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!

It’s your day today…

It was Andy’s birthday, Friday, the 27th of September and it sure made me very happy to be invited to the café to celebrate his special day.

Peter, the boss, went and got him this special high-fibre cheese cake…

Secret Recipe's high fibre cheese cake

…from that Malaysian cake franchise shop. It was very nice but it was near impossible to cut. With all those nuts and everything in it, it crumbled the moment the knife went through it…

Birthday boy

A friend of Andy’s brought him this chicken floss cake…

Chicken floss cake

– she said it was very nice, homemade, but it was not cut on the spot so I did not get to try it.

And that’s not all!!! A Kadazan friend in Sabah sent him these gifts…

Special delivery

…via special delivery. No, that tall and handsome guy is Andy’s friend, the chef at the Indian Muslim restaurant round the corner – he was only helping him to carry the gifts and I could see there was another cake from that same place where Peter got his and no, we did not get to eat that one either.

We couldn’t possibly eat so much cake at one go because we had all the Indian delights Andy brought back from India and we had the very special and so-very-nice mee sua

Happy birthday mee sua

…in the traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup plus an egg each, our customary symbolic wish for good health, wealth and longevity.

Thank you so much, Andy for the invitation! It sure looked like you had a great start to the year ahead – here’s wishing you once again the very best of everything. Cheers!!!

Going to India…

Andy went home to India a couple of weeks ago and Peter, the boss of Payung, went with him so the café was closed from the 6th till the 17th of September.

When they came back, Andy brought a whole lot of things from there including these Indian sweets…

Indian sweets 1

Somebody gave me some from the peninsula sometime ago but they were extremely sweet so I would not say I would want to go for them ever again.

These Made-in-India ones were very nice – I liked the pumpkin…

Indian sweets 2

…and the pineapple but they were just as sweet, very rich milky taste like they were made from condensed milk, undiluted.

I am sure many would be familiar with this…

Indian snack

I think it is a very popular Indian snack, more commonly found here, there and everywhere in the peninsula where there are a lot more Indians than here and these biscuits/cookies…

Cookies

…were quite nice but they were what they were, cookies.

No, this chutney…

Chutney

…did not come from India. Peter learnt how to make it from Andy’s mum and when he came back, he made his own. I did not like it initially, eaten with salted crackers but it sort of grew on me and after a few bites, I started to enjoy it very much. I do not know what went into the making other than coriander leaves and yogurt and I am pretty sure there was green chili too as it was slightly spicy.

No, these…

From Singapore, made in India

…did not come from India and no, they were not among the things Andy brought back. They were made in India, that much is true but we got them from my niece, the one working in Singapore, when she came home that day – obviously, she bought them there. My girl did try one box the other day, the masala rice and it was very nice, something like what I got from the airline the other day – I did try a bit and yes, it was good.

We enjoy palak paneer very much and sadly, we cannot get that at the Indian restaurants here – we sure are looking forward to giving that a try.

Find you…

We went back here for the beef noodles recently even though I was avoiding the place after some unpleasant experiences but like it or not, this is one of the better places in town for that. It was still good but we felt that the quality had dropped a little – it certainly used to be a whole lot better.

The one here has moved some place else and this one did not really tickle my fancy all that much…and this one that goes back a long long way doesn’t get me all that excited either.

I tried the new food court in town where there is a beef noodle stall but the somewhat unenthusiastic young boy there just said that he was not ready to start for the day and it was already way past 7, almost 8.

In the end, I decided to go someplace else and ended up here…

Sibu Cafe

I was there in 2016 and had their beef noodles from this stall there…

Beef noodles stall

…but it was not the clear soup type, more like what they call the Taiwan-style with the soup a shade of brown…and let’s just say that given a choice, I would not pick that one.

Since I was going round hoping to find some really good beef noodles in town, I had their beef noodles…

Beef noodles 1

…again that day, still RM7.00 a bowl but I asked for the RM10.00 one…

Beef noodles 2

…with the extra beef and tripe.The soup was nice but I did not think it was all that strong with the beef flavour, the meat was tender and so was the tripe though I would prefer it sliced a little bit more thinly.

However, if it is beef noodles done this way, my favourite would be the one here but we have not been there for a long time so I am not sure if they are still there – it did move around quite a bit and led us on a wild goose chase.

As I was leaving, I saw somebody having the chai thow koi (fried carrot cake) or koey kah and it looked very good. Perhaps I shall come back another day to try that!

SIBU CAFE (2.295419, 111.839777) is located among the shops at Pusat Tanahwang, right across the road from SMK Sacred Heart, on your right if you are driving in after making the left turn into the lane past the SHELL station there.

I want it…

This…

Fish Culture II, Ulu Sg Merah

…is the branch of the original place here and both have been around for a long time now, the latter going all the way back to 2012. I guess they must be doing pretty well to be able to sustain all this while.

This particular branch sure looked a lot nicer when it first opened in 2016…

Fish Culture Cafe II *Archive photo*

…or maybe it looks better at night but it still is very nice and clean and the members of the staff are friendly and efficient.

I can’t say I am a fan of their dim sum and personally I would not go out of my way for it but that morning, I was in the vicinity of this branch after I had sent my girl to attend a meeting at the secondary school further up the road and I was delighted to see that they now have yong tofu

Fish Culture II yong tofu section

…one thing that is not readily available here in Sibu and thankfully, what we have here is pretty good and we do go for it time and time again.

There were quite a range of choices to pick from and I picked what I wanted or actually, I told the lady what I wanted and she picked them one by one from inside the enclosed glass cabinet. I thought that took away part of the enjoyment of going for yong tofu but I do appreciate the fact that they put in that extra effort to keep everything covered, even their dim sum selections these days instead of leaving them exposed to flies, dust or whatever is in the air.

Yes, they still have their sambals, the very nice ones with hay bee (dried prawns) that I used to enjoy when having their dim sum before but this time around, they gave me a third one, something like what we would get when having chicken rice…

Sambals & chili dip

…and I liked that the most with my order.

They have a choice of clear soup or curry or tom yum and of course, I wanted the clear soup – I love anything in clear soup and in no time at all, my order was served…

Fish culture II yong tofu

…and yes, I did ask for some tang hoon (glass noodles) as well…

Tang hoon added

The kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) that I had was great, RM1.80 a glass, and everything in the bowl came up to RM9.40 – that’s the trouble when you go for something like this; you want everything and when they add it all up, the overall total can be quite shocking.

I wouldn’t mind coming back for this again though since I did think it was very nice and the next time around, I would bring my girl along – she enjoys yong tofu very much too!

FISH CULTURE CAFE II (2.330808, 111.855937) is located at the shops on your left along Jalan Ulu Sg Merah, a short distance from the roundabout if you are coming along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng and taking the right turn from there.

Not quite there…

I thought their kampua mee paled in comparison to the old lady’s when they took over her stall…

Stall

…and I did not like their Sarawak laksa at all when I tried it once and I do recall having their mee sua as well before and I was not impressed either.

My brother, however, enjoyed their kampua mee very much and everytime he came back to Sibu, he would walk over to the shop…

Delta Seafood & Cafe

…most every morning to eat it – my parents’ house was just round the corner.

Well, an ex-colleague, also retired like me, who seemed to be quite a regular here, shared a photograph of the lor mee that he had on Facebook, praising it to the skies and since the very nice one that I quite liked had called it quits or moved elsewhere, I thought it would be good to have an alternative.

That was why I went to the coffee shop and ordered a bowl (RM6.00)…

Lor mee 1

…to try and yes, it was very nice. Their own-made chili dip was really good and spicy too.

I did not quite care for those frozen fish balls – wouldn’t mind if they had used their own instead and I was not crazy about the tofu puffs…

Lor mee 2

…so maybe the next time when I come here for this, I would ask them to leave them all out and give me one whole egg instead of half or a bit more meat.

But wait a minute! Now, where’s the kangkong (water spinach)? They were very generous with the vegetable but how can it be lor mee without the kangkong? Tsk! Tsk! I would agree with my ex-colleague that it was nice but, no, it’s not quite there – there’s still some room for improvement, I’m afraid.

DELTA SEAFOOD & CAFE (2.307832, 111.825125) is located along Lorong Delta 10, in the blocks of shops somewhere right behind the public swimming pool there.

He’s gone…

I was here in January this year and I saw everybody having the lor mee so I followed suit. It was very nice and when I shared the post on Facebook, somebody said that the guy was somewhere else before and his kampua mee was very good too. However, I never went back again until the other morning.

I did not notice initially as I was not that familiar with the guy so I just placed my orders at the stall…

The stall

…and went to take my seat.

While I was sitting there, I felt something was amiss and when my orders came, one look at the plates and the presentation, even the plates used, told me that it was not the same people anymore. I asked the Indonesian helper and she confirmed that they were new and the previous guy had gone.

The pian sip (meat dumplings)…

The pian sip

…tasted all right but no, the skin was not all that thin and soft and smooth but thankfully, it was not hard or chewy and rubbery either so I was fine with it.

In comparison, the kampua mee

The kampua mee

…fared much better even though it was not all that strong with the lard fragrance. Nonetheless, I thought it tasted all right, just that there are better ones around like this one right round the corner, currently my favourite in town. Both my orders were RM3.00 each.

The guy came over to talk to me later – he said that the previous one had gone and he did not know where (I bet even if he did, he would not tell me!) and they were actually the chu char people at the back of the coffee shop. I remember a long time ago, I did stop by to tapao some of the nice dishes among their chap fan selections  but I had not done so for a long time now.

Something at another stall in the coffee shop, not open yet at the time, caught my attention while I was there – fried oysters or to be more specific, fried oyster omelette or or chian. We do enjoy that so perhaps I would be coming by this way again soon to check it out.

XU MAMA CAFE (许妈妈茶室) is located at No 5, Jalan Ramin (Ramin Way), opposite what used to be Star Cineplex or Cathay Cinema a long time ago.