when he came, I had licked the plate clean leaving only the chicken bones and the salted egg shell so that made me wonder how he could know what I had and how he came to that total. Never mind! Since it was very reasonable, rather cheap in my honest opinion and definitely cheaper than what we had here or here, I would not say a thing. Hehehehehe!!!!

While we were there, I noticed a not-very-young couple running a nasi lemak stall by the side. They were also selling rojak and what we call rojak tambi or Indian rojak here. No, ours is nothing like what everyone knows as Indian rojak or pasembur elsewhere – it is more like the Indonesian gado-gado whereby all the condiments…

Liza Cafe rojak tambi 1

…are served with the satay peanut sauce…

Rojak tambi peanut sauce

…poured all over it. We were already way too full after what we had so I ordered the rojak tambi special (RM5.00)…

Liza Cafe rojak tambi 2

…to take home so we could have it for dinner that day.

Not one of us…

No, this…

Delicious Food Stall, Sibu

…isn’t one of the outlets in this chain of restaurants in KL and the kawasan-kawasan yang sewaktu dengannya despite the name.

It seems mighty popular, always very crowded at night, and I heard from a friend that they do have some nice reasonably-priced stuff here but one would need to know what to order. My sister-in-law said that she went and bought their Foochow fried noodles once and it was very good.

Well, that (RM4.00)…

Delicious Food Stall Foochow fried noodles

…was exactly what my missus had that morning and yes, it was very nice but I would not say it was my favourite in town as I felt that a few had an edge over the one here especially as far as the wok hei fragrance was concerned.

I ordered the fried kway teow, wet (RM4.00)…

Delicious Food Stall fried kway teow, wet 1

…with sauce/gravy, that is – they will fry the kway teow first…

Delicious Food Stall fried kway teow, wet 2

…and then cook the sauce/gravy and pour it all over the noodles. Obviously, the fried stuff here is a little bit more expensive than elsewhere, RM3.50 or RM3.80 usually, and even though they were quite generous with the green vegetables and black fungus, there were only a few bits of meat in the dish. Besides, I did not think it was anything that would get me rushing back for more, if you get what I mean.

I am not sure what arrangement they have here. My missus went to place our orders at the chu char (cook and fry) section at the back but she was directed to one lady who did all the frying outside by the side…and I did notice the people at the kampua noodles/Sarawak laksa stall in front dishing out some fried stuff as well.

After I was done, I walked over to the bakery a few doors away…

Block of shops

…the fourth shop in that block, as other than their own bread and buns and so on, they would always have some homemade Chinese kuehs in a tray on their counter and I quite liked the ones that I had bought before. My guess is that those are made by somebody in the neighbourhood and he or she would leave them there for sale.

The fried or koi (yam cake)…

Fried or koi

…is quite nice, not wobbly or jelly-like as a result of too much flour used in the making and I like their fried tapioca cake…

Fried tapioca cake

…which is different from the regular bingka ubi at the Malay stalls but tastes just as nice, if not nicer.

They may have gone a little smaller than before, I’m not so sure, but I am positive the yam cake is very much thinner now…plus the prices have gone up! I think it was RM1.00 for 3 or to the most, RM1.20 before but now it is 45 sen each and you get 3 for RM1.30. Sighhhhh!!!! What has not increased in price, you tell me?

There was one place where the kampua noodles was RM2.00 a plate where other places were selling for even up to RM2.50 or more and it was packed every day. I did not even think it was very nice – there are other nicer ones even in that same vicinity – but for a family with three kids, one would be able to save enough for another plate of the noodles and not everybody is all that concerned with the taste, as long as it is nice enough. The thing is when they jack up the prices like that, people will buy less often – not that they are things people will die from not eating and at the end of the day, they will not make the same amount of profit or maybe even less, owing to the lower daily turnover…or do people just keep on buying like there’s no tomorrow, never mind that the prices are going up and up?

All in a row…

If you ever drop by Sibu, you will not fail to notice how many coffee shops there are in this town.

At the other end of the block, where you can find this one…

Hanyan Corner, Sg Merah Sibu

…in the vicinity of Sungai Merah here, is this one that I have blogged about not too long ago and there is this one at the end of the block to the left with the covered area in between the two where tables are laid out and customers are able to sit there too if they choose to do so…and then, there is an outlet of our own Sarawak chicken rice franchise too somewhere in the middle of that block and another coffee shop at the other end…and don’t forget, there is this one back to back with the first one I mentioned earlier and yes, there are more in the other blocks of shops all around that same area.

I have been here before a long time ago, so long that I can’t remember whether I blogged about it or not…but it so happened that my ex-student from my English Language tuition class shared this photograph of her plate of prawn noodles…

Hanyan Corner prawn noodles

…on her Facebook page and initially, I thought she cooked that herself but she said, “It’s from a shop at Sg. Merah, just right across from the Catholic Church.” At that point in time, I thought it was this one but she added, “Not sure what’s the name of the shop. They’ve two corner shops joined. Mostly Malay stalls but this dish is from a Chinese stall at the back.” I had no idea at that point in time which shop she was talking about and as a matter of fact, it was only after we had left the place that morning did it dawn on me that this was the one! Good grief!!! LOL!!!

I saw the photographs of the prawn noodles at the stall and I did ask the guy how much one plate would cost and he said RM30.00…and no, of course, I did not order that. My missus requested for the tan hua mian (egg flower noodles) from him (RM5.00)…

Hanyan Corner tan hua mian 1

…and I must say I was impressed by the amount of ingredients in the dish…

Hanyan Corner tah hua mian

There were bits of liver, intestines, prawns, fish balls, meat and so on and my missus said that it was very nice and had that very much coveted wok hei fragrance. However, she said that the sauce/gravy was tomato and it would probably be nicer if it had been kway teow (flat rice noodles) instead.

In Kuching, you do find noodles served with tomato gravy like this but they deep-fry the finer noodles first – if I am not mistaken, they use the ones in their kolo mee – till nice and crispy and then, they would cook the gravy and pour it all over it, pretty much the same way they cooked the Cantonese fried noodles at one place that I used to frequent in PJ Old Town but they did not have tomato in their egg gravy.

I decided to have something from the Malay stall…

Hanyan Corner Malay stall

…in front. It sure seemed mighty popular and I thought the dishes they had for their nasi campur (mixed rice) looked good. Perhaps I would drop by for that one of these days.

I had their nasi lemak special (RM5.00)…

Hanyan Corner nasi lemak special

…and yes, I thought the rice was slightly better than what I had here but was not as nice as my slightly more expensive favourite in town – I wouldn’t say that one was the best I have ever had but comparatively, I find it better than all the rest around here. I did like that salted fish though but the egg was over-fried and usually with nasi lemak, they would serve the egg hard-boiled, just half of it to the most though.

The coffee was good and yes, I would think we would be back again and most likely, the next time around, I would order something from the noodles stall at the back.

New one…

We had not been here…

Payung Cafe, Sibu

…for a long time now, probably not since Chinese New Year and that time when my cousin from the UK and her hubby were in town. They had removed the chalk drawing of a peacock on the wall, it seemed and replaced that with something simpler.

For one thing, the place is not air-conditioned and with this current extraordinarily hot weather, we probably would choose to go some place else if ever we would venture out of the house, that is. Well, last Sunday, we went for the evening service at the cathedral close by so we stopped by here once it was done.

The boss and the staff were there enjoying something and in no time at all, we were served a glass…

Cool dessert

…each. The boss said that he went and bought some sweet corn dessert and some ABC (air batu campur) and they just mixed it all together. I spotted in it some bits of pineapple and watermelon or was it papaya? In the blistering heat, that really felt like heaven! According to him, he got those from here and he added that the cendol is very nice too. Hmmm…gotta make sure that I go and have a try the next time I venture that far to that part of town.

Another reason why I wanted to stop by was because I had seen on their Facebook page that they have something new on their menu – the Payung butter chicken (RM18.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken 1

I was wondering if it would be something like the Indian butter curry but no, it was something of their own that is actually nothing like curry, not spicy at all and on the whole, quite delicious.

The guys were thoughtful enough to give us an extra chunk of chicken…

Payung Cafe butter chicken 2

– usually, there would be only three in each serving and I guess they would not want my missus and I to end up fighting over who should get the extra chunk. LOL!!!

I also ordered their mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll 1

…and though it was served piping hot from the oven…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll 2

…it was not anything soupy or with lots of gravy so it was quite easily managed on a hot evening.

This is absolutely perfect for hot days, their pomelo salad (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…as they keep the peeled fruit in the fridge and it is nice and refreshingly cold when served and we sure enjoyed that to the max.

For dessert, each of us had a jelly pisang (RM8.00 each)…

Payung Cafe jelly pisang

…and who doesn’t enjoy ice cream on a hot day?

I would say the new dish is all right, quite nice and since it is not spicy, it is suitable for children. I have heard complaints that this place is not all that kid-friendly, nothing much that is suitable for kids so I guess this is one option parents may want to consider when they drop by here. My missus’ favourite remains the same – their green curry and as for me, I would prefer their Bangladeshi lamb curry…or one of the many choices on their menu that I do enjoy a lot more.

Oh dear!!! You would never be able to guess what happened! I brought my umbrella along that evening and I left it on the chair. I only realised that I had forgotten all about it when I reached home so I called them and asked them to keep it for me. Why on earth did I bring along my umbrella when it was such a hot day, you may ask? Well, the weather is like that here these days – it may be fine, very very hot, and suddenly, the rain would fall out of the blue, so very heavily like there was someone up there pouring buckets and buckets of water down…and I, for one, fervently believe in the maxim in Malay: Sediakan payung sebelum hujan!

I did not go to collect it the next day nor the next…and then I got a call from the boss saying that they were sending it over to my house so he asked for the address. The weather was ok that evening, cloudy and maybe there was a light drizzle, on and off but right before they reached my house, it rained cats and dogs! Obviously, there was such a severe storm that the newly-erected billboards all over town for the coming election were blown into the air and fell over some cars that were unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Well, I got my umbrella back and the boss brought me this tub of their butter chicken…

Payung butter chicken, special

…as well. He said what we had that night was cooked by one of the staff and he cooked this one himself so it would be very much nicer. It sure looked better and was a lot more fragrant so I bet it would be a cut above what we had that night but no, I am saving it for my girl when she comes home this weekend so into the freezer it went!

He also brought me this tong sui dessert…

Tong sui

…which he cooked himself. It was very nice – there were bean curd sticks, peanuts and some round slightly yellowish nuts, dunno what you call those, ginkgo? I guess this is something cooling and was just right for our after-dinner that hot evening (despite the heavy rain). I loved it and I think my friend, Claire, would love this too – she is so into this kind of desserts. Right, Claire?

Thanks so much, Peter, for everything and thanks to you too, Karan, for coming all the way with the boss to return my umbrella.

Take your pick…

It was my brother-in-law’s birthday yesterday so of course, my niece, the one working in Singapore, flew home last weekend for a little celebration in advance and on Saturday night, they picked to come here for dinner.

Of course I have blogged about this place and the dishes available here many times already. My brother-in-law got to pick his favourite dishes and without fail, wherever we may go for dinner, there would be the sweet and sour fish fillet…

Ruby Restaurant sweet and sour fish fillet

…which was good that night. I think we had it pre-ordered once and probably they cooked it way ahead of time so by the time it was served, the batter coating of the fish slices had gone all soggy so it was not all that nice.

He also picked this fried omelette with bits of century egg…

Ruby Restaurant omelette with century egg

…and sliced Bombay onions and a bit of leek in it, something that he always complains they can never replicate at home. Hmmmm…he has yet to try mine. Hehehehehe!!!!

There was also this dish of what we call Sabah yeu chai

Ruby Restaurant Sabah yeu chai

…whatever it is called in English. They like it very much and would always order it when we go out for dinner but it is not really my favourite. I would much sooner stick to our good ol’ cangkuk manis with egg or midin with belacan.

I am very sure we had ordered this before – the pork with dried chili and salted fish and lots of ginger and onion…

Ruby Restaurant claypot pork with salted fish, dried chili

…but I do not recall them serving it in a claypot placed on top of a food warmer with a fire down below. Maybe for smaller servings, they would dispense with that as everything would be gone in no time at all.

This is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the butter scotch prawn balls…

Ruby Restaurant butter scotch prawn balls

…and their salad tofu…

Ruby Restaurant salad tofu

…own-made, with dried prawns in the bean curd, served with mayonnaise is another popular dish here.

I’ve never had this before – their hot and sour soup…

Ruby Restaurant hot and sour soup

…and my guess is that is what usually people call the Szechuan soup. We enjoyed that – it was a nice change from our usual sea cucumber or Foochow-style tofu soup.

There you have it, our simple celebration that night and nothing beats getting together with loved ones, be it family or friends, to share the joy of a special occasion.

Hot…

It has been so unbearably hot here lately but thankfully, we do get quite a bit of rain in the mid-afternoon or late evening when it would pour buckets but sometimes, it does not last very long. Still, it is good enough to cool things down a bit unlike other places in the country where I hear they have not had rain for a long time now.

Well, because of the heat, when we were looking for a place to go for lunch last Saturday, we opted for some place that is nice and cool and we ended up here.

I’ve blogged about this place so many times now but they do have some new things on their menu like their fusion pizzas, for instance, but we did not feel like having those. I did order their rum and raisin gelato (RM9.00)…

Noodle House rum & raisin gelato

…which was very nice but no, the texture was all wrong – it was something like yogurt. The guy at their sister outlet did say that they do not have the proper freezing facilities here so what one gets may not be quite right or the same. The thing is they did not have this in their array of choices over at the other side or at least, not during those times when I went but yes, it tasted great, nicer than their mille crepe of that same flavour. I neglected to tell them to serve it last for dessert so it came first before all our other orders. I would think that they would know that sweet desserts should always come last but obviously, they don’t.

My missus had her favourite – something she would always order when she  comes here – the kway chap special (RM7.90)…

Noodle House kway chap special

I do enjoy this too but since she wanted that, I decided to go for something else instead…plus the weather being so hot, I was not all that keen on anything soupy and served steaming hot.

My girl ordered their nasi lemak, regular (RM7.50)…

Noodle House nasi lemak, regular

…and the golden wantons (RM6.20)…

Noodle House golden wantons

…to share.

Yes, the wantons were very nicely done…

Noodle House golden wanton

…not oily, very crispy with quite a lot of meat inside and they tasted great.

I picked their pricier version of the nasi lemak (RM16.90) which came with the usual condiments…

Noodle House nasi lemak, the usual suspects

…of egg, fried peanuts and ikan bilis (anchovies) and cucumber slices…and beef rendang

Noodle House nasi lemak, beef rendang

The rendang was very nice and the meat was very tender too but I was wishing they would give a bit more of that, maybe another spoonful.

Last but not least, on that nasi lemak platter, was the spiced chicken…

Noodle House nasi lemak, spiced chicken

…one whole thigh of it and a very big one at that. It tasted like a mild version of the ayam percik but I do think that they do it a lot better at the Malay shops and stalls, just that their chicken usually seems very much smaller.

All in all, I would say it…

Noodle House nasi lemak, spiced chicken & rendang

…was good but personally, I like the nasi lemak here a lot more be it their regular (RM4.00) or with either the daging masak hitam or the chicken curry, plus being a coffee shop, theirs are a whole lot cheaper.

Still, it was a nice enough lunch and the problem was leaving the pleasantly cool comfort of the place and getting into the car which the midday sun had turned into something like an oven by then – it really is so very hot here!

Nobody but me…

That morning, I went out early at 8.00 a.m. to send the parcel to Phong Hong and of course, when I got to the poslaju office, there was nobody else around but me. Unfortunately, I did not have any small change and I handed over one 50-ringgit note to the girl at the counter. She asked if I had anything smaller and I told her no.

After a futile search through her drawer and bag and everything, she went inside and came back after a while with the change. She handed it over to me with the receipt and everything and I said, “Thank you!” to which she replied, “Welcome!” after which I added, “Sorry!” (for the inconvenience caused, that is) and she looked quite stunned. Even her colleague who was at the other end of the office, putting up some notices, turned to look. Hmmm…I guess they do not get to hear somebody saying sorry all that often, nobody but me perhaps. As that Elton John song goes, sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Well, I was done in some 10-15 minutes and I had to go to the bank next but I was too early. It only opens at 8.45 a.m. on working days so I decided to stop by the coffee shop next door…

Jia Ping Cafe, Pedada, Sibu

…for a bite.

I cannot remember the last time I was here – that was a very long time ago. I used to go and buy some stuff from the chap fan (mixed rice) place there on days when we did not do any cooking until one fine day when the guy said that I would have to buy what I wanted together with the rice and not on their own like what I always did. I do know some other places in town that have that same policy and I really wonder why. Do they make a lot more profit that way?

I also remember that I tried their kampua noodles once and I did not think it was great so that morning, I asked for the Foochow fried noodles but when it was served, it was not what I had in mind. They had dished out the dry version (RM3.80)…

Jia Ping Cafe fried noodles, dry 1

…and I always prefer the one with a bit of sauce or gravy.

Searching through my old posts, I could not locate the one on this place but I did manage to find this photo of their Foochow fried noodles, wet…

Jia Ping Cafe fried noodles, wet
*Archive photo*

…and that is the kind that I am not all that fond of – the gravy is pale like the one here or here, not dark in colour.

Thankfully, this dry version…

Jia Ping fried noodles, dry 2

…turned out to be very nice and there were quite a lot of those thin strips of char siew in it plus a fair amount of green veg and taugeh (bean sprouts) too. I had my usual kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black) with that and yes, theirs was pretty good.

By the time I finished, the bank was open already and yes, like at the poslaju office earlier, I was their first customer that day. It certainly seems like people do not venture out that early anymore these days, nobody but me, unlike in the old days when everyone was up at the crack of dawn…and I must say I do like it this way – no crowd, no queuing and no waiting at all.