Sara…

This place (2.307544, 111.820744)…

Sara Cafe Sibu

…in the vicinity of Simpang Tiga, Sibu is walking distance from my parents’ house, some 100-200 metres away and even though it has been around for quite a while now and we virtually drive past every day on our way home after visiting my parents, for no apparent reason, we never stopped by to check the place out.

They certainly have a lot of things on their menu…

What's available

– you can check their Facebook page for a glimpse of some of those that they have in store…and these western delights…

Western menu

…are available any time of day – most places serve these in the evenings – right up to when they close at around 5 or 6.00 p.m.

The coffee here was really very good…

Sara Cafe kopi o peng

…a far cry and a lovely change from the ones at most of the Malay eateries where it is mostly extremely sweet with hardly any coffee fragrance.

I had their nasi lemak special (RM5.50)…

Sara Cafe nasi lemak special

…but all I got over and above the usual…

Sambal, peanuts and salted fish

…one would expect when ordering this was this fried chicken wing…

Fried chicken wing

…which certainly looked kind of small compared to those elsewhere. The rice was nothing great despite the nice tint of green because it was not lemak but of course, when eaten with the sambal and everything else including the somewhat over-fried egg…

Fried egg

…I thought it was all right but the one I had here was much nicer and costs 50 sen less.

My missus had their ayam penyet (RM7.00)…

Sara Cafe ayam penyet

…and yes, she did enjoy it and they even gave a few pieces of tempeh

Ulam & tempeh

…by the side but what won her over was the very nice and spicy sambal

Sambal

She loved that!

Well, considering the convenience of its location, we may drop by time and time again to try whatever else they have on their menu.

The day you went away…

Nick went to Mukah for over a day to visit some university mates of his there so I was not able to see him, Thursday, and all too soon, it was time for him to leave.

We went to pick him up at the hotel early Friday morning. The initial plan was to go for dim sum at a restaurant nearby but I thought he would like to try another of our local Foochow delight instead as he would be able to find dim sum quite easily here, there and everywhere, even very much nicer ones, perhaps. However, this place was not open yet – it opens at 8.00 a.m. so we went back to where we came, the hotel where he was staying, to a coffee shop in that same block. I wanted him to try the zhao chai hung ngang (RM30.00)…

Tung Lok zhao chai hung ngang, prawn

– the big bihun in the sourish and slightly spicy preserved vegetable soup there. I asked for the udang galah (giant freshwater prawns) seeing that he did not get to enjoy the one in Sarikei so this was like killing two birds with one stone.

Yes, he liked it and he loved the prawn – he said it was very firm and very fresh. This was quite big – it had legs, anything smaller would not have those but according to the lady, one could opt for the bigger sizes going for RM45.00 a bowl up to even RM60.00 depending on the size of the prawn. I did not specify when I ordered so they just gave us the “smallest” they had.

My missus had the same but with fish – tapah (RM12.00)…

Zhao chai hung ngang, fish

…but I am not really into this so I opted for something else. If I am not mistaken, as far as this Sibu Foochow specialty is concerned, this place…

Tung Lok Corner Sibu

…is among the best, if not THE best, in town. It used to be here attracting customers by the droves but it moved here sometime ago in the same block as the hotel where Nick was staying…

Medan Hotel Sibu Bus Terminal

…at the other end, facing the Sibu Bus Terminal directly and they have been here since, still enjoying that same popularity as before.

I had the Foochow fried noodles with fish – tapah (RM12.00)…

Tung Lok Foochow fried noodles, tapah

…and yes, it was very nice but as far as the noodles were concerned, I would say I would prefer a few elsewhere.

Some paternal cousins of mine love the kampua noodles here so much so that they would bring any visiting siblings or cousins here every day for this. That was why I ordered a plate with pian sip mee (RM2.80)…

Tung Lok pian sip kampua

…but no, I certainly would not go there again for this and as a matter of fact, we left most of it behind, unfinished.

After having had our fill, we drove Nick to visit the Yu Lung San Tien En Si Temple Complex

Nick at the temple complex, Sibu

…reputed to be the biggest in South-east Asia. It is a little out of town but just around 5 minutes from the roundabout near the airport – on the way to Mukah or Bintulu or to my girl’s jungle school. We drove past every week for so many years but we never did stop by to walk around. That was why I was glad to get the chance this time around and I did take a lot of photographs while we were there – I may share them in a later post, we’ll see.

After a brief stop at the new township, also near the airport, Sibu Jaya, we dropped Nick off to catch his flight…

Nick at Sibu Airport, departure

…home.

I must say I had a jolly good time myself though it was somewhat limited and we could have done a lot more things if I did not have my filial duties at this point in time…and I certainly would love to welcome Nick back again someday to tie up whatever loose ends left dangling. Thanks for coming, Nick. I do hope I’ll be seeing you again…soon.

Not enough time…

On his third day here, Nick wanted to go to Mukah to visit his former university mates there but the bus was scheduled to leave at around noon which meant that I just had that morning to squeeze in whatever I could while he was here in Sibu, Sarawak.

I took him to Rejang Park here to see the making of the so-called Foochow bagel, our kompia

Making kompia, Rejang Park
*Archive photo*

…the traditional way and of course, we went to that one with the nice and friendly young boy, complete with his signature towel apron. Yes, I did get some and also a few of the softer and slightly sweet version, the chu nu miang, for Nick to try. Personally, I like the kompia here the best – crustier, not so chewy or rubbery, and more fragrant.

Next, I took him to the Sibu Central Market, reputed to be the biggest in the country, but no, we did not have that much time to go round the whole place. He just hopped out of the car to walk around quickly to see what he could see, take photographs the street art mural on the wall there…

Sibu Central market newspaper chicken & duck
*Archive photo*

…and the famed newspaper-wrapped chickens…

Newspaper-wrapped chickens
*Archive photo*

…and we were on our way.

After that, we stopped by here…

Wan Jia He Cafe

…for breakfast.

I picked this place as he wanted anything and everything Sibu – he did not want to go to any place that is Thai, Italian, Indian, Indonesian and all the rest that we have here, never mind how good they are as he can get those quite easily elsewhere, everywhere…and here, I could order a few of our local Foochow delights for him to try.

These were our drinks…

Drinks

I had my usual kopi-o-peng kao and he had the teh-c special once again. Yes, you may notice that mug of hot boiling water at the back – Nick did manage to go here (located somewhere behind the hotel where he  was staying) for the kampua mee and the pian sip on his own before he caught a bus to Sarikei that day and he sent me a photograph of the one he was given there asking me what that was for. I quickly replied to tell him that was not for drinking but for people to sterilise their chopsticks and forks and spoons – this is a requirement imposed by our municipal council on all eateries here.

I ordered the char bee lau too kha (fragrant root pork leg)…

Char bee lau too kha

…but no, Nick is not all that fond of those Chinese herbal soups so I could understand jolly well why he did not enjoy that very much.

He loved the mee sua in our traditonal Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup 1

…though. He said it…

Mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup 2

…was a whole lot nicer than the blood-red red wine mee sua he had some place else, but he could not remember exactly where.

However, his favourite was the Foochow fried noodles…

Foochow fried noodles

…as this dish has a much stronger taste than the mee sua and he liked that. The place was packed, so full of people that it was difficult getting a table and obviously, the lady was so very busy with all that cooking to be done, dishing out plate after plate, non-stop so she did not have time to worry about the presentation. It tasted really very good though – in my personal opinion, I would rank it as the best…or at least, among the top 3 in town.

Another thing that amazed me immensely was how I could just tell her my orders and my table number and she could remember everything without having to write it down…plus we did not have to wait long even though there were so many people that early in the morning, around 8.00 a.m!

Having had our fill, I took Nick here to snap a shot of the rooster…

Farley Chinese New Year rooster
*Archive photo*

He was in luck! They were beginning to take down the decorations as the Chinese New Year festivities were over but before that, we did stop here as well – the Kutien Memorial Park…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park, Sibu 1

He sure took a lot of photographs there…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park Sibu 2

…and he was particularly impressed by how Chinese the place was, like some place one would be most likely to find in China…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park, Sibu 3

…right here in our good ol’ Sibu town.

Having done all that, I sent him back to the hotel so he could rest a bit and get ready for his bus ride to Mukah.

Complete…

No trip to Sibu would be complete if you do not drop by here…

Nick at Payung

…and on his second day here, Nick took a bus to Sarikei in the hope of enjoying the celebrated giant freshwater noodles there but the place was closed and without that, there wasn’t really much there for someone going around on his own without a car and nobody to take him around and all.

He got back here at around 4.00 p.m. mid-afternoon and I took him here for the Sarawak laksa but it was sold out…and then, I took him here for the prawn noodles since he did not get to enjoy the one in Sarikei but the shop wasn’t open either.

I did not intend to come here initially as I knew they would be very busy at that point in time getting ready for their special Valentine’s Day buffet dinner that night but I decided to stop by, nonetheless…

One for the memory

…considering that with the limited time Nick would be in town, we might not get the chance to do so. If I did not have my commitments that night, I certainly would have brought him here to enjoy all that they had to offer in their Valentine’s Day special – 20 different dishes for only RM50.00 per head.

Peter, the nice boss, was kind enough to welcome us – there were others who came while we were there and they were nicely informed that they could come back for the buffet dinner starting at 6.30 p.m. should they choose to do so.

Nick loved the Payung rojak

Payung Cafe Payung rojak

…but between the two, he liked the pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…more – so nice and refreshing with the delightful fragrance of the herbs and leaves in it, he said…and very unique, not something one can easily find elsewhere.

He got to try the buah pakan/pakon, the wild durian, in Sarikei but being a true-blue lover of durian, he did not enjoy it so much. He said it was a little too mild in taste and smell compared to the real thing but he did enjoy the durian ice cream…

Payung Cafe durian ice cream

…that we had here for dessert.

He did not get the chance to try a lot of the stuff here as I did not want to order anything that was not so convenient for Peter and his guys to prepare and serve but he thought the mushroom roll…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll

…was really very nice and he loved the Payung otak-otak

Payung Cafe otak otak

…which was extra spicy that day and yes, like my missus and I, he is into things spicy so he did not have a problem with that.

That was all we had that day – all the rest would have to wait till the next time he decides to hop over to Sibu again though I wonder when that will be. After that, I dropped him off at the pasar malam (night market) in the hope that more stalls would be open as unlike the previous evening, the weather was fine that evening.

Rain, rain, rain…

I was able to get away every day from around 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. so on the first day my friend, Nick, was in town, I went and picked him up at the hotel and took him here…

Sungai Merah Sibu

– Sungai Merah, the Red River, reputed to be the spot where the earliest Foochow settlers landed when they came to Sibu and we did manage to hop over to the Wong Nai Siong Memorial Park there…

Wong Nai Siong Memorial Part
*Archive photo*

…and Nick had a photograph of his taken at the so-called Lovers’ Bridge…

Nick at Lovers' Bridge

…before it started to rain cats and dogs. Gosh!!! It literally poured and there were flash floods everywhere and though we did drop by our impressive-looking university here, we just drove around and left. There was no way we could get out of the car to walk around and take photographs and do whatever else we might want to do there.

Seeing that visibility was low from inside the car, I did not see any point in driving around so I took Nick here…

Noodle House Sibu
*Archive photo*

…for the deep fried kompia stuffed with stewed pork belly (RM5.20, exclusive of GST)…

Noodle House kompia pork belly

…and yes, he liked it! I do not recall it being this expensive though – I guess like everything else around here these days, the price has gone up too.

He enjoyed the mille crepe, rum & raisin (RM7.80, exclusive of GST)…

Noodle House mille crepe, rum & raisin

…too and for one who has tasted the celebrated mille crepes in Malacca to say that the one here is good is truly a compliment, I must say. Now, this is what food bloggers and foodies will usually do before they get down to eating what they have ordered…

Nick at Noodle House

Hehehehehe!!!!

He did not want to try the macarons but I insisted on ordering this – their chocolate lava cake (RM9.50, exclusive of GST)…

Noodle House chocolate lava cake 1

…and yes, he loved it…

Noodle House chocolate lava cake 2

…a lot!

By the time we  finished, it had stopped raining so I took Nick to the Tua Pek Kong wharf to see the floating grocery stores…

Sibu floating shops
*Archive photo*

…but I think it was rather late already and all of them would be closed. He did drop by the temple…

Tua Pek Kong temple, Sibu
*Archive photo*

…but it was already after 5.30 p.m. so he could not climb up the 7-storey pagoda for a bird’s eye view of Sibu town…and I did tell him not to miss the very nice park right behind the temple…

Park behind Tua Pek Kong temple, Sibu
*Archive photo*

His plan was to walk over to the pasar malam (night market)…

Pasar Malam, Sibu
*Archive photo*

…a stone’s throw away but I heard he was somewhat disappointed as most of the stalls were not open owing to the heavy downpour earlier. Of course, I could not go along with him as I had to rush quickly to my parents’ house to be with my dad for the rest of the evening and all through the night so poor Nick had to make his way around and back to the hotel on his own.

When he came…

I was so delighted when he told me he would come to Sibu and pay me a visit, my blogger-friend, Nick, from Sungai Petani in Kedah

Nick

Never mind that I am caught up with all those things revolving around my parents at this point in time, I just had to make appropriate arrangements to slot in some time to take him around, sightseeing and eating some of the nice things around here…and look at all the stuff that the very nice guy brought all the way for me…

Goodies from Nick

I put him up at a small hotel here as I would not be home most of the day and at night, so he could be left to his own devices when I was not available to venture out and roam around on his own.

After meeting him upon arrival at the airport and taking him to check in, I took him here for the authentic ethnic Dayak delights for that special taste of Sarawak. It was already past 1.00 p.m. then so a lot of the things were running out and no, we did not have everything in a plate or a tray. For someone special on a visit, I insisted on everything served in separate bowls and plates like when I was here with my godson/ex-student, Andrew, from Christchurch, New Zealand that day.

He had the teh-c special…

Teh-c special

I hear one can get to drink this in Sarawak only, I don’t know how true that is but there were only two colours. Normally, I would expect a layer of green – either pandan or wheatgrass.

This was all that was left of the kacang ma chicken with tuak

Anak Borneo kacang ma chicken

…and the kasam ensabi with pork…

Anak Borneo kasam ensabi with pork

…but there was more than enough for Nick to get the taste of each of these delightful dishes.

I ordered this paku (wild jungle fern)…

Anak Borneo paku and cabbage

…with cabbage which I thought was an odd combination but I had never had it before and I wanted to give it a try. Well, personally, I think I would stick to our favourites here – the tapioca leaves and the cangkuk manis and pumpkin…

Anak Borneo cangkuk manis & pumpkin

…that we also had that day.

Of course I did not miss out the pansuh babi (pork cooked in bamboo tubes)…

Anak Borneo pansoh babi

…and to go with everything, I asked for the dabai fried rice…

Anak Borneo dabai fried rice

The total came up to RM21.00 and yes, Nick enjoyed all that we had – he said everything was nice and he particularly liked the unique kind of “herbal” taste of the dishes with all the natural ingredients used in the cooking.

Well, he’s leaving today but no worries, there is a lot more on his visit in the posts to come. Do stick around and see what else we have in store.

Thank you so much for coming, Nick. It certainly was my pleasure having you come and visit our little town…and I do hope you will come again someday…soon. All the best in everything that you do, take care, cheers!!!

A real good try…

Last Saturday, my girl wanted the smoked organic chicken, drumstick and rice (RM5.40)…

Warung BM smoked chicken rice

here for brunch so of course, I took her there. Yes, the chicken was great, as always and the rice too and so was the complimentary soup…

Warung BM complimentary soup

…like at most of those Malay eating places around here, not just the very diluted bone soup with lots of msg.

They have some new items on their menu…

Warung BM new items on menu

…but no, we could not try any of them as obviously, they are all not gluten-free.

The mum had to hold the fort, keeping my dad company at their house so she was not able to join us. However, I tapao-ed her favourite for her, the ayam penyet (RM9.80)…

Warung BM ayam penyet

…along with the rice which, for some reason, was packed separately…

Warung BM rice

I decided to try their Penang char kway teow (RM9.90)…

Warung BM Penang char kway teow

…but despite the presence of all the see ham (cockles)…

Cockles

…and the prawns…

Prawns

…I did not think it tasted like Penang char kway teow, more like mee mamak and that was probably due to the addition of sweet chili sauce, I wouldn’t know…plus I was not all that fond of those thin strips of carrot either…and where’s the taugeh (bean sprouts)? All in all, I would not think it was a real good try – I would much sooner go for the nice one here, with the three miserably tiny prawns minus all the cockles but at less than half the price. I sure would enjoy that a lot more.

There are a few more items in their menu that we have yet to try – so far, our favourites would be the smoked chicken rice and the ayam penyet…and we sure would not mind going back for those again…and again.