While you wait…

That day, the mum was going out to stock up on food and stuff and my girl asked her to buy those crunchy crispy coated peanuts…

…that they will give you at the Chinese restaurants for you to munch while you wait for the other guests to arrive and for the banquet to start.

Unfortunately, she came home with not very good news. She said that she went to a few supermarkets and shops but she could not find any being sold at any of them.

A few days later, I happened to drop by this fresh mini market…

…and I saw these…

I wasn’t sure if those were the ones but I grabbed two packets, anyway.

Later, I stopped by one of the shops in the next lane in my neighbourhood and I saw this…

…so I bought a packet. This one sure looks more like what they used to serve at the restaurants and that got me thinking – when did they start giving us these?

I remember all throughout my growing up years, they would give us shelled peanuts…

…or kuaci (pumpkin seeds), either the black or the white ones…

Of course, it would get very messy at the end of the banquet – you will find all the shell scattered all over the table and on the floor. I suppose serving these coated shell-less ones was a pretty good idea – they would not dirty the place like that.

Going back to the ones I bought, do not be deceived by the Stars & the Stripes. They have nothing to do whatsoever with the USA. In fact, it is a Tong Garden product, made in Johore and not in China and I was in our living room that day when I spotted a packet, already open but not yet finished. I decided to take it and give it a try.

Much to my delight, it was VERY nice, a cut above the ones they give you at the Chinese restaurants!!! They did say on the pack that they’re kacang bersalut rempah, translation: spice coated peanuts and true enough, I could detect the very pleasant hint of the spices used. I enjoyed it so much that I finished all of it but no, I am not going to open the other packet – I’ll leave that to my girl and no, at the time of writing, she has not open the other pack so I cannot at this point in time say what that one is like.

More recently these days, at the restaurants, they may serve you these braised peanuts…

…instead – tasty and soft, great for the toothless, sold in cans and easily available at most shops and supermarkets. My missus will usually buy a few to keep in the pantry for anyone to open and enjoy when we feel like it.

CCL FRESH MINI MARKET is located 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, on your right if you go in via the entrance where San Len Tyres is located, just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall and KIM WON CHINESE MEDICAL STORE & MINI SUPERMARKET is located along Jalan Ruby to the left of that same block of shops as Swee Hung & Bethel Hair Salon.

Sweet surprise…

I received an sms out of the blue that day from my ex-student/lawyer-friend, Louis, now residing with his family in Kuching. He asked if I was at home and of course, I replied that I was. These days, I would be home most, if not all, of the time. He said he was on his way to my house.

Oh? So he was in Sibu again? He comes over very often – I guess he has a lot of cases here but most of the time, he would be here for a day or two and he would have to rush back to his missus and boys in Kuching, not much time for much else while he was in Sibu.

He said he had some things for me and I just assumed that somebody had sent some stuff from Kuching to me through him but no, it turned out that he bought some Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

from here for me to enjoy. As far as I know, without fail, he will drop by that coffee shop everytime he comes back to Sibu for his favourite beef noodles in town.

For me, the sio bee from this coffee shop…

…are small but they are very nice, going all the way back to 2012 when I first tried the ones from their branch along Island Road, since demolished to give way to some construction there. They were 70 sen each then – the last time I bought some, the price had gone up to 80 sen, dunno how much they are now.

Their bak chang is also very nice and yes, Louis did buy me a few…

…to enjoy as well.

He also got me this one…

…but he was not sure what was inside, kacang or something, he said. Here, if people say it’s kacang, it can mean peanut or tau sar (red bean paste). At the time of writing, I have not tried it yet so I don’t know which that would be.

Thank you so much, Louis, for the sio bee and the chang, so very nice of you to think of your old teacher and to go through the trouble of buying and sending them all the way to my house – it sure was a pleasant and sweet surprise.

The Dragon Boat Festival or 端午节 Duānwǔ Jié, usually called the Chang (Dumpling) Festival falls on the 14th of June this year so it is just a few weeks away. I guess when the time comes, I can just buy a few of the nice ones from here to eat to preserve the tradition, our heritage.

SIN KIAW CAFE (2.291287, 111.826611) is located along Ramin Way, the first shop on your right as you turn in from Jalan Kampung Nyabor, right behind the petrol station located at the bend.

Get down to it…

I was grumbling on Facebook that I had run out of Bovril and there wasn’t any stock in town. Eventually, friends started telling me that they managed to buy it at the supermarket here and it is also available in the one in the kampung area but I had been avoiding both since they appeared quite regularly in the daily list of places visited by COVID-19 positive cases and one was so nice as to PM me saying that he saw people unloading the newly-arrived stock at a shop here and that one was never in the list. Unfortunately, that shop is in a high risk area that I have been avoiding for a long time. Why, I was even thinking of purchasing it online!

Well, one day led to another and with Hari Raya coming up, I had no choice but to venture to the supermarket that stocks up on all the nice imported stuff last Saturday morning to buy some gifts for my cousin and his family who will be celebrating this auspicious occasion and I decided to get down to buying a bottle of Bovril while I was there.

I managed to grab, not one but TWO bottles…

…of what I had been waiting to lay my hands on all this time.

This is the real beef variety…

…unlike the regular ones so of course, it did not come cheap…

It looks like it will not be due for expiry till the end of May, 2022…

…and not the 22nd of May. I guess it will not last that long especially when they are rather small, those two bottles and there was only one size at the supermarket that day.

Gosh!!! It was so crowded that morning! Yes, they insisted that everyone followed the SOPs when entering and when paying at the cashiers’ counters, but inside, it was a free-for-all. The place was not big and they placed all those boxes of stuff for sale along the narrow alleys leaving enough space for one person to walk through on either side of the boxes…but there were some shoppers taking their sweet time looking at everything on the shelves, taking them down to have a closer look one by one and worse, some just stood there and talked and talked and talked, so inconsiderate.

I wasted no time at all in simply grabbing a few things I thought my cousin and his family might like – dates, the ones still on the stalks and those with honey, Kjeldsens’ butter cookies, Ferrero Rocher – the white ones…and ran out of the place as soon as I could.

Some people did tell me that I should not go there on weekends, best to go in the middle of some very hot weekday afternoon when many are working and the rest would not venture out in the heat.

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Big and small…

I stopped by my favourite fish stall the other morning to see if they had any more ikan terubok and yes, much to my delight, they did! I quickly grabbed four to keep in my freezer and this time around, I did make it a point to ask for the price. Much to my surprise, it was only RM28.00 a kilo, cheaper than the or chio/ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret) and the bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel). Now that we have this new stock at hand, I decided to finish off the remaining one that I bought the last time and was still in the freezer.

While I was at the stall, I saw the prawns – RM55.00 a kilo and boy, they were HUGE…

Normally, they were a bit smaller, RM45.00 a kilo but these looked absolutely irresistible that I simply had to ask for a kilo to take home.

After cleaning and deveining them, I placed them in a tub…

…and filled it with water…

…making sure that the prawns were completely covered. After doing that, I closed the tub and put it in the freezer to freeze.

Of course, the water would turn into ice and the prawns would be nicely frozen inside. As long as I do not take it out and will only do so to defrost when the time comes to cook them, they will remain really fresh, very firm and succulent like freshly caught ones.

There were 18 big ones altogether but unfortunately, there were 9 that were not as big so if I were to deduct RM10.00 for those and divide the balance of RM45.00 by 18, the big ones would cost RM2.50 each only, very cheap! The shop round the corner from my house would sell for around RM60-65.00 for a pack of less one kilo and at best, there would only be two or three big ones inside while the rest, though not disappointingly small (except for once), their size was really nothing to get excited about.

I took three of those smaller ones…

…and a pack of sweet baby corn to fry with the cangkok manis from my backyard…

…for our lunch and yes, that was very nice…

…and there was enough left over for dinner even!

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at the 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, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Do you want to know…

This is a follow-up post to the one on the lovely croissants the other day. Well, if anyone is interested, they are only RM7.20 for a pack of 4, just 1.80 each. That is so much cheaper than the ones here or here but I guess these are a bit smaller.

In that post, I mentioned that I had the croissant with some leftover Korean luncheon meat that was so very nice, not salty and with the usual fragrance and taste. That prompted some people to ask what brand it was and how much it cost. Well, I did not have the slightest idea as it was my missus who bought that – twice and because we enjoyed it so much, that day she went back to that supermarket to get some more and if you were one of those who wanted to know, this should answer all your questions.

Some West Malaysian friends asked if it was Lotte and the answer is no, the one we had earlier wasn’t that brand but this time around, my missus bought two brands…

Korean luncheon meat

…one of which was Lotte (RM12.50)…

Lotte

…thank goodness for the stickers because everything on the can is in Korean and it’s all Greek to me.

The other brand (RM13.95)…

Sajo

…was what we had and it was very good. We’ll get down to trying the Lotte one soon.

They are a whole lot cheaper than SPAM, also available here, and a whole lot nicer. Incidentally, they have SPAM in Korea too! My flight attendant friend gave me a can

Korean SPAM

…once but only the can was Korean. It was made in the US and it was SPAM, nothing more, nothing less – not nice, so salty!

We also tried a small can of this canned ham…

Korean canned ham

…not too long ago and since it was very nice, this time around, my missus bought some more (RM14.50)…

DongWon

Yes, I know they sure do not come cheap (I hear they are cheaper if you order via SHOPEE), though cheaper than SPAM and many of the imported brands of luncheon meat (I would not touch the China ones with a 10-foot pole, thank you very much) so I guess it is best if we restrict ourselves to eating these once in a while only. After all, people always say that processed meat and canned foods aren’t so good for health.

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Light…

My good friend/ex-classmate, Robert and his wife, Angela, kept telling me that the croissants from those chicken pie people

Hiestand mini French croissants

…were very nice and encouraged me to go and buy to try. They said they were very light with thin, crispy and flaky layers unlike many that we can find at many bakeries here in Sibu – they only look like croissants but the similarity ends there.

I am not particularly fond of that supermarket as it is very popular and more often than not, there are a lot of people there. Yes, they are very strict with the SOP when you enter and also at the cashiers’ counters. However, it is not a very big place and inside, it is a free-for-all. I cannot stand people who cannot wait their turn, wait for me to take what I want and move on. They would cast all physical distancing to the wind and simply edge up close to you to see/get what is on the shelves. Sometimes I had that urge to take off my mask and purposely cough in their faces, silly nincompoops!!!

My missus would drop by at least once a week and usually, my girl would tag along. That day when they bought the Australian PAMPAS brand filo pastry (and also their shortcrust pastry) there, they also bought a pack of the aforementioned croissants…

Croissants

…four in a pack.

They took two and heated them up in the oven and tried and yes, they loved it a lot and were praising it to the skies! I did not bother and after a few days, it got them wondering as to why I did not go and eat the two left in the fridge.

Well, I am not into eating them straight, just like that and i did not want to waste them by eating them with just peanut butter and butter. In the end, I had them with some leftover luncheon meat fried with sliced onion and egg…

With Korean luncheon meat, onion & egg

Yes, the croissants were really very nice and so was the Korean luncheon meat.

My missus bought a tin from the Korean store affiliated to this supermarket and much to her delight, it was really very very good…and that’s not because she is so into anything and everything Korean. It has that lovely luncheon meat fragrance and taste and the best thing is it is not salty, unlike Porkies, definitely a whole lot nicer than SPAM.

I did not take a photograph of the Korean luncheon meat though but don’t worry. This was the second time my missus bought a can and I am very sure she will be buying some more. The next time around, I shall grab a can and cook and feature it specially in its own blogpost.

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Hot cakes

This place…

Plastic bag

…sure needs no introduction as it appears that everyone seems to know about it.

It is located right beside a budget hotel…

Huong Hiong Confectionary

…with all the big hotels all around in that same area and visitors to Sibu would always stop there to buy the lung ngor/kay nerng kor (egg cake) and declare that theirs are the best in town.

I’ve tried them before but no, I was not all that impressed – personally, I do prefer the ones…

Dewan Suarah shop lung ngor

here. Some people did say that I would have to eat them piping hot from the oven – only then would I be able to taste how nice theirs are.

I had the impression that they started off as a small shop (with a different name)…

Humble beginning?

…right beside the celebrated dianpianngu place in town and then they opened this branch here but some insist they are not the same people, I wouldn’t know. Not too long ago, I noticed that they had rented a small place beside the TOTO shop a stone’s throw away and there were some Muslim ladies there doing the baking and I did see them transporting the fruits of their labour to the shop on the other side.

Well, it so happened that somebody treated my sister to one of their paos (steamed buns) and she loved it so much that she rushed there to buy but unfortunately, they were all sold out. Yes, they have gone into making paos now, chicken ones as this is a pork-free place and many of their employees are Muslims – this way, they would be able to sell their stuff to everyone regardless of race or religion.

Finally, the other day, my sister stopped by at around 7.00 a.m. in the morning and managed to buy some from them – the char siew pao (RM2.00 each)…

Huong Hiong char siew pao

…and the bak pao (RM2.00 each)…

Huong Hiong bak pao

The latter had egg inside, one-eighth of it unlike others where they give one-sixteenth or sometimes, you only realise there is egg in the bun when you see traces of the yolk in the filling.

Yes, both were very nice and I liked how they had chunks of meat inside – I hate those made with minced meat and whatever else that they press into a ball or a patty and wrap that inside the pao. My missus, for one, would not eat those. The skin was very nice too so all things considered, I sure wouldn’t mind going there to buy sometimes…but of course, I would have to go real early. Word has it that they sell like hot cakes and will all be sold out in a couple of hours!

Huong Hiong Confectionary 芳香(詩巫)餅家 is located off Jalan Bengkel, beside Victoria Inn on one side and the circular building (the SEDC Medan Niaga Tanahmas) that houses all the Malay stalls on the other, to the right of the New Capital Restaurant.

Things have changed…

The other day, my friend in KL, the hubby of one of the bloggers who came that day, shared some photographs on Facebook and tagged me. There was this kampua mee place…

Ah Ma Sarawak kampua mee

…that he stumbled upon at some place called Bandar Sungai Long and he went and tried…

Ah Ma Sarawak kampua mee, the noodles

He wasn’t all that impressed, it seemed as a friend asked him for his verdict and he just said, “OK, can be better!

Well, with the minced meat added, it sure did not look like Sibu kampua mee, more like Kuching kolo mee even though they insist in their shop sign that they’re “original Sibu“, with the Sarawak flag thrown in for good measure. Other than that, when they serve kampua mee here, they will give you bottled chili sauce in a small saucer. That looked like the sambal belacan for Sarawak laksa – maybe my friend got it all mixed up as he did have the laksa as well.

My friend, Annie, in KL went to this one…

Ex-Sunway kampua mee

…at its new location in PJ. The guy used to be somewhere in Sunway, much to the delight of the students from Sarawak at the college/university there. My nephew from Bintulu said they would always go there to eat so they did not miss home and kampua mee all that much.

Just like the previous one, this one too has minced meat, something you will not find in authentic kampua mee since time immemorial but things have changed and you will find minced meat in your bowl of noodles at some places here in Sibu

Rasa Sayang kampua mee

Another thing you will not find a lot of in kampua mee here would be the fried shallots and chopped spring onion that they use to garnish the dish…

Ah Kow's son kampua, Polyclinic

…except for this one, perhaps…

Liang Yew kampua mee

They was widely known for their generous sprinkling of their fried shallots that they kept tightly closed in a milk or Milo tin to keep it nice and crispy. Once, when my uncle and his family from Kuching were in town and we stopped by there for the noodles, my uncle went to ask why they did not give so much anymore and the old guy replied that shallots were way too expensive these days so they had to cut down on it.

In the 50’s, a plate of kampua mee cost 50 cents only, with meat and 30 cents, without meat and they would open their shops/stalls at the break of dawn and stay open till late at night. If you dropped by mid-afternoon, they would willingly turn up their fire to get the water boiling to cook you a plate. These days, even before noon, they would be cleaning up and closing for the day already and some will open around 6.00 p.m. in the evening till around 10.

In those good old days, a common sight at these kampua mee stalls in the afternoon would be their giant kuali/wok of pork fat. With a lot more time on their hands, they would grab the chance to render the lard for their use. After they had the oil they needed, they would use it to fry the peeled and thinly sliced shallots…and the fragrance would fill the air. I do not know if the ones today still do that – we certainly do not get to see them doing it in public like that. For one thing, when I asked at one place here, the guy told me that lard is too expensive these days so they would mix it with cooking oil…

Soon Hock pian sip mee

Obviously, that is why a lot of kampua mee here these days lacks the fragrance of the shallot pork oil – I would not be surprised if some do not bother to use it at all!

I also know that at some places, they use a food processor to chop the shallots so after frying, there will be all the minute bits and when tossed with the noodles, it would be such a mess and not a pleasant sight to behold. Some places will do the tossing in a bowl and transfer the noodles onto a plate and serve – others do not bother and it looks kind of messy/dirty. Obviously, a lot of people do not mind about the “presentation” – they just eat.

Long ago, kampua mee was served with boiled meat, dyed red so what we got would be kind of pinkish orange…

Kampu amee, old school meat

Eventually, there was a ban on the colouring used. The practice stopped for a while but it seems that many are doing it again…

Boiled pork, dyed red

Perhaps, they are now using some kind of permitted dye, I wouldn’t know. Some places will use stewed pork instead – I sure would not mind that…

Kampua mee, stewed pork

I cannot remember exactly what kampua mee was like in my younger days – no matter how authentic they insist theirs is today, it sure is not the same anymore. Long ago, they used locally-made (or at least, that was I thought they were) chio cheng (light soy sauce) in a jar and locally-made chili sauce, also in a jar. I remember my late cousin would always want to go to the washroom after eating the noodles tossed in the chili sauce…but once and once only. What they use today sure aren’t as nice so of course, what you get will be different from what we had before. They are all from West Malaysia or China, all in bottles…or when they buy in bulk, in big rectangular kerosene tins.

Even the noodles may be different these days – kampua mee is handmade, thicker and straight while kolo mee is machine made, thinner and more curly – but they are used interchangeably these days and some people may prefer one over the other which may not be what we used to enjoy long ago.

Well, say what you want. Time passes, things change. These days, there are so many coffee shops, so many kampua mee stalls. Don’t be surprised that the kampua mee at one place may be different from the one right next door. We just take each one as it is – no need to make a fuss and as long as it is nice (enough), we will go and enjoy it, no point hanging on to what’s past, knowing that things will never be the same again.

Haircut…

I could not get my hair cut ever since the COVID-19 CMO was imposed around the middle of March and it was getting very long but of course, I could not be bothered. Many managed to get their spouses to cut for them, never mind that it did not look very nice. It did not matter what I looked like – I hardly went out anyway but eventually, it started to get rather hot and uncomfortable.

Finally, sometime in early June, the hair salons were allowed to reopen. “We will allow basic haircuts, hair washing, trimming and shaving of beards and moustaches, hair treatment, manicures, pedicures, facial washing and treatment,” the minister concerned said.

I did go and get my hair cut but it was only till quite recently when my missus finally went to this one…

Bethel Hair Salon

…round the corner from our house and got them to cut hers real short. She has not gone through the trouble of dyeing her hair black so it is now quite white and grey. I’ve noticed a lot of people in the same boat walking around.

I don’t know why the hair salon, right next to the food and fruit shop in that next lane that I frequent regularly, is thus named. If I am not mistaken, it has some religious connotation – perhaps they belong to that church. I am quite sure there is a Christian denomination here by that same name as I’ve seen people sharing links to their online worship services on Facebook. Anyway, there is nothing in the shop that will indicate any connection of any kind whatsoever – it is just like any other hair salon.

I did go there once, before COVID-19, because I saw the guy standing outside and he seemed very free so I could get him to do it right away. It turned out that he was rather meticulous and careful and he took a mighty long time to cut my hair, the little that I had left. After that, his wife did the hair shampoo for me and yes, she was very good though she was very small/petite and did not look very strong. LOL!!!

My girl and the mum also said that the guy will take a long time- I guess that’s his style, the way he works.

Well, it has been over two months now since my haircut (elsewhere) and it was getting very long so I decided I would just go there as it was so very convenient, so near my house. When I got there, the boss was cutting somebody else’s hair so this young and handsome boy…

Haircut, Bethel Hair Salon

…did mine for me. By the time we were done, the boss was still at it!

I wanted to wash my hair but the people there could only speak Mandarin and I was not sure if it was allowed or not so I decided to give it a miss. They did rinse my hair a bit after it was done though.

Well, my hair is very short now. That cut cost me RM18.00. I suppose that should stretch till October at least before I shall have to go again.

BETHEL HAIR SALON is located beside SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store.

Rainbow connection…

The stalls here sure look pretty in their rainbow/pride colours, thanks to the effort of the very pro-active and dedicated wakil rakyat of that constituency…

Pelangi Foodkiosk Kampung Nangka
*Pelangi Foodkiosk Kampung Nangka photo*

Before this, it was a DIY kind of thing – each one would bring their own planks and plywood, worn-out recycled canvas banners and what not to build their own stalls and they were such a ghastly sight that I never wanted to set foot there to see what they were selling. They reminded me of the floating toilets all along the river of the kampung houses, those days when they had to build their own for their own use.

Well, I was driving past that very hot morning and I saw that only a few were open. One of them had a sign saying bubur pedas and I stopped there and then to go and buy. Unfortunately, the guy who used to have his stall here said that it was not available that day but he did have it the day before. There was nothing he was selling that tickled my fancy so I decided to walk around to see what the other stalls were selling.

There was one where two very young girls were selling some kuihs and what not and I thought these, wrapped in banana leaves, looked really good so I bought a pack of 5 (RM2.00)…

Banana leaf-wrapped kuih

…and indeed, they were very nice. The skin was soft, not tough and rubbery…

Nice skin

…unlike some that would make you feel like choking when you try to chew and swallow them.

The filling of Gula Melaka-flavoured grated coconut…

Coconut filling

…was very nice too. I certainly would want to buy those again should I happen to drop by and they are available.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about their curry puffs (RM2.00 for a pack of 5)…

Curry puffs

I know of an unimpressive-looking place along Jalan Bandong, across the road from the nasi lemak stall at Bandong Walk where a lady would be selling her curry puffs and doughnuts at 3 for RM1.00 and they are very nice. I’ve gone there to buy from her a few times already – the next time I do that, I must remember to take some snapshots and blog about it.

This was their version of the Chinese steamed yam cake or or koi and yes, it was very nice, absolutely great with Thai chili sauce and only RM2.00 a pack…

Malay steamed cake

…which was a lot cheaper than the nyonya kuihs sold here.

Well, as the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad and yes, I will definitely drop by there time and time again to see what else they have in store. If I am not wrong, that place is busier in the late afternoon and evening with keropok lekor, banana fritters, fried chicken and burger stalls and all.

PELANGI FOODKIOSK KAMPUNG NANGKA (2.311098, 111.820632) is located in front of Wisma Azra at Lorong 8A, Jalan Kampung Nangka, where YS Cafe is.