There’s no need…

I do not know about the other Chinese dialects and races but among the Foochows, it is considered good manners when somebody gives you something to say, “Nei ah! Nei ah!!!” (No need! No need!) What I do know is in western societies, it is not like that – if somebody gives you a gift, you are supposed to open it right away and sing praises of the gift and declare how much you love it – I guess you also do that out of good manners even though you do not like it. LOL!!!

Well, Eric, the guy behind The Kitchen Food Sibu Instant Kampua, once went and paid some money to a fine dining restaurant here and asked me to go and eat…and there was some change and the people there paid me the money as they did not want to keep it. That was because I was blogging about his noodles and sending them to friends near and far to help promote his venture and that was his way of expressing his appreciation, that nice guy.

The other day, I blogged about his new product, the Sarawak laksa ramen and I also helped publicise it on Facebook. He sent me an invitation to breakfast and I replied no, thank you. Then, I shared some promotion at a café here and he said, “Let’s go!” and once again, I said no.

I will always help promote my friends’ cafés and restaurants, products and events but no, I never expect anything in return though there are some very kind and generous people who will always give me stuff or treat me to something nice and even give me special discounts when I go and eat at their place.

Mine is not a money-spinning blog nor am I one of those who call themselves influencers – mine is just a personal lifestyle blog, a diary of sorts and I will blog about what I do, where I go to eat, things that are nice…or not so nice and so on and so forth and if something is not nice, I will say so, maybe a little subtly usually.

But this Eric would not take no for an answer. Finally, he said, “I’ll give you some fish!” I just assumed that he would be one of those who would go out to sea and fish as a hobby so I said, “Right here waiting!” Then, the other evening, he messaged me to ask for my address as he would want to give me some prawns. I asked if he caught them but he said no, he just received some fresh ones, most probably from Sabah, and in no time at all, he was at my house to pass me these…

Tiger prawns

Good grief! Those tiger prawns were so big that just one would be enough for a bowl of laksa but this one…

Huge

…is humongous!!! I don’t think I have a bowl that big!

Thank you so much, Eric…but no, don’t do that again! I will go on blogging about your products or anybody else’s for my own personal enjoyment – the pleasure is all mine but don’t send anything over, please. Nei ah! Nei ah!!!

Burnt…

That day, my missus had something up so I told her not to cook and I could drive her to do what she had to do after which we would go and pick our girl at her school when she was done for the day and we would go for lunch together.

As always, nobody had any idea what they wanted to eat and after a few twists and turns to avoid being caught in the lunch hour cum after-school jam here and there, we ended up here eventually. There were a lot of people but it was not really that crowded (and noisy) – I’ve seen worse and that probably was because it was already 1 something, about time to head back to the office.

There was this one guy with his lady companion at the next table and he was speaking to her the whole time like he was speaking to everybody in the room but that wasn’t half as bad as the music they were playing plus I did not quite care for the songs on their playlist either.

I did not go and have a good look but it seemed to be from a laptop or something on the counter and we were sitting right beside it. I remember they had a proper sound system – probably that had broken down or something in which case, they might as well not play anything at all. For the prices they are charging, I certainly would expect a more pleasant dining environment.

Anyway, back to our lunch, my girl had the lor mee while the mum had the beef noodles, both of which I had had before and no, I did not think I would want to order those again. Unfortunately, my well-intended advice fell on deaf ears but don’t get me wrong – they do have a lot of nice things on their menu like their kueh chap which we all love, for instance, their mee sua is pretty good, even their nasi lemak isn’t too bad and the list goes on and on and on…just that these two do not fall into that same category.

My missus was able to finish everything, helping herself to a whole lot of their very nice chili dip that they gave in a bottle but my girl could barely manage half of hers. Luckily, she also ordered these teriyaki wings (RM13.80)…

Noodle House teriyaki wings

…which she thought were all right but she could only manage two so we had the third one packed for us to take home.

I went for the sizzling nasi biryani with beef rendang (RM15.90)…

Noodle House biryani rendang

…except that it was not sizzling when it was served but I really enjoyed it…a lot!

The beef rendang was very nice and I loved the fragrance of the daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves) in it even though when it comes to rendang, one would usually find daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) instead of the aforementioned. The rice was great too just that it was not entirely like the Indian version with all the herbs and spices – I would say it was more like those at the Malay stalls. All things considered, I did think it was good and I sure would not mind ordering that again the next time we drop by here.

While we were there, I saw something under the glass table promoting something that I had not seen here before – their basque burnt cheesecake. This goondu has seen that in friends’ blogs and has always wondered what that is and why anyone would want to eat anything burnt so of course, I ordered a slice (RM8.80)…

Noodle House basque burnt cheesecake

…to try. It turned out to be something like the Japanese baked cotton cheese cake that I do like a lot except that the top was kind of cracked and kind of burnt in a way but that was intentional…and yes, I would say it was nice. Period.

Our lunch, inclusive of drinking water, 50 sen per glass, and the 6% SST came up to RM59.80.

NOODLE HOUSE (2.291406,111.829162) is located somewhere in the area immediately behind the Sibu Central Police Station at No. 2B, Ground Floor, Lorong Laichee 1, accessible either from Hua Kiew Road or Laichee Lane.

Branching out…

The Kitchen Food instant Sibu kampua is no stranger to a lot of people, I’m sure – this US blogger gave the dark soy sauce version a 5 out of 5 and the original version (white) a 4 out of 5.

Some of my friends have blogged about it too, here or here and here, for instance. It is very well-marketed throughout the whole country and even down south in Singapore and next door in Brunei and in countries overseas.

Not too long ago, I saw a photograph on Facebook shared by the very enterprising owner of the company, Eric and it seemed that he would be branching out into Sarawak/Kuching laksa as it looked like he was working on his own-prepared sambal laksa and true enough, that was exactly what he did!

That day, when I saw this…

The Kitchen Food Sarawak laksa ramen

…at the shop round the corner from my house, I wasted no time at all in grabbing a pack to try.

Inside, there were 4 packets, over RM2.20 each…

What's inside

…and other than the noodles, there were three sachets, one big one of the sambal laksa and two small ones. My guess was the latter two would be the santan (coconut milk) powder and the seasoning – there was no indication outside and both looked the same, white.

The noodles did not look like a lot but once cooked, there was definitely enough…

Noodles

…for a bowl. You boil the noodles for two minutes after which you drain and rinse it to remove the excess starch so the strands will not stick together in  a clump.

It so happened that a few days earlier, I had bought some big pek hay (white seawater prawns) from the market, RM45.00 a kilo, so I took some and boiled them and at the same time, I also fried some omelette and sliced it very very thinly and I blanched some taugeh (bean sprouts), tails removed, for the added ingredients in my bowl of Sarawak/Kuching laksa

Added ingredients/toppings

…I had some tofu puffs in the fridge too so I sliced those and in it went with the rest. Usually, in a bowl of this local delight, you will find some shredded chicken as well but I did not bother about that.

I used the prawn stock – the water used to boil the aforementioned prawns – to cook the broth. Once I had brought it to boil, I emptied the contents of the sachets into it, stirred till everything had dissolved and then I poured it into the bowl…

Ready to serve

…and garnished it with finely-chopped spring onion and daun sup (Chinese parsley) from my garden and served. I wouldn’t know but my guess is if you do not have any prawns and are cooking the broth using plain water, it may not be so nice.

Just as in the case of the made-in-Kuching instant Sarawak/Kuching laksa and those tak-payah-tapis (no need to sieve) sambal laksa, I would prefer to let the sediments settle first while pouring the broth slowly into the bowl or use a strainer to filter it so I would get a nice, clean broth, minus all those specks of the residue of the sambal but I guess that is just my OCD – others probably would not mind as much.

The fragrance filled the whole house while I was cooking, a whole lot more fragrant than when I was cooking it from scratch using the sambal laksa available at the shops and of course, I made sure that I had some pounded belacan (dried prawn paste) and calamansi lime to go with it…

Served

…the complete works.

We certainly enjoyed that to the max – it was really very very good but for die-hard true blue Sarawak/Kuching laksa connoisseurs like us, we would prefer bihun (rice vermicelli) instead of noodles or ramen, whichever way you choose to call it but perhaps the uninitiated US blogger would enjoy it this way, I wouldn’t know.

I saw that they have other new products – the spicy vinegar noodles and the red yeast rice kampua and they also have the two variations of the mee pok but no, I have not tried those. So far, I did buy their mee sua or our Foochow longevity noodles (just the noodles, no ingredients provided) and no, it did not get me all excited but of course, everyone loves the kampua – straight (handmade) or curly (machine made), original or with black soy sauce and everybody says that they are just like the real thing!!! You can check out the list here to see if you can grab hold of some from a store near you!

Yours, not mine…

This goes back a very long way to the time when somebody commented somewhere that she liked Ah Pui’s pao (steamed buns) the most. I asked her where I could get them and she said Lanang Road. I replied that it was a very long road so she would have to tell me exactly where but she never replied. Sighhhhh!!!

I have seen a lot of people posting photos of nice food on Facebook but they never mention where and when somebody asks, they would give the name of the place and when they ask where that is, they would give the location but I can never imagine how anyone can ever find the place when the directions are, more often than not, so vague or at times, even misleading. They might as well not bother sharing the photos at all – honestly, I cannot see why they do that!

It so happened that I saw a coffee shop with more or less that same name and I did go to check it out but, no, that wasn’t it! Well, finally, at long last, an ex-student said that he liked Ah Pui’s pao, the vegetable one especially and when I asked, the direction/location he gave was pretty clear and when I went to Google Maps to look and see, I managed to find it…

Kung Fung Food Industries

For one thing, there was no Ah Pui (Fatty) there, except for the guy in the logo, just a lady selling the paos in the steamer…

Steamer

…and it is a few metres from a roundabout so anyone driving past would have his or her eyes on the oncoming traffic from the right and will not be looking left to where the shop is.

It sure looked like they had a very large order…

Big box

…that morning and they had packed everything in a big box, awaiting collection or delivery.

The filling of the vegetable pao (70 sen each)…

Vegetable pao

…is similar to the ones the old lady at the market sells and is even nicer, I must say. It seems fresher or not so overcooked. However, I did not like the skin. It was so white, probably one of those bleached flour specially for paos that I’ve seen in the shops and supermarkets, and it is so fine and dense, obviously over-beaten by machine, nothing like the pao skin of those in the good old days.

The char siew pao (RM2.10)…

Char siew pao

…was not as nice as the ones here, as far as the filling goes and of course, the skin was not to my liking either and as for the filling in the bak pao (also RM2.10), the minced meat is pressed into a lump, something like a meat ball, just that it is not round…

Bak pao

I did not get my hopes up too high but when I bit into it…

Bak pao, filling

…I found that it was really very nice, tasted a bit like luncheon meat and there was a bit of an egg, hard-boiled, in it though barely noticeable. Too bad about the skin, otherwise I sure would not mind coming back here to buy this particular one again and maybe the vegetable pao as well.

In the meantime, I went and bought these (RM2.00 each)…

Swee Hung pao

…at the shop near my house. They have been selling these homemade paos for as long as I can remember but I never felt inclined to buy as I did buy some from the shop at the end of that same block and they did not get me all excited.

I was pleasantly delighted to find that the skin…

Texture

…was almost like what I had been looking for, not quite old school but pretty close. You can see that it is not so dense, more airy and cushiony and very much more to my liking.

The filling…

Filling

…is very nice too and there is a chunk of egg inside.

All in all, I must say that I was kind of disappointed with Ah Pui’s – after looking for it for so so long, it turned out that it may be the favourite of a lot of people but no, it isn’t mine! I would prefer the latter a whole lot more and it’s cheaper too!

KUNG FUNG FOOD INDUSTRIES (2.279053, 111.837881) is located along Jalan Lanang in the last block of shops on your left a few metres from the roundabout at the junction of that road and Jalan Aman and 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 Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

Silly…

My girl had something to send to the department’s office in Selangau so I went to the POSLAJU office near my house to do it for her. I do recall sending stuff there before and as far as I know, they did get everything in the end, no problem at all.

However, that morning, the young man at the counter told me that it would be outside their delivery area and they would redirect the mail to the General Post Office in town and the people from the office in Selangau would have to come all the way to Sibu to go there to collect. I don’t know if that was what had been happening all this while and this time around, it was addressed specifically to an officer at the office and the guy said that she would be contacted by phone and asked to collect the mail personally – somebody else from the office would not be able to get it for her.

I told him that would be so silly as if she had to come to town to get it, she could just go straight to my house and I could hand it to her, no need to pay them all that money for doing nothing. Over the years, driving to and fro between my house and my girl’s school in the jungle, I did see the POSLAJU van a few times but I did not know where it was heading, Bintulu perhaps…and as far as the van was concerned, it certainly was LAJU (fast) though I would not say the same about their service and their delivery.

Anyway, the wife of an officer at the Selangau office, an ex-student of mine, is my girl’s colleague so I asked my girl to ask her if she could pass the letter to pass to him to take to work and pass to the officer concerned…and of course, that was not a problem at all so things worked out o.k. in the end.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I decided to drop by this bakery…

Yat Bakery

…in town in the area of shops behind the medical centre where my mum used to be warded everytime she was unwell. My dad loved the buns…

Yat Bakery buns

…the ones with the pandan lotus paste filling…

Pandan lotus paste filling

…while I prefer the pek tau sar (white/mung bean paste) but these two were not easily available, always sold out.

That day, there wasn’t any of the latter left but there were two packets of the pandan lotus, RM2.20 each (probably RM2.00 only in the past), so I just grabbed them both. There were others like the red bean paste, the peanut and the butter but I was not interested in those.

In the meantime, I thought I would just buy their swiss roll for the aforementioned ex-student’s wife to show a bit of appreciation for her/their help. I remember we used to buy them before and they were very nice, RM6.80 each (maybe it was RM6.00 before) but they certainly were a lot bigger than the rest. I got her the vanilla and I decided to try the strawberry…

Yat Bakery swiss roll, strawberry

…which turned out really nice – so soft, very nice subtle fragrance of strawberry, definitely much nicer than the strawberry cakes that we bought before from the more upscale bakeries in town as far as the texture and taste went except that it did not have any fresh strawberries inside. I think should anybody’s birthday come around, I shall go here to order the cake…or I’d stick faithfully to Marcus’ – his cakes are, of course, second to none.

A friend on Facebook saw the above photograph of the swiss roll when I shared it on my timeline and he commented that their coconut roll bun was very good too – I think I did see that that day but I was never into that. Perhaps I’ll grab one to try the next time I drop by there.

YAT BAKERY (2.293035, 111.835887) is located along Lorong Chew Siik Hiong 1A, directly opposite Uncle Dom, at the other end of the block of shops where Sushi Tie is in the commercial centre behind the Rejang Medical Centre.

Times have changed…

When I was still working, school started at 7.00 a.m. and by 6.00 a.m. or earlier, I would be on my way even though it would only take around 5-10 minutes for me to reach my destination. More often than not, the place would still be pitch dark and at times, it would still be all locked up when the caretaker/groundsman was running a little late.

Driving at that time of day was sheer delight as there would only be a sprinkling of other cars on the road, if any. These days, there are so many cars…and though I am thankful that there are no traffic jams (yet), what I simply cannot understand is why they have to drive so fast. There IS a speed limit here, 60 kmph in the town area…and they will weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes as and when it pleases them. People have the impression that cars here are not equipped with indicators as they will NEVER signal to let you know their intention when they turn left or right.

Frankly, I fail to understand what their hurry is – school does not start till after 7.00 a.m. and Sibu is such a small town that even before one song finishes on the radio, you would have reached your destination already! Maybe they are in a foul mood having to wake up so early to send their kids to school or maybe they are in rush to drop off their offspring and head back home to bed and sleep some more before it is time to go to work…or maybe there are a lot more cars these days and they have the tendency to drive in that unruly manner, I wouldn’t know.

Another impression that I get is that these days, people are real lazy. At that time of the morning, except for a few odd ones out, most of the coffee shops are not open yet.

I dropped by a hawker centre one morning and most were not open so I went to the market instead to see if I could buy some fish and prawns. On the way back, I saw one already open so I asked if I could order something for breakfast. They replied in a not-too-friendly manner (some people are simply not in a very good mood when they wake up in the morning) that they had just arrived and were not ready to start their business for the day yet – and that was past 6.30 a.m. going to be 7.00 a.m. soon.

In my younger days, coffee shops opened way before the crack of dawn and unlike many today, they did not close at or before noon either and if you wanted a plate of kampua mee at a very odd hour like 3 or 4.00 pm. they would only be too happy to restart their fire to cook the noodles for you and a plate was only 30 cents (without meat) or 50 cents (with meat) then. They must have worked so very hard and scrimped and saved to be able to afford their children’s fees and living expenses overseas unlike what some people think – that all of them were so very rich!

Well, I spotted one coffee shop that was open…

Happy Sweet Garden Food Centre

…the other morning so I decided to stop by for a plate of kampua noodles for breakfast. Now, this is another thing about drivers these days – there were ample parking spaces all around, no parking fee at that time of day but no, as you can see in the above photograph, they just had to park right beside the shop to go in and eat. I am quite sure they would drive right into the coffee shop if they could! Tsk! Tsk! I really wonder about the mentality of people nowadays and what has gone wrong along the way.

Now, if I am not wrong, that guy at the stall…

Kampua mee stall

…is Ah Kow’s son. We grew up eating his father’s kampua noodles every Sunday after church, our weekly special treat, but only if my brother and I behaved well throughout the service or we would head straight home and have rotan (cane) for breakfast instead.

When I got to the coffee shop, I was amazed by the number of people there – it was almost full! It appeared to me that they were all parents bringing their children for breakfast before heading off to school. Is that why they drive so fast? They have to stop somewhere for a bite to eat first?

Golly gee! Don’t people cook and eat their own breakfast at home anymore? All throughout my schooling years, my mum would get up early to prepare breakfast and by the time we were up and ready for school, all would be ready and we could eat before getting on our bicycles and making our way to school by ourselves. For one thing, I cannot imagine those kids eating all the msg in the noodles every day and drinking those unhealthy drinks as well – no wonder we see news reports of young boys and girls getting ill, coming down with diabetes, cancer…heart problems and stroke even! It probably has something to do with the way of life these days.

Anyway, back to the kampua mee (RM2.70)…

Kampua mee 1

…that I had, it was pretty good, cheaper than many around here by 10 sen or 30 sen or more and I liked how they did not dye the meat red…

Kampua mee 2

…plus they did not use a plastic plate even though they did use a plastic bowl for the soup.

Well, since most other places are still closed, I guess if one wants kampua mee so early in the morning, this is one place they can head to.

HAPPY SWEET GARDEN FOOD CENTRE (2.301085, 111.835842) is located at No. 16, Jalan Merdeka Barat, back to back with the Sibu Polyclinic, Jalan Oya.

It doesn’t matter anymore…

In the late 70’s, I was posted to teach in a school in Kanowit. I stayed in a small rented room above one of the shops with nothing else other than a bed and a writing table…and a small table fan. I was literally living out of a suitcase and no, I did not have a tv.

Those were the days of black and white tv and being musically-inclined, there was a weekly programme that I particularly liked at around 5.30 p.m. on Sundays, Ready To Roll, a top hits chart show from New Zealand, if I am not wrong, and I do recall that this song, the cover by some girly singer, was Number 1 for a few weeks.

In order that I could watch the show, I had to go to a coffee shop in that little town to join many others there and because this song was not the favourite of everybody else except me and it was very long, they would all moan and groan and declare that when the song came on, it would be a good time to go to the washroom.

Anyway, the title of the song that I have used for this post makes me think of what we had to go through week after week after week picking my girl from her school in the jungle and bringing her home on Fridays and sending her back on Sundays and to say that driving on the still-under-construction Pan-Borneo Highway, otherwise known as the Pain-Borneo Hellway, was a nightmare would be an understatement. Well, the good news is, as the song goes, it doesn’t matter anymore!

The official letter was released on Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 and my girl was supposed to report in her new school on that day itself. However, it so happened that even though a copy of the letter had arrived at the office in Selangau, there was nobody dropping by that day to collect the mail so she could not leave her station just yet.

That was why on Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, my missus and I made our way to the school, stopping by the office along the way to get the official copy of the letter, duly endorsed by the officer…and before school was dismissed that very day, there was a special assembly to bid farewell to their teacher and she would be walking along that wooden bridge from her quarters…

SK Sg Sepiring

…to the car one last time after over 6 years since the day she reported for duty in March 2013.

I did notice when we sent her back to her school on Monday, after the two-week mid-year break, that the road had greatly improved…

PBH 1

…unlike the horrendous conditions in the first half of the year and it was getting worse by the day.

Now, many parts have been completed…

PBH 2

…and are open for use…

PBH 3

…already and even though there are still those sections that are in a rather deplorable state, these good stretches…

PBH 4

…are indeed a welcome relief.

I don’t know if these are going to be part of THE highway eventually or only temporary but whatever it is, I will no longer be going that way again, praise the Lord, and I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again – it doesn’t matter anymore!