New found love…

First and foremost, allow me to extend my greetings on this very special and auspicious occasion to my dear and loved ones in the family and also to all my friends…

Hari Raya 2018

Tangan dihulur, maaf dipinta
Erat hubungan sesama kita
Semoga gembira di hari yang mulia ini
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Maaf zahir dan batin.

Earlier this week, Monday, the 11th of June was the 100th Day of my dear mum’s demise and this coming Sunday is Father’s Day so other than the prayers together with our relatives and friends at the house that night, that morning, we made our way to the memorial park…

Nirvana

…bringing flowers and to offer some prayers…

100th Day/Father's Day 2018

…before we made our way back to town.

We stopped by some place for brunch before sending my sis home and then we went to pick my cousins from Kuching at their hotel. It was near lunchtime by then and they wanted to go to the must-go not-to-be-missed place here so we took them there and we just had a bit as we were already quite full after the brunch we had earlier.

They wanted their favourite here, the belimbing prawns (RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns

…and Peter, the boss, was so very nice as always and went out of his way to cook specially for us this huge serving! The people at the next table saw it and said they wanted that too but of course, their serving was very much smaller. I told Peter that if they complained, he could tell them that we ordered a double/triple. LOL!!!

They also wanted the otak-otak (RM13.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe otak-otak

…that they liked a lot and the jelly pisang (RM9.00)…

Payung Cafe jelly pisang

…which they served in a bowl so that it would be a lot easier to stir and mix everything together compared to having it in a tall glass.

I suggested ordering the Payung fish (RM15.00, with rice)

Payung fish 1

…the ikan keli (catfish) cooked in soy sauce with a bit of taucheo (fermented beans), garlic, ginger and lots of serai (lemon grass)…and chili too. Initially, they were somewhat reluctant for fear of being disappointed as we used to cook this ourselves at home and like how we would go to some nyonya restaurants and order dishes we can cook ourselves, we end up feeling shortchanged in the end.

In the end, they agreed so we had that…

Payung Fish 2
*cousin’s photo on Facebook*

…and it sure bowled them over – it was so very good and they enjoyed it to the max, finishing all the fish and the sauce leaving behind only the stalks of serai and what have you. That sure was a new found love at the very first bite and I am pretty sure that the next time they come here, they would want to have that again.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (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.

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Do you remember the first time…

One of my cousins from Kuching never liked bitter gourd before until the first time she tasted the one here and since then, every time she came to Sibu, she would make it a point to stop by the restaurant for the dish – their bitter gourd fried with salted egg…

Ruby Restaurant bitter gourd with salted egg

…and also the very very nice kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black) here.

They contacted me on Sunday and asked us to join them for lunch there so there we were, nine of us altogether. I did ask for smaller servings but every order that came out looked so big like there was enough to feed an army.

Other than the aforementioned dish, we also had their salted egg spare ribs…

Ruby Restaurant salted egg spare ribs

– I had that before, twice, I think, but this time around, it was simply out of this world – so very generous with the salted egg yolk and the taste sure swept everyone off their feet.

We had another vegetable dish, the sweet potato leaves ching-chao (fried plain)…

Ruby Restaurant sweet potato leaves

…and everyone was amazed by how tender it was and was wondering if it was some other vegetable, bayam perhaps. In the end, they confirmed with the boss and indeed, it was sweet potato leaves – they said that the ones they had in Kuching were probably too old and were not as nice.

This has been my favourite ever since the first time I stumbled upon this place and yes, it won the hearts of all that I brought here for lunch or dinner over the years – their butter scotch prawns…

Ruby Restaurant butter schotch prawn balls

…and that day was no exception.

The Thai mango chicken…

Thai mango chicken

…was a hit as well and to wash it all down, we had the sea cucumber soup.

Everyone enjoyed the lunch very much and the bill for the 6 dishes came up to RM105.00 for the food.  I guess that was pretty reasonable considering that we had prawns and pork is not exactly cheap these days…and there was sea cucumber in the soup too, just that I did not think I came across any in the bowl that I had.

RUBY RESTAURANT  is located at No. 71, Jalan Kampung Nyabor right next to HOME COOK CORNER  (2.292756, 111.825335) with the AmBank Tunku Osman branch in the very next block.

Remembering…

I bought some wild boar meat from the Selangau market a few times but it had a terrible, somewhat offensive smell – some say it was because they added some chemical to keep it looking fresh though I would not know if there was any truth in that. Anyhow, I did not want to buy any from there again but one day, I did see a lady selling some of the meat and it looked really good. That was why I decided to take the chance again and bought some from her.

Wild boar is protected in the state of Sarawak but there is a special clause in the terms and conditions. Despite its status, the ethnic population especially those in the interior are allowed to hunt the animal for their own consumption and they may sell any excess at the market in a nearby town. That is why we can still stumble upon the meat being sold but those locals are actually not very happy with the ruling. They say that the animal is very productive so it would reproduce in large numbers plus they are very destructive, feeding on all their fruits and edible plants.

Anyway, back to the meat that I bought. I just cut a bit to cook and I was so very delighted to find that it was indeed very very good. I shared the photograph on Facebook and of course, that got everyone drooling away including my cousins in Kuching who said they had not had that for a while now. It so happened that they would be coming to Sibu in the not-too-distant future so I said I would cook for them when they came.

That was why I had them over for dinner the other evening and of course, we had the wild boar soup…

Wild boar soup

They loved it so much and praised it to the skies – just like how our maternal grandma and mums and aunties used to cook it and they commented that it sure would not be easy to get to enjoy this anymore as there are not many of us who can cook it “the correct way”.

Well, since I had them come over for dinner, I decided to cook some more of our Melanau family favourites including these giant freshwater prawns in what we call the masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric) style…

Masak kunyit

This is actually a soup dish but since I already had the wild boar soup, I reduced the amount of water added and that was why it was quite dry.

This sayur rebus (boiled vegetables)…

Sayur rebus

…is also a soup dish so I also cut down on the water used in my paku (wild jungle fern) and baby corn combo. This is so very easy to cook and if you do not have those prawns or fish for the stock, a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) will do. I just saved half a dozen of the prawns from the previous dish for this even though I did buy some ikan buris that day as I was saving those for this dish…

Buris

…the fish with serai (lemon grass), daun kesum (Vietnamese mint) aka daun laksa and dill. I’ve cooked it this way before and it was really very nice so I wanted to include that in our menu for the evening for my guests to enjoy. We did have something like this too in our Melanau side of the family before – we called it pa’is, fish or prawns wrapped in banana leaf and cooked over a wood fire or hot burning charcoal or masak kuden – rubbed with salt and slow-cooked dry in some old usually-out-of-shape cooking pot lined with banana leaves over a very very small fire but of course, I had all those herbs and leaves added to mine to bring that taste to a whole new level.

We also had the “tempoyak” from Payung

Payung tempoyak

…and the sio bee from Jakar

Jakar shumai

…that I got from my friend, Annie, that day and I went to the Bandong Ramadan Bazaar to get this bubur pedas

Bubur pedas

…for everyone to enjoy too.

For dessert, we had the Yusof Taiyoob dates

Yusof Taiyoob

…and these delightful bingka durian

Bingka durian

…that my missus would buy come the fasting month every year, also from the same Penyet Bandong stall at the Ramadan bazaar.

They enjoyed the dinner to the max and of course that pleased the “chef” very very much…and by the way, thank you so much, ladies, for coming and for  all the goodies you brought from Kuching for us. We all enjoyed your company very much too – it sure was a delightful get-together and a pleasant walk down memory lane, remembering all those happy times and our culinary favourites in days gone by.

Not for you…

My girl enjoys lamb very much and after the very nice roast rack of lamb that I took her to eat that night for dinner, I was thinking of going here

Le Cafe

…for the very nice lamb shank. I was very sure she would like that! And if anyone is wondering what the chef looks like, there is a photo of him…

Le Cafe Chef Ting

…at the back of the menu. LOL!!!

We went there for lunch the other day and the young girl who took our orders suggested something new on their menu, some Hong Kong pork chop rice (RM16.90)…

Le Cafe Hong Kong pork rice 1

…or whatever and in the end, my missus decided to give it a try.

She did not think it was anything great…

Le Cafe Hong Kong pork rice 2

…and yes, I did try a bit of the meat too and it came across to me like the soy sauce and ginger and Bombay onion pork or chicken she would cook time and time again at home…and since it probably had soy sauce in it, it was not something for my girl to have as it would not be gluten free. Otherwise, she would have loved to order their very nice claypot chicken rice but that too would have soy sauce in it so that would be another thing on the menu not for her as well. Sigh!!!

My girl and I shared the lamb shank (RM33.90)…

Le Cafe lamb shank 1

…as I had intended – it would be too huge for her to handle on her own.

We also ordered the mashed potatoes (RM6.90)…

Le Cafe mashed potatoes

…even though we did know that the meat would be served on a bed of that – we just felt we wouldn’t mind a little more and yes, it was very nice and had a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

Other than that, I asked for their coleslaw (RM5.60)…

Le Cafe coleslaw

…which was good too though I would not say it was the best in town.

As for the lamb shank, it was so good…

Le Cafe lamb shank 2

…fall-off-the-bone tender and we really enjoyed it to the max.

We sure would love to come back for that again but I saw on their Facebook page that they also have crispy pata, aka Philippine pork leg (RM50.00). Perhaps the next time we drop by here, I should give theirs a try to see if it is any good.

LE CAFE(2.299452,111.830832) is located along Brooke Drive at the Brooke Business Centre, on your left if you are driving from town, in that block of shops past Jalan Kumpang after you have gone past the building where the Sheraton Restaurant is.

I’m still good…

We have been going out quite a bit in the morning, spending quality time together now that my girl is home for the long mid-year break, and we will have our lunch outside before heading back to the house. Dinner is usually at home especially now that lately, it has been raining mid-afternoon right through the evening. Pity the people at the pasar malam (night market) and the Ramadan bazaars – I am sure their business will be adversely affected to some extent.

We have not been here for quite a while for no particular reason whatsoever – we just didn’t but that day, we decided to drop by as it was one of the places along the way where we do enjoy what they have on their menu, most of the time, at least. They have a lot of new things – some Japanese delights but we did not feel like giving them a try. At this point in time, there is this promotion – you buy two of their crispy chicken (2 pieces) rice and you can get one free but I guess that is not gluten-free as the crispy chicken would be coated with batter and deep-fried.

My girl stuck to her smoked chicken rice, drumstick (RM5.50)…

Warung BM smoked chicken rice, drumstick

…and it was so good we could detect the fragrance of the rice the moment it was served. The typical chicken rice chili dip was really good too that day – extra spicy.

My missus wanted the mee mamak but I said she had that before and it was not that great (but looking through my old post on it, I found out that it was actually quite good) so she went back to her favourite here – the ayam penyet rice (RM9.80)…

Warung BM ayam penyet rice

…and she was praising the chicken to the skies – so well-fried, crispy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside, a lot nicer than the ones here, she said.

I had their ais kacang/iced red bean (RM3.00)…

Warung BM ais kacang

…before and it was very good the first time, disappointing the 2nd time…and this time around, I would just say it was so-so. I wish they had added more santan/evaporated milk and gula Melaka (palm sugar) instead of the rose syrup which I am not a fan of. Thankfully, they did not add a lot so it was not all that strong.

This was one of the new things that they have, the nasi lemak beef rendang (RM8.50)…

Warung BM nasi lemak beef rendang 1

…and that was what I had that day. My missus said she had the nasi lemak before and it was not anything she would want to have again and I could see why. The rice did not have any of the much-coveted fragrance and taste of santan but thankfully, the rendang was really good and the spicy sambal

Warung BM nasi lemak sambal

…too, if only they had been a bit more generous with it. I wonder if I can request for more – they do oblige at some places but you will have to pay for it, around 50 sen or RM1.00.

Despite the rice being most disappointing, I did enjoy my order as a whole…

Warung BM nasi lemak beef rendang 2

…and I sure would not mind going for it again the next time we stop by here.

WARUNG BM (2.293317, 111.841781) is located right beside Medan Mall, among the shops to the right at No. 2, Ground Floor, Lorong Wong King Huo 1D. 

Walking in the sun…

I wonder how many visitors to Sibu will drop by the Tua Pek Kong Temple…

Sibu Tua Pek Kong Temple

…here with its 7-storey pagoda. I know some people will do that so they can go up to the top floor of the pagoda for a bird’s eye view of the town. Well, that sunny day, before our Korean lunch at the restaurant close by, we dropped by and walked around the place…

Riverfront

…to pass the time.

I love the decor like these colourful borders that line the corners below the ceiling, the dragons…

Dragons

…and the phoenixes…

Phoenixes

…and there are lovely carvings all around on the walls and there is this fountain…

Fountain

…there too and devotees go here to offer joss sticks to the tortoise…

Tortoise

…and also to the Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue at the back.

There is a small park further to the back, the Chiang Chuan Garden (漳泉園) with nice swan statues…

Swan

– the iconic symbol of Sibu town but I did see a headless one. Hopefully, that was not the result of some act of vandalism – some people are really incorrigible.

There are a lot more beautiful carvings…

Elephants

…though I do think some of them need a bit of washing…

Birds & peaches

…and cleaning…

Flowers

…and there are some lovely plants here and there…

Bonzai 1

…like these pots of bonzai

Bonzai 2

…for instance.

Ever so often, you will catch a glimpse of an express boat…

Express boat

…sailing past along the majestic Rejang River, the longest in Malaysia, and you can go to the wharf to see these old motor launches…

Motor launches

…and these double-decker ones…

Floating grocery stores

…that are now being used as floating grocery stores.

In the distance, you can see the Express Boat Wharf/Jetty with one of the leading hotels in Sibu in the background…

Express wharf & Kingwood Hotel

I must say that I enjoyed the walk a lot more than that time when I visited the massively huge temple complex which was somewhat dilapidated and run-down. I certainly hope they have done something by now to restore it and make it more worthwhile for visitors to go all the way to walk around the place.

THE SIBU TUA PEK KONG TAOIST TEMPLE (2.287257, 111.825988) is located along Jalan Temple at its t-junction with Jalan Chew Geok Lin.

Like it or not…

Seeing how my girl enjoyed the sambal bihun here that day, I took her to another place where we liked the fried sambal kway teow very much, but I do know for a fact that they have mee or bihun as well at this stall…

Happiness Cafe/Kong Ma Ma fried sambal noodles stall

…at the back of the shop.

I ordered that (RM4.50)…

Happiness Cafe/Kong Ma Ma sambal bihun

…for her and of course, I specifically requested that no soy sauce should be used in the cooking and yes, she liked it very much but when I asked which one was better, she would not commit herself as to which one she liked better and just said that both were good.

The mum went to this stall…

Happiness Cafe/Kong Ma Ma another stall

…and ordered the chao chai hung ngang (RM8.00)…

Chao chai hung ngang

…which was very nice with all the own-made fish balls, bay ka (tenggiri/mackerel) no less except it did not have the sourish taste and fragrance of the chao chai (preserved vegetable). Nonetheless, my girl loved the soup very much, very tasty and very strong on the traditional Foochow red wine so she kept helping herself to it in her mum’s bowl.

I saw that the stall from which I ordered the sambal bihun has something new – the KL Hokkien mee (RM6.00/RM7.00 with an egg added)…

Happiness Cafe/Kong Ma Ma KL Hokkien mee 1

…and I decided I would like to give it a try.

It had the pork rinds…

Pork rinds

…by the side of the plate and quite a number of prawns…

Prawns

…except that I think they were those not-that-sweet frozen ones sold in packs at the supermarkets so I was not all that impressed.

I loved the fried egg…

Fried egg

…though, done exactly the way I would like it.

All in all, I did not think it was anything like the nice ones I had had in KL – it could do with a stronger lard and garlic taste and a bit more of the much coveted wok hei fragrance and it did not have those thin strips of cabbage in it. To give credit where credit is due, I would say it tasted fine…

Happiness Cafe/Kong Ma Ma KL Hokkien mee 2

…just that at that price, I would much sooner go for something else that is cheaper and probably much nicer from that same stall…like the sambal kway teow, for instance.

HAPPINESS CAFE, (2.306608, 111.827179) formerly KONG MA MA, is located along Lorong Delta 4, off Jalan Delta. The left turn into Lorong Delta 9 will lead you straight to the Delta Public Swimming Pool.