On my way home…

I was passing by here that morning on my way home after collecting the parcel from my cousin in Kuching at the courier service office in Sungai Merah so I decided to stop by and give their kampua mee a try.

The stall…

Coffee & Tea kampua mee stall

…is right in front and you can see how the brick ones here look a whole look nicer than the regular ones one would get to see at the other coffee shops in town.

There is a dim sum stall…

Coffee & Tea dim sum stall

…in front now but looking at the photographs, it appeared to me that the lady was selling the exact same things as what one could get from the stall here. Yes, I’ve tried some of those at the latter and quite liked some of what I had but I found it kinda expensive – I only had a few items and the total went way over RM10.00 and the thing is I am not all that fond of dim sum to make me wanna fork out that kind of money. To me, it is just something that I don’t mind having once in a while sometimes for a change.

The kopi-o/black coffee (RM1.00)…

Coffee & Tea kopi-o

…that I had was very nice and I loved the table top – again, this is something you would not see in other coffee shops, the nice tables that they have here.

As for the kampua mee (RM2.80)…

Coffee & Tea kampua mee

…yes, they used the original traditional handmade noodles, straight and thicker than the machine-made thinner and curly ones that some would insist are like the ones they use for Kuching kolo mee, not kampua.

However, I thought it was kind of firm, not cooked long enough to get the noodles to be of the right soft texture so I can’t say that I enjoyed it plus it could use a little bit more shallot oil as it was a little on the dry side.

On the plus side, I liked how they sliced the shallots and fried it perfectly till nice and crispy and golden brown in colour – these days, most people will just use a blender so even though the flavour and fragrance are there, you will get minute bits of shallots in your noodles, some over-fried till black, and no, you will not get to enjoy biting into the crunchy slices like the ones here.

I also liked how they do not dye the boiled meat red like what they do at most other places which makes me wonder all the time what colouring they use to try and make the meat look like some pale imitation of the char siew (barbecued pork) which it definitely isn’t…and I also liked the fact that they were not using those colourful plastic or melamine plates and bowls that they use at a lot at places elsewhere around town – I understand they are not good for health when used to serve hot food.

At RM2.80 a plate, it is the same as many other places around town though some may go up to RM3.00 or more elsewhere but considering that one can get the same for only RM2.50 at this shop round the corner, if it is specifically kampua mee that I want, I would most likely go for the cheaper one…which I thought was nicer, that one time that I dropped by there to try it.

The pian sip, soup (RM3.00)…

Coffee & Tea piansip soup

…was very nice. The skin was very thin and the clear soup was just right on all counts and what I liked best about it was that there was no msg overdose. I don’t know why it is 20 sen more expensive than the kampua mee though – at all the other stalls, these two items are usually priced the same, no difference at all.

COFFEE & TEA (2.325932, 111.841566) is located at the junction of Jalan Teng Chin Hua and Jalan Ulu Sg Merah in the blocks of shops to the right of the traffic lights junction turning left into Lorong Sg Merah 2. if you are coming from town. On the other hand, if you are heading towards town, the blocks of shops are after St Teresa’s Catholic Church and the SIB Church on that same side of the road.

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Dog…

Qong Xi Fa Cai! A Blessed and a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year to one and all…

Mandarin oranges

It’s the Year of the Dog and whoever said that “it’s a dog’s life” sure had it all wrong looking at how these man’s best friends are so well-loved and pampered nowadays. Let’s hope that our lives would be just as great in the year ahead.

Thank you once again to all those who sent me gifts for this auspicious festive occasion, the first being my blogger-friend, Merryn, who went through the trouble of sending me her super-nice own-made cookies

Cookies from Merryn
*Archive photo*

…and I got this packet of bak kua (barbecued pork slices)…

Bak kua from Mandy
*Archive photo*

from my dear friend, Mandy and these two…

Bak kua from Wilfred
*Archive photo*

from my ex-student, Wilfred, in Singapore and of course, my cousin, Jude, in Kuching sent me these…

Bacon jam from Jude
*Archive photo*

which almost did not reach me as his sister, who went through the chore of packing and sending, did not include the lane so it was declared an “invalid address”. LOL!!!

These traditional Melanau/local delights…

From Ah Lek

…came from my cousin and his wife and family and my ex-student/friend, Justin, is home for the special occasion and he gave me these…

From Justin

– one pack of the celebrated Musang King – truly a gift of gold, like the D101 he gave me the last time he was home and one pack of the sio bee from Johore plus one pomelo…and no prize for guessing who gave me these…

From the folks at Payung Cafe

Yes, they’re from the wonderful people at Payung – their otak-otak and Payung chicken and their kuih bangkit.

My niece, the one working in Singapore who said that she would not be coming back this year had a change of heart after seeing those heart-wrenching Chinese New Year commercials depicting old parents having the reunion dinner alone at home, their children are all not coming home…and she brought us this…

From niece in Singapore 1

– more bak kua, one of the celebrated most established brands in Singapore. Gee!!! It certainly looks like we have enough bak kua to last the whole year through. LOL!!!

I guess she picked this…

From niece in Singapore 2

…up at KLIA2, the branded pop corn that a lot of people had blogged about or shared on Facebook but we all thought that it is somewhat over-rated and the ones we got from my old friend, Jasmine, in Adelaide, Australia were very much nicer.

I also got these much-coveted groundnuts, a must-buy for anyone coming to Sibu…

From Toh Chin Hock & family

…and kuaci (pumpkin seeds) from my ex-student, Chin Hock, who is also home for the festive occasion from Singapore, thank you so much to him and the Toh family, the ones in this line of business here in Sibu.

Moving on from all the gifts that I received, thank you also to those who went through the trouble of sending me Chinese New Year greeting cards this year.

The first came from another cousin of mine in Kuching…

Card from Tina

She did send me one for Christmas but the aforementioned cousin-who-always-left-out-the lane gave her the wrong address so it never reached me. This time around, she made sure that did not happen again.

Yvette, my paternal cousin in Perth, Australia sent me this one…

Card from Yvette

…and I got one from my blogger-masterchef-friend, Elin, in Ipoh, Perak

Card from Elin

…and this one came from my young and very handsome blogger-friend in Sungai Petani, Kedah, Nick

Card from Nick

…who came to visit me here in Sibu around this time last year.

This one came from a dear friend’s firm in Kuching…

Still...

…but he passed away recently – God bless his soul, may he rest in peace…but I guess I am still in his company’s mailing list so like for so very many years gone by, I did get one again this year.

Chinese New Year will be very low-key for us this year as my father passed away in July last year and it has not been a year so with all due respect, following the Chinese customary practice/tradition, there shall be no celebration within our family this year.

Wrong address…

My cousin, the one who would come to Sibu every year with his parents and sister(s), sent word that he would be sending me something for Chinese New Year. The sister dispatched the parcel on Friday via courier service – no, not our national poslayu or poslambat, take your pick –  and tracking showed that it arrived in Sibu the very next day, Saturday. Soon after that, there was an update that afternoon saying that the address was invalid.

I called them but there was no answer so I drove to the place and I found that it was closed. I guess I had no choice but to wait till Monday morning and I was there as soon as they had started working for the day.

It turned out that my cousin did not indicate the lane in my address so they could not deliver it and there was an extra digit in my contact number so they could not call me either. They passed the parcel over to me without any fuss whatsoever and I took it home happily.

Ripping off the layers of thick brown paper with a FRAGILE sticker on  the outside revealed this box…

Toaster

…inside. Oh? I wouldn’t need a toaster anymore now that generally, we do not eat bread as it is not gluten-free.

Opening the box, it looked like I was getting some essence of chicken…

Essence of chicken

…or so I thought. Hmmm…perhaps they reckoned that this old guy could do with a little bit of energy boost especially after all that hard labour I had to go through harvesting my rambutans.

After removing the layers of bubble wrap, I saw this golden seal…

Golden seal

Nice touch! Signed, sealed…but almost didn’t get delivered! Hehehehehe!!!

Opening the box, I finally got to what my cousin had sent me…

Bacon jam

– the bacon jam that I got sometime ago from Phong Hong and out of the three that she sent me, I liked this one most of all. Oh? I noticed that one of the two had whisky in it – gotta try that one soonest!

Thank you so much, Jude and a Blessed and Happy Chinese New Year to you and your dear parents and sweet sisters. May God bless you all abundantly in this Year of the Dog…and thank you, Sabrina, for the very elaborate and meticulous packing and going through the trouble of sending it over to me. All’s well that ends well.  Cheers!!!

There’s a reason…

Yes, we were here

Payung Cafe Chinese New Year lanterns

…again but there was a reason for that. In my blogpost yesterday, I mentioned that I had to go to the hotel at the back to collect the bak kua that Mandy gave me and since we were there, I thought we would just stop by for lunch before going home.

It was Friday, their lei cha day and I was amazed by the number of people there specially for this Hakka delight (RM6.00)…

Payung Cafe lei cha
*Archive photo*

No, I did not have that – I can take the bitterness and I am fine with the taste but no, it is not something I particularly enjoy and never mind that it is good for health – I’d much sooner give it a pass and go for something else.

It being our no-meat Friday, we had their otak-otak (RM13.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe otak-otak 1

…and were served one huge cylindrical one packed with the fish flakes…

Payung Cafe otak otak 2

…that were bursting with the flavours of all the ingredients used in the cooking/preparation.

However, that day, it was overshadowed by the absolutely out-of-this-world tom yam prawns (RM17.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe tom yam prawns

…which, upon our special request, was so so so spicy I was blowing out fire with every breath I took! Good grief!!! There were so many prawns in that huge bowl of awesome goodness – normally, there will only be 3 in one serving but that day, we counted 15, five servings and we were only charged for one. *face palm*

I told my missus that we could always pack what was left to take home for dinner but she was enjoying it so much that when she was done, there wasn’t very much left so we just finished it all up there and then. Now, if you still don’t see why we keep going back here again and again, this special treatment alone is reason enough for us to do that.

My missus said that the gravy was creamy like they added milk or santan but what I found out was that they cook everything from scratch using fresh ingredients and the creamy appearance is the result of the use of fresh tomatoes, no milk and no santan and unlike other places where the tom yam tastes like it all came out of a bottle of tom yam paste, theirs is nothing like it – a class of its own, a cut above the rest.

[Incidentally, to whom it may concern, Payung Café will be closed on the 1st Day of Chinese New Year – Friday, the 16th of February and will resume business in the evening of the 2nd Day, dinner only, on Saturday, the 17th.]

The following day, Saturday, we went here again and yes, there was a reason for that as well. My girl saw on Facebook the photo that I shared of the nasi kerabu with ayam percik that my missus had that day…

Warong Cafe nasi kerabu ayam percik, drunstick
*Archive photo*

…and said she would like to go for that and of course, whatever she wants, she gets!

I had the nasi ayam (chicken rice)…

Warong Cafe nasi ayam 1
*Archive photo*

…once and it was really very good and my missus wanted to have a go at it for a change (RM5.50)…

Warong Cafe nasi ayam 2

…but what came out of the kitchen eventually did not look half as nice. Thankfully, it tasted all right but I am quite sure she will go back to her favourite, their nasi kerabu with ayam percik, drumstick the next time we come here.

I ordered their nasi goreng ayam penyet (RM8.00)…

Warong Cafe nasi goreng ayam penyet 1

…to see if it was any good as I had  seen a lot of people having their fried rice and it did look kinda nice.

The rice was all right – I did not think there was anything that would make it stand out a head above the rest (including my own fried rice that I would dish out myself at home)…

Warong Cafe nasi goreng ayam penyet 2

…and I did not quite like the texture of the chicken. I was told by someone that it was due to the original Indonesian way of cooking the chicken – they actually boil it first before frying!

The sambal (dip) was great and I liked the complimentary soup too…

Warong Cafe nasi goreng ayam penyet 3

…but all things considered, especially the somewhat high price tag, I would definitely go for some of the nicer stuff, or to me at least, that they have here instead of this.

PAYUNG CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River and WARONG CAFE (2.318841, 111.831732), formerly Sri Tanjung Cafe, is located among the shops in between Jalan Tapang and Jalan Tapang Timur towards the end of Jalan Kampung Nangka on the left – RTM Sibu is located right across the road on the right

No time at all…

I received a surprise message from my very dear friend, Mandy, one morning. It seemed that she was in town on another of her working trips and as always, she had no time at all to herself and we could not get to meet for a bite to eat or something – it certainly has been quite a long while since the last time I got to see her in person way back in 2015.

Well, she asked me to drop by the hotel where she stayed the night as she had left something at the reception counter for me and that was what I did.

When I got there, I saw the Chinese New Year decoration

Peter's CNY decor at Kingwood

…and it certainly looked like I was right – it was stretched vertically to fit the wall but personally, I do think that it was nicer horizontally.

The ever so thoughtful and generous Mandy sent me this packet of bak kua (barbecued pork slices)…

From Mandy

…for Chinese New Year – I’m not familiar with this brand so I have no idea if it is any good or not; I’ve yet to open it to try.

It was good that coincidentally, Mandy came right after the horrendous flood that hit the district where my girl’s school in the jungle is located. It was so terrible at some places and I was worried that she might not be able to come home and would be stranded there last weekend…or worse, for Chinese New Year! Mandy’s company has a base/workshop in Selangau so she had to go there and thankfully, the flood had subsided right before that very day – she told me that there was no flood, everything was pretty much back to normal and all the potholes had been patched. I was indeed so very relieved to hear that and glad that my girl was able to come home after school on Friday as usual, no problem at all.

Moving on, on Saturday morning, I received a call from the sister of my ex-student who is working and living with his family in Singapore. He did send word earlier that he would not be coming home for Chinese New Year this year as their second baby is due very very soon but he would be sending me something through his sister…

From Wilfred

It is indeed so very nice and sweet of him to remember this old teacher of his without fail every year. Last year, he did not come back either and he sent me this tin of almond cookies

Almond cookies from Wilfred
*Archive photo*

…through my niece, the one also working in Singapore.

Thank you so much, Mandy and Wilfred. Qong Xi Fa Cai, a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year to you and your loved ones, may God bless you all abundantly in the coming year and other than that, Wilfred, may your missus have a safe and smooth delivery when the time comes.

Hmmm…now it is quite obvious what I will not be buying to enjoy and usher in The Year of the Dog, right? LOL!!!

Makes sense…

Needless to say, gone are the days when one can go for a plate of chap fan (mixed rice) and pay only around RM3.00 for 1 meat and 2 vegetables – it should be around RM4.50-RM5.00 these days but no, I am not complaining. Looking at the escalating prices of virtually everything and our flagging economy, that is something to be expected.

That, however, does not mean that I am in favour of the high prices some people are charging at some places these days, something in the region of RM9.00-10.00 or more for something quite mediocre, nothing really to shout about. I sure would not mind paying and going back for more if it had been something so very good but more often than not, I would end up feeling kind of shortchanged.

The other day, my missus and I dropped by here again for the nasi campur (mixed rice) and we both had the sotong (squid)…

Sotong

…and the very very nice pumpkin and cangkuk manis…

Pumpkin and cangkuk manis

that I did not get to try the last time as it came out of the kitchen a little too late and we also had this…

Masak lemak

…- that reminded me of what Ayden, Submerryn’s cute and lovable little son cooked, the loh hon cai except that this was masak lemak and had santan (coconut milk) added.

Now, this is one place that I would not mind going again and again because we really enjoy what they dish out and we only had to pay RM5.00 each for what we had that day…

La'zzaty nasi campur

The following day, we dropped by here again. Actually, we did drive past a number of times but the shop was closed. I really wonder how they can do business like that, open as and when they feel like it, according to their whims and fancies. Thankfully, there was quite a crowd – their inconsistency sure has no effect on their customers obviously.

My missus stuck faithfully, as always, to her nasi kerabu with ayam percik, drumstick (RM6.50)…

Warong nasi kerabu

…and that day, I was quite put off by the fact that we had to wait a mighty long time like what happened once on one of earlier visits. There was someone who was there before us and he had a huge order of some 20 packets of the nasi kerabu, take away. Well, first come, first served so we had no choice but to sit there and wait along with all the rest of the people filling up the shop.

I must say that I really like that cute boy doing the serving – he was always smiling and everytime he walked past, I would grumble that I had been waiting so long, that I was so very hungry bla…bla…bla…but he kept on smiling and apologising and saying that our orders would be ready soon.

I had the nasi lemak special (RM6.00)…

Warong nasi lemak special

…with one fried chicken drumstick…

Warong fried chicken drumstick

I remember the last time I had that, I asked for their ayam percik and they did not have a problem with that but I had to pay 5o sen more which was perfectly ok as the chicken was very nice.

Yes, the rice was lemak though not as lemak and nice as my favourite in town at the roadside stall at Bandong Walk here (and it is cheaper there too – RM4.30 for the complete works with a piece of fried chicken, up by 30 sen from RM4.00 not too long ago) and no, I did not feel it was overpriced and without a doubt, I did enjoy it very much.

What a pleasant surprise I had that day when I went to pay my bill and was told that my ex-student, who was there having lunch with his wife and his dad, had picked up the tab already. Thank you so much, Awang Sazali – that was so very sweet of you!

Well, what is your opinion on all this? I’m pretty sure everyone will agree with me that it makes a lot more sense to go to these relatively cheaper places for lunch instead of those rather expensive ones, paying less and enjoying a whole lot more.

LA’ZZATY CUISINE (2.307198, 111.828479) is located along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg on the left if you are coming from town, right after the SHELL petrol station, at its junction with Jalan Nibong with the Sibu Buddhist Temple on your right on the other side of the road while WARONG CAFE (2.318841, 111.831732) is located among the shops in between Jalan Tapang and Jalan Tapang Timur towards the end of Jalan Kampung Nangka on the left with RTM Sibu right across the road on the right.

Mother knows best…

This used to be here and I quite liked what I ate there and I kept going back to buy their pumpkin sago and other drinks but after a while, for reasons unknown, it was closed for good. I don’t know if they had called it quits or moved elsewhere and after quite sometime, it reopened…

Mother Cafe

…under a different name.

It seemed that the place is run by some different people now and in it, there are three stalls…

Mother Cafe stalls

– the first a kampua mee stall and the third one served fried noodles and stuff. I saw a lot of people ordering from the latter – noodle dishes with freshwater prawns though not very big ones.

I was attracted by what they had at the second stall…

Menu, 2nd stall

– what they called claypot pork leg rice and I thought it would be something like those claypot chicken rice that I quite like a lot.

What a disappointment it was when it was served…

Mother Cafe claypot pork leg rice

…and I realised that it was just stewed pork leg in a claypot served with plain white rice.

To give credit where credit is due, it was very nice, just that it wasn’t what I had in mind. I must say that it was not all that cheap either even though they did seem very generous with those chunks of meat – RM8.00 and you need to fork out a ringgit more if you want an egg…

Mother Cafee claypot pork leg, with egg

…and of course, I did! Still, at that price, I can think of a lot of other nicer things I can have for a lot less so I would consider this as something I would have sometimes for a change, not on a regular basis.

My missus tried the beef noodles (RM8.00)…

Mother Cafe beef noodles

…and she liked it. I thought it was way too strong on the spices – the star anise or cinnamon sticks or whatever, so strong that it drowned out the coveted taste of the beef in the soup and they could do with a little less msg as well. In comparison, I do think the one here wins hands down.

We may drop by again – I wouldn’t mind trying the mee sua from this stall or something from the other two stalls but at those prices, we probably would not be having the two we had that morning again, not in the near future, that’s for sure!

MOTHER CAFE (2.310920, 111.831572) is the last shop in the block on your left along Jalan Dewan Suarah if you are entering from Jalan Melur, the shop right behind the Sibu Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah).