Let’s get ready…

There certainly seems to be a whole lot of events going on in Sibu this year but I guess that’s to be expected considering that 2017 is Visit Sibu Year.

Not too long ago, there was the Sibu International Dance Festival and just last week, the Sibu International BASE Jump attracted jumpers from all over the world. According to the news report, there were enthusiasts from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, United Kingdom, the United States and Malaysia.

Well, the Mooncake or Lantern Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn or Zhongqiu Festival falls on the 4th of October this year and preparations are on the way at the town square

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 1

…for a grand celebration…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2

…starting on the 3rd until the 26th.

The 1Malaysia Food Fair will be held simultaneously at the Phase 2 section of the square, right across the road.

I dropped by the other evening…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 3

…to have a look and it being the Year of the Cockerel this year, this…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 4

…has been given centre stage.

There were still a lot of people working on them but that did not stop members of the public of all colour and creed  from crowding around and posing to have their snapshots taken…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 5

These are lanterns made of cloth…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 6

…and of course, our Sibu iconic symbol, the Swan…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 7

…has not been left out but my favourite would be these elegant-looking butterflies…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 8

I am very sure they would look very nice when lighted up at night…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 9

…but I guess the only way to find out would be to drop by when everything is ready.

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Nice guys…

They’re all very nice guys at Payung Café…

Payung Cafe decor

… including Peter, the boss and Chen, his business partner/co-owner and Andy, one of the boys there, is no exception.

Well, Andy celebrated his birthday…

Andy, the birthday boy

…two days ago on Wednesday and he sent me a message asking me to drop by for some long life noodles…

Birthday egg

…our longevity noodles, the mee sua served with the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Mee sua in traditional red wine chicken soup

The mee sua was under the chicken, not visible in the photograph and boy, it really was so so so very nice! I don’t know what went into the cooking of the soup – Peter just said there were “a lot of things” and I did spot some wolfberries and red dates in it.

I told him that if he had that on their menu, I would come back again and again just for this – it was that nice and I dare say I have not had any other that is of this same standard, none that can even come close. Perhaps he could have it as their Saturday special like how their lei cha is their Friday lunch special and I hear it is doing very well.

For our drinks, we were served this…

Anjung smoothie

– what they call anjung smoothie, a concoction made out of roselle, cucumber and lime and there was this birthday cake too…

Birthday cake from Marcus

There’s no mistaking who made that – the instant I shared the photograph on Facebook, somebody commented, “I see Marcus’ cake!” Yes, he’s that famous around here and even though he has been around for such a very long time (he made my wedding cake), he is still as popular today as he was way back then.

Andy did tell me that Peter would be cooking something special for the birthday celebration and for a start, we had this papaya salad…

Payung's papaya salad

…which was a whole lot nicer than the one we tried not too long ago. That time, I thought it was just all right and I would still prefer their pomelo salad but this time around, it could give the latter a really good fight plus Peter made it extra spicy so of course, my missus loved it to bits and enjoyed it so much!

There was this beef dish with kiwi fruit…

Beef with kiwi fruit

…that we also liked. I was thinking that perhaps, I could try cooking that at home and use pineapples instead. Other that the stronger taste, it is definitely a whole lot cheaper than those kiwis – they cost a bomb here, not something I would be buying to enjoy on a regular basis!

The ladies loved the sour chicken…

Payung's sour chicken
*Archive photo*

…a variation of the traditional Cantonese sour duck but the photograph I took was a little blur so I am using this one from sometime ago when I had it for lunch.

As for me, my vote went to this new creation by Peter, chicken with daun sireh (betel leaves)…

Daun sireh chicken

I thought that was very good and I was surprised for as far as I know, those leaves were bitter – Peter said that once cooked, the bitterness would be gone.

Gosh!!! We were so full after that scrumptious dinner – in fact, we were already very full after the awesomely nice mee sua but obviously, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you so very much for inviting us, Andy and to you too, Peter for this most delightful treat to celebrate Andy’s auspicious day. Happy birthday once again, Andy – hope your day was great and may you be blessed with a truly wonderful year ahead. Cheers!!!

PAYUNG CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

She’s got it…

The 17th of September is my girl’s birthday and that was last Sunday so of course, the mum cooked the chicken soup with the traditional Foochow red wine and we had that with hung ngang (the big bihun) instead of mee sua as the latter is not gluten free.

There was a lot of the noodles left over and I fried it for breakfast the other morning, with Thai fish sauce…

Gluten-free fried hung ngang

…instead of soy sauce which contains wheat and is not gluten free as well.

We could not order any cake from outside for her special day – they are all made from wheat and are not gluten-free and she did try making her own a few times before but it had not been very successful.

However, this time around, she managed to pass with flying colours – her Japanese baked cheese cake came out really well and she and her mum did the decoration with whipped cream and fresh strawberries…

Mel's own-made birthday cake

…so she did have a birthday cake…

Happy birthday

…to cut and enjoy after all.

Finally, she has succeeded in making a cake with the soft cake texture…

Melissa's Japanese baked cheese cake with icing & strawberries

…unlike some of her failed attempts before, and it tasted very nice too. The light brown colour was because she decided to use brown sugar instead of the regular sugar.

Incidentally, last weekend, she also used this cheese sauce…

Cheese sauce from Australia

…that my cousin brought all the way from Melbourne, Australia to give to me to cook some broccoli…

Broccoli cheese

…that I had in the fridge. There wasn’t all that much left so the mum asked her to add some sweet baby corn as well to come out with this lovely broccoli casserole…

Broccoli casserole

Yes, it was very nice and we all enjoyed it but being a carnivore, I thought it would be nicer to add some bacon or ham to it. That, I’m sure would bring the taste to a whole new level.

Well, her birthday was on a Sunday so we could not go out for a celebration of any kind. After enjoying the noodles and the cake that morning, we had to be on our way already, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

Moon…

The Mooncake Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn or Zhongqiu Festival falls on the 4th of October this year which means that there are some two to three weeks to go.

Needless to say, they are getting more expensive by the year so I will not bother getting any of those “branded ones”. With the kind of money, I could go out with my family and have a really nice dinner and derive a lot more pleasure from that instead. As a matter of fact, I saw somebody sharing a post on Facebook that day that there are imitations/counterfeit not only in Hong Kong or elsewhere in China but right here in Malaysia so that would be another reason not to go for those.

We do have a bakery here that makes very nice ones but the last time I bought some…

Famous Bakery, Sibu mooncake
*Archive photo*

…from there was 5 years ago in 2012 mainly because it is located at the far end of town, very far!

I’m sure the prices have gone up by leaps and bounds now – my Miri friend ordered from them for sale at RM38.00 for a box of 12. Back in 2012, they were only RM11 for a pack of 6 or RM13.00 for the ones with salted egg yolk…

Famous Bakery, Sibu yolk puff
*Archive photo*

…inside.

Even our local Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits or what we call Pek Guek Tong Chiew pia

Pek guek tong chiew pia
*Archive photo*

…are selling for RM6.00 a pack now. I remember at one time they were priced at only RM4.00. My cousin in Melbourne, Australia calls them Foochow shortbread and she loves them so much, more than the Scottish ones, it seems.

I did buy a pack of those mooncakes, lotus paste, from a manufacturer in Johore, halal ones, selling at only RM10.00 for 4. I would not say it was great but at that price, I shall not complain.

I also bought these…

Sibu home-made mooncakes

…the other day from a shop round the corner from my house, RM3.00 for a pack of three, just RM1.00 each. They said they were home-made, somebody made them and left them there for sale.

Kids would probably love the Doraemon mould used…

Doraemon mooncake

…but they only had two types of filling – or tau sar (red bean paste) or pek tau sar (mung bean paste) and I bought the latter which I do prefer.

Yes, the pastry was indeed kind of thick…

Thick pastry

…but I did not mind – for one thing, I do enjoy eating it and for another, it sure helps to reduce the sweetness of the filling. I cannot understand why people would insist on it being paper thin as an indication of a very well-produced top quality mooncake. One would hardly be able to taste the pastry at all so much so that he or she might as well go and buy the filling and eat it straight, just like that.

These days, they have the snow skin and the agar-agar (jelly) but no, I am no fan of those. It has to be the real thing, the original, authentic mooncakes…or nothing at all.

Right now, I am not sure if I would be getting more to try – maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We’ll see! I still have a few weeks to look around to see if there are any other affordable ones available but one thing I am certain of is that I will not be buying those worth-their-weight-in-gold ones, thank you very much!

FAMOUS BAKERY (2.250418, 111.84679) is located at No. 8, Lorong Upper Lanang 29A in the Grand Height area of shops between Jalan Mantis and the aforementioned lane..

Mary’s Day…

It was Mary’s birthday last Sunday and she asked us to drop by her place

Flavours Thai Kitchen decor, outside

…for lunch.

We stopped by a florist’s shop on the way and I got her this little bouquet of roses…

Roses

…and I also gave her a pot of ulam raja seedlings…

Ulam raja

…from my garden (she asked me not too long ago if they were easy to plant) – nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just a simple gesture for the occasion but of course, it came straight from the heart. As they say, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Of course, we were glad to be a part of the celebration of her special day and arrived some ten or fifteen minutes before noon but when we saw the setting…

Flavours Thai Kitchen table setting

…I was wishing I had put on something less casual and more presentable but never mind!

Flowers and snacks

The company was great…

Mary & friends

…and I had a jolly good time chatting with Mary and her other guests and needless to say, I enjoyed the scrumptious dishes prepared by her authentic Thai chefs, Jos & Su.

True to the Foochow/Chinese tradition, there were these golden eggs…

Eggs

…served with some thick syrup that I guessed had honey in it and I loved the bihun

Hinghua bihun

…very much.

We also had the Thai pineapple rice…

Pineapple rice

…and this plate of fish fillet with fresh black pepper sauce…

Fish fillet with black pepper sauce

…and everyone was singing praises of the lime beef…

Lime beef

…that my girl and I had had the pleasure of trying once before.

I did not manage to snap a photograph of the vegetable dish – there were cauliflower and broccoli in it nor one of the platter of fruits that was served at the end.

Thank you so much for inviting us, Mary – that was so very sweet of you and a very Happy Birthday to you once again. All the best in the year ahead and may all your dreams come true. May God bless you and all your loved ones always, cheers!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Not too late…

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim members of my family, friends and readers…

Hari Raya greeting

Of course, by now, all the Ramadan bazaars everywhere would have come to a close and one would have to wait till next year, perhaps, to enjoy all the culinary delights that one would not be able to get normally unless one cooks one’s own, like this delightful charcoal-grilled lamb…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 1

…here…

Grill lamb leg slice

…for instance.

When my girl was home the previous weekend, my missus bought some for her to take to her school in the jungle to eat. She had it on Monday night and enjoyed it so very much, especially with its very nice mushroom and black pepper gravy…and could not wait to tell us about it.

Knowing that it would be too late by the time she would be home again (Thursday) as most of the stalls would have called it a day, I went the very next day, Tuesday, to buy some and keep for her to enjoy at a later date.

When I got there, the guy…

Adi Lamb
*That friend of his had just knocked off work and happened to drop by – I remembered him as the guy at his cousin’s or somebody’s burger stall, no longer in business for a long long time now.*

…had just started for the afternoon and was still getting his fire going though I did see some of the meat, raw, on the grill already…

Meat on the grill

…He told me I would have to wait for at least an hour and I found out that it was his last day at the bazaar, no more the following day. So, I told him I would like three of those slabs of lamb…

Menu

…and I would come back later to collect them.

When I got back around an hour later, they were done…

Meat on the grill, done

…so I was able to go home happily with my loot!

I did cut a bit…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 2

…to try myself and yes, it was indeed, really very nice.

I sure would not mind going back for more sometimes but unfortunately, the guy, Adi Lamb, he told me his name was, said he is not in this business, full time but if anyone is interested, they can contact him and place an order for say, a kilo or two or more, and he would even do home deliveries. I do not foresee hosting any home parties/dinners in the near future and I would probably not be ordering till say, Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year next year. However, if anyone is interested, he or she can post a comment with a genuine e-mail address and I can forward to him or her Adi‘s handphone contact…or if we’re Facebook friends, you can always PM me and get the number from me there.

What I said…

My ex-student, Thaddaeus, now an RMAF Captain based in Kuantan, Pahang, tied the knot with his lovely bride, Grace…

Thaddaeus & Grace

…at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here in Sibu…

Wedding mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Sibu

…last Saturday and I was in the list of their invited guests.

I did not have many non-Chinese students in my school which was predominantly-Chinese and Thaddaeus was among the sprinkling that I had in my last Form 5 class the year I was about to retire.

What I will always remember was this incident when he came to class with an injured finger and I just asked in passing what happened. I cannot recall now whether it was a fracture or a sprain but I did give him some advice as to what he could do. It did not seem like anything much but somehow, what I said in that little show of concern touched him and left a lasting impression.

Sometime later, in one of his essays, he wrote about it and expressed his appreciation and gratitude for his teacher’s gesture, one that I did not think was of much significance. I guess it is true that we need to be aware of everything we say, no matter how trivial we may think it is, as some may take it to heart and it is a knife that cuts both ways.

Anyway, back to the wedding, in fact, I was not free that day but I made an effort to show up at the cathedral just to say congratulations to him and his wife-to-be, at that point in time, and I did stay till to witness them taking their marriage vows and the exchange of their wedding rings…

Exchange of wedding rings

…as the priest pronounced them man and wife and after the offering…

Offering

…I took my leave quietly.

There was a lunch reception at the house in the afternoon – I have no idea what went on there so I do not know if they had their traditional Iban wedding ceremony or not. I sure would love to go and watch – come to think of it, I have never witnessed one before!

Once again, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Thaddaeus & Grace, thank you so much for the invitation, and may your life together be abundantly blessed with love and happiness each passing day in the years ahead…and talking about Iban traditions, it is the Gawai Dayak Festival…

…today, the first of June…

Selamat Ari Gawai 1

…so it is a public holiday here and tomorrow as well…

Selamat Ari Gawai

I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to wish all my relatives and friends and all my blog followers celebrating this auspicious festival, Selamat ‘Ari Gawai!