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!

Come and go…

In Chinese (Hokkien) we say, “Oo lai oo khi,” which may be literally translated as got come, got go, something along the same line as the give and take philosophy in life.

Well, last Saturday, after the nasi Arab lunch, we went to the supermarket round the corner to browse around and I picked up some stuff that I thought would be nice for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival coming up next week – the one who would give her a lift back to town every Friday unless there are matters arising and we would have to go and pick her instead which isn’t very often so that would save us a lot of trouble and cut our travelling/my driving by half, more or less.

No, she does not charge anything but my girl would chip in when they stop at a petrol station to fill up the tank and she would give her a little something (ang pao) periodically. That was why I thought it would be nice to give her something for the forthcoming auspicious occasion that she will be celebrating to express our gratitude and appreciation for her help all these years.

True to what they say, “As you give, thus shall you receive,” and that evening just before I went for the sunset service in church, I received word from my friend, Mary, asking me to drop by her restaurant the next morning as she and her crew would like to give me this steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Flavours Thai Kitchen

…for no apparent reason, just out of the goodness and generosity of her/their hearts. Isn’t that so very sweet of them?

When I went there that morning, Sunday, I decided to tapao my girl’s favourite, their pad Thai

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…home and those were what we had for brunch that morning before we made our way to my girl’s school in the jungle for just one more week before the two-week mid-year holidays starting right after tomorrow, Friday.

We made our way home ourselves, my missus and I and after dinner that night, I got a surprise call from my dear friend, Richard. Why, it’s that time of year again and in no time at all, he was at my house to give me some of his awesomely yummy out-of-this-world simply-the-best own-made nyonya chang (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya chang

…like what he will do year after year, without fail.

I googled to check and I found out that this year, the Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival will fall on the 30th of May,  Tuesday next week.

I had just had dinner but no, I could not possibly wait another day and that was why I immediately took one, unwrapped it…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and ate.

Boy!!! This Richard keeps getting better and better each year and this year, it was exceptionally good – none that I’ve bought in Kuching or Malacca nor those from Singapore would come anywhere close and look at all that meat in it…

Richard's nyonya chang, so much meat
*Sorry for the slightly blurry pic – the challenge of night photography with the insufficient lighting*

Thank you so so so much, Richard, and also to you, Mary & everybody at Flavours, both truly unexpected but most welcome indeed and I do believe these were special blessings for the insignificantly small gesture on my part to get a little something for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival – what goes around comes around, got come, got go!

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.

Dear daughter…

This is a new song, I think, and I really like it…

…especially the lyrics that go:
These are words that every girl should have a chance to hear
There will be love, there will be pain
There will be hope, there will be fear
And through it all, year after year
Stand or fall, I will be right here…for you

Well, last Saturday, our dear daughter insisted on taking us out to treat us to a really special lunch or the mum especially as the following day would be Mother’s Day, just that we could not go out to eat on the actual day, Sunday, as we would be on our way, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

This place…

solo on 16

…has been around for quite a while now. The guy was at this place before but it did not last very long and the place closed down. Soon after that, he opened this one and my guess is that accounts for the name – he is now flying solo and No. 16 is the shop address, No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin.

Gosh!!! It sure looks like some people have been drinking…

Empty bottles

…quite a bit and this caught my eye…

Firewood

…while I was looking around the place – they probably have some wood-fired items on their menu.

I sure like this – the fact that there is no msg…

No msg/food addictive

…used in their cooking but oh dear! The food is addictive so one would want to go back again and again to eat there? LOL!!!

We ordered the pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad (RM12.90)…

solo on 16 pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad

…and the moment it was served, I noticed that there were no quail eggs. My girl loves those little things and if not for the mere mention of those in the name, I would not have ordered it. I asked the people at the helm and they went to the kitchen to ask. Eventually, we were informed that we would get the quail egg soon or at least, that was what they said. When it came…

Chicken egg

…we were quite put off, to say the least. It would take a giant quail to lay an egg this big! That was a chicken egg and if we wanted a chicken egg, we could have gone some place else (a lot cheaper) for a plate of nasi lemak or something. Tsk! Tsk! Of course, I just kept quiet about it and let it pass as the ladies do not like me making a scene in public. Well, to give credit where credit is due, the salad was quite good, with or without the egg.

Another reason why I would not have ordered that salad if not for the quail egg was that I ordered their duck comfit for myself as my main course. Then they came and said it was not available, salmon was not available as well, my missus wanted the squid and it was not available either. Good grief!!! What on earth was going on? You want to open a classy upscale café, one that is more inclined towards fine dining and most everything on your menu is not available. Probably we caught them on a bad day or else how on earth would they be able to last this long?

In the end, my missus simply settled for this pork belly with rice (RM25.90)…

solo on 16 pork belly with rice

…dish instead. I did try a bit of the meat and thought it was very good except that the skin was hard and rubbery and not chewable, not crackling crusty at all, so we had to cut it out and leave it by the side of the plate.

I had the pork ribs (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 pork ribs

…which was very good too…

solo on 16 pork ribs, cross-section

…but no, it was not as good as the lovely ones we used to enjoy so much a few doors away but unfortunately, those people there had called it a day sometime ago.

My girl had their chicken chop (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 chicken chop 1

…and yes, we thought it was nice…

solo on 16 chicken chop 2

…and did enjoy it.

All in all, I would say it was a good lunch but as we were leaving, my girl said that she would not want to go to these places serving western food anymore as she would not be able to eat the stuff that she would like such as the pastas or anything with bread or wheat flour and would rather go some place serving ASEAN or Asian cuisines instead. Sometimes, it does get her down, missing all the things she loves and having to stick to her gluten-free diet. Well, it sure looks like we would not be coming back here again then or at least, not for a while, a very long while…and yes, we do miss the very nice Japanese place that we loved a lot – it used to be here at this exact same shop.

solo on 16 is located at No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin, next door to the bank at the end of the block and right across the road from the bank would be the Tua Pek Kong Temple and its 7-storey pagoda.

Ladies’ choice…

It was my wife’s birthday last Saturday so I let her and our girl choose where they would want to go for dinner and of course, the ladies wanted to go to the Korean place…

Daksemari Korean BBQ

…here for the eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet dinner…

Eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet

…that we checked out not too long ago and liked a lot

Golden piggies

We also asked my Sibu brother-in-law and his missus to join us, five of us altogether.

It appears that now they have set lunches and also an à la carte menu that you can order from…

Daksemari lunch sets and a la carte menu

…but no, we were quite happy to just go for the buffet.

Most of the tables here would be just nice for 3 or 4 people and there are some for large groups so in the end, we were seated at the sole table for 5 by the door, right below the air conditioner and with the cold wind blowing straight ahead, I could feel the heat and was feeling most uncomfortable and was sweating profusely all night long. My girl also grumbled that she could feel some sprinkling of water from the air conditioner above our heads.

The buffet spread was more or less the same as what they had on our previous visit. They still had the eggs that I enjoyed a lot…

Eggs

…and this time around, they only had one choice of sushi…

Sushi

– there were two the last time around.

I think they did not have the sandwiches…

Sandwiches

…before but I would not think those were anything to shout about and I was wishing they could have a few different dishes at least, no need for too many – after all, they do have quite a selection on their à la carte menu.

My missus went and took the meat, plain…

Meat, plain

…and marinated…

Meat, marinated

…and I did get some of the prawns…

Prawns

…though there were just a couple of big ones while the rest were all rather small. I did not bother to take the fish – I think they were sardines but they were so small that they looked like herrings to me. I shouldn’t have bothered taking these crustaceans either as this hard-shell variety has a somewhat strong smell and is not all that nice and because they were so small, most of them, it really was not worth the trouble peeling and eating.

Once we had everything we wanted, we were ready to roll…

Let's start cooking

…and we waited and waited but the meat slices did not look like they were cooking at all so we called for help and one of the girls came and did something to rekindle the fire below and left. Still we waited and waited – the previous time, we managed to cook everything so fast and had to be quick so as not to burn everything we had on the hot plate.

I asked the guy this time and he came and removed the gas canister inside the grill and replaced it with a new one and everything was all right after that. Darn!!! They should have done that the first time we informed them that there was a problem.

For dessert, they had watermelon and honey dew and these slices of cheese sponge cake…

Cheese sponge cake

…and we also had the ice cream but trying to scoop our selected flavours out of the containers in the freezer was such a chore. They were all so very hard – I suspect they switch off the electricity at night and turn it back on in the morning and that is how the ice cream became more like ice, no cream.

Perhaps the novelty had worn off and we thought we enjoyed ourselves a lot more the first time around but it was quite obvious whether we would come here again or not would not make a difference – the place was packed to the brim which comes as no surprise at all with the current trend these days where most everybody is so into everything and anything Korean.

DAKSEMARI KOREAN BBQ (2.287332, 111.826574) is located at No. 8, Jalan Chew Geok Lin (formerly Old Street) that leads straight to the Tua Pek Kong 7-storey Pagoda Temple.

Moonlight…

Chap Goh Meh, literally translated as the 15th night…

Chap Goh Meh Rooster Year

…marked the end of the Chinese New Year festivities for the year.

It was not really due to the fact that we were juggling between taking care of my dad at their house and my mum at the medical centre that we did not have time to cook for our Chap Goh Meh dinner – we usually have steamboat on this auspicious night every year so we decided we would have that again this year…but at my parents’ house so my dad could enjoy it with us.

I bought 1 kilo of our local freshwater prawns, large and that cost me RM60.00 a kilo only to remember later that my dad would not be eating those for fear of a gout attack so we had to keep them to cook and eat ourselves some other time. The extra large ones were going for RM75.00 a kg that day and the medium and anything smaller, RM50.00 and below.

We could not have any of the paper thin slices of meat, pork or beef would be nice, as I do not think my dad would be able to chew those. That was why we only had minced meat balls…

Chap Goh Meh steamboat 1

…and I went and bought one ikan tenggiri (mackerel), over RM20.00 and my missus used that to make her own fish balls which, needless to say, were heaps nicer than anything sold outside especially those factory-made ones.

We also had quail eggs – my girl loves those – and I bought some sea cucumber which cost a bomb, RM120.00 a kilo but it is believed that they have a lot of health benefits. I also got some beef tendons from the same stall at the wet market. Those were cheaper, RM20 a kilo, if I remember correctly and the very nice seller just charged me for a few big ones and he threw in a lot of the bits and pieces into the bag and I went home happily with a bagful of beef tendons. I bought three of the best quality sea cucumber – I understand they were from Papua New Guinea and the guy gave me one extra, from Sabah. Of course, I kept insisting on him picking the softer ones, sea cucumber and beef tendon, so my dad would not have any problem chewing.

Other than those, I also got some dried fresh fish maw, over RM40 a kg, and we also added some bean curd sticks, tofu, wombok or Chinese white cabbage and glass noodles…

Chap Goh Meh steamboat 2

…and my dad was fine with everything except the bean curd sticks which he could not chew. My missus would just soak them in hot water to soften while I would usually boil some water and use the really hot boiling water straight from the kettle so that they would be very much softer.

 I also went and bought some chicken rice…

Chicken rice

…from here as I know jolly well that my dad would want rice at every meal and yes, he enjoyed the steamboat to the max and had two plates of the rice with the lovely clear soup and what was in it.

I was afraid that my dad might not enjoy the steamboat so I went and bought this very big ikan bawal putih (white pomfret)…

Steamed white pomfret

…RM50.00 each (the seller said they had not reduced “the Chinese New Year prices” yet) and had it steamed for him to enjoy. Yes, he did eat quite a bit of it but he was fine with the steamboat, actually and sang its praises the whole time while we were having our dinner that night and he kept saying that it was anytime nicer that the stuff they would usually order from the restaurants outside for such special occasions.

All in all, I would say it certainly was worth the effort going over and having this simple steamboat dinner with my dad.

Come join us…

I did mention in an earlier post that my godson/ex-student, Andrew, and his family were back in Sibu for the Chinese New Year celebration but I was sick and so were the kids and his wife and then, my mum was admitted into the medical centre so I did not really have time for much of anything else. That was why I did not get to see them at all till last Tuesday night – it was the wife, Michelle’s birthday, and they wanted to come here…

Payung Cafe candle and flowers

…for dinner. They were here before

Payung Cafe bunga kantan

…and they loved the food and the place and that was why they picked it specially for their little celebration and they also asked an ex-student of mine, Andrew’s classmate, now based in Doha to join us…

With Andrew & family and Teo

They wanted the Payung rojak

Payung Rojak

…that they enjoyed before but according to Peter, the boss, business had been pretty good over the last few nights and they had run out of the buah kedundong leaves…and also the lamb masala that my girl had just a few days ago. Michelle did not want anything spicy so we had the green curry…

Payung Cafe green curry

…which looked somewhat diluted that night unlike those times when I had it before but it tasted great and we did not mind the extra gravy with which we could drown the rice and enjoy.

I suggested ordering their garlic bread…

Payung Cafe garlic bread

…with their chicken sauce dip…

Payung Cafe chicken sauce dip for garlic bread

…as I thought the kids would enjoy it. My girl loved it a lot but of course, owing to the gluten content, this would be one thing on their menu that we cannot order anymore…and yes, the children enjoyed it very much.

I also insisted that they tried the pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and yes, they liked it a lot too.

They also wanted the mushroom roll…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll

…and the kacang ma chicken…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

…that they had had before and yes, this time around, they did not forget the lovely fried ginger garnishing that they inadvertently left out the last time we had this and I would say it was very very nice that night.

Poor Peter! There I went grumbling away that there were four of us and they only had three prawns in each serving of their belimbing prawns so of course, he went and cooked this bowl of the delightful dish…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns

…with lots of the crustaceans in it. All three of them had not had it before and there they went, praising it to the skies. They loved it so much!!!

We wanted to order dessert but Peter said that for every customer celebrating his or her birthday at the cafe, if they know about it, they would come out with something special for the birthday celebrant and Michelle got this…

Payung's birthday special for Michelle

…assortment of peppermint ice cream, (local) mango ice cream, Maldives ice cream (chocolate with crushed egg roll) and durian ice cream to share with the rest of us. Their little girl loved the mango so much that she literally finished that all by herself. Kids! Don’t they all love ice cream?

I don’t know the breakdown as I was not the one picking up the tab that night but I did ask Andrew the following day and he said it was over RM80.00 for the four of us and the two kids. I guess that was all right for a lovely evening of great food, great company and wonderful service with a special treat thrown in for good measure. Who could ask for more?