Don’t change…

My girl wanted to drop by here for lunch that day because when we were here a fortnite earlier, it was on a Friday, our no-meat day, so she was not able to order her favourite here, their sizzling beef on a hot plate…

Of course, I did not have a problem with that and off we went!

Yes, it was very good, as nice as ever and to everyone’s liking and for our vegetable dish, we had the butter baby kai lan (Chinese broccoli)…

…which was good too.

There were a few other dishes that we used to order but I thought of trying something different for a change so I asked the young boy taking our orders (the lady boss’ son) if they had any “lok bak“. Unfortunately, he was monolingual and did not know what I was talking about – he did not know what “rusa” or “venison” is and unfortunately, I don’t know what it is in Mandarin so I asked him to call his mum who is conversant in Hokkien but unfortunately, they did not have the meat.

Eventually, I settled for “beef tendon in a claypot” on the menu and this…

…was what we got.

Well, it wasn’t in a claypot – the lady boss said it would be in one, a small one and no, the serving was definitely not small. It would not have mattered much if it had tasted great but no, I was not impressed, not at all. The sauce in the sizzling hot plate beef was heaps nicer!

Other than the taste, I was quite put off by what I could (or could not) find inside! There was hardly any beef tendon at all and just a few paper thin slices of beef. Instead, there were a whole lot of oyster mushroom and fried tofu, cut into thin long strips. Honestly, sometimes, it is better to stick to what’s familiar, things that we know are nice. This is one dish I would never order again.

The bill came up to RM63.00 for the three dishes, not cheap but of course, beef is not cheap and perhaps, that was a sign of the things to come, the rising prices. We just have to expect the pinch when we eat out these days.

After lunch, my missus wanted to go and buy some roast meats for dinner. There is a very popular stall at a coffee shop down the road – if I am not wrong, that is the older brother of the one in our neighbourhood that I frequent quite a lot so I suggested trying the ones here…for a change.

We were here once in 2020 but it did not sweep us off our feet so we never went back again. In the meantime, my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert, said their roast duck (sold out when we went that day) was the best in town so I told my good friend, Annie, when she came home for Ching Ming that day but she said it was salty and not to their liking. Ah well! I guess I would just have to try it myself.

My missus paid RM30.00 for this much…

…and yes, the roast duck was very good, not salty, tender and nice. The char siew was all right, nothing to make it stand out above the rest and the siew yoke (roast pork) would have been very nice but the crackling was so very salty that we had no choice but to give it our thumbs down! All things considered, I think I’d rather go to the stall here that I really liked a lot or I’d just stick to my regular stall – everything there is pretty good and being right round the corner from my house, it is a whole lot convenient to go there and buy.

NICE HOUSE RESTAURANT (2.29201,111.82739)…

…is located in the vicinity of the Tunku Osman shops, opposite Rejang Bookstore.

It’s Friday…

Ever since I bought the beautiful ikan terubok (chee khak/toli shad) that day, I had been looking forward to Friday, our no-meat day when we would cook that to enjoy.

It looked so fresh and fleshy too and I was quite sure it was going to be good but the boy told me there was no roe (egg) in it. It did not matter though as we are not really into those but somehow, I have the feeling that if there are eggs in the fish, it is more lemak (fat/rich).

My missus trimmed the tail and the fins…

…to get it ready to be panggang-ed (grilled/baked) in our Tatung pot. We decided not to line the foil with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) this time around so we just rubbed it with a bit of salt and wrapped it up before putting it in the pot.

A Kelabit teacher-friend of mine saw my photograph on Facebook and commented that he never gutted the fish that he would cook over an open fire to eat. Yes, that is one thing my late mum taught us – to never clean the fish as it would not be so sweet and nice if we did that. She loved to eat the black stuff inside, something a bit bitter but I think that is an acquired taste. I tried it before and no, I did not think I would want to eat it again so everytime we cooked the fish, we would just throw it away.

It sure looked so good when it was done…

Just look at all the juices that had seeped out of the fish, an indication as to how lemak (fat/rich) it was. I love drowning my rice with the juices and eating them together! Omega 3 plus plus!!! Absolutely yummy!!!

To eat the fish, the scales had to be painstakingly removed…

…completely so we would not have deal with them all over the fish, here there and everywhere as that chore might affect our enjoyment to some extent.

A lot of people commented that they would not buy the fish because there are a lot of bones. Bones? What bones?

Of course, there are some BIG ones that are easily removed, not as many and not so hard to spot and get rid of as in the upriver empurau (wang poo liao) and its “cousins”. Those fish may be very sweet, so very smooth, so very fine…but the task of picking out the bones and getting rid of them is so time-consuming and it takes away much of the enjoyment of eating those super expensive fish! Another thing is if the fish have been caught and kept frozen for a long time, they will sell them to you at those ridiculous prices but sadly, they are no longer as sweet, not really nice anymore.

Anyway, back to the ikan terubok, I don’t know if those were from a different source – some say there are those from Bangladesh (cheap and used mainly to make those salted ikan terubok) but there used to be another variety where the top half of the fish was full of tiny bones like those in the ikan lumek. We would eat and leave that top part behind. Much to my delight, those that we get these days do not have those tiny bones so we can enjoy it from one end to the other.

Of course, at RM60.00 a kilo, RM48.00 for the one that I bought that day, I would not be buying it all that often. Once in a while will be fine especially with the rising prices of everything these days – one would need to be a bit prudent in one’s spending now, don’t you think?

That day, we had these long beans fried with sambal hay bee (dried prawns)…

…for our vegetable dish and this Chinese-style (oyster) mushroom and egg drop soup…

– my girl loved it! She said it was like sharks’ fins soup.

Cups…

I used to fly between Sibu (SBW) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) very frequently when I was still working as I was involved in a lot of things with the ministry and the other sections like exams, for instance.

Going was never a problem as the flight, I remember, was at 11.50 a.m. – ample time to do a lot of things before leaving for the airport to catch my flight. Coming home was a problem though because the one and only flight in a day was at 7.50 a.m. so I had to be at KLIA by 6.50 a.m. (one hour before the flight) which meant that I had to leave the hotel very early as KLIA isn’t exactly a stone’s throw away from KL city. There was a 50% surcharge if we took a taxi between 12 midnight and 6.00 a.m. so of course, I had to pay extra every time.

Another problem was breakfast since it would be way too early to go for the hotel’s complimentary (buffet) breakfast! At times, I would wait till I got to KLIA before going for the miserable breakfast options at McD or KFC, miserable but affordable unlike at the other eateries, for instance, the RM23.80 nasi lemak at the Asian Cafe! Sometimes, I would buy some drinks and Gardenia buns from 7-11 and at other times, I would buy some cup noodles to cook and eat before vacating the hotel room.

Cup noodles? Gosh!!! That was so long ago that I cannot even remember what brand I used to buy and what flavours I liked. Anyway, the other day, I had these made-in-Korea ones…

My missus went and bought some…

…and she said they were nice so of course, I wanted to give them a try!

Inside the cup, there were the noodles…

…with some dried ingredients and a sachet of seasoning…

I emptied the sachet into the cup with the noodles…

…and poured in some boiling water a little past the line indicated inside the cup. My missus said I should add a bit more as it was a little salty.

I waited for 4 minutes, as instructed…

…before tossing the noodles and loosening the strands and leaving it to stand a while longer.

So, what did it taste like? Was it nice? My missus said it was over RM4.00 each!!! For that kind of money, I would much sooner run to the nearby shop and grab a packet of kampua mee for RM3.50. I certainly would enjoy it a lot more and I would still have some change leftover.

I can’t remember what lobsters taste like – in fact, I can’t remember if I have ever eaten a lobster before and anyway, this tasted like…instant noodles, that usual umami (msg) taste, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t know if I imagined it or what but I thought I could detect a bit of udang kering (dried prawn) taste, just a bit, so slight that it could have easily gone unnoticed.

I must say, however, that I liked the texture and taste of the noodles. They were firm and QQ and did not have any taste – most of our local brands have their own taste and some come across like plain biscuits, not quite like noodles.

I cooked two half-boiled/cooked Omega-3 eggs to go with the noodles…

…and yes, I did enjoy them.

I must say that at the end of the day, I would much sooner go for our Malaysian own Maggi kari – for RM4 something, I can buy a pack of 5 and enjoy myself a whole lot more.

We’re in charge…

The other day, after enjoying my fish soup kway teow here, I decided to walk over to my favourite fish & seafood stall at the end of that block of shops to say hello to the very nice Mdm. Lau there. I did not drop by for quite sometime as I had not been so mobile lately.

Unfortunately, she was not around! She had left her young boy helpers in charge and according to them, she was at home making up for lost time because her daughter had come home from Singapore and they had not seen each other for over two years, all throughout the horrible pandemic.

I bought some of those little fishes, quite a lot of bak chik and there were two kembong left and I took those for RM12.00 altogether and I decided to buy one whole ikan senangin, not a very big one for RM20.00. I could not remember what fish the latter was until I checked my post here – it turned out to be the very nice ngor hu or the threadfin.

One of the boys asked if I would like to steam or deep fry it and since I was not too sure, he just cut it up into slices for deep frying. He said he could do it differently depending on what I would want to do with it, like what he did to the ikan siakap (barramundi)…

…that I bought from him once.

Oh? So he was the one! Mdm. Lau has a few helpers, young Malay or Melanau boys, all very nice and friendly, very trustworthy and able to work independently so I do not really remember all of them. I asked him if there was any siakap that morning but he said that they did, just a few but he would not sell them to me as they were two days old, not freshly delivered from Batang Ai that day. Now, isn’t that nice? I am pretty sure others will just sell it to me quietly and run laughing all the way to the bank!

It was then that I saw the ikan terubok (chee khak/toli shad)…

It was so fat and looked so fresh and nice plus it had been a while since we last ate one.

However, one of the boys kept repeating the price, “RM60.00 a kilo! RM60.00 a kilo!” Obviously, he was trying to discourage me from buying, not because it was not good – he did admit it was very nice but because it was so expensive.

I had just bumped into my girl’s coursemate on Facebook – they were together in Sg Petani, Kedah and in Wellington, New Zealand and they had just moved her to Daro in the Rejang Delta. I gathered from Mdm. Lau that she gets their ikan terubok from there but my girl’s coursemate said they were not in season at this point in time, very difficult to come by. I sure was lucky and of course, I insisted on buying one for RM48.00 (less than 1 kg) and taking it home happily!

It is not difficult to get hold of the salted ones…

…and the salted roe (eggs)…

…here. Folks from West Malaysia would buy these by the boxes to take home everytime they fly over to Kuching to spend their holidays.

I do enjoy eating those too but to me, nothing beats eating the fresh ones, rubbed with a bit of salt and wrapped in aluminum foil and baked…

…in our Tatung pot…

We tried baking it in the oven but it was not as nice.

These days, we would line the foil with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) for the added fragrance…

It is simply out of this world, so very sweet, so very fragrant, so so delicious – a whole lot nicer than cooking the fish any other way!

The fish & seafood stall…

…is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

I got no time…

I used to do it very frequently in the early morning, everytime we had leftover rice in the house. No, I did not do it like Uncle Roger’s egg fried rice. Instead, I would just fry it my own way, usually in my simple kampung-style

…and blog about it.

My problem these days is I do not have the time anymore as we have to leave the house at the break of dawn so my girl can get to school by around 6.00 a.m. Lessons do not begin till around 7 but there are lots of duties and responsibilities to take care of especially when it comes to small primary school kids. That, of course, means that there is hardly any time for me to cook breakfast. Instead, we would have to buy some things earlier…or on the way back to the house.

Well, the other morning, my missus fried this plate of fried rice, kampung-style…

…and yes, I think I did say it before that she does it a whole lotta better than me!

She uses more or less the same ingredients – ikan bilis (dried anchovies), egg, chopped spring onion, shallots and garlic, peeled and sliced…

…but instead of using mushroom soy like me, she uses kikkoman soy sauce and dunno what else – I noticed that everytime she was frying rice, she would open the refrigerator door again and again so perhaps she always added some other things as well but I never asked what.

Yes, I do add a bit of msg – Uncle Roger would certainly approve but no, she will never touch the stuff. As far as I know, they will add a lot to their fried rice outside and with their giant wok and all that banging and the advantage of having a huge fire, theirs will turn out very nice too, if not nicer. At best, I would just say that mine is…edible, not as nice as what my missus dishes out…

Anyway, I do miss cooking something nice for breakfast, be it fried rice, some noodles (haven’t had my Bovril mee

…for so so long now) or sandwiches loaded with a whole lot of good stuff such as ham, bacon and egg. for instance…

There is just so much that one can take of the things outside – you end up buying the same old things and in the end, you get put off by the mere sight of them. Sighhh!!!

Afternoon…

The food stalls at the coffee shops here open early in the morning, some at the break of dawn and most will stay open right through lunchtime. Generally, they all close in the afternoon and reopen come evening time so what they are selling will be available if anyone is keen on having something for supper.

I know this very popular kampua mee stall used to open right through the afternoon, except on their off day, Tuesday and would close at around 9.00 p.m. However, I did drop by there twice already recently and on both days, they were closed. I am not sure whether they open at night or not because I do not venture out in the dark.

This, of course, means that in the afternoon, you will not be able to find anything to eat at all the 10 or so coffee shops at the commercial centre in that area unless you go to our Sarawak’s own fast food franchise or the Taiwanese chicken franchise or Colonel Sanders’ in the mall. I guess it is pretty much the same elsewhere all over town.

Well, the other day, I tried my luck at the food court round the corner and yes, I did manage to get to eat a bowl of pian sip (meat dumplings)…

…to tide me over till dinner time.

The place was quite deserted – there was an Iban employee manning the drinks stall and doing the chores such as mopping the floor and so on, two not-so-young ladies at a table chatting away and a group of 4 or 5 guys loitering around at another table. All the food stalls were closed – there were not many left, 3 only, after most of them closed down or moved elsewhere during the pandemic – but much to my relief, this one, the kampua mee stall…

…was open.

When my order came, I was rather surprised when the lady told me that the pian sip was RM4.00 a bowl. So far, I only heard that this was the price at the aforementioned kampua mee stall while generally, it is RM3.50 only or less elsewhere.

The pian sip

…was all right, a little bland from the lack of light soy sauce and msg, which was a good thing.

Unlike wantons, the dumpling skin was very thin and smooth…

…not thick and chewy and I did enjoy it – this is a noodle dish so the focus is on the skin and there is just a slight trace of minced meat in each of them, not much.

No, I did not complain. I just paid quietly and counted my blessing, thankful that there is a place open anytime I feel like having a bite to eat in the afternoon. While I was eating, a guy in office clothes came, probably after finishing his work for the day, and he had a bowl of kampua mee. Maybe that is why most of the stalls choose to close in the afternoon – they do not get that much business so there is no point employing helpers at the minimum wage of RM1,500 a month since obviously, they are not going to make enough money to recoup that extra expense.

GRAND WONDERFUL FOOD COURT (2.309601, 111.845163)…

…is located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your right. You can also go in via Jalan Pipit from Jalan Pahlawan – go straight ahead till you get to it on your left.

Local…

They opened this place…

…quite recently but I did not bother going over to check it out even though it’s not far from my house. After all, they have branches all over town and before the pandemic, I used to go to a couple of them to get my imported Australian and New Zealand beef and lamb. Why! I was so impressed when I dropped by Seremban (Negeri Sembilan) in 2012 and saw that they had a branch…

…there as well.

I was browsing through their Facebook page one fine day when I saw a comment by a Facebook friend of mine. “Like in New Zealand!” he said and my curiosity was instantly aroused. I decided I would hop over soon just to look around and that was what I did the other day.

Yes, it’s a really huge place with all kinds of things for sale but I was more into stuff that I had not seen before. I noticed a lot of sugar-free, no added sugar …

…and unsweetened stuff…

…on the shelves.

They may have them at some other supermarkets in town – I hear those that stock up on imported stuff have quite a collection too these days, just that I have not gone round to see but I certainly would want to try that pistachio milk – I love pistachios and right now, I am getting quite sick and tired of the V-soy soya bean and multi-grain milk and my low fat fresh milk that I am drinking regularly because my doctor said that I would need the protein.

I also saw a lot of stuff not available elsewhere like this particular brand of luncheon meat…

…(I wonder if it’s any good) or these canned sardines…

…and yes, they certainly had a whole lot of ham…

…sausages and other processed meat to pick and choose and even pizzas…

That would be so convenient – just pop it in the oven and one can have a pizza to enjoy in no time at all.

They have the grass-fed beef and lamb…

…that I always buy these days, a whole lot nicer than all the rest and a whole lot of imported stuff…

…that I had not seen anywhere else around here.

There are a whole lot of local stuff as well and among all the different types of fish, barramundi and so on, I was impressed by this ikan terubok (toli shad)

…in the fish section. This is very difficult to get at the market and stalls and they have a whole lot of them here!

Why! They even have these button mushrooms…

…that are so difficult to get elsewhere and my goodness, I was amazed to see the bottles of whiskey and fine wine all lined up on the shelves. Frankly, I have not seen that many before, not even at those duty-free shops at the international airports. My attention was drawn to this bottle of kahlua coffee liquer…

I used to enjoy that so much with vanilla ice cream…

here but of course, I cannot indulge in that anymore now that I am on a low/no sugar diet. Sobsss!!!

I must say that I was baffled by the word local in the name of the place, seeing how they have so much imported stuff. In fact, I was not that keen on dropping by to see what they had because of that word – no point doing that when they only sell local stuff, available at most other places elsewhere.

My missus did buy some of the baked stuff…

…from that section and what caught my attention was the English used. There was no indication as to who supplied all that they were selling and honestly, I couldn’t make head or tail of what they meant…and goodness gracious me! If you change just one letter from the main caption, that would bring about a completely different meaning! *face palm*

Having seen what it was like, I would say that I was VERY impressed – it certainly was a nice place to go and walk around, looking at all the things on display but I do think that they have much bigger places than this in New Zealand. The only similarity that I noticed was how EXTREMELY cold it was inside – I just could not wait to get out of there before I froze to death to go and sit in the car to wait for my girl and the mum. It was like winter in New Zealand, I commented when the ladies finally were through!

No class…

My girl would not want to drop by here because she said that everytime we went, I would always end up getting very angry over this and that. I got quite pissed off by their chipped crockery, their poached egg that was raw and only the yolk was left yet they served it like that, how the staff could not converse in English even though it was a western restaurant and so on and so forth and yet they try to project themselves as a high class joint, a place for fine dining, serving the most exclusive expensive cuts of beef.

Well, after all this time, curiosity got the better of me and we did go over last Sunday evening to see if things had changed for the better. All this time, whenever we passed by, we would see the crowd inside and also all the cars outside so we decided to go early before dinnertime, at 5.00 p.m. thinking that there would be fewer people around.

Unfortunately, the place was packed. There were only a couple of tables available but service was good, very prompt and it was not noisy or rowdy until a couple of guys came and the whole time they were there, they talked as if they were delivering a speech to everyone in the room. Why on earth would people talk so loudly, really? It would only take a couple of the likes of these to ruin the nice ambiance of the place. No class at all!

Going back to talk about the service, they had so many young boys and girls on their waiting staff. One approached our table the instant we sat down and he would key in our orders in his smartphone. Hmmm…impressive! Very high tech! He was quite comfortable speaking in English, no problem at all.

Despite the crowd, the food came VERY fast, starting with this plate of Ceasar salad (RM26.00)…

…that we ordered. We were very impressed by how generous they were with the poached chicken (which was a little bit warm when they served it – I had expected it to be cold like everything else in the plate). Unfortunately, when we started eating, I was horrified as to how salty the dressing-coated lettuce was – perhaps if we had shredded the chicken and mashed the egg to mix with the veg, it would help a bit but no, we had no intention of doing that ourselves.

My girl said her spaghetti carbonara grana padano (RM38.00)…

…was good but aside from the extra creamy pasta, there was nothing much else other than that thin slice of bacon for that kind of money. She said that the serving was bigger than what she had before so she was not able to finish all of it…and I had to do that for her, not that I enjoyed the richness all that much.

The mum went through the Asian section of their menu – she does that all the time as she is not really into the western stuff and she ordered this claypot seafood pasta (RM26.00)…

…which I would say was inexpensive considering that there were all those prawns, mussels, clams, cuttlefish and so on…compared to the pasta my girl had. My missus said it tasted something like our char chu mee (the Foochow fry & cook noodles soup) and was very nice – she enjoyed it very much!

By the time the pizza prosciutto e funghi (RM38.00)…

…came, we were already very full so we just had a slice each (and yes, it was VERY good!) and had the rest packed away in a pizza box for us to take home. That was done in a jiffy, no problem at all.

For dessert, I asked for the panna cotta (RM12.00)…

…and I sure wasn’t pleasantly surprised to see that it was served with matcha (green tea) sauce. If it was stated in the menu, I did not notice it and since I am no fan of matcha, I did not really enjoy it. It was a bit bitter but the saving grace was that it was not sweet which was good for me now that I am on a low sugar diet.

We had their complimentary bottled water and the total came up to RM148.40 (inclusive of the 6% SST).

All in all, I must say that the waiting staff members are a whole lot better than the ones we encountered before but there were so many of them. Perhaps they should be stationed at strategic points so they can pay a lot more attention to the diners, instead of just leaving them to their own devices to loiter around here and there.

For instance, when we had finished the Ceasar salad, nobody came to take away the plate that I had placed by the side of the table and by the time the pizza arrived, I wouldn’t mind getting a new plate to replace the one covered with the creamy dressing from the salad and the carbonara sauce from my girl’s pasta. I had to go through the chore of getting their attention to get them to come to our table to do that.

Well, we may drop by again and all the time I was there, I was thinking that it would be good to dine al fresco – they have all the tables and chairs outside but nobody sat there. For one thing, I am not fond of the air-conditioning and I sure would love to take advantage of the natural daylight outside for more flattering snapshots of the food served.

CAFFEINE CAFE (2.302620, 111.842988) is located on the ground floor of Wisma Liberty, Block 3, Lorong Dr Wong Soon Kai 7, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada) – on your left, past the Jalan Ulu Oya Road (Sacred Heart School) traffic lights if you are coming from town.

Wait for a while…

Time really seems to fly these days! I just went to see my doctor a month ago and it was time to go again for a follow-up and to replenish my prescriptions.

That previous time, I went at around 9.00 a.m. and I had to wait for so long and it was way over 11, almost noon when I was through. This time around, I thought I would go a bit early, at 8.00 a.m. but by the time I managed to find a parking space and walked all the way to the clinic, it was already 8.30 and goodness gracious me! The clinic was packed – no seat available in the waiting room! It was so nice going to see the doctor during the pandemic – not a single living soul around. I guess at the time, everyone was scared of catching the virus so it was better to just #staysafe and #stayhome.

The receptionist told me that I could go some place else and come back in an hour’s time at 9.30 and that was exactly what I did. I went to the coffee shop…

…the first one in the block of shops to the left.

I shall not attempt to interpret the meaning of its name…

…with my half-past-six command of Mandarin but I used to drop by here everytime my late mum was admitted into the medical centre next door and I would just order something from the noodles stall in front except for one occasion when I had the chap fan (mixed rice).

This time around, I thought I would order something from the chu char (cook and fry) section at the back and I ordered the Foochow fried noodles, wet (with sauce/gravy). However, as I was sitting there waiting, I had a change of heart and I asked the Indonesian helper if they had the special and she said yes. I told her I would have that instead. I was expecting to get something with a whole lot of extra ingredients such as liver and what not but this (RM16.00)…

…was what I was served in the end.

Yes, it did feel kind of expensive but there were two of these huge prawns…

A friend once told me that the estimated cost price of these prawns was RM3.00 each so deduct RM6.00 from the total, that would leave a balance of RM10.00.

Besides the crustaceans, there were so many slices of this lovely fish…

…that I enjoyed so much! I did not know what fish that was so I asked the boss and he said it was a labang – that sure did not help much as I never heard of the fish before. I googled to see what I could find and it turned out that it is a freshwater river fish, not one of those super-expensive ones but no, it is not cheap either, something alongside the lajong that we really like a lot!

Deduct RM4.00, the price for a regular plate of fried noodles here and that would leave RM6.00 for all that fish! Cheap! I also loved the fact that they were so generous with the green vegetables and yes, the mee (noodles)…

…had that much coveted wok hei fragrance. I would probably order the “moon” (braised) version the next time I drop by here for this though as the noodles were more on the firm side – I would like them a little bit softer (but not too soft and soggy).

While I was sitting there, enjoying my noodles, I caught the whiff of that lovely pulut panggang fragrance – some people at the next table were eating those. I did catch sight of them earlier but I did not bat an eyelid and simply ignored them as I would not settle for anything less than the very nice Hj. Luguk ones, just that I have not been to the kampung for a very long time so I do not know if those are still available or not.

In the end, I bought a few (RM1.20 each)…

…home to try and yes, much to my delight, they…

…were very nice! They were perfectly done, well-panggang-ed enough to give them that very nice smoked fragrance and yes, it was quite lemak (rich with santan/coconut milk) too though I felt it could do with a little bit more santan, just a little bit so it would be more lemak.

I heard people singing praises of the ones here but no, I do think these were a whole lot nicer. I would much sooner drop by here to buy anytime I feel like having some pulut panggang.

It was around 9.30 a.m. when I got back to the clinic – obviously, some had left and I was able to grab a seat. Thankfully, I did not have to wait too long this time around and I was out of there by 10 something!

HAO KE LAI CAFE & REST (2.292095, 111.836698) is located along Lorong Mahsuri 1B, off Jalan Pedada, in the block of shops to the left of the Rejang Medical Centre, main building.

He is here…

Yes, he is here! The authentic North Indian chef has come back from his month-long break. I did mention in my blogpost the other day when we dropped by the café last month that he had gone back to India and would resume his duties here in Sibu by the middle of May.

We actually thought of going some place else last Sunday but there were massive jams all over town, probably because the Gawai Dayak Festival was around a week or so away so I used an alternative route (without passing through the main roads and going through the town centre) to get here. Well, my girl sure was delighted that the chef has come back and it was business as usual that day.

Not too long ago, I was watching this show on TV where they were talking about those banana leaf meals at the Indian restaurants. We do not have that here but yes, we did go for it in KL and also in Kuching. Well, at one of those places featured, they were singing praises for their chicken vindaloo and I could remember they have that on their menu here so of course, I wanted to give it a try (RM24.00)…

I had the kambing (lamb/mutton) vindaloo

…with the biryani rice…

…and yes, it was VERY nice! It was a bit sourish, not like the mutton masala (which is simply Indian curry, more or less), a welcome change from the usual. I let my girl try a bit and yes, she too liked it a lot. She probably will want to order this the next time we drop by here.

This time around, she stuck faithfully to her butter tandoori chicken biryani (RM20.00)…

…which did not look as red as before…

…from what was used to marinate the chicken before cooking it in the traditional tandoori oven and using it to cook this curry. As a matter of fact, I thought the taste of the tandoori chicken was not as strong but my girl said it was all right and yes, she did enjoy it very much.

For one thing, we were seated inside the dim and dark and gloomy restaurant – they removed all the tables and chairs on the very much brighter pavement outside during the pandemic as they did not want to block up the whole place to ensure physical distancing and what not. Hopefully, they will put them back again soon so I will be able to take more flattering photographs of the very nice food here.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is how the Indonesian chef would serve what she dishes out – in a bowl, with the rice by the side. My missus had the seafood curry rice (RM19.00)…

…and yes, it was, as always, very very nice and they were very generous with the serving too. I guess it is neater this way and some people are not that fond of their rice being drowned by the gravy but I actually like the way they used to serve their dishes, everything by the side of the rice in the plate…

The total for everything we had, inclusive of drinks, came up to RM78.00 but the nice boss collected RM75.00 only from me – not only was this cheaper than what we had at the Japanese franchise the other day but it was more filling and we sure enjoyed it a whole lot more too!

The CAFE IND (2.290813, 111.829294) is located along Laichee Lane, right behind one block of shops facing the main road (Jalan Kampung Nyabor) where the Bank Simpanan Nasional, Sibu branch (2.290561, 111.829071), is.