New location…

In my blogpost yesterday, I mentioned that I walked over to this coffee shop in the next block to the left and I was appalled to see that there were so very few customers, maybe two tables only to the most, unlike that previous time when I dropped by when they were enjoying brisk business despite the pandemic.

I guess the problem started when the beef noodles…

…stall moved to their own shop here and their crowd of loyal followers made their way there as well.

Eventually, the lady selling the very nice Penang har mee (prawn noodles)…

…that I ate that day also moved to a coffee shop across the road from here…

…along Jalan Sena. My ex-student sent me a photograph of the coffee shop but I have not gone over to have a look yet.

A Malay lady has taken her place but it did not look like she had any business at all – I wonder how long she would last at this rate and for reasons unknown, the kampua mee stall was closed, not something usual on a Thursday – they usually take the day off on Monday or Tuesday every week.

In the meantime, this coffee shop…

…that used to be in the next lane from my house has moved here…

…to what was formerly the Football Cafe along Jalan Cherry, Lorong 10. A long time ago, my ex-student used to run his Art tuition class at the unit on the extreme left on the 1st floor and I used to send my girl there. Now he is a very successful gynaecologist in Bintulu, making tonnes of money.

I don’t know what happened at the old place – probably there were some rental issues but even though this new place is quite near my house, I am in no hurry to go over, not at all. The kampua mee

…and the pian sip

…were good but there are others elsewhere just as good or perhaps even nicer.

I loved the Foochow fried mee special, the moon version…

…and the tomato kway teow

…and my girl loved the fried pek koi

…from the chu-char (cook and fry) people but I am not fond of the guy’s peculiar sense of humour. I don’t know if he was being hurtful or what but the things he said were far from being funny – I saw the expressions on the customers’ faces change as he hurled his insults at them and I did hear people saying that they would never go back there again!

Word has it that business at the new place is as brisk as before so I guess the loss of some of his customers has not affected them that much, if at all.

You’ll be ok…

I’ve been eating a lot of apples. Just as the age old maxim goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” I read somewhere that they are good for me so I would always keep a constant supply in the house to eat, usually after meals.

Well, it so happened that I ran out of the fruit that day so I hopped over to our neighbourhood fruit & sundry shop in the next lane to buy some. I usually grab the ones from New Zealand, 5 for RM13.00.

When I was there that day, I saw these packs of nasi lemak

…selling at RM5.00 each. Of course, I wasted no time at all in buying a pack to take home and try.

I have not had any for a while now, not since this one here and one reason why I’ve been avoiding it is they will usually give a drumstick with it and that is red meat – out of bounds for me, I’m afraid. Some will give a chicken wing and if I am not wrong, the drummette is white meat but the middle part, the wingette is red. Others will give a bit of daging masak hitam or beef or chicken rendang, all best avoided as far as I am concerned.

The sambal was very nice…

…and though the rice was not as lemak (rich with coconut milk) as I would have loved it to be, it was not dry and hard like a lot of nasi lemak all over town.

There were the peanuts and the fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) by the side…

…and yes, the standard nasi lemak condiment, the hard boiled egg, got my nod of approval. That is what they should give with this national dish, not one whole fried egg though some people may prefer that instead. I wish they had taken the trouble to remove the insides of the ikan bilis though!

There were two slices of cucumber and some deep fried batter-coated chicken strips…

Much to my delight, they had used chicken breast so that was perfectly ok for me, white meat, not red.

I did not ask but I had the feeling that this was sourced from that same Malay lady who was selling her nasi lemak in plastic bags (RM2.00) before…and wrapped in brown paper (RM1.00) before that because they all seemed to taste quite similar but for RM5.00, there are a lot of other things that I can go for for that kind of money so I can’t say I’d be rushing back there for more of this all that soon. Once in a while should be fine!

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Slipped my mind…

The other day, when I bought the very awesome ikan terubok (toli shad) that we enjoyed so much, I also bought some bak chik

…for only RM10.00 a kilo. That’s very affordable and for that kind of money, we could get no less than 20 of the fish, at least – so many of them for our two meals that day.

The nice boys, Madam Lau’s helpers also threw in two ikan kembong for only RM1.00 each. We also deep-fried those…

…to eat and yes, they were good too.

While I was there that morning, I bought one more fish from the boys – they told me it was an ikan senangin. The Malay name sounded familiar but I could not, for the dear life of me, remember what fish that was. It had completely slipped my mind!!!

It turned out to be the threadfin or what we call ngor hu in Hokkien except that usually, it would be very big and I would buy it in thick slabs…

…not whole. This one that the boys were trying to sell to me was very small, around the size of my forearm, for only RM20.00. In the end, I took it and the boys cleaned it for me and cut it into slices, ready for frying.

My missus took two slices that day and steamed them and yes, they were very nice. I did not take any snapshots of those but the next day, she steamed the leftover pieces for lunch…

Don’t you think that looks gorgeous?

For our dinner in the evening that previous day, she fried four slices…

…instead of steaming them…

– I guess she knows that our girl would prefer that instead of having them steamed.

Personally, I felt they were very good either way, steamed or fried and with the price of cooking oil shooting up like nobody’s business, when the fish is suitable for steaming, I think we should just steam it, no need to be too fussy about it, plus that is supposed to be healthier, right?

It was not as good as the ikan lajong

…that we had that day but it came pretty close! I certainly would buy it again if I happen to see it whole at the stall and yes, I would ask the boy to do a butterfly cut…

…for me to conveniently take it home and steam.

I did mention in an earlier post that I am now on a no red meat diet, no dairy products and no egg yolk but I have to take a lot of protein. That, of course, means that I shall be buying and eating a lot of fish.

I went back to the stall the other morning and bought another kilo of the bak chik (RM10.00) and 2.6 kilos of the kilat or small white pomfret/pek chio/ikan bawal putih

These are the big ones and no, they do not come cheap, RM35.00 a kilo so I had to pay over RM90.00 because I bought quite a lot that day.

Usually, they are very small so if we limit ourselves to three per meal, six per day, there should be enough for us for two to three days and usually, we would have them fried…

…but for the same aforementioned reason, I think we shall have them steamed instead this time around.

The fish & seafood stall…

…is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

57…

After our lunch here that day, my girl said that she would like to walk over to the fruit shop in the next block with her mum for a while while I waited for them in the car.

There are a lot of these shops nowadays selling fresh local fruits as well as those imported ones and of course, you are given the choice of buying them whole or peeled and cut into chunks or slices and if I am not wrong, they also prepare gift baskets of fruits that you can give to family and friends.

My girl bought this tofu fa (RM7.00)…

…that my sister did buy for us to try once.

Yes, it was very nice, very soft and smooth…

…but I think it is pre-sweetened.

If I am not wrong, those that I have bought before elsewhere were sugar-free and they would pour some sweet syrup all over it. I guess that way, I would be able to pour away the syrup and enjoy the tofu fa almost sugar-free. I can’t do that with this one…

My girl also bought their coconut jelly (RM6.00)…

…that came in layers…

…of very soft and smooth santan (coconut milk) pudding…

…and coconut water agar-agar (jelly)…

Yes, I thought this was very nicely done too – I sure enjoyed both of them except that the prices were a little bit steep, definitely not something we would go for all that frequently on a very regular basis.

I sure would love to try their strawberry yogurt cake one of these days, if it is available. They have the photographs on their Facebook page and it looks really good!!! Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in June. Hint!…Hint!!! LOL!!!

57 FRUIT STALL (2.294084, 111.826097) is located at No. 57, Jalan Tunku Osman, two doors to the right of this coffee shop…

…at the extreme left end of that block of shops, with the Canneles Boulangeria & Patisserie in between the two.

Local…

They opened this place…

…quite recently but I did not bother going over to check it out even though it’s not far from my house. After all, they have branches all over town and before the pandemic, I used to go to a couple of them to get my imported Australian and New Zealand beef and lamb. Why! I was so impressed when I dropped by Seremban (Negeri Sembilan) in 2012 and saw that they had a branch…

…there as well.

I was browsing through their Facebook page one fine day when I saw a comment by a Facebook friend of mine. “Like in New Zealand!” he said and my curiosity was instantly aroused. I decided I would hop over soon just to look around and that was what I did the other day.

Yes, it’s a really huge place with all kinds of things for sale but I was more into stuff that I had not seen before. I noticed a lot of sugar-free, no added sugar …

…and unsweetened stuff…

…on the shelves.

They may have them at some other supermarkets in town – I hear those that stock up on imported stuff have quite a collection too these days, just that I have not gone round to see but I certainly would want to try that pistachio milk – I love pistachios and right now, I am getting quite sick and tired of the V-soy soya bean and multi-grain milk and my low fat fresh milk that I am drinking regularly because my doctor said that I would need the protein.

I also saw a lot of stuff not available elsewhere like this particular brand of luncheon meat…

…(I wonder if it’s any good) or these canned sardines…

…and yes, they certainly had a whole lot of ham…

…sausages and other processed meat to pick and choose and even pizzas…

That would be so convenient – just pop it in the oven and one can have a pizza to enjoy in no time at all.

They have the grass-fed beef and lamb…

…that I always buy these days, a whole lot nicer than all the rest and a whole lot of imported stuff…

…that I had not seen anywhere else around here.

There are a whole lot of local stuff as well and among all the different types of fish, barramundi and so on, I was impressed by this ikan terubok (toli shad)

…in the fish section. This is very difficult to get at the market and stalls and they have a whole lot of them here!

Why! They even have these button mushrooms…

…that are so difficult to get elsewhere and my goodness, I was amazed to see the bottles of whiskey and fine wine all lined up on the shelves. Frankly, I have not seen that many before, not even at those duty-free shops at the international airports. My attention was drawn to this bottle of kahlua coffee liquer…

I used to enjoy that so much with vanilla ice cream…

here but of course, I cannot indulge in that anymore now that I am on a low/no sugar diet. Sobsss!!!

I must say that I was baffled by the word local in the name of the place, seeing how they have so much imported stuff. In fact, I was not that keen on dropping by to see what they had because of that word – no point doing that when they only sell local stuff, available at most other places elsewhere.

My missus did buy some of the baked stuff…

…from that section and what caught my attention was the English used. There was no indication as to who supplied all that they were selling and honestly, I couldn’t make head or tail of what they meant…and goodness gracious me! If you change just one letter from the main caption, that would bring about a completely different meaning! *face palm*

Having seen what it was like, I would say that I was VERY impressed – it certainly was a nice place to go and walk around, looking at all the things on display but I do think that they have much bigger places than this in New Zealand. The only similarity that I noticed was how EXTREMELY cold it was inside – I just could not wait to get out of there before I froze to death to go and sit in the car to wait for my girl and the mum. It was like winter in New Zealand, I commented when the ladies finally were through!

Float on…

I was amazed when I read this piece of news in some tabloid (I think it’s from Singapore) the other day – Hong Kong is in danger of permanently losing an iconic landmark (or seamark) — the famed Jumbo Floating Restaurant because I did not realise that it was still around after such a very long time.

Opened in 1976, it used to be one of the highlights for tourists visiting Hong Kong. I was there when I went in the mid-80’s…

I remember we had a lavish meal there but no, I did not take any photographs of what we ate – people in those days did not have the habit of taking snapshots of everything they ate.

One thing I can remember is that after we had finished eating, we were allowed to bring the chopsticks

…home to keep as souvenirs for remembrance. Believe it or not, we have kept ours to this very day, precious antiques…

Located in Aberdeen Harbour…

…the restaurant was featured in several movies including the James Bond flick, “The Man with the Golden Gun” starring Roger Moore, Jackie Chan’s 1985 film “The Protector” and Stephen Chow’s “The God of Cookery“.

The three-story-high restaurant spanning 76 meters (249 feet) has reportedly served over 30 billion customers since its opening day, including royals such as Queen Elizabeth II, Hollywood stars, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Cruise and Hong Kong actor, Chow Yun-fat.

Everyone was encouraged to dress up in the Chinese Emperor’s and Empress’ clothes for photographs sitting on the throne and what not but no, we did not go for it. I went and googled to see if I could find photos of people doing that and guess who I saw! My Penang blogger-friend, Isaac…

I think he was there with his missus quite recently in 2010. They did have a photo taken while sitting on the throne but they did not dress up in those ancient Chinese costumes…and yes, he did take some shots of the food he ate – you can click the link to hop over to his blog and have a look!

Crowded places…

I have not gone back to the Sibu Central Market even though I did see as I was driving past that they have removed those tapes that they had all over the place to prevent people from going into the market anytime anywhere they like. Customers could only go in through a few designated points after being screened thoroughly by the security guards on duty there.

For one thing, I shall have to park my car a mile away and walk all the way there and when I have bought a lot of things, the walk back to the car would be absolutely killing!

These days, I go to the wet market in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) here. I used to avoid the place too as it was always crowded and I had the impression that parking would be near impossible there. However, I’ve found out that I can just drive into the area – there will always be people who have finished their marketing and shopping and are leaving and I can easily grab their space as soon as they vacate it.

I may not get to buy everything I want that easily here, compared to the central market, but I did manage to buy some giant freshwater prawns…

…once. I saw some more when I dropped by the other day but I did not bother to buy any. What I used to buy for RM45.00 a kilo (big but no crabsticks) are now RM60.00 a kilo and the big ones with long crabstick claws are RM75.00 a kilo. I guess I shall only buy when there is a festival or some special occasion round the corner.

I managed to buy some very nice crabs here too, RM65.00 a kilo only…

…and we enjoyed them to the max. I have only seen them selling those a couple of times since but no, I did not buy anymore either.

So far, I had the good fortune of stumbling upon some ikan buris, my favourite freshwater river fish…

…once only. All the times that I’ve gone back there, I’ve never seen any, not even once. It may be easier to get to buy these things at the central market but no, I’m keeping my distance.

Another thing that is good around here is there are so many coffee shops all around so each time I go, I can get to sample something at one of them. Believe you me, I’ve been to many and there are still some more to go! LOL!!!

Anyway, going back to things that I got to buy there recently, I paid RM5.00 for this bag of midin (wild jungle fern)…

…RM13.00 a kilo. My missus fried it with sambal udang kering (dried prawns)…

…and yes, it was so so so good! That sure made up for the disappointment…

…that we had here not too long ago! You certainly would not see me ordering that should we happen to drop by that restaurant again.

That same morning when I stumbled upon the midin, I saw some fairly large sotong (squid). The ones at my favourite fish &seafood stall are usually too small, such a chore to clean and to prepare so I never bother to buy those from there. My missus says that if they are too big, they are not nice either, too chewy and rubbery.

The instant my girl saw the sotong, she asked the mum to cook some sambal

…and nasi lemak for our meals that very Friday, our no-meat day.

Yes, we sure enjoyed the sotong

– my girl loved it! I don’t know why but strangely enough, for reasons unknown, she is not so into prawns and would go for squids instead any time any day.

I guess I shall keep on going to the wet market and shops in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here and with a little bit of luck, I may stumble upon something nice once in a while.

I won’t complain…

Believe it or not but right now, this…

…is my favourite nasi lemak in town!

A Malay lady cooks this at home and delivers a few packets to our neighbourhood fruit & vegetable sundry shop in the next lane from my house every morning at 6.00 a.m. I did manage to buy a couple of times, later in the morning, one or two packets that were left over for the day.

I did not know until the other day, the boss of the shop finally told me, that the lady would send it over at around 6.00 a.m. every morning! Of course I stopped by there after sending my girl to school the very next day and yes, the packets of nasi lemak were there, waiting! I grabbed all 6 of them, RM1.50 only each and had one…

…for breakfast and one for lunch and another one for dinner. The ladies had the rest.

At that price, I really have no cause for complaint but based on my criteria for judging a good nasi lemak, yes, the rice is well-cooked, not hard and dry nor soft and soggy, the grains still visibly whole…

…but it falls a bit short with regard to its lemakness – it is not lemak (rich in santan/coconut milk) enough for me.

The sambal, on the other hand, is simply perfect! Yes, it has that familiar regular nasi lemak sambal taste, a little salty, a little sweet and quite spicy and yes, the lady is very generous with it…

Of course, for just RM1.50 a packet, I do not expect much when it comes to the added ingredients…

– the two or three peanuts and the ikan bilis, a stamp-sized piece of omelette and a slice of cucumber. I am quite happy to enjoy the rice with the sambal alone.

At one time, they were selling this nasi lemak wrapped in brown paper for RM2.00 each that was very nice too and it did look that there was a lot more inside. Then they stopped until one fine day when this one appeared. The lady boss at the shop insisted that it was from the same source (the Malay lady) except that she is selling it in plastic bags now. Of course, it does not matter to me one bit since this one is also very nice and needless to say, I shall be buying more in days to come to take home and enjoy…

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Last stop: this town…

When my blogger friend from Penang was in town, he rented a car and went around on his own and among the places that he ventured to was this one. He liked the sourdough bread that he had there but he felt that the cinnamon roll was just so-so. I told him that I have never been there especially when I am not into these classy coffee joints serving all those sweet cakes and desserts.

Much to my surprise, after he had checked out from the hotel on the day he was leaving town, he stopped by there again and he bought me this lovely loaf of raisin bread…

He said that they were out of sourdough at the time and they would only come out with their fresh bakes at around 6.00 p.m. in the evening.

He also grabbed the solitary cinnamon roll…

…left and I shared that with the ladies in the house. All of us agreed that it was very nice. I guess by our local standard, this one stood a head above the rest – as a matter of fact, I do not remember any other place, bakeries included, making these cinnamon rolls. If they were any, I guess they were all quite forgettable and we never went back for more.

There was this yam Swiss roll too…

…but I let my girl enjoy all of it. I guess there are things I can do without now that I’m on a low sugar diet and talking about that, I sure would not mind dropping by here to check the place out now that they are serving a lot more than just those sweet cakes and desserts. I saw somebody sharing a photograph of their pizza and it sure looked good!

While he was in Sibu, my blogger friend managed to drive to Sarikei and Bintangor and he bought some old school stuff from the latter including these biscuits…

…and he gave me two packets to try. I do enjoy munching on these but I think the ones that I used to buy came from Sarikei.

I didn’t know what these…

…are called, this very old school Chinese rice cake. Usually, they are rectangular and come in layers, stacked up one on top of the other and there are other colours, pink and purple perhaps, other than white. I went around asking and was told that it is called pek ko.

My friend gave me these round ones…

…from Bintangor, with crushed peanut filling…

…inside. Nice touch! I thought that brought the taste up to a whole new level.

When he was in Sibu, my blogger-friend sent me a message asking me what this…

…was, something that he picked up at the Sibu Central Market. I told him that was our traditional Foochow engagement sweet, the lay peang, and he said he enjoyed it!

He came across this same thing in Bintangor so he bought a few to take home to Penang and he passed me one…

…to try.

There is a lot available from all over Sibu, the local ones as well as those from Sarikei and maybe, Bintangor…

…too and generally, they are all all right but my favourite is the one from that small shop in the Dewan Suarah area selling lung ngor, kompia and chu nu miang and a lot of other things as well, across the lane from Mother Cafe, same row as Aroma Bakery.

That sure was a whole lot of stuff that my blogger-friend gave me before he left town. Thank you so much and do come again – perhaps you can venture into the Melanau territories of Mukah and Dalat or the Iban territory of Kanowit the next time you come.

THE COFFEE CODE ROASTERY WORKSHOP (2.304459, 111.831098) is located at No. 1, Jalan Bintang Selatan.

Someone that I used to know…

I cannot remember when I first started patronising this old lady’s stall…

…but I do recall that she was at this same coffee shop a long time ago when it was known by a different name – Happy Garden until she disappeared all of a sudden for whatever reason, I did not know.

It was not until 2009, 13 years ago, that I stumbled upon her again at another coffee shop, right across the road from this present one. Of course, I was delighted and started dropping by for her mee goreng (fried noodles)…

…and nasi lemak (coconut rice)…

I did not know what transpired at the time and all of a sudden, that particular coffee shop, Peter Cafe, called it a day. Thankfully, this time around, the old lady moved back to her stall at the previous coffee shop opposite – eventually, it changed its name to Fast Cafe

…and she has been there to this very day.

In the meantime, others appeared in the vicinity – this one with their very nice mee jawa is very popular and this one where I used to go to for the nasi kerabu had customers spilling on to the road! Despite the competition from these other shops, the old lady stood her ground and went on with her business – I did drop by time and time again and what she dished out had always been consistently good.

I did not think I had much of an appetite to eat anything that morning but I had to go for something so I would have something to blog about and in the end, I decided to go and check her out after a very long time, not since 2016 perhaps.

Thankfully, she was open despite it being the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and I promptly placed my order for her mee goreng special (RM6.00)…

…which came with her very nice daging masak hitam

…and one deep fried chicken wing. If you want one fried egg with it, done the traditional old school way, you will have to pay an extra RM1.00, RM7.00 altogether.

Yes, the noodles tasted great and a squeeze of that calamansi lime sure helped bring the taste to a whole new level. I found myself enjoying it to the max and despite the fact that I did not have the appetite to eat anything initially, I was able to finish everything that was in that plate…

The complimentary soup…

…was very nice and I liked how she had taken the trouble of frying her own shallots for her own use. Many places would use the factory-made ones, packed in plastic packs and sold in the supermarkets and those have a horrible smell that will put me off instantly!

I also liked how, when she served the noodles, she brought along these…

…without my asking. If you go to the Chinese chu char (cook and fry) stalls and shops, don’t dream of getting any at all unless you ask for it and when you do ask for it, they will ask you whether you want the bottled chilli sauce or the freshly cut chilli in soy sauce! If you pick the latter, don’t be surprised if you get some miserable tiny bits of chili…and no, they will not give you both, don’t dream!!!

I asked the old lady how long she has been in this business and she said maybe around 10 years, a long time – obviously it has been so long she can’t even remember herself. One thing’s for sure, I would definitely be dropping by again!

FAST CAFE (2.319250, 111.832257) is located in the vicinity of Sungai Antu at No. 11, Jalan Tapang Timur, off Jalan Kampung Nangka.