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Only one…

Last Sunday, we went to the morning service in church – we did not have to go to the one at sunset on Saturday as it was a long weekend and Monday being a public holiday, we did not have to send my girl back to her school for the week on Sunday like what we usually do so we had a bit more time on our hands.

Having fulfilled our Sunday obligation, I drove them to this place for a western breakfast. We had had dinner there here and here and yes, we did enjoy ourselves on both occasions but unfortunately, we have not had the chance to go back there again since. For one thing, if you want some decently good western breakfast here, you may be able to get that at one of the leading hotels though I am not too sure what you can find on their menu. Other than that, you probably would have to make do with the so-called American breakfast available at quite a number of places around town but usually, all that you will get is a plate of one fried egg, a sausage or two (those frozen ones that you can get at the supermarket and fry your own at home) and a slice of toast plus some baked beans by the side perhaps…

American breakfast
*Archive photo*

…or something that isn’t really anything to look forward to.

That was why I was delighted when I saw on their Facebook page that they now have an all-day brunch menu till 4.00 p.m….and that they open from 9.30 a.m…

N2 opens at 9.30 a.m.

…which was just nice for us as the service ended sometime after 9.00 a.m.

Once we had taken our seats at a table by the window…

N2 table by the window

…we promptly placed our orders and very soon, our drinks were served…

N2 Expresso

I had their expresso (RM5.19, inclusive of GST) that I thought was great, just that I probably could have finished it all in a gulp or two. LOL!!! The butter biscuit was very nice too – our guess was that they must have made it themselves as it did not taste like anything one would be able to buy at the shops. My girl and the mum had their super berries tea (RM4.77, inclusive of GST) and their Americano (RM6.25, inclusive of GST) respectively.

My missus chose the empanadas of cajun chicken (RM6.90, excluding GST)…

N2 empanadas of cajun chicken

…and whatever that was, it certainly was very very small. It appeared to me like something in puff pastry with a little cup of sweet corn by the side…but my missus said it was quite enough for her. My girl did try a bit and both of them were of the general consensus that it was very nice. Hmmmm…if I were to have that, I probably would have to order two! Hehehehehe!!!!

Both my girl and I had their Egg Benedict (RM9.90, excluding GST)…

N2 Egg Benedict

…hers with a special request for their special own-made bacon, grilled…

N2 Egg Benedict with bacon

…and mine, their own-made smoked salmon…

N2 Egg Benedict with smoked salmon

…each for an additional RM3.50, excluding GST.

The bacon was very nice but I thought the salmon came across somewhat like fresh salmon, not quite salty and smoked enough for me but my girl loved it! She has this soft spot for salmon so I just let her have all that was in my plate. Other than those, everything else tasted great too…

N2 Egg Benedict egg

…and the eggs were absolutely perfect, with their runny yolks…

N2 Egg Benedict runny yolk

– exactly the way we would like it!

Well, that certainly helped appease our craving for these western breakfast delights for the time being and yes, we thought it was good – thankfully, considering that we do not have any other choice in our little town. We may go back there again soon…or perhaps, we would drop by for dinner, seeing that they now have a somewhat new dinner menu…or things on it that I did not see those previous times when we were there.

For the uninitiated who do not know where this place is, it is located here (2.293368,111.841816) among the shops to the right of Medan Mall (Jalan Wong King Hua) back to back with this Italian fusion restaurant. I would say that if it is western cuisine that you have in mind, this is a good place to drop by and try.

I want…

My girl saw what my friend and I had for dinner at the Cafe Ind, the Indonesian/Indian restaurant (2.290816,111.829323) here, and of course, when home for the long weekend, she, being a lover of Indian cuisine, wanted that too and needless to say, as always, what she wants, she gets!

She loyally stuck to her all-time favourite, the mutton bryani (RM18.50)…

Cafe Ind mutton bryani

…and she enjoyed it to the max.

For once, the mum did not order anything from the Indonesian menu with a special request for it to be extra spicy and opted for the butter chicken curry with basmati rice (RM17.50)…

Cafe Ind butter chicken curry with rice

…instead. If I am not mistaken, I/we had that before and my girl said it was a lot nicer…

Cafe Ind butter chicken curry

…than the one she had at the Indian restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand – the one there was sweet and not really to her liking.

I, on the other hand, switched to the Indonesian menu this time around and picked the beef rendang with rice (RM16.50)…

Cafe Ind beef rendang with rice

…and it was really very good.

That came with an egg…

Egg by the side

…and some slices of tomato and cucumber by the side and I absolutely loved the peanuts and ikan bilis (anchovies)…

Kacang & ikan bilis

…which was very much nicer than any that I had had any place else – very flavourful, whatever ingredients they used to prepare that, and spicy too – just the way I like it!

The beef rendang

Cafe Ind beef rendang

…was very nice, the beef was tender but it did not taste like rendang as I know it. I am not sure if the Indonesian version is a little different from our Malaysian ones or what but it did not really matter as I sure enjoyed it a lot and personally, I would prefer it a lot more to what my girl and her mum had.

After enjoying our most delightful and scrumptious lunch to the fullest, I wanted to go to the counter to settle the bill but my girl insisted on picking up the tab so I just let her have the pleasure. Wink! Wink! The total came up to RM58.50 but the nice boss collected RM52.00 only from her, waiving the charges for our drinks and also the 50 sen…but I would say that even without these generous gestures, we certainly would be back to enjoy all the delightful stuff that they have on their menu. Everything is that good, believe you me!

So fast…

I have blogged about this stall at this coffee shop

Mei Le roast stuff stall

…many times already like here, for instance.

Well, last Sunday, after the morning service (we could not go for the sunset service the previous night as we went for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner), my girl said that she would not mind stopping by there for brunch and a little while after that, we would have to be on our way to send her back to her school.

For one thing, other than the fact that their roast stuff is pretty good, the service is very prompt and so very fast. I guess those are the very reasons why this stall is really popular so the place can get rather crowded and to cope with it, they would cut the meat before hand and place it and the cucumber slices in plates…

Covered

…ready to be brought to your table instantly. I must say that I really appreciate how they keep it all in that plastic case like that to ensure that it is clean and safe for consumption.

I also like how they always cut the roast duck into very thin slices…

Mei Le roast duck

…as the bird can be quite tough especially if you go for the drumstick, probably the result of all that exercise, swimming in the water. I like their roast duck very much and my girl loves the sauce – I do think it is very nice too though I am not all that sure as to what that is but it comes across like sour plum with a hint of lime or lemon to me.

I also ordered this mixed platter to share…

Mei Le mixed platter

– their siew yoke (roast pork) and roast chicken. No, I did not want their char siew (barbecued pork) nor their barbecued pork ribs as my girl does not seem all that fond of those and it was also for this same reason that I opted not to have something new that they have – char siew roast chicken but I could not resist their lor nui ( stewed eggs)…

Mei Le stewed eggs

…so I asked for two to share.

All the aforementioned, together with 3 plates of rice…

Mei Le rice

…and their quite nice complimentary soup, came up to only RM17.00, less than RM6.00 per person. I am sure everyone will agree that it is very cheap, around USD4.00 only for 3 – a truly delightful lunch for just over USD1.00 per person.

We’ve been here many times before and if they maintain their standard, tastewise, and their fast service, you can bet we will keep coming back for more. For one thing, my house is just round the corner, not too far away, so it is very convenient for us to drop by…anytime.

Another time…

I was here not too long ago and in fact, we were there for my brother-in-law’s birthday some time ago. Last week, we dropped by another time and this round, it was for my sister-in-law’s birthday and yes, her daughter was home from Singapore to celebrate the special occasion with her mum and of course, it had to be a cake from Marcus…

Marcus birthday cake

– her favourite!

Yes, there was my brother-in-law’s favourite too, the sweet and sour fish…

Tung Seng Sweet and sour fish

…and this dish of “Vietnamese pork”…

Tung Seng Vietnamese pork

…and this three-in-one…

Tung Seng Three-in-one

– their omelette with salted and century eggs added. The fish was all right, the usual and the pork tasted o.k. too – I did not know what was Vietnamese about it but yes, it did have a certain taste of its own but only slightly and as for the omelette, that was fine too though I was wishing they had added more century egg in it. We also had a fried vegetable dish – what they call the Sabah yeu chai.

My niece and her dad ordered this tong sui dessert…

Tung Seng Ngor bee th'ng

– their “today’s special” and it was huge!!! I did try a little bit and I absolutely loved it! We call it gor bee th’ng (5 flavours soup) or ngor bee th’ng and there was one stall, yes, just one (and it was the one and only tong sui dessert in town at the time and maybe even now), a long long time ago and everyone would crowd there just for this but everything in that area was demolished for the construction of the Sibu Central Market and I do not know if they are still in the business or not. I am not sure what the name means – if it is actually a reference to the number of flavours, I think there were five then in the bowl – there were barley, thin strips of dried winter-melon and persimmon, a bit of one red date and agar-agar (jelly, and it’s always green) but there seemed to be a lot more in this one! I must go back there again soon just for this, all to myself. Hehehehehe!!!!

Another thing that I certainly would want to go back there for would be their coconut prawns…

Tung Seng Coconut prawns

Oooo…it was so good and inside, there were prawns together with the soft and sweet young coconut flesh and I so loved the thick, a bit spicy and santan-rich gravy. That was really good! My niece picked up the tab for the dinner and I asked her how much this was and she said RM38.00.

Let’s see when I can drop by this place again for this and also the dessert…as well as their nice pork with cincaluk dip. Anybody keen on coming along as well?

Still around…

There was talk that the owners of this place…

Zen Japanese fusion, Sibu

…would like to let it go as they had bitten off more than they could chew with their many cafes and lounges, 5 in Sibu and 2 in Kuching and I hear they are eyeing the market in China too, very ambitious guys! However, it seems they are still around so my guess is that there are no takers…and no doubt at this point in time with the economy is such a bad shape and the currency at an all-time low, it would not be all that easy to find someone ready to fork out the dough.

My girl is especially fond of Japanese cuisine so while this place is still open for business, I guess it would be a good idea to drop by a little bit more often as we are not really fond of the others here like this one…or this one, for instance.

Apart from salmon, my girl is very much into unagi (eel) so I ordered their unagi kabayaki, small (RM25.90)…

Zen Unagi Kabayaki

…for her and nothing makes me happier than seeing her enjoy herself especially after a dreary week at her school.

I also ordered their teriyaki chicken (RM12.90)…

Zen terayaki chicken

…to share and that came with a bowl of plain white rice but we did order their garlic rice (RM8.90)…

Zen garlic rice

…to eat with everything else as well.

We loved their pumpkin korokke but this time around, we had the potato (RM5.90)…

Potato korokke

…and it was really very good too.

Other than the aforementioned, my girl asked for the kizami unagi sushi (RM4.90)…

Zen kizami unagi sushi

…and I added their ebi tempura maki (RM8.90)…

Zen ebi tempura maki

…to that.

All the above plus the Japanese green tea for the three of us came up to RM79.40,exclusive of GST and no, I would not say it was not all that expensive but considering that we enjoyed all that we had in the nice, comfortable and classier environment with the friendly and efficient service and the very soft and soothing jazz music playing the background, I would say it was worth it and would surely want to drop by again…before they call it a day.

It’s been so very long…

When my girl came home for the weekend on Friday, my Tanjung Malim/Taiping friend insisted on taking us out and treating us to dinner. She was just a baby when he was posted to teach at a school here (Song, in the then-called 7th Division) and we even went on a trip to Kuching together – he still has the photographs to show…and she sure was little then! The last time he was in town, she was away studying in New Zealand so he did not want to miss the chance this time around.

He let her choose the venue and she picked this one…

Bistecca & Bistro, Sibu

…that we go to quite frequently everytime we felt  like having some Italian. Gosh!!! It was packed – it looked like most of the tables had been reserved and there was just this table for two available. Luckily, some people at one table had just left and it was big enough for six (there were 5 of us) so we quickly grabbed that one.

We ordered her favourites – the spinach egg pizza (RM28.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro spinach egg pizza

– once listed as Bracio di Ferro on their menu, with ham and lots of cheese, and everyone loved it…and we had the linguine aglio-olio seafood (RM22.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro, linguine aglio olio seafood

…which was good too. The serving did look kind of small but since we were sharing, there sure was enough to go round.

My friend’s daughter picked the mushroom chicken chop (RM16.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro mushroom chicken chop

…and everyone agreed that it was very nice, a welcome change from the teriyaki one that we used to order in the past – that is very nice too.

The father wanted the fish and chips (RM18.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro fish and chips

…probably in the hope that it would be like those that he loved so well those times when he was in the UK. Unfortunately, I forgot to put in a special request for the parrot fish that we had the last time and liked very much so we got dory instead…and at best, I would say it was nice but I am never all that fond of the texture of the fish. Thank goodness, it was not one of those jelly-like ones with a not-very-pleasant smell that would put me off instantly!

Actually, I was already planning to bring my girl here over the weekend as I saw on their Facebook page that they now have this on their menu – lasagna (RM18.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro lasagna

…and she loves lasagna…a lot! To appease her craving for it, she would go for the seafood ones at that franchise pizza place in town…but of late, the quality had dropped drastically…and it sure did not come cheap – all the seafood they had in it these days were those imitation crab sticks so needless to say,  she would never go back for more ever again. In fact, I had been pestering the guys here to add this to their menu and finally they did and yes, it was very nicely done and my girl sure enjoyed it a lot! We certainly would want to go back for more…soon!

All in all, dinner was great, thanks so very much to my friend for the delightful treat, and so was the company…and sky juice (iced water) was FOC, unlike some places here, but because of the crowd, the noise level at that small place was a little bit high – that is why I would usually drop by for lunch when there would not be so many people plus the natural daylight would enable me to take nicer photographs.

Say it isn’t so…

I, for one, would say it definitely isn’t so. Personally, I do feel that it is not all that expensive though often, I have heard some people having a bone to pick over the prices here…but allow me, if I may, to get back to that a little bit later.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my friend, Dr Ong, who was in town all the way from Tanjung Malim where he, originally from Taiping, Perak, is currently lecturing at the university there…so my missus and I met him and his daughter (who came with him) upon arrival at the airport and took them out for dinner there at that very cafe, it being one of my favourites in town…

Payung Cafe peacock tail

…especially considering that what they serve here is very nice and not quite like anything found anywhere else. This is the tail of a peacock, part of the very enchanting artwork done on one of the walls at the cafe by one of the guys there using colour chalk – you know the kind that teachers used in school a long time ago during those days before the time of the whiteboard and whiteboard markers. The head would not come out nicely in the photograph owing to the bright spotlight on top so I had no choice but to leave it out.

It has been five years since the last time Dr Ong was in town and we did go out for dinner then as well, with some of my young friends and ex-students…and no, we did not come to this place on that previous occasion so this was his first time here. I got him to try the Kuching original – the comfort food for convalescing mums during  their confinement, the kacang ma chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

…with rice and he thought it was pretty o.k. I have to admit that for many, this unique culinary delight isn’t really a love-at-first-bite kind of thing. Personally, I did not like it the first time – hmmm….haven’t I heard it said that the first time is, more often than not, the worse…but after I have acquired the taste for it eventually, there has been no looking back!

Unfortunately, most of the snapshots that I took did not turn out very well owing to the dim surroundings of the place at night including the ones of their very nice green curry (RM16.00 with rice) that my missus likes a lot! Usually, for their chicken dishes here, they will only give three (huge) chunks of chicken but since there were four of us, I asked for an extra piece in both so that there would be enough to go round and the very kind and generous boss happily (I think! LOL!!!) obliged. As a matter of fact, he also prepared his century egg salad…

Payung Cafe century egg salad

…which is not on the menu actually, specially for us…on the house! You can click the above link to see the very much nicer and clearer photographs of these two dishes that previous time when I was there in broad daylight for lunch.

We also had the Payung rojak (RM10.00) and their best seller, the mushroom roll (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll

…and of course, their otak-otak (RM13.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe otak-otak

…which is different and very much nicer than all the other versions elsewhere.

All in all, we had five orders, not including the complimentary salad – six altogether for the four of us…and the total came up to RM65.00 (including one extra plate of rice and the nice boss, upon request, kindly waived the charges for the five big glasses of iced cold water, RM1.00 each, that we all had). Compared to our lunch here, including the rice and drinks for four persons, the meal also came up to over RM60.00…and I do think that what we had there would pale in comparison.

When I took my neurosurgeon friend from Kuching out for dinner, we only had four orders, excluding the complimentary treat accorded to us, and the bill came up to almost the same for half the number of people. The following night, we went to one of my regular (Chinese) restaurants in town – I forgot to bring along my camera and the photos taken with my handphone camera did not turn out nice so I did not bother to blog about it. We only had one chicken and one prawn dish plus a vegetable dish, three altogether – small servings just enough for two, and two chunks of pandan chicken and the total, inclusive of rice and drinks was almost RM60.00…and we only ordered two things for lunch here that day and with the rice and the drinks, it was over RM35.00 for two persons…and this place wasn’t a classier upscale cafe or restaurant, not much nicer than most of the coffee shops in town.

I can go on comparing – the buck does not stop here – but I think I have said enough to prove my point. So going back to my statement right at the start of this blogpost, I would state, in no uncertain terms, that dining here is not all that expensive as some people seem to make it out to be…and that is just a  comparison of the food and the charges – I don’t even have to touch on the very nice environment with its lovely ambiance, the friendly boss and staff and the great service which all contribute towards making dining here such a pleasant experience.

P.S.:
It sure was nice seeing you again, Dr. Ong and a real pleasure getting to meet your sweet and pretty daughter and thank you so much for the goodies…

From Dr Ong

…that you took the trouble to bring all the way. The made-in-Penang heang peah was all right and I enjoyed the made-in-Tanjung Malim crispy biscuit a lot more but it was the Tanjung Malim be teh so that stole the show. It was so very good – the best I have had for a long long time now with the fragrant flaky pastry on the outside and the moist and soft filling inside. All the rest in the shops here, there and everywhere in all those impressive packaging, not in a plastic bag like this one, can come nowhere near! If anyone is interested, this is manufactured by The Smalltown Enterprise, No. 37, Jalan U1, Taman Universiti, Tanjung Malim, Perak (Tel. No.: 05-458 2168). I am not sure if it is  available elsewhere but should anyone be passing through the little place,  don’t miss the chance of grabbing a few packs to bring home!