Ever since…

The 2nd of November was All Souls’ Day so of course, we, together with my sister, went to visit my parents’ burial place to offer flowers…

All Souls' Day 2020

…and prayers. Like what we always did when we got back into town at around noon, we went for lunch first before heading on home.

Ever since that time when I first set foot on this place, I had always wanted to go back there for their too kha pui (pork trotter rice)…

Thanksgiving too kha pui

…and since that was the place we picked that day, I wasted no time at all in ordering that.

It was, by no means, cheap – that was RM19.00! The guy said that it would depend on the size of the trotter…

Thanksgiving pork trotter

…and prices might range up to around RM25.00.

I was all right with the price – after all, I had always wanted to try that and finally, I did. However, I would not say that it swept me off my feet – the ones my missus cooks at home would win hands down. It was nice albeit being rather watered down, unfortunately…and it was all skin and tendon, hardly any sign of any meat at all plus the sauce that came in a small bowl was so diluted, it could pass off as a soup!

My girl loved her pork ribs soup with their own handmade noodles…

Thanksgiving Cafe pork rib noodles

I had that the first time I was here and yes, it sure got my thumb of approval.

She also wanted the pan-fried shui jiao (pork dumplings)…

Thanksgiving shui jiao

She loved them the first time she came here and ever since then, she will always order those everytime she comes here. I did not have any – that platter I ordered for myself was big enough for me to handle but the mum had one and so did my sister – she finished off the rest all by herself! LOL!!!

My sister had the beef tendon soup with handmade noodles…

Thanksgiving Cafe beef tendon soup with handmade noodles

…while my missus had the same soup but with yellow noodles…

Thanksgiving Cafe super spicy beef tendon soup with yellow noodles

…and she asked for hers to be super spicy so it came across something like that infamous mala hotpot favourite.

Other than the pork trotter rice, I did not take note of the prices of all the other items but the total came up to around RM81.00 for the four of us, inclusive of drinks. We felt that was a delightful enough lunch, the place was air-conditioned and not crowded, comfortable enough and we sure wouldn’t mind going back there again sometime.

THANKSGIVING DINSUM CAFE (2.321373, 111.839286) is located at No. 12, Ground Floor, Lorong Teng Chin Hua 1, in the block of shops right behind the Sing Ang Tong Kindergarten/Methodist Church.

At least we’ve tried…

Ever since we had the chicken rice lunch downstairs, we kept saying that we would want to go and try their hotpot place on the 1st Floor…

HOTPOT CAFÉ

…but we never got down to doing it until that day, the day of the Mid-Autumn/Mooncake Festival.

We went early, before 6.00 p.m., in the hope that there would not be a crowd and we would be able to get a table as we did bother to make a reservation. I was thinking that since there are so many hotpot places in town sprouting out here, there and everywhere like mushrooms after the rain, if the place was too crowded, we could always try another one.

Luckily, there were tables available and believe it or not, there were others there already before us. If I am not wrong, the place was full by the time we were leaving – I don’t know whether that was because of the festival or they actually do enjoy brisk business like this every night.

My missus helped herself to three types of chili dip…

HOTPOT CAFE chili dips

…which I did try but none was to my liking. None of them came near to what my missus makes herself at home.

For the hotpot, we picked the classic pork bone soup on one side and the tom yam on the other (RM15.00 for a pick of 2)…

Classic pork bone soup & tom yam

…and for the meat, we had pork (RM10.00) and beef (RM12.00)…

Pork and beef slices

…and premium lamb slices (RM20.00)…

Lamb slices

My girl said that she could not tell the difference between the beef and the lamb and both did not stand out in any way so in future, we might as well just order the pork which we felt was the nicest of the three.

The so-called “fresh prawns” were expensive, RM28.00 for a set of 4…

Fresh prawns

…and I asked for two sets because I was expecting to get freshwater prawns (udang galah). To be frank, I felt these were way overpriced – I can easily get them at the shop near my house, roundabout 20 of them, this size or bigger, for around RM40 (usually RM45.00 a kilo). Had I known better, I would have given them a miss.

The Spanish mackerel fishballs (RM8.00)…

Spanish mackerel fishballs

…were great and so were the shrimp and pork dumplings (RM8.00)…

Shrimp & pork dumplings

I should have asked for two sets each of these two instead of the prawns.

The fresh red squid (RM12.00)…

Fresh red squid

…wasn’t all that cheap either, nothing to get excited about and something we would surely leave out, should we happen to come back here again next time.

The  Hakka yong tao foo (RM15.00)…

Hakka yong tao foo

…was all right and my girl loved their fresh tofu (RM4.00)…

Fresh tofu

– she said it was extra smooth and silky, nicer than the ones sold at the wet market in town. You may have noticed how they seem to qualify most items on their menu as being “fresh“, even the tofu. LOL!!!

The mushroom platter (RM8.00)…

Mushroom platter

…took quite  a long time coming and that got me wondering why. I thought it would not need much preparation, just dump everything in a plate and serve…and we also had these Q-Q (curly) vegetables (RM5.00) and tang hoon/glass noodles (RM4.00)…

Q-Q vegetables & glass noodles

…too.

We just threw everything in, equally divided between the two types of broth and when it started boiling…

Boiling

…it was time to dig in!

The tom yam soup was nice but way too spicy and too sour for me to handle – I guess the rest did not fancy it much either as by the time we had finished everything, there was still half left. The classic pork bone soup was really good, so “sweet” and bursting with flavours, so much so that it prompted my girl to remark, next time we shall just have the pork bone soup on both sides.

The total came up to RM183.00 (inclusive of drinks) for the four of us – we invited my sister to join us that night. That sure wasn’t cheap and we could have had our own at home for much less but at least, we did not have to do all the preparation and all the washing and cleaning once we were done. We certainly wouldn’t mind coming here again but I guess we shall just reserve it for special occasions.

HOTPOT CAFÉ is on the 1st Floor, right above TING KEE CHICKEN RICE (2.292362, 111.825681) which is located at No. 85, Jalan Kampung Nyabor, to the extreme left of the block of shops directly across the road from RH Hotel.

Just when…

A very Happy Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), also known as The Lantern or The Mooncake Festival, to one and all.

As the day drew near, I saw a lot of my friends making and buying and selling and giving away and receiving all those lovely mooncakes and just when I was resigned to my fate – that I would not be getting any this year – my friend, Yan, sent word that she would be sending me something via her colleague here, also my friend.

Truly, I was stunned when I saw what she had sent me…

Box of mooncakes from Yan

The box looked so elegant, so exclusive but then again, it was exclusive all right. I believe Yan made those mooncakes herself to give to family and friends and I sure was flattered and thankful that I was included in the list.

There were four mooncakes inside, all truly evident of the fine and delicate craftsmanship that went into the making…

Four in a box

They included two of these…

Mixed nuts 1

…the mixed nuts ones…

Mixed nuts 2

…that we never liked when we were small. I guess we were not so into nuts then and those at the time had bits of fat and whatever inside. These did not have any inside, generally all nuts…

Mixed nuts 3

…and yes, they tasted great! After all, we do enjoy nuts very much these days so we would buy them quite often to munch and boy, they sure do not come cheap, not at all.

The other two, I believe, were what they call Shanghai mooncakes…

Red bean 1

…the red bean ones…

Red bean 2

…that actually had one whole salted egg yolk inside…

Red bean 3

Yum! Yum! That was so very nice too!

Thank you so so much, Yan, for these lovely mooncakes – it sure is so thoughtful and generous of you and thank you too for remembering this old friend of yours – just when I had given up all hope of getting any mooncakes from anybody this year. A very Happy Mooncake Festival and may God bless you and all your loved ones on this auspicious day and every day in the year ahead. Cheers!

Take advantage…

The other day, the people at the fruit and food shop near my house asked me to buy these mooncakes from Sarikei…

Sing Hing Leong traditional mooncakes

Yes, I am quite familiar with this bakery. I would buy their lung ngor (Foochow egg cake)…

Sing Hing Leong lung ngor

…sometimes. I wouldn’t say they’re the best but they’re good enough for me.

Their pek guek tong chiew pia (eighth month autumn festival biscuit), the Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits…

Pek guek pia

…are not to my liking though (I prefer another brand, also from Sarikei) as theirs do not contain lard but as far as I know they’re very well-marketed, available even in Kuching. I guess most people are not that fussy about what they eat – as long as it is nice, that is good enough for them.

Inside the paper wrapping, the mooncakes are wrapped in plastic…

Wrapped in plastic

Now, that was not what we had in my younger days. In the past, they would be wrapped with white paper – which, of course, is a whole lot more environment-friendly than using plastic. Personally, I feel kite paper is a good substitute.

This is the pek tau sar (mung bean paste)…

Traditional moonckae pek tau sar

I don’t know if this was available when I was small – probably not. Every year, my dad would buy home the or tau sar (the black red bean paste) ones for us to enjoy…and those Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits, of course. There was another variety, the mixed nuts with bits of pork fat and whatever inside. Nobody liked that so my dad never bought any home. These days, there are all kinds available, most of which have strayed so far from what would be traditionally acceptable. I would go for the lotus paste ones, with or without salted egg yolk – we never had that either in the past.

There are four inside so at RM14.00 a tube, that works out to RM3.50 each. That, of course, is a whole lot cheaper than those ridiculously astronomical prices that we have to fork out for those renowned names brought over from the peninsular but still, that got me thinking.

If one tau sar peah is 80 sen a piece and if we stack two, one on top of the other, that will be RM1.60 altogether. Since the filling is the same, both pek tau sar, what is it in the skin or the process of making these mooncakes that justifies the price? Are they jumping on the bandwagon, taking advantage of the festival and cashing in on the special occasion to make more than they should? If that is what they are doing, may God forgive them!!!

This is my favourite Sibu homemade one…

Sibu homemade mooncake, pek tao sar

…which is even more expensive, RM6.00 each but one can feel the difference in the quality, how fine the filling and skin are. I enjoyed them last year and I liked them so much that when I went over to Kuching, I even bought some for my uncle and cousins and their families there. They were not available earlier and even when they just made their appearance the other morning, there weren’t many to choose from when I dropped by – hopefully, the one making will come out with my favourite, the hēi zhīma (黑芝麻) – black sesame, soon.

Surprisingly, my girl is not that enthusiastic about these nicer ones from Sibu – she likes the cheap(er) Sarikei ones even though she is not really a fan of the Bintangor tau sar peah. I guess those are the ones that I shall be buying from now on for the festival.

These mooncakes are available at SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to the Bethel Hair Salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Teach me…

In the good old days, nobody went to schools or colleges to learn the culinary arts.

If it was a family business, they helped out at the shop or stall and picked up the skills from their parents or elders, the ones who would teach them everything. If they were working for somebody, they would start from the bottom with the menial tasks like peeling and slicing onions, cutting the vegetables and what not and with the teaching and guidance from their peers and seniors, they eventually graduated into the actual cooking.

No, there were no qualified or certified chefs then, no Michelin stars, nothing – just real hard work, sweat and toil and true grit but were they able to dish out really awesome dishes? That, of course, goes without saying and some of the dishes were so good that none today, even with their list of credentials, could replicate.

All this came to mind when we went out for dinner here…

Hai Bing Seafood, new

…last Friday night to celebrate my girl’s birthday.

This is the sparkling new branch of this old place

Hai Bing Coffee Shop, original

…that has been around for such a long time but nothing has changed there since Day 1, this dark, unimpressive place with no decor whatsoever to shout about but what it lacked in appearance, it more than made up for it with the awesome dishes they serve here, notably its crabs – second to none. Why, as a matter or fact, my West Malaysian blogger-friends loved it so much and chose it to be, in their opinion, the best in town!

The new place is very nice, very spacious – I love its simplicity, not horrendously over-decorated like some places and it is so white, so clinically clean. They do not have a lot of tables, those marble top ones with simple but beautifully-designed chairs, which I feel is a good thing at this point in time. Even if they had a full house, there would still be a lot of spaces in between the tables to swing a cat! There were at least 10 tables that night but it did not feel like there were so many people – otherwise, I would have left and gone some place else.

Of course we HAD to have the crabs and for a change, I ordered the Singapore chili crab (RM120.00)…

Hai Bing Singapore chili crab

…instead of their usual style that everyone here is very familiar with. I asked what their going price for crabs was and the young man said RM120.00. Gosh!!! And I thought what I bought that day at RM80.00 a kg was expensive – and those were huge ones. What we had that night were rather small, nothing much to eat and it certainly did not taste anything like those very nice ones I had way back in 1973 at Bedok or Changi with French baquette to dip into the wonderful gravy to enjoy.

No, we did not have any of those loaves, just golden-fried mantao (RM4.00 for a set of 4)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden fried mantao

Well, there were 6 of us so I had to request for 2 sets so there would be enough to go round.

According to the guy, this is the chef’s signature dish, his golden beancurd (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood, golden tofu

…and yes, we all thought it was nice. The tofu was yellowish, not white, inside so my guess was that it was their own-made egg tofu or what people call Japanese tofu. I would say that it was like something you can expect at a classy Chinese restaurant, most likely in a hotel or some Hong Kong franchise – not that great but not entirely all that shabby either.

Their Thai-style Mango three-layer pork (RM20.00)…

Thai-styl mango three-layer pork

…was all right but nowhere near the Thai-style mango chicken here – that one there is definitely a class above this one. Why, this one did not even look half as nice. As a matter of fact, for a place like this, I would expect more effort in their presentation, not the dump-in-the-plate-and-serve impression that I got.

My girl said the salty crusty prawns (RM58.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood salty crusty prawns

…were nice but the rest felt there are a lot of places around town that can do it a whole lot better than this and a whole lot more cheaply too even when they use those huge udang galah (freshwater prawns) like this place here.

We had two vegetable dishes, the baby kai lan, ching chao/fried plain (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood baby kai lan ching chao

…and the sambal kangkong (RM15.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood sambal kangkong

…both of which I did not get to try as there were so many things to eat but the ladies said they were o.k.

They also loved the zao cai fresh fish soup (RM25.00)…

Hai Bing Seafood zao cai fresh fish soup

…but good grief!!! It was so so so very sour that I had a sip and left the rest in the bowl. My brother-in-law shared the exact same sentiments. I guess guys do not like sour things all that much but honestly, if it was dependent on the preserved vegetables for its sour taste, it would not be so sour, no way! I don’t know what was added to it and personally, I did not think it tasted anything like our traditional Foochow zao cai soup, far from it!

While we were eating, I saw the chef stepping out of the kitchen to have a look at the customers enjoying what he had dished out. He was dressed in his white chef uniform, complete with his tall chef hat. I am quite sure he has all the formal qualifications of a chef to show but I’m afraid I did not think what we had that night, on the whole, was anything to shout about, nothing to get us rushing back for more.

The aforementioned guy, who took our orders, happened to be that same guy at the very nice chicken rice place (they’re all inter-related, one way or another) and he did ask me how the food was and I was very straightforward and honest in my reply, “Much nicer at the old place!” Indeed, what we can get there or at any cheap restaurant or chu char (cook & fry) stall in a coffee shop from the cooks doing all the cooking, not professional qualified chefs, would be a whole lot nicer.

It did not matter that the bill, inclusive of rice and drinks, came up to RM290.00 but I had my hopes up high, hoping that it would be so good as I wanted something really very special to celebrate my girl’s birthday. Unfortunately, what we had kind of dampened our happy mood over those two days but at least we tried and now we know. Maybe we did not know what to order as looking at the photographs on their Facebook page, some of the dishes look really good. Would we take the chance to go back there again to try? Probably not. Once bitten, twice shy!

HAI BING SEAFOOD since 1980 (2.290414, 111.820900) is located at No. 5, Lorong Lau King Howe 1. Tel. No.: 084-311975.

The day after today…

Last Thursday, the 17th of September, was my girl’s actual birthday. I am quite sure I’ve mentioned it before that as a result of a blunder on the part of the registration people, when we got the birth certificate, it was stated in it that the following day, the 18th, was the date of birth. We just left it like that and did not bother to get it rectified.

For reasons unknown, my missus went and ordered a cake from Marcus…

Marcus' birthday cake for Melissa

…to be collected on Friday afternoon and because of that, we did not plan any kind of celebration for Thursday. After all, it was a working day and so was the day after.

Actually, a few of her colleagues invited her out for dinner on Tuesday night (Wednesday was a public holiday) and there was cake and they gave her a present too – that was really sweet, so very nice of them. That is one thing that I am not accustomed to these days. In my time, if it was my birthday, I would throw a party and invite my friends to come and celebrate. It seems that they do not do that anymore. They would just wait for somebody to arrange a celebration and invite the birthday celebrant…so if nobody does that, then the special day will just go by unnoticed. So sad and so strange!

Come Thursday, the actual day, in keeping with our tradition and to preserve our cultural heritage, I went and bought a “phua chai kay” (mixed breed chicken) which, I feel, tastes a whole lot nicer than the regular ones. My missus cooked it in the traditional Foochow red wine and ginger soup and we had mee sua (string or thread longevity noodles) for lunch that day, with hard boiled eggs, of course. We couldn’t have it first thing in the morning as she would have to be in school by 6.00 a.m. to help with the SOP and what not.

The day after that day, Friday, after my missus had collected the cake – my girl wanted the blueberry – we had the cake-cutting at home and had it for tea. Needless to say, it was very very nice, simply the best, second to none. I would say that his cakes can easily put all those from the new and trendy bakeries to shame.

My brother-in-law, her uncle, and his wife sent the curry puffs from Farley, our favourite in town…

Farley curry puff

…oven-baked, with the lovely shortcrust pastry and the very nice butter cake that can give the celebrated Mita ones from Kuching…

Mita Cake

…a run for the money except that theirs is smaller but they are only RM6.00 a loaf and my sister, her aunt and godmother, also sent presents to the house. Of course, we asked them to join us when we went out for dinner that night.

At the dinner, we brought along the cake that her good friend gave her…

Melissa's birthday cake from Dayang

from this bakery and we had another round of cake-cutting there.

I sure am glad to say that my girl’s birthday did not go by unnoticed – that would be very sad, wouldn’t it?. Do stick around – I shall be blogging about the dinner in tomorrow’s post.

You can order a special homemade MARCUS’ CAKE via telephone at 084-311333 and collect it on the day at the time agreed upon from his house at No. 6B. Lorong Delta 3, Delta Estate (2.305015, 111.826185).

That’s all right, mama…

The Mooncake Festival is on October 1st this year, still over a month away but my good friend has been busy making her own and showing off her beauties via photographs and videos on Facebook and on Youtube and some have already been blogging about it.

No, I’ve not gone out to buy and no, like in previous years, I will not bother as most, if not all, will be way too expensive. Over RM10.00 or a whole lot more each – imagine how many plates of kampua mee I can have with that kind of money and derive a whole lot more enjoyment from them! It is absolutely ridiculous the way some people will bank in on tradition to squeeze the people dry so much so that they will think twice about preserving the customary practice, their heritage. Of course if there are some kind and generous souls out there who would like to give this poor ol’ warga emas (senior citizen) some to nibble, he shall be most grateful. Hint! Hint! LOL!!!

Well, my sister dropped by my house the other morning to give me these…

Mooncakes from The Banto Mama

…to try, homemade by somebody who calls herself The Bento Mama. I see she has included the Moon Rabbit in the packaging – if you do not know the significance of those bunnies, you can click this link and read all about it in my 2018 blogpost. I did mention something about it there.

It is not the traditional kind of skin nor the rich and buttery and crumbly Shanghai ones( 上海月饼), more like the skin in phong peah or heong peah

The Bento Mama mooncake

…and inside, one had the red bean paste (or tao sar) and the other, pandan lotus filling and what was so special about these mooncakes was the fact that inside, you will find a layer of mochi and a layer of meat floss plus a layer of salted egg yolk…

The Bento Mama mooncake, inside

I would say it was nice even though I am not a fan of the skin but I would much sooner go for this than the snow-skin ones or worse, agar-agar. Unheard of! We never had those in my growing up years.

I don’t know how one can place an order for these or whether there are others available. I suppose one can PM them via their Facebook page or call them using the number given but I would prefer to stick to the traditional ones that I grew up eating – the traditional skin with or tau sar (red bean paste) though I am more fond of pek tau sar (mung bean paste) or lotus paste these days with or without a salted egg yolk or two.

Don’t go out…

Hari Raya Aidiladha or Eid al-Adha, also called Hari Raya Korban or Hari Raya Haji fell on Friday last week, the 31st of July. Of course, unlike in previous years, we did not go out this time around – as they say #staysafe #stayhome.

However, we did get our share of some good stuff that my sister-in-law’s friend gave her  in conjunction with the festive celebration, too much for the two of them in the house so she sent some over for us to enjoy as well.

There were these ketupat lemak

Ketupat lemak

…that I enjoy a lot. I’ve yet to go back to my regular Malay kuih stall to buy some more after I came across some really good ones there that day.

The roti canai

Roti canai

…went absolutely well with the curry gravy…

Chicken curry

…and there sure was a lot of it, enough to go with the special rice…

Nasi minyak

…and we also got the very nice masak hitam

Masak hitam

…too. The latter, especially, was so nice with its strong hint of the fragrance and taste of raisins, nicer than a lot that I’ve had before where at best, it was just kicap manis (sweet soy sauce).

Aren’t we lucky? Even though we did not go out, it did not mean that we did not get to enjoy all the nice stuff synonymous with this auspicious festive occasion.

Three years…

Yesterday was the 3rd Anniversary of my dad’s demise so the four of us – my sister came with us – made our way to his resting place to offer flowers and prayers…

3rd Anniversary

Because of the MCO lockdown, we could not go on his birthday nor on Father’s Day and we did not go on Mother’s Day either. The last time we went was in early March before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak on my mum’s 2nd Anniversary.

Gosh!!! The road was bad, to say the least – it was quite all right the previous two times and we sure are thankful that we do not have to go that way week after week anymore now that my girl is no longer in the school in the jungle. We came back into town using a different route – this road is definitely a whole lot better just that when driving on these middle-of-nowhere roads, it feels like it is never going to end and you just go on and on and on.

Like what we would usually do everytime, we stopped by some place for lunch before going home. This place…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice

…has been around for a year now and when it first opened, word had it that it was not good so I never bothered to drop by to check it out. Lately, I heard that it has improved a great deal and my foodie friend on Facebook has been sharing Instagram photographs of what he has had there and he was praising the kampua mee there to the skies so I simply had to drop by and give it a try.

It’s a very nice place, clinically clean and of course, at this point in time, you will have to go through the SOP upon entering. I love this collage of old photographs of Sibu…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice collage

…on the wall in the inner section and of course, I was impressed by how the tall and handsome young guy who took our orders and served us (and the ladies there too) could speak really good English. no problem at all communicating with them to find out all that we wanted to know, unlike some (western) restaurants here where we would have to struggle in our languages to make one another understood.

The kampua mee with braised pork (RM4.50)…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice kampua mee

…was very good, very fragrant with the fried garlic and shallots but I thought the price was a bit steep for I felt it was not really exceptional, very nice but not anything that would stand out above all the rest and for one thing, those would be much cheaper but of course, this is a very much classier and nicer place and air-conditioned some more, not some coffee shop.

They are currently celebrating their 1st Anniversary – Gee! Have they been around that long? – so there are some special offers like for instance, you can get this plate of half a steamed chicken…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice steamed chciken

…and this one of their braised duck…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice braised duck

… also half of it, for their promotional price of only RM38.00 (Usual price: RM20+RM30, RM50.00)

All throughout the MCO partial lockdown, I was drooling over the photographs of these dishes in their sponsored posts on Facebook and I was so tempted to go out and buy to take home and enjoy…but I never did. Finally, I was able to try them and I must say I was not disappointed. My girl is never really into steamed chicken but she enjoyed this one here very much, even the breast meat! The duck was all right, nice but a little tough and I think I prefer it roasted plus my missus’ phak lor ark is a cut above this one here even though she does not eat duck.

The rice was good – I would rank it among the better ones in town (RM2.50 a bowl)…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice rice

…but the soup was a little bland. My missus said that was because unlike other places, they did not add msg to their dishes or not that much and she thought that was good.

Because my missus does not eat duck, I also ordered this plate of braised three-layer pork (RM12.00)…

Ting Kee Chicken Rice braised three-layer pork

…and it was very good too. They had stewed eggs as well but I had to give those a pass this time around as I had ordered so much already and we would not be able to finish everything – as a matter of fact, we asked for around half of that plate of duck to be packed for us to take home.

The total came up to RM64.50 for the four of us which we felt was very reasonable – I often had to fork out that much for the three of us at some chu-char places around town and most importantly, we enjoyed our lunch, service was prompt and very good and the people were very nice and friendly. I saw they also have cooked-to-order dishes on their menu and they look pretty good in their menu. We certainly would want to come back again…soon.

TING KEE CHICKEN RICE (2.292362, 111.825681) is located at No. 85, Jalan Kampung Nyabor, to the extreme left of the block of shops directly across the road from RH Hotel.

Wrap…

The expression It’s a wrap means something’s finished or completed, over and done and has nothing to do with wrapping anything, presents…or for that matter, zhang/chang (dumplings) but yes, the festival aka The Dragon Boat Festival (端午節) or the Double Fifth Festival as it falls on the the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese Lunar Calendar though most will just refer to it as the Zhang Festival or the ciak zhang (eat dumplings) festival, fell on Thursday last week, the 25th of June, this year.

Come this time every year, everyone will be busy wrapping their own zhangs and going round asking whether everyone else is doing the same and they will declare that theirs is second to none. I do not know how to do it, wrap those dumplings and my missus insists she does not do it very well and will not bother – her late mum was the one doing it before and of course, the daughter would insist the mum’s zhangs were the best.   That is why we are left with no choice – we just have to go out and buy.

I was at the food and fruit shop near my house a couple of days before the festival and the place was flooded with zhangs. I did buy theirs to try before but no, they did not sweep me off my feet. I also bought some from the shop at the end of that same block and even though theirs were nicer, I did not feel they were so good that I would be going back there to grab some more.

The lady boss kept persuading me to buy these (RM3.50 each)…

From Swee Hung

She said that the lady would only make it once a year for sale and hers would not be available on normal days.

Yes, it was very nice with a lot of meat, bits of shitake mushroom and peanuts inside…

From Swee Hung, inside

…but my missus does not like zhangs with peanuts so she didn’t like it much.

In the meantime, I also stopped by the mini market among the Delta Mall area of shops and the lady said that the ones she was selling (RM4.00 each)…

From Puas Hati Mini Market

…were very good, not as good as the ones she used to sell before but that lady was unwell and not able to make any this year.

True to her word, it…

From Puas Hati Mini Market, unwrapped

…was very nice. I thought it was a little bit pricey but there was a lot of meat inside (unlike the RM2.50-3.00 ones that I bought elsewhere before) plus some shitake mushroom as well and if you were lucky, you would get a slice of pork fat too…

From Puas Hati Mini Market, filling

Personally, I did feel that the overall taste was nicer than that of the aforementioned one. Yum yummm!!! LOL!!!

My missus prefers these Chinese Hokkien (some people say they’re Hakka’s) like the ones she ate growing up but not me. I grew up enjoying the nyonya version that my mum used to make without fail every year.  Unfortunately, we cannot buy those nyonya ones here in Sibu, only in Kuching but every year, without fail, my good friend/ex-colleague, Richard would make his own and he would never fail to give me some…

Richard's nyonya changs

…to enjoy, thank you so so much, Richard! You’re the best!

Really, it is so very thoughtful and sweet of him to remember me year in, year out. His are always perfect outside…

Richard's nyonya chang, wrapped

…and inside…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and the taste…

Richard's nyonya chang, inside

…is simply out of this world.

Previously, I would always give a few to my mum – she loved these nyonya zhangs too but since she had passed on, I gave them to my sister and she loved them. In her own words, “Richard’s nyonya zhang is truly very very good!” and that was from someone who has had enjoyed the Kuching ones…and even the ones from Katong in Singapore!

Well, now that we’ve eaten all the zhangs we desired and it’s over and done till next year, we can say quite appropriately, “It’s a wrap!”

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. Kim Tak Co. and Ak Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left while  PUAS HATI MINI MARKET (2.311748, 111.845507) is located at No. 12 at the corner of Lorong Taman Seduan 8 to the right of the block where Soon Hock & Chopsticks are located.