One day…

I abstain from meat for just one day every week, Friday and I must say that it is quite problematic looking for things to eat outside especially at 6.00 a.m. in the morning when most of the shops would be closed. Kampua mee without meat would be all carbs and may be somewhat plain and not that appealing.

Much to my delight, my regular Malay kueh stall at Bandong opens real early every morning for the benefit of those stopping by after their morning prayers at the surau nearby to buy something home for breakfast.  They have their very nice nasi lemak, of course and I can just avoid the add-ons like their chicken curry or beef rendang or I can go for their fried kway teow (RM2.50)…

Bandong fried kway teow

…or mee goreng (RM2.50)…

Bandong mee goreng

…instead. These used to be RM2.00 only though during those days before COVID-19. They would wrap them up using a plastic sheet into a bungkus but I guess you get less when they do it that way. I noticed that morning that they had fried bihun and even halal kampua mee too!

If you are not into rice and noodles, you may pick something from the array of kuehs. They have so many things for you to choose and that morning, I decided I would try their bread pudding…

Bread pudding

I bought this before and I did like it very much but this time around, it looked kind of different. I thought it was all right – I prefer the regular ones that they used to sell before.

I was about to grab a pack of their pulut panggang that morning when I spotted the ketupat lemak

Ketupat lemak

…beside it, so so so good with kaya (c0c0nut jam) or condensed milk so I bought those…

Ketupat lemak

…instead and yes, they were very good – I do not have to go all the way to the tamu in Permai where the Chipsmore old lady (now you see her, now you don’t) said she would sell hers twice a week…depending on your luck.

I sure am glad that I can always drop by here on Friday every week, otherwise I would have to cook myself a bowl of instant noodles at home…or buy a loaf of bread ahead of time to make an egg or tuna sandwich in the morning, sorry, no ham, no bacon, no sausages! LOL!!!

Not much…

My girl has gone back to school for a couple of weeks now. Even before the pupils had to go back, she was already back in school to make all the necessary preparations. She did not have to go too early though – there  by 7.30 a.m. by which time, most of the coffee shops would be in full swing and I could go anywhere I chose for breakfast.

However, that did not last too long as by the time the senior pupils came back, she had to be there every morning at around 6.00 a.m. to make sure they observed social distancing while queuing up, take their temperature, get them to wash and sanitise their hands and all those things…and the rest of the classes will be coming back this week, a lot more to deal with.

Well, 6.00 a.m. is not a good time for me as except for a sprinkling here and there, nothing much other than kampua mee, the rest of the shops will still be closed so I will just have to come straight home and eat whatever I can find. I am getting quite tired of steamed paos and bak changs, cookies/biscuits and bread and I think I’ve had quite enough of instant noodles too.

On one of the mornings, I did drop by my regular Malay kueh stall at Bandong here to see what they had that might tickle my fancy. It sure looked like everybody was back in action and they were getting most, if not all, of the usual supplies for sale. I did buy their bingka labu, putu mayam, pulut panggang to keep in the fridge for breakfast or tea as and when I feel like it.

I didn’t want their nasi lemak again as I just had that not too long ago so I bought two packs of their mee jawa (RM3.00)…

Kopi Kopi mee jawa, takeaway

I had it there sometime ago

Kopi Kopi mee jawa

…and yes, it was very nice and so is the one from the nasi lemak stall…

Nasi Lemak Bandong Walk mee jawa

…along Bandong Walk a stone’s throw away but that one does not open till at least 7.30 a.m.

Going back to the takeaway mee jawa that I bought that morning, my missus did not want it – she has this aversion to mee jawa as she had it ONCE at the hospital canteen and she did not like it at all, so very sweet, she said and she never had it again after that even though like everything else, there are the good ones and there are others that are not so good. In the end, we heated it up for my girl for lunch and yes, she enjoyed it. I quite liked it too.

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located next to Penyet Bandong at the back of the blocks of shops facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and my regular kueh stall is right beside it.

Back alley…

The sign says that this started in 1965…

1965

…around the time when I was just entering secondary school. I can’t remember where the very thin guy, assisted by his equally thin mum, both skin and bone actually had his roadside stall first – whether it was in the back alley behind the Chartered Bank here or at the back of the open space in between Rex Cinema and the shops by the side of the Sarawak Hotel but the locals here generally refer to his noodles at the Chartered Bank kampua.

Well, I don’t know when he disappeared or where he went after that but the next thing I knew, they said that he was running his stall…

Teochew Roasted Mee Flat Mee stall

…at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market. According to them, he only opened at night and he would cook the noodles himself and at times, he would take so long but no, one must not go and ask as he would start scolding away. Later, I heard that the stall was open on Sunday morning, operated by the son or somebody but I never took the time to go and check it out even though during our growing up years, we loved his noodles so so so much.

When I went upstairs one morning, I saw him getting the stall and everything ready but when I walked over to see, he said he was not ready yet, period! He did not say when he would start the ball rolling so I decided to go some place else.

Well, I went back again on another morning and yes, he was open, assisted by a young girl, probably his grand daughter. I ordered the noodles…

Chartered Bank kampua 1

…and I wanted the soup but the girl said that there was only the complimentary soup, a very nice one with a bit of tang chai in it . I vaguely remember a very nice chap chap (mixed) soup before but perhaps, I remembered wrongly – that was so very long ago.

The noodles were somewhat disappointing – it had its own unique taste and was all right but I don’t remember it tasting like that and I did hear that he used to make his own flat noodles but not anymore.  The texture was not quite there and it made me feel kind of sad that what I loved so very long ago wasn’t quite the same anymore. The meat wasn’t any consolation either.

I was told that he only opens in the morning these days, not at night anymore as he has grown too old for all those late nights. When I was done, I stood up and as I was leaving, he was standing by his stall, taking a breather and when he saw me, he smiled. I don’t know if he could recognise me or he really isn’t as grumpy as what they say. I must say that he has put on weight and looks a lot better, no longer skin and bone anymore.

The TEOCHEW ROASTED MEAT FLAT MEE stall is located at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market (2.287444, 111.829169) at the junction of Channel Road and Workshop Road/Mission Road.

It’s all your fault…

Yes, it’s all your fault, Phong Hong! After seeing your post on the claypot rice that you had, I was dying for it…

Claypot King special

The last time I had that was in August last year and we had not been there since as it was out of the way on that side of town that we seldom frequent.

Left with no choice, I had to make my way there…

Claypot King

…for lunch that day and thankfully, after all this time, it was still around and enjoying brisk business.

Of course I would settle for…

Claypot King menu

…nothing less than the chicken and pork special (RM14.00)…

Claypot King chicken & pork special 1

…and I sure was thankful that despite the spiralling prices of virtually anything and everything these days, the price was still the same as when we had it before.

Oh my!!! That was so good and I definitely enjoyed it…

Claypot King chicken & pork claypot special 2

…to the fullest.

I was speaking to the lady manning the stall with an Indonesian guy/helper at the point in time and I found out that they now have another outlet here and that is definitely a whole lot closer to my house. It sure looks like I am going to have claypot rice for lunch or dinner on a more regular basis now.

CLAYPOT KING is located at WANG SENG FOOD STREET (2.342889, 111.831740) in UniCity along Jalan Wawasan.

Go upstairs…

I go to the Sibu Central Market quite frequently these days. It is very convenient for me after dropping off my girl at her school to drive to Jalan Khoo Peng Loong, more popularly known as Pulau Babi, and park my car there. From there, I can walk through the food garden/hawker centre to the market.

I never went upstairs to the hawker centre on the first floor though but sometime ago, my missus came home with some Foochow fried noodles that she said she bought from her brother’s friend stall, No. 23 and it was very nice and the other morning, I decided to go and have a look. My West Malaysian friends from KL did venture there when they were here recently and they loved the dianpianngu and the Foochow fried noodles but I do not know which stalls they went to for those.

I used the lift, of course, and got to the upper floor and went in search of Stall No. 23. It was closed and it looked like a drink stall. So I went to this stall…

Stall No. 52 Sibu Central Market

…instead.

A long long time ago, 2015 to be exact, I had the beef noodles and it was pretty good and this time around, I asked for that again…

Stall No. 52 Sibu Central Market beef noodles special 1

When the very handsome and friendly guy manning the stall served me my order, he apologised that the broth would not be all that nice as it was way too early and he had not simmered it enough.

I tried it…

Stall No. 52 Sibu Central Market beef noodles special 2

…and yes, it was good but just that like everything else, I would rather go without the green vegetables. I shall tell the guy to leave them out the next time I come here for this.

It wasn’t really the dark Taiwanese-style ones nor the sort-of-clear soup ones like this one here that I very much prefer but I did enjoy it and I sure would not mind going for it again, just that it was only RM5.00 in 2015 and now, it has gone up to RM7.00. Well, for one thing, beef is expensive here and anyway, the prices of everything have been going up and up so this shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.

By the way, I saw among the photos on display at the stall one of the much coveted prawn noodles, freshwater big-head prawns/udang galah no less, with prices ranging from RM12.00 up to RM18.00. I guess it depends on the size of the crustaceans. Well, that certainly was a whole lot cheaper than what my aforementioned West Malaysian friends from KL had here that day – a shocking RM80!!! *faints*

STALL NO. 52 is located at the hawker centre on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market (2.287444, 111.829169) at the junction of Channel Road and Workshop Road/Mission Road.

If you don’t know me by now…

I guess she knows me by now as she did ask me once if I was “that blogger” and I said yes, the lady proprietress…

Nasi Kerabu Warong owner

…of the Nasi Kerabu Warong stall at the Permai Food Court here.

I dropped by again the other morning, Tuesday, to tapao the very nice nasi kerabu for lunch and while I was there, I thought I would try something different and asked for the nasi tomato ayam masak merah since according to the sign…

Lunchtime specials

…it would be available that day. However, I was told that it would only be available for lunch. They have specific specials for specific days, it seems and it sure looks like I would have to go back on a Thursday to try their Nasi Arab.

The sweet and generous lady said that she would like to give me her nasi dagang, a Terengganu delight (nasi kerabu is Kelantanese)…

Nasi dagang

…to try. That usually comes with gulai ikan, a fish (usually ikan tongkol) curry…

Gulai ikan

…and theirs came with an egg some more. Yes, it was very nice and without doubt, it would be good alternative if one does not feel like having nasi kerabu on certain days.

I also tapao-ed their nasi lemak with chicken rendang (RM6.00)…

Nasi lemak chicken rendang

…home to try for breakfast and I loved it! The rice was just so-so, not as lemak as I would want it but the chicken was so good, bursting with the flavours of the daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) and whatever else that went into the cooking. It is only RM5.00 here though, with a very much smaller piece of chicken and half an egg only and the last time I asked for a fried egg, I was charged another RM1.50 for it!

Rest assured that I would be heading back here for more again and again and hopefully, I shall get to try some of the other nice stuff that they have on their menu.

PERMAI FOOD COURT (2.297141, 111.896163) is located among the newer shops to the section on the right of Jalan Permai, off Lorong Ulu Oya 11, off Jalan Ulu Oya, to the right of the Permai Hotel there.

Second opinion…

For a while now, I have been buying and enjoying the steamed bak pao from the shop near my house. As a matter of fact, I think so highly of it that I would even buy some to give to family and friends.

However, one morning, I dropped by the Sibu Central Market to buy the ones from the old lady there. I don’t recall ever buying the big ones – all the time, in the past, I would just ask for the small ones (RM1.50) and I did enjoy them to some extent.

That morning, I asked for the big ones (RM2.20)…

Sibu Central Market old lady's steamed bak pao

…and took them home to eat.

I was delighted to find that they were really very nice! The filling is different from the aforementioned ones that I like a lot and that is also very nice and there is a lot more of it…

Sibu Central Market old lady's steamed bak pao, filling

…in this one, so much more for an extra 20 sen whereas you will get a lot more skin in the other one.

There is egg in both though I wish they can be a bit more generous with it and give a much bigger wedge – I so love egg in paos.

In the meantime, I went to the stall where I bought the giant bak chang that turned out quite disappointing and there, I saw these chai kueh (vegetable cake)…

Chai kueh

…or what my friend called lizard’s belly because the skin of the good ones would be so translucent that one would be able to see the filling inside and it looks like the underside of a lizard.

These were RM1.00 each and I liked how they were so well-rounded, well-filled with the very nice filling…

Chai kueh, filling

…unlike most that we have around town that look so miserably deflated, lots of empty spaces inside. The skin was perfect and the filling was very tasty with a hint of hay bee (dried prawns), not overly strong, just right.

Well, I guess if I happen to drop by the market again, I may want to buy these or perhaps, I would like to try some other things instead – there are so many things for one to pick and choose but of course, whether they are good or not, that’s another story altogether.

Wherever you are…

For one thing, this place is out of my way – I would not venture to that part of the woods unless somebody has to go to the Sibu General Hospital, 5 miles from town, for a routine appointment or to collect some medication. Due to the parking problem there, I would drive over to the shops here to wait and once I get a missed call, I would drive back to the hospital to get them and head on home.

Well, it so happened that I had to go through that same routine the other day and I took the chance to drop by here…

Permai Food Court

…because I saw on Facebook that my favourite nasi kerabu place had moved here…

Nasi kerabu Warong

I sure did not mince my words about how the shop used to open and close according to their whims and fancies and I would get so pissed off going all the way only to find that they had conveniently taken the day off. However, a girl replied and assured me that unlike before, they would not do that anymore.

In the meantime, we had gone here for that Kelantanese delight even though comparatively, it was not as good. However, the last time we went there for that, I was shocked by the colour – it was so horrifyingly blue…and the Saturday earlier, when we got there, we were told that it was not available. I really cannot understand how they can do business like that and because of this, I would not want to go back there ever again…if I can help it!

I got there at 1 something and yes, the stall…

Permai Food Court, nasi kerabu stall

…was open. The girl said that they would open around 7.30 a.m. every morning (except Sundays) and close when everything is sold out, at around 4.00 p.m. but on Saturdays, they may run out earlier, before 1.

Business sure seemed very good and the orders were being served fast and furious. Somebody was having this, probably their nasi ayam berempah

Permai Food Court from the nasi kerabu stall

…and I managed to snap a photograph of it before it was whisked away to the customer waiting at his table.

I did get to talk to the girl – it seemed that the shop was closed owing to some family matters and now she had ventured out on her own here. She asked me if I was THE blogger and I said yes.

I ordered three packs of our favourite, her nasi kerabu ayam percik (RM6.50 each)…

Nasi kerabu ayam percik
*Archive photo*

…to take home for our dinner and yes, it was so very good, as good as it ever was, second to none and rest assured that wherever she is, I certainly would want to go back again and again for more!

PERMAI FOOD COURT (2.297141, 111.896163) is located among the newer shops to the section on the right of Jalan Permai, off Lorong Ulu Oya 11, off Jalan Ulu Oya, to the right of the Permai Hotel there.

Home for Christmas…

My ex-student, Raphael, sent me word way ahead of time that he would be back in Sibu – it appeared that he would come back to this part of the world to spend Christmas with his mum and the brothers. He told me the dates when he would be here and asked whether I would be free to meet up and of course, I replied that it would be my pleasure!

I think he was in KL, Singapore and Kuching before he came home to Sibu and we went out on one of the mornings he was around. He said he would not mind some Foochow fried noodles so I took him here for the celebrated one featured in a video clip on youtube from Stall No. 3 (RM4.00)…

Sg Antu Stall No. 3

I tried the ones at some of the other stalls before but I had not had the chance to try this one yet so I asked him how it was. He said it was good but he had not had any so far so he was in no position to make a comparison. Gosh!!! That place was crowded and judging from the number of people ordering from this stall, it was pretty obvious that this one was the most popular of them all.

I did not feel like having that so I went walking around the place trying to find something that I would fancy. I spotted these (50 sen each)…

Pulut coconut 1

…at Stall No. 4, the chicken rice stall, and was thrilled to bits! These days, you may find them at the Malay kueh stalls but they are all wrapped in plastic and that would put me off right away.

It was very nice…

Pulut coconut 2

…but it was so very small, maybe half of the size long ago and I would prefer the spicy and savoury version with sambal coconut on top instead of this sweet one.

I decided to go for the soy sauce pork belly from that same stall but the guy said that the rice was not ready yet and asked if I would mind having his chicken rice rice instead (RM5.00)…

Stall No. 4 rice

Of course I did not mind but my happiness was short-lived as the rice was dry and hard, not anything I would want to have again.

The soy sauce pork belly…

Soy sauce pork belly and egg

…was all right and of course, as always, I simply couldn’t resist one of those stewed eggs that I absolutely love!

After our brunch, I took him here…

The Kitchen Food store
*Eric’s photograph on Facebook*

…to look around and of course, he wanted a pack of the internationally-famous Sibu instant kampua to bring back to the States and upon my persuasion, he decided to grab a pack of their very nice ramen laksa as well.

I decided to buy a pack of the Ba’Kelalan highland rice…

Ba'Kelalan highland rice & Jakar coffee

…to try and Raphael insisted on paying for it, that very nice and sweet boy!

In the meantime, Eric’s mum passed me a pack of the famous Jakar coffee – she said that Eric would want me to have that. Thank you so much, Eric and like what I said to your mum, please don’t give me anything anymore. So shy lah!

And speaking about giving, Raphael brought these…

From Raphael

…all the way back from the US to give to me. Thank you so much, Raphael – it sure was a pleasure getting to see you once again. Till the next time, take care and God bless always. Cheers!

THE SUNGAI ANTU MARKET & HAWKER CENTRE/FOOD COURT (2.320030, 111.830741) is located along Jalan Sg Antu 2, on your right off Jalan Industri as you drive in from Jalan Kpg Nangka and THE KITCHEN FOOD shop (2.304994, 111.847404), home of the original, the one & only Sibu instant kampua, is located in the Sibu Bus Terminal area at Lorong 7A, Jalan Pahlawan, right next to the UOB Bank there.

Heat…

My cousin’s hubby was posted to work in Sibu for a number of years before he eventually got his transfer back to Kuching. It was not very long after that when he started missing the pulut panggang in Sibu. According to him, the ones here are the best, second to none.

Well, in our family, our favourite is what we call Kate panggang but the people at my regular kueh stall at Bandong call it Haji Luguk’s panggang. That is why everytime I fly over to Kuching, I will buy a lot to distribute to family members for them to enjoy.

I may have to buy them earlier and keep in the fridge and they may have to do the same as they can’t possibly eat them all at one go. The question arises as to how they will usually heat up the panggang before eating. I was aghast when I saw some of them steaming it – I am quite sure the fragrance and taste would be affected, perhaps even lost. Putting them in the oven may not be a good idea either as if you keep them in the heat for too long, you will end up with a hard outer layer that is not at all palatable.

I would use a non-stick pan to heat them up and I absolutely love those pans with grill lines…

Hj Luguk's aka Kate panggang

Incidentally, I also love toasting bread with this – you will end up with lovely pieces of toast with nice brown parallel lines and if you position the bread in the other direction in the process, you will end up with squares. Just as in the case of the toast, the panggang will not have complete contact with the surface of the pan so that would reduce the possibility of over-heating and ending up with a hard crust.

You can see in the above photograph that the banana leaf is quite burnt in parts and that is what draws the line between the men and the boys. That gives the panggang the special fragrance and taste that is so very nice that you can eat it on its own- my missus does that but she hates it when I buy panggang and I would pick it up and smell first. If you can’t detect the fragrance, just put it back! There’s no point buying that as it will not be nice.

Of course, you will need to be vigilant at all times – stand by the side turning the panggang round and round with a pair of tongs. Initially, it will be hard when taken out of the fridge. Perhaps the santan (coconut milk) and oil have hardened in the cold so once you feel it has gone soft – press gently with the tongs to check – it is done.

You can see that there is a light tint of brown…

Nicely heated up

…so it is not overdone and will not be hard. It will also be oily with traces of the santan so it will not be dry.

We can get pulut panggang very easily here in Sibu, RM1.00 each usually while these Haji Luguk ones are more expensive by 10 sen, RM1.10 but it is definitely worth it. Some of the RM1.00 ones are quite all right – just do not eat them together and you may not be able to tell the difference but some are really not worth the calories. I guess, like everything else, you need to know where to go.

HAJI LUGUK’S PULUT PANGGANG is available at what used to be known as Mak Met’s Breakfast Station, right beside KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen which is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.