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Africa…

If you’re wondering what I cooked for my girl last week when she came home, well, there was the beef stew in my previous post…and the next morning, Saturday, for her breakfast, I fried her an egg, one of the two chorizo sausages that I got from my Kuching cousin recently…and I also added some of the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms from the stew…

Breakfast

…and she certainly enjoyed that.

For lunch that day, we headed to the hawker stalls here to try what I had been wanting to go back and try for sometime now. As a matter of fact, we did drop by the previous weekend but the sign there said that it would be closed till the 21st…and this time around, it was open, of course.

They did not have the shajira, whatever that is, and no, they did not have the ayam percik either even though it was stated on their menu board that it would be available on Saturdays and Sundays. This was the guy manning the stall…

African

…and I was telling my girl that he did not look Malay, more African or African-American and she agreed.

Both my girl and I had the Moroccan rice with grilled chicken (RM9.00)…

Morracan rice with grilled chicken

…that came with their own-made peri-peri sauce and a very nice salsa-like dip of tomatoes, chili, onions and lime plus some spices as well.

I loved the rice a lot – it was bursting with flavours with all the raisins and spices…

Spices

…that went into the cooking and the chicken was tender and tasted great too…and yes, I enjoyed all that was in the plate with the sauce and the dip.

My missus had the “pili pili” rice with grilled chicken (RM9.00)…

Pili-pili rice with grilled chicken

…which was very nice too but a little milder so I thought it paled a bit in comparison – between the two, I would go for the Moroccan!

They kept promoting their soto jawa (RM4.50)…

Soto jawa

…so I decided to order that to give it a try. It was all right, nice but nothing to get excited about and it was chicken! I think I would prefer that in beef soup or sup tulang (beef bone soup).

After having had our fill, the ladies went to the supermarket opposite to stock up on my girl’s rations for the coming week while I walked around the place to see what else they had in store and I stopped by this one…

Stall No. 10

…where I bought the tumpik before.

My attention was drawn to it by this sign…

New from the tumpik stall

Oh??? They now have two new varieties of the traditional Melanau delicacy? One with midin (wild jungle fern) and another with bubuk (dried tiny shrimps)? Of course I could not eat anymore so I ordered both to take home for afternoon tea later. They said that they had run out of midin so I had no choice but to order one only – the one with bubuk.

I looked around the stall and saw that they were also selling these (50 sen each)…

Tauhu goreng

…served with rojak sauce…and among the things for sale on the counter were these sagu‘ (toasted sago pellets)…

Sagu

– another Melanau delight!

They were out of the fritters that they were selling including the cucur bubuk and the girl there was cutting the long beans and the chives to make some more. While waiting for my order, I chatted with her and I asked her about that African-looking guy at the Moroccan rice stall…and true enough, he was African, married to a local – the boss at one place here!!!

Our delightful small talk came to an end when my order came and I left the place to head back home. Back in the house, I opened the packet and took out the tumpik bubuk (RM4.00)…

Tumpik bubuk 1

…that I had bought. It was slightly overdone but some people may prefer it this way as there would be the added fragrance and that, with the fragrance of the toasted grated coconut and the bubuk within…

Tumpik bubuk 2

…would bring the taste to a whole new level, along with the gula apong (attap/palm sugar) dip that came with it.

There wasn’t anything else at the other stalls that appealed to me – just the usual stuff like the nasi bryani, nasi lemak, mee jawa, Sarawak laksa…and if I were to go back again, I wouldn’t mind having another go at the Moroccan rice – it was that good albeit being a tad too pricey, in my opinion.

Once more…

Yes, I dropped by this place once more the other day with my missus. I think I did mention before that my house is close by so it is quite convenient for us to stop by for lunch before going home and we would not need to worry about cooking…till later in the day, for dinner.

So what did I try this time around? I’ve had their nasi lemak and the char kway teow, the Sarawak laksa and the beef noodles too so that morning, I decided to order the chicken curry rice (RM5.50)…

Colourful Cafe chicken curry rice

…to see if it was any good. The curry was nice though it was not at all spicy so I was not too thrilled by it. Other than that, I think it came with plain rice – I was hoping it would be something like what they have in Kuching where they serve chicken rice, topped with char siew, roast pork and steamed or roast chicken and drowned with curry gravy (never mind that it is rather diluted usually) but of course, that would not be possible here as it has been designated as a “serves-no-pork” place.

I do think it would be nicer if I had ordered the nasi lemak special (RM7.00) and asked for the chicken drumstick curry to go with it but between this and the masak hitam beef that I had the other day, the latter wins hands down, no question about that.

My missus had the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa

…that I had the other day and yes, she liked it very much and the sambal belacan dip…

Colourful Cafe sambal belacan dip

…that came with it was pretty good too. They did not seem too generous with it though but I guess if you want some more, you can always ask. I would not think that would be a problem.

While we were there, I decided to order something else and as I did not feel like having their bitter gourd bihun, I had the kampua noodles (RM3.00)…

Colourful Cafe kampua 1

…in the end. I did not get my hopes up too high since this being a pork-free place, there would not be any lard in the dish so there would not be that much-coveted fragrance that true-blue kampua mee lovers would go for.

The noodles were firm, not quite like what many here seem to enjoy – they like it soft but if not cooked to perfection, they may come out too soft and soggy and I am no fan of that, of course. I guess if anyone wants the noodles softer, they can tell them to cook them a wee bit longer but it was perfectly all right by me. As for the missing lard taste, it was replaced by the really nice fragrance of the fried shallots…and I was  able to detect some fried garlic in it as well…

Colourful Cafe kampua 2

All in all, I would say it was very nice and I sure would want to have that again. I wonder if they sell it kosong (empty) or not (at a cheaper price, of course) as I did not quite care for those strips of boiled chicken breast meat.

I browsed through the menu and I saw this…

Colourful Cafe menu

It seems that if you are entertaining at home and you are too lazy too cook, you can order some of the items from here. I can vouch for the daging masak hitam and the sambal bilis…and I would have liked the chicken curry that I had more if it had been a lot spicier. The insurance guy next door told me that he had bought the paste to try and the amount at that price was good for 3 kilogrammes of beef, less than RM7.00 a kilo so it is not a lot more expensive than those packs of instant curry paste that are flooding the supermarkets around here. As for the rest, I have yet to sample them so I am in no position to comment on those.

They have some stuff on their evening/night menu that are not available in the morning/daytime so I may have to drop by again sometime to see if those are any good but if the ones that I have had are anything to go by, I guess they should be pretty o.k. as well.

Indescribable…

When my Singapore friend, Alfred, was in Sibu, I told him about the Mulu Caves right here in Sarawak and I was surprised that he had not heard of them before – the Sarawak Chamber is “so big that it could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings“. Hmmmm…this probably goes to show how effective the promotions done by our Sarawak tourism authorities have been…

Anyway, what I told Alfred got him all excited and he immediately made plans to go and visit this UNESCO world heritage site and he did – last weekend.

To get there, he had to fly to Miri and from there, he boarded an ATR 72-seater…

ATR72

…which he said was like a toy plane. Hmmm…wait till he gets on our 19-seater Twin Otter – I did blog about it here once and yes, flying in one would indeed by an experience, that’s for sure.

The experience, the sights and the sounds and everything there, needless to say, are simply indescribable so I would just share a few of his photographs on Facebook in this post. I did not know that swiftlets will always lay their eggs in pairs…

Swiftlet's eggs

…not one, not three or more…and among the amazing stone formations, there is this one that looks quite erotic…

X-rated

…but one of the main attractions of course would be this silhouette of Abraham Lincoln’s face…

Lincoln

– don’t leave Mulu without having seen this and taking a photograph of it!

My! My! Alfred sure is an adventurous guy and he opted to stay on for the “night shift”…

Night shift

I bet he found it very interesting, if not exciting, and the next morning…

Morning comes

…he and the rest made their way downstream…

Going downstream

…after having explored 5 of the caves in the national park…and he is saying that he will want to go back there again as there is a lot more that he has yet to cover!

I’ve never been there myself, I am ashamed to say, and I guess, at my age (and shape and size), I will just have to sit this one out. I have never been to the Fairy Caves in Bau near Kuching even…as when I went with my friends either in the late 60’s or early 70’s, they told to wait by the lake as the climb could be quite perilous! In fact, when they came back, they told tales of how one of the ladies fell off the rope…and luckily, one of the guys, hanging on to the rope himself, simply stretched out his arm and grabbed her and saved her. It would have been tragic if she had fallen all the way down. Neither have I been to the Niah Caves – where they found the evidences of the early pre-historic civilisation. Some of my colleagues went and they told me of the long single-plank walk to the caves…and they said that I would definitely fall off after a few steps. Humphhhh!!!

Anyway, back to the Mulu Caves, if you are keen and adventurous like my friend, you may find more information here in their website…and you can plan a trip there while you are still young and able. Why go to all those other countries when one of the most amazing wonders of the world is right here at our footsteps?

I honestly love you…

I went out early last Sunday morning to tapao (takeaway) the very nice fried kway teow at this shop for the ladies in the house for breakfast. I reckoned they must be very tired of my fried rice and fried bihun so the previous week, I bought them some kampua noodles and piansip and this week, I went for something different. Both the shops were very near my house so it wasn’t much of  a problem for me to do that.

It was still very early, around 7 something, but it was already bright and sunny…

Mormon church

The weather here has been very hot lately.

Since I was there, I decided to try something that I had not tried yet – so far, we had their fried kway teow, their nasi lemak and their Sarawak laksa…so this time around, I ordered their beef noodles (RM6.00) which was served in a jiffy, steaming hot…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles 1

Hmmm…I would ask them to leave out the raw taugeh (bean sprouts) next time as I am not all that fond of their chao chay (green) smell/taste. In Sarawak laksa, they are usually blanched lightly and anyway, the strong broth would overpower whatever smell or taste there is left.

So was it any good?…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles 2

I would say that I liked it – this one was different from the Taiwan-style ones but the soup was not as clear as the ones here. I could detect the fragrance of the spices used though I did think it could do with a stronger beef taste but still, I would say that it was nicer than a lot of the others that I have had around here. I really enjoyed it with the very nice chili dip…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles chili dip

…that came with it. It was very spicy and very very gingery – something like the excessively hot cili padi dip from Kah Heong in Kota Kinabalu but thankfully, it was not that hot!

While I was there enjoying my order, I could smell the santan (coconut milk) fragrance of the nasi lemak that he was cooking in one huge rice cooker…and I really enjoyed the light and easy songs they were playing, such as this one and this one, accompanied by the occasional banging of the wok as the guy was dishing out the fried kway teow I had ordered. The kopi-o-peng (RM1.70) was extra nice…

Colourful Cafe kopi-o-peng

…that morning – something that I did not feel on my two previous visits. Perhaps I was the first customer, so early in the morning, so I got to enjoy the fresh brew…or maybe it was because I was the only customer at the time so the “barista” could pay a little more attention to what he was doing and did a better job than usual.

Now, if anyone is wondering about that MILO mug, here, it is a requirement stipulated by our municipal council that all utensils at all eating places must be sterilised in hot boiling water in a mug like that for customers to use and I do think that this is a commendable effort to ensure cleanliness and safeguard the health, to some extent, of the people here.

I finished my delightful breakfast, paid for everything and left the shop. However, it so happened that I was dilly-dallying outside a bit while browsing through the internet on my mobile when the girl waiting at the tables in the shop came out to pass me this…

Lost and found

Good grief! That’s where I keep my identity card, my driving license, credit cards and all that kind of stuff! I was thinking that if ever I were to be pickpocketed or happened to lose my wallet somehow, I would still have those essential items, safe and sound. Perhaps I should keep those first two separately so should I inadvertently lose one, I would still have the other.

It must have dropped out of my pocket as I was taking out my wallet to pay and it certainly was very honest and nice of the girl to come running to return it to me, thank God for small mercies!

What else is there…

Last Saturday, we went back to this coffee shop for lunch.

I went around the stalls to have a look to see what else there was that we had not tried and I came across this…

YummyFafe roti canai kuchai

roti canai with kuchai (chives). That was RM2.00 a piece and it came with the bowl of dhal dip, and no, it was not chewy or rubbery, not stretchable like roti canai as we know it. In fact, it was crusty and crispy, something like the Indian pancake or aloo paratha that we had once here. The texture was more like those frozen roti canai or paratha that we can buy at the supermarkets and pan-fry them ourselves at home to eat. It probably would have been nicer if they had used butter or ghee, at least for the frying part, and no, I would not say that it swept me off my feet even though it was quite nice – something one may consider when thinking having something different for a change.

My girl’s colleague/housemate/friend ordered the curry mee (RM4.00)…

YummyKafe curry mee

…expecting to get something like the ones in the peninsula, with the curry gravy but no, it turned out to be something fried, something like mee mamak but with curry powder added. She said it was all right though and she quite enjoyed it.

My missus had the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Foochow fried mee

…and no, this was not done in the same style that I grew up eating and would prefer a lot more – the gravy was kind of clear so even though it might be nice, it was simply not the same. This and the curry mee were from the chu-char (cook & fry) place at the back portion of the coffee shop…and I noticed that they had rounded up the price, instead of the usual RM3.80 at some other places. That is perfectly all right though, I would say, considering that we did see a lot of ingredients like the meat and green vegetables in my missus’ order…unlike many other places around here these days.

Needless to day, my girl wanted the beef noodles (RM6.00)…

YummyKafe beef noodles

…that she loved a lot and I also ordered a bowl for myself. I don’t know whether it was the heat (it has been very very hot here lately) but I thought it was not as nice as before – the broth did not seem as thick and rich but when I asked my girl, she said it was the same. I do wish they could have an option though – one that has beef tendon and tripe added…at a price, of course. I would go for that one, that’s for sure!

I also ordered these dumplings (10 for RM6.00)…

YummyKafe dumplings

…to share, knowing that my girl loves them too…and that was our lunch that day.

Incidentally, an old friend from Penang flew in on Friday night but of course, like on most/all weekends, with my girl home, I was kind of tied up with her weekly visit to see her grandparents, driving her here and there to stock up on their rations for the week ahead and to buy any necessities that she would need for school and on Saturday night, we would have to go for the sunset service in church and come Sunday, I would have to drive her back to her school.

This friend and I were involved with some work for the ministry along with the couple who came from Trengganu that day so we would meet quite regularly, once a year, at least, during those days prior to my retirement. He was busy Saturday, anyway, as he was here on a working trip but I really felt bad that at such short notice, I was not able to make time to meet up. He was so sweet and thoughtful as to bring these celebrated tambun biscuits…

Tambun biscuits from Penang

..all the way from Penang for me and he sent them to me through a friend in that same line of duty, so to speak.

My sincere apologies to him…but I did tell him that I hope he would come back someday, not on a brief working trip like this time around, and stay longer so I would be able to take him around like what I did for our Trengganu friends last year…and he would have to let me know way ahead of time.

This time around…

I dropped by this shop again as I had some stuff to do at the insurance agency next door and I decided to stop by and try the guy’s Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa

I would say that it did not taste quite the same as the one that I like very much here

Thomson Corner Sarawak laksa

…but yes, it was very nice. I did wish it was a little bit spicier though, both the broth and the sambal belacan that came with it, but I heard people grumbling about the sambal in his nasi lemak for being too hot for them to handle. I suppose in this business, he would have no choice but to cater for the taste of the majority.

Still, I thought it was good to the last drop…

Clean

…and I certainly wouldn’t mind having that again but of course, if I happen to stop by another time, I would want to sample the other things he is selling here…

Colourful Cafe Sibu

This was past lunch time, around 2.00 p.m. already so the customers who were here earlier had left and gone back to work. I love how the place is so very clean, with Italian tiles on the floor and all…and that notice on the counter says that the place is closed on Tuesdays so if you do intend to drop by as well, make sure it is on any other day of the week except that day.

Up!…

This used to be one of my favourites in town when it came to kampua noodles…and piansip (meat dumplings/wantons) or the combination of the two…

Piansip kampua
*Archive photo*

Why, when my (blogger) friends came over from the peninsula in 2012, I even took them here to try…

inhouseling photo
*Collage from www.inhouseling.com* (You can read her post on the trip here.)

At the time, there were some young Indonesian girls doing most of the work including the cooking. Their Mandarin and Foochow sure put me to shame…and they were friendly and did their job well. The lady boss and the hubby would take over sometimes but usually, they would just leave everything to those helpers of theirs. Then they left and were replaced by some new ones but the last time my girl and I dropped by, we did not like what we had and we never went back there again.

Last Sunday morning, however, I did drop by to tapao (takeaway) some of the noodles and dumplings for our breakfast before we sent my girl and her colleague/friend back to their school after lunch at around noon. The Indonesian maids were no longer around and the lady boss, her hubby and daughter were manning the stall all by themselves. I placed my order and walked a couple of doors away to this place to buy some siew yoke (roast pork) and when I got home, this…

Kampua plus plus

…was what I had!

For one thing, like most everything everywhere else, the price for a regular plate of kampua noodles or piansip has gone up by 30 sen…which, of course, is a lot more than a mere 6% of the RM2.50 originally but then again, it is also RM2.80 at most other places around here these days. Maybe there has been some kind of agreement among them, a conspiracy that we do not know of. Sigh!!!

Now that the people are doing it themselves, it has regained the taste – what it was like previously and the way that I liked it before. However, there are others around town that I like more but this one is just round the corner from my house, so the convenience plus the fact that they do open very very early in the morning (and they open on Sunday afternoon too – the last I noticed), would be a drawing factor that will keep me coming back…once in a  while.