As far as I can remember…

As far as I can remember, this old lady

Pao lady

…has been around for a very long time, going back all the way to the 80’s when she had her stall selling paos (steamed buns) at the front end of the market in Sibu, then at its former location in between High Street and Market Road, facing the now-closed-down Palace Theatre.

I do not know exactly when she started her business but it was very convenient at the time to just stop by the side of the road and shout out what one wanted and they would bring your order to your car…but of course, there were not so many cars then, a whole lot of bicycles all over town.

These days, her stall is located at one of the pillars (near the tofu & taugeh stalls section) at the Sibu Central Market and it certainly looks like she is doing well enough to keep her going.

Her chai (vegetable) pao (70 sen each) is very different from all the rest that would have thin strips of cabbage and carrot inside while hers would have what looks like strips of salted vegetable except that it is not salty and long beans…

Chai pao

It is very nice but being a meat person, personally, I prefer her bak (meat) pao (RM1.50 small, RM2.20 big)…

Bak pao

My dad used to love them a lot and my sister would stock up some at home in the fridge to steam and heat them up for him for breakfast. I asked her the other day if they were still as nice but she said she would not know as she had not gone there to buy, not since my father passed away.

Well, I did grab some the other day and yes, they were still very nice. I would say that I like hers more than what I had here and the very popular one here that I had not too long ago. I sure wouldn’t mind buying some again should I happen to drop by the market to browse around in the early morning.

Shortcut to somewhere…

It is virtually impossible to find a parking space around this part of town…

Khoo Peng Loong Food Garden

…at any time of day except in the early morning around 6 something after I have dropped off my girl at her school. It is very convenient to just walk through the food garden/hawker centre to the Sibu Central Market – the fish and other seafood section.

There is one drawback though – the early bird does not always catch the worm. Most of the stalls at the ethnic/native jungle produce section do not open so early, maybe just a sprinkling so there will not be much to see and to buy. The rest of the stalls at the market, on the other hand, would be in full swing already though so I would stop by to walk around and buy a thing or two sometimes.

Another disappointing thing is how most of the stalls at the hawker centre would not be open for business yet except for a few drink stalls and all you can get to eat would be some toast and half-boiled eggs. I noticed, however, that this Malay/Muslim stall to the right…

Malay/Muslim stall

…usually opens very early so that morning, I decided to give it a try.

The kopi-o-peng was decent, RM1.50 a glass, not the best nor the worse in town and I would say the same about their mee goreng (fried noodles)…

Mee goreng

…which did not come cheap, RM5.00 a plate, RM1.00 more than what I had here and that one had a lot more (chicken) meat in it….or maybe it was RM4.00 and the coffee was a whooping RM2.50  – the guy collected RM6.50 from me in total and I didn’t ask for the breakdown of prices. Anyway, at best, I would say it was all right, nothing to shout about…and I sure would think twice about going for it again.

KHOO PENG LOONG FOOD GARDEN (2.286751, 111.827785) is located along Jalan Khoo Peng Loong, commonly known around here as Pulau Babi, facing the former express boats wharf where the one I took from Kanowit in the late 70’s and early 80’s would berth.

Is it too early…

I was thinking of the nice kao teng koi/kuih lapis that I bought on my previous visit so I made my way there the other morning, sometime after 6.00 a.m. and yes, I was way too early. The stall was not open and I do not even know whether the kuihs are available every morning or not. Well, since I was already there, I thought I might as well have something for breakfast.

My lawyer-friend/ex-student, Louis, was there twice when he was last in town and he said that the Malay stall there seemed very popular. A Malay stall? The few times I was there, I did not notice any Malay stall…but I guess it was because I was not looking.

Yes, it…

Malay stall

…was open, Stall No. 11, and I asked for the nasi lemak special but the nice lady said that she was still frying the chicken and it was not quite ready yet.

In the end, I just had the nasi lemak, biasa/regular (RM3.00)…

Nasi lemak biasa

I think I do recall Louis saying that someone told him it was nice but no, the rice was not lemak (rich in santan/coconut milk) but it was all right with the very nice and spicy sambal.

For a while, I was thinking that the two salted fish were given in place of the fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) but later, I noticed they were in the sambal

Sambal

…not that there were many of them. At the prices they are selling them for these days, that comes as no surprise at all.

Of course, the traditional wok-fried egg…

Traditional wok-fried egg

…got my nod of approval, unlike the one here but usually, they would give it hard-boiled as the standard condiment for nasi lemak and normally, only half of it. I don’t know why they choose to fry it at many places (at my one-time favourite nasi lemak stall at Bandong Walk, they will fry it for you upon request) when it is easier just to boil it in water instead of frying it in oil and since they only give half, in actual fact, one egg can be used for two plates.

I don’t think I shall be going for that again the next time I drop by, some of the other stuff on her menu perhaps but that morning, I noticed a fish-tail banner advertising the burger babi (pork burger) available at the stall at the far end, No. 15, I think. I sure would love to go back one of these days to give it a try.

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.

Add it up…

I dropped by my regular kuih and everything else stall at Bandong again that morning and no, I had no intention of buying the very nice nasi lemak kukus (RM3.00) that I bought from there the other day again but I saw that now, one could add a piece of their ayam berempah

Ayam berempah

…for an additional RM2.00 and it looked so very good that I simply could not resist!

I just asked for one packet as my main intention was to try the chicken so the lady scooped the rice from the steamer…

Steaming hot

…and then added the standard nasi lemak condiments…

Standard condiments

…the egg, peanuts, ikan bilis and also the sliced cucumber and the sambal, extra pedas.

One can also choose to add a piece of salted fish or a wedge of salted egg…

Add-on's

…and that looked liked cucumber with rojak sauce but one would have to fork out 50 sen for each one that one picks.

I was able to refrain from asking the salted egg as there was the hard-boiled one already but I just had to have the salted fish so if you add it all up, my packet of nasi lemak

Nasi lemak

…cost me RM5.50 altogether.

No, I did not eat it myself as I already had noodles for breakfast that morning and my missus did not want it either so we saved it for my girl to eat when she got back from school that afternoon. She sure enjoyed it a lot and yes, she said the ayam berempah was very nice. One of these days, I am going to go back there and buy it for myself to try.

This stall/shop that used to be called MAK MET’s BREAKFAST STATION is located at the shops along Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) where PENYET BANDONG is in the evening.

You can do it too…

Early last Friday morning, after dropping off my girl at her school, I stopped by my Malay kueh and everything else stall at Bandong here to see if there was anything I could buy home for breakfast. No, it was our no-meat day so no noodles at the coffee shops for me that day!

I saw that they had their own-cooked nasi lemak now but no, I did get my hopes too high. I was rather disappointed with the nasi lemak at the stall a stone’s throw away that day as it was no longer as lemak as it used to be and I was not as impressed as before.

They had a choice between pedas (spicy) and not pedas and of course, I wanted the former. I bought two packets home (RM3.00 each)…

Mak Met nasi lemak

…to try and I was glad I did as the rice was lemak and the sambal was spicy enough and really good and I liked how they fried their own kacang (peanuts), skin and all, instead of using those salted ones sold in packets or tins at the shops and supermarkets. I certainly would not hesitate to buy more should I happen to go there again instead of that other one and anyway, they do not open till much later, around or after 7.30 a.m.

I bought their very nice cucur for my girl and I also grabbed some of these huat koi or fatt koh (3 for RM1.00)…

Mak Met huat koi

I think they call it apam tapai as there is some degree of fermentation in the making of these and yes, they were very good even though they were not perfectly shaped. My girl seems to enjoy eating these and I quite like them too, eaten with butter. They looked better before though, made in paper cups, with the gaping top, the way they should look like once they have huat.

Mak Met, the very nice lady who used to run the place has not been around for a while. Nobody seemed eager to tell me anything – they just said that she was resting at home. Well, when she was around, I used to enjoy her bread pudding and I spotted it there that morning. Of course, especially when I had not had it for a long time, I wasted no time in buying a piece (RM2.00)…

Mak Met bread pudding

…the last one left that morning! I particular like how the bread is blended together with the batter instead of being laid out slice by slice and baked after the batter has been poured all over it. I sure enjoyed it very much but at RM2.00 a piece, perhaps I wouldn’t be going for it all that often.

This stall/shop that used to be called MAK MET’s BREAKFAST STATION is located at the shops along Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) where PENYET BANDONG is in the evening.

What you got…

I was here again the other morning and I bought their fried mee and fried kway teow and also their very nice cucur that my girl enjoys so much and not forgetting their bingka labu.

I spotted these bergedil (3 for RM1.00)…

Bergedil

My girl loves them a lot too so of course I had to buy some for her. They’re not difficult to make but at that kind of price, I think it is a lot easier to just go and buy, provided they are available. The ones here are pretty good.

I walked around to see what else they got – perhaps there was something new that I would love to try…and then, I spotted these mini pies (3 for RM1.00)…

Mini pies

The guy told me that there were potatoes and meat in the filling but of course, at that kind of price, I did not get my hopes up too high. I thought it tasted quite nice, the filling was all right but I did not like the crumbly egg tart pastry all that much as it was slightly sweet and I was expecting it to taste completely savoury. I would prefer shortcrust or puff pastry, I think.

I did buy quite a lot that morning for breakfast, lunch, 4 o’ clock tea and dinner and the total came up to RM21.00. I gave the guy a 50-ringgit note and a 1-ringgit note and he gave me two 10-ringgit notes and a 20-ringgit note. I noticed his mistake (normally, I would just grab whatever change and put everything in my pocket without looking, much less counting) and returned that latter to him and he gave me another 10-ringgit note. As they say, honesty is the best policy and after all, it was just 10 ringgit…and as the words of the song goes, “God is watching us…from a distance!

The stall/shop that used to be called MAK MET’s BREAKFAST STATION is located at the shops along Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) where PENYET BANDONG is in the evening.

You’re late…

My friend, Jasmine, home for a few days from Adelaide, Australia, was shocked when I told her I would pick her up at her hotel at 6.30 a.m. right after I had dropped off my girl at her school which incidentally was just round the corner, a stone’s throw away.

What I had in mind was to take her to the kuih and everything else stall/shop at Bandong and I did know for a fact that if we got there late, most everything would be sold out and there would not be much left that one could buy and enjoy and I was right. She agreed to meet an hour later, at 7.30 a.m. and by the time, we got there, it was around 8.00 a.m. and indeed, we were late – we could see all the empty baskets by the side.

Luckily, we did manage to get hold of the very nice Hj Luguk’s/Kate pulut panggang (RM1.10 each)…

Pulut panggang

…and their very nice cucur/fritters (3 for RM1.00)…

Cucur

…and of course, Jas loved them so much!

We also bought this kuih talam gula apong (3 for RM1.00)…

Kuih talam gula apong

…but for reasons unknown, I did not see her eating that so I just helped myself to it – I would say it was all right, nice but nothing to get excited about. I would much prefer the bingka labu that I bought home the other day but there was not even a single piece left.

We bought the aforementioned and adjourned to the nearby stalls at Bandong Walk to sit down and enjoy like what I saw the ladies doing that day. In the meantime, I went to the stall there to order a plate of their nasi lemak

Bandong Walk nasi lemak sambal sotong

…my favourite in town, with sambal sotong (RM5.00) to share and also a plate of mee jawa

Bandong Walk mee jawa

…with beef that I tried once and enjoyed very much.

It did not matter to me one bit that the nasi lemak had gone up by 50 sen – it used to be RM4.50 only but I was so disappointed that it was no longer as lemak as before anymore. Yes, the guy did tell me sometime ago about the soaring prices of grated coconut so of course that would justify the price hike but not the scrimping on the ingredient at the expense of what was once my favourite in town. I hope this was just because we caught them on a wrong day – if this is what it is going to be like from now on, I will not bother going back there for more, that’s for sure.

Jas did enjoy both the dishes though so it was worth the effort bringing her all the way here to get to eat some of our very own local delights.

The stall/shop that used to be called MAK MET’s BREAKFAST STATION is located at the shops along Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) where PENYET BANDONG is in the evening.