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Hard to find…

My friend, Philip, home from the US right now, said that he had read about kacang ma chicken in my blog a number of times but he had never tried it before. Well, I am not surprised as it is not in the usual prescribed diet for convalescing mothers in confinement here, not among the Foochows especially.

It is a Hakka dish and is a lot more commonly found in Kuching and in fact, it was there the first time I tried it when my landlady’s daughter or somebody gave birth and she let me sample a bit. No, I did not like it at all – it was kind of an acquired taste plus the ones for ladies in confinement would have an excessive amount of ginger and kacang ma leaves (motherwort), no salt nor seasoning added – not meant to be consumed for enjoyment. I cannot remember when or how I got to eat it again and grew to love it a lot but in the 70’s, I was buying them from one of the stalls along Palm Road in Kuching at the t-junction with Rubber Road. Eventually, they were demolished and everybody moved elsewhere – I wouldn’t know if that lady is still in the business or not as I have not seen her since.

Here in Sibu, at one time, there were some friends of mine, sisters, who used to run this takeaway at a medical centre here and their kacang ma was really so very good and I did buy from them a number of times. They’re no longer in that line of business now, unfortunately and more recently, I was delighted to stumble upon this stall here, selling it. That did not last very long either even though the stall carried on as usual selling whatever other stuff they had to offer but recently, I saw that they had closed down the food court/coffee shop already. I did hear also that there is a chap fan (mixed rice) stall above the Rejang Park market that has it on the menu but unfortunately, the dishes vary from day to day, not the same ones all the time, and it is not fixed so I would not know when they have kacang ma chicken.

That was why I took Philip here

Payung decor

…for lunch that day so he could try his first-ever kacang ma chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chciken

…and yes, he liked it!

I also ordered the Payung Fish  (RM15.00, with rice)…

Payung Fish

ikan keli (catfish), cooked the way my mum would cook it with ginger and soy sauce and whatever else…and when we cooked our own at home we would add brandy too and yes, Philip thought it was great as well.

My missus asked for the Payung green curry chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung green curry

…and needless to say, it was very well-received by all. Philip said that everything was so good, a head above what we had at that pseudo-authentic Thai restaurant that we went to in Kuching.

I noticed that the nice boss gave us a little bit extra – 4 chunks of chicken instead of the usual 3…and a lot more fish as well. Other than that, he also served us this dish – the century egg salad…

Payung century egg salad

…on the house! He said that it was not on their menu, this Myanmarese-influenced delight – they would make it once in a while for their own consumption, he and his members of the staff. He only remembered after he had served (and I had taken the photograph) that he had neglected to sprinkle the finely-chopped green cili padi on top and he promptly did that before we dived in. Yes, it was very nice…and my missus absolutely enjoyed that extra kick from the cili padi. I do think this deserves a place in their regular menu and I wouldn’t mind ordering it again the next time I drop by.

Philip wanted the jelly pisang (RM8.00)…

Payung jelly pisang

…for nostalgic reasons – every teenager growing up in Sibu in the late 60’s and early 70’s would have had that – THE “drink” to order and enjoy at the time at the Ban Chuan coffee shop, our favourite hang-out in those days. Though what we had then wasn’t entirely the same, the “upgraded” version here is, I would say, just as nice.

I also ordered the durian ice cream (RM8.00)…

Payung durian ice cream

– vanilla with durian cream enclosed inside and of course, that took Philip’s breath away and swept him off his feet especially when the fruit is not in season and he would not be able to enjoy it this time around. The cream was made from fresh durian, frozen for use as and when the need arises so this is available any time of year but of course, that will depend on their stock – once they run out, there would not be anymore till the next durian season. The cream and the vanilla ice cream complement each other so very well, making it  truly a winning combination.

It had been quite a while since I was here last – probably not since Chinese New Year in February, I think, and when my cousins came in May, they came on their own, without me. Tsk! Tsk! Well, there you have it, another conversion – someone who had dropped by to try and loved what he had here. He certainly is not the first and I am sure he will not be the last!

I gotta try…

I saw on their Facebook page that they now had macarons on their menu so last Saturday, we dropped by for lunch in the hope of trying some for dessert but the place was full. I was quite put off by the fact that some had already finished but they just sat there, all engrossed in their smartphones and ipads…but I guess that is to be expected when there is free wifi at a place and of course, it is a whole lot nicer sitting in the air-conditioned comfort there than some place else in the unbearably hot weather that we have been experiencing lately. We did not have much choice other than to go some place else.

My girl was excited when I suggested that we tried the newly-opened Korean place here ourselves despite the fact that her colleague had gone there and said that she did not like what she had. When we got to the place, there was no place to park the car and as we drove past, we looked inside and saw that it was really packed, probably full as well, so in the end, we just decided to stop by this coffee shop…

Fish noodle shop

…instead – it is in that same vicinity, along Lorong Sena 8, directly opposite Deshon Secondary School here.

It was here before they opened this present place of their own and it was already so very popular when they were at the original location. I do recall going there once to try though I don’t remember being all that impressed and I never went back for more…especially when it was so very popular and the mere idea of having to wait too long did not appeal to me. The brother went and started his own stall at the old place and I did go and try once. He probably is still there, I wouldn’t know – I have not dropped by since to check.

I just took a seat at one vacant table and let my missus and my girl go to check out the menu at the stall…

Menu

My missus seemed to be at a loss as to how to go about things here so I just told her quite loudly to place the orders and come and sit down and wait. The lady at the stall heard me and she gave me one kind of knowing look but don’t get me wrong! She was all right, quite nice actually…but yes, it is all self-service here. When each order was ready, she would call out and we would have to go and get it and bring it to our table ourselves. We also had to get the chopsticks and spoons and the chili from the stall ourselves as well.

No, we did not have the one with the giant prawns (bottom left), going for RM35.00 a bowl. I had the fish noodles in clear soup…

Fish noodle soup

…and yes, it was very very nice!!! The soup was bursting with flavours and I really liked it a lot. I would say this one was very much nicer than what I had at the brother’s stall…and also, the same thing that I had from them when they were at the original location. I certainly would not mind coming back here again for this.

My girl had the tom yam

Tom yam

…and she liked it as well. I did try a bit – it seemed that they had santan (coconut milk) in it and it was very strong with the fragrance of the serai (Lemon grass). Yes, I would say it was good too.

My missus had the one with the chao chai (preserved vegetables)…

With preserved vegetables

…and she declared that it was the best chao chai hung ngang she had ever had!

I went to pay the lady after we had finished and she calculated and told me the total, inclusive of drinks – RM23.50 and I thought she was all right, nice. However, while we were there eating, a group of young Indians, English-speaking and quite obviously non-locals, came – two guys and two ladies and three ordered. The one who didn’t want anything said he was puasa (fasting) so I guess he must be an Indian Muslim. No, they did not have to serve themselves – the Indonesian maid brought them their orders and even their chopsticks and spoons and chilli! Hmmmmm!!!! Never mind! If what they serve here is so good and the people are pleasant enough, I sure would not mind that self-service bit for one delightful meal, no big deal!

Very early the next morning, I went and got the macarons…

Macarons 1

…that we were hoping we could try the previous day so that my girl would get to sample some as well before we sent her back to her school around mid-afternoon. There are altogether 6 flavours, going at 3 for RM10.00, excluding GST. So far, I only had these things twice – homemade ones here…and also here.

That morning, I picked the blue one – if I am not mistaken, that would be the Earl Grey lavender and all I can say would be that it was nice, not bad at all…but very sweet – like eating chocolates. I also had the brown one – the salted caramel and I sure liked this one a lot. The filling was like toffee and I love toffee!!! Probably because it was “salted”, this one was not so sweet, not like the first one I had.

My girl had the yellow (lemon) and the purple (cheese) ones…

Macarons 2

…and she too thought that they were nice but a tad too sweet for her liking. My missus had the one with the green filling, matcha and she said it was very strong on the green tea flavour – those into that would probably love it and no, it was not all that sweet like most of the rest. She also had the one in the middle in the first pic – that’s chocolate, if I am not wrong.

All right, so we’ve tried all of them – mission accomplished! Anybody keen on having some too?

Smiles…

It is such joy buying things from anyone who is so nice and friendly, all smiles…

Friendly, all smiles

…no matter how busy he or she may be and even more so when he or she is courteous enough to exchange a bit of small talk while one waits. This is something that those in the service industry and the ones in the food business should realise and learn.

Nothing puts me off than seeing those who choose to stay aloof, behaving  like theirs is the best in the world and they are not in any way obliged to be nice. Eating at such places, no matter how nice the food may be, one would not be comfortable or at ease especially some snooty individuals who make us feel like we owe it to them to eat their food and pay through our nose for it! The worst, of course, would be those temperamental ones who would snap at you should you dare to utter a word – I would not bother to patronise such places, that’s for sure, and would much rather settle for something less elsewhere. Never mind how good you are, I would not die from not eating your food and what I cannot understand is how people would go and queue (in the hot sun even) and wait and despite the verbal abuse they have received, they will still want to go back for more. Gee!!! I do think that is really foolish…and paying to be insulted some more is really the last straw. No, but no, thank you!

Anyway, back to this lady at the Bandong Ramadhan Bazaar here, she was so sweet and cordial that even though I had to wait quite long while she wrapped each individual order in brown paper one by one and her business was indeed very good, it did not matter at all, not even a bit. I dropped by her stall…

Eko Konner

…located beside the gate to the surau there, at around 4 something that day but she had run out of the ayam sambal already by then. That was why, I was only able to buy her ayam berempah (chicken with herbs and spices)…

Nasi kuning ayam berempah

…and her ayam rendang

Nasi kuning ayam rendang

…both of which cost RM5.00 only each for a whole lot of her very nice nasi kuning (yellow rice), two big chunks of chicken, the really yummy sambal tempeh

Sambal tempeh

…and I even asked for extra servings of her very spicy sambal cili and she willingly obliged, looking somewhat impressed. As we know, not everyone is into anything that is extra hot and spicy.

Both my missus and I enjoyed what I bought – she liked her rendang more but I preferred my berempah which I thought was so very fragrant…and tasted so good with the sambal tempeh and the extra hot sambal cili…and on top of that, they were so reasonably priced. I heard there was chicken rice at another stall going for RM7.00 and of course, I did not bother to go and give it a try!!!

Well, the good news is that after the Raya Festival, she will be running her business at one of the shops in that same commercial area – if I’m not mistaken, it will be called Rafidah Cafe or something. That, of course, means that I will not have to wait till next year before I can get to eat this again and when people are so nice and the food is so good, I sure would not mind dropping by there for more time and time again…

P.S.:
My sincere apologies to all those who have commented earlier on my regular midnight post today – I have had it removed.

You make me feel like dancing…

Gee!!! They sure have a way with names at this stall…

Addy Adabi Senduk Menari

…at the Ramadhan Bazaar at Bandong here. Addy Adabi Senduk Menari – hey, that rhymes!!! And Senduk Menari means the Dancing Ladle! Hmmm…that sure is a nice way of putting it – how the ladle moves when one is cooking.

According to this sign…

Sign

…they sell the local kampung (village)-style delights here…

Abby Adabi

…and I was rather amused by what they have on their menu here…

Menu 1

…and also here…

Menu 2

…with names of songs such as The Power of Love…and hits by local singers such as Fauziah Latif and Zaiton Sameon.

It would be interesting to see what they would call each dish…

Dishes

…if they were to label each and every one individually, Labu dan labi for the pumpkin (RM5.00) perhaps…

Pumpkin

…and kenek kenek udang for the prawns (RM10.00)…

Prawns

– the two that I bought home for dinner that day.

If you’ve noticed from the first photograph, they have managed to complete the construction of the hawker stalls

Bandong Walk

…in time for Ramadhan. I think there is a ruling in the peninsula that states that they must not start selling before 3.00 p.m. but I guess they are not so strict here so there were a few things available…

Choices

…even though I was there at around 2.00 p.m…

Grilled fish

…to send my car to the car wash on the other side of the road but many stalls were still closed at the time.

I also bought this rojak (RM3.00)…

Rojak

…generally known as Rojak Kassim after the celebrated one here a long time ago (now based in Kuching), our version of the so-called Indian rojak though to me it is more like the Indonesian gado-gado. This was really very good but it sure did not come cheap! All that was in it were some cucur (fritters), tofu puff and cucumber. They did give quite a lot of the very nice gravy though so if ever I were to buy this again, I certainly would want to add my own boiled potatoes and egg.

I guess there is no point going too early as there would not be very much one could choose from and buy though I certainly would prefer to go before 4 and definitely not after office hours by which time the place would be so jammed packed and one would probably have to park very very far away and walk all the way to the bazaar and the weather these days has not been all that kind – it’s so very very hot here…every day!

Have you heard…

…that there is a new stall here…

Delta Seafood & Cafe

…at this coffee shop where the old lady has her kampua noodle stall?

Well, if you haven’t, you’ve heard it now. There is this new one…

New stall

…that sells their own-made noodles…

Own-made noodles

– made and cooked and served right away.

You have a choice between wet/soup (RM5.00) or dry (RM4.00), flat…

Flat

…or round and thin…

Thin

I could not understand why as I would have thought they were basically the same thing, just different in shape but I thought the flat one that my missus had was a whole lot nicer. The noodles on their own would be tasty enough – I did not see any need for the fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and the cangkuk manis and one point in their favour was that they used real char siew (barbecued meat), not the usual boiled meat imitation that one would find in a plate of kampua noodles, even though it tasted something like lap cheong (Chinese sausage). On the whole, I would say it was very good and I sure would not mind going back there again for this – and the next time around, I would opt for the flat noodles, of course!

We also ordered the soup (RM5.00)…

Soup

…which was very nice with lots of minced meat, intestines…and this was the first time I had such big ones…and pork skin – yes, just the skin (and they say that has high collagen content), no fat! I wish there was liver too though but unfortunately, there was none.

They do not have an extensive menu – just these and lor mee and kueh chap…and porridge…but when we were there around 10.30 that morning, I heard somebody at the next table ordering the latter but it was already sold out. Hmmm…it must be really nice seeing that they had run out of it so quickly!

For the uninitiated who are not familiar with this place and do not have the slightest clue where it is, this shop is located in the second block of the row of shops in Delta Estate, along Lorong Delta 10 (2.307781,111.825128) – the back of the shops faces the (inward) side of the public swimming pool.

I heard…

…that they have the best nasi kerabu in town here every Ramadhan so the previous Sunday, after sending my girl back to her school, we stopped by…

Kem Rascom 1

…on the way back.

This is one of the army camps around the Sibu area…

Kem Rascom 2

…and this one’s at the 10th Mile along the Old Oya Road past the road to the Sibu Golf Club, just a short distance away, both on your left if you are going in that direction.

They have a small Ramadhan Bazaar by the roadside outside the camp every year…

Ramadhan Bazaar

…and my guess is that the stalls are run by the wives and families of the army personnel at this camp.

I spent a bit of time taking snapshots of this and that and by the time I got to the stalls, my missus had bought the nasi kerabu from one of the stalls there, pre-packed. However, when I walked around the place, I saw this one…

Nasi kerabu stall 1

…that certainly seemed to be a lot more popular – everybody was buying from there…

Nasi kerabu stall 2

…and they let you pick what you want and once done, they would wrap everything up in paper, which is a commendable thing. The use of styrofoam containers is banned in Sibu and I certainly would not buy anything from any place that still uses that. The flimsy cardboard ones or those using some environment-friendly plastic (that I can wash and reuse again and again) are all right. Why, this one even had a banner at the back with their handphone contact…and one look at the girl would tell you this one would be very good – as they say, “Never trust a skinny cook!”

Other than the nasi kerabu, there weren’t a lot of other things around…

Ramadhan bazaar stall

…other than the usual stuff that one can get most anywhere else.

These young boys were very friendly and asked me to take their photograph…

Ramadhan drinks stall

…after which they asked me to buy their drinks but I said I should not take too much sweet stuff so they did not insist.

We had the nasi kerabu

Nasi kerabu 1

… that my missus bought for dinner that night and yes, it was very very nice…

Nasi kerabu 2

– very much nicer than the very good one that we would always go for here in the town proper and this was only RM4.50 a pack plus they also gave a bit of some kind of curry gravy separately that was very nice indeed and went very well with everything else including the rice. It is RM5.00 for fish and RM5.50 for chicken at our regular place and they do not give that stuffed chili. Besides, they also marinate the fish quite differently here, not the simple deep-fried ones that we would usually get – and this one’s a whole lot nicer as well, I must say. However, be forewarned that this one is super-duper spicy hot, so very hot that I actually felt I was blowing out fire as I was eating it.

My missus also bought this traditional Malay masak lemak perut sapi dengan rebung (tripe and bamboo shoots cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk gravy) dish…

Tripe

…from dunno-which-stall to try and yes, it was very very good too.

Well, we’re halfway through Ramadhan now and we only have around two weeks to go so if you would like to try the really very nice nasi kerabu and whatever they may have to offer here, you’d better make it fast…or wait till this time next year.

Wait…

Everyone can fly, the tagline says…but at times, it may be a case of everyone can wait. Of course, whenever I fly, I do not mind a little delay as long as I can get to my destination safely sooner or later.

No, I was not flying anywhere but I was at the airport here in Sibu to pick my friend, Philip, who is currently home again for the summer holidays. I must say it amazes me greatly, the wonders of the internet. These days, you can go to one of these websites and see the progress of any flight…

Flight route

…and they will also tell you if the aircraft is on time…

Flight details

…or delayed.

Well, Philip’s flight was on time and he even boarded the aircraft on time but when I reached the airport, I checked the website and found that it would land at past 6.45 p.m. instead of the scheduled time – 6.20 p.m. I went to check the information board inside the airport – no, it did not say the plane had been delayed but it was confirmed to arrive at 6.50 p.m.

So, I waited…and waited…and eventually, the word CONFIRMED was replaced by LANDED on the board but by 7.20 p.m., half an hour after the time it was supposed to have landed, still no one had emerged from the arrival hall. Oh yes! There were lots of people but they were on another flight, the MasWings flight from Kuching and whatever other flights from elsewhere. Maybe it was just my imagination but it sure seemed to me that when several flights landed at the same time, the budget airline would have to give way to the others. Perhaps that was why Philip said that he had to sit in the aircraft for a long time before it finally took off – maybe there were many other flights at KLIA taking off and landing at the time…so where this airline is concerned, everyone can wait!

He came out at around 7.30 p.m. and we promptly made our way back to the town…and as I had not had dinner yet, I gladly accepted his suggestion to stop by one place along the way, round the corner from where his mum lives…

Ying Siang Corner

…for a bite to eat. If anyone is interested, it’s at the t-junction of Jalan Teruntum and Lorong Merdeka 15 (2.305101,111.840016). You can go straight into Rejang Park, go straight ahead – past the shops and the defunct cinema in the commercial area – till you see a block of only two double-storey shops on your right at a corner of the aforementioned junction. Generally, this place is very crowded, lots of cars parked by the roadside, and is most popular for its steamboat.

I remember telling Philip that the food here would be pretty good but despite staying just around the corner, all these years, he had never got down to checking it out. I could vaguely remember that their fried kway teow with beef was good but when we were there that night, we were informed that they did not have it on the menu. Maybe they have discontinued the item as we can’t get fresh beef here and the imported ones do not come cheap…but they told us that they had fried kway teow with cockles so we decided to have that…

Fried kwayteow 1

…instead.

Wowwwww!!!! It was so so good! If there were others elsewhere that I loved before, they would have to step aside now and make way for the one we had…

Fried kway teow 2

…here. There were hardly any ingredients other than the egg and a bit of taugeh (bean sprouts) and whatever – even the cockles were so few and far between, so difficult to find but the taste, the wok hei fragrance sure blew us away! Both Philip and I enjoyed it a lot and the fried cangkuk manis with egg…

Fried cangkuk manis with egg

…was really good too.

Philip insisted on paying and when I asked him, he said that the total came up to RM15.00 plus, less than USD4.00. He did not ask for the breakdown but my guess would be that minus the drinks, it was RM6.00 for the kway teow and RM8.00 for the cangkuk manis, the standard price for a plate of vegetables at such places around town here. No wonder there are always lots of people eating here – not only is the food good but it is cheap too…but of course, that may depend upon what you order.

Well, since I did not have dinner at home that night and I don’t think the rest ate very much either after a late lunch and a trip to the Ramadhan stalls, there was a lot of leftover rice the next morning which I fried in my simple kampung (village) style…

Kampung-style fried rice

…and we had that for our breakfast and lunch before our special Dumpling/Dragon Boat Festival plus Father’s Day dinner that night.

It sure was nice seeing my old friend again and I really must thank him for these goodies…

From Philip

…that he brought all the way from the US. Ooooo…Godiva, no less!!!

Well, in  case anyone’s wondering what the crème brûlée dessert truffles look like inside, here’s the cross-section…

Godiva truffles

Nice – lovely creamy chocolate but very sweet. Thankfully, there weren’t all that many in the pack so no, I did not over-indulge…and no prize for guessing what I used the Made-in-Canada Ma Ling luncheon meat for…

Fried rice with luncheon meat & salted egg

Hehehehehe!!!!

I also sliced and pan-fried the rest…

Luncheon meat & egg breakfast

…for breakfast with my old school-style fried eggs and tomatoes by the side. Yum yummmm!!!!