Meant to be…

Early that morning, at 6.30 a.m., the day when I was going to fly back from Kuching to Sibu, I walked back to the coffee shop as I wanted to buy some of the very nice popiah home.

When I got there, I found that only the kolo mee stall was in full swing, the porridge lady was just getting ready but there was no sign of the laksa and popiah people. According to the aformentioned lady, the popiah stall would only open at around 7.30 a.m.

I decided to have something for breakfast but I did not want the kolo mee again. In the end I asked for their loti kiap (kaya toast) with two half-cooked eggs and a cup of coffee, the true blue Malaysian breakfast…

Choon Hui Malaysian breakfast

As far as I know, their loti kiap is very popular – at around 3.00 p.m. in the afternoon, you can see cars stopping by to buy that. My late uncle, my late maternal aunt’s husband, used to do that and there was this story going round about him buying the toast and because they tied the plastic bag with nylon string in one corner, when he got home, he found that the toast had fallen out of the bag so he did not have any for tea that day.

I can’t say I was impressed by the loti kiap – we can easily get that anywhere and everywhere. I noticed some nyonya chang on the counter and I asked for one to try but no, it was not worth the calories so I did not bother buying any to take home.

I did not want to sit there and wait so I went to the shops across the road and walked to the other side, not facing the main road, to this coffee shop…

Yang Guan Cafe

…where I had the lek tao suan (RM2.00)…

Lek tao suan

…the previous morning, one for the road, so to speak.

The lady…

Stall

…asked if I wanted any yew char koi/you tiao (Chinese crullers) but no, I did not want any as I already had breakfast but I could not resist ordering these steamed chai koi

Chai koi

…to try. The skin was really very good, so soft and so smooth but I only liked the plain sengkuang filling so I bought some of those home. My girl enjoys these and yes, she thought they were good. I wish they could be a bit more generous with the filling though, lots of empty spaces inside.

While I was there, I saw her frying…

Frying

…these…

Fried

…so I asked her what those were. She said it was her own steamed tee koi (kuih bakul) with yam and sweet potato. I was keen on trying so I bought two to take home to Sibu and lived to regret it.

It was so so so good, a slice of tee koi sandwiched between a slice of yam and a slice of sweet potato coated with batter and deep fried (RM1.50 each)…

Tee koi with yam & sweet potato

If I had known it was so nice, I would have bought a dozen, at least!

After that, at around 7.20 a.m., I went back to the earlier coffee shop to see if the popiah stall had started their business for the day. There was no sign of the two Chinese ladies but there was a helper getting the stall ready. I asked her, “Belum buka?” and she just replied curtly, “Belum!” Then I asked her, “Bila buka?” and this time, she replied somewhat rudely, “Tak tahu!!!” I was so pissed off by her attitude that I decided there and then not to buy any to take home and walked back to the hotel.

I had intended to use the hotel shuttle service to the airport, only RM6.99 per head but I did not make any prior reservation and it looked like nobody else would be taking it that day so the driver had taken the day off. In the end, I contacted one of my cousins to see if she could give me a lift and yes, she could. God must have been watching me from a distance because when she showed up at the hotel with her brother, guess what they had bought for me to take back to Sibu. Popiah!!!

They got the ones from this stall…

Popiah stall
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…here…

Gala Food Court
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…at Gala City, a new area in Kuching and yes, the popiah

Gala City popiah
*Photo through the kind courtesy of my cousin*

…was really very good. My cousin thinks it is the best in the city! It certainly looked like it was meant to be – my bringing home some popiah for everyone to enjoy. LOL!!!

Gosh!!! I was in Kuching for only four nights and all in all, I managed to cover the whole trip every step of the way in 16 posts! I had a great time – thank you so much to everybody for everything and I sure am looking forward to the next opportunity to hop over again. Just give me a reason!

CHOON HUI CAFE 春园茶室 (1.552768, 110.354468) is located at No. 34, Jalan Ban Hock in Kuching to the left of the Hotel Grand Continental there and YANG GUAN CAFE 阳光茶室 (1.553644, 110.354284) is along that same road among the shops across the road from Choon Hui but facing inside, not the latter nor the main road while GALA FOOD COURT (1.513013, 110.353807) is in Gala City at the Gala Street Mall SL11-SL12, 801-2B Jalan Tun Jugah, Kempas Heights.

I apologize…

Here, I would like to apologize to all those who got in touch with me to invite me out during my brief stay in Kuching. I was there for the sole intention of attending my ex-Kanowit student’s daughter’s wedding and over those few days, to have a reunion of sorts with the classmates who were able to be present.

I was able to go for lunch with my cousins upon my arrival in the city and dinner with my aunt and her family that first night in Kuching. Other than that, on the final night, Saturday, I managed to go out with a very old friend, his parents were friends of my parents too. It was his birthday before I flew over so I sent him a birthday message. He replied saying that he would be in Sibu in a couple of weeks and if we could, perhaps we could meet for dinner or something.

I told him that I would be in Kuching over the next few days and right away, he asked me when I would be free. I did not know what my ex-students had planned then so I said I was not able to commit but he tentatively picked Saturday night and we would confirm it later.

It turned out that there was nothing on that night so we ended up here for dinner. There was another restaurant here before, a certain Mr. Ho, a West Malaysian franchise and we ate there once and quite liked the food but it looked like they had called it a day or moved elsewhere.

We shared the Gana Club salad (RM15.00)…

Salad

…which was all right and my friend had their chicken cutlet with barbacue sauce (RM19.00)…

Chicken

…and he did not say anything so I guess it was all right too.

I picked the Argentise lamb (Argentine chimchurri) served with homemade Argentine sauce (RM32.00)…

Lamb

…or at least, that was what it said on the menu and I thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, I did not think it was anything spectacular, a little on the tough side and quite a hassle to wrestle with it to get it off the bone

I liked the place though, not many customers and very quiet so we could chat to our heart’s content, no need to shout to be heard and service was great – the people were very nice especially the sweet girl who waited at our table. I would say it is a good place to meet friends for drinks and to talk.

I sure enjoyed chatting with my friend – both our parents were gone now and after all these years, there sure were a lot of things to catch up with in our lives, our families, our friends and memories of the good ol’ days a long long time ago to recall. Thanks so much, Jon, for the lovely evening – it sure was great to see you again.

GANA GARDEN BISTRO (1.551153, 110.369299) is  located at G02 Ground Floor, Crown Square Shopping Centre, Jalan Pending in Kuching.

A mother’s son…

My ex-Kanowit students had planned a get-together at their classmate’s restaurant that Saturday afternoon after the wedding on Friday before going our separate ways.

However, we were there just two nights ago and I did hear that my ex-student, the owner of that restaurant, has a son…

Kenny

…who has branched out to open his own restaurant…

Kwang Chin Seafood

…so I suggested going there instead and everybody…

With ex-Kanowit students and colleagues

…agreed.

While waiting for the food, they took out their old photographs…

Old photographs
*Ex-student’s photograph*

…and everyone was stunned to see that after 40 years, I could still remember the names of so many of their classmates when I asked them where so and so was at this point in time. Sometimes, I truly amaze myself! LOL!!!

Ah Lee brought along yet another tengalan but I was at the back of the restaurant at the time and by the time I got back to the table, the waitress had cut the fish up…

Tengalan

…so it was not a pretty sight. Nonetheless, it was really good and all of us enjoyed it to the max.

The fried midin (wild jungle fern)…

Fried midin

…and mani chai/cangkuk manis

Fried cangkuk manis

…were all right, pretty much like what one can get anywhere and everywhere else but the prawns…

Prawns

…and sweet and sour pork…

Pork

…were really great and very much to my liking.

However, it was the claypot yam…

Claypot yam

…that I enjoyed the most and I kept going back for more till there was none left.

They were saying that they would use the money left over from the reunion they had some years ago in Penang to pay for the lunch but the mother of the bride was free to join us that afternoon and she quietly went and paid for everything!

She even insisted on giving me a BIG ang pao even though I said that I was fine and could pay for all my expenses and just being invited to her daughter’s wedding was such a special honour and privilege already. Not everyone would remember their teacher, much less want the old fogies around for their special occasions. Gee!!! She gave me more than enough for the air fare and the hotel as well, thank you so so much, Sok Hiong!

Thank you also, Ah Lee, for the tengalan and everybody for everything and not forgetting Pek Suan for the Tan Kim Hock durian dodol

Durian dodol

– so thoughtful of you to bring all of us one each all the way from Melaka.

Hopefully, the plans for the next reunion there next year will materialise and we will all get to see one another again. In the meantime, take care and here’s wishing one and all blue skies and everything nice! God bless, everyone!

KWANG CHIN SEAFOOD 广进小厨 (1.530845, 110.367471) is located at the ground floor, Sublot 3, Lot 33, Soho West Phase 2, Jalan Wan Alwi in Kuching, two doors away from CS Supermarket, Kuching Soho branch. 

Left or right…

I do enjoy lek tao suan or split mung bean sweet soup (绿豆爽)very much but the only place where I could have that here in Sibu had since closed down.

I could recall walking past a stall once when I was in Kuching and I spotted a stall selling it. I made up my mind to have that on the way back but unfortunately, I walked round the blocks of shops and went back to the hotel using a different route and forgot all about it completely. Later, when I mentioned it to one of my cousins, she said she had that before and it was pretty good.

That was why when my cousin picked me up at the hotel that morning, I asked her to drive over to the place to see if it was still available there and indeed, it was…at a stall in front of the coffee shop on the left…

Yang Guan/Ang Hor

My cousin went to the one on the right – obviously she had something in mind so we had the lek tao suan

Lek tao suan

…sent over and yes, it was very good. I sure was glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy that this time around.

I saw some nyonya kuehs at that same stall, the kuih cangkeh

Kuih cangkih

…and the serimuka/kuih salat with black glutinous rice…

Serimuka

…but they were both very disappointing, not lemak at all and not anything I would want to have again.

My cousin wanted to go to the other coffee shop because she wanted the yong tofu

Yong tofu

…from the stall there and she also ordered this…

Ginger pork noodles

I couldn’t possibly eat anymore as I had had my breakfast earlier but I did try a piece of the meat and it was very very strong on the ginger and that was why it did not tickle my fancy – usually, I am not really into anything with a lot of ginger. I guess the noodles were tossed in the sauce so I don’t think this is one thing I would ever want to order for myself.

My cousin also tapaoed some stewed spare ribs from that same stall and I did try a bit – now, that was nice but no, I was way too full for that or anything else for that matter.

We left the place once we were done and she took me around the newer parts of the city, all the unfamiliar places and we even went to one of the malls until it was time for her to drop me off at the place where I was going to have my lunch – do come back tomorrow for that!

YANG GUAN CAFE 阳光茶室 and ANG HOR CAFE (1.553644, 110.354284) are located at Jalan Ban Hock, Kuching, among the shops across the road from Choon Hui Cafe but facing inside, not the latter nor the main road.

Narrow lanes…

The next morning after the night of the wedding banquet, my ex-student wanted to take me to his wife’s stall for breakfast again but I did not want that as I would want to explore all around to see if there was anything of interest that I would be able to blog about.

I remembered there was this narrow lane in Padungan, not far from this celebrated kolo mee place. Some guy was telling us that time that the kolo mee was just as good, maybe even nicer and one would not have to wait till like forever for it and I was thinking that morning that perhaps I could just stroll over there to look for it and give it a try.

I stumbled upon this one…

SIN POH POH lane

…and went in to look around.

I was taken by surprise when I saw this sign at the back…

SIN POH POH sign

I remember there was a coffee shop elsewhere that we went to once by that same name – they said the kampua mee or whatever was very nice but for reasons unknown, it looked like that place had closed down and everybody had moved here.

One thing that they have in Kuching and we cannot find in Sibu would be the crispy tomato sauce noodles and I simply must have a go at that before going home. That was why I went to this stall…

SIN POH POH fried noodles stall

…to order a plate – I think it was RM6 or was it 5, I can’t remember now…

Kuching crispy fried tomato noodles

It was nice but I thought what I had at the shop before looked a lot nicer. Ah well!!! At least I got to eat that while I was in Kuching – I wouldn’t know when I will have the next opportunity to enjoy it again.

Now, while I was there, I noticed that this stall…

SIN POH POH sio bee or koi stall

…was very popular – a lot of people were buying from them so I ordered some of the sio bee (meat dumplings), steamed and fried, and the or koi (fried yam cake), all RM1.00 each…

Sin Poh Poh sio bee or koi

…to try. They all turned out to be really very nice – the lady said she added prawns to the sio bee filling and the or koi was probably 90% yam, 10% flour. Both were so good that I simply had to buy 10 of each to take home to Sibu. The fried sio bee was good too but I decided I would leave it out this time around.

While I was there, one of my cousins contacted me and said she was on the way – I told her I would go back to the hotel first (to drop off my purchases) and I would wait for her there.

Sin Poh Poh Café 新寶寶茶室 (1.554600, 110.356619) is located at 174, Jalan Padungan in Kuching.

I cross the street…

In an earlier post, I mentioned that we skipped lunch that day of the wedding and I went back to the hotel to bathe and rest. I think it was around 2 0r 3 when I got up from my nap and I crossed the street to this place…

Munch

…right across the road from the hotel where I was staying to see what I could have for tea to tide me over till dinner that night.

Browsing through their menu, I was delighted to see that they had this black glutinous rice (pulut hitam) served with rich and creamy santan (coconut milk) dessert (RM5.00)…

Pulut hitam 1

…and without a second thought, I ordered that! I think the last time I had that was in KL in 2011 and before that I had a very nice one in 2009 in Penang and a few disappointing ones in those two cities in between. It sure looked a lot nicer in the menu though. They had the santan in circles and they probably ran a toothpick across the lines to make a floral design but it did not matter – after all, the test of the pudding is in the eating and I must say, it…

Pulut hitam 2

…was really very nice and I enjoyed it to the max.

I know I shouldn’t have but I simply had to order this mango sago pearl dessert (RM6.20)…

Mango sago pearl

…to try and I lived to regret it. Not only was it nowhere near that truly awesome Mango No. 5 but it simply wasn’t anything to shout about, really.

I wanted this…

Scones

…because I do enjoy good, rich, buttery scones with clotted cream and fruit jam but I was informed that it was not available.

In the end, I ordered this prawn dumplings with noodles (RM7.20)…

Noodles

…to try. Yes, it was good but I am pretty sure one can get something cheaper that is just as satisfying at the coffee shops here, there and everywhere in the state capital.

MUNCH (1.555081, 110.353470) is located at  No. 179, Jalan Song Thian Cheok in Padungan, near the Secret Recipe outlet there.

Mama’s little girl…

I did mention in my earlier posts that I was in Kuching for my ex-Kanowit student’s daughter’s wedding. She contacted me sometime ago or maybe it was another ex-student, her classmate who told me about it first as they were all arranging some kind of reunion, getting all those in their same year together. Much as I would love to be there, I could only give a tentative yes at the time because of my chauffeur duties between my girl’s school in the jungle and home.

When she got her transfer to a school in town, I let the latter know that I could go…or actually, she contacted me to ask me to confirm whether I could be there and I told her yes. She must have informed the mother of the bride or everybody in their Whatsapp group because she got in touch with me right away for my address and in a day or two, somebody sent the invitation card to my house! Gee!!! That was fast! She asked me where I would like to stay and I told her the name of the hotel and she said she would make the booking and pay for my accommodation but I insisted on doing it all myself.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, there I was on the 6th of September at the wedding of mama’s little girl…

The newly-weds and their parents

…at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching and this is the photograph of me and the rest with the bride and the groom…

Us & the newly weds and the bride's parents

…and the parents of the bride on the extreme right.

That night, the grand reception was held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, otherwise known as the BCCK and here, you can see everybody enjoying the cocktails outside…

At the BCCK

…before entering the ballroom…

Ballroom

…when most everybody had arrived.

There was this wishing tree…

Wishing tree

…for family and friends to write their good wishes and blessings and hang on the branches and this was the main table…

Main table

…arranged in a semi-circle, not the usual round one which I thought was good, as they would be able to look at the guests instead of at one another only and this was the backdrop on the stage and the wedding cake…

Backdrop & wedding cake

At our table, we were all given the door gift, the wedding cake…

Door gift & note

…and a thank you note.

The food…

One of the dishes

…was very good and the service was excellent, a far cry from the wallflowers we have at some of our hotels in town.

I did not take snapshots of all the dishes that we had though as the lights were kind of dim plus I was too busy enjoying myself with everybody…

One for the memory

…who was there that night.

Congratulations once again, Jason & Gladys! May God shower you two with everlasting love and happiness all the days of your life together as man and wife and congratulations also to the proud and happy parents, Sok Hiong and hubby, Danny and thank you so much for inviting me to join you all on this joyous occasion – I certainly was glad I was able to make it. Cheers!!!