Still going strong…

We go back a long way to way back in 2009 when I was still using my cheap handphone camera to take photographs for my blog and they were just a makeshift stall by the roadside at Bandong here at the time. Now, the authorities have given the place a facelift and constructed proper stalls along what they call the Bandong Walk and they are occupying two of those, one for the foodstall…

Malay foodstall at Bandong

…and the other for the son who barbecues stuff…

Son's barbecue stall

…for sale. We love the sardines, RM7.00 each…

Sardines

…or perhaps that might depend on the size of the fish. The grilled chicken is very nice too.

Note how all the dishes are placed in covered containers, not all exposed like what I have seen elsewhere with all flies flying all over like war planes. You will have to open them one by one to see what is inside like this ayam berlada, for instance…

Bandong Walk ayam berlada

…and decide what your picks would be. Of course, sometimes, you will be drawn to so many that you just can’t decide which ones you want. Do take note also that they are using those environment-friendly cardboard boxes for their nasi campur takeaway, not the banned-in-Sibu polystyrene containers. I definitely would boycott the stall if I had seen them using those.

My missus had picked what we would have for dinner that evening but I went and opened a few of the containers just to have a look and lo and behold, I saw this!!! Liver…

Bandong Walk chicken liver

…and of course, I just had to buy that, RM3.00…

Chicken liver, RM3.00

…for that much, no need to over-indulge plus it was chicken liver. Personally, I prefer beef liver.

My missus bought the fish, RM2.50 each…

Bandong Walk ikan goreng

They always marinate their fish elaborately and I do enjoy eating them a lot more than those at the Chinese chap fan stalls where they would just rub with salt and deep fry.

She also bought the masak lemak

Bandong Walk masak lemak

– pumpkin and cangkuk manis, RM3.00…

Masak lemak labu dan cangkuk manis

…and we sure enjoyed our dinner that evening.

The food here is consistently good – choices are more or less the same every day though so that is why we do not frequent the stall that often anymore, unlike before especially when my missus was still working. Yes, we do drop by time and time again and there may be a few not-so-regular dishes that would make their appearance once in a while. Go ahead! Do drop by to check it out – a wide selection of very nice home-cooked Malay delights, you will surely come back for more!

Good again…

We were quite put off by the miserable portions of our orders and also the poor service at this very crowded place one Sunday but we did go back again once or twice since and things seemed to be pretty back to normal now.

Yes, there is a notice there now that states their opening days and hours…

Colourful Cafe notice

…loud and clear. Their address and telephone contact number are also provided.

I don’t know if they read my blog or what but I was grumbling about how horrible the coffee was and on one of the later visits, the lady asked me if the coffee was all right. I just said yes even though it wasn’t really. This time around, I decided not to have coffee and asked for the teh-c special…

Colourful Cafe teh-c special

…aka the three-colour tea instead. Nope! It wasn’t any good – it was not rich enough probably because they did not add enough evaporated milk and the tea was not strong enough for my liking as well. At other places, there would be a layer of green – some say that is wheatgrass and others say it is pandan and there is a brown layer of gula Melaka as well but there is neither in the one here or none that I could taste or detect. I guess if you are looking for a place where they serve really nice drinks, this is not the one.

My missus stuck steadfastly to the fried kway teow (RM4.00)…

Colourful Cafe fried kway teow

She would order that most of the time though she may switch to something else time and again. Yes, there was quite a lot in the plate and yes, there were three prawns…

Colourful Cafe prawn

…in it – the other two were smaller and buried somewhere under the kway teow.

The standard practice here is to give three prawns…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 1

…no more, no less and so it was with the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 2

…that I had. It was a Friday when we dropped by so I requested for the pulled chicken breast meat to be left out – I am never a fan of that, anyway – and asked for more of the thin strips of sliced omelette though what I got in the end did not seem all that much, not at all.

Yes, it was very nice and I sure enjoyed the bihun eaten together with the sambal belacan

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa 3

…provided.

All in all, I would say that everything here is good again, except for the drinks perhaps, so if you have been avoiding this place lately, I would say it is quite safe to drop by again to enjoy all the nice stuff that they serve here. For some reason, my girl loves the curry here so I tapaoed two chicken drumsticks, usually served with their nasi lemak (RM3.50 each)…

Colourful Cafe chicken curry

…for her to enjoy when she got home that afternoon.

Quality…

If one is in the food business, one very crucial thing that is of utmost importance is that one must be able to maintain the quality of what one sells, more or less, so customers would know exactly what to expect and get that much-coveted satisfaction without fail everytime.

I dropped by the Malay kueh stall here again last week and no, the elusive Kate pulut panggang was nowhere to be seen as always and I did not feel like settling for the ones that I would consider second best. I remember buying the fried or koi (yam cake) here not too long ago at only 3 for RM1.00 and it was so good. There were chunks of yam inside and bits of udang kering (dried prawns), so very cheap and so very nice. That was why I bought some more…

Kpg Hilir fried or koi

…that day for tea but unfortunately, it was so so very disappointing.

The quality was way below what I had bought and enjoyed so much before, no chunks of yam, no udang kering, nothing…

Kpg Hilir fried or koi, inside

…mostly flour and it would not be so bad if it had not been so very salty. We just ate a few pieces and in the end, I threw all the rest away. Never mind that it is cheaper – I would much sooner fork out a little bit more to buy the ones here, 50 sen each but 5 for RM2.00 and derive a lot more satisfaction from those.

It was a hot day that day – well, it is getting hotter and hotter here, not a single drop of rain for a long time now – so I decided not to have my usual kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) which, usually, they do not do well at the Malay shops and stalls, I dunno why. Once in Kuching, I asked for iced Nescafe, black, thinking that they couldn’t possibly go wrong with instant coffee…and they did. Tsk! Tsk! Instead, I asked for the ang-tao peng or ais kacang from one of the two drink stalls at the hawker centre in the vicinity…

Simpang Tiga ais kacang 1

…and never mind that they probably gave just a teaspoon of the red beans…

Simpang Toga ais kacang 2

…it was so so so good, so cold and so refreshing. It was very rich, very lemak and if I am not wrong, they had santan (coconut milk) plus evaporated milk…and I had the feeling that they used our local gula apong (attap or nipah palm sugar) which does not taste quite the same as gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) but it is very nice in its own way. I sure wouldn’t mind going for it again if this unbearably scorching weather persists, heaps better and a lot nicer than the disappointing one that I had here.

Ahhhh!!! The African’s back!…

Simpang Tiga SEDC hawker centre - food stall

…His stall was closed all throughout the fasting month of Ramadhan and even after Hari Raya, business did not resume till not too long ago. I was wondering if he had decided to pack his bags and go back to his continent or not but no, he’s still around!

My missus had his pili-pili (peri-peri) chicken rice (RM9.00)…

Pili-pili chicken rice 1

…complete with the peri-peri sauce and tomato salsa…

Pili-pili chicken rice 2

…while I had the Moroccan rice (RM9.00)…

Moroccan chicken rice 1

My missus commented that the chicken was no longer grilled/barbecued and instead, it was fried…

Moroccan chicken rice 2

…which made it nothing more than those slightly cheaper ayam penyet ones all around town with a few cosmetic differences.

Yes, it was still quite nice but if the chicken is going to be fried from now on, we would not be in such a hurry to come back here for more – somehow the quality is not quite the same anymore. I’ve heard comments from friends – they all came to try and they all liked what they had. That guy should think twice about rocking the boat when the sailing all this while has been smooth and good.

Wondering why…

They call him…

Ang Kau
*Archive photo*

…Ang Kau, literally translated – Monkey, and if you are wondering why he is known by that nickname, you can click this link here for the story behind it.

Yes, I do know that he has a faithful following. Wherever he goes, people will go to eat his kampua mee which they would all insist is the best in town. I can’t remember if I ever tried his or not – that time when my friend came home from Adelaide, Australia and made a beeline for his stall to eat not one but TWO plates of the noodles, I did not bother trying.

Then, the other day, my Bintulu brother-in-law took my niece and nephew from Penang to go and eat and they posted a photograph of it on Facebook and praised it to the skies. My niece said that initially, she did not feel like going but luckily she changed her mind and did not miss to chance to enjoy it…and that got me wondering why everybody seems to be falling head over heels in love with this guy’s kampua mee. Is it really that good? That was why I decided to go and look for the guy, since moved from that coffee shop where I last saw him two years ago, 2014.

As always, people will never give you the specific information you may need. A lot of people have told me that he has moved to “Hock Chiew Kay” (Foochow Lane) but nobody ever specified exactly where. Fortunately, there are not that many blocks of shops there, just a few at the beginning of the lane adjoining the main road so I just drove around peering into each coffee shop to try and catch a glimpse of the guy and yes, I found him! He is here (2.289673, 111.831081)…

Ah Soon Cafe 1

…now at this coffee shop…

Ah Soon Cafe 2

…right beside/below the hotel/inn where my friend used to stay everytime he came to town from his jungle school upriver. and ever so often, I would go there to pick him up to go some place to eat or do whatever he wanted so I would say that I am quite familiar with that part of town.

I ordered his pian sip, soup…

Ang Kau pian sip. soup 1

…and yes, it was quite nice but it was mostly skin, not much meat…

Ang Kau pian sip, soup 2

…and if that one time when I had it here was anything to go by, I would say that that one wins hands down.

My missus had his kampua noodles, tossed in chili sauce…

Ang Kau kampua mee, chili sauce

…while I had it plain…

Ang Kau kampua mee 1

…and both of us were of the general consensus that it…

Ang Kau kampua mee 2

…was at best, just all right – not really exceptionally good, nothing to get excited about and there are others elsewhere that we do enjoy more but of course, like I always say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison…and some may not share the same opinion when it comes to the ones that what we like. To each his own!

Not so fast…

I decided to drop by here (2.319100, 111.832213)…

Fast Cafe

…among the shops opposite the RTM station in Sibu in the Sungai Antu area that day. The last time I was here was in 2013 when my Penang friend and his friend from KL were passing through Sibu on their way to the now-a-cluster-primary-school where he once taught in Dalat and back.

I used to drop by quite frequently a long time ago and I always enjoyed the Malay lady‘s fried noodles

Fast Cafe fried noodles
*Archive photo*

…and the rest and also her nasi lemak special…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak
*Archive photo*

That morning, I opted for the latter but when it was served (RM5.00)…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special

…I must say that I was so very disappointed. Where was the egg? Maybe she had forgotten about it? And where were the peanuts and the fried ikan bilis (anchovies)? Don’t tell me she forgot those too?

Other than that, the rice…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, the rice

…was not lemak (rich and fragrant with santan/coconut milk) and was somewhat hard and dry. Hmmm…has she lost her touch after all these years?

Thankfully, the masak hitam beef…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, masak hitam beef

…was nice and the fried chicken…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, fried chicken

…was like what it was, fried chicken. Together with those and also the very nice nasi lemak sambal, and the very nice complimentary clear chicken soup that came with it…

Fast Cafe nasi lemak special, complimentary soup

…I would say that I quite enjoyed my order but I felt kind of sad that it was no longer what it used to be, not as nice any longer, and I sure would have second thoughts about having this should I happen to drop by here again.

My missus had the kampua noodles (RM2.70)…

Fast Cafe kampua mee

…from the Chinese stall in that coffee shop and all she said was that it was nice – she did not elaborate further. I had that here before and I thought it was all right too, nothing to get excited about really.

I don’t know if we will drop by again and if we do, it would not be so fast, that’s for sure – maybe I will want to go back there some fine day and try the fried noodles to see if it is still as good as what I used to enjoy a long time ago.

Lights…

It was some two weeks ago when there was a blackout here in Sibu. It was not very long, less than two hours from around 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. and it was still bright at the time so we could go outside where it was cooler but when that happens in the night, even though there may be the pleasant night breeze outside, one would have to fight with the mosquitoes and whatever that would be lurking in the dark.

Two days later, it happened again early in the night around 7.00 p.m. but that one was quite brief, around half an hour only, thank God!

I have the electricity board’s technical assistance number on speed dial so everytime that happened, I would call them right away. One had to be fast or one would never be able to get through – the line would be engaged and I wouldn’t know if some other people were calling or they just left the receiver off the hook. Tsk! Tsk!

These days, when you call that number, you would get through to their customer service and firstly, the answering machine would tell you to press 1 for English, 2 for Malay…and then if you want to report a blackout, you would need to press a certain number and so on and so forth. Finally, when all that has been done, they will tell you, “Sorry, all our lines are busy. Please hold!” So you would have to wait and wait and wait and listen to some horrible music and I was thinking, perhaps they should play some relevant songs instead like this one, for instance…

If I am not wrong, the people running that service are in Kuching and they would ask and say a lot of things and at the end of it all, they would just tell you that they would inform the people concerned. When? Don’t ask me…but what I can tell you is that if you are calling on your mobile, that would cost you quite a bit. Thankfully, I have free landline calls using the complimentary cordless phone that came with my internet package so go ahead – say what you want, take your time!

Coming back to the blackout, I was thinking of buying a fan that would run on rechargeable battery. I bought this one…

Emergency fan & light
*Archive photo*

…some two years ago for my girl to take to her school in the jungle. They have electricity there but are dependent on generators and those would break down sometimes. Thankfully, there had not been any need to use it and one fine day, she told me it was not working anymore. I heard somewhere that these things have to be used regularly or they would just call it quits for no reason whatsoever. Ah well! What can one expect for RM15.00 only and from something made in China some more? For this very reason, I did not want to get one of the same for her or for myself.

I remember seeing a box fan with a fluorescent light by the side at a shop in Selangau that time when my girl first went over to teach in one of the schools in that district…and I was looking and thinking of buying one for her but the mum went nag…nag…nag…so I just walked away and abandoned the whole idea. I was contemplating on going back there to see if they would still be selling it there but in the meantime, I decided to drop by the electrical shop a few doors away when we went here for lunch (we were there early, around one hour before opening time) that day and yes, they had this…

Fan

…tagged at RM145.00 but they were willing to let me have it for RM125.00. I told them I would be getting two and they reduced it further to RM120.00 each.

It is made in China too but these days, what isn’t? For one thing, you will only use it in the event of a blackout, sitting right in front of the 12-inch fan…

12-inch

…enjoying the wind while waiting for power to be restored and if it is in the night, there are these LED lights as well…

Lights

…so you would not be sitting in the dark and I do think it would be quite safe since it will not be running on electricity, just the battery in it. For one thing, it is very quiet unlike the aforementioned cheap one – I used that when there was a blackout before my girl took it to her school and I wanted to have a nap but the noise was so loud that it kept me awake the whole time. I guess when something is THAT cheap, one has no cause for complaint.

Of course, this one needs recharging as well! According to the manual, full recharging the first time would take some 12-15 hours and even if you do not use it, you would need to recharge for around 8 hours every 3 months. When it is recharging, the red light…

Charging

…will come on and according to the people at the shop, it will go off when fully recharged. So far we have not waited that long to see it happen. LOL!!!

Well, if anyone is interested in getting one…

Fan, in box

…as well, you can drop by the electrical shop at Laichee Lane here (2.290842, 111.829440) to see if they have any more stock. I hear blackouts are a lot more frequent in Kuching and Miri and a lot worse in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah…and thank God for small mercies, it isn’t so bad here but still, it pays to be prepared. In Malay, there is a saying, “Sediakan payung sebelum hujan!” (Get ready the umbrella before it rains!)

Up early…

I get up very early in the morning, way before the crack of dawn but people say that’s a sign of old age – early to bed, early to rise. Well, say what you want. I remember the verse in English that goes like this, “Early to bed, early to rise…makes a man healthy and wise!” and some people would add in “wealthy” as well, “healthy, wealthy and wise“. LOL!!!

I do not venture out of the house and go anywhere though unless there are things I would need to buy at the central market (I hate going later as it gets so very crowded and noisy and hot) but on Sundays, I would make it a point to go to the petrol station to fill up the tank, never mind even if it is not really running on empty – blame it on my OCD but I would feel more comfortable going on the long drive to send my girl back to her school in the jungle with a full tank.

Usually I would go before 9.00 a.m. I’ve noticed that the Sunday crowd would not make its appearance that early and last Sunday, I decided to drop by here

Friends Kopitian

…to buy the fried or koi and chiew chu koi (tapioca cake)…

Or koi and chiew chu koi
*Archive photo*

…and tapao their mee mamak (RM4.00)…

Friends Kopitian mee mamak
*Archive photo*

…and fried pek koi, dry (RM4.50)…

Friends Kopitian fried pek koi, dry
*Archive photo*

…home for the ladies in the house for breakfast and I did say the other day in this post that I would like to go back there and give the kampua noodles a try.

Oopssss!!! I was so eager to dig in that I forgot to take a photograph before I did that so I had to put everything back together again and this was the best I could do…

Friends Kopitian kampua mee

…and I would say the actual presentation looked a bit better with the sprinkling of fried shallots and spring onion on top. It was all right, pretty much the same as many elsewhere…

Friends Kopitian 2

…though to me, it was not quite as nice as some of the notably better ones that we have in town.

Personally, I would much sooner go for the piansip

Friends Kopitian piansip, dry 1

…which I enjoyed very much more.

This is the dry version…

Friends Kopitian painsip, dry 2

…and yes, it was very nicely done – not oily, not wet and I did enjoy it very much, what with all that meat…

Friends Kopitian piansip dry 3

…in it and its very thin translucent skin. Having said that, I think I liked the soup version that I had previously a lot more.

Well, I came, I saw…and I tried. I probably would drop by again one afternoon one of these days to try their deep fried stuffed kompia next. Hang around, I’ll be back!