Big shot…

The first time I dropped by this café was towards the end of 2011. I guess I was not too impressed at the time and I never went back again. In June the following year, 2012, my friend, Annie in KL, came home to Sibu and her mum took her there. She was wondering why I had not featured it in my blog – I guess she missed that earlier post of mine. She liked it a lot, it seemed and because of that, I decided to go there again and there has been no looking back since.

To this very day, this is one of the few places that we would go to again and again and again. My girl loves the biryani rice from the authentic North Indian chef, Ravi so everytime she feels like having that, no prize for guessing where we would head to. In her opinion, the biryani rice at the local Indian as well as the Malay shops and stalls is more or less like their yellow rice or nasi kuning or nasi minyak or whatever they call it, not quite like the real thing.

The dishes from their Indonesian menu are very good too. My missus, who is not so into Indian cuisine, has her favourites and will order those same few dishes over and over again everytime we drop by.

This was on Sunday that day when my girl said she would like some biryani rice so there we were, like so many times before. Business has been pretty good lately unlike before when many did not even know there was a restaurant behind the Bank Simpanan Nasional branch here in Sibu…and sitting at one of the tables with his family enjoying the food was this big shot, the so-called “Mayor” of Sibu, the Chairman of the Sibu Municipal Council!

He said he went there after seeing all my posts on the place, probably on Facebook – I don’t think he follows my blog but I did hear somebody mention something about his son wanting to go there. If I am not wrong, the boy has migrated overseas or is pursuing his studies abroad and is currently home for Chinese New Year. Of course, I asked them whether my reviews were reliable or not and they said yes – they thought the food was really good. I guess that means that they will be coming back again for more.

I ordered the lumpia (RM14.00)…

…the Indonesian popiah (spring rolls) from the Indonesian menu that day to share and yes, they were very good.

Unlike the popiah which is more vegetable, mostly sengkuang/mangkuang (turnip), this is mostly meat…

In fact, I thought it was more like our ngor hiang (meat rolls) except that instead of the bean curd skin that we use to wrap those, they used the popiah skin for these. I thought they were much nicer than the Vietnamese deep fried spring roll that we had here but those were cheap and at a coffee shop, with not much filling inside.

At the same time, I asked for their Indoneisan mee tek-tek (RM16.00)…

…which was somewhat disappointing. It was nice, just that it wasn’t anything exceptional, a little bit on the sweet side and I was wishing the whole time that they had given me a calamansi lime to squeeze the juice all over the fettuccine like what I did here and it sure helped enhance the taste of the noodles I was having that day.

I was somewhat put off by the added ingredients too which turned out to be nothing more than slices of fish cake and a couple of imitation crab sticks…

…made to look like the claws. It tasted exactly like those long cylindrical ones that never tickled my fancy! Other than those, there was a plain omelette, rolled up and placed by the side…

This was a far cry from their mee nyemek

*Archive photo*

…with all those prawns, sotong (squid) and what not. That was really good and of course, you simply can’t go wrong with all that seafood in your dish, can you?

Incidentally, that last photograph was taken outside in natural daylight. They took in all the tables and chairs on the shaded pavement outside during the pandemic but they have not bothered about them since. Hence, the photographs that I have been taking lately are not nice at all, yellowish and not very clear because of the dim lights inside. As a matter of fact, I did not bother to take any photographs of what the ladies ate that day. They were having those same dishes that I had featured many times before…and they would not look great in the snapshots taken inside, anyway.

My girl had the Indian mutton masala biryani (RM27.00)…

*Archive photo*

…while the mum had their Indonesian ayam bakar berempah (RM16.00)…

*Archive photo*

With the escalating prices of everything, lamb and beef (and pork) are all much more expensive these days so it came as no surprise at all to see that they have increased the price of what my girl had.

This…

…was new! They had those by the side in my missus’ ayam bakar berempah. Frankly, they might as well don’t bother as it was purely for decoration. Those rice crackers were bland, quite tasteless…and came across like styrofoam/polystyrene.

Incidentally, if anyone is home for the Chinese New Year holidays and is thinking of dropping by here, this place is open every day as usual, around 11.30 a.m.-2.00 pm and from 6.00 p.m. onwards but it will be closed on Monday (23rd), their weekly off day.

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.

Tighten your belt…

With the escalating prices of virtually everything these days, it would be best if we could tighten our belts in whichever way possible. The Malay expression for that is to ikat perut or tie up your tummy. I guess that means eating less and thus save some of the money spent on food.

I must say that I am amazed by the increasing number of new eateries these days despite all that talk about the weakening ringgit and an economic recession and what I cannot understand is the number of customers making a beeline to these places despite the fact that the prices are shockingly astronomical, over RM20-30.00 for a bowl of something, for instance. They do seem pretty loaded, I must say but I, for one, would prefer to be frugal and count my pennies and not spend like there is no tomorrow.

The price for a plate of kampua mee has gone up to over RM4.50 at most places now, some even as high as RM4.80 and RM5.00 and they push the blame to the non-stop increases in the price of pork lately though we do know for a fact that in each plate of kampua mee, they will only give you a few miserable paper-thin slices of boiled meat coloured red to make it look like char siew. Obviously, they are merely jumping on the bandwagon to cash in on the opportunity to fleece the customers and squeeze them dry. Anyone can tell from those places selling their noodles at RM4.00 a plate or even less, that they can still make a profit and can carry on WITHOUT increasing the prices like that.

Back to the title of this blogpost, as consumers, I do think that at times like this, we should do something to tighten our belts and not go with the flow blindly. If they increase the prices, go some place else. Nothing is THAT nice that you MUST pay those insane prices to eat it. There are lots of others that are just as nice or even nicer…and even if some may pale in comparison, surely there are some that are nice enough. Basic economics will tell you that if the demand for something decreases, the prices will drop. In other words, if the buying stops, those unreasonable increases in prices will too!

I went to one kampua mee place that some claim is the best in Sibu but I am not so sure about that, I’m afraid. The last time I heard, the price had gone up to RM4.80 but the place was as crowded as ever, always packed with people and of course, I wondered why when it had become so expensive and many had told me that the quality had dropped – it wasn’t as nice as before.

I wanted to tapao home some of their pian sip (meat dumplings) and I told the lady to just add one or two dumplings and round up the price to RM5.00. Well, she told me that it would be RM4.80 for the regular, RM5.60 for the large, nothing in between!!! Yes, I did buy what I wanted that day but no, you will never see me going back there again, not when I also felt it did not taste as nice as before anymore.

There are so many other things that we can pick and choose instead of those noodles or the other expensive stuff. One steamed bak pao (meat bun) is only RM2.50 and ONE should be filling enough. Tee peang, the Sibu Foochow version of the oyster cake, is 70 sen a piece and also RM2.50 if there is any meat filling inside, that is if they have not increased the prices so far…and of course, I was delighted to come across these…

…at my neighbourhood fruit & vegetable grocery store round the corner from my house, going for only RM2.50 for a pack of 6!

They are smaller (around the size of our Sibu Foochow kompia) than the regular ones which seem to be shrinking as well these days or worse, they may not taste that great anymore, probably as the result of those people scrimping on the ingredients even though they retain the usual prices. I bought a pack the other morning and they certainly were like those authentic ones in the good ol’ days and tasted the way they should…

I did come across some that were not worth a second bite!

And why should we go for the nasi lemak at the shops when we have to pay RM3.50-5.00 a plate for the biasa (regular) and most, if not all of them, are not lemak – an absolute disgrace to the name? I know of one very popular place here that is so very popular and when a friend who had it there, shared a photograph of it looking impressive with the curry chicken or whatever added on Facebook, I asked him if the rice was lemak or not. I can’t say I was surprised, not in the least when he said there was no santan (coconut milk) in it – it was nothing more than plain rice, not lemak at all.

I, for one, have stopped going for our national breakfast dish outside not because of the prices but because I have not come across any that is truly lemak and deserves to be called thus. Instead, I would just head to the aforementioned shop and buy the one there at only RM1.50 a packet…

…the home-cooked one from a Malay lady here. It definitely is more lemak that all the rest and I like how the sambal is spicy and nice. Never mind that there is no egg – I can always boil my own.

And talking about eggs, that is something that is often in short supply lately and the prices keep increasing as well. The last time my missus bought a tray, I think, they worked out to around 50 sen each. Sighhhhhh!!!! I guess I do not have a choice as those are my daily source of protein. I take two…

…every morning and that would be around RM1.00 altogether…and RM2.50 in total, if I have the nasi lemak as well.

That’s not too bad, I would say! I guess I can still afford a decent breakfast in the morning, the most important meal in a day – no need for any desperate measures so far, praise the Lord!

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.

They call me…

I liked the fried kway teow (flat rice noodles) from this stall here but I did not quite enjoy his char chu mee (fry & cook noodles) and I never went back there since.

The other morning, however, I was at a loss as to what to order and walking past the stall, I could hear the loud banging of the guy’s wok. I stopped to see what he was cooking and it did smell good, his fried bihun (rice vermicelli) but I did not feel like having that.

In the end, I asked for his mee mamak and this…

…was what I got!

Wait a minute! “mamak” is the name given to those Indian Muslims (in the peninsula), those running the nasi kandar and the mamak stalls and their fried noodles, the mee mamak, is indeed very popular, available even at some classy cafés and restaurants.

However, tagged with a name like that, I would expect it to be halal…or at least, it should not have any pork among its ingredients. This one that I had that morning had quite a bit of char siew

…though I am not sure whether that was pork or chicken. I did mention in my post the other day that folks here are switching from pork to chicken in their joint effort to protest against the sellers’ incessant, somewhat unscrupulous, increases in the price of the former.

The thing is we have all kinds of names given to all kinds of noodles, usually depending on how they are cooked. We went out for noodles one night not too long ago and my girl wanted the Singapore bihun

I wasn’t sure whether that would be something she would enjoy as it would be nothing more than fried bihun with curry powder added. It may be nice depending on what other ingredients are added and whether it has this coveted wok hei fragrance or not, otherwise it can be somewhat plain and quite disappointing.

Another one is the lakia mee

Now, “lakia” means dayak in Hokkien but unlike the mee mamak, this is not a recipe derived from how the dayaks or ethnic tribes fry their noodles. Actually, it is nothing more than the Chinese fried noodles, dry…

…but with lots of freshly-cut chilies added.

Anyway, back to the mee mamak, like the lakia mee, there will be a lot of freshly-cut chilies added too but the taste is different. If I am not wrong, it tends to be a little sweet, possibly through the addition of chili sauce and/or tomato sauce.

This one…

…that I had that morning had a lot of chilies, cili padi, no less…

…so it was very spicy and very much to my liking but unfortunately, I found it to be way too sweet. I squeezed the juice of that calamansi lime all over it to counter-balance the sweetness and it turned out to be really good after that.

I would say that I quite enjoyed it and I would not mind going for it again sometimes for a change but no, I would not go out of my way to come here for it even though at only RM6.00 a plate, I do think it is worth going for it a lot more than a plate of kampua mee, RM4.80-5.00 at some places now, with a few miserably thin slices of boiled pork coloured red to make it look like char siew and yes, that guy sure deserves a pat on the back for using glass plates instead of those horrendous gaudily-coloured plastic ones!

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.

So good to be here…

Well, that is the impression I get when I look at all the sparkling new eateries opening their doors all over town. In the past, people would close shop and move to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah or Kuching or elsewhere, anywhere where they would be able to make a whole lot of money. These days, it seems that they are all moving here…and I wonder why.

According to their website, this place originated in Taipei, Taiwan, founded by six Taiwanese and Malaysian partners engaged in the catering industry. To date, they have 3 outlets in Kuching and 1 here in Sibu. Towards the end of last month, they started serving what they called the Kiyokawa Ramen at their restaurant.

I gathered from their Facebook page that this tonkotsu ramen was the specialty of a certain Chef Lai who would take more than 30 hours just to cook the soup which, of course, would be very rich. This Chef Lai from Taiwan, it seems, is a Chief Ramen Master KYOKAWA. He has had many years of experience in ramen research. Before his debut, he studied at a three-year ramen champion store in Kyushu, Hakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. His credentials sure looked mighty impressive so of course, we wasted no time at all in dropping by the place to give it a try.

I asked for the Signature Tonkotsu Ramen (RM27.80)…

…with two thin slices of the charsu pork belly…

If I remember correctly, if you want four pieces, you will have to pay some RM32.00 a bowl. Gosh!!! That works out to around RM2.00 a slice. Ouch!!!

My! My! The spoon provided certainly was HUGE, I must say!! LOL!!!

I tried the soup – I am more into clear, refreshing soups, not so into such thick, rich ones and this one turned out to be somewhat bland, quite tasteless except that it was rather strong on the sesame oil added and I am not a fan of the oil…in anything!

I mixed everything together thoroughly including the seaweed and also the chopped raw shallots! Gee! I never saw the latter in any dish before except when we open a can of sardines and serve without any cooking. There was a bit of taste after that, very very mild and not anything I would get excited about. I suppose that is what it is supposed to be…like the time when I had a bowl at this Miri branch of a very famous Japanese restaurant in Brunei – that did not get me jumping with delight either.

My girl had the roasted garlic tonkotsu ramen (RM28.80)…

…which turned out to be more or less the same except that hers had the fragrance of the roasted garlic. I had the instant noodles version once and I was not really that impressed either – the Tokyo Shoyu one that I had around that time was nicer but we never bought anymore after that. I guess that speaks volumes as to how much we actually loved the noodles…but yes, to give credit where credit is due, we would like to extend our compliments to the chef for a job well done where the onsen eggs were concerned.

The mum did not want any ramen and ordered their braised pork belly dry noodles (RM14.80)…

…instead.

The pork belly slices…

…sure looked very good but no, she did not think they were anything to get excited about and she said she certainly would think twice about spending that kind of money on that bowl of noodles when she could derive a lot more pleasure from our own “homegrown” kampua or Kuching kolo mee. I certainly would say the same about the ramen that we had.

The prices, I must say, were shocking and when I mentioned that on Facebook, a West Malaysian friend said that was cheap compared to what they would have to pay over there. Goodness gracious me! Kus semangat!!! I can go for the very much nicer seafood aglio olio spaghetti here or the absolutely awesome fish & chips here or the kacangma chicken with rice here, not once but twice, and a whole lot of nicer things here, there and everywhere with that kind of money and derive a whole lot of pleasure and enjoyment.

To be fair, however, it sure looked like they had a whole lot of followers of their own. No, there were just a sprinkling of customers around the whole time we were there but we saw an endless stream of food delivery people going in and out to collect the orders and deliver them promptly. Obviously, there ARE a lot of people who enjoy what they serve here. Perhaps we should drop by again sometime to check out what else they have on their menu…but no, I don’t think we’d have another go at the ramen, thank you very much.

RICE KING SIBU (2.300910, 111.843590) is located at No.34, Ground Floor, Lorong Dr. Wong Soon Kai 4D.

At least I’ve tried…

I was delighted when I heard that this Kuching burger and sandwich franchise…

…would open an outlet in Sibu because I do enjoy sandwiches though not really a fan of burgers.

The outlet is round the corner from my house, very close by so on the second day after its official opening, my sister asked if we wanted to go and check out the place. Of course, we did and off we all went at around 11.00 a.m., not quite lunchtime yet.

The ladies went to place the orders…

…while I quickly grabbed one of the tables and sat there waiting. It was very crowded but there were still a couple of tables available.

I looked at the prices on the display board and could not believe my eyes when I saw that they ranged from RM13.00 to RM18.00. Never mind, I thought to myself. At least they were cheaper than those burgers at the international franchises in the peninsula (and some people thought they were not all that nice even) and hopefully, they would be nice enough to merit that kind of price tags.

My missus and my sister had this Big & Hawt set (RM24.00 each)…

– their grilled beef patty with beef pepperoni, topped with onion jam, grilled bell peppers and onions, sliced cheddar cheese and Noms burger sauce, all sandwiched in their signature oblong brioche.

My girl had their chili beef fries set (RM20.00)…

– cheesy loaded fries with chili beef (non-spicy) topped with shredded cheese and melted to perfection.

I went for the grilled Mac & Cheese sandwich with chicken slice set (RM22.00)…

– their creamy Mac & Cheese topped with smoked chicken slices, mozzarella, cheddar cheese and grilled tomato, sandwiched between house-made sandwich bread, grilled to perfection.

Yes, I thought mine was very nice and I sure enjoyed it! I guess the rest felt the same about what they had as I did not hear them complain.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab and I had the shock of my life when I saw the total – it was a whooping RM106.00 altogether. Goodness gracious me!!! We could have gone to one of those classier cafés or restaurants and enjoy some of their best dishes with that kind of money. None of them was in the region of those prices that I saw on display. My girl said that they were higher because they asked for the sets which included some fries and a drink – and there was an extra surcharge of RM4.00 because they asked for the mango-peach…

…instead of what they would usually give with each set!

By the time we were done, it was already past noon and a long queue had already formed at the counter. I had just got up from my seat when a Malay lady plonked herself down on the chair beside me vacated by my missus the instant she stood up and walked away. Perhaps they were all quite familiar with this kind of places and were accustomed to the prices, unlike me! Well, at least I’ve tried but with my measly pension, I certainly would think twice about going back there again.

NOMS Sibu (2.317578, 111.847704)…

…is located at No. 79, Jalan Deshon among the shops to the left of the Jalan Selemo traffic lights junction.

What’s on the other side…

It’s Christmas Day, the 25th of December, 2022, so a very Happy & Blessed Christmas, everybody! May God bless us abundantly in the coming year.

May we share our hearts and give ourselves Feel the hope in helping someone else…

Moving on to the post proper today, this is actually a bit backdated, before my visitors came to town and I was caught up with the things happening when they were here.

We were here for lunch the other day and I noticed that there were a lot more customers at the restaurant on the other side. We stopped going there when the quality of what they served started deteriorating but I did hear some people saying nice things about what they ate not too long ago. My girl liked the ikan keli I had that day and when she wanted to go back there for that, I suggested dropping by here instead.

Their lalapan ikan keli (RM16.96)…

…came in no time at all and I noticed the chip in the plate right away! Of course, I was put off by that.

My missus had their ayam bakar balado whatever, extra spicy (RM16.96)…

…and yes, her plate was chipped too!

Thankfully, mine was all right…

…but no, for an upscale restaurant, not some cheap and miserable no-class-at-all coffee shop, I simply cannot turn a blind eye to that! It gives the place such a bad impression – they simply must tell their workers to be a lot more careful when handling the ceramic crockery.

As for the food, I’m afraid we were not all that pleased with what we were served that day. It was bad enough that the chicken in my lalapan ayam madu (RM15.37)…

…was way too sweet and the texture of the meat felt like it had been boiled/braised/stewed for too long until it was almost fall-0ff-the-bone tender. My missus also felt the same about hers and my girl too as far as her fish was concerned. They complained that they all felt like those things that had been reheated one time too many! Yes, my girl did say that what I had that day on the other side was very obviously freshly cooked and tasted a lot nicer!

I love places where they wrap the rice in banana leaf and steam it as that would give the rice a special fragrance but mine looked kind of withered and discoloured…

I certainly hope they used an old leaf, not one that they had used before and had recycled to use over and over again. If they run out of some nice green ones, they might as well forget about wrapping the rice in the leaves altogether.

Yes, they still have the main attraction here – the three sambals…

…but they no longer serve them in those very nice traditional stone mortars that they were using when they first opened this place. They were all very nice but I prefer the sambal belacan, the one in the black saucer that came in the middle of the plate with the chicken. The ladies loved all three and we sure enjoyed them with the cucumber and the blanched vegetables as well as the rice.

The ladies had their teh tarek (RM4.24 per glass) but if I am not wrong, their glass was a little smaller than what they used on the other side. The total for our lunch that day came up to RM72.10. They did seem a little under-staffed here even though the place was very much bigger – there were a lot more waiting at the tables on the other side but it did not matter much as service was prompt and efficient. Nonetheless, it is pretty obvious that if we were to come back here again, we would not hesitate to go and enjoy what’s on the other side.

Yes, there were some buskers providing some light entertainment like the other day but instead of that girl in a wheelchair, there was another girl and a couple of boys performing. The girl was not too bad, not as good as the one before but I quite liked her slowed down version of The Reason…and she was a lot better than the boys – their singing lacked the enthusiasm and even their rendition of Rindu Bayangan sounded lacklustre.

CABE IJO 2.307983, 111.820602)…

…is located at No. 71 & No. 73, Ground Floor, Lorong Kuda 2, Kampung Nangka in the vicinity of the entrance to the Bisonte Grocer & Deli.

Open fire…

Everytime I mentioned pulut panggang

…in my blogpost, somebody would say that he or she had not eaten that for a long time and that he or she missed it a lot. When I probed a little bit further, it would always turn out without fail that what they had was the one with sambal filling…

I’ve had that before and I can recall that one time when I bought some from a bakery in Bintulu…

…for RM3.00 each and yes, it was nice! However, eating pulut panggang with sambal filling is like eating nasi lemak that is not lemak but with the sambal that is very nice plus some curry or rendang or whatever, all those things will bring the taste of the nasi lemak to a whole new level, never mind that the rice in itself is nothing to shout about.

Well, I have often heard it said that the pulut panggang in Sibu is the best but on the other hand, some may think that pulut panggang is pulut panggang, all the same and they wonder why people say so.

Pulut is glutinous rice and wrapped in banana leaf with santan (coconut milk) and other ingredients added, it is panggang-ed or cooked over an open fire of hot, burning charcoal…

The quality of the pulut panggang will depend on how well it has been panggang-ed. Usually, on the outside, the banana leaf that is very well-panggang-ed would have turned black…

At times, it is so badly charred that it is very black and brittle and comes apart easily when one opens it to eat (and more often than not, making a mess on the table top).

I just bought one from a shop in my neighbourhood that day – it looked so green that I suspected they cooked it in an oven or something. These days, people use the air fryer for everything, not over a charcoal fire and of course, it was the pits, not nice at all!

When you open the pulut panggang, it should be a bit golden/brown…

…an indication that it has been panggang-ed well. The rice would be cooked to perfection…

…and it would have that wonderful barbecue fragrance. It must not be overdone though – that will look VERY golden/brown but the outer layer would be hard and crusty, not that palatable anymore.

I used to buy the ones made by an old man, Haji Luguk…

…and his would be kind of oily on the outside as well as inside and at times, one might be able to spot traces of the santan in the pulut panggang

That, of course, was the thing that separates the men from the boys, so to speak. His pulut panggang was a bit more expensive than all the rest but it was worth forking out that little bit extra because it was so good.

Unfortunately, he had retired and his descendants who took over lacked the enthusiasm and dedication. The pulut panggang did not have any quality control and it kept shrinking while the price kept going up. In the end, I just gave up looking for Haji Luguk’s panggang and would just buy any that I can find around here…and hope for the best.

I did buy some of the ones I bought at Laudato ‘Si again the other day and they were quite good, well-panggang-ed but not that lemak. I remember the ones that I bought here were nicer but I have not been there for sometime. There is a stall at Kpg Hilir where I used to go and buy some pretty good ones as well but I have not been there for so long, probably since the outbreak of the pandemic. I must make it a point to drop by there one of these days.

Waste not…

I guess everyone would know that I would be up at the break of dawn on weekdays to send my girl to work and once I have dropped her off at her school, I would make my way home. Well, it so happened that one morning, I felt a craving for some kampua mee so I stopped by here and tapao-ed two packets for my missus and I.

This used to my favourite and if you go browsing around Youtube, you may stumble upon a few video clips that claim it is the best in town. Well, I would not insist on that but I would say it is still massively popular despite the fact that it is one of the most expensive, RM4.80 a plate while others are sticking to RM4.00 or RM4.50 (I did hear of some places charging RM5.00 a plate but let us not go there) and even at around 6.00 a.m. in the early morning, all the tables were occupied!

I wouldn’t touch on the taste though – to each his own! All I would say is it was nicer before…but the other day, I wanted to buy their pian sip (wanton) for my girl. She loves the ones here. I thought I would just round it up and asked for RM5.00 but the girl said that they no longer sell those for RM5.00 – if I wanted a large serving, it would be RM5.60. *FAINTS* Never mind! Since it was for my girl, I went ahead and bought it…and somehow, I did notice that she did not seem to be enjoying it all that much. Perhaps if we had gone there to eat, it would be nicer…and incidentally, my missus did not finish the packet I bought her that morning either. I rest my case!

In the meantime, I went and had the pian sip here – I had it once and it was very nice plus it was only RM3.00 a plate. Now it has gone up to RM4.00 and no, I did not enjoy it. For one thing, I asked for the dry version and was given the soup instead. On another day, I stopped by this coffee shop for the kampua mee – the guy there did not look like the one before and no, what I had was nothing to shout about plus I was not given any complimentary soup and it was RM4.50 a plate. Needless to say, you would not see me going back there again either.

And just when I was about to give up on all the kampua mee places in town, I had the one with pian sip (wanton) here

…that day because I was way too early to pick my girl after school and I thought I would just have a bite of something to pass the time while I waited.

Yes, as far as the taste went, it was very good – I wouldn’t mind it if they would cook the noodles a bit longer as I like them softer and less firm…

The complimentary soup was so very tasty, unlike many that you would get all over town where it is nothing more than tap water with light soy sauce and msg added. Tsk! Tsk! Even the chili sauce was nice and adding a bit here and a bit there to the noodles and the dumplings sure brought the taste to a whole new level!

The best part, of course, was this…

Believe it or not, it was only RM3.00. This probably is the cheapest in town and there is ample parking all around the building and in the cathedral grounds, absolutely free!!!

As soon as you have placed your order, they will give you a mug of hot boiling water to sterilise your chopsticks and spoon…

…or your fork and spoon depending on what you want to use to eat. This is in accordance with the directive from the municipal council here – all eateries will have to comply. Other than that, due credit must be given to them for the use of glass plates and ceramic bowls and spoons instead of those horrendous gaudily-coloured plates and everything else. Many have switched to ceramic but there are still some recalcitrant ones who are sticking stubbornly to plastic. Some will use plastic bowls to serve the complimentary soup!

You may recall that this is the place where everyone helping out is doing so on a voluntary basis and all proceeds from the sale of the food and drinks would go to the church. I saw this on the cover of their menu…

-something that we all should take note of and bear in mind. As they say, waste not, want not!

LAUDATO SI’ CANTEEN… 

…is located in what was previously known as the Catholic Centre in the compound of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Jalan Lanang and St Rita’s Primary School, Jalan Bukit Assek.

Unplanned…

Actually, we did not plan on dropping by here that day. There is a new Indian restaurant in town – well, it is fairly new, that much I would say, but so far, we have not bothered to go and check it out because it is located in that area in the town where the sinking swampy land problem is really very bad and it would be a problem for me to get onto the pavement from the road even PLUS the restaurant is on the 1st floor! I’ve seen photos of stuff that they serve there on Facebook and my ex-student went not too long ago. He said it was good, worth a try so we decided we would make our way there…slowly but surely.

Well, we did manage to get up there…somehow but the place was full!!! There were three sections, one with the traditional tandoori oven and it looked like they would not be having any customers in there. In another section, there was a huge table for a big group of people and in the main section, there were a few huge dining tables, around 6 to 8 of them, 8-seaters, at least all of them. I thought that was such a waste of space – there was a couple and a kid sitting at one and they could easily have occupied one end of the table and some other customers could have sat on the other end.

There was one table with only four customers and it looked like they had finished eating but they were showing no sign of leaving the place, not that they were enjoying themselves there, eating the food and engaging in one another’s company. All the rest at the other tables were all sitting there in stone cold silence, waiting to be served. Nobody came to talk to us, not even to apologise and say that they were full so we just left! Never mind how nice the food is there – I already have a bad impression of the place! Period!!!

Well, since we had our minds set on having something Indian for our lunch that day, in the end, we headed to our usual haunt and my girl wanted the tandoori chicken paratha (RM15.00)…

…that I had the other day. She did try a bit of mine and yes, it was very much to her liking. It was served with this bowl of potato curry and some brown sauce/gravy in another bowl…

I liked eating the paratha dipped in the latter a lot more than with the potato curry that day. My girl said it was some mutton/lamb sauce, probably curry and yes, when I tried, it did taste like it!

She also ordered the mixed vegetable curry (RM13.00)…

…to enjoy with the paratha.

I had the biryani rice with chicken korma (RM21.00)…

…myself that day. Since I’m off red meat, I can’t have the mutton/lamb masala so I decided to go for the chicken instead but in the end, I picked their korma to give it a try and I got one chicken drumstick…

…plus two huge chunks of meat, probably from the thigh and yes, it was very nice and of course, so was the biryani rice…

I sure enjoyed eating that and yes, the lovely gravy went so well with the rice. By the time I was done, there wasn’t any trace of it left!

My missus, as always, chose something from their Indonesian menu and had their ayam bakar berempah (RM16.00)…

I had that before and yes, I thought it was very nice.

My missus loves the urap (Indonesian kerabu, the blanched vegetables with spicy grated coconut)…

…that they serve here, never mind what dish it comes with and yes, the grilled brinjal with peanut sauce…

…is something to look forward to as well and of course, she was delighted to see how generous they were with the freshly-cut cili padi in soy sauce that they gave with the dish.

That certainly was a delightful lunch though all the time, I was wishing that they would move some of the tables onto the shaded pavement outside, not that I am so into al fresco dining but in the broad daylight outside, I would be able to take very much flattering snapshots of what we eat there everytime we drop by – this place is way too dim to give the nice food that they serve any justice!

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 is.

Six years ago…

I love the old Malay lady’s mee goreng special, that goes without saying. I would say it is my favourite in town and there is none that I have had elsewhere that comes anywhere close. I did try her kway teow goreng once and even though it was quite nice, it paled in comparison.

I remember her nasi lemak was not anything to shout about as far as the lemak-ness went. Yes, with everything that came with it in a plate, I did enjoy it but the rice was like most of the others around here, not that lemak at all. I do recall that the last time I had it six years ago, I was pissed off about something – looking at my blogpost now, it looked like I was kind of upset because I asked for the special and was not given one fried egg with it. She must have heard me wrongly or missed something that day because she collected RM5.00 from me only – the special should be around RM6.00 at that time, now it has gone up to RM6.50. That was why there was no fried egg.

Anyway, I dropped by again one morning last week and much as I wanted to order the fried noodles, I forced myself to go for the nasi lemak special…

…instead to see if it was any better now, the same more or less or worse than before.

Well, my worst fears were confirmed – it was not lemak! Maybe there was a very remote hint of the santan in it, so remote that one could hardly feel its presence, that was all. Thankfully, the rice was not dry and hard like some nasi lemak around here so with all the add-on’s, I did enjoy it to some extent.

There was the very nice masak hitam beef…

…and the delightful fried chicken wing…

…and no, she did not forget the egg this time, fried traditionally in a wok so there was this delightful golden fringe all around…

…with the yolk still runny, exactly the way I would like it.

The sambal was a different shade of red, more like orange, I would say…

…but it tasted more or less like the regular nasi lemak sambal, plus it was very spicy for which I would give my double thumbs up!

There were those few slices of cucumber as well but wait a minute!!! Where were the peanuts and the fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies)? Those are the very basic ingredients a nasi lemak should have so there is no excuse at all for her to omit them completely like that. Even the RM1.50 a packet nasi lemak that I buy from my neighbourhood shop has TWO peanuts and a few of those tiny anchovies!!!

Thankfully, the complimentary soup was VERY nice, very flavourful, very tasty…unlike what one would get at the Chinese stalls and shops so at the end of the day, give and take a little bit here and a little bit there, I would say that I did enjoy eating what I was served that morning but no, I don’t think I shall go for it again especially when I find that I do enjoy the old lady’s mee goreng special a lot more.

Perhaps the next time I come by this way, I would give the kampua mee from the stall next to the old lady’s in the shop…

…a try. I’ve seen a lot of customers going for it and yes, it looked quite good. They also have fried kampua mee on their menu, something I have never tried before. Perhaps it is time for me to do that.

Incidentally, do I see any raised eyebrows? Yes, make no mistake about it! We do have this all over town – a non-halal Chinese stall right beside a Muslim one in the same coffee shop. I was told by some West Malaysian (blogger) friends when they came to town that this is something quite unheard of in the peninsula. Thankfully, we are more liberal here, more understanding and we know our boundaries…so we will always respect one another and live together harmoniously, making sure at all times that we do not violate any of their beliefs and practices.

FAST CAFE (2.319100, 111.832213)…

…is located among the shops opposite the RTM station in Sibu in the Sungai Antu area. At the end of Jalan Kpg Nangka, just before its roundabout with Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, you turn left into Jalan Tapang Timur and go straight ahead – it is the first shop in the last block on the left.