Tis sweet to be remembered…

After five years in Kanowit (1978-1982), I joined the staff in this school in 1983…

Chung Hua staff 1983
*Chiew Chong Hui aka Uncle Chong’s photo on Facebook*

…and was there for nine years till 1991. They held their grand Centenary Celebration dinner last Saturday night but no, I was not invited, me small fry. I don’t know if I never made it into the guest list or perhaps it was because I told my friend/ex-classmate, Robert, now the chairman of the school board after taking over from his late father, that I was invited by a group of my ex-students so I would be joining them at the function that night. After all, those would be the people that matter most.

I vaguely recall people saying that they would be able to accommodate some 100 over tables only at the ballroom, not up to 200 but there were some 213 tables that night, I was told. Our table was by the side where the ceiling was lower so by right, it should be cooler. Unfortunately, it was so very very hot that I was sweating profusely and uncomfortably all night long. It was equally hot and stuffy outside in the foyer though so I was wondering if the hotel is currently on some austerity drive, turning down the air conditioning or worse, switching it off altogether! For one thing, it sure needs a new coat of paint – at this point in time, it looks kind of miserable on the outside, sadly neglected. Such nice places, if not properly maintained and left to rot, would reflect a poor impression, quite unbecoming for the biggest hotel in town.

The multi-storey car park was full so I had to gatecrash here and make use of their private car park and walk all the way to the hotel. I was wondering though how on earth the car park could be full when I saw some driving out!!! Some people are not all that efficient, obviously! Tsk! Tsk!!!

They make use of a whole lot of part-time staff for such huge functions but even though they may not be on their permanent staff, they should train them well. I saw those young boys huddled together around the drinks’ station just a stone’s throw away from our table but even at such close proximity, it was near impossible to get their attention to come over and fill my glass of warm water.

The food was very slow in coming out. In the first dish…

Kingwood banquet, first dish

…that one with the fatt choy on top was cold, obviously not properly and completely defrosted before serving! I thought the chicken was good though a bit hard for me as I was having a tooth infection at the time but I liked the fish very much. I did not take any photos of those as when those dishes were served, I was outside for a bit of fresh air, not that it was any cooler, actually. This was the fifth dish…

Kingwood banquet, yam basket

…and it was already past 10.00 p.m. so I decided it was time I went home and I left before the function ended.

Because there were so many tables, there was hardly any space for me to move about, especially in view of the fact that I am not all that small in size. That was why I did not bother to go around at all in the ballroom but I did get to meet one of my ex-principals, a couple of ex-colleagues and ex-students when I was outside the ballroom. Anyway, the people that would matter the most would be those wonderful students of mine who had it in their hearts to invite me to join them…

Reunited, with my ex-Chung Hua students

…that night.

Here we were a long long time ago…

With my Chung Hua students back in the 80's

…when we went on a visit to the house of this family…

Soon sisters & brother

…across river, at what is called Pulau Kerto, if I am not wrong. One of the sisters was in the same class as those who invited me and coincidentally, they were right at the next table. I remember there was another sister, Mary, but she was not there  that night.

The mother…

Chung Hua Centenary celebration, with the Toh's.

…of one of the students came over to say hello, such a pleasant and sweet lady, along with the elder brother and sister, my students – all three of them!

I was amazed at how they could remember the things I taught them so very long ago and they seemed quite tickled by “Ah Kong ka gua” (Hokkien, literally translated as my grandfather and I), something that I coined to help them remember the name of the mountain in the Andes. They do not teach those things anymore in Geography these days so do not expect the present generation to be knowledgeable in such things, no way. Well, these students of mine all excelled in the subject…despite what or how I taught – after all, they were selected students in the best class for their respective year.

It sure was so very nice to see them all again and that sure made up for all the grouses I had over the place and the function as a whole. Of course, we will keep in touch with one another and look forward to getting together again sometimes. Thank you all for the invitation, all the best in all that you do, take care and God bless always.

Just us…

No, I did not have a grand celebration in conjunction with my 64th birthday the other day but of course, we had the longevity noodles…

64th birthday mee sua 2016

…in the morning, the mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup, and two eggs…

Eggs

…to go with it. I went to buy a tray the previous day and I thought I would spoil myself just this once and grabbed the largest size, over RM13.00 a tray. Normally, we would buy the medium ones, around RM11.00 a tray as the small ones, around RM10.00, aren’t that big. If I am not mistaken, people would usually buy this size when they want to give the eggs to somebody, like someone who has just given birth and is in confinement and I think with eggs this size, there is a very good chance of getting one with twin yolks. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side with the two that I had that morning – hopefully, that is not a foreshadowing of what lies ahead in the year to come, touch wood!

The ladies went and got me a cake from Marcus, our favourite…

Birthday cake by Marcus

…and my good friend, Lim & family got me this assortment of cakes…

Cakes from Green Forest

…from this bakery in town. I found the chocolate one too sweet but the fruity one with the grape on top was very nice. My favourite, however, is still the Dark Bavarian, the ones with the pandas on top.

I have not had the chance to reciprocate since they invited us out to a scrumptious and sumptuous dinner in June this year and besides, their eldest daughter scored straight A’s in the recent UPSR Examination – the results have been somewhat disappointing this year but yes, she’s one of the few who made it and that would be reason enough for a little celebration…so I invited all of them to join us, and also my brother-in-law and his missus, here

Flavours Thai Kitchen Christmas decor

…that evening and when the first dish was served, our jaws fell wide open! Gasp!!!…

Flavours Thai Kitchen birthday special

I had ordered the poo cha or the Thai-style stuffed crabs (RM8.90 each)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen poo cha

…available upon special request only but Mary and her lovely staff went out of their way and threw in this lobster…

Flavours Thai Kitchen lobster

…and these eggs…

Flavours Thai Kitchen eggs

…and also the pineapple fried rice…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pineapple fried rice

…all on the house, with a special greeting…

Flavours Thai Kitchen special greeting

…for the occasion. Good grief!!! That certainly made my day! Thank you so so so much to Mary and all you wonderful people at Flavours!

As a matter of fact, that alone would be enough for all of us but of course, I couldn’t cancel the rest of my orders including this prawn dish (RM79.00)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen prawns

…and the pad Thai (RM29.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen

Lim and his wife had never been here before and this was the first time they tried the miang kam (RM19.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen miang kam

…and they loved it so very much that they, and also my brother-in-law who really enjoys it so much too, kept on going, one after another until it was all gone.

I must say my  favourite that night was the barramundi with the chef’s special Thai sauce (RM78.00)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen lap barramundi

…but then again, I have this soft spot for fish so I may be a little biased. Whatever it is, I sure enjoyed it a lot like those times when we had it before.

I did order another dish – the sotong (squid) curry (RM25.50) but we were already too full by then so I requested for it to be packed for me to take home.

I must say that I was indeed very glad that everyone enjoyed the dinner and it sure turned out to be not too bad a day at all with the simple low-key birthday celebration to wrap things up that night…and thank you all for the calls, the sms-es and the hundreds of greetings on Facebook. If wishes do come true, it sure looks like it is going to be a great year ahead. Cheers!!!

How we met…

This is Mak Met…

Mak Met

…the very enterprising lady behind Mak Met’s Breakfast Station. From its humble beginning as a little stall with a couple of long tables under a big colourful umbrella at the corner of the shops at Bandong here, it grew and grew and grew, offering a whole lot of things to pick and choose including the very nice Sarawak kek lapis (layer cake). There will always be a lot that one would want to buy here especially during the fasting month of Ramadhan…

Mak Met, Ramadhan
*Archive photo*

…and now, it is a shop…

Mak Met's shop

…in its own right.

You can still buy all those kuihs…

Mak Met kuih

…that have been around all this while and it is best to go earlier in the morning or they may be sold out and you will just have to grab those leftovers or go away disappointed.

You may buy some things that you want here instead of having to make your way to a shop elsewhere just to grab that one item that you are looking for…

Mak Met's shop, inside

…and there are noodles too, fried…

Mat Met mee goreng

…or kampua (halal) and though that looks rather small, there is actually quite a lot in one packet plus it is only RM1.00 each!

I love the Sarawak laksa (RM3.00)…

Mak Met Sarawak laksa

…here and my girl and the mum enjoy it too so I would drop by sometimes to grab a few packets home. That is enough for fill one big (Chinese soup) bowl, more or less the same as what you will get at the Sarawak laksa stalls at the coffee shops outside but of course, for RM3.00, you are not getting any prawns, that’s for sure…and anyway, most of the time, all you would usually get, despite having to pay more, would be around three miserable small ones that may be quite bland and not all that fresh. No worries, they are quite generous with the shredded chicken, the thinly sliced omelette and the taugeh so we do not miss those prawns one bit, not at all, and the sambal is very nice too.

Another thing I would buy from here too would be the nasi kerabu

Mak Met nasi kerabu

Of course, you may not get the whole works like at our favourite place in town but that one is around RM6.00, the last time we had that and it is available only on Saturday mornings…and this is only RM4.50. I certainly would give them the double thumbs up for not using those banned-in-Sibu polystyrene containers otherwise I would just walk away and never buy anything from them ever again!

For one thing, they are always venturing into some new things time and time again and right now, there is this handsome young boy there…

Mak Met takoyaki stall

…making those Japanese takoyaki

Mak Met takoyaki

…for sale. I am not into those things so I have never bought any to try – perhaps one of these days, I may just give it a go…

Loud and clear…

I was born a British subject by virtue of the fact that Sarawak was at the time a British colony and during that time, we used to get imported stuff from the UK. I remember how I enjoyed those Nice biscuits from Huntley & Palmers but unfortunately, we do not get anything from them anymore these days. It had been quite a while since I last had any Nice biscuits and the other day, my girl spotted these at a supermarket here (RM7.90)…

Arnotts Nice biscuits

No, they’re from Australia, the other side of the world and yes, I do recall the sugar coating…

Arnotts Nice biscuit

…but somehow or other, I was not really impressed by this one. I don’t know but maybe we were so deprived in those days that it seemed so very nice or perhaps, things today are not longer like what they used to be.

One thing I particularly like about these imported products is how they tell you exactly what they contain…

Imported products ingredients

…and they highlight the offensive ingredients in bold for the benefit of those who may be allergic to them.

You can see another example here on a carton of the imported Australian milk…

Devondale milk gluten free

…that I am drinking right now…and here, it states in no uncertain terms that it contains full cream milk…

Devondale full cream milk

…and nothing else.

On the other hand, let’s look at this packet of noodles (RM9.90)…

Penang-made millet noodles

…made in Bukit Mertajam, Penang that I bought at another supermarket here that day. I do know for a fact that millet is ok for those who are gluten sensitive/intolerant and the name of the product is the only clue as to what they are made of. Now, the question is…what else? We haven’t the slightest idea as nothing is mentioned in that little label. I thought there is a ruling that the ingredients must be specified in all manufactured food products? I even logged into their website to see what I could find there – nothing! Seeing that we are not entirely sure whether it is safe for my girl or not, in the end, we decided that it would be best for her not to consume it.

Going back to the milk, these days, I will usually buy this one from New Zealand…

Meadow Fresh New Zealand milk
*Archive photo*

…at RM5 something a carton. It certainly makes a lot more sense buying this instead of the Malaysian-made UHT milk that may set you back by some RM7 or RM8 a carton. Just the other day, I noticed that the New Zealand one was on offer – RM4.90 only a carton but I had already bought a box of the Australian one…

Devondale new packaging

…at another supermarket, also selling at RM4.90 a carton.

A long long time ago when this brand first hit the shelves here, it was only RM1.00 a carton…and people would cart boxes and boxes home including those from Kuching. Not only was it cheap, they said but it was much nicer and creamier than our local ones.

After sometime, they changed their packaging and it looked like this…

Devondale old packaging
*Archive photo*

…and now, they have changed the packaging again…with a new easier-to-open cap…

Devondale new cap

…than the ring that they had before and also the thin aluminium foil that we find in other brands, so thin that it is quite a chore to get the loose end out.

No, as you can see from the expiry date, they are not going cheap because it is almost due, and probably it is a lot cheaper than in Australia itself, after conversion. You can’t blame me for not supporting our own Malaysian industries, can you?

Go the distance…

That day, when I shared on Facebook the link to my post on the kampua mee place at Pandan Jaya, I did get a lot of responses from friends far and wide – those who have tried it before and they all gave it their nod of approval, one going as far as rating it a 9 out of 10!

I don’t know exactly where it is located but some said it is far from where they stay like my friend, Annie (who’s originally from Sibu, born and raised here), for instance. She commented that usually, she would have to drive all the way to another place that is very far away, this coffee shop in Puchong, to appease her craving for the noodles. Now, THAT is far…from where she stays. It so happened that another friend also mentioned this same one in his comment and shared a photograph of the stall…

Sibu Kampua Mee stall at Double D, Puchong

…and what he ate there…

Double D Puchong kampua mee, pian sip

He said that a lady and a girl from Sibu run the stall and he said the kampua mee is good, pretty authentic…and a few others also came and said that they have tried this one and gave their thumbs up. Good grief!!! Don’t those people do anything else other than going round all over to eat the kampua noodles?

In the meantime, Annie sent me the photographs of the kampua mee

Double D Puchong kampua mee

…and the pian sip

Double D Puchong pian sip

…that she had here…and if she too says it is good, I would take her word for it.

Well, if anyone is interested in dropping by to check this one out, here’s the address:
Restoran Double D
15, Jalan Puteri 2/5 (Bandar Puteri Puchong)
47100 Puchong Batu Dua Belas, Selangor

In the meantime, my blogger-friend, Sharon somewhere in Singapore has gone to try the kampua noodles in the island republic that I also blogged about recently. Do click this link and hop over to her blog to see her post on it – she did not actually say whether she liked it or not but I guess that photograph of her empty bowl says it all.

Too fast…

I mentioned in my post the other day that my girl wanted the mutton bryani here…

The Cafe Ind, Sibu

…but it was closed that day, Monday, so the following day, we made our way there but we were way too early. Officially, they open at 12 noon but usually, by 11-ish, they would be on the roll already. However, that day, they were still doing the cleaning and mopping at the outside section so we had to sit inside which of course, was darker and that would mean that the photos in this post would not be so nice.

There was a young and handsome Indian man, very well-dressed, already there. At first, I thought he was the true blue North Indian chef working here and I was wondering why he was dressed up to the nines when he would have to sweat it out in the kitchen. It turned out that he was a customer, there to enjoy the authentic Indian cuisine – I think he had naan and a few other things from the menu as well and I must say that this would just about show how original and how good the Indian food here is for someone from India to want to come here and eat.

Of course, my girl had what she wanted…

Cafe Ind, Sibu mutton bryani

Like I said earlier, the photos are not going to be very nice but you can click here to see a more flattering snapshot of what she had. They were very generous with both the meat and the rice so towards the end, I had to help her a bit with it.

My missus stuck faithfully to her kalio ayam

Cafe Ind kalio ayam 1

…from the Indonesian menu. There were two huge chunks of chicken in the banana boat and she could just handle one – yes, I had to help her finish off the other one…

Cafe Ind kalio ayam 2

…and it was very very nice, the curry. I would say it was different from the regular Malay curry and definitely not the same as the Indian one as well. It had a taste of its own, something a bit more towards asam curry and yes, I loved it…a lot! Those who frequent the nasi padang places in Singapore and elsewhere would probably know what I mean, not the same as what we are more familiar with and very nice.

I ordered the tandoori chicken…

Cafe Ind tandoori chicken 1

…without the rice as I knew my girl would not be able to finish hers – she’s not a very big eater – and I would have to help her with it. I don’t know what sauce/gravy that was in the stainless steel bowl in the middle but it was really very nice and I enjoyed it a lot.

It took quite a while to come out of the kitchen but that was to be expected as the usual waiting time would be around 20 minutes for the chef to get the chicken done to perfection – very tender, succulent and moist…

Cafe Ind tandoori chciken 2

…and of course, it was great!

We were halfway through when Iggy, an ex-student of mine, dropped by for lunch with somebody, probably a client of his. He was the same one who picked up the tab when I was here, having dinner with my cousin and her hubby home from Brisbane, Australia. I quickly finished eating so I could give him a return treat (one of their orders had just been served then) but when I went to pay our bills, I was told that he had settled everything already – his and all of ours. Oh me oh my!!! That was fast, too fast!!! Thank you so much, Iggy, for the second round – next time, do slow down a bit and let me have the chance to reciprocate.

That, of course, was a really delightful lunch and as they say, the best things in life are free. Hehehehehe!!!!

Wondering…

I am not really all that religiously-inclined but when we dropped by a mall in town that day, I was appalled by the decor…

Star Mega Mall Christmas decor

…they had put up for Christmas this year.

I was not crazy about the theme here, I think that was last year, and also at one supposedly classy restaurant in town, Frozen, but at least there was snow…and snowmen and I think there was a reindeer too, things that have long been associated with Christmas like Santa Claus, Christmas trees and presents but this got me wondering as I just cannot for the dear life of me figure out the connection between Christmas and Pikachu. Yes, it is the current craze or at least, it was not too long ago when lots of people went round catching those Pokemons or the short form for the Japanese name, Pocket Monsters. I guess those business people are trying to cash in on its popularity but somehow, it just doesn’t give me the feel or the spirit of Christmas.

Prior to stopping by this place that day, we had gone for lunch here. My girl wanted the bryani rice here but it was closed – Monday is their off day every week so we decided to go for more of our own Sarawak ethnic Dayak cuisine and ended up here again. True to their word, they had entirely different dishes in their selection that day except for the tapioca leaves that all three of us picked…

Anak Borneo tapioca leaves

…and they did it really well that day – it was always nice but we thought that day, it was even nicer. I guess it is a good thing to have different dishes on different days especially for the regulars – that way, they would not get bored unlike at some chap fan or nasi campur places here. You will see the exact same dishes day in and day out!

However, I was hoping to go for more of their kacang ma chicken with tuak (the traditional ethnic Dayak rice wine) and their pansoh babi (pork cooked in bamboo) but unfortunately, those were not in the menu for the day so instead both my girl and I picked the fish with the sourish terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal, which to me seems more like something from the tomato family)…

Anak Borneo terung Dayak fish

…and the umai

Anak Borneo umai

– our Melanau version of the Japanese sashimi, which we both enjoyed.

My missus picked the chicken curry…

Anak Borneo chciken curry

…and the two of us also had the pig’s intestines and pig’s blood with pineapples…

Anak Borneo pig's intestines & blood

…which we thought was pretty good as well.

The total for all our individual selections, plus rice, came up to RM19.50 altogether. I wonder when they will be having the kacang ma chicken and the pansoh babi again – I sure wouldn’t mind going back there again for those especially.