Hotel room…

When my girl was little, I would call to make the hotel reservation. As soon as they answered, I would ask them straight away, “Do you have a swimming pool?” If the answer was no, I would just say thank you and end the call. I do not have to do that anymore these days as my girl is no longer so into swimming unlike before.

For our trip to Miri, I went online in search of a family or triple room. In the past, we could all squeeze into a king or queen-sized bed but all of us have grown much bigger now so I would need to book two rooms if there was none available. I managed to get a family room here…

Mega Hotel Miri

…one of the more established hotels in the city. I did stay there before when I went round conducting courses for English language teachers in the city or state. Yes, it has a nice swimming pool but during those few days when we were there, we did not bother to go and have a look.

We had a nice room with a lovely view…

Mega Hotel Miri - city view

…of the city centre and Canada Hill in the background – that is where the Grand Old Lady, the first oil well in Miri, is located.

It has been around for a while now and I was delighted to see that it has been very well-maintained, everything in good shape and working order and most importantly, it did not have that unpleasant carpet smell that some old hotels seem to have.

Our room…

Mega Hotel family room

…was HUGE…

Spacious

…unlike the little cubicles that one would have to put up with in the newer hotels these days. The queen and single beds were just perfect for the three of us and the room rate was very cheap too, only around RM225.00 inclusive of breakfast, RM195.00 if you choose to go without.

When we were in KL and stayed in one of the bigger rooms at the hotel with cheaper ones that do not have much space left once I get into one of them – there was a double bed and I had to ask for an extra bed and the total was over RM300.00 without breakfast…and that was some years ago in 2013 – I am not sure if I can get it at that price now. If anyone is interested, a standard room here is only RM135.00 and RM155.00 if you opt to have breakfast (for two) in the coffee house in the morning. You can’t even get to stay at a decent shophouse block kind of hotel in KL with that kind of money!

There is free wifi – the ladies logged in on their smartphones and said it was very fast. You can opt for cable connection too – there is a USB port by the side of that board with the television screen.

You have the usual coffee/tea making facilities…

Coffee/tea making facilities & so on

…and in the cabinet, there are a mini fridge and also a safe, a hair dryer and an electric iron plus the ironing board and in the washroom…

Washroom

…you are provided with the usual soap, little bottles of conditioning shampoo and bath gel, a complimentary toothbrush & toothpaste, a shaving kit, a comb, cotton buds, a shower cap and so on.

The bathtub looked very comfortable with the headrest at one end but no, I did not attempt getting into it, completely filled with water, for fear that I would flood the whole place. LOL!!!

When you wake up every day, you will find the morning paper hanging at your door…

Morning paper

…and there is also a free shuttle service to places of interest upon request.

One thing I noticed those few days when I was in Miri was how minimal the Christmas decorations were at the malls and places where we went for dinner. The most that I saw was at this hotel lobby…

Mega Hotel Christmas decor

…which also had Christmas trees all over and a fireplace too – they are currently collecting pre-loved shoes for the poor in the rural areas, their 5th year hosting this charity campaign, and folks can bring their shoes and deposit them in the fireplace…and they had Christmas songs playing 24-7 too!!!

The members of the staff are very efficient and friendly and I was amazed by the handsome and friendly young boys at the concierge counter – they would be by the door in an instant to open it for you and to greet you good morning or whatever depending on the time of day no matter how many times you walk in and out – I sure did that quite a lot!

MEGA HOTEL, MIRI (4.396921, 113.987965) is located right in the heart of Miri city centre at 907, Jalan Merbau.

I will always love you…

What is your favourite brand when it comes to soy sauce?

A friend posted photos of the half-boiled/half-cooked eggs he had for breakfast…

Half boiled eggs with soy sauce & pepper

…and he mentioned that he used Maggi seasoning. I did buy that once long ago during my short stay at my brother’s house in Auckland, New Zealand as I only wanted a small bottle and there wasn’t any that I could choose and pick…and no, I can’t say that I liked it very much.

Ever since this mushroom soy…

Rejang River Bridge brand

…came into the scene in the late 50’s or early 60’s, we have stuck faithfully to it but of course, the brand was different then. I think it was Pearl River or something.

These days, we have the Rejang River Bridge but worry not, it is still the same made-in-China soy sauce, imported and bottled in Sibu…

Made in China, impprted & bottle in Sibu

I remember those times when my mum ran out of it and she would sent me on my bicycle to the Sungai Bakong market (since demolished – it was destroyed in a fire sometime ago) half a mile away from our house along Race Course Road…and I clearly remember it was only 50 sen a bottle at the time.

These days, it costs RM6.30 a bottle at the shop round the corner from my house but that does not stop us from buying it to use in our cooking, as a dip or with the eggs…

Breakfast

…plus a sprinkling of pepper, washed down with a mug of coffee, first thing in the morning.

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.

He’s good…

The young and handsome guy…

Roti canai guy

…at this roti canai stall…

Roti canai stall

here actually hails from Bangi, Selangor and has moved to Sibu following his wife who has been posted to work at the hospital here. I went early one morning at 6 something hoping to try something from him but he was not there. They said he usually would not come so early.

Well, I did manage to catch hold of him the other morning and I asked for what he calls the canai tsunami (RM2.50)…

Canai tsunami

…which is actually made up of a piece of roti canai as the base and a fried egg on top, flooded with the dhal gravy.

I was also served this…

Roti bom

…and I thought that was part of my order but in actual fact, he made that specially for me to try, what they call roti bom. He said there is nobody selling that here and come to think of it, I haven’t seen it anywhere. I wanted to pay for that but he insisted that it was on him.

With the sprinkling of sugar and some margarine wrapped inside and fried till crusty and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, it was really very nice, something like those sugared puff pastry biscuits. As a matter of fact, it was so nice that I wanted to buy two home. Unfortunately, he said that he had run out of dough for the day which, of course, was a good sign – an indication that his business wasn’t too bad.

From our brief chit-chat, I found out that he would not open that early in the morning as he would have to send the kuihs he makes to the hospital and dunno where else. Upon saying that, he went over the the kuih section at that place and got me these – his apams…

Apams

…the apam coklat, apam pisang and apam gula hangus. I don’t know what apams actually are and why they are thus called and not regarded as cakes as to me, they are like mini-cupcakes, very soft and moist, very nice – all of them. I wanted to pay him for those too but he simply refused to accept. He sure is a nice guy, isn’t he?

The people there said that the roti bom would go very well with the nasi lemak sambal so they got me this…

Sambal & dhal

…the aforementioned sambal in the dhal gravy. Gee!!! If they keep pampering me like this, I sure would want to come every day! LOL!!!

Jokes aside, I certainly would love to drop by again for this…

Canai tsunami, roti bom & sambal/dhal

…or whatever else the guy has on his menu. His effort to earn a little something instead of idling around while his wife is at work sure deserves some support and the next time around, I shall insist on paying for everything.

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.

P.S.:
I am taking a break for a week or so but worry not, there will be the usual scheduled daily posts just that I may not be replying instantly to comments, if any and I may not go blog-hopping to comment in your blogs as well. Stick around! I’ll be back!!!

Love in a box…

I believe this…

Magnum macadamia & salted caramel

…is new or if it isn’t, it should be quite recent as I had not seen it before.

Actually, this is my second time buying it – I bought a box recently and I loved it a lot that first time around and I regretted not taking any photographs to blog about it. It costs RM13.20 at the supermarket near my house and there are 6 mini-sticks inside so that works out to RM2.20 each.

They are not all of the same flavour inside though. There are 4 of them only plus 2 of the classic…

4 + 2

…which, if I am not wrong, is the favourite of many but personally, I like this one more.

I guess at the price they are selling them, you can’t expect a lot of those macadamia nuts, just a few tiny bits in the chocolate coating…

Outside

…but the ice cream inside was what caught my attention.

Slightly yellowish in colour, probably due to the caramel…

Inside

…there is a hint of the salty taste so on the whole, I thought it was not as sweet as most, if not all, of the rest.

Whatever it is, like I always say, moderation is the key so once in a while is perfectly all right, I guess. I like storing a box in the freezer and I will take one out occasionally to enjoy – somehow, it feels kind of soothing and comforting and is even more so on hot days.

My little contribution…

My girl’s school had their Canteen Day, the PIGB (Parent-Teacher Association) annual fund-raising event, on Saturday and of course, I dropped by to have a look at what was going on.

Being a food and fun fair, there were stalls like this one…

Food stall

…selling Sarawak/Kuching laksa

Sarawak Kuching laksa

…and one selling curry and what not…

Cuury rice

…with rice, another selling fried popiah (spring rolls) and cucur (fried fritters) and one that seemed very popular…

BBQ stall

…selling all kinds of barbecued stuff…

BBQ

Personally, I thought that for a fund-raising event, everything was way too cheap – the laksa, for instance, was only RM4.00 , 2 coupons, and the BBQ chicken wings were going for 4 for 5 coupons (RM10.00), only RM2.50 each and I also felt that there could have been more food stalls. Next year, if they are holding this again, I shall ask my girl to book a stall for me to sell some of my homecooked specialties as my contribution to the event.

Of course, there were games…

Games

…and lots of lucky draws – there must have been a lot of prizes to be won as I saw a lot of people with prizes in their hands.

They invited these Cosplay characters…

Cosplay characters

…and anyone interested could have their selfies with them and donate a little something towards the fund.

I thought the karaoke was expensive, RM6.00 per song…

Karaoke booth

…but obviously, nobody cared as there was a long line waiting to get on stage and sing…

On stage

…to the crowd…

Crowd

…in the hall.

This looked like a whole lot of fun, all the kids dancing on stage…

Dancing

…led by one of the Cosplay characters.

Despite the fact that there wasn’t a lot to buy, my missus bought some of the food and for my little contribution, I bought this pot of succulents…

Cactus

…for only RM12.00 and took it home.

Engaged…

My cousin and his wife drove all the way from Miri that day and they dropped by my house to pass me these…

Khong th'ng & tausar peah from Miri

Presently, there is somebody making those very nice khong th’ng/kacang tumbuk there but sadly, we can’t get them here anymore in Sibu.

And that brings me to my question – don’t people get engaged anymore these days? During my time, couples intending to get married would have to get engaged first, unless perhaps if it was a shotgun wedding.

I had to go to that shop beside the cinema (now closed down) in Sg Merah to order the engagement packets to be distributed to family and friends. There was a piece of khong th’ng wrapped in red (kite) paper in it, together with a slice of caramel with whole groundnuts in it also wrapped in the red paper and a red card that stated that I would be engaged to this lady on the date specified. Other than that, I had to go to the newspaper company to get them to publish the announcement and yes, we also had to go to a photo studio to have our engagement photo taken.

Those were the days when if there were couples going steady, people would ask the parents, “Ti si ai pun th’ng?” (When are you going to distribute the sweets?) The implied question there was when the couple were going to get engaged and distribute those aforementioned packets.

There was a dinner too, not a really grand one but there were at least 10 tables, if I remember correctly and we had it here. Only close relatives and maybe a few friends were invited and usually, couples would get the priest or pastor to come and bless the union or a community leader to officiate. We went to the church to get that done so we did not have that at the restaurant. There was no need to give ang paos at those engagement dinners so people used to refer to them as an opportunity to go for a free makan.

A diamond ring would be more appropriate for the lady for an engagement while two identical gold bands were usually used for weddings. I had to get mine from Kuching through my aunt, since deceased – 1 carat costing RM1,000 nett. I wonder how much that would cost if one were to get that now. Of course, an engagement was an engagement and unlike a wedding/marriage, if things did not work out, the couple could break off in due course.

Going back to my question earlier, if they do not make those khong th’ng here in Sibu anymore, then they will not be able to make those traditional red packets for distribution. Come to think of it, I have not seen, much less received any for a long long time…and as a matter of fact, I have not heard of people getting engaged either. They just tie the knot.

I do not eat the khong th’ng just like that actually, not anymore. I use it for my family’s special salad dressing or for making rojak sauce and also for my popiah (spring rolls). That would save me a lot of trouble of frying and pounding my own peanuts for use and since I cannot get the nice local ones, I just buy those factory-made more-sugar-than-peanut ones from West Malaysia, available here at the shops and  supermarkets.

As for the tau sar peah, I bought home some very nice ones from Miri once and yes, my cousin’s wife did get us a lot as well but my cousin said that the quality had gone down and they were not as nice anymore. I must say that I would agree but if you are in Sibu and you are in the mood for some nice ones, you can try the stall selling all the local Foochow delights at Medan Mall…

Stall at the mall
*Archive photo*

…or you can buy the ones here (80 sen each)…

Lau Dato Si' tausar peah

They say these are made by some lady in Bintangor and on some days, they have or tau sar (red bean paste) filling but I prefer the pek tau sar (mung bean paste)…

Lau Dato Si' tausar peah, pek tausar

I love the fact that these are not too sweet and the skin is very nice and flaky.

LAUDATO SI’ CANTEEN (2.287269, 111.832115) is located in what was previously known as the Catholic Centre in the compound of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Jalan Lanang and St Rita’s Primary School, Jalan Bukit Assek.