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Take me there…

My god-son/ex-student, Andrew, had a few days left before he and his family had to make their way back to New Zealand and he asked if I could take him for the best kampua noodles in town. Of course there is none that I would categorise as the best as what is best for me may not be the best to others…so I told him that I would take them for my favourite here

RTM Cafe kampua

…and yes, both he and his missus and even their little girl liked it a lot, especially with the strong lard fragrance.

They’ve done up the place nicely…probably for Chinese New Year and I particularly loved the stickers…

RTM Cafe wall sticker

…on their walls.

I decided to try their chin therng mee (clear soup noodles)…

RTM Cafe chin therng mee 1

…and ordered that for myself to try. It was nice but no, it is not supposed to be like that – the original/authentic chin therng mee

Authentic chin therng mee

…or what I would refer to as the soup version of the kampua (dry plate) noodles. That would comprise the noodles served in clear bone stock soup with light soy sauce, lard and msg added served with a few slices of the red coloured boiled meat (the imitation char siew) and a sprinkling of fried shallots and chopped spring onions.

The one here had the stewed meat slices and minced meat as in the kampua noodles, dry, and they also added a lot of green vegetables…

RTM Cafe chin therng mee 2

…which one would never see in the original/authentic ones.

We also had the pian sip (wanton/meat dumplings)…

RTM Cafe pian sip

…tossed in dark soy sauce but they did not seem to be helping themselves to any so no prize for guessing who had all of that.

After that, I drove them to Bandong to my regular Malay kuih stall where they did pick up a thing or two and then, we went to the Sibu Resident’s Office where they managed to get hold of two copies of THE book to take back to New Zealand. After a short drive around town, we dropped by here to buy the kaya but unfortunately, it was sold out and they would not be making any more till after Chap Goh Meh. Never mind! They were keen on dropping by there anyway as they would like to have the durian ice cream…

Payung durian ice cream

…one more time before they leave town. In fact, they had been here earlier for lunch and they complained that the one they had had very little of the durian cream. There! They should have mentioned my name for that special preferential treatment. Wink! Wink! Hehehehehe!!!!

They also told me that their niece or somebody had the mango ice cream and loved it so so so much but they did not get to try as she finished it all by herself. Oh? I had never ordered as I expected it to be just ice cream with some bottled mango syrup but no, they also made their own mango puree/cream for it but they used our local mango – the quinee with its much stronger (and nicer) fragrance and taste.  We all tried…

Payung mango ice cream

…but we unanimously agreed that the durian was much nicer.

It certainly was nice seeing you all again, Andrew and Michelle and little Ashley. Thanks for all the treats throughout our brief outing that morning. I certainly looking forward to seeing all of you back in Sibu again soon. Take care and God bless always Cheers!

Dusty memories…

Some of you may remember Helen, my student from my first batch in Kanowit way back in 1978 – we had a reunion not too long ago and I did blog about it then. Well, she is based in Brunei right now and she was back in town the other day with her mum to attend a wedding.

I remember the mum very well but being in her mid-70’s, it took her some time to dig out the dusty memories at the back of her mind before she could remember who I was – that young and slim and handsome teacher! Sighhhhhh!!!!! Unfortunately, time has not been kind and though she did say that I still have the looks, I know I definitely have “grown” a lot since. Sobssss!!!!!

I took them out for lunch here – I did not want to go some place else that I have not been to just in case the food might not be all that great.

We had the creamy butter prawns…

Creamy butter prawns

…that were great as usual and Helen insisted on having the fried cangkuk manis (mani cai) with egg…

Cangkuk manis egg

In her opinion, the best is right here in Sibu – none that she had had elsewhere could measure up, not at all.

Other than those two, we also ordered the midin, ching chau (fried plain, with garlic)…

Midin

…and the Foochow-style tofu soup…

Tofu soup

Yes, Helen and her mum enjoyed all the dishes very much and we really had a great time talking about old times and everything that has transpired in our lives since that time so very long ago in Kanowit. Unfortunately, something cropped up and I had to rush home right away so I dropped them off at their hotel and made my way through the jam – it was already the 5th Day of Chinese New Year and everyone had gone back to school or to work and I thought the roads would be clear already. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so.

It sure was nice seeing you and your mum again, Helen, and thank you for the made-in-Indonesia instant noodles that you brought all the way from Brunei for me…

Indonesian mi goreng

Yes, a cousin of mine had an Indonesian girlfriend and once, he gave me a packet from there to try – he was of the opinion that the ones made there, despite being from the same company, were much better. Can’t wait to try these and blog about it!

It had to be you…

The 2nd Day of Chinese New Year was kind of slow – we did not have a steady stream of visitors unlike the 1st Day but my good friend, Lim, and his family dropped by around noon and so we asked them to have lunch at my place…but unfortunately, all we had were leftovers from the previous night’s dinner with my in-laws. They brought along two guests, Lim’s niece from Auckland, New Zealand and her French boyfriend…and when Lim and his missus suggested going out for lunch together the following day – the 3rd Day of Chinese New Year, I told them that it had to be here

Payung decor 1

…for the exotic delights that their guests would not find anywhere else,

Payung decor 2

Well, they were keen on the idea too as they had never been to this place…

Payung decor 3

…before themselves.

Of course, I ordered my favourites – the Payung rojak

Payung rojak

…and the mushroom roll…

Payung mushroom roll

…and their special otak-otak, different from all the rest…

Payung otak-otak

…and their Payung belimbing prawns…

Belimbing prawns

Lim’s missus loved the kacangma chicken she had at our house so I ordered the one here…

Payung kacangma chicken

…for her to try and she said it was very nice too.

Peter, the boss, was so kind as to serve us his paku (wild jungle fern) cooked in santan (coconut milk)…

Payung paku in santan

…on the house and also his special ulam

Payung ulam

…which Lim’s missus enjoyed to the max.

I do not know how much their guests enjoyed everything that we had – they certainly looked very intrigued by it all and were somewhat curious as to what everything was but I could see that they were not into anything a little bit spicy. Hmmmm…perhaps we should have taken them to some place else.

My missus ordered their tom yam spaghetti…

Payung tom yam spaghetti

…and requested for it to be extra-extra spicy and it most certainly was so though some of us did try a little bit of it, she had to finish most of her order herself.

My girl was not in the mood for the usual that we have had so very often so she asked for a chicken chop…

Payung chicken chop

…for herself but she said it was dry and was not very nice. Well, it does look charred somewhat if one looks at it carefully in the photograph.

It so happened that my young and handsome friend/ex-student, Ryan, wanted to drop by my house to visit me during his lunch break but since we were out, I asked him to join us there and he did. He had the Bangladeshi lamb curry and he said it was good. He has graduated already and has been so caught up in his work that we did not get a chance to meet at all – not since Chinese New Year last year! It sure was great to see you again, Ryan – nice of you to make an effort to come by to see me…and I do hope the  Year of the Goat would be a very happy and successful one for you.

Now, this was where the “trouble” started. While we were out, people started texting me to ask if they could come to my house and I told them that I was out but I would be home by 3.00 p.m. My bad!!! I am sure you can guess what happened – everyone showed up at 3 and we certainly had a jolly big crowd at my humble little house. I thought that was fun though – so many people at one time in our usually very very quiet abode. That certainly was a welcome change. Thanks so much to you…you…and you – all of you wonderful people who came that afternoon.

Later that day, we had to go for the evening service in church as the next day, we had to send my girl back to her school – and work resumed the day after that, Monday.

STOP PRESS:
The postman just delivered this yesterday…

CNY card from Nick

- a beautiful Chinese New Year card from another young and handsome friend of mine all the way in Sg Petani. No worries, it’s still Chinese New Year – not Chap Goh Meh yet. Thank you so much, Nick, it really is so very nice of you to go through all that trouble. I do hope you’re having a wonderful time ushering in the Year of The Goat at your end. Qong Xi Fa Cai!!!

North and south…

Back to the two ex-students of mine that I mentioned in an earlier post, one is working up north in Penang and the other is down south in Singapore. One told me that he would be giving me two jars of his mum’s homemade acar timun (cucumber pickle) – in fact, he gave me one last year and I loved it! Just like the ones my mother-in-law used to make but she, being old now, is no longer making anymore.

Then, the other one saw me discussing with some of my friends on Facebook – we were taking about the bak kua I got from my Singapore friend who was here recently – Bee Cheng Hiang & Fragrance…and he mentioned another brand, Lim Chee Guan – the moment I said that I had never tried that before, he said that he was on his way…and good grief! After a while, he posted a photograph of his purchase to show me, telling me that he would be giving that to me once he got home. I went and googled and it seemed that this so-called “aeroplane/airplane brand” is among the best, if not THE best, in Singapore.

Of course, it would not be nice to just take their things…

From Hong & Johnny

…and not give so I took the two of them out for breakfast here.

The one in Penang said that he went and ate the kampua noodles at some place in Penang and it was not nice, and not quite the same (though he did say that the kolo mee he had at that same place was quite good). The one in Singapore said he had tried the one at Bugis and the other somewhere around Tampines…and both were not the same either and very expensive. Now that they were back home in Sibu, of course, they would want to go for the real thing…even though I did say that the kampua mee (RM4.50)…

Noodle House kampua

…here would not be all that great (and it doesn’t come cheap either).

I suggested the one with black pepper beef (RM9.80)…

Noodle House kampua with beef

…which I quite like myself so one of them agreed to give it a try – the other does not take beef so he had to settle for the former…and yes, he loved it as I thought he would!

We shared the kompia stuffed with stewed pork belly (RM4.80)…

Noodle House kompia pork belly

…and minced meat (RM3.80)…

Noodle House kompia minced meat

…and they liked how they do it here.

I had their kway chap special (RM7.90)…

Noodle House kway chap

…and it was good, as always.

I always enjoy getting together with my boys and talk about their days in school…and things going on in their lives right now…and this time around, it certainly was no exception, I must say.

I’m in the mood for love…

Ummmm…not me but I guess many were. I heard that the place was packed the night before, Valentine’s Day and I noticed that they had dimmed the lights too, probably to make the ambiance a little bit more romantic. I certainly hope that is not permanent though as it would be so difficult to take nice snapshots of the food…unless I go during lunch hour in broad daylight.

We dropped by the following day, Sunday, for a light dinner after attending the evening service at the cathedral close by. They had done up the place…

Payung decor 1

…very nicely…

Payung decor 2

…but I do think it was more for Chinese New Year…

Payung CNY 1

…with all the lanterns…

Payung CNY 2

…and everything…

Payung CNY 3

…or perhaps it was for both – killing two birds with one stone.

My girl went out with her friends for lunch that day and she said she was still very full, come dinner time and I was also full from eating the bak kua, while cutting…and whatever we had in the house, all ready for Chinese New Year. So both of us ordered the beef noodles (RM8.00)…

Payung beef noodles

…and the mum followed suit. Theirs is different from any elsewhere so we can’t really make any comparison but we all enjoyed it. I’ve tried it before though – when they were running their other outlet but they’ve since given up the place to some other people and are no longer there now. I wouldn’t say I could recall exactly what it was like, just that it was nice, but I’m quite positive it was kind of different. Maybe they’ve fine-tuned it…but they topped it with a fried egg the last time and we did not get any that night. I wouldn’t mind the extra actually.

We also had their celebrated Payung rojak (RM10.00)…

Payung rojak

…and shared their not-to-be-missed durian ice cream (RM8.00) – with a brand new style of presentation…

Payung durian ice cream

…and that was our dinner that night.

I noticed that they had homemade kaya (RM6.00)

Payung homemade kaya

…on their list of specials so I bought some home to try. It was very good as far as the taste went – very very lemak (rich with santan) and fragrant and no, I wouldn’t think it is a lot more expensive than those half-filled little ones that one can get from the roadside stalls here for over RM2.00 and they’re definitely not as nice, no way. However, I wish they could make it a little thicker – I found it a little watery.

Incidentally, if anyone (especially those home from some place for Chinese New Year) is thinking of dropping by, they are closed today…and yesterday, two days only so they will resume business tomorrow. You can drop by and check it out then. You will not be disappointed, take my word for it…

Love is in the air…

This was on Valentine’s Day…

Hearts

…that day when we dropped by the hypermart at one of the megamalls in town to pick up a thing or two and while we were there, we decided to stop by this place there for lunch. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along my camera that day and I had to depend on the one in my mobile phone so do excuse the blurry and less-than-satisfactory snapshots in this post. The fact that the place wasn’t exactly bright (as in the case of all their other outlets), despite it being lunchtime, sure did not help one bit…and I had to resort to using the little yellow lamp that they had on the table.

I had their mee mamak (RM10.00)…

Mee mamak

which I just had not too long ago because my missus wanted the char kway teow (RM10.00)…

CKT

Between the two, we all thought the mee mamak was nicer but the sambal belacan that came with the kway teow was really very very good.

Gosh!!! The servings were HUGE! One would be enough for three, at least, so the two would be enough to go round for a party of six. I really do wish they would reduce the size of their servings (and charge a little less) so that diners would be able to order some other dishes and have a wider variety to enjoy. As it is, halfway through, one would be struggling to finish what’s on the plate and like how the Law of Diminishing Returns works, even what seems so very nice initially would no longer be as nice in the end. As a matter of fact, my missus who absolutely loves chao chai hung ngang saw some people having it and the giant bowl in which it was served and that put her off immediately – it was so big like a basin…or I thought that was about the size of a tham phui (Victorian chamber pot)!

My girl felt like having something western so she ordered the grilled chicken with homemade brown gravy (RM18.00)…

Grilled chicken

…and she said it was nice. No, it wasn’t that orange, the gravy – blame it on the camera. LOL!!!

I also ordered their turkey ham and cheese toast (RM12.00)…

Toast

…to try but no, I do feel their tuna toast is nicer and of course, we just could not eat most of it and had to tapao the rest home.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that day. She said that it was Valentine’s Day and the day is for all loved ones and she would like to give a special treat to the ones she loves. Wasn’t that so very sweet of her?

Incidentally, I went out for breakfast with two of my ex-students yesterday morning but that will be in a later post on another day. Gosh!!! It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today and the big day is tomorrow…and of course, many of them have come home for the festival. The two sweet boys gave me these…

Goodies for Chinese New Year

- one gave me TWO big bottles of his mum’s very special homemade acar (cucumber pickle) which of course, I would enjoy with my freshly-fried keropok (prawn crackers) and the other went out of his way and queued for over an hour to buy me this celebrated (some say it is the best in Singapore) airplane-brand Lim Chee Guan bak kua (barbecued meat slices). Thank you so much, boys – honestly, with such thoughtful students like you two, it sure makes it so much more worthwhile being a teacher. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Chandelier…

When you see chandeliers…

Chandelier

…all over the restaurant and the captain all nicely-dressed up…

Smart

…and folding cloth napkins, no less, for the main tables for that night’s function and braised peanuts served as starters…

Peanuts

…you would expect the bill at the end of the meal to be quite high, you reckon?

Well, we dropped by one like that the other day for lunch and had their signature dish – their fish head curry…

FHC 1

…with a special request for extra vegetables thrown in…

FHC 2

…so that we could have a one-dish meal with rice and there would not be any need to order any other dishes to go with it.

That, by itself, was RM55 and absolutely worth it considering that they do it so very well here, better than any that I have had at other places. The peanuts were RM2.50 and rice was RM1.50 a plate. We all had iced water which was only RM1.00 a glass – I do know of a few places that charge much more than that!

Needless to say, we all enjoyed our lunch here…

Sheraton, Sibu

…and if there is anyone who does not know where it is, just drive along Brooke Drive from the town, past Telekoms and you will soon get to it on your left – the big, relatively-new Lin Clan Building is across the road, on your right.

Now, moving away from our lunch, these came via one courier agency here…

Via courier

…on Saturday afternoon from my very dear friend all the way in KL. Thank you, Mandy, for the lovely Chinese New Year card…

CNY card

…all red and gold for good luck and prosperity, and also for the very nice Mount Kinabalu t-shirt…

T-shirt & key card

…and thank you so much also for all the hotel key-cards to add to my collection. It’s so very sweet of you to remember to save them for me everytime you go travelling. You’re truly a gem, sweetheart – hope you will have a wonderful Chinese New Year celebration too and an awesome Year of the Goat! Cheers!

On a more solemn and very sad note, I would like to close today’s post with this special dedication in loving memory of my very very dear friend who left us very suddenly on this day last year

Missing you heaps, Jimmy. You will always be forever in our hearts.