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He came from so far away…

I don’t know what he’s doing here, the very nice, good-looking man, not all that young, and speaks Hokkien in that very pleasant way that I hear when my Penang friends speak the dialect.

Well, this is at another side of town, one that I do not venture to all that frequently. For one thing, they tell me that it comes alive only at night when all the shops and stalls there will be will be open and I don’t usually go out at night unless I really have to. Anyway, it so happened that I was there that morning and in the morning, the coffee shops would be open but the stalls would be closed except for a few here and there.  We were walking past this one (2.32825,111.855484)…

Sibu Town Cafe

…(opposite Wonderful Supermarket & Departmental Store, Ulu Sg Merah) when I saw a stall selling Hokkien mee (RM5.00)…

Sibu Town Cafe Hokkien mee

…and it was open!

Of course I just HAD to stop by and try. I don’t know of any other place in town selling this other than one restaurant where I had it twice – it tasted very good, just like the real thing – more or less like what I had here but they used our regular not-so-yellow noodles. How could it be the same if they did not use that special, bigger type of noodles? That is why I never went back again so I do not know whether it is still available there or not.

Needless to say, I was delighted to see that this guy here used the right kind of noodles…and he fried them in freshly-rendered lard, leaving the pork fat crusts behind. I am ok with lard but I am not fond of those crusts so I picked them out one by one and left them by the side. As for the taste, I would say it was nice but no, it somehow was not quite there. Ah well!!! As they say, beggars can’t be choosers – as far as I know, it is the only one there is in town and I must give due credit to the guy for the effort he put into his cooking – with all the banging of the wok and all and it did take him quite a while. Besides, he did not state KL Hokkien mee on his menu…

Menu

…so I guess he could always reserve the right to be a little different and most importantly, it was nice enough for me – I did like it, I would say this much.

When I shared the photograph of the noodles on Facebook, somebody commented that his sambal fried kway teow (RM5.00)…

Sibu Town Cafe sambal fried kway teow

…was very good and that was what my missus had. Yes, she said, it was indeed very good, just that she would love it a bit spicier. Perhaps we could put in a special request for that the next time we drop by here.

I noticed on the banner…

Banner

…hanging above the stall that he also had fried kuih lobak or fried (white) carrot cake, also known as koay khak. I ordered that…

Sibu Town Cafe fried kuih lobak

…to take home and try but I thought it was a little bit sweet, not really to my liking. My girl loves that so maybe one day, we would go there and let her sample and see whether she likes it or not. I guess I would be heading in that direction sometime and should we be around there again, I sure would not mind stopping by here to have the same or maybe try something else.

I did manage to exchange a few words with the guy and asked if he was local but he said no, he’s from Penang. Wow!!! He had come from so far away to set up his business here – I wonder why!

Another country…

I went back to this place again because I saw a friend’s photograph of the ikan keli (catfish) that he had here and it was huge!!! He also mentioned that the people were from our neighbouring country, Indonesia…

Makanan asli Indonesia

…so I guessed that would make whatever they served as authentic as it could get. This stall was already there that previous time I went and though I did not order anything from it, I did notice that what they served to the other tables looked rather enticing indeed. There was just this stall and the roti canai stall…

Roti canai

…and the one at the back…

Makanan Islam
*Can you spot the spelling error?*

…then but there are two more halal stalls now…

New stalls

…which would be a good thing as there would be a lot more choices for certain quarters – usually at other coffee shops, there would be a solitary stall or at the most two, selling stuff that they are permitted to eat…unless it is one of those shops of their own.

I love ayam penyet and pecel lele and I have had some very good ones (and some not so good ones as well) at various places around town so I just could not wait to come back here and sample theirs (RM7.00)…

Bateras Ikan keli

– the asli (original) version. Yes, the fish was really big but no, I did not think I enjoyed it very much, definitely not more than what we would usually have here. The sambal dip…

Sambal

…was good, very spicy and went absolutely well with the raw cucumber slices. They blanched the cabbage and kangkong and I did not like how they were somewhat overdone.

I also ordered their mee bakso (RM5.00)…

Bateras bakso

…to try and though it was nice, I would not say it was anything that would get me rushing back for more but honestly, I have yet to come across a really good one in town that would sweep me off my feet. Perhaps this is basically what it is like and this is all I can ever hope to get.

My missus had their seafood kway teow (RM5.00)…

Seafood kway teow

…and she loved it! I tried a bit and I thought it tasted something like what I had here – fried with chili sauce…except that it was much cheaper there but this one had more ingredients, whatever seafood there was in it.

Ah yes! They also set up a counter in front selling nasi lemak bungkus and a number of selections of Malay kuihs such as these…

Bateras Pulut sambal

…and I did buy some of these cucur udang (prawn fritters) at 3 for RM1.00…

Bateras cucur udang

…and though I would say they were very nice, I found the edges a bit hard – yes, hard, not crispy so I just peeled away the not-so-nice parts and only ate the rest of each of them.

I did speak to one of the guys and yes, according to him, most of them came from Pulau Jawa but they have been living in our country for a long time now. Well, I did not probe for any further details so that would be just about all that I know…about these people from another country.

Share with me…

Well, Hari Raya Puasa/Aidilifitri came and went but I did not get to drop by any of the houses to visit my Muslim friends, not even my family members for the simple reason that it had been so so so very hot here. I cannot imagine myself all dressed up nicely and dripping in my perspiration, feeling so uncomfortable. That, of course, meant that I did not get to enjoy all the lovely dishes, cakes and cookies but no, all was not lost!

I had just got up from my nap that afternoon when I got a call from my girl’s coursemate originally from Trengganu but posted to a school here in Sibu. He told me he would be sending some stuff over and he did! That was so very sweet and thoughtful of him to want to share some of the Raya goodies with me, thank you so very much to him for the really nice gesture.

There were these different types of kek lapis (layer cakes) and other steamed cakes…

Cakes

I don’t know what those brown ones at the far end were but they were very nice – my favourite of the lot! My missus liked those colourful squares – she said they were not as sweet as the rest.

No, I did not save any for my girl who would be coming home for the weekend the following day as I would not think she would be all that excited over these cakes. However, she saw the photo that I shared on Facebook and was looking forward to the kelupis

Kelupis & rendang ayam

…that were so good and went absolutely well with the very lovely chicken rendang and these, I saved till she got back so we could enjoy them together. The usual kelupis that we may get around here is a little different – they use the palas leaf and I think there would be much more santan too. These, I’ve been told, are the Limbang-style ones. I don’t know what leaf they use, the nyirik leaf, it is called and it looks something like lengkuas leaf or the bamboo leaves we use to wrap our chang (dumplings).

I did not save the fried bihun

Bihun & mantis prawns

…for her either – I had that for breakfast that morning and she would only be back in the house by mid-afternoon or evening…but I did keep the mantis prawns, cooked butter prawn-style, for her and yes, they were very nice too.

That weekend went past pretty quietly – just the usual routine stuff except for lunch on Saturday – my girl said she wanted her favourite beef noodles and dumplings here so of course, whatever she wants, she will get! I did not feel like having those so I ordered a plate of the nasi lemak biasa (RM3.00)…

YummyKafe nasi lemak biasa

…for myself. I shall refrain from making any comment on the egg but no, the rice was nothing great. Luckily, the very nice sambal

Sambal

…saved the day. It also helped a great deal that I had ordered the rojak (RM4.00)…

Rojak

…as well so when I ate it all together, it sure made up for the not-all-that-nice nasi lemak. The aforementioned prices were those that I saw displayed at the stall but when I asked the boy for the total, he said RM8.00. I did not bother to ask and just paid quietly so I really do not know why I had been charged that extra one ringgit – maybe like most everybody else, they’ve increased the prices as well.

My missus ordered the sizzling noodles (RM6.00)…

YummyKafe sizzling noodles

…from the stall at the back of that coffee shop except that when it was served, the hot plate did not seem all that hot nor was the gravy sizzling. Well, she did not say anything so I guess it was all right and besides, there were two very big prawns…

Prawn

…that came alongside the other ingredients.

Other than that lunch that we had outside, we ate at home the rest of the time and the next day, Sunday, we sent my girl back to her school as usual.

She wants…

That day, my girl said that she felt like having porridge for lunch so we drove to this shop in Sg Merah but it was sold out. That was why we had to go some place else and ended up here…

Mei Le Cafe

…in the block of shops on your left (2.312981,111.847242) as soon as you turn into Jalan Gambir from Jalan Pedada.

The kampua noodles here used to be really very good with a touch of fried garlic added but the guy is no longer doing it, it seems. He is still around though and is currently handling the drinks in that coffee shop while his kampua noodle stall has been taken over by somebody else…

Kampua chain

the guy here though I would not say that I liked his very much even though I notice that he has taken over quite a few of the kampua noodle stalls in town.

We come here quite often as the roast meat stall is one of our favourite in town and we do frequent this stall…

Mei Le stall

…time and again too.

In the end, my girl got her meat porridge…

Mei Le meat porridge

…after all but she did not want any century egg to go with it – I would love that very much. Anyway, there was one poached egg inside that bowl so I guess that was enough for her.

I decided to try their hung ngang (big bihun)…

Hung ngang

…in the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Hung ngang in Foochow red wine chicken soup

…a welcome change from the usual mee sua and yes, it was very good.

My missus ordered the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Mei Le Foochow fried noodles

…from the chu-char (cook and fry) place at the back and yes, it was very good plus it was cheap and had a lot of added ingredients. I don’t know how many people have taken over that place now, no less than 3 or 4, if I remember correctly, and none lasted very long. I walked around and I saw somebody having their fried kway teow, wet/with sauce and it looked pretty good too and so were the dishes that some people were having with rice for their lunch that day. Hopefully, we can drop by one day to give those a try as well.

Then, on another day, my girl wanted Sarawak laksa for lunch so we went and had the one (RM5.00)…

Aloha Sarawak laksa

here (2.293632,111.826954). This is one of the most popular, if not THE most popular in town and of course, she enjoyed it.

The mum had the same but I decided to try the beef noodle special (RM8.00)…

Aloha beef noodles 1

…from another stall at that same shop.

It was, at best, quite nice – what it lacked in the beef taste and fragrance in the soup, it made up for it with all the meat, tripe and tendon…

Aloha beef noodles 2

…in the bowl and I sure did enjoy those very much.

The week-long Hari Raya holidays were coming to an end – the very next day, we had to send my girl back to her school as she had extra classes from her Year 6 pupils that afternoon…and school would reopen the very nexy day. That, of course, meant that life would go back to the same old routine and I would not be going around here, there and everywhere eating this and that so much…except when my girl comes home for the weekends and I sure am looking forward to it each passing week.

Little boy…

I was at their wedding in September, 2013 and they had a son, Kingsley, a year later. Of course, I was delighted when Jimmy and Juliet invited me to the little boy’s 1st birthday party…

Kingsley's birthday cake

here.

No, they did not enlist the help of an event planner and did most everything themselves…

Birthday decor

…right down to the labels on the bottles of water…

Bottle label

…and everything. Gosh!

I cannot remember having many birthday parties when I was a kid. I know I had one once as I remember seeing a photograph somewhere of me cutting the birthday cake and my great-grandma standing beside me. Then, there was another one much later when I was in upper primary school but I don’t recall much of it either other than the fact that some of my classmates from school were there. One that I remember only too well was in 1972 when I was 20 – there was a cake, food and after that, we had dancing! But no, we did not bother very much about the decor and all that. I’ve seen in some blogs or elsewhere those birthday parties where they recruited some people to organise the whole thing and they even set up a playground in the garden for the children to play! Kids really have it so good these days, not like during my time.

There was the singing of the birthday song, of course…

Happy birthday

…and the blowing out of the candle and the cutting of the cake, followed by dinner…

Buffet 1

I didn’t take photographs of everything in the buffet spread, of course…

Buffet 2

– just these two.

It sure was nice to be invited to share the joy of this very happy occasion with them and their family and friends that night and upon leaving, I was given one of these door gifts…

Door gifts

…that they had prepared. Inside…

Door gift

…were one lovely cupcake, some sweets and an egg, coloured red in line with the age-old Chinese tradition.

Well, if anyone is curious as to what I gave little Kingsley, I got him this Korean-made patchwork quilt

Birthday present
*Juliet’s photo on Facebook*

I thought of getting him the Bob the Builder one but he might not be into that cartoon character so much (plus I did not think it was all that nice) and there was one very pretty one but I thought that would be more appropriate for girls so that was why in the end, I got him this one that my girl liked and I would agree that it was quite a good choice too. What do you all think?

Thank you once again, Jimmy and Juliet, for the invitation – now, I’m looking forward to the next one! Wink! Wink! Hehehehehehe!!!!

Don’t ask me…

Don’t ask me what’s good when it comes to Korean food – other than our Korean fried chicken franchise here, when I was in Seoul a long long time ago in the winter, it was so cold and we enjoyed the mee sua in ginseng chicken soup and their traditional wine so much that we asked for that every meal every day during our stay there. Other than that, I had it once in Auckland, New Zealand and I thought it was pretty good but no, I did not like the kim chi. I do not even like the one my missus would make again and again despite fave reviews from all over but I would say that I loved it when she used it to fry some meat, pork or chicken…or to cook some fried rice. But for me, eating it straight is totally out of the question.

Anyway, that did not stop me from going to try this new Korean place in town. Let me rephrase that – my girl and the mum are so into anything Korean these days and they could not wait to go and try but it was a Wednesday and according to their Facebook page, they would be closed. Nonetheless, I just smsed them using a number that I found somewhere on their page to ask (seeing that they were closed that Monday for whatever reason), “Open tonight?” And they promptly replied, “Ya!” Off we went in the heavy rain – of all the days, it had to rain that night when it had been hot and dry almost every other day. Tsk! Tsk! When we got there, we saw a sign on the door saying that it was closed. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot! Well, that night, we ended up here eventually and since we enjoyed what we had there, we got over the initial displeasure soon enough.

Actually, they keep saying that they are not officially open yet, that they are still trailling their dishes and tweaking the menu. They do not even have a shop sign up! However, they do have a website, other than their Facebook page…and everybody seems to know about it. Everytime we drove past, we would see a lot of people eating there – it is on the first floor…

Oppa BBQ Sibu

…above that very popular coffee place, opposite this building on the other side of the road…

Kin Orient Plaza

And that was what I was told a long time ago!

Well, finally, we managed to drop by one Saturday evening after the sunset service at the church not that far away. It was way past 8.00 p.m. already but opening hours would be from 6.00 to 9.30 p.m. so we reckoned we would have enough time and yes, we did! It was a nice place, pretty basic, nice and simple and the only thing Korean in the decor was this nice thing that I spotted hanging on the wall…

Korean

Other than that, there were a lot of posters of those K-pop boy bands and stars though I wished they had not put those up as they made the place look kind of tacky. It would be perfectly all right to have such posters, or ones that are a bit nicer, on the bedroom walls of some star-stuck teenager girl or boy, not at a fine, classy restaurant.

Of course, what’s most important would be the food so let us look at our orders. As soon as we had taken our seats and asked for what we wanted, we were given these sides…

Oppa BBQ sides

…and free flow of tea. I hear that they would keep refilling but no, we did not manage to finish them at all. Of course I did not touch the kim chi but my girl and her mum declared that the latter’s was a cut above what they served here. I was fine with everything else – the sausages, the pickled cucumber slices, the seaweed and even the fried ikan bilis and the taucheo (fermented bean paste) was a great help in enhancing the taste of some of the things that we had!

The pajeon seafood pancake (RM15.00)…

Pajeon seafood pancake

…was served first and it was, at best, all right. Ah well, how could anything cooked with egg be not all right? I would say it was a tad too oily for my liking though. They could have let it stand on some kitchen towels for a while before serving…and it sure looks a whole lot nicer in their photograph of the same on Facebook. Probably the chef forgot to flip it over…and for that kind of money, I would expect a lot more prawns or whatever seafood…

Pajeon 2

…than the miserable bits that took quite a bit of effort to detect.

The dolsot bibimbap (RM18.00)…

Bibimbap

…was all right too but there was too much for the three of us to finish – we ordered two!!! Why? Well, I asked the waiter and he insisted that it was a serving for one and there would not be enough. He was rather persistent in insisting that we should order a second bowl so I relented. I guess it would be just nice for a person if one does not order anything else but we did!

The sam gyoub sal (RM12.00)…

Sam gyoub sal

…wasn’t anything to shout about. I may be wrong but it came across like just lightly-grilled pork marinated with salt and pepper. I would prefer crispy lettuce instead and the taucheo sure came in handy here – it did taste quite good after I put it all together and rolled everything up and ate.

The jab chae (RM18.00)…

Jab chae

…was so very sweet that each of us tried a little bit and basically left the whole lot on the plate.

This…

Gal bi tang

…was about the only thing that truly got our thumbs up – their gal bi tang (RM21.00). The soup was really good but unfortunately, some of the beef was so tough we just had to leave it by the side of our bowls…for fear of breaking a tooth or two!

An ex-colleague of mine was here sometime ago and he shared a photograph of what he had on Facebook. I quickly asked him how it was and he replied, “So-so! Expensive. Service is good.” I would say that I do agree with him – our bill that night came up to a whooping RM102.00 and that certainly was not cheap and what we had sure did not sweep us off our feet. Personally I do feel we could have gone for something a whole lot nicer elsewhere with that kind of money but then again, it may be because I am not really into this kind of cuisine…so perhaps, others would go for the same and like it a lot more that I did.

Here today gone tomorrow…

My girl said that she wanted kampua noodles…

Ah Sian kampua kosong

…that day so of course, we would go for the one here – this seems like the only place in town where she would enjoy the noodles with the beef soup…

Ah Sian beef soup special

Despite being born and raised all her life in Sibu, she is not exactly fond of THE main attraction of this little Foochow town. Yes, she would not mind having it time and time again but no, she will not go out of her way for it and more often than not, she would rather opt for something else that may be available.

The mum had the same too but I did not feel like it. I was thinking of something along the lines of the claypot noodles that my missus had the last time we were here. Unfortunately, those were no longer available, it seemed. Huh? Here today, gone tomorrow…so so soon! Perhaps the one doing it had moved elsewhere which I think would be very likely, considering all the new eating places sprouting out here, there and everywhere these days.

However, they had something else now that they did not have before – this (RM5.50)…

Ah Sian stewed pork rice

– the stewed pork rice…that my friend, Alfred, in Singapore said in his comment on Facebook was Taiwan-influenced, served this way. Well, I wouldn’t know as I had not been to Taiwan for years and years – when I was there, my girl was not even born yet! As far as I know, they serve it more or less the same way here

Noodle House stewed pork rice

…and theirs is just as nice so we would go for it sometime but of course, it would be a lot more expensive plus there is GST there now.

The stewed pork belly…

Ah Sian pork belly

…was good though I know many would shudder at the sight of the fat – perhaps, they should read some of the current articles on that but whatever it is, as always, I would subscribe to the maxim that moderation is the key – once in a long while is all right, not too often…and definitely not every day, the way how some people must have a plate of kampua noodles every day to keep them going, not me!

Of course, I loved the stewed egg…

Ah Sian stewed egg

– I enjoy that without fail every time…and I also ordered a bowl of the aforementioned beef soup to go with this.

That sure was a delightful lunch for the three of us, RM25.00 only in total (inclusive of drinks).

P.S.:
I was checking out my site stats that day when I spotted this link. Gee! I’ve been featured in an article in that online newspaper but it is in Mandarin…and coincidentally, it is on this very shop that I have blogged about a number of times now.