I forgive…

Well, my cousins from Kuching came to town over the weekend and one of them and a friend, an ex-colleague of mine, brought me these…

From a cousin & a friend

…and another cousin gave me these…

From another cousin

I sure have a lot of goodies to enjoy for my breakfast and tea over the next few days, obviously…and thank you so much, everybody, for everything!

They wanted to come to this Italian fusion restaurant here…

La Vino

…for dinner as it was very convenient – they were staying at the hotel around a hundred metres away.

I was overcharged by RM10.00 the first and the last time I was here and when I saw the actual price on their menu that they posted on Facebook, I asked why I had to pay so much and the curt reply they gave was, “Repricing!” That really put me off and because of that, I have not bothered going back there again all this while. What they could have done was to apologise and promise that they would deduct the RM10.00 from my next bill – that way, they would have one happy customer who will come back again and spend more there…but I guess it did not matter to them one bit as looking at the crowd there all the time, they obviously enjoy such bustlingly brisk business to bother about a small fry like me.

That was when they first commenced business over a year ago and this time around, it seemed that they have done away with the authentic wood-fired stone pizza oven…

La Vino kitchen

…and they have put up a glass panel separating the kitchen from the dining area so it would not be so very hot like the previous time I was there. The chefs did not look familiar, all of them very young boys who did not seem all that appropriately dressed for an upscale place like this which made me wonder what their credentials were, but never mind! Looking at the crowd that was there that night, I would assume that they must be doing something right and I was correct.

This chicken combo (RM68.00)…

La Vino chicken combo

…that we had was very very nice. Everyone was singing praises of everything that was in the platter. My cousin’s daughter, who was currently home from Perth, Australia and came with them to Sibu, said that they have something like this there too…

La Vino chicken on skewers

…and it would cost at least AUD50.00. This one that we had that night was just as nice and it was only around AUD23, more than half the price if we convert into their currency.

I enjoyed that very much too but personally, I prefer the pork platter (RM98.00)…

La Vino pork platter

The sticky ribs were absolutely awesome, so very nice and I loved the sausages more than the chicken ones – these had the minced meat texture and I could taste all the fragrant herbs used in the making.

Special mention must be given to the potato salad that everybody enjoyed a lot too.

They did not have lasagna even though it was in the menu but a look at the right hand bottom corner would tell you that it is only available at their sister restaurant, not here…and my girl still prefers the spinach and egg pizza we usually have over at the other side instead of this Pizza Rustica (RM32.00)…

La Vino Pizza Rustica

…that we had here that night, a so-called “white pizza”, but it was nice too, pretty good. They should be more careful in slicing it though – I spy with my little eye that little chipped off bit, bottom left.

We had the chocolate fondant at the other place that day and it was very nice except that the “lava” did not flow out so I ordered the one here (RM10.00)…

La Vino chocolate fondant 1

…to share for dessert…and yes, it was very nice too…

La Vino chocolate fondant 2
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and yes, the “lava” oozed out the instant the cake was cut. Bravo!!!

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that night – she said that all these years, whenever we went over to Kuching, my cousins would take us out to eat here, there and everywhere so now that she is working and earning her own money, she would like to reciprocate, a little gesture on her part for all that she had enjoyed in the past.

We were served a free flow of iced water by the jug, on the house, and service was very good though they did seem a lot more comfortable conversing in Mandarin but I did not have a problem with that…and considering how the food was really great, all is forgiven…and yes, I would be back again to see what else is nice on their menu.

That’s my kind of night…

I had a call from my friend and ex-classmate,  Robert, on Wednesday last week inviting me to his house…

Chef & wine

…that night for dinner. He said that his missus, Angela, would be cooking and this would be an opportunity for me to sample it. Now, who could turn down an invitation like that? So of course, I accepted and made sure I got there on time – he lives on the other side of town, not all that near by our local standards.

Besides me and my other half, they had invited a few other guests including our dear friend, Mary, from the Thai restaurant in town, and a few other regular dining companions of ours.

There was this very lovely steamed chicken…

Steamed chicken

…and the rice…

Chicken rice

…and we also got to enjoy the ulam with the very special sambal

Ulam & sambal

…that everyone loved to the max. Hey!!! I tried the ulam raja once and I did not really like it so I just had the blanched paku (wild jungle fern). After much friendly persuasion, I gave it one more try and I loved it! Hmmm…you would get to see it now at our dinner table from now on – word has it that those leaves have a lot of health benefits.

It so happened that I went to the market that morning and bought a whole lot of buah emplam, a local fruit from the mango family that is very sour, for my missus to make the sambal and we brought some…

Buah emplam sambal

…there to share. It was a hit too!

There was this vegetable dish…

Vegetables

…but I kept going back for more of the buah petai (stink beans) with udang kering (dried prawns)…

Petai

– I sure enjoyed that!

I have not had the salt-baked fish dish for a long time – the last time was in Bintulu in 2014 and at one place here also in 2014 and it was not very nice and before that, after that first time in KL, I had a really good one here but I never went back for more as the restaurant is quite a distance away, on the other side of town as well…and to my delight, Angela cooked one that night…

Salt-baked terubok 1

…and while all the rest would use our Batang Ai tilapia, she used the much-coveted ikan terubok (longtail shad)…

Salt-baked terubok 2

As a matter of fact, I was looking for it at the market that morning but could not see any and needless to say, I enjoyed that very much and had quite a bit more than my fair share. Hehehehe!!!

I also loved the wonderful black vinegar pork trotter that Angela cooked but unfortunately, the photos came out blur and for dessert, she made one of my favourite nyonya kuehs, steamed tapioca cake…

Tapioca cake

…that one can hardly find around here and of course, that sure made a fitting end to the superb dinner.

Thank you so much, Robert and Angela, I sure had a great time – great food, great company, who could ask for more?

What’s new…

…from Stephanie? Remember my ex-student who made those delightful mushroom pies and cheese tarts…and also the chicken pies?

Well, she dropped by my place recently to give me these marble cupcakes…

Marble cupcakes

…to try.

Wowwww!!! They were very very nice…

Marble cupcake

…with the most delightful buttery fragrance, not very sweet and really fine on the inside…

Marble cupcake, inside 1

…so very soft and nice. She was just trying them out at the time, not really for sale then but when she was good and ready, I wasted no time in ordering some more…

Marble cake, inside 2

…to enjoy for my afternoon tea. She is selling them at RM7.50 for 6 so that works out to RM1.25 each which, of course, is not cheap compared to some of the ones sold at the shops and supermarkets but those are not really worth the calories plus at those prices, one can tell right away that they do not use real butter. On the other hand, there are those cakes at the bakeries and some of those branded coffee places and yes, some MAY be nice but no, they are by no means, cheap – certainly not all that affordable for the likes of me.

Then, the other day, I got these…

Cheese butter cupcakes
*Stephanie’s photo on Facebook*

…from her. I did take some photographs of them but somehow, they did not come out well so I’ve taken the liberty of pinching her snapshots on Facebook – butter cake on the inside…

Cheese butter cupcakes, inside
*Stephanie’s photo on Facebook*

…with grated cheese toppings.

Between the two, I would prefer the marble ones with the added cocoa powder taste of the swirls in them.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for letting me sample some of your delightful cupcakes – I love them to bits and rest assured you have one very loyal customer here, me!

Start the day…

My friend, Mary, went off to Adelaide, Australia, to see her girl there and when she came home, my very old friend, Jasmine, there sent me these goodies…

From Jasmine 1

…through her and these too…

From Jasmine 2

…thank you so much to you, Jasmine – that was indeed so thoughtful and generous of you…and thanks also to Mary for bringing them all the way!

I was very sure there were two packets of the Tim Tams when I started taking out everything for the “photography session” but when I was arranging the stuff, there was only one and I just assumed that I must have been mistaken earlier. When it was all over, I started putting the things back into the bag and there it was! On the bench where I was sitting, right beside the bag. Sighhhh!!!! A sign of old age, I guess – very typical of elderly folks like me.

I had gone to the market early that morning and after getting all that I wanted, I dropped by the restaurant to pick up the things and since I was up and about early in the morning, I decided to take the opportunity to have breakfast there.

Yes, they do open for breakfast, 7.00 a.m. onwards and they are open 7 days a week because they have the special arrangement with the hotel where the restaurant is located to serve breakfast to the room guests every morning.

I’ve tried the “kampua” before, the Thai-style kampua by Jos (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampua by Jos

…Jos being the name of the Thai chef there. The only thing kampua about it is the noodles used, our locally-produced kampua mee but other than that, it would not be anything like our local version of the noodles in any coffee shop round town…and of course, being located in a hotel, you would not find any lard nor pork in it. However, that does not mean in any way that it is not nice – just that it is something completely different. Otherwise, why would I want to have that again since I had tried it before?

As a matter of fact, there are some very nice pork and lard-free kampua noodles at the Malay coffee shops and stalls like here for instance and also at this one and when I cook my own at home, I just fry sliced shallots in cooking oil and use that and needless to say, it tastes great too. I sure enjoyed the slices of fish cake…

Fish cake on kampua by Jos

…a lot more than the usual red-coloured boiled char siew wannabe. I was wondering about those brown bits used for garnishing – they tasted great so I asked Mary and she said they were fried garlic. Of course, in our regular plate of kampua mee, there is usually no garlic so that would give one a fair idea as to how different this is from the real thing but yes, it is a nice change from the usual – just don’t come here and order this and expect it to be the same as what one is accustomed to.

Mary gave me this chicken rice chili dip…

Flavous Thai Kitchen chili dip

…to go with it but I only used a little of that. It was nice enough on its own.

I also ordered the kampung eggs with toast (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampung eggs with toast

…as I have seen people sharing photographs of those on Facebook and I was kind of attracted by the orange colour…

Organic kampung eggs

…of the yolk. I’ve tried those supposedly healthier organic eggs before and no, I did not like them. They do not have that chow chor egg smell or taste that I enjoy. I wonder if they also serve this using regular eggs but anyway, I did  not think that was butter on the toast so I did not get very excited about it too. It might as well have been plain, plain toast to dip in the egg and eat.

Now you would not believe this! Mary said that the eggs were very fresh, just delivered fro the farm, and insisted that I took a tray home. That was so nice of her, thank you so so much! My girl likes these kampung eggs so of course, I would let her take some to her jungle school to enjoy. Normally, she would buy those at the shops and supermarkets or the Omega-3 ones…but of course, those, if truly organic, would not be as fresh as these from Mary.

There are other things on their breakfast menu, one being porridge which I did not try, but I don’t think I will be back here for breakfast again all that soon because normally, I would not be out and about jalan jalan cari makan (looking for things to eat) that early – usually way after 10, by which time they would be about to close, and they will reopen for lunch every day (except Wednesdays) at 12 noon till 2.00 p.m. and dinner will be from 6.00/6.30 onwards (also except Wednesdays).

Next door…

That day when we went here for the KL Hokkien mee, we walked past this shop…

Kafe Ikhwan

…right next door. My missus said that the nasi lemak looked good and I thought she had a glimpse at what the people there were eating so a few days later, we went back there with the intention of giving it a try.

Unfortunately, they were all sold out. It turned out that they were pre-packed packets of nasi lemak and my missus saw one basketful of it and she said they seemed very generous with the sambal. I asked if they were wrapped in plastic and that was why the sambal was visible but she said they used paper. However, she could not remember how she could get to see. She does seem to be getting rather forgetful lately, old age, I guess…and pretty often, she can’t remember this and that even if it was only a day or two before. I guess I would have to go some other day to see for myself.

They did not have a lot of selections for their nasi campur (mixed rice)…

Nasi campur

…plus the options did not look all that enticing unlike what they have here so I did not feel like having that. It did seem very popular though as we saw a lot of people dropping by to pick what they want…

Help yourself

…and take away for their lunch, perhaps. I was glad to see that they were using those paper cardboard boxes for the purpose, not those not-environment-friendly polystyrene food containers.

I don’t know if the prices have gone up elsewhere as well or not but the roti canai here…

Roti canai menu

…seemed a bit more expensive. Yes, I’ve had the kosong (plain) for RM1.40 here but I do recall having it for RM1.00 or to the most, RM1.20 elsewhere. I did not feel like having any that morning and the nasi ayam penyet

Images

…looked really good in the photograph so I settled for that instead and my missus followed suit.

What we got in the end (RM8.00)…

Nasi ayam penyet 1

…was a far cry from its pictorial representation, unfortunately but the complimentary soup was very nice – no, they did not give us their sup tulang (bone soup) like what they would usually do at most Malay food stalls but instead, we were served this very tasty salted vegetable chicken soup, way nicer than the very diluted, terribly watered-down ones one would get at the Chinese chicken rice shops.

The chicken was literally penyet (clobbered)…

Nasi ayam penyet 2

…and it was good and we would have enjoyed it more if the chili dip had been spicy. Just one or two cili padi in it could have been enough, I think.

On the whole, it was quite nice though I would not say it was anything to get us rushing back for more…and my missus would much sooner fork out the extra 50sen for the one that she seemed to enjoy a lot more here.

Opposite side…

Tomorrow is a public holiday here, Sarawak’s Independence Day, so my girl will be coming home earlier for the weekend. I guess many will be coming back as well seeing that tomorrow, the Borneo Cultural Festival 2016 will begin and some of the SUKMA 2016 events will be held here – Sarawak is the host this time around. I hear the hotels in the town centre are fully booked so I would expect massive jams over the next few days.

Well, if any of you are thinking of dropping by here…

Delta Seafood & Cafe

…for the old lady’s kampua mee, I have not very good news for you. She has decided to call it a day once again and will not be selling the noodles at that coffee shop any longer.

As a matter of fact, that section of the coffee shop and restaurant has closed down…

Closed

What I heard was that the landlord wanted to raise the rent so everybody shifted to the opposite side…

Opposite

That Sunday, we wanted to drop by here for the beef noodles but it was so very crowded, the people were literally spilling onto the road so we decided to come here instead. Unfortunately, the chu char place at the back of the shop was closed – I was told that they do not open on Sunday mornings so we had no choice but to order from the kampua stall…

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua stall

…in front. Somebody told me that one of the ladies was working for the old lady formerly, helping her out at her stall and now that the latter has retired, she has taken over doing what she used to do and selling the same things, more or less.

I ordered one big bowl of the meatball soup (RM5.20)…

Delta Seafood & Cafe meatball soup 1

…to share…and that got me wondering about the price. They could have reduced the number of meatballs and charged RM5.00 instead and that might help a bit in giving the impression that it was not all that pricey.

No, it was not as thick and rich, the bone stock used for the soup, as the old lady’s. However, I would say it was nice and they did give us some of our traditional Foochow red wine to add to it. That sure helped enhance the taste…

Delta Seafood & Cafe meatball soup 2

…a lot and yes, we did enjoy it though my vote would go to what we had here before.

Yes, we had the kampua mee

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua mee 1

…too but no, it was not quite the same as the old lady’s.

It had the same stewed/braised meat topping instead of the boiled red-coloured char siew wannabe that one would find at a lot of places elsewhere around town and it had that very nice fragrance of lard and fried shallots. For one thing, it was lighter as far as the amount of msg used went and we liked that but I hear that it did not go down too well with many of the old lady’s loyal supporters. However, I did feel that the noodles were a little over-boiled/cooked and were softer, not as firm. All in all, I would say it was all right…

Delta Seafood & Cafe kampua mee 2

– just that to me, the old lady’s has a slight edge over it.

I wouldn’t mind dropping by again for these should I happen to be around the neighbourhood but that morning, I was quite put off by the fact that even though there wasn’t really a crowd, we had to wait for a mighty long time despite the fact that there were three ladies and one young boy helping out as well. Maybe she was a newbie at this thing so she was not all that good at it yet – hopefully, in time, she will be better and her customers would not need to wait…like forever, to be served!

Here and there…

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday on Sunday and we had a little celebration at their house on Satuday night, just the immediate family including my sister-in-law from Kuching and my brother-in-law and his wife from Bintulu plus the grandson from KL and the grand-daughter from Singapore.

In previous years, we would all go out to some restaurant outside but this year, my mother-in-law is no longer all that mobile and considering the hassle of getting her there just to eat and all the way back again, we decided to have the dinner at home instead.

My in-laws went and ordered a few dishes from here and there, including these Foochow sio bee (RM1.60 each)…

Hock Chiu Leu sio bee

…from here and also a few dishes from here, such as the sweet and sour fish fillet…

Sweet and sour fish fillet

…and these huge freshwater prawns (RM90.00)…

Freshwater prawns

…as well as the sea cucumber soup and my brother-in-law’s favourite egg omelette with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and when they said that they paid RM150.00 for all those, I knew that most of that went to the prawns – those things are a killer really!

They also got the mee mamak and this curry bihun

Curry bihun

…from this restaurant but we did not go out to get anything as my missus said she would want to cook a few dishes of her own.

Her kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma chicken

…was a hit all round and my mother-in-law especially enjoyed it so much! Unfortunately, like our daging masak hitam, it is not all that photogenic for any snapshot to do it much justice.

Her asparagus with sambal udang kering (dried prawns)…

Sambal asparagus

…were very nice too and she also cooked this chicken curry…

Chicken curry

…another of my in-laws’ favourites everytime they came to dinner at our house. At the end of the day, I would say that nothing beats one’s own home-cooked delights, that’s for sure.

It was a simple celebration, nothing grand but it was indeed most meaningful and an opportunity to get together with one’s loved ones to share the joy on a very special and auspicious occasion.