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I heard…

…that they have the best nasi kerabu in town here every Ramadhan so the previous Sunday, after sending my girl back to her school, we stopped by…

Kem Rascom 1

…on the way back.

This is one of the army camps around the Sibu area…

Kem Rascom 2

…and this one’s at the 10th Mile along the Old Oya Road past the road to the Sibu Golf Club, just a short distance away, both on your left if you are going in that direction.

They have a small Ramadhan Bazaar by the roadside outside the camp every year…

Ramadhan Bazaar

…and my guess is that the stalls are run by the wives and families of the army personnel at this camp.

I spent a bit of time taking snapshots of this and that and by the time I got to the stalls, my missus had bought the nasi kerabu from one of the stalls there, pre-packed. However, when I walked around the place, I saw this one…

Nasi kerabu stall 1

…that certainly seemed to be a lot more popular – everybody was buying from there…

Nasi kerabu stall 2

…and they let you pick what you want and once done, they would wrap everything up in paper, which is a commendable thing. The use of styrofoam containers is banned in Sibu and I certainly would not buy anything from any place that still uses that. The flimsy cardboard ones or those using some environment-friendly plastic (that I can wash and reuse again and again) are all right. Why, this one even had a banner at the back with their handphone contact…and one look at the girl would tell you this one would be very good – as they say, “Never trust a skinny cook!”

Other than the nasi kerabu, there weren’t a lot of other things around…

Ramadhan bazaar stall

…other than the usual stuff that one can get most anywhere else.

These young boys were very friendly and asked me to take their photograph…

Ramadhan drinks stall

…after which they asked me to buy their drinks but I said I should not take too much sweet stuff so they did not insist.

We had the nasi kerabu

Nasi kerabu 1

… that my missus bought for dinner that night and yes, it was very very nice…

Nasi kerabu 2

– very much nicer than the very good one that we would always go for here in the town proper and this was only RM4.50 a pack plus they also gave a bit of some kind of curry gravy separately that was very nice indeed and went very well with everything else including the rice. It is RM5.00 for fish and RM5.50 for chicken at our regular place and they do not give that stuffed chili. Besides, they also marinate the fish quite differently here, not the simple deep-fried ones that we would usually get – and this one’s a whole lot nicer as well, I must say. However, be forewarned that this one is super-duper spicy hot, so very hot that I actually felt I was blowing out fire as I was eating it.

My missus also bought this traditional Malay masak lemak perut sapi dengan rebung (tripe and bamboo shoots cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk gravy) dish…

Tripe

…from dunno-which-stall to try and yes, it was very very good too.

Well, we’re halfway through Ramadhan now and we only have around two weeks to go so if you would like to try the really very nice nasi kerabu and whatever they may have to offer here, you’d better make it fast…or wait till this time next year.

Wait…

Everyone can fly, the tagline says…but at times, it may be a case of everyone can wait. Of course, whenever I fly, I do not mind a little delay as long as I can get to my destination safely sooner or later.

No, I was not flying anywhere but I was at the airport here in Sibu to pick my friend, Philip, who is currently home again for the summer holidays. I must say it amazes me greatly, the wonders of the internet. These days, you can go to one of these websites and see the progress of any flight…

Flight route

…and they will also tell you if the aircraft is on time…

Flight details

…or delayed.

Well, Philip’s flight was on time and he even boarded the aircraft on time but when I reached the airport, I checked the website and found that it would land at past 6.45 p.m. instead of the scheduled time – 6.20 p.m. I went to check the information board inside the airport – no, it did not say the plane had been delayed but it was confirmed to arrive at 6.50 p.m.

So, I waited…and waited…and eventually, the word CONFIRMED was replaced by LANDED on the board but by 7.20 p.m., half an hour after the time it was supposed to have landed, still no one had emerged from the arrival hall. Oh yes! There were lots of people but they were on another flight, the MasWings flight from Kuching and whatever other flights from elsewhere. Maybe it was just my imagination but it sure seemed to me that when several flights landed at the same time, the budget airline would have to give way to the others. Perhaps that was why Philip said that he had to sit in the aircraft for a long time before it finally took off – maybe there were many other flights at KLIA taking off and landing at the time…so where this airline is concerned, everyone can wait!

He came out at around 7.30 p.m. and we promptly made our way back to the town…and as I had not had dinner yet, I gladly accepted his suggestion to stop by one place along the way, round the corner from where his mum lives…

Ying Siang Corner

…for a bite to eat. If anyone is interested, it’s at the t-junction of Jalan Teruntum and Lorong Merdeka 15 (2.305101,111.840016). You can go straight into Rejang Park, go straight ahead – past the shops and the defunct cinema in the commercial area – till you see a block of only two double-storey shops on your right at a corner of the aforementioned junction. Generally, this place is very crowded, lots of cars parked by the roadside, and is most popular for its steamboat.

I remember telling Philip that the food here would be pretty good but despite staying just around the corner, all these years, he had never got down to checking it out. I could vaguely remember that their fried kway teow with beef was good but when we were there that night, we were informed that they did not have it on the menu. Maybe they have discontinued the item as we can’t get fresh beef here and the imported ones do not come cheap…but they told us that they had fried kway teow with cockles so we decided to have that…

Fried kwayteow 1

…instead.

Wowwwww!!!! It was so so good! If there were others elsewhere that I loved before, they would have to step aside now and make way for the one we had…

Fried kway teow 2

…here. There were hardly any ingredients other than the egg and a bit of taugeh (bean sprouts) and whatever – even the cockles were so few and far between, so difficult to find but the taste, the wok hei fragrance sure blew us away! Both Philip and I enjoyed it a lot and the fried cangkuk manis with egg…

Fried cangkuk manis with egg

…was really good too.

Philip insisted on paying and when I asked him, he said that the total came up to RM15.00 plus, less than USD4.00. He did not ask for the breakdown but my guess would be that minus the drinks, it was RM6.00 for the kway teow and RM8.00 for the cangkuk manis, the standard price for a plate of vegetables at such places around town here. No wonder there are always lots of people eating here – not only is the food good but it is cheap too…but of course, that may depend upon what you order.

Well, since I did not have dinner at home that night and I don’t think the rest ate very much either after a late lunch and a trip to the Ramadhan stalls, there was a lot of leftover rice the next morning which I fried in my simple kampung (village) style…

Kampung-style fried rice

…and we had that for our breakfast and lunch before our special Dumpling/Dragon Boat Festival plus Father’s Day dinner that night.

It sure was nice seeing my old friend again and I really must thank him for these goodies…

From Philip

…that he brought all the way from the US. Ooooo…Godiva, no less!!!

Well, in  case anyone’s wondering what the crème brûlée dessert truffles look like inside, here’s the cross-section…

Godiva truffles

Nice – lovely creamy chocolate but very sweet. Thankfully, there weren’t all that many in the pack so no, I did not over-indulge…and no prize for guessing what I used the Made-in-Canada Ma Ling luncheon meat for…

Fried rice with luncheon meat & salted egg

Hehehehehe!!!!

I also sliced and pan-fried the rest…

Luncheon meat & egg breakfast

…for breakfast with my old school-style fried eggs and tomatoes by the side. Yum yummmm!!!!

No time…

My dear friend, Mandy, was here from KL on a working trip but unfortunately, she was tied up with whatever she had to do the whole day through from early dawn till late at night so we had no time to meet up and go for dinner or something.

She said that she had to go to a place called Bukut, somewhere in the Selangau district, she said, where my girl’s school is. Gee! I did not know there is such a place there or anywhere, for that matter (I only know that’s the local name of a fish found in our streams long ago, dunno now) – I’m not sure but I think it is more towards the Balingian/Mukah area actually, not as near as Selangau but one thing that I am very certain of was that she had to go far inland from the main trunk road from Sibu to either Mukah or Bintulu…

Road to Bukut
*Mandy’s photo on Facebook*

…to some oil palm estate or whatever where some customer of her company’s heavy machinery is. Yes, conditions can be that bad the further you go into the interior and yes, there are inhabitants living in their longhouses and there are schools too! Thankfully, my girl’s school, though not really near to home, is not one of those and is by the main road, very easily accessible, praise the Lord for small mercies.

And yes, it is indeed very undeveloped, very very backward over here, unlike in the mainland of our country – maybe not so bad in the main towns and cities but there isn’t much really in the smaller bazaars and villages and even worse in the interior. I guess that was why a blogger-friend from Malacca, when she was sent over here to study at a university campus in Bintulu, complained a lot about that town and called it Been-to-Ulu…even though I would not say it was so bad a town – it is a whole lot better than many and it could have been a lot worse had the campus been located in the middle of the jungle like some universities, local as well as foreign, so I’ve been told. I guess it was just the unhappiness and frustration at being sent so far away from home to study – we had those same sentiments regarding where my girl was sent some years back…so far away when there is an institution of higher learning right here in Sarawak in Kuching and one that is running that same twinning programme with New Zealand (but with Dunedin, not Wellington) on the exact same scholarship that my daughter was awarded.

Anyway, back to Mandy, despite it being  a last minute thing and she was so busy and in a rush, she took the trouble to go some place and grab these goodies…

Goodies from Mandy

…for me. Since we did not have time to meet, she left them at the hotel counter and asked me to drop by there to collect…which I did. Of course, I could not just go empty-handed so that morning, I went to the Sibu Central Market to buy some of our very special Rajang hay bee (dried prawns) for her.

While I was there, I decided to go up to the hawker centre on the first floor to Stall No. 52…

Sibu Central Market - Stall 52

…as I had heard that their beef noodles was much better than my favourite here. Good grief!!! It has been rated a Grade C by the municipal council which is not very good. According to this newspaper report, “Food stall operators who received Grade D would be asked to cease operations if they failed to improve during the next round of assessments,” and yes, I did see a cockroach crawling around on the floor while I was there. Other than that, the floor, even though it looked really clean, felt very slippery like it was coated with all that oil used by the hawkers in their cooking. It sure needs one really good and thorough cleaning, I must say – word has it that somebody slipped and fell twice and on one occasion, he broke something so he sued the council and was awarded some RM100,000.00…which he donated to charity.

As for the beef noodle special (RM5.00)…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 1

…that I had, it was good and with all that beef, tendon and tripe, I would consider it very very cheap compared to the other place where a comparatively smaller serving of beef noodle soup with just beef would set one back by RM6.00 and if you ask for the special with the tendon and tripe added, be prepared to fork out a lot more (RM7.00 in 2012, probably RM8.00, at least, now)…and expect a little less as far as their portion size goes.

However, the soup in what we had here was milder – not as strong, not as fragrant…and I wished they did not add those curly vegetables…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 2

…as that would affect the taste albeit just a little bit.

Given a choice, I would still go for my regular one…but if I happen to be around here and feel like having this, I may just stop by for it – it sure is nice enough to merit a second round or more.

Not so bad after all…

I know a lot of people love going to Taiwan and they praise the street food to the skies and of course, the bubble tea and dessert joints right here in our own country are always packed to the brim. Even in this little town,  there are so many of them around – it has slowed down a bit by now but at one time, you would see them popping up all over like mushrooms after the rain. I am not sure whether those are franchises originating from that island republic or some enterprising local people jumping on the band wagon and setting up their own along those same lines to cash in on the craze.

This…

I love yoo

…at the mega mall where we had the gelato that day is one of them and obviously, it is doing pretty well as it has been around for many years now, probably two or three, at least – as long as the mall has been opened for business.

I have never stepped into the place myself though and I am not even sure if it is one and the same or two separate entities. My girl went once and had the chicken chop from the stall on the left and she was not exactly thrilled by it so after that, she was not all that keen on dropping by there again. That afternoon, however, I insisted on taking a look at the fried stuff stall on the right – the “I Love Yoo!!!” to see what they had.

They had just finished frying the ham chim peng (Chinese five-spice doughnut) and were placing them in the glass case beside the yew tiao or yew cha koi (crullers) and whatever that was in between…

Yew tiao ham chim peng

We were not interested in those though but the balls caught our eyes…

Others

…and we decided to buy both flavours to try – sweet potato and yam.

I remember I had something like these when I visited the Cameron Highlands a long time ago and I enjoyed them very much…and if I am not wrong, they make those using sweet potatoes. These, however, were different – it looked like they used mostly sweet potatoes (or yam)…

Yam and sweet potato balls

…and very little flour unlike the Malay counterpart and I must say they were very very nice – not cheap, 5 for over RM3.00…but nice! I certainly wouldn’t mind buying more of those to eat should I happen to drop by the mall again but then again, when the time comes, I may decide to try some of the other things they are selling there instead. I wonder if their curry puffs are any better than the others that I had had…and whether their butterfly bun is anything like our ma ngee or horse’s ears. I think I would want to check those out as well and maybe, some of the rest too.

Incidentally, moving away from the post proper, I am sure everybody knows what this plant…

MIL's tongue

…is called – the mother-in-law’s tongue! That’s not very flattering, I would say and thankfully, my mother-in-law is very nice and not at all as sharp-tongued, not at all. Anyway, I saw my neighbour planting a few pots of this and I was wondering if he was doing that to keep away the many stray cats in our neighbourhood. They leave their fur, their paw marks, urine, claw scratches on our cars…and the worst thing is that ever so often, I would find headless bodies of rats or birds in my garden – they are deadly predators, those felines! I googled and found out that this plant is, in fact, poisonous to dogs and cats so if you have these in our house as pets, you should make sure you do not plant any of this or if you already have any, perhaps you should get rid of them or give them away. Anybody wants to give me theirs?

P.S.:
Somebody just commented – unfortunately, I have no way of verifying the identity – no blog, no website, no Facebook account so I am afraid I am reluctant to let the comment go through moderation. Anyway, he said, “Cekodok is actually banana. Its [SIC] like deep fried banana bread, not sweet potatoes,” and indeed, when I googled, that is very true – I got all the banana balls. My apologies – that was what my friends over there told me those sweet potato balls were called – we did not have such things here so I did not have the slightest clue what the name was. I have already amended that in the above post nonetheless, even though this cooking blog has it down as “cekodok ubi”. Thank you, whoever you are, for the correction.  

Nowhere near…

It was in the news sometime ago that the municipal council here is embarking on a street art project beginning with one of a wharf labourer, a common sight around that part of town in the old days. After that, another one followed on the wall of a complex in town where our trioplex (a three-hall cineplex) is located – I am not too familiar with such characters but I think it was one of Iron Man.

More recently, more appeared, this time along the small lane leading from Market Road to Channel Road where the Sibu Central Market is. These include one  of the kampua noodles…

Kampua noodles

…and the kompia

Kompia

…and also the dianpianngu

Dianpianngu

– things that are synonymous with this little town and representative of Sibu.

Of course, these are works of art, not photographs, so we cannot expect them to look anything like the real thing where the noodles are concerned…

Kampua noodles

…or what the kompia actually looks like in reality…

Kompia

…but if that last one was not labelled, I would not be able to tell what it actually is…

Dianpianngu

…as all I could make out would be those bits of cuttlefish tentacles. Still, I would say that they are indeed very appropriate choices though I really wonder about the rest. Is the penyeram

Penyeram

…or what we call kuih lipeng supposed to represent the Malay community here? If I am not wrong, these are available all over the country and a much better choice would be the ederam

Kuih ederam

– the ones here have many holes while those in the peninsula that I have seen online have one only, like a doughnut. Likewise, I think the pulut panggang

Pulut panggang

…is available throughout the country, not just in Sarawak or Sibu…like how the kek lapis (layer cake) is quintessentially Kuching. I wonder if the kelupis would be a better choice…

Kelupis 1

…but then again, it is not that readily available around here and wikipedia says that though it is the traditional snack of the Malays in Sarawak and Sabah…

Kelupis 2

…it has its origins in Brunei. Or perhaps one might consider the Melanau delights such as the sagu’ (sago pellets) or tumpik or the terbaloi (coconut sago crackers) or kuih cina instead?

I guess the kuih jala

Kuih jala 1

…is representative of the Iban or ethnic community…

Kuih jala 2

…even though that comes across to me like instant noodles.

Unfortunately, when I was in that lane that morning, I thought it was kind of sad that everybody was walking past like the pictures were not there at all. For one thing, they do look like something you would find on the walls at some food court or hawker centre advertising the things that are available there. Perhaps they can make them a little more “interactive” so to speak, like the works of Ernest Zacharevic in Penang, Kuching or elsewhere. There can be one of people eating kampua noodles at a table in a coffee shop, for instance, with a chair jutting out from the wall and people would be able to sit on it and have their photographs taken, looking like they were one of the group…or for the one of the wharf labourer, they may have a sack protruding from the wall and people can pretend to be carrying it while somebody snaps their photographs. Still, whatever it is, I would agree that we should show some appreciation for the effort on the part of the authorities or the people concerned. Keep up the good work!

Nothing much…

There wasn’t anything much other than the usual routine last Saturday. We stopped by here again for the very nice nasi kerabu

Sri Tanjung nasi kerabu

…for our lunch that day and talking about that, it really pissed me off that somebody had just helped himself/herself to my 2011 photo of this and used it without even the simple courtesy of asking for permission. The irony of it all was that this dish was supposed to be one of the masakan Kelantan (Kelantan cooking) selections and looking at it, it certainly seemed that the best looking nasi kerabu was this one right here in Sibu. Then, there was this article in this website that took the liberty of using my 2010 kacang ma chicken photograph, also without permission – I wonder if the writer got paid for that.

Of course, it is very easy to get the photos and use them. One would just need to google for the images and he or she will have a whole lot to pick and choose. However, the links to the sources of the snapshots are always given and the onus is on one to click on that and go to the blog or website to ask for permission instead of just helping oneself to them with that devil-may-care kind of attitude. According to my blogger friend:
It doesn’t matter if you
– cited or sourced the photo
– didn’t know what you were doing was wrong
– didn’t make money out of it
– didn’t claim the photo as your own
– have a disclaimer on your blog
– or have taken down the photo after the photographer asked you to,
basically, if you did not get permission from the photographers themselves to use their work, you are in the wrong and can get sued. You have to either get permission from the source to use their work or get it from a copyright free/public domain site. Having someone else’s photos in your blog without permission is basically having a ticking time-bomb ready to blow up at any given time.

Well, I have no intention of pursuing legal action against anybody – after all, my photographs aren’t all that great and I really wonder why people would want to take and use them (and there are more than just the two aforementioned instances) – but it would be nice to just drop a comment on the post to ask. Some did so with regard to this poem that I wrote here and of course, I said yes!

Anyway, going back to what we did last Saturday, we went for the sunset service at a church here as we had something to do the following day, Sunday, and we went here for a very late dinner. I asked for the sweet and sour spare ribs…

Ruby sweet and sour spare ribs

…but no, I think their honey one that we usually had was much nicer. Besides, I had expected a lot more sauce but what we were served was somewhat dry.

The sotong (squid) with dried chilies…

Ruby sotong with dried chilies

…wasn’t all that great too. I thought it would be dark with black soy sauce, the way they would cook their pork belly with dried chilies and salted fish in a claypot.

Our regular orders, the cangkuk manis fried with egg…

Ruby fried cangkuk manis with egg

…and the sea cucumber soup…

Ruby sea cucumber soup

…were good as always and I enjoyed the peanut with sago pearls drink…

Ruby peanut drink with sago pearls

…that I opted to have that night.

All in all, inclusive or rice and drinks for three persons, the total came up to RM49.00…and as always, the nice boss gave me a discount and returned to me RM2.00 change for my RM50 note.

Incidentally, I did hear that there would be two Korean restaurants coming up soon. I heard one is already running but it is not officially opened yet as they are still trailing the food and finalising their menu. I have not dropped by to check it out though. As for the other one, I had a vague idea of its location but I did not know exactly where it would be until I spotted it that day…

Coming soon, Omaya Korean restaurant

…when we were in the vicinity for lunch. It was still under construction – we saw the people there busy setting up the place and if anyone is wondering where it is, it is in the same block as the Italian place we went to – right at the end, to the left. Rest assured that my girl and the mum would love to drop by and check this place out as soon as it opens its doors for business…

I know…

My girl loves Japanese cuisine and I know that she would love to go for that. However, she would not say it out as she feels it is a little expensive so she would choose to go without. Well, there is only one place here that we do like and I would not say it is all that expensive unless of course, if you compare it to eating at the coffee shops, that is!

The 1st of June was a public holiday and I expected parking to be a breeze in that area – on normal days, it would be such a pain trying to find a space be it around lunchtime or in the evening for dinner but there was something going on at the temple a stone’s throw away so there were a lot of cars around…and I had to leave mine by the side in the parking area and though it was not a designated parking space, I made sure that I was not blocking anyone’s way and would not inconvenience any of the other road users.

Needless to say, my girl was delighted when I told her what we would be having for lunch. They do not have a very elaborate menu but there are still many items that we have not tried, one reason being the fact that we had not gone there all that often so everytime when we did so, we tried to order things that we had not had before.

The pickled ginger comes free – they always have a tub of that on the table (alongside the wasabi which all of us have not acquired the taste for) and anyone can just help himself or herself to as much he or she wants…

pickled ginger

…and that was what my missus did. She’s the only one who likes it.

We had their potato salad (RM7.90)…

Zen potato salad

…before and we loved it so we had that again this time around…to go with the kimchi beef rice (RM18.90)…

Zen kimchi beef rice

…that came with this complimentary bowl of miso soup…

Zen miso soup

…and yes, we enjoyed all three.

My girl chose the tempura shisamo maki (RM10.00)…

Zen tempura shisamo maki

…and the summer sushi roll (RM13.90)…

Zen summer sushi roll

…both of which we had not tried before. I thought the latter was very nice and there was even a prawn inside but with the overpowering taste of the pineapple (with a little bit of avocado underneath), and the sauces added, I could not detect that special taste of the rice synonymous with sushis and all the rest  so between the two, I think I preferred the maki.

The chicken karaage (RM8.90)…

Zen chciken karaage

…was good and went great with the special sauce that came with it but I guess there is just this much that one can sing in praise of fried chicken.

The total came up to RM76.80, inclusive of drinks and the 6% GST…and I would think it was worth it since we all had our fill and enjoyed all that we had ordered that afternoon.

Incidentally, I heard on the grapevine that this place would be closing soon so when I saw one of the bosses, I took the opportunity to confirm this bit of news with him and indeed, he said that somebody else would be taking over the place, the staff and all but he was not sure what plans the new guy would have for it and whether he would retain the existing Japanese menu or go for something else. Oh dear! We only have three or four in town and this is the only one that we like…so I guess we would have to drop by more often to enjoy what they serve to our hearts’ content before they finally call it a day…