Support you…

I was back at my neighbourhood shop the other day, last Friday to be exact and the young boy asked me to buy some burgers (RM10.00 for a pack of 3)…

Zen Don Bin fish burgers

– he said it was fish and since it was our no-meat day, that would be just nice for our morning or afternoon tea.

That logo that looks like something from the movie, Mulan, sure needs no introduction. This is our Sibu’s own franchise – you can see their stalls here, there and everywhere at the coffee shops in town. Why, they even won an award…

Award

…a couple of years ago in 2018.

The burger was not very big and I liked the bun…

Zen Don Bin burger, bun

…which is a lot more than what I would say about some foreign/overseas franchises here that use buns that would get sort of mushy or something like that upon eating and start sticking to one’s teeth. I am never fond of bread with that kind of texture.

Inside, there was an omelette…

Zen Don Bin burger, omelette

…and a somewhat very thin slice of fish fillet…

Zen Don Bin burger, fish fillet

I could not make out the taste of the fish but yes, I could detect that of the egg and on the whole, with the cheese or whatever dressing they used, I would say that it was pretty good.

Especially when we consider that it was only around RM3.30 each, so very much cheaper than those overrated ones, I really do not see any cause for complaint. Especially during these difficult times, I certainly would want to support our own local businesses – the fact that they are making these available at our neighbourhood shop is a pretty obvious sign that they are doing all they can to tide over all the trials and tribulations and make ends meet.

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

There is…

I’ve been blogging about the very nice premium New Zealand beef lately and if anyone is wondering whether there is lamb as well, the answer is yes, there is!

Actually, I bought these New Zealand lamb slices…

Swee Hung NZ lamb

…sometime ago also at that shop near my house, together with the beef briskets, but for reasons unknown, my missus never got round to cooking them.

That was why when I overheard my girl telling her that she would like to make a shepherd pie…

Melissa's shepherd pie

…for lunch that day, I told her to use that instead of beef, in which case it would be called a cottage pie.

It turned out really nice. For the filling, she did not follow the traditional recipe with minced meat and peas. Instead, she cooked her own, something like a dry version of lamb stew with the meat, carrots, celery, Bombay onions and what not…

Melissa's shepherd pie, slice

…and of course, she was very generous with the cheese, mozzarella and parmesan. Yes, it was good and we all enjoyed it to the max.

I wouldn’t say they are all that cheap, the beef and the lamb, but I must say we are indeed very happy now that we can get these here, especially when what we have used them to cook has turned out really well. These sure are a welcome change from pork or chicken day in, day out.

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

Sure am glad…

Some of you may remember me saying on more than one occasion that we cannot buy fresh beef here in Sibu.

We could…once upon a time, a long long time ago. There was one solitary stall (High Street side) at the Sibu wet market when it was in its original location run by an old Malay man assisted by two young guys, probably his sons or whoever. Supply was reliable – we could just go and buy whenever we needed beef.

When the market moved to its current location, they also moved. I did not see the old man anymore then – the younger guys had taken over and some days, it would be open, not every day! I joined the mile-long queue once and I watched the guy at work. The leg was hanging on one side of the stall and his sharpening stone at the other end. He would sharpen his teeny weeny knife and walk over and cut a bit of something in the leg and then he went back to the stone to sharpen his knife again. I was so pissed off at how he was going at a snail’s pace, taking his sweet time and simply ignoring his customers when so many people were standing there, waiting to buy so I just left without buying.

The Kuching franchise, Sarabif, had an outlet here once but it did not last very long. For one thing, it was at some God-forsaken place in some back alley – people going marketing would not be coming that way to buy the beef and I did hear something about some problem they faced in transporting the meat all the way from Kuching…as they (probably the franchise holder) did not have one of those trucks with freezing facilities.

So all this while, we had to buy those frozen imported beef. Even those from Australia and New Zealand were as tough as leather and so very difficult to cut and slice, what more to say, eat and some, dunno from where, even had an unpleasant smell. I sure am glad that nowadays, we can buy premium beef from New Zealand, pre-sliced/cut and vacuum-packed like the beef briskets that I used to cook the lovely soup that day.

My missus bought this…

New Zealand beef striploin

…from a supermarket in town and my girl used it to cook this most delightful beef stew…

Melissa's beef stew

Of course, she was so happy especially after that last one that we had

Kah Hiong beef stew

…that did not tickle her fancy – so Chinese, she said. Just one pack with a whole lot of potatoes and carrots and there was enough to last for two meals over two days!

My missus said she could not remember how much she paid for it, probably over RM30.00. Perhaps hers was a bigger pack but I saw that at the place where I bought the oysters that day and they were around RM20.00 only, some more, some less depending on the net weight so of course, I quickly grabbed a few packs to keep in the freezer to cook as and when we feel like it. They also had ribeye cuts and yes, I did buy a few of those too.

Incidentally, i was driving past the Sibu Central Market mid-morning sometime ago, probably before the pandemic outbreak and lo and behold! I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the aforementioned beef stall was open for business!!! No, thank you! I am quite happy with what I can get and frankly, the way those people run their business, it is a wonder they can last this long!

CCL FRESH MINI MARKET is located at the end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Let’s try again…

My girl bought two packets of this…

Tepung cucur, Nona

…batter mix for making plain cucur (fritters) but she did not think it was very nice. In the meantime, she bought another brand for cucur udang (prawn fritters) and it was very much nicer. Since then, she would buy that one.

Well, instead of letting it sit there in the pantry till kingdom come, I went and plucked some of the cangkok manis

Cangkok manis

…growing in my garden. A West Malaysian friend corrected me on Facebook that day saying that the vegetable is called cekur manis so I went and googled to check. What I found out was it is called cangkok manis in Brunei Malay so I guess because of our close proximity, we call it by that same name in our Sarawak Malay dialect, different from how they call it in the mainland. There is a stunted variety exported from Sabah – they call it sayur manis. It looks the same, tastes the same…except that it is very small.

My girl was telling me about how the canteen people in her school would make some very nice cucur cangkok manis for them to enjoy during their tea break everytime when they had a meeting or workshop outside school hours. I had never seen that being sold anywhere so I had not had the chance to try it before.

Of course, I had to tear the leaves first into tiny bits and pieces for use and I also added a bit of this bubuk

Bubuk

…or dried krill shrimps. However, I only added a bit, one table spoon, as I was afraid that the smell/taste might be too strong.

The process was very simple, real easy – I just had to add 200 ml of water to the batter mix…

Add water

…and mix well. I added a little bit more, actually – 250 ml and when it was ready, in went the cangkok manis and bubuk

Cangkok manis & bubuk added

I heated some oil in a pan and when it was hot enough, I scooped the batter with a spoon and dropped it in one by one, letting each fritter cook till golden brown….

Cucur cangkok manis

There you are, all done!

Yes, it was nice, a little bit spicy – I guess they had chili in the batter mix and with the added ingredients, we all thought it was much nicer than just cooking it straight from the packet. Perhaps the next time around I could be more generous with the bubuk – couldn’t put my finger on it in the cucur and perhaps I could add prawns, spring onions, shallots or whatever to being the taste to a whole new level.

Three down…

Yes, I went back there again because there are still a lot on the Seremban guy’s menu that I had yet to try.

This time around, I had his yee mee in mind. I did not want the Cantonese version as that would have the same egg gravy as in the wat tan hor or the Cantonese ying yong and I already tried that the other day. Besides, we had a very nice one here (but at over 3 times the price) not too long ago and furthermore, I did try cooking my own once and it didn’t turn out too shabbily.

I was thinking of ordering the soup version but decided against it as, for reasons unknown, the guy is not serving his in a claypot like all the claypot yee mee that I had had before. As a matter of fact, he does have something on his menu that will be served in a  claypot.

In the end, I decided to go for the braised yee mee (RM5.50)…

Noodle Bar braised yee mee 1

…which, if I am not wrong, is something like the moon mian that I always prefer when going for our local Foochow fried noodles.

Yes, it was very nice. The noodles were perfectly done, not too soft, not soggy and not hard either. It sure tasted great and while I was enjoying it, I could detect the taste of pork fat crusts…

Noodle Bar pork fat crusts

…and true enough, I managed to locate a few in the dish.

Unlike in the peninsula/mainland, you will never find anyone doing it here – they will throw a few pieces of pork fat into the hot wok to render the lard and then use it to fry the noodles, be it their KL Hokkien mee or their Penang char kway teow so when you eat it, you will find the crusts amongst the noodles. Another thing peculiar to the other side is how they use a hot charcoal fire to fry the noodles…and for their Penang char kway teow, more often than not, they will use duck eggs. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t but personally, I don’t think I know of anybody doing that here.

Yes, I would say this…

Noodle Bar braised yee mee 2

…was good too and I would not mind having that again sometime. Unfortunately, there is more that I have yet to try. Three down, still a long way to go. Perhaps the next time around, I shall try the Moon River – I spotted it on the menu that morning!

NOODLE BAR is located at the GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Give it all to me…

I think I did mention in an earlier post that my missus tried her hand at making chai kueh

Own homemade chai kueh

She did not have any problem with the filling, largely made up of sengkuang/mangkuang (turnip/jicama) and carrot but her first attempt at making the skin failed. Thankfully, she tried again and it turned out really well. We sure enjoyed the fruit of her labour and I dare say that hers can give all those outside a run for their money. Unfortunately, she did not mince her words when she said that it was terribly work-intensive and she would never want to make them again.

It certainly looks like I would have no choice but to go back to that bakery again whenever we feel like eating chai kueh. Of course, it is easier said than done as it seems that they are always sold out! An ex-student/Facebook friend shared some photos of the rose-shaped ones (with meat) and was grumbling that they were in no way shaped like chai kueh as he would know them to be. I told him about the ones with hay bee (dried prawns)…

Big Thumb chai kueh, hay bee

…and he went back the very next day to buy those. He mentioned in his Facebook page that he went after 8.00 a.m. and there were only two packs left.

That was why I decided to go early on Saturday morning, way before 8. The bakery was open but the counter was bare. They did not have any at the time. I went for a bite to eat and came back one more time. Much to my delight, I saw two plastic bags on the counter, one with 5 packs of the hay bee chai kueh and the other with 5 of the ones with meat. Of course I told the girl to give it ALL to me, RM50.00 altogether! The ones with hay bee are RM4.50 a pack and the ones with meat, RM5.50.

We had some that day and yes, it…

Big Thumb chai kueh

…was very nice and I kept the rest in Tupperware containers to store in the fridge so we can easily heat up and enjoy some other day.

No wonder they are all sold out so quickly. Obviously, the lady making them only sends over a limited number of packs. I was told that she does not send any on Sundays as the bakery opens late and opens for half a day only and on Wednesdays as well. That means you can only get them on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

BIG THUMB BAKERY (2.293889, 111.826492) is located at No.71-73, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

New…

There used to be a lady at the kampua mee stall in front at this coffee shop and I was there twice, at least. I can’t say I had anything memorable so of course, you did not catch me rushing back there for more.

Well, they have a new guy now and I had his stewed pork noodles (RM5.00)…

e-Cafe stewed pork noodles 1

…the other morning. Boy! It sure was very very good!

I did not plan on going there, actually. I was driving past and I saw that there was somebody new running that stall, a plus-sized guy…

e-Cafe new guy, kampua stall

…assisted by a skinny young boy so I parked my car and went to have a look.

I’ve had stewed pork or stewed pork rib noodles at a number of places like the one here, for instance, but I can’t say I was impressed. For one thing, I did not really enjoy the kampua noodles tossed in the stewed pork sauce. Somehow I did not think they were all that compatible and did not go too well together.

It was a totally different story here altogether though. What I saw in the photograph stuck to the stall looked so good that I simply had to order it to give it  a try. The guy used the flat variety of the noodles, what we call mee pok

e-Cafe stewed pork noodles, mee pok

…and it was really good! It was not exactly the same but I thought the overall taste was a little bit similar to the mee kua/mee sanggul that my mum used to cook at home for us to eat during our growing up years. I sure enjoyed that so so much!

I must say that the guy’s photograph that I saw looked very much nicer – I think there were bigger (and maybe more) slices of the stewed pork but this…

e-Cafe stewed pork mee 2

…was good enough. You can bet your bottom dollar that I shall be back for more soon or maybe I will try something else from that new guy!

e-CAFE (2.311913, 111.846213) is the first shop right behind Delta Mall, Jalan Pedada – the block a little to your left if you are coming out of the mall via the back entrance.

Come early morning…

My friends, Robert and Angela, said that the Indonesian lady‘s nasi lemak is very nice too but I must go early in the morning so I will not be disappointed as it sells out real fast. That was why I made my way there at around 8.00 a.m. that morning. Unfortunately, they were not quite ready to start their business for the day – I saw them getting down to cooking their nasi lemak so my guess was it would not be available till 9.00 a.m. or later.

In the end, I decided to have the kueh chap there…

Yummy's Kafe kueh chap 1
*photo taken using my antique handphone camera*

…and went to place my order at the stall…

Yummy's Kafe kueh chap stall

…in the other section (non-halal) of the coffee shop. I wish they would not hang their towels and bags and simply leave whatever everywhere  like that and would make an effort to put away everything nicely.

I think I had the kueh chap here before, a long long time ago. If I remember correctly, there were some other people here but they moved here and here too later. Personally, I thought all of them were all right – my personal preference is the one here but that one is very strong on those spices and as far as I know, some people are not all that fond of those. Taste aside, I would give this one some bonus marks for not using those horrendously gaudily coloured plastic bowls…

Yummy Kafe's kueh chap 2

Minus the fragrance of the spices, it was more like plain soy sauce broth. Otherwise, everything was fine with it – let’s just say this is one place to consider if you are in this part of town and you feel like having kueh chap. I had the special (RM8.00) but I asked for an extra stewed egg so that was RM9.00 altogether.

YUMMY’s KAFE (2.293333, 111.827763) is located along Jalan Bako, right beside the Alliance Bank.

Ain’t nothing like it used to be…

It had been six months since I last had my car serviced in May, around 2 months later than the scheduled date because of the lockdown at the time and the service centre was closed. No, I do not follow the kilometre count as I hardly ever used it and now after two years plus, I’ve only managed to cover around 1,800 km. only.

Well, since I was in the vicinity, I decided to drop by this place that was so popular at one time for their giant freshwater prawn noodles. It was a Friday and I was abstaining from meat. Of course, I did not want those overpriced prawns so I had the fish, ikan tapah (wallago attu/helicopter catfish) instead…

Brother Sing ikan tapah noodles

The last time I had it was when I came here in 2015 with my friend who was teaching in a school upriver and his wife, now happily settled with a kid in Kuching. Looking at the old photographs, they do seem to be a lot more generous with the fish these days and the best part was despite the prices of things shooting sky high, it was priced exactly the same, RM12.00 a plate! I also loved how they were a lot more generous with the green vegetables unlike most of the places around here.

At one time, this place was always packed with people flocking here for the giant freshwater prawn noodles…

Brother Sing giant freshwater prawn noodles

…with prices ranging from RM30.00 upwards to RM50 and above depending on the size of those crustaceans. I guess the novelty has worn off…or maybe, it is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That morning, there weren’t that many customers around, mostly seated on the pavement outside, less than 6 tables there altogether, I think…

So quiet

…and I only saw one  guy, with a lady, having the prawn noodles. They even had a dish of steamed prawns as well. Probably they were from elsewhere, back here to have a feast of the udang galah.

I did ask the lady how much a bowl of prawn noodles costs now and she said RM35.00, no more no less and no longer dependent on the size of the prawns. I guess they do not bother stocking up on those humongous ones anymore. I may come back for that one fine day or I’d ask for the moon mien version of the fish noodles…

Brother Sing fish noodles

It tasted great but the mee wasn’t quite the way I would prefer it, soft and having soaked in the sauce…but not overcooked and soggy or perhaps I would give the kampua mee a try. It looked rather good and my goodness, the serving was so generous that the mee was literally overflowing off the rim of the plate! That alone is something worth blogging about. LOL!!!

BROTHER SING SEAFOOD CAFE (2.278256, 111.838701) is located at No. 4H, Ground Floor, Lorong Aman 2, off Jalan Lanang, past its roundabout with Jalan Aman.

We do what we can…

When I went out for lunch that day with my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert and his wife, Angela, the latter gave me some kind of preserved vegetable, sawi, that she made herself. They said I could just fry with garlic to eat – that would be very nice already or if I so desire, I could add minced meat or whatever.

Well, I did it my way and this…

Cooked my way

…was what I came out with in the end.

These days, with the CMCO lockdown, it is difficult to buy and store green vegetables. Yes, there are some that can keep very well but the leafy ones will start to wilt after a few days and if not cooked and eaten right away, they will end up being thrown away. Well, we do what we can and one solution is to make salted or preserved vegetables out of them. I guess this was what Angela did…

Angela's preserved vegetables

…and she probably made quite a lot so there was enough to give me some. Obviously, it had not been preserved long enough for it to mature so there was the strong smell of sawi still.

Yes, I was told to slice it thinly…

Thinly sliced

…and that was what I did but other than that, I went on to cook it my own way.

I’m not sure if my missus would use garlic but I am quite positive that usually, when we cook salted or preserved vegetables, we would use ginger. Of course, I would want some chilies for that added kick and that day, I used prawns…

Ingredients

…instead of meat.

I heated up some oil and fried the ginger slices well in it before adding the chili followed by the prawns, adding a bit of water in the process so it will not dry up and also for the sauce. When the prawns were cooked, I added the vegetables and mixed everything well and after frying for a bit, it was done…

Fried preserved vegetables

There was no need for any seasoning as it was salty enough and the prawns sure made the sauce really nice and sweet.

We enjoyed it very much and yes, it was great with rice but of course, it would go well with porridge too.