The music played…

Personally, I do think that it matters a lot the songs and music that people play at their cafés and restaurants, and needless to say, the volume at which it is played. For one thing, what they pick should fit the theme of their eatery – if it is Italian, then some nice Italian melodies would be very nice, not the current or retro pop hits that stick out like a sore thumb.

I like it a lot when they play the very sweet and soothing keroncong songs or some light ethnic sape music at Payung Café or even some light jazz music – it just complements the comfortably relaxing ambiance of the place…unlike the ear-splitting techno music they had at one place here – I just could not wait to finish eating and rush out of the place!

I was at this new place…

Sarindu 1

…in town and they were playing this lovely guitar acoustic versions of the Malay rock songs from days gone by and it sure made me feel good and dining there a pleasure.

According to this article in a local Malay tabloid, it is an Indonesian franchise…

Personalised plates

…and yes, I did go to the kitchen at the back to talk to the guy – he is Indonesian all right, assisted by a not-so-young local Malay lady. It is located in the vicinity of what they call the Sibu Twin Towers…

Sibu Twin Towers

…near the Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum in the Sibu Town Square Phase 2.

It is not a very big place, somewhat simple with hardly any decor or ambiance to talk about…

Sarindu 2

…but you can go up the stairs to the air-conditioned section on the first floor. I was quite happy to stay where I was, with my feet on the ground.

Looking at the prices on their menu…

Sarindu menu

…it certainly appeared that things here do not come cheap or at least, not as cheap as at the regular coffee shops.

Even water was RM2.00…

Sarindu MOMA water

…but at least, they served the much-talked about MOMA water – if I am not wrong, this costs more than mineral or drinking water.

My missus had their sotong bakar (RM14.22, inclusive of GST)…

Sarindu sotong bakar 1

…but it did not come with rice so we had to order that separately (RM1.60, inclusive of GST).

The sotong or squid…

Sarindu sotong bakar 2

…was very tasty and also very nicely done, just right and not overdone till it became hard and rubbery.

I had the ikan tenggiri bakar (RM12.40, inclusive of GST, with rice)…

Sarindu tenggiri bakar 1

…and the fish was nicely done…

Sarindu tenggiri bakar 2

…too and tasty. It was not all that sweet and nice as the fresh ones I would get from the market or here or whatever fish in whichever way they would cook it here but with the sambals/sauces they gave…

Sarindu sauces

…I quite enjoyed it.

And of course, the music that they played helped…in one way or another.

Presently, they do not have any off days so they are open 7 days a week from 11.00 a.m. till 11.00 p.m. and till 12 midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

SARINDU (2.291510, 111.821170) is located at No. 15, Jalan Lau King Howe in the vicinity of the Sibu Twin Towers at the Sibu Town Square Phase 2, a stone’s throw away from the Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum.

Pata pata…

During my growing up years, the only pata that I knew was the name of this song…

…by one South African singer and in the spoken part in English in the middle of the song, the singer says it’s the name of a dance but according to Wiki, the song’s title means “touch touch” in the Xhosa language.

More recently, I came to know about another pata – the crispy pata except that the people around here call it the Philippine pork leg, pata being tagalog for pork knuckles.

This place was probably the first or one of the first, at least, to come out with this dish…

Hong Fu crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…and anyone dropping by to eat there would definitely order that. My cousin’s hubby who was posted here from Kuching would buy a few home to stock up in their freezer to take out and enjoy whenever they felt like it.

I’ve also tried the one here

Formerly Sweet Family crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…and it was pretty good as well but the restaurant has since moved here, the chu char place at the back, no longer where it was way back then and I think they were some place else before they moved to their present location. I have not had theirs for a long long time now so I wouldn’t know if they are still serving that and if I do, I don’t know if it is still good or not.

We did not think the one we had here

Sheraton crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…was all that great but I thought the one here

Tung Seng crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…was not bad.

The ones I had in Bintulu

Mandarin Restaurant, Bintulu crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…and Miri

Lutong Cafe, Miri crispy pata
*Archive photo*

…were quite different but they were nice too which was more than what I would say about the one I had at that full-fledged Filipino restaurant in Kuching but then again, that was a long long time ago, before I started blogging even, and considering it is still open to this very day and doing well, they must be doing something right. Perhaps they have something better now but I have not been there since so I am in no position to comment on that.

I do not recall having any others but this one from this restaurant

Beijing 2008 Restaurant crispy pata 1

…that I had the other day was really so very good that it left me craving for more!

No, the skin is not crispy but what won me over was how it was bursting with flavours and with the very nice sauce provided by the side…

Beijing 2008 Restaurant crispy pata 2

…it absolutely swept me off my feet. The meat inside was moist and tender and it wasn’t too fat (not like the one I had in Kuching and that was what put me off). Still, I’ve already had three over the last two weeks so I guess I’d wait a while before I have another go at it.

BEIJING 2008 RESTAURANT (2.291109, 111.827983) is located along Jalan Kampung Nyabor Road around the corner of this road and Brooke Drive. It is located at the block of shops, where a Malayan Banking branch is, to the left of the entrance into Hua Kiew Road, somewhere opposite the Sibu General Post Office.

Cafe on the corner…

Now, who knows Bee Guan? Well, if you are as old as I am and grew up in this little town, you probably would know the shop at the corner of the Sarawak Building…

The Ruai

…where the Sarawak Hotel, at one time the No. 1 hotel in Sibu, is…

The Sarawak Building & Hotel

Bee Guan was the shop belonging to the Teo family and it used to be here then, along what was Cross Road, now Ramin Way, right next to the Rex Cinema…

Rex Cinema

…across the road from this Chinese primary school…

SRJK Chung Hua Sibu

That was where I would buy all my DC comics – Superman, Batman, Spiderman…you name it, I had it, and all my black vinyl records, LP’s, EP’s and singles by names such as Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell and our local talents such as Rose Iwanaga and the Avengers, the ones from Singapore like the Thunderbirds (and Heather), Naomi (Suriya) and the Boys (and Henry), Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings featured in this special video clip in conjunction with the island republic’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebration in 2015…

…and the list goes on and on and on. This was also where I could faithfully buy my copies of The Dolphin (a Borneo Literature Bureau publication) and every Saturday, we would go to collect my father’s subscription of the weekly tabloid from Brunei, The Borneo Bulletin.

Right now, there is a newly-opened coffee shop, the Ruai, occupying that little corner but the shop sign has not been put up yet. Well, from the name and some of the decor that they have put up here…

The Ruai decor 1

…and there…

The Ruai decor 2

…one would know what kind of food they serve here. No, they do not have those cabinets with sliding mosquito-netting doors…

The Ruai nasi campur counter

…so it is not so easy to see what dishes they have unless they turn the lids a bit like in the photograph – that probably would help a little.

I heard someone saying that the food “bay hak nang ciak” (not suitable for us to eat) but the fried mee and kway teow were quite nice. That was why I ordered their fried kway teow with kerang/cockles (RM4.00)…

The Ruai fried kway teow with kerang

…but there was no sign of the kerang at all. Eventually, I saw those microscopic canned clams in soy sauce in it. At best, I would say it was all right, not anything to get excited about and I just tried a bit and tapao-ed the rest home.

If you are wondering why I did not eat it all up, it was because we wanted to try the ethnic food that they are serving for their nasi campur. My missus had the sayur ensabi

The Ruai sayur ensabi

– they had the fresh ones not the kasam or preserved version that we used to have at this other place. I did not want that as people told me it was bitter but when my missus gave me a bit to try, I found that it was not, not at all and it was very nice; I sure would not mind having that the next time we drop by here.

She also had the pork cooked in soy sauce and the tapioca leaves that I also had…

The Ruai nasi campur

…along with the pansoh ikan keli (catfish cooked in bamboo).

The pansuh ayam (chicken cooked in bamboo) came out later so we asked for some (RM2.00)…

The Ruai pansuh ayam

…to try and yes, it was good just that the soup was a bit too salty; it went very well with rice though and we did enjoy it. Still, I would say that I very much preferred the catfish…

The Ruai ikan keli

…but of course, one would have to be careful with the bones. What my missus and I picked for our nasi campur came up to only RM9.00 altogether – cheap and nice and for sure, we would not mind coming back again for more. They did say that they would put up the daily menu up in front of the shop (after the Gawai), all the dishes available each day.

They open everyday from around 6.00 a.m., they said, till around 7.00 p.m. and for one thing, although we were there early, past 10.30 a.m., the dishes were ready already unlike at the other place where we had to go away disappointed more than once as they were not open yet.

THE RUAI (2.289479, 111.827220) is located at The Sarawak Building along Ramin Way, formerly Cross Road or Jalan Lintang to the left of what used to be the Rex Cinema, opposite the Chung Hua Primary School.

Dear daughter…

This is a new song, I think, and I really like it…

…especially the lyrics that go:
These are words that every girl should have a chance to hear
There will be love, there will be pain
There will be hope, there will be fear
And through it all, year after year
Stand or fall, I will be right here…for you

Well, last Saturday, our dear daughter insisted on taking us out to treat us to a really special lunch or the mum especially as the following day would be Mother’s Day, just that we could not go out to eat on the actual day, Sunday, as we would be on our way, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

This place…

solo on 16

…has been around for quite a while now. The guy was at this place before but it did not last very long and the place closed down. Soon after that, he opened this one and my guess is that accounts for the name – he is now flying solo and No. 16 is the shop address, No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin.

Gosh!!! It sure looks like some people have been drinking…

Empty bottles

…quite a bit and this caught my eye…


…while I was looking around the place – they probably have some wood-fired items on their menu.

I sure like this – the fact that there is no msg…

No msg/food addictive

…used in their cooking but oh dear! The food is addictive so one would want to go back again and again to eat there? LOL!!!

We ordered the pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad (RM12.90)…

solo on 16 pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad

…and the moment it was served, I noticed that there were no quail eggs. My girl loves those little things and if not for the mere mention of those in the name, I would not have ordered it. I asked the people at the helm and they went to the kitchen to ask. Eventually, we were informed that we would get the quail egg soon or at least, that was what they said. When it came…

Chicken egg

…we were quite put off, to say the least. It would take a giant quail to lay an egg this big! That was a chicken egg and if we wanted a chicken egg, we could have gone some place else (a lot cheaper) for a plate of nasi lemak or something. Tsk! Tsk! Of course, I just kept quiet about it and let it pass as the ladies do not like me making a scene in public. Well, to give credit where credit is due, the salad was quite good, with or without the egg.

Another reason why I would not have ordered that salad if not for the quail egg was that I ordered their duck comfit for myself as my main course. Then they came and said it was not available, salmon was not available as well, my missus wanted the squid and it was not available either. Good grief!!! What on earth was going on? You want to open a classy upscale café, one that is more inclined towards fine dining and most everything on your menu is not available. Probably we caught them on a bad day or else how on earth would they be able to last this long?

In the end, my missus simply settled for this pork belly with rice (RM25.90)…

solo on 16 pork belly with rice

…dish instead. I did try a bit of the meat and thought it was very good except that the skin was hard and rubbery and not chewable, not crackling crusty at all, so we had to cut it out and leave it by the side of the plate.

I had the pork ribs (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 pork ribs

…which was very good too…

solo on 16 pork ribs, cross-section

…but no, it was not as good as the lovely ones we used to enjoy so much a few doors away but unfortunately, those people there had called it a day sometime ago.

My girl had their chicken chop (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 chicken chop 1

…and yes, we thought it was nice…

solo on 16 chicken chop 2

…and did enjoy it.

All in all, I would say it was a good lunch but as we were leaving, my girl said that she would not want to go to these places serving western food anymore as she would not be able to eat the stuff that she would like such as the pastas or anything with bread or wheat flour and would rather go some place serving ASEAN or Asian cuisines instead. Sometimes, it does get her down, missing all the things she loves and having to stick to her gluten-free diet. Well, it sure looks like we would not be coming back here again then or at least, not for a while, a very long while…and yes, we do miss the very nice Japanese place that we loved a lot – it used to be here at this exact same shop.

solo on 16 is located at No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin, next door to the bank at the end of the block and right across the road from the bank would be the Tua Pek Kong Temple and its 7-storey pagoda.

Wouldn’t be a Merry Christmas…

It’s exactly a week till Christmas so how are your preparations going? We are not planning anything grand other than going to church for the service and maybe, a simple dinner among ourselves – no open house, nothing.

I love watching those Christmas adverts but this year, there is none that I particularly like unlike this very touching one last year…

As for the Christmas songs, I don’t think there are any new ones that I like, not since this one in 2012, the year when we went to New Zealand…and this one too.

I like this cover though…

I have the original on a cassette tape with an assortment of Christmas songs but it has never been my favourite – this rendition is much nicer.

Yes, the sentimental old fool that I am, I do prefer sad Christmas songs like this old favourite of mine…and then, I stumbled upon this one…

Wow!!! That’s really very beautiful, I thought.

I went and googled to find out who she was and found this: “I had this dream since I was a child to make Christmas music,” says the New York-born Chan, who left her high-power job as director of integrated marketing at Conde Nast/Self magazine in April of 2012 to pursue that passion. That was quite sometime ago but the above video clip was released last year and the one this year…

…is very very nice too.

What about you? What are your favourite Christmas songs?

Wait no more…

I had not been to a movie since December, 2014 and before that, the previous one was in June 2012 but I had been waiting for this one…

…all this time ever since I first saw the trailer early in the year. It was scheduled to open at Christmas and I thought, “Oh dear!!! That is going to be a really long wait!”

Then, I saw in the promo on satellite TV that it would premiere nationwide in Malaysia on the 8th of December…and yes, that’s right!!! I went to see it on that very day itself, the 2 o’clock matinee at the trioplex (thus named as there are three halls showing three movies simultaneously) to the left…

Jalan Kampung Nyabor Sibu

I couldn’t wait another day!

My girl went to get the tickets for us and came back with three RM10.00 ones. Oh? They had a special concession for the 10.00 a.m. show but for other shows in the day, it would be RM12.00 for adults and RM10.00 for children. More on this later!

In the meantime, I went around taking photographs of the pictures in the wall…

Movie audience

…including this one of popcorn…


…though I did not see any popcorn booth that one would see at cinemas elsewhere, just a stall selling all kinds of snacks and tidbits.

I loved the display they had for the movie…


…with these cute pokes at well-known stars like Seal


…or Rihanna


…or Maroon 5

Maroon 5


Going back to the tickets, we were about to enter the hall when the usher directed us back to the ticketing booth and passed them to the young and handsome boy there…without any explanation. Of course I knew the reason for it so as the boy re-issued new tickets for us, I commented, “Itu untuk budak kecik saja, ya?” (That’s for little children only) and he replied, “Ya!” and I added, “Kami kecik pun bah!” (We are also small) That little joke sure tickled his funny bone and he laughed out loud. I guess that was a welcome relief for him in his dreary mundane job day in and day out, nothing much to smile or laugh about.

As for the movie, from the opening scene with Jennifer Hudson as the young Nana Noodleman singing one of my all-time Beatles favourites, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It was like a pop quiz, “60 pops in 60 minutes” – the songs came fast and furious, some so short that even before I could guess the title, they had moved on to the next one. Well, if you are so into songs…

…like me, you would enjoy the movie to the max. The soundtrack includes some really old oldies ranging from Frankie’s “The girl from Ipanema” and “My Way” to the newer ones from the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

There are a lot of subtle messages pertaining to wife and husband/family, father and son, boy and girl relationship…and some very lovely and meaningful  quotations as well. I felt the finale was a let down though as the song they picked is not one of my favourites but on the whole, I would say it was very entertaining and I sure enjoyed myself…not quite the same way as how I enjoyed the classics like this one or this one but yes, I had a great time!

How you’ve grown…

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Sunrise, sunset…

Sunset over the mighty Rejang

…Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze…
*Lyrics from “Sunrise sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof*

Well, my friend/ex-classmate, Robert’s son, who happened to be a student of mine in school, now residing in Melbourne, Australia, just had a baby girl not too long ago so of course, Robert and his wife, Angela, have had the honour and privilege of being elevated to the status of grandparents. Quite recently, they were back in Melbourne again and this time, it was for their daughter’s wedding…and last Saturday evening, they hosted a grand banquet here…

Kek Sheng & Jacqueline's wedding banquet, Sibu

…for their relatives and friends in Sibu and I was one of them there to share the joy…

Main table

…of that very happy and special occasion.

It was not really bright, the ballroom, so I did not bother to take the photographs of all the dishes we had that night, just this Four Seasons platter…

Four Seasons

…and as always, here in Sibu, you can expect more than just four, everytime.

I certainly was glad that they had replaced the not-to-be-named soup with this very much nicer chicken and fish maw soup…

Chicken and fish maw soup

…and it came in such a huge bowl that everyone at my my table had more than just seconds!

Being in one of the leading hotels in town, of course, this place is halal…or pork-free, at least, so the usual stewed pork belly slices for stuffing the steamed mantao was replaced with some other meat…

Stuffed mantao

…and while the guys at my table were debating as to whether it was chicken or duck, I just ate! Hehehehehe!!!!

Among the other dishes, there was also this huge piece of fish…

Steamed fish

They said it was cod – I wouldn’t know as I am not all that good at telling one fish from another…but yes, it was very nice and I sure enjoyed it.

Robert got a country & western band all the way from Miri for the entertainment that evening and look at who was in the building!!!…

Elvis was in the house!

He’s an old friend of mine – we used to hang out at the same karaoke pub here in the 90’s but of course, he’s a much better singer than I ever was and he is still actively singing, going here, there and everywhere doing his Elvis impersonations while my vocal cords have already called it a day. For one thing, way back then, he was singing all the oldies but goodies by Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and the like while I had a much wider repertoire that included the more current hit songs like this one or this one or this one, just to give a few examples.

Anyway, getting back to the event, thank you, Robert and Angela, for the invitation and congratulations to you two too, the proud and happy parents…and congratulations to Jonathan & missus on your latest addition to the Chew family…and to Jacqueline and Kek Sheng, wishing you two everlasting happiness in the years ahead. God bless, all! Cheers!!!