Calling it quits…

The stall in the middle here

Grand Wonderful Food Court stalls

…is wrapping up its business and will close down by the end of the month. I did order a few things from there on our previous visit and of course, there wasn’t anything that would get us rushing back for more – that was why we had not been there since.

Well, it so happened that we heard of a place in the middle of that same block of shops where the jiew hu eng chai (sotong kangkong) was very nice so we dropped by to check it out. Unfortunately, it was a Wednesday and that was their off day. In the end, we decided to just hop over to this food court a few doors away to see if there were any new stalls.

The Muslim stall was still around but we did not like what we had the first time we were here and this time around, I did not see the chap fan (mixed rice) stall in front anymore – maybe they had stopped doing it but there was a chu char stall  in the midst of some of the other stalls. The roast meat stall to the right of the kampua mee stall in the above photograph was not open either – I don’t know if they had called it quits as well or it was their off day that day.

I decided I would order the noodles…

Grand Wonderful Food Court RM18 noodles

…from the aforementioned stall just to give them a little bit of support since they were about to close down. The lady did try to explain what it was actually but I could not make head or tail of what she was saying – I did hear Szechuan being mentioned…and I could understand that it would be spicy.

It turned out to be something like those Korean noodles, very spicy and a little sourish with a whole lot of things inside – two fish balls, fish cake, bits of cauliflower and a few sprigs of kangkong, intestines, pickled radish/white carrot, seaweed, a couple of pieces of chicken or was it pork, I wasn’t entirely sure…and two small prawns…

Grand Wonderful Food Court two small prawns

The two in the photograph at the stall were at least four or five times the size…and I grumbled that if they did not have the big ones, they should at least give more of those small ones. After all, that bowl of noodles and all they had in it did not come cheap, a whooping RM18.00, mind you!

It wasn’t too bad that it was so very expensive and it did not taste that great but it took so very long that I was running out of patience by the time it was served. No, I did not say a thing – after all, they were going to close down for good, no point hitting someone who is already down but no love lost! Good riddance!

My missus went and ordered the chao chai hung ngang with fresh own-made fish balls, bay kar/ikan tengirri (mackerel) no less…

Grand Wonderful Food Court chao chai hung ngang

…from the stall from which I ordered the fish sio bee (dumplings) that last time we were here and though they were quite good, they were far from being overwhelming, nothing that I can’t do without.

My missus enjoyed her order – I could detect the fragrance of the chao chai (preserved vegetables) the moment it was served but I thought RM10.00 was a bit on the steep side. Perhaps they could reduce the number of fish balls and lower the price to say, RM8.00 to make it a little more affordable. I could think of a lot more things that I could enjoy a whole lot more for RM10.00…or even RM8.00, for that matter.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163) is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada or Jalan Pahlawan, 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.

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Not so easy…

It’s so easy, they keep telling me – you just stick the stalks in the ground and they will grow. I see it growing everywhere, the cangkuk manis

Cangkuk manis
*Archive photo*

…and unfortunately, though that was exactly what I did, nothing ever came out of it.

This time around, I did get some leaves out of the many stalks that I planted – about half of them simply dried up eventually so I pulled them out and threw them away. The rest did sprout some leaves but a lot of them were eaten by pests…

Eaten by pests

…and this was all that I could harvest…

My miserable harvest

…from all my effort in planting my own.

After tearing them into bits…

Torn

…I think I only had a few spoons of the vegetable left.

Never mind! Something is better than nothing and I decided to cook the Melanau kampung-style sayur rebus with the little that I had. There was some pumpkin in the fridge so I decided to use a bit of that. Otherwise, sweet baby corn would be  a great combination as well. Of course, there are a whole lot of other possibilities – I did blog about some of them before – and one is as nice as the other.

The basic ingredients needed would be some belacan (dried prawn paste) and chili…

Belacan chili and pumpkin

…and ikan bilis (dried anchovies) to make the stock for the soup but I did not need the latter that day as I would be adding a few of the freshwater prawns…

Freshwater prawns

…that I bought and used around half of them to cook my udang masak kunyit, another ethnic Melanau kampung-style delight.

I boiled the belacan and chili and simmered until the fragrance and the flavour had come out before adding the prawns. Once they were cooked, I added the pumpkin and continued simmering till it had gone soft. Finally, I added the cangkuk manis and once blanched, it was ready to be served…

Sayur rebus

You would be able to taste the sweetness and flavours of all the ingredients that went into the dish – it had a light and refreshing taste but some who are more used to having salt and msg in their food may prefer to add some as they probably would find it a little bland.

The cangkuk manis was really very nice – so very soft and sweet unlike some that we may get when we buy those from the wet market, probably because they are a little old already.

Open for business…

We did drop by on Wednesday a week earlier but it was closed. It seems that they take the day off on that day every week so we tried again the following week. Yes, this time around, it was open for business…

Oasis

…so we got to try some of the things they had on their menu.

While we were ordering the drinks, I was thinking of the pumpkin sago even though I did hear that their peanut drink was good but then I saw that they had let tao suan with you tiao (豆爽油条) or split mung bean soup with Chinese cruller (RM4.50)…

Oasis let tao suan

…so without any second thought, I said I wanted that. I used to enjoy that at some places in Kuching but the last time I had it was a long time ago. I don’t know of any place here selling this and all this while, I was contemplating on cooking my own. Unfortunately, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and I never got round to doing that. It was quite nice, not the best that I have had, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

My missus ordered the cendol (RM5.00)…

Oasis cendol

…and it was good, very rich in the santan (coconut milk) and even though they used gula apong (attap/nipah palm sugar) instead of gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar), the combination turned out pretty well.

I ordered the sio bee (RM5.00 for 3)…

Oasis sio bee 1

…to try even though I thought that at over RM1.60 each, the price was a bit on the high side. However, they were relatively bigger than all the reat but no, it did not get us jumping with delight. For one thing, it was mostly all meat…

Oasis sio bee 2

…inside whereas usually, one would find quite a bit of finely chopped sengkuang/mangkuang (turnip) and Bombay onions – these would add to the sweetness and enhance the taste. I think the ones here are RM1.80 each and for that kind of money, no prize for guessing which one I would rather have and I do know of  a few cheaper ones here and there that aren’t too bad either.

The steamed pumpkin cake (RM4.50 for 7 pieces, almost 65 sen each)…

Oasis steamed pumpkin cake

…was a disappointment because I had expected it to be golden in colour. However, to give credit where credit is due, it wasn’t too bad, if only the very nice chili dip that they gave with it had been spicy.

Of course, those can’t compare with my missus’ homemade ones with hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns) and bits of minced meat added but they were good enough. They also had steamed yam cake and I sure would not mind it if they had given a choice of the two, 3 pieces each for RM4.00. That way, I would have been able to kill two birds with one stone – try both their steamed pumpkin cake and the yam one as well.

Actually, I was keen on going there as I heard the jiew hu eng chai/sotong kangkong (RM11.00)…

Oasia sotong kangkong

…was very nice. Yes, it was quite nice but no, I would very much prefer our favourite in town here except that they would pour the sauce over everything in the plate instead of letting you dip in it yourself. I liked the dip but I thought it was something like a cross between rojak sauce and sotong kangkong sauce. They do have rojak on their menu but we did not order that and I was wondering if they would be using the same sauce for that too which shouldn’t be the case as the two are, in fact, quite different in taste..

Service was prompt and they did not mind it one bit when we asked for extra chili and the dip for the sotong kangkong. The lady propreitress came to talk to us and asked us for our opinion on what we had and it turned out that she was my ex-classmate’s wife who used to run the coffee shop here but according to her, she had stopped there for two years already and she had just started her business here two weeks ago.

For one thing, this is not the place to go if one is into anything heavy, just a place to hang out for some nice dessert drinks and snacks – something like this stall here (but there, you can order other things from the other stall in that same coffee shop). Here, they do not have any noodles or rice dishes on their menu and the heaviest there is would probably be the stuffed kompia, baked or served with gravy so if you are looking for something more substantial for your breakfast, lunch or dinner, it would be best to go some place else.

OASIS is located in the middle of that same block where the GRAND WONDERFUL HOTEL & FOOD COURT and ITALIAN COFFEE (2.309601, 111.845163) are, along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada, 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.

Second time…

I was here

Market Cafe, Sg Merah

…located along this lane…

Street sign

…the first time around this time last year, believe it or not.

No, there wasn’t any particular reason why I did not come back here again even though I liked the kampua pian sip that I had that morning and the coffee was good too. I do recall dropping by once around lunchtime to check out the chu char (cook & fry) place at the back but the lady at the kampua mee stall said that for reasons unknown, the guy had taken the day off even though it was not his regular weekly rest day.

I did compare the prices here to what I had at this place close by and I do prefer the noodles here plus at 50 sen less, I would much sooner come here. Other than that, the kopi-o-peng (RM1.50)…

Market Cafe kopi-o-peng

…here is cheaper than a lot of places and as good as quite a few of the nicer ones around town and as a matter of fact, I would say that it has an edge over the one here, right round the corner, a stone’s throw away, too.

Yes, I did check the prices and yes, the kampua mee is still RM2.50 and so is the pian sip, soup or dry. I did order a bowl of the former (RM2.50)…

Market Cafe pian sip, soup 1

…to try and yes, it was very good. The soup was very light and refreshing and I was glad that they did not take the liberty of adding the traditional Foochow red wine…or worse, vinegar. I do feel that those thus inclined should be allowed to add anything they want themselves.

Yes, the skin was thin and smooth and there was quite a bit of meat…

Market Cafe pian sip, soup 2

…in the dumplings too. I must say that I enjoyed it very much, not salty, no msg overdose and quite like soups that I would cook myself at home. I would probably want to try the dry version or whatever they are selling at the stall the next time.

That morning, I wanted to see what the chu char place at the back had to offer and I did see somebody at another table having the wat tan hor and it did look very good, possibly nicer than the one here. However, I did not have that myself as I had already placed my order for the tomato kway teow (RM5.00)…

Market Cafe tomato kway teow 1

…which was good and had a lot of ingredients, all the meat and shrimps and everything…

Market Cafe tomato kway teow 2

…but personally, I do prefer my favourite in town despite its lack of ingredients if not for the special request for those few pieces of char siew on top. I have not been there for a long while now though – perhaps I will do that one of these days.

MARKET CAFE (2.327140, 111.839997) is located at Lorong Sungai Merah 2A, along Lorong Sg Merah 2 in the building on the right where Moh Hin Hardware is if you are heading from the Jalan Teng King Hua traffic lights where RH Bank, Sg Merah branch is located, towards the Sg Merah traffic lights at the next junction.

Adaptation…

On Thursday afternoon last week, I received a call from Peter, the Payung Café boss. He told me that one of his staff members, an Iban lady, had cooked a fish, an ikan sultan, ethnic style and it was really very good so he would like to give me half…

Fish, cooked Iban-style

…to try and he wanted to send it over to my house. Of course I would not let him go through all that trouble and told him I would drop by a while later to get it.

I did cook one ikan buris in more or less the same way that day and it was very good but as I mentioned in that post, I tried that with an ikan sultan that I had but the flavours of the ingredients did not go into the fish. According to Peter, the lady removed all the scales for that to happen. No, I did not eat it right away. I saved it for our late lunch the next day, Friday, after we had come home from fetching my girl from her school in the jungle and yes, it was really very nice and we sure enjoyed it a lot.

For lunch the next day, Saturday, I asked my girl what she wanted to eat but she did not have anything in mind. Knowing how much she loves pasta, I suggested taking her gluten-free spaghetti to Payung and asking them to cook it for her, served with their very nice beef bolognese sauce…

Gluten-free spaghetti with beef bolognese sauce

Of course the wonderful people there did not mind it one bit and of course, my girl enjoyed it so much that even though the serving was quite big, she finished it all up.

We love the special bolognese sauce – I gathered that for 2 kg of minced beef, they would use one kg of fresh tomatoes to make it and they would also add some Italian herbs and whatever else. Theirs is very much nicer than the ones elsewhere – if those people make their own too, more often than not, it isn’t far different from the bottled pasta sauces which I am not all that fond of as it is like drinking tomato sauce straight from the bottle, more or less.

My girl also wanted the mushroom soup (RM6.00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom soup & mashed potatoes

…and I also ordered their mashed potatoes (RM8.00) to share and if anyone is wondering, their regular beef spaghetti is RM17.00. Of course, we were given a little discount for the adaptation that my girl had that day since we brought along and used our own gluten-free pasta.

This was on the house, their fungus salad…

Payung Cafe fungus salad

…a Myanmarese recipe that is new on their menu and Peter wanted us to try. My girl is never fond of fried shallots since small and I thought it was more like a vegetable dish that one would order to eat with rice, not quite like a salad but my missus enjoyed it.

Talking about my missus, she had their kacang ma chicken (RM16.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacangma chicken with rice

…while I had their Payung fish, ikan keli (RM15.00 with rice)…

Payung fish 1

…and yes, it was very nice…

Payung fish 2

– so very lemak and very much to my liking.

That sure was a delightful lunch that we had that day but most importantly, my girl enjoyed it a great deal, a welcome break from the dreary week in her school in the jungle, a much-needed food therapy, I would say.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

Can you remember…

The acronym, SRC, brings back such lovely memories of those carefree days when we would go and dance the night away at dances at the Sibu Recreation Club. Of course it is no longer where the building was – they have demolished it a long time ago and the club has been relocated here…

SRC

…but no, I don’t think they have a ballroom anymore like the one on the upper floor of the old building.

The food court beside it has been in operation for  a long time but I never went to check it out. The back of the stalls was facing the road so one could not see what they had there. Now they have moved the stalls to the other side and they are all facing the road…

SRC Food Court

We used to drive past every Saturday evening on our way to the sunset service at the church not too far from there but we did not stop by to see what they had in store until just the other day.

Many of the stalls were still vacant but I saw that they had this (RM10.00)…

SRC Food Court or chian, Kuching style

…at this stall…

SRC Food Court Stall No. 1

…so of course, I wanted to give it a try.

This is the way they do the oyster omelette or or chian in Kuching and we used to have a really good one here but that place had since closed down.

Yes, it was very good, paper thin and really crispy – something like rempeyek or papadum but unfortunately, the oysters were barely visible to the naked eye and we could not really get to enjoy the taste. I would love to go for it again but the next time, I would ask the guy to add a lot more oysters and I would pay for the extra so that we would enjoy it a whole lot more.

The char koay kak or fried chai thow koi or white radish/carrot cake (RM5.00)…

SRC Food Court char koay kak

…was very nice too but the cake was a little on the firm and chewy side. I wouldn’t mind it a little softer, just a little.

I sure enjoyed the fried kway teow (RM5.00)…

SRC Food Court fried kway teow

…that had some tiny prawns and squid in it.

I did hear someone say that they went on a very busy night and some beer company was having a show or something so the place was so very crowded and what they ordered from this same stall turned out rather disappointing. Well, I was lucky – there weren’t a lot of people when we went there that day and what we had was very much to our satisfaction.

As I approached the stall that evening, the guy greeted me and said that I was his teacher way back in the 80’s – I taught him English and I asked him if his surname was “Lu“. I could see the gleam in his eyes as he said yes and then I asked him if his name was so and so. I did not get it exactly on the dot but it was pretty close. It was obvious that he was so very surprised that I could remember his name after all these years especially when I had had thousands of students over the years and to be honest, sometimes I do surprise myself! Amazing but true! LOL!!!

THE SIBU RECREATION CLUB (SRC) FOOD COURT (2.304611, 111.821043) is located along Jalan Perpaduan, formerly called Robin Way, on your right if you are turning in from Jalan Awang Ramli Amit at its junction, with the Red Crescent Headquarters Building to your right on the other side of the road.

The best people in the world…

I am sure everyone would agree that…

People who love to eat...

…in the world!

This food court…

Food Bazaar 1

…is pretty new, located at the mega mall in town and I spotted that poster in one section of the place there…

Food Bazaar 2

…and of course, I couldn’t agree more!

We seldom venture there as we do not go out much on weekdays nor would we be keen on going out of our way but that day, we did not have a choice as we had to buy some things at their supermarket/departmental store. That was around lunch time so I suggested going to the food court to see if there was anything nice or not.

My missus had the bak kut teh, dry (RM12.00 plus RM1.20 for the rice)…

Food Bazaar bak kut teh, dry

…from this stall…

Food Bazaar bak kut teh stall

…and she said it was nice.

I ordered the Bintangor rojak (RM8.00, medium)…

Food Bazaar Bintangor rojak

…from the stall next to it but no, though it was edible and the sauce was nicer than the one we had here, I would not say it was anything I would want to have again. Those crisps were so hard that my gums hurt when eating them and I could not figure out what they added as the topping in place of crushed groundnuts – it appeared like pop corn to me. No, it was definitely a far cry from the real thing.

I also went to have a look at the stall next to the rojak stall and I saw this durian mille crepe (RM15.00)…

Food Bazaar durian mille crepe 1

Yes, I did think that the price was kind of shocking but I simply had to give it a try and thankfully, it was very nice…

Food Bazaar durian mille crepe 2

…and had the taste and smell of fresh durian. Still, at that price, I certainly would not want to have that again.

I was intrigued by the sight of this…

Food Bazaar matcha crepe roll 1

…at that same stall but I failed to make head or tail of the lengthy explanation the guy gave to tell me what it was so I just ordered one to find out for myself and it turned out to be a matcha crepe roll (RM10.00)…

Food Bazaar matcha crepe roll 2

…with cream and something that looked like red bean inside. Of course, I did not fancy that – I am not fond of anything green tea and the smell was rather strong, and it was even a little bit bitter, at times.

My missus just had one kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) from the beverages stall while I was a bit more adventurous and went to check out this one…

Food Bazaar Thai coconut ice cream & shake stall 1

…and ordered the coconut shake…

Food Bazaar Thai coconut ice cream & shake stall 2

…but it (RM6.00)…

Food Bazaar coconut shake

…wasn’t great, not really thick, rich and creamy like a shake and I told my missus that it felt like I was drinking santan (coconut milk), straight. I would much sooner go for the one that I like very much here…or at the stall outside a house at Rejang Park (but it seems to be that they are no longer running the business there) and I was wondering the whole time if their ice cream was any better. Perhaps I’ll check it out next time.

I don’t know when I will go back to the mall again – it is always very crowded on weekends but when I do, I probably would want to venture to the food court again to see what else they have in store.

FOOD BAZAAR is the food court located in the Orange Zone at the Star Mega Mall (2.304917, 111.86407) along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, the road leading to the Sibu Airport.