Something great…

The oregano that I got from my friend/ex-students’ mum/mum-in-law grew really well and was so very productive so I shared a photo on Facebook and asked if anybody would be interested. A friend said that she did not mind some so I repotted a few and sent them over to her house along with a little pot of dill – my dill is flourishing too. She had not got home from work so I passed them to her hubby.

A few days later, when we were in church that night, she passed me this…

Kelulut honey

the kelulut honey from those stingless bees that was the craze at one time – a lot of people were rearing them. It seems that she is keeping those bees as well so she has her own supply of the coveted stuff that is claimed to be even better than the celebrated New Zealand’s manuka honey which does not come cheap…and neither is this kelulut honey – somebody in Singapore said that he bought a 500 ml bottle for SGD50.00! I guess that is why there are people producing it commercially and marketing it now.

I did try a bit – it has its own taste that is not quite like our regular honey and yes, I did like it very much…and I saw in some websites that it has a lot of health benefits, thank you so much to my friend for that big bottle of the coveted stuff – I am sure that would cost a bundle.

In the meantime, one of the seedlings that my neighbour gave me had flowered…

Butterfly pea flower, 1st to bloom 1

the butterfly pea flower (the clitoria ternatea) and of course, that got me real excited and happy…

Butterfly pea flower 1st to bloom 2

It appeared that mine is a single-petal variety and there is also the double-petal one but they say they are the same as far as the health benefits go.

No, I did not pluck it…

Butterfly pea flower 1st to bloom 3

…to make tea right away. I guess I can wait till the plants have grown really big and are flowering in abundance. I noticed that the flower would have withered by the next day but to my delight, another one…

Butterfly pea flower 2nd to bloom

…bloomed.

At the time of writing, another one of the seedlings has flowered as well, just one – the third bloom so far. Fingers crossed, I will be seeing more and more over the next few days…and I can start brewing the tea to drink, great stuff – this flower and also the honey!

The way we live…

I heard that the people here…

Dapur Azra

…at the Simpang Tiga shops, facing the road leading to the ferry point…

Road to ferry point

…off Jalan Kampong Nangka, have a stall here which they still operate at night (that place is open only at night) and their sup tulang

Dapur Azra sup tulang

…is really very nice so of course, we made our way there one morning to give it a try.

They have eat-all-you-can porridge…

Eat-all-you-can porridge

…for only RM4.00 but when I had a look at the condiments, there wasn’t anything that tickled my fancy – maybe it was late morning already and at that point in time,  they were caught up with getting the dishes for their eat-all-you-can buffet at only RM6.00 per head.

I liked how they had all the food in those stainless steel serving trays with see-through/transparent plastic lids…

Eat-all-you-can buffet

…so that way, you would be able to see the dish inside without having to open everything up.

My missus and I went for the buffet and I had the lamb curry…

Lamb curry

…and the sotong (squid)…

Sotong

…which my missus also had and I think she had a piece of fried fish and no, we did not go for the fried chicken and fish curry…

Chicken & fish

There were a few vegetable dishes like this one…

Mixed vegetables

…or the bitter gourd…

Bitter gourd

…or the brinjal…

Brinjal

…but no, thank you! We headed straight for the ulam

Ulam

…with a choice of ulam raja, hati/jantung pisang (banana flower) and cucumber to go with the sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip)…

Sambal belacan

The sambal was absolutely awesome, so very nice and very spicy – my missus loved it so much that she went back for more no less than three times, I think and I did notice that she had  a preference for the ulam raja.

I enjoyed the ulam too though I wouldn’t say that I was bowled over by the dishes they had in the buffet spread that day – they were good but I thought that I had had better at some other Malay shops in town but of course, especially when they charge by the item, the total may burn a hole in your pocket and spoil the initial enjoyment in some way. Here, for only RM6.00 per head and with so many dishes to choose from, I really see no cause for complaint.

I did not go for seconds as I wanted to try their kolo mee, daging (beef)…

Kolo mee daging

– if I remember correctly, that was RM5.00 and I would say it was nice, just that it tasted exactly like kampua mee. They certainly were very generous with the meat but I was kind of disappointed with the soup. No, I did not get the same soup from their sup tulang cauldron, unadulterated. Instead, I was given a watered-down version which I probably would have thought was nice had I not tried the “the real thing”, RM12.00 with rice…

Dapur Azra sup tulang with rice set

…that my girl had. It was so very nice and the meat was very tender too. You may choose to have it with noodles – mee or bihun for only RM7.00 but of course, you do not get that much meat (nor soup in whatever space that is left) in that same kind of bowl.

It so happened that a very old friend of mine, going back as far as the 80’s & the 90’s, whom I met at the hawker centre when we went there over a year ago, is working here in the morning – it opens from 7.00 a.m. till 11.00 p.m. – and at the aforementioned place at night. He did tell me then that he had cancer and had to go to Kuching for treatment – I was glad to hear from him that day that he was coping well but he still had to go to Kuching for chemotherapy once a year.

What impressed me most was how active, cheerful and jovial he was…and he told us his philosophy in life, that everyone will die eventually, sooner or later, and it is up to us to choose the way we live – whether to have a happy life and enjoy every moment we are alive or to lead a sad and miserable one before leaving this world for good. I do think that’s something everyone should ponder upon, don’t you?

DAPUR AZRA (2.308398, 111.819744) is located at the shops at Simpang Tiga, along Lorong Kuda 2, back to back with Bisonte Grocer & Deli, facing Jalan Kampung Nangka and the road leading to the one-time ferry point. 

Reciprocate…

My niece who’s working in Singapore will always make it a point to come back to Sibu specially for the birthdays of anyone in the family and she will always invite us to join in the celebration and everytime, the sweet girl will bring us “a little something” special from the island republic.

Well, this time around, it was on the occasion of her own birthday last Friday and to reciprocate, I asked her and her parents and also her good friend to join us for dinner here…

Dinner at Payung Cafe

…the following night, Saturday.

This isn’t really a fine dining place, more a casual, a very relaxing and comfortable place to hang out with very good service and really great food to enjoy.

Yes, there would always be fresh flowers…

Fresh flowers

…and pua kumbu (the tradition ethnic blanket) table cloth but we had something special that night – they gave us a sarong instead!

I would prefer some ethnic music (the traditional sape) or keroncong or perhaps some light Indian music (the sitar perhaps) which would be more in line with the lovely ambiance of the place but lately, it seems that they’ve been playing some covers of retro songs, acoustic versions usually and I quite enjoyed them though at times, I wished they would turn down the volume a little.

We had my girl’s favourite, their lamb masala and I asked for three servings of that (RM19.00 each, with rice) as usually they would have three chunks of meat in each so there would be enough for the 7 of us. We also had three servings of their butter chicken (RM18.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken

…and two servings of the pomelo salad (RM8.00 each)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…but I only asked for one serving of their out-of-this-world belimbing prawns (RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 1

…as I know the very nice and generous boss, Peter, would take it upon himself to cook this specialty of theirs for us himself and he would also give us a lot of prawns, definitely enough to go round and that night, he even picked the biggest ones…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns 2

…for us. When you get first class treatment like this, is it any wonder at all that we keep going back again and again?

We also brought our own gluten-free corn spirals and asked them to cook it for us and serve with their very nice beef bolognese sauce…

Gluten-free corn spirals with Payung's beef bolognese sauce
*niece’s photo on Facebook*

…but I only asked for two servings of the sauce (RM10.00 each) because it did not look like there was a lot in that packet of pasta until after it was cooked. It would be great if I had requested for three servings – that would be just nice, I think.

Peter, the boss, was most apologetic – he insisted it was overcooked and not al dente but I thought it was all right except that there wasn’t enough sauce and that wasn’t their fault but I did think they could have drained the pasta a little more so it would be completely dry at the bottom of the plate. Believe it or not, a few days later, he showed up at my door with four packs of the lovely beef bolognese sauce that he specially cooked himself for my girl to enjoy at home or in her school in the jungle with her own gluten-free pasta – of course, she was delighted. Isn’t that so very nice and sweet of him?

He also brought me this super awesome chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup…

Chicken in traditional red wine soup from Peter

that I love so much and of course, I had mee sua

Mee sua

…the following morning on his birthday, following the Chinese lunar calendar. Thank you so much, Peter – you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble. We truly were fine with everything that night.

Anyway, back to the dinner, I did not want to order those dishes that my niece had eaten before that night – I always had those for our dinners at home during Chinese New Year  and though I did not order a lot, there was more than enough to go round, so much, in fact, that we could not finish it all so we took one serving of the butter chicken home and gave the rest of the pasta, more than half of it to the staff to enjoy and it sure was a pleasant surprise when we were served this medley of ice cream…

Payung Cafe ice cream medley

– the flavours from left to right were durian, chocolate, peppermint and mango (quinee), a special treat for the birthday girls, my girl’s birthday was two days later. We were served glasses of drinking water without our asking for it and that prompted my niece’s friend, her first time here, to remark, “The service here is really very good!!!”

The total inclusive of drinks, came up to RM171.00, more or less the same as the dinner we had the previous night.

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

Now it’s your turn…

My cousin and her hubby from Brisbane, Australia, invited us to dinner here the following night after I had taken them for a Thai dinner here. Their son would be dropping by Sibu that day and would be joining us as well and of course, it was our pleasure to be a part of it all…

Dinner with cousin & family at New Capitol

They ordered the celebrated Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

New Capitol Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

…and their equally well-known fried kampua noodles…

New Capitol fried kampua mee

…and we had their just-as-popular chicken rice and the steamed chicken…

New Capitol steamed chicken

This was something like the best in Sibu in one sitting especially when they were here for a few days only and the son was here for just a couple of nights and we would not know when they would be dropping by again. To the most, they will probably come home just once a year.

We also had one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, their checkerboard duck…

New Capitol checkerboard duck

…which happens to be my girl’s favourite.

The corn soup…

New Capitol corn soup

…was very nice and so was the Thai/kerabu-style midin (wild jungle fern)…

New Capitol midin

The sesame spare ribs…

New Capitol spare ribs

…were good and their sweet and sour giant udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

New Capitol sweet & sour udang galah

…certainly were like no other sweet and sour dishes that we had had elsewhere and this one was truly a winner!

Yes, it was definitely a delightful get-together – there was so much to catch up when we are living so far apart and do not get to meet often. Thank you so much for the treat, Teresa & Richard – hope you had a pleasant stay and got to eat and enjoy a lot of the local delights, especially those favourites from days gone by. We sure are looking forward to the next time you all come to town again.

New Capitol Restaurant 新首都酒家 (2.288619, 111.830057) is located at No. 46, Lebuh Tanah Mas, off Jalan Kampung Nyabor, in the block of shops opposite the Sarawak House/King’s Trioplex/Premier Hotel at the very far end on the right.

This is for you…

My ex-student, Tham, shared on Facebook a photo of the serunding (meat floss, chicken)…

Serunding, chicken

…that he made and I pulled his leg saying, “You still know where my house is, right?” He did drop by once to give me the very nice butter cake from Mita Cake House in Kuching. The next thing I knew he was at my door, sending some of the very nice fruit of his labour for me to enjoy.

His better half, Daisy, also my ex-student, came with him and they had their baby boy with them too. They tied the knot in 2015 and I was at their wedding reception…and now, they have a two-month-old son already, may God bless them all abundantly in all that lie ahead.

They also brought me these…

Oregano 1

…from Daisy’s mum, a very nice lady, also a retired teacher like me. Those are a variety of oregano, so I was told…and this one with the white edges…

Oregano 2

…would be another variety, sweet majoram, I think this is called along with a whole lot of other names, and this one…

Oregano 3

…is probably the same as the latter though I’m not too sure. Daisy did rattle through all the related information but there was a bit too much for this somewhat slow and old brain to register. Hehehehehe!!! According to her, they are very easy to plant – just stick in the soil and that was exactly what I did. For one thing, like all those other herbs, these have a lot of health benefits as well.

She also gave me some mint…

Mint

…which I had before and it grew really well like this pot of daun pegaga (the gotu kola or the Asian pennywort)…

Daun pegaga

…of mine but it gradually withered away and eventually, it was gone. I hope I will be able to do a lot better with this one.

Talking about my daun pegaga, it sure looks really nice, so nice that I decided to move it to the front of the house beside the driveway. It also has a lot of health benefits and is a very common condiment for our ulam though for no obvious reason (other than the fact that we are too lazy to pound the sambal belacan), we hardly ever harvest any to eat.

This is another variety of daun pegaga, the one with a dot in the middle…

Water pennywort or dollar weed

the water pennywort, it is called and it grows rampantly wild in the drains around my house compound and ever so often, I would have to go on my hands and knees to pull them all out and get rid of them. One shop here planted them in pots and was marketing them as “money plants” – they look like coins, they said (and some people call it the dollar weed)! Well, I decided to do the same just for the fun of it in the hope that it will flourish and look as nice as the aforementioned daun pegaga.

Oh yes! Before I forget, thank you so much, Tham & Daisy and your mother-in-law/mum for the serunding and the herbs. Wish me luck with the latter! LOL!!!

Sweet Mary…

Gee!!! How time flies! It seemed like yesterday when we got together to celebrate her birthday and once again, we were invited to join the ever sweet, forever young and gorgeous Mary at her birthday bash this year…

Mary's birthday dinner 2018

Her authentic Thai chef, Jos, got her a birthday cake…

With Jos

– the very nice New York cheesecake from a leading hotel in town. I do think that their cheesecakes are second to none.

Jos and her counterpart, Su, did an excellent job in preparing the menu for the evening, starting with this very nice bihun with the lightly-fried golden eggs…

Bihun and eggs

…for longevity and prosperity and I so loved the soup…

Soup

…which was served in individual bowls. One was supposed to be for the guest sitting next to me but he showed up rather late by which time I had finished both bowls. Hehehehehe!!! As the English proverb goes, “it’s the early bird that catches the worm.”

For our vegetable dishes, there was this fried garlic chives with beef…

Asparagus with beef

…and the very very nice Thai young mango salad…

Mango salad

The fried chicken wings…

Chicken wings

…were very nicely done too, so very tender and juicy and the grilled barramundi…

Fish

…was absolutely superb too!

The giant udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Prawns

…were so very big…

So big

…and absolutely out of this world and the HUGE lobster…

Lobster

…sure took everybody’s breath away.

I wonder if you’ve noticed that a few of the dishes were served on a bed of ulam raja leaves. Well, Mary proudly declared that they all came from her garden – the pot of seedlings I gave her on her birthday last year flourished and grew and are doing so well that these days, they do not need to buy any from the market anymore.

Happy birthday once again, Mary – it sure was a fun-filled and delightful evening and it was indeed an honour and our utmost pleasure to be able to join you and everybody that night, thank you so much for the invitation. May God bless you abundantly always, cheers!!!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN (2.292836, 111.828287) is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

For me…

My friend contacted me the other day asking for my address as she wanted to send me some things.

I remember teaching two or three of her sisters before and I even visited her family home across river in the 80’s with my students at the time but I do not recall teaching her – maybe I didn’t.

Anyway, she passed me this can of corned beef…

Papua New Guinea corned beef

…to try, made in Papua New Guinea…

Made in Papua New Guinea

Her hubby works there, she said.

I checked the ingredients and it did say that there would be “traces of wheat”…

Ingredients

…so I guess my girl would not be able to eat it and I would have to wait till when she’s not at home before cooking it to see if it’s any good.

My friend also gave me this plant…

Snake plant

…from her garden. I guess this one is related to what they call the mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant. I did buy a pot once but it eventually withered away and died. No, not everything that I plant will flourish – I do have had quite a few disasters actually. It is claimed that this plant improves air quality. The optimal place to keep this relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance plant is the bedroom, because it converts CO2 into oxygen at night. I guess I will let it grow a bit bigger first before I do that – keep it in the bedroom or inside the house.

Thank you so much, Teresa – it is indeed most thoughtful and generous of you and thank you also for going through the trouble of sending them over to my house. I am indeed most obliged.