That again…

Yes, we had that again – the claypot chicken rice (RM20.00)…

Le Cafe claypot chicken rice

here. If I remember correctly, this was two Saturdays ago, or was it three? Gee!!! Time flies by so fast that it is really hard to keep up with what happened when. They certainly outdid themselves this time around as somehow or other, we thought it was very much nicer. Yes, it was nice before but the one we had that day seemed to have an edge over the previous occasions when we had the same – bursting with flavours, a head above the rest.

The last time we were here, my girl wanted their lemon grass chicken wings with Thai mayo  and she enjoyed them very much. This time around, she ordered the fried squid rings (RM8.90)…

Le Cafe squid rings with tartar sauce

…with tartar sauce and of course she enjoyed them too – she loves anything deep fried…

Le Cafe squid rings

…and for some reason or other, she loves sotong (squid). I would much sooner go for prawns, but not her.

I thought of trying some of their pork delights but the prices seemed kind of steep so I decided I could live without eating any of those. Instead, I ordered their chicken curry with rice (Rm9.90)…

Le Cafe chicken curry with rice

…to see if it was any good. Well, at best, I would say it was all right, nicer than most of those at the chap fan (mixed rice) places around town but nowhere near what we would cook ourselves at home and it came as no surprise at all that it was not spicy, not even a little, nothing to get excited about.

The two ladies tried a bit…

Le Cafe chicken curry

…and did not bother helping themselves to more so I had to eat it all by myself along with the rice…

Le Cafe rice

…that came with it while they shared the claypot chicken rice between the two of them.

Yes, we may drop by again sometime and you can jolly well guess why and which item on their menu we would not be ordering in our future visits to this place.

Different but the same…

Well, they’re both beef noodles but they’re very different from each other.

This one (RM6.00)…

Happiness Cafe beef noodles 1

…is from here. If you remember, in an earlier post, I mentioned that we wanted to drop by here for this but it was so packed that the people were literally spilling onto the road.

We did manage to do just that last week and as we had not been here for a while now, we sure were glad that the stall was still there, still going strong. Instead of our not-so-yellow noodles, they have their own handmade ones…

Happiness Cafe handmade noodles

…and yes, we enjoyed that and also the broth and everything!

People say that is the Taiwan-style, the one with the very much darker soup as opposed to the clearer one in the type that I grew up eating. Well, we did drop by here last Sunday for that (RM10.00)…

Ah Sian kampua kosong

…and I had the kampua kosong (no meat) plus the soup, their special…

Ah Sian beef soup special

…which of course came in a bigger bowl and other than the meat, there were the tendons and the tripe as well.

No, we did not have it like this before – what we had would be the version with the cooked/boiled not-so-yellow noodles served in the much clearer soup…

Ah Sian beef noodles soup
*Archive photo*

…and it was not until that time when my girl was still very small that I had it served this way – the beef soup in a bowl and the plain kampua noodles in a plate. This lady served it that way at her stall, then at Chopsticks – it was in the town centre beside the HSBC building…and I would go with my girl for that quite regularly. To this day, she still remembers her and how she would like her soup with just the beef and nothing else, not even the spring onions and what not.

Whichever way it is served, I would say that I love them all – to me, they’re all nice…but of course, the deciding factor as to which one we would go for more frequently would be…the price.

Leaving today…

My Kuching cousins were here for three nights and were leaving on Monday so I sent them to the airport. I had to make two trips though because one of them and my friend/ex-colleague were taking the early morning flight as they had to work that very afternoon.

I sent my other cousin, her daughter – my niece and her baby later and while I was at the airport, I received a Facebook message from Stephanie‘s dad. It was his birthday on Sunday and I actually met them at that same restaurant that night when we went there for dinner. He wanted to send me a slice of the birthday cake…

Birthday cake

…that his wife made and these banana chocolate chip cupcakes…

Stephanie's banana chocolate chip cupcakes

…from Stephanie…

Stephanie's banana chocolate chip cupcakes, inside

Yes, they were very nice, thank you all for them, but I must say that my favourite is still the marble cupcakes – they’re really good…and belated birthday greetings once again to the dad. All the best and God bless always in the year ahead. Cheers!!!

I went to pick up my cousin and niece and baby a little earlier than promised as the kid was getting a bit cranky in the hotel room,  probably wondering why they were not going out that morning like what they did in the previous two days and since we were way too early for the flight, I took them here…and here…in the hope that they could enjoy the chao chai hung ngang before leaving town but both of them were closed. I assume that they do not open on Mondays, their off day.

In the end, we went here (2.307201, 111.849154), the Good Happiness Restaurant…

Good Happiness Restaurant
*Archive photo*

…instead for the very nice dim sum that I have had many times before.

Yes, the har kao

Good Happiness dim sum har kao

…were very good and so were the char siew pao

Good Happiness dim sum char siew pao
*Niece’s photo on Facebook*

We also had these steamed bean curd skin with shrimp filling…

Good Happiness dim sum steamed bean curd skin with shrimp filling

…and the tri-flavour siew mai

Good Happiness dim sum three-flavour siew mai

Everyone thought that everything was great but I did not like the siew mai with the msg overload. They were all right the previous times we had those – probably the cook spilled the msg or something or maybe he had already added and he forgot all about it and added again.

I’ve had the Foochow fried noodles here on my previous visits and I love it so what fitting send-off could there be than to order a plate of that…

Good Happiness Foochow fried noodles

…for them to enjoy before leaving town. Yes, they enjoyed it and yes, they thought the one here was even nicer than the one that they liked a lot at our dinner the previous night.

After that, we went straight to the airport – it was baby’s feeding time! Thanks for coming, everybody. It sure was a lovely weekend and we had a really good time – do come again…soon!

See you later…

On Sunday, I had to send my girl back to her jungle school as usual so my Kuching cousins and company had to be left to their own devices.

However, they were not really left on their own as I had arranged for my friend, Mary, to prepare her awesomely special chicken rice for them here so there they were at around noon for the steamed kampung (village free-range) chicken…

Flavours steamed kampung chicken
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and the out-of-this-world rice…

Flavours chicken rice
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

They had been going around here and there eating this and that and at first, they thought they did not want too many bowls of the rice but once they tried, they actually wanted more but they had to refrain from ordering a second helping as they had to save some tummy space for the rest of the day. Yes, it was that good!

They also ordered their seafood glass noodles salad…

Flavours seafood glass noodles salad
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and yes, they liked it a  lot too.

After I came home, I had a nap and a good rest before venturing out in the evening to meet them here for dinner. They had made a prior reservation at the restaurant and had ordered this plate of pork ribs…

New Capitol pork ribs

…which tasted great but we all agreed that what we had at the Italian fusion restaurant two nights earlier was a whole lot nicer.

They wanted the Foochow fried noodles…

New Capitol Foochow fried noodles

…and they loved it to bits. “Next time, we will just come here for this,” one declared, “No need to try anywhere else!” I would agree that it did taste really good though it looked kind of pale and I am more accustomed to the ones that are a shade darker.

They also wanted the bitter gourd with salted eggs…

New Capitol bitter gourd with salted eggs

– one dish that they had acquired the taste for here in Sibu and they have loved it since…and yes, they do it pretty well here too.

I ordered this fried midin (wild jungle fern) with belacan (dried prawn paste)…

New Capitol fried midin with belacan

…to see if it was any better than what we had the night before but no, I thought it was more or less the same though it did look a whole lot nicer. There would be other better ones elsewhere, not here. Having said that, there can be no denying that it was good enough and I saw my niece, the one home from Perth, Australia, piling a whole lot onto her plate. I guess she was making the most of the opportunity as she would not be able to find it there and who knows when she will be coming back this way again for this.

I also ordered a few of the celebrated Sibu Foochow sio bee

New Capitol Sibu Foochow sio bee

…from this restaurant for them to try but it did not seem to get them all excited. I thought the ones here were nicer than those that we had for lunch the day before but I don’t quite recall them being so small and looking like that. I could have sworn that they were somewhat different and a whole lot bigger!

Other than the aforementioned, we had the signature dishes of the house – their fried pek chio or ikan bawal putih (white pomfret)…

New Capitol fried pek chio

…and also their checkerboard duck…

New Capitol checkerboard duck

…and we had these mochi stuffed with mango…

New Capitol dessert

…for dessert.

I think the bill came up to around RM250.00, a little bit more than what my girl forked out for our dinner that night at the Italian restaurant (around RM210.00) but there were only 7 of us while this time around, there were 9 – they had other guests joining us that night for the dinner.

In and out…

When my Kuching cousins were in town, I had them come over to my house for lunch, nothing special – just a simple get-together at home. I went to the market and got some fresh popiah skin…

Popiah skin
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…so we could have some of my homemade popiah

Popiah lunch
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and I also got hold of some freshwater prawns and my missus fried them…

Freshwater prawns
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…for them to enjoy as well.

Other than those, I also managed to buy some of our Sibu Foochow sio bee

Sibu Foochow sio bee
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…from this restaurant and for dessert, we had these delights

Stephanie's teatime delights
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…from my ex-student, Stephanie and I brewed a pot of our Sibu Mui Hock coffee to go with those.

After lunch, we went over to a Melanau cousin’s place here as it so happened that he was holding his Hari Raya open house that very same day and they sure were so very happy to see one another again – it had been some time since they last got to meet…and they got to meet a lot of our other Melanau next-of-kin there too – it sure was like an episode from the TV show, Jejak Kasih. (literally translated as: tracing one’s lost love). We did stay there for quite a while to enjoy the food, take lots of photographs and chat, catching up with all that had transpired in one another’s lives all these years.

By evening, we were still very full so we opted for a very light dinner here. I didn’t think they were all that thrilled by what we had and I would say I was kind of disappointed somewhat too. The ayam panggang (barbecued chicken)…

cabeijo ayam panggang

…was good, thankfully! There had been instances before when it was way overdone and the meat was hard and dry…and of course, when I was placing the orders, I kept reminding the nice young boy that I would like a freshly-barbecued one and not one that would not be all that palatable.

The fish…

cabeijo fish

…was all right too but it did appear rather small, around the size of the palm of my hand…and fish here is more expensive than chicken, barbecued or fried.

And talking about fried chicken…

cabeijo ayam gurih

…firstly, that thigh was rather miserably small and secondly, the texture of the meat was something like the chicken we had here – and that is the very reason why I have never gone back to that place again.

Other than that, I thought they were not as generous as before with their sambals which somehow, did not come across as all that great anymore either.

One of my cousins loved the midin goreng (fried wild jungle fern)…

cabeijo midin goreng

She said that she could not find any place in Kuching that could cook the fern well and she loved the sauce in this one too. I did not think it was all that nice and crunchy though and I do feel that there are quite a few Chinese restaurants around town that can do a much better job than this.

But of course, credit has to be given where credit is due and yes, the paku kerabu

cabeijo paku kerabu

…was as nice as always and yes, they were not using those small ikan bilis with the beady eyes and I don’t know whether it was my imagination or what but I thought the serving was a little smaller than the many times when I had this same dish before.

All in all, I don’t know if they have some new chefs/cooks on the job or what but if this is what they have to offer now, quite unlike what we have had on our previous visits, I would say it was at best, a decently all right dinner – nothing impressive, nothing to shout about and not anything I would want to bring visitors to town to again – they probably would enjoy what they have at some other places around town like here or here, for instance, a whole lot more.

I forgive…

Well, my cousins from Kuching came to town over the weekend and one of them and a friend, an ex-colleague of mine, brought me these…

From a cousin & a friend

…and another cousin gave me these…

From another cousin

I sure have a lot of goodies to enjoy for my breakfast and tea over the next few days, obviously…and thank you so much, everybody, for everything!

They wanted to come to this Italian fusion restaurant here…

La Vino

…for dinner as it was very convenient – they were staying at the hotel around a hundred metres away.

I was overcharged by RM10.00 the first and the last time I was here and when I saw the actual price on their menu that they posted on Facebook, I asked why I had to pay so much and the curt reply they gave was, “Repricing!” That really put me off and because of that, I have not bothered going back there again all this while. What they could have done was to apologise and promise that they would deduct the RM10.00 from my next bill – that way, they would have one happy customer who will come back again and spend more there…but I guess it did not matter to them one bit as looking at the crowd there all the time, they obviously enjoy such bustlingly brisk business to bother about a small fry like me.

That was when they first commenced business over a year ago and this time around, it seemed that they have done away with the authentic wood-fired stone pizza oven…

La Vino kitchen

…and they have put up a glass panel separating the kitchen from the dining area so it would not be so very hot like the previous time I was there. The chefs did not look familiar, all of them very young boys who did not seem all that appropriately dressed for an upscale place like this which made me wonder what their credentials were, but never mind! Looking at the crowd that was there that night, I would assume that they must be doing something right and I was correct.

This chicken combo (RM68.00)…

La Vino chicken combo

…that we had was very very nice. Everyone was singing praises of everything that was in the platter. My cousin’s daughter, who was currently home from Perth, Australia and came with them to Sibu, said that they have something like this there too…

La Vino chicken on skewers

…and it would cost at least AUD50.00. This one that we had that night was just as nice and it was only around AUD23, more than half the price if we convert into their currency.

I enjoyed that very much too but personally, I prefer the pork platter (RM98.00)…

La Vino pork platter

The sticky ribs were absolutely awesome, so very nice and I loved the sausages more than the chicken ones – these had the minced meat texture and I could taste all the fragrant herbs used in the making.

Special mention must be given to the potato salad that everybody enjoyed a lot too.

They did not have lasagna even though it was in the menu but a look at the right hand bottom corner would tell you that it is only available at their sister restaurant, not here…and my girl still prefers the spinach and egg pizza we usually have over at the other side instead of this Pizza Rustica (RM32.00)…

La Vino Pizza Rustica

…that we had here that night, a so-called “white pizza”, but it was nice too, pretty good. They should be more careful in slicing it though – I spy with my little eye that little chipped off bit, bottom left.

We had the chocolate fondant at the other place that day and it was very nice except that the “lava” did not flow out so I ordered the one here (RM10.00)…

La Vino chocolate fondant 1

…to share for dessert…and yes, it was very nice too…

La Vino chocolate fondant 2
*SK Hii’s photo on Facebook*

…and yes, the “lava” oozed out the instant the cake was cut. Bravo!!!

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that night – she said that all these years, whenever we went over to Kuching, my cousins would take us out to eat here, there and everywhere so now that she is working and earning her own money, she would like to reciprocate, a little gesture on her part for all that she had enjoyed in the past.

We were served a free flow of iced water by the jug, on the house, and service was very good though they did seem a lot more comfortable conversing in Mandarin but I did not have a problem with that…and considering how the food was really great, all is forgiven…and yes, I would be back again to see what else is nice on their menu.

Start the day…

My friend, Mary, went off to Adelaide, Australia, to see her girl there and when she came home, my very old friend, Jasmine, there sent me these goodies…

From Jasmine 1

…through her and these too…

From Jasmine 2

…thank you so much to you, Jasmine – that was indeed so thoughtful and generous of you…and thanks also to Mary for bringing them all the way!

I was very sure there were two packets of the Tim Tams when I started taking out everything for the “photography session” but when I was arranging the stuff, there was only one and I just assumed that I must have been mistaken earlier. When it was all over, I started putting the things back into the bag and there it was! On the bench where I was sitting, right beside the bag. Sighhhh!!!! A sign of old age, I guess – very typical of elderly folks like me.

I had gone to the market early that morning and after getting all that I wanted, I dropped by the restaurant to pick up the things and since I was up and about early in the morning, I decided to take the opportunity to have breakfast there.

Yes, they do open for breakfast, 7.00 a.m. onwards and they are open 7 days a week because they have the special arrangement with the hotel where the restaurant is located to serve breakfast to the room guests every morning.

I’ve tried the “kampua” before, the Thai-style kampua by Jos (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampua by Jos

…Jos being the name of the Thai chef there. The only thing kampua about it is the noodles used, our locally-produced kampua mee but other than that, it would not be anything like our local version of the noodles in any coffee shop round town…and of course, being located in a hotel, you would not find any lard nor pork in it. However, that does not mean in any way that it is not nice – just that it is something completely different. Otherwise, why would I want to have that again since I had tried it before?

As a matter of fact, there are some very nice pork and lard-free kampua noodles at the Malay coffee shops and stalls like here for instance and also at this one and when I cook my own at home, I just fry sliced shallots in cooking oil and use that and needless to say, it tastes great too. I sure enjoyed the slices of fish cake…

Fish cake on kampua by Jos

…a lot more than the usual red-coloured boiled char siew wannabe. I was wondering about those brown bits used for garnishing – they tasted great so I asked Mary and she said they were fried garlic. Of course, in our regular plate of kampua mee, there is usually no garlic so that would give one a fair idea as to how different this is from the real thing but yes, it is a nice change from the usual – just don’t come here and order this and expect it to be the same as what one is accustomed to.

Mary gave me this chicken rice chili dip…

Flavous Thai Kitchen chili dip

…to go with it but I only used a little of that. It was nice enough on its own.

I also ordered the kampung eggs with toast (RM5.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampung eggs with toast

…as I have seen people sharing photographs of those on Facebook and I was kind of attracted by the orange colour…

Organic kampung eggs

…of the yolk. I’ve tried those supposedly healthier organic eggs before and no, I did not like them. They do not have that chow chor egg smell or taste that I enjoy. I wonder if they also serve this using regular eggs but anyway, I did  not think that was butter on the toast so I did not get very excited about it too. It might as well have been plain, plain toast to dip in the egg and eat.

Now you would not believe this! Mary said that the eggs were very fresh, just delivered fro the farm, and insisted that I took a tray home. That was so nice of her, thank you so so much! My girl likes these kampung eggs so of course, I would let her take some to her jungle school to enjoy. Normally, she would buy those at the shops and supermarkets or the Omega-3 ones…but of course, those, if truly organic, would not be as fresh as these from Mary.

There are other things on their breakfast menu, one being porridge which I did not try, but I don’t think I will be back here for breakfast again all that soon because normally, I would not be out and about jalan jalan cari makan (looking for things to eat) that early – usually way after 10, by which time they would be about to close, and they will reopen for lunch every day (except Wednesdays) at 12 noon till 2.00 p.m. and dinner will be from 6.00/6.30 onwards (also except Wednesdays).