There’s more to me than what you can see…

This…

…is quite near my house and it is where I take my car for a car wash when there is a need for that. These days, we have been getting quite a lot of rain, on and off, on and off day in and day out so I would drop by quite often but not as frequently as when I used to go to and fro along the horrible Pain-Borneo Highway, sending my girl to her school in the jungle and going all the way there to bring her home on weekends.

Quite recently, I noticed that they have gone into vegetable farming, growing this curly lettuce – if I am not wrong, it is called salad patta…

…all over but hydroponically and lately, it appears to me that they are slowly increasing the output and have set up a lot more of those platforms and pipes…

…to plant the vegetable.

You may have noticed in the first photograph above that they have even set them up all along the fence. I guess that is one advantage of this way of planting vegetables – you do not need that much space and you do not need any soil which means that you do not need a spacious landed property to go into this – you can do it outside on your balcony of your condominium even.

I saw them hanging these pieces of fly paper…

…that is coated with a sweetly fragrant, but extremely sticky and sometimes poisonous substance that traps flies and other flying insects when they land upon it. This is considered a pest control device and this way, they do not have to resort to those poisonous pesticides.

The ones that they fold into paper windmills…

…are actually quite pleasant to look at.

They harvest the vegetables quite regularly and pack them in plastic containers. I’ve seen people dropping by to buy, a lot at one time but I have not bought any myself. I did ask one of the boys there and he told me that they are selling them at RM9.00 a container. I think I used to buy at the supermarket round the corner from my house for RM10.00 each so it isn’t very much cheaper but at least, the ones here are definitely a lot fresher.

WONG CAR CARE & SERVICES CENTRE (2.307081, 111.844783) is located at No. 8B, Lorong Pipit 4 – you turn left as soon as you turn into the lane where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead – it is at the corner at the end of that stretch of road or you can turn into that lane from Jalan Pahlawan and go straight ahead to the aforementioned corner.

With my own eyes…

I dropped by that place in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) here in Sibu to see with my own eyes how they made the yew char koi that my sister was talking about when she gave us a few to sample that day.

They were very nice and friendly people, a couple and a younger lady, probably the daughter or somebody and they did not mind it at all when I asked them a lot of questions nor did they bat an eyelid when I took so many photographs from left, right and centre.

This is the dough for the yew char koi

…and the lady used this contraption to cut it into strips…

…five at one go. This is something new to me – I’ve never seen anybody using that before.

They probably needed a wider plank to use as their work surface because it did not cut right through the edges so the lady had to cut them one by one with a dough cutter…

I do not know what she brushed on the strips…

– I did not ask, probably water or oil and after doing that, she placed the strips of dough, one on top of another…

…before she made a dent right through the middle, lengthwise, using a chopstick…

Having done all that, she took the strips one by one and I saw that she stretched the limp and rubbery dough first…

…before dropping them into the hot oil. All this time, I assumed that the 3-inch dough would rise to the occasion by itself in the hot oil to become a foot long! LOL!!!

I’ve never seen this being done before – they fried the yew char koi in the vigorously boiling hot oil first after which they moved them to the not-so-hot oil next to it…

…to simmer until they became a very nice golden colour.

Finally, they removed the yew char koi from the oil and placed them on a rack to cool and to let the excess oil drip onto the tray below…

I bought a few (RM1.20 each) to take home and enjoy that day and while I was there, I also saw them making something else, something that I had never seen before.

This was the dough that they used to make them…

…covered with a whole lot of sesame seeds and some brown stuff – I think that was cinnamon powder. I could taste it when I ate it.

The lady cut it into strips and stretching each strip a bit, she made a loop out of each of them and tied the ends together in a knot before dropping them into the hot oil…

…to cook.

They looked a little bit like pretzels (RM1.00 each)…

…but no, they certainly were not pretzels.

I shared the photograph on Facebook and somebody said that at all those places in the peninsula where they fry yew char koi or what they call yew tiao there, they would definitely have this too but not here in Sibu or not that I know of. I went and googled and found out from this website that they are called horseshoe fritters or ox-tongue pastry. Elsewhere, they call them ma kiok (马脚) or horse’s hoofs.

They tasted like our ma ngee (horse’s ears/butterfly fritters) but they were not so sweet, only slightly so and with the hint of the cinnamon in them, I would say that they were a cross between those and ham chim beng. Talking about ham chim beng, I saw some very nice ones at the stall and the deep fried or koi (yam cake) looked really good too. I certainly would want to buy those to try the next time I stop by.

Incidentally, it looked like the coffee shop/restaurant had called it a day. There was this stall in front, a lot of things inside the shop but no tables and chairs for customers to sit and eat and the kitchen at the back is now a shop in its own right with its own entrance at the side, occupied by some people selling freshly slaughtered chickens.

KIM CHUO FOOD CENTRE (2.310950, 111.830541) is located among the area of shops in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah, Sibu and the Civic Centre market beside the Sarawak Energy/SESCO customer care office (to the right), opposite the ShareTea outlet there.

Don’t look down on me…

We call this fish bak chi‘…

I do not know its name in English or Malay but my missus would buy it quite frequently a long time ago when she used to do her marketing at the central market but ever since the pandemic broke out, we have not set foot on that high risk place so we have not had this for almost two years now.

According to her, in her growing up years, they would eat this fish all the time for the simple reason that it was very cheap and they all enjoyed it – all of them loved it and I must say that I would agree with them. Don’t look down on it because even though it is cheap, it tastes real good and if you fry it a little bit longer till it is more crispy, you can eat most of it, the fins and all, leaving behind only the big bone in the middle. I do enjoy its crispiness and that special taste along with it a lot.

There may be some of those smaller fish like the kembong and all the rest…

…at my favourite fish & seafood stall but my girl does not seem to like those so I would not buy them. That was why when I saw them at the Malay stalls, I would buy one or two…

…for myself to “buang gian” (appease the craving).

She does like bak chi’ to some extent but they are very small and I cannot imagine cleaning them one by one. That was why when I saw some at the aforementioned stall the other day, I asked the nice lady if she could clean it for me and she said that would not be a problem.

I asked for 1 kilo (RM10.00 only) and got 20 of them, so cheap! I expected her to pass them to her helper, a nice young boy, to cut and clean out the insides but no, she did it herself…and I was stunned when I saw how she simply plucked off the heads of each fish violently…and that was it! When I got home, my missus was delighted that I had bought her favourite bak chi’ and when I told her what the lady did, she said that was the way they would do it, no need to cut and clean one by one inside out.

My missus just rinsed all of them well and deep fried them…

– there was enough for the three of us for lunch that day and also for dinner.

Actually, I dropped by the stall that day to see how the lady was doing. I noticed that usually, the stall was not open lately. For one thing, it had been raining a lot and besides, I did see those warnings regarding strong winds and stormy seas so I guess under such conditions, the fishermen could not go out to sea. She seemed to be doing all right, lots of fish that day and I still have my stock of prawns that I bought from her not too long ago, enough to last till after Chinese New Year so I did not want to buy anything else that morning, other than the bak chi’.

I saw her taking out one of the huge storage styrofoam containers and opening it and I was stunned when she put a packet of this…

…in my bag with my fish. “For you, for Chinese New Year!” she said.

Oh dear!!! I thought that was so embarrassing but she insisted and would not take “no” for an answer. Left with no choice, I just said thank you so much and took it home – perhaps, we shall have that for our Chinese New Year’s Eve Reunion dinner, may the Good Lord bless her and all her loved ones abundantly in the year ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The fish & seafood stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada).

She’s not there anymore…

Early that morning, two Sundays ago at around 7 something, I went and walked around the Rejang Park commercial centre.

Maybe I was a bit too early but during the pre-pandemic days, this area was to be avoided on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. There would be, without fail, a massive traffic jam and parking would be virtually impossible. It was all right that morning, light traffic and ample parking spaces.

I walked to the wet market there. The crowd there was bearable, not overcrowded but I did not feel all that comfortable along the narrow aisles, trying to keep a safe distance from my fellow human beings. That was why I got out of there quickly.

I headed to this coffee shop – I particularly loved the mee sua from one fat lady who used to run her stall there. Her fried kway teow was pretty good too. Unfortunately, she was not there anymore…

…and neither was the sweet young thing whose Sarawak laksa I also enjoyed a lot.

I asked the coffee shop boss and he confirmed that they have called it quits. Right now, there is only the kampua mee stall…

…left. Somebody did tell me once that their kampua mee was quite good but I was not in the mood for it that morning.

In the end, I decided to give their pan mee (RM5.50)…

…a try.

I must say that when it came, I was kind of disappointed. It did not look like pan mee as I know it. There was no cangkok manis, torn into bits and they were not very generous with the deep fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies). The noodles did not look like they were handmade and one thing’s for sure, they were not hand torn. Cut into nice thin strips, they looked like kway teow (flat rice noodles) but thankfully, it did not taste the same.

I do not what sauce they tossed the noodles in but it was rather nice. Still, I did not think it was anything I would want to order again. Perhaps I’ll try their kampua mee next time.

Yes, this little corner shop…

…is still open but it did not look like they were frying their very popular tee peang (Foochow oyster cake)…

…or anything else for that matter anymore.

I did not ask but they looked rather busy opening up the shop to start cooking – there were a couple of customers there already seated at the tables probably waiting till they were ready to roll. I think I did try their fried kway teow once and yes, it was not too bad. Rose would be in a better position to give a more accurate opinion – her sister-in-law’s shop used to be towards the other end of that same block.

I did stop by my favourite kompia (Foochow bagel-like bread) shop to buy the kompia

…and the softer, smoother and sweeter chu nu miang.

Thankfully, they are still selling them at 2 pieces for RM1.00, their fixed price for quite sometime now – a little bit more expensive than elsewhere but theirs are a whole lot nicer. You buy a bagful, hot from the traditional stone oven and bring them into your car and the whole vehicle will be filled with the awesome fragrance of the freshly-baked bread. All the rest do not have that same effect. Their chu nu miang is 3 pieces for RM1.00, the same as everybody else.

Gosh!!! That skinny scrawny young boy baking the kompia there day in and day out has grown into a tall and handsome young man now. Gee!!! How long has it been since the last time I stopped by here?

HAPPY HOURS CAFE (2.307165, 111.837312) is located at one corner of the Rejang Park shops/commercial centre in that residential area, beside the volleyball stadium and the surau, facing the vast parking area there while SENG WAN BAKERY (2.307484, 111.836558), the kompia shop, is located at the Rejang Park shops/commercial centre facing the Rejang Park Market, back to back with Quality Cake & Bread Factory.

Don’t wait…

I dropped by Payung Café the other day because they have started taking orders for Chinese New Year…

…and like what I’ve done in previous years, I wanted to book some of my favourites here. If you’re thinking of doing the same, don’t wait! Do drop by to place your orders or call them. I simply cannot understand why one would want to slave for hours/days/weeks in the kitchen when one can just go and buy something just as nice or perhaps, ever nicer.

Their decorations for the forthcoming festival were up already…

…and of course, you can get to see those delightful floral displays…

…at every table.

I was feeling a little hungry but it was Friday so I was not able to order their meat dishes plus I only wanted something light, a pasta dish perhaps. I was tossed between their belimbing prawn spaghetti or their tom yam prawn spaghetti and in the end, I settled for the latter…

The former will have to wait till another day and anyway, we just had it, minus the pasta, not too long ago.

I am sure if you take a look at the serai (lemon grass), the lengkuas (galangal) and the daun limau perut (kaffir lime leaves) in the dish…

…plus the onions and tomatoes, you can jolly well imagine the fragrances of all these contributing to make this dish…

…so absolutely awesome, to say the least. Elsewhere, they probably would just use the bottled tom yam paste to cook something for you, as simple as that.

While I was waiting for my order, Andy passed me this…

…to munch. He probably got them from one of his girlfriends – it seems that a lot of people like to make these tidbits for Chinese New Year and if I am not wrong, these were chicken or prawn floss in wanton skin, tied into a knot and deep fried.

I told him what I wanted and paid for my orders in advance. I said I would collect them in the afternoon of Chinese New Year’s Eve and take them home, still warm so we could enjoy them for our reunion dinner straight away, no need to go through the chore of warming them up first. I don’t know how much the tom yam prawn spaghetti was (probably RM17.00) because the very nice guy insisted that it was on the house.

Incidentally, according to Andy, they will be open that night (and throughout Chinese New Year) so if you are looking for a place to eat (or hang out) – I guess most places, Chinese restaurants especially, will be closed – you can always drop by here. In fact, you can even arrange to have your reunion dinner here but of course, at a time like this, you will have to limit the number of people and sit at least one metre apart, unlike that time when I had mine in the afternoon of Chinese New Year’s Eve with my in-laws here. It sure was good and won the praises of all and sundry!!!

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

Out of nowhere…

Over the years, we have had things sprouting out of nowhere in our garden.

There was a noni tree which probably came from a house three doors away – I’ve seen the tree in their garden. It grew very well and was bearing fruits, lots of them. My missus happily plucked them and made enzyme with them and made me drink. Those of you who are familiar with the fruit would know how smelly it is – the enzyme is not much better. Thankfully, the tree was getting to be too big so I got rid of it. Phewww!!!

I had no idea where the avocado tree growing very near the house came from either. My cousin in Kuching sent me a photo of theirs, a couple of years old and it was so big! I quickly got rid of mine but last year when my cousin and the rest of the family were enjoying the fruits of their labour, I wished I had kept my tree. Perhaps I could have moved it away from the house.

I had a few papaya trees but I could jolly well guess that they sprouted out of the seeds that I buried in my garden, together with the skin everytime I peeled one. Unfortunately, they flowered but there was no fruit, not even one so they too eventually faced the axe.

This watermelon plant…

…probably came out of the seeds that I buried as well but the last time we had any was quite sometime ago – it sure took a long time to emerge.

There are a few small fruits growing on the vines at this point in time but the problem is we do not know when exactly is the right time to harvest them…

…and eat. Unlike other fruits that will change colour or become softer, watermelons will remain pretty much the same. I guess we will just wait a bit till they have grown a bit bigger.

My girl planted these cherry tomatoes…

…and the fruits have started to appear. She did eat a few and she said they were very nice, very sweet and crispy. I’ve never seen this variety before – the fruits are oval-shaped…

…not round.

The mum planted these regular ones…

…and they have eaten the fruits too, also sweet and crispy. These must be the Cameron Highlands variety that I used to buy at a supermarket here except that those were very big, much bigger than these. Never mind, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

She also planted some chili…

…but I am not getting my hopes up too high. I also planted a lot once and yes, they grew really well and produced a whole lot of chilies. Unfortunately, before they ripened, they would start rotting on the inside and drop off one by one. I think I did get to eat one or two, that was all.

They were very successful with their ladies’ fingers and brinjal and kangkong. My cangkok manis that was struggling to stay alive is thriving really very well under their care and at this point in time, my missus has planted some sweet potato leaves too. I planted a lot at one time…

…but they went out of control and we grew tired of eating it so I got rid of them.

Yes, the prices of vegetables (and most everything else) have been going up and up but no, I still think it is a lot easier to just go and buy. As far as planting one’s own goes, I guess it is very convenient to just go out into the garden to harvest and it is a lot healthier too as we do not use any chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Besides, it can be quite therapeutic, being kind of relaxing and is thus a great way to pass the time plus it is in a way a good form of exercise too.

Have you tried…

Have you tried the highly-acclaimed Taiwanese beef noodles in town? Everyone was talking about it and singing its praises. I, for one, did not get all excited as I prefer our clear soup version like the ones here or here or here even. It used to be here but word had it that it had moved here and since I was out that morning, I decided to drop by and check it out.

I was glad that there were not many customers at the time so I parked my car and went into the coffee shop and searched high and low for the beef noodles stall. Eventually, I asked the lady at the second stall and she told me that the guy was not there but in the shop next door, closed on Mondays and Thursdays – it was a Thursday that day.

In the end, since she was so nice to give me the information I wanted – most would just say they did not know – I ordered the kway chap

…from her stall (it looked very nice in the photograph)…

…and took my seat at a table outside and waited to be served.

I was a bit disappointed with it (RM6.50)…

…when it came because it looked like there was a whole of lean meat and pork belly, just a few bits of intestines and two pieces of the ear (I think that was it, the ones with the hard, white layer inside – I left the two untouched), no liver.

Thankfully, it was kway chap

…not kway teow. I get really pissed off at places where they serve this but when you dig into the bowl, you find kway teow (flat rice noodles) instead of those pieces of kway chap.

The broth was very nice, a bit on the mild side as far as the soy sauce, the salt and the msg were concerned but very strong on the spices – I could taste the cinnamon in it especially. The chili belacan (dried prawn paste) dip was so good and went so well with everything. I had to refrain from pouring all of it into the broth – I am sure that would being the taste to a whole new level.

All things considered, I would say I enjoyed it very much, not to the extent that you would find me back there again for more in no time at all but I sure would not mind ordering that if I happen to be around there some other day. I probably would want to try the lor mee (RM5.00) though – it also looked really good in the photograph.

Incidentally, I was somewhat amused when I saw this lady’s t-shirt…

– she was also seated outside, two tables away. It made me think of all those with their age-old outdated convictions. They would cringe in disgust and even come up in arms against it everytime I said that I added a pinch in my cooking. They should read this article as well as the many available online if they care to google for them.

Of course, there is no denying that it is sodium…and so is salt and don’t we all know that salt is bad for health. That is why if you have added salt to the food, you should not add msg anymore and vice versa or maybe you would want to compromise – just a little bit of each. Similarly, if you use soy sauce in your cooking, there IS salt and there IS msg in it and if you go and add some more, you may be in for a bit of trouble! The bottom line is, like what I always say, moderation is the key. Too much of a good thing may be bad for you!

COFFEE & TEA (2.325932, 111.841566) is located at the junction of Jalan Teng Chin Hua and Jalan Ulu Sg Merah in the blocks of shops to the right of the traffic lights junction turning left into Lorong Sg Merah 2. if you are coming from town. On the other hand, if you are heading towards town, the blocks of shops are after St Teresa’s Catholic Church and the SIB Church on that same side of the road.

Mother and child reunion…

We loved the Sarawak ethnic/Dayak delights at this place that they called Anak Borneo (Child of Borneo) so much that we kept going back again and again but for reasons unknown, not very long after it started, much to our disappointment, it called it a day.

If I am not wrong, one of the partners opened another place along those same lines and called it Mak Borneo (Mother of Borneo). It was sharing its premises with a pub and it seemed that they did not open that early, probably to cater to those people who would drop by the watering hole later in the night to eat, drink and be merry. I was in the vicinity once, not too early – the people were just getting started but nobody paid any attention to me. No one asked me to take a seat or what I wanted to eat – nothing, stone cold silence all round. Of course I left the place right away and never went back.

Eventually, I heard that they had opened their own place here…

…but before I could go and check it out, disaster struck! Because of the pandemic, for nearly two long years, I never got to drop by until yesterday, Sunday. I asked my girl if she would like to go out for lunch and she did so off we went.

Much to my delight, the place was very open, not air-conditioned (wifi is available for anybody thus inclined) and there were a lot of fans, left, right and centre so even though it was a very sunny and hot afternoon, we were quite comfortable and did not feel the heat at all.

I saw one of the boys cleaning the barbecue grill…

…before putting the ikan keli (catfish)…

…obviously marinated with kunyit (turmeric), over the hot burning charcoal to cook and serve to us once it was ready…

Yes, I did order that (RM25.00) and yes, it was very nice.

They gave two types of chili dip with the fish – the chili soy sauce (left) was all right, nothing to get excited about but the chili belacan (dried prawn paste) on the right was simply out of this world. It was so very nice but super spicy. Both dips are available for sale in bottles at the shop and I would have bought the latter if it had not been so blisteringly spicy.

This is their barbecued pork or babi tunu (RM16.00)…

…and I would give it my two thumbs up! It certainly was as good as it looked!

If I am not wrong, they also cook these delightful lokans (RM11.00)…

…on the barbecue grill after which they will open up the clams and add the seasonings and the garnishing prior to serving them.

This was the pansoh babi (RM28.00)…

…the pork in bamboo tubes placed beside hot burning charcoal to cook. Yes, this was very good too.

We loved both the vegetable dishes that we ordered – the midin with langkau (ethnic rice wine)/belacan (RM11.00)…

…as well as the daun ubi gosok, the mashed tapioca leaves (RM8.00)…

…and we had rice (RM2.00)…

…with all the aforementioned dishes. I really loved their ceramic plates, made to look like the Dayak matted woven basket/tray, so ingenious, so appropriate and so beautiful!

I just had a small bottle of drinking water (RM1.50) while my missus had a glass of teh C (tea with evaporated milk), RM3.00 and my girl asked for their fresh coconut water (RM5.00)…

All in all, the total came up to RM113.50. No, it was not cheap but considering how much we enjoyed all the dishes, it truly was value for money. We certainly would go back there again to check out the other items that they have in their very extensive menu.

I did not buy their tuak (ethnic rice wine)…

…this time around. The regular is selling for RM22.00 a bottle, the pandan RM25.00 and the apple RM30.00. I may pick up a bottle or two the next time we drop by here.

MAK BORNEO (2.301301, 111.843548) is located at No, 21, Ground Floor in the block of shops behind Nam Heong Ipoh/Kim Hock Premier Food Court, Lorong 4D, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada).

Cover up…

Whenever I go out, I will always wear a mask even if it is only for a while, say when I drop by some place for a few minutes to buy something and after that, I will throw it away without a second thought. That is why I keep these…

…handy.

They aren’t very expensive, over a ringgit each and it seems that they are better than those cloth masks that people will wash and use again and again. According to an article that I read, “A study that was just published in the journal, Science, analyzed data from 342,183 adults in Bangladesh and found that surgical masks were 95 percent effective at filtering out virus particles, compared with 37 percent for cloth face masks.

These come in various colours and the pharmacy that I frequent stocks up on those. I was rather amused that day when I picked up a box of blue for myself and a box of pink for the ladies in the house. The boss kept telling me that I had taken a box of pink masks – I guess he could not imagine this old man wearing those in that bright colour. LOL!!!

He himself uses these…

…which he says are good enough to be worn on their own, no need to resort to wearing double masks. According to him, they are manufactured following some Korean technology.

Needless to say, they are very expensive…

…but I can’t remember the exact price now..

I guess they would be good for use at crowded places but no, we’ve been #stayingsafe and #stayingwell, #stayinghome most of the time and we avoid crowded places like a plague. I did buy a box though just in case school resumes now that Sarawak has gone into Phase 4 and my girl will have to go back to her classes of some over 30 pupils each – I would consider those as crowded, no doubt about it so when that time comes, she can put on these masks, one per day.

I did buy the Korean originals too…

…from one of my neighbourhood shops and they are more or less that same price as well.

The aforementioned article mentions that cloth masks are our 1918 pandemic technology, used 100 years ago whereas these days, we have the technology — the high filtration, electrostatically charged, meltblown [masks like KF94s, KN95s and N95s] — and we should use those.

I also grabbed a box of the cheaper Korean ones…

…from that same shop. These, like those colourful ones above, should be good enough for use…

…under normal circumstances.

This article says that with the increasing airborne spread of the coronavirus, it is important to improve the fit of masks and their filtration — making enhancements that go beyond old, loose, cloth face coverings that became popular in 2020. It also says that Omicron is twice as infectious, and an encounter that you could have tolerated for Delta may well infect you with Omicron. Knowing this, it is worth upgrading the protection you get from your mask.

Despite what the so-called “experts” in our country tell us, the article goes on to say this: The best masks are N95, KN95 and KF94 masks. Don’t wear an additional face covering on top of these masks. Of course, the bottom line is one must put on these masks properly. I find it quite distressing to see people wearing them with their noses uncovered…or worse, with them hanging under their chins.

Even when going some place to eat, I will keep my mask on till the food arrives and take it off only when I start eating and I will put it back on as soon as I have finished. Most people will just take their masks off as soon as they sit down…and will put them on again when they are about to leave the place.

As I have mentioned earlier, Sarawak has entered its Phase 4 now since Monday so I guess that means the situation here is presently a whole lot better than months ago. Each day, here in Sibu, there is a single-digit number of cases and hopefully, it will stay that way or better still, if there is none at all. The onus, of course, is on everyone to make sure they cover up (wear masks), observe physical distancing and do not go here and there unless there is a need for it and avoid crowded places at all times. #kitajagakita

Portuguese love…

The other day, when I was at this coffee shop, I went over to the shop next door to buy the chai kueh. My girl enjoys it a lot so I bought a few packs at one go to keep in the fridge so I can steam some in the morning for her to eat for breakfast.

In the meantime, I went over to see what they had in the glass display counter at the shop…

…and I saw that they had some lovely looking Portuguese egg tarts…

I remember I did try them before when this shop first opened (they were only RM2.50 each at the time) but even though I did feel they were all right, not quite there but were good enough, I never went back for more. Perhaps I was put off by the price – I could go for a plate of kampua mee for that kind of money then and their very nice char siew pao was less than RM2.00 each (not anymore).

Eventually, we were able to get really good ones at this place not far from my house so we would just buy those from there. For reasons unknown, the people making those awesome egg tarts and everything else disappeared – I have no idea why they called it a day and whether they had gone some place else to do their business. Nobody at that shop would disclose any information whatsoever regarding them.

I saw my foodie friend sharing photographs of the ones he bought here a few times and praising them to the skies so I thought I would give them a second chance. Goodness gracious me!!! They are now RM3.30 each – kampua mee is currently RM3.50 a plate!

I asked for three and the young boy packed them nicely for me to take away. I did not pay much attention to what he was doing, otherwise I would have asked him to take those that were more nicely torched.

The pastry…

…was very nice but I noticed a moist, not so well-baked layer at the bottom. I gathered from those Masterchef shows that this would happen if you do not blind bake your pastry first.

The egg custard…

…was really good, very rich and creamy and not too sweet but I was thinking that perhaps at that price…or maybe for around 20 sen more, they could be a bit more generous with it – they barely filled half of the pastry cup.

My girl tried and yes, she loved it!!! That, of course, means that despite everything that I have said, I will surely buy some more should I happen to be passing by this place again.

And talking about my girl, the other afternoon, she made these English crumpets…

For the uninitiated, “crumpets are English griddle cakes made from flour, milk/water and yeast and are traditionally eaten for breakfast or with afternoon tea.  They’re soft and somewhat spongy in texture and their crowning feature are the dozens of tiny holes that dot the surface…

…allowing whatever you spread on them to soak down into them, making each and every bite an unforgettable one.

Yes, they were nice – we had them piping hot from the pan with butter and honey but since my girl said she would want to have some for her breakfast the next morning, I only had one – the recipe was good for 8 pieces only and anyway, personally, I think I prefer scones. I wonder when she is going to make some more for me to enjoy.

HONG KONG PUFF is located along Ramin Way (2.291180, 111.826634), beside Sin Kiaw Coffee Shop, right behind the Petronas station at Kpg Nyabor Road (formerly Esso) across the road from the HSBC Building, Sibu branch.