Come back for more…

Every morning, unless it is raining, I will do my gardening till around 9 or 10 when it gets a bit too hot for me. That is why I hardly ever go to the wet market in town anymore these days as I prefer to go at the break of dawn when it is cooler and there are fewer people so it will not be such a hassle.

However, I did make an effort to go one morning and that was when I stopped to try the kampua mee here. My main intention was to go and buy some of our giant udang galah (freshwater prawns) to cook for my niece, the one working in Singapore as she likes them a lot. Unfortunately, with so many dishes to serve when they came for dinner that night, my missus forgot about them completely and it only dawned on me the next morning. So I told my missus to call them and ask them to come again the following night for it…

Prawn & pineapple

…and yes, before the night was through, they had licked the bowl clean! LOL!!!

There were some repeats/reruns like the stewed pork leg…

Pork leg

…for instance, that I wanted to eat with my sambal belacan. I was complaining that it was all lean meat, kind of hard and siap siap, and it was then that my missus said that she got rid of all the fat and the skin. Goodness gracious me! Those were the NICEST parts – no wonder I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should. Obviously, she has not come across this article online and does not know what is good and what isn’t – she would not have done that otherwise.

She also took out what were left of all the meatballs from the two previous nights and served them all in sweet and sour sauce this time around…and we had enough of the yellow rice left over for everybody to have their fill and there was also the broccoli and mushroom dish too.

My sister gave us these lamb shank curry…

lamb shanks

from here and we served that as well and also, the wild boar meat that I cooked

Wild boar

My niece liked it, it seemed and helped herself to quite a lot of it even though she complained that all the ingredients that I added drowned out the lovely fragrance of the meat. I told her that was probably because the wild boar was a bit too young so it did not have the lovely fragrance that we look for in the meat – the thicker and longer and blacker the hair, the older it is and the older it is, the better…in which case, I would cook it in the way my maternal family members would cook it, so good you can just cook it on its own, no added ingredients needed.

It was good that my missus forgot to serve the prawns – at least, I had an excuse to get them to come to the house for dinner again. My girl, for one, loves it when we have company in the house, all the good vibes with all the chit-chatting, all the laughter whilst enjoying all the lovely dishes served.

Way too much…

To say that my missus went overboard with her cooking would be an understatement. I do feel she cooked way too much of each dish and way too many dishes. I guess that arises from the fact that she has fixed recipes for HUGE servings for her family and she had a BIG family to cook for. I would be quite lost if  I were to cook so much at one go but not her! And she does not scrimp on the ingredients, unlike me, so of course, every dish was so very nice.

We were not celebrating this year but her niece, the one working in Singapore, would come home for the festive season and like what we would do every year, we would ask her and her parents to come over to our house to enjoy her aunt’s specials. This would be the least we could do to reciprocate for all the dinner treats every time she was back here in the course of the year and other than that, she would cart home a whole lot of things to give to us. This time around, among a whole lot of other things, she gave us a Philips air fryer! Oh dear!!! I’m not too sure ancient dinosaurs like us would know how to use it. LOL!!!

Usually, my other brother-in-law in Bintulu would come back for Chinese New Year too and we would get him and his family to join us for the dinner as well but this year, they decided to give it a miss because of the horrendous condition of the inter-town trunk road owing to the construction of the Pan-Borneo Highway…so there would be vacant seats at my 8-seater dinner table, big enough for 10 or maybe even 12 though that may be quite a tight squeeze.

I wanted to invite Karan who is back all the way from India – he cut my hair that day for Chinese New Year (for free) but he had his own commitments but Peter and Andy could make it – they invited us to dinner on New Year’s Day that evening.

We had the salad…

Salad

…the one that I forgot to take a photo of the night before before the dressing was poured all over it and this was the chicken curry…

Curry

…that we had a bit of for our reunion dinner and there was the kacang ma chicken as well – Peter enjoyed it so much while Andy loved the curry even though they have their own versions of the dishes at their café.

My photo of the satay beef came out blur and I did not take one of the masak hitam beef that somebody gave to my sister-in-law and she gave it to us, a whole lot of it. We had the meatballs…

Meatballs

…again minus the sweet and sour sauce this time but these had prawn added and were good enough on their own. We did not have any in the ones the previous night as my sister is allergic to those crustaceans.

I bought this siew yoke (roast pork)…

Siew yoke

…from one of our favourte places in town, all lean plus the skin and I think it was not so nice because it did not have any fat, none at all so the meat was kind of dry and hard.

Of course, there had to be fish so I steamed another kim chio

Fish

…but it did not seem all that popular. I guess it came across as kind of mild and unexciting and paled in comparison with all the stronger tasting dishes in the spread.

My missus also had this dish of fried broccoli and shitake mushrooms…

Broccoli mushroom

…which did not seem all that popular either mainly because there was just simply too much to eat, I think…and she also cooked some yellow rice to go with everything – I did not take a photograph of that either.

Personally, I enjoyed the stewed too kha (pork leg)…

Too kha

…the most, eaten with the sambal belacan that I prepared specially for this.

Oh no!!! My missus forgot the prawns! My niece loves those – I guess we will have to get her to come back again for another dinner before she goes back to Singapore.

This year…

I am quite sure that I’ve mentioned before in my blog my landlady at her HDB flat along Beach Road in Singapore way back in 1973. I was renting a room there and I noticed that the old couple led such frugal lives, eating plain rice with maybe an omelette or a salted egg or a plate of fried French beans or long beans but come Chinese New Year, she would cook a whole lot of dishes to fill up the whole dining table, a big one, an eight-seater, at least. Of course, they could not eat it all by themselves so she would ask me to help finish the food except that there was simply too much and after a week or so, I was still eating those same dishes, reheated over and over again…but for a struggling student at the time with very little money, I had no complaint and was actually quite thankful for what I had.

I guess it was because of the Chinese traditional belief that they must cook a lot come Chinese New Year so they would be blessed with abundance in the days ahead. No, my missus does not subscribe to that but she would cook up a storm nonetheless and this year was no exception even though we were not celebrating and there would not be people dropping by to enjoy the food and help finish it all up.

We had our own reunion dinner on the evening of Chinese New Year’s Eve, just the four of us…

4

– the three of us and my sister.

I told my missus not to serve everything as we would not be able to finish and repeatedly reheated food would not be all that palatable. Needless to say, we had to have a fish

Fish

Nian Nian You Yu – 年年有餘 – which means something like, ‘may every year end with ample surplus’ or ‘plenty to spare year after year’ or ‘may you have more than you need, every year’ and we also had this very nice fish maw soup…

Soup

…done like sharks’ fins soup but minus the offensive stuff.

My missus did a great job with the kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma

…which was extra nice – I guess it depends on the quality  of the white wine she uses and there must be a whole lot of ginger as well.

I did tell her there was chicken already so there would not be any need for another chicken dish but it all fell on deaf ears and we had this curry chicken…

Curry

…too and this is one of my missus’ specialties, the masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric) giant udang galah (freshwater prawns) with pineapples…

Prawns

I specifically asked for this sweet and sour meatballs…

Meatballs

…done Hock Chu Leu-style, something that we loved so much during our growing-up years…and I guess the red colour is auspicious too.

Oopsss!!! I forgot to take a photograph of the salad but never mind – I think we would also have that again soon enough. We certainly had a lot of food to enjoy that evening and yes, there was quite a bit leftover, including the fish – tradition has it that you cannot finish eating it at one go and must save a bit for subsequent days.

I never had it so good…

My paternal uncle, my late dad’s younger brother, invited us to his grandson’s 2nd birthday celebration on Sunday evening, the eve of Chinese New Year’s Eve, at a leading hotel in town.

I guess the theme was one of jungle animals…

Party theme, jungle animals

…and I must say it sure was impressive and took my breath away. These kids really have it so good these days – their parties would certainly put the ones we had when we were little to shame.

There were all those lovely cupcakes…

Cupcakes 1

…lots of them…

Cupcakes 2

which they asked everybody to help themselves to after the cutting of the birthday cake by the birthday boy and there were tarts too…

Tarts

…and a tray of Swiss roll…

Swiss roll

…as well.

Of course, dinner started with our traditional longevity noodles, the mee sua

Mee sua

…complete with the golden egg but instead of the usual chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup, what we had that night was herbal chicken soup and I rather enjoyed it, something different for a change and because there were only 8 at our table for 10, there were extras and I helped myself to one of the two bowls and ate on behalf of whoever did not show up. LOL!!!

After that came the more-than-Four Seasons…

More than Four Seasons

…followed by this steamed fish…

Fish

…and this duck & chicken combo…

Duck & chicken

This dish of lamb done butter prawn style…

Lamb

…did not really tickle my fancy but I sure enjoyed the braised sea cucumber that came after that…

Sea cucumber

There was another dish, mixed vegetables and dessert of almond jelly and longans but I did not take any photographs of those.

The “elders” in the family were given this door gift…

Door gift 1

– I am the birthday boy’s uncle, my cousin’s son, so I got one too and inside was this very nice “gold coin”…

Door gift 2

…for The Year of The Pig. Hopefully, that will bring me good luck in the year ahead!

It certainly was a delightful party and get-together with everybody from my paternal side of the family.

Fingers crossed…

恭禧發財 新年快樂!!!

Chinese New Year lanterns

It’s the 1st Day of the Chinese Lunar New Year today and this year is the Year of the Pig.

We did not make any cookies but we did pick up a few of this and that, mostly from the local bakeries so we would have something to enjoy at home. No, we did not make any cake either but my dear cousin, Doreen and her hubby, Bened, gave us this very nice fruit cake…

From Doreen

…and also one of those cookie gift sets from Tupperware. We did get to try the fruit cake when we were at their house for Christmas and we liked it so much and were praising it to the skies. It is so very sweet of her to go through all that trouble to get it for us all the way from Kuching – if I remember correctly, it is homemade by special order from somebody there.

Another cousin of mine, Ah Lek, we call him, and his wonderful missus, Saliah, never fail to give us something every year and this year is not exception. They will always get us these traditional local delights…

From Ah Lek

…for us to enjoy…and yesterday, my friend/ex-student, Justin, dropped by my house to pass me these…

From Justin

He comes home for Chinese New Year every year and he too will never fail to bring me something really nice and special. This year, he brought me a giant pomelo, most probably from his fruit farm in the peninsula and some durian kueh kapit, we call it kueh sepit here. I bet that tastes good…and he also gave me the famous Perak menglembu groundnuts. That sure brought back some fond memories of my growing up years when come Chinese New Year every year, my father would get some bak kua (barbecued meat slices) and these peanuts (they came in cylindrical tins then) from Singapore – ours was probably the only house around to have these to serve to guests then.

My missus did cook a few nice dishes over the last few days though and as she was busy, I dropped by here last Sunday morning to buy their nasi biryani

Sri Pelita nasi biryani

…with mutton curry for our lunch…

Sri Pelita mutton curry

…and a tosai for my girl’s breakfast. When I wanted to pay for my purchases, the nice proprietor, Guna, said, in his own words, “in the spirit of Chinese New Year”, it would be on the house and he simply refused to accept any payment no matter how I insisted.

Thank you so so so much to one and all – I truly am so blessed to be surrounded by all these awesome people, always so very kind, thoughtful and generous…and I sure do hope that the Good Lord will continue to shower His Blessings upon me and my family and all of them and everybody too. Hopefully, we will get to enjoy all that is good all year long, fingers crossed. A Very Happy & Prosperous New Year, cheers!!!

SRI PELITA CAFE (2.293579, 111.820700) is located along Lorong Kampung Datu 11, off Jalan Kampung Datu, the first shop in the block to the right of Paramount Hotel.

Let’s eat out…

I did not feel like cooking last Friday after we got back from bringing my girl home from her school in the jungle for the week-long Chinese New Year holidays so we decided to go somewhere for a nice dinner instead. Besides, I gathered that she had gone down by a kg because what she got in her lunch packs from her home catering service there all week was not to her liking.

We thought the fish here was great – their sweet & sour fried sea bass..(RM48.00)

Sakhon sweet & sour fish

…so we decided to go for it again and yes, we sure enjoyed it a lot again this time around.

We tried the stir-fried prawns with salt and chili (RM20.00)…

Sakhon prawns

…and that was good too and so was their baby kailan with garlic and salted fish (RM15.00)…

Sakhon baby kailan

We did not order any tom yam so we were not that keen on having any plain rice. Instead, we ordered their pineapple fried rice (RM18.50)…

Sakhon pineapple fried rice

…which was so very nice that my girl kept praising it to the skies and of course, we let her have the lion’s share since she enjoyed it so much. The serving was not very big, maybe enough for two together with another dish or two – my girl said she wouldn’t mind dropping by here and order this dish and eat it all by herself, like how people go for a plate of noodles or whatever elsewhere.

We certainly would come here again sometime and in case anyone is thinking of dropping by over the Chinese New Year festive season, they are open throughout while many places around here would be closed.

SAKHON THAI RESTAURANT (2.308351, 111.820696) is located at No. 67 & 69, Jalan Kuda 2, Kampung Nangka, right across from Cabe Ijo in the next block, both facing the main entrance of Bisonte Grocer & Deli.

Not too far from here…

Last Friday, we went to get my girl from her school in the jungle and we gave a lift to her colleague/housemate to the Sibu airport for her flight back to Kuching for the week-long Chinese New Year holidays.

My girl wanted to go to our Sarawak-own fast food franchise there but I was not keen on the idea as it is not a very big place, often crowded with passengers and being at the airport, the prices are higher than their outlets elsewhere plus one would have to park the car in the parking zone and walk all the way to the terminal and pay the fee using one of those machines before leaving.  I called a friend to see if there is an outlet at Sibujaya, the satellite town not too far from the airport, right around the corner and yes, there is one…

Sugar Bun Sibujaya

…in the section with all the new shops so I guess this outlet would be pretty new…

Sugar Bun Sibujaya side entrance

…as well.

Inside, there is the regular counter…

Counter

…and another one for the pizza

Pizza

…and there is seating upstairs as well, on the first floor.

My girl had her favourite fish fillet (RM11.90)…

Fish fillet savoury rice

…with their very nice savoury rice while the mum had their claypot chicken curry (RM12.30)…

Claypot chicken curry

…that came with a plate of rice and pickles – one would get this with any of their claypot dishes…

Rice & pickles

I had their assam fish once and though I did enjoy it very much, I had the head so there wasn’t much to eat. I asked my friend who runs the place and he told me that I could ask for the body and that was exactly what I did that day so this was what I got (RM12.60)…

Assam fish

…and yes, that certainly was a delightful lunch which is saying quite a lot actually, considering that I am not so much into franchise places.

SUGAR BUN Sibujaya (2.239502, 111.977727) is located at Lot 1226 Block 1 Manyan Land District at the Sibu Jaya Commercial Centre.