You’ve made me stronger…

I used to drop by this coffee shop…

Wan Long Cafe

…a long long time ago when these people were here at the back section before they moved here and then here…and now they are here, just a few doors away, enjoying really brisk business as always. In the meantime, this place looks rather quiet most of the time but it has stayed open all these years and that made me wonder if there was anything of interest that I might enjoy there.

It so happened that very early one morning, I went to the bank round the corner to get some cash via their ATM machine and since I had not had breakfast yet, I decided to stop by for a bowl of kampua noodles (RM3.00)…

Wan Long kampua mee 1

…from this stall there…

Wan Long kampua mee stall

It was all right, the noodles – nothing sensational but to me, it would be anytime nicer than the one here, now taken over by this guy’s chain of kampua mee stalls though his own place that I blogged about some  years ago has since closed down. However, when I tasted the complimentary soup, it was like WOWWWWW!!!!!

They had donq quai in the soup…

Newspaper cutting

…and yes, it was very nice. I loved it so much that a few days later, I took my missus here to try but this time around, I decided to try their liver soup (RM5.00)…

Wan Long Dong quai liver soup

…with dong quai to see if it was any good…and yes, I would say it was but personally, I would prefer it plain as those Chinese herbs were kind of overshadowed by the liver so the taste did not stand out as much as when I had it the first time or maybe that was very much earlier in the morning so the soup was not as diluted as yet, I wouldn’t know.

I had the kampua noodles again…

Wan Long kampua mee 2

…but my missus who, like my daughter, is staying away from anything and everything with gluten, went for their kway teow, tossed kampua-style (RM3.00)…

Wan Long kampua kway teow

…instead and yes, she did say it was nice.

For the uninitiated, dong quai is good for the body in more ways than one and this website claims that it is an aphrodisiac and is supposed to make me stronger, if you get what I mean. Hehehehehe!!!

I wanna go back there…

We were here

Ameer MZ Corner
*archive photo*

…in September last year and we caught a glimpse of what they had for their nasi campur (mixed rice) and everything looked good. We had something else that day and all this while, I had wanted to go back there but somehow or other, we never did.

Well, finally we did go back again that day and yes, we had their nasi campur. Here, you help yourself to the rice – there is no one there to scoop for you and I do like it this way as you can take the amount that you want, be it more or less. Then, you go and pick the items of your choice from the spread available for the day, displayed in this cabinet…

Ameer MZ Cafe nasi campur cabinet

…with the mosquito-netting covered sliding doors.

These were my selections for the day…

Ameer MZ Cafe nasi campur selections

The fish…

Ameer MZ Cafe fish & salted egg

…was all right. I was not particularly thrilled by it – maybe it was the type of fish they used and perhaps, it would be nicer deep fried…and how could I resist the salted egg when they kept calling out to me, “Take me! Take me!”? I love salted eggs!

The cangkuk manis with baby corn was very nice but it was the daging masak hitam (beef, cooked black)…

Ameer MZ Cafe daging masak hitam

…that stole the show. It was bursting with flavours, so very very much nicer than all that I had had before anywhere in town. I think a lot of those fragrant spices went into it as I did spot quite a few bits here and there.

I did not take the ulam

Ameer MZ Cafe ulam

…and this…

Ameer MZ Cafe chicken salad

…came out a little later and I thought it looked rather nice – the chicken salad.

It was not all that cheap though or at least, it wasn’t as cheap as a number of places that I’ve been to. There was a girl standing in the distance taking note of what you take and that will go into your bill. Mine was RM9.50 altogether but I thought that was quite reasonable as I had helped myself to 3 meat and 1 vegetable. My missus just had the fish and the cangkuk manis that I had and the mixed vegetables but hers came up to RM8.00. Maybe she took little scoops of each so it appeared like she had more than one serving, I wouldn’t know.

It was only 11 something and there were a lot of people there already and looking at the amount of food that was ready, I would think that there would be a lot more during the lunch break around noon unlike this place across the river even though what we had there was very much cheaper. Incidentally, I heard that actually, the people at that coffee shop are the same people running this satay stall at the car park area among the shops at Bandong here…

Noor satay stall, Bandong
*archive photo*

I had their satay

Noor satay, Bandong
*archive photo*

…a number of times and yes, I would say theirs were pretty good and if that is the case, if one is looking for some nice satay in town, that would be a good place to head to for that.

Goosey goosey gander…

The other day, I blogged about these

From Raphael's mum

…that my ex-student, Raphael’s mum gave to me, something that I had never seen before, much less tried eating them. We thought they were tomatillos but my ex-classmate/friend, Robert’s sister commented on Facebook saying that they were gooseberries. I quickly went and googled but no, they did not look anything like these…so I told her that and then she said she should have specified that they were cape gooseberries or Physalis peruviana. Ah yes!!! They certainly look the same just that they have a much nicer colour than the ones we had…so I quickly went to update that post to give the fresh information thus obtained.

In the meantime, my friend, Mary, came back from Thailand and she bought these…

Cape gooseberries

…in Bangkok and brought then back to Sibu. She said that they were labelled as just gooseberries there and she passed me some to try.

Frankly, I had never seen nor heard of this thing before – all I knew was the expression, ‘to play gooseberry”. If a couple go on a date and you go and tag along, you are said to be playing gooseberry – I think locally, people will say you are “playing lamp post” or boh ciak chang in Hokkien, literally translated as “you do not eat onions”. As the saying goes, “Two is a company, three is a crowd.”

The yellow colour of these from Bangkok…

Cape gooseberry

…brought to mind our terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal) but no, these are not as sour – just a hint of it but mostly sweet and not only is there the difference in colour but it also tastes a little different from the ones I got from Raphael’s mum. I thought comparatively, those were sweeter but of course, they were very very much smaller, about the size of a pearl. Perhaps this is a different variety like how there are some tomatoes of different shades of red and orange and there are some green ones too or perhaps, our hot weather has stunted its growth so they are not as big.

The ones from Mary are much bigger, though not all that big but as big as a 20-sen coin

Gooseberry and coin

I cut one open to have a look and this is what the cross-section is like…

Gooseberry, cross-section

It sure does not look like a tomato, does it…or maybe, just a little? According to this website, it is a fruit of the potato family. Hmmm…it sure does not look nor taste anything like a potato…and it says that it has a lot of health benefits. You can click the link to go and read all about it.

Well, at least, now I know what cape gooseberries are and thank you so much, Mary, for the ones you gave to me. No, I only tried one and I am saving the rest for my girl when she comes home. She loved the ones from Raphael’s mum – I also saved them for her other than the few that I planted and she finished all of them in one sitting. I bet she will love these too…and hey! It’s Friday today and she’ll be home for the weekend. Yeahhhh!!!!

How am I supposed to live without you…

All our lives we’ve been taking soy sauce, usually the dark version, and when we came across the mushroom soy in my younger days, we have stuck to it since. Unfortunately, like most other sauces on the shelves in the supermarket, they all contain wheat…

Mushroom soy

…so now that we are on a gluten-free diet, we will not be buying any of those anymore.

I bought this Thai fish sauce…

Thai fish sauce

…sometime ago and yes, it does not contain wheat and yes, it is very nice. In fact, I find it much nicer than the made-in-China “fish gravy” that I used to buy before, more fragrant and tastier. I would use it for my kampung (village-style) fried rice and as far as I know, Thais use it a lot for their exquisitely exotic dishes including their very delightful Pad Thai.

Thanks to Phong Hong, I came to know about the Tamari sauce and we managed to grab a bottle from an organic shop here, RM19.00 a bottle. Then, I spotted this Shouyu

Shoyu & Tamari sauce

…at a shop near my house selling all kinds of organic stuff. It was tagged at RM15.00 a bottle but the guy sold me it to me at RM14.00 without my asking and yes, there’s no wheat in the ingredients…

Shoyu ingredients

…and according to the information on the label…

Wheat and bran in soy sauce

…”…wheat flour and bran…will significantly weaken the aroma of say sauce…”.

Well, we’ve yet to open it to try as right now, we are using the Tamari sauce and as you can see from the badly-stained label, somebody has been making good use of it…while the very much cheaper Thai fish sauce seems somewhat neglected even though they would ask for more air budu whenever we go for the nasi kerabu at our favourite place in town. They taste and smell pretty much the same except that one is more refined and looks a whole lot clearer and cleaner.

I did try frying some rice with lap cheong using the Tamari sauce…

Lap cheong fried rice with Tamari suace 1

…and it turned out very nice…

Lap cheong fried rice with Tamari sauce 2

…I would say. In fact, I never added dark soy sauce when frying rice this way – I don’t like how its strong taste would overpower the fragrance of all the other ingredients used, the very reason why I would never order kampua noodles with dark soy sauce – it is all kicap!

The way things are going, it does look like we can live without a whole lot of things…or at least, we can resort to the alternatives available instead.

Don’t forget…

Well, we try to remember that we should stay away from stuff that is not gluten free but sometimes we forget.

Last Saturday, for instance, my girl said she would like to have rice for lunch and it had been quite a while since the last time we dropped by here…

Y2K Cafe

…especially now that we can no longer enjoy the Foochow fried noodles here that we do like a lot.

However, that day, we decided to just go ahead and ask for anything without wheat flour and soy sauce and to our delight, the lady boss said that they used tapioca flour to coat the meat and whatever to fry before whipping out the dish proper. That was why we ordered this sweet and sour fish fillet…

Y2K sweet & sour fish fillet

…that my girl loved a lot only to realise in the end that there was tomato sauce in it and there was wheat in the ingredients. We did not have a choice – I just told my girl to eat those few pieces by the side that were not really drenched with the sauce. I guess just a bit would be all right.

The kiam sor (salty & crusty) pork…

Y2K Cafe kiam sor pork

…was fine and yes, we enjoyed the one here. No wonder theirs is a little more crusty than some elsewhere where the batter seems softer – probably they use wheat flour.

The sweet potato leaves…

Y2K Cafe sweet potato leaves

…were all right too. We asked for it to be fried plain, with just garlic and nothing else. At least, the sauce was clear unlike at some places where we asked for the vegetables ching-chao (fried plain) and the sauce came out dark which made us wonder what actually went into the cooking.

My girl loved the salted vegetable and tofu soup…

Y2K Cafe salted vegetables and tofu soup

…and I would agree too that it was very nice, very clear and refreshing and not over-salty or sourish. We certainly would want to order this again the next time we come here and one thing’s for sure, it is definitely gluten-free.

I was quite surprised that it was quite cheap that day – the food was only around RM39.00, I think but with the rice and drinks for 3, the total came up to RM53.10 and the sweet daughter-in-law just asked for RM53.00. Yes, it was just 10 sen but such little gestures sure go a long way to keep customers happy and make sure that they will come back…unlike some places where they would just wait for you to dig out the coin or pay a ringgit when you do not have small change and they will give you 90 sen in return or worse, RM10.00 and they will give you back RM9.90. Tsk! Tsk!

Missed it…

It had been quite sometime since we last dropped by here despite the fact that we liked what we had on those few occasions when we had lunch there. The guy was asking me to try his giant freshwater prawn (udang galah) noodles for only RM15.00 at the time as he was having a promotion then and though I said I would come back for that, I never did.

Well, finally, I did go back that day but I had missed it, the promotion and it was selling at its regular price of RM20.00 a bowl. He said he had run out of the slightly smaller prawns but he would give me one huge one for RM18.00 and that was what I had…

Chopsticks prawn noodles

One this size with those long legs/claws would be selling for RM60 and above at the wet market and you would probably get around 6 or so only.

The prawn was very good – fresh, firm and succulent…

Chopsticks prawn

…and it had that much coveted rich and creamy orange stuff in the head but I did not think the noodles as a whole was all that great. It was all right, of course – with that prawn in it, it could not possibly be otherwise but I had had nicer Foochow noodles, soup elsewhere…even without the crustacean in it.

My missus wanted to try the Foochow pork with some fried cangkuk manis  by the side (RM8.00)…

Chopsticks Foochow pork with fried cangkuk manis

We were thinking that the meat that looked something like char siew (barbecued pork)…

Chopsticks Foochow pork

…was marinated with ang chao (the lees or the residue of the fermented red yeast rice from the making of Foochow red wine) but no, the guy said he used tau joo (fermented tofu) to do that. Yes, it was very nice, something like what we liked very much here, served with their cincaluk (fermented shrimps) dip, except that I am not going back there anymore, not after that very expensive dinner when we were served that not-nice-at-all steamed lajong.

The one my missus had here was very nice and the guy said that he would be selling that at RM50.00 a kilo for Chinese New Year but at this point in time, we are still contemplating as to whether to order that or not. As a matter of fact, he has a set menu of a number of dishes priced at RM288.00 available for the Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner, to be collected by 3.00 p.m. that afternoon…but it was all in Mandarin so I would not know exactly what were in the list…and anyway, I do not think we would be having that as chances are most of the dishes would not be gluten-free.

Good to see you again…

My ex-student, Raphael, contacted me to tell me he was home for a few days before going back to the States and asked if I was free to go out for lunch. Of course I was…and I saw on Facebook that he went on a holiday to Hong Kong/Macao and Vietnam/Cambodia too so I did not expect him to bring me anything like what he used to do but he did!!! Imagine him having to cart the stuff all over before coming home.

From Raphael

He read in my previous posts about my girl having to go on a gluten-free diet so he went out of his way to get these for me…

Gluten-free

…such a thoughtful and considerate boy. This looks interesting – chocolate/cocoa sauce for meat…

Mexican cocoa sauce

I would want to save them for some very special occasion so I guess I would reserve them for Chinese New Year which is just round the corner, anyway.

His mum asked him to pass me these tomatillos from her garden…

Tomatillos

You break open the pod and take it out…

Tomatillo

…to eat. They are very sweet, nicer than cherry tomatoes or for that matter, than tomatoes as well but they are very very very small.

(INFO UPDATE: I have neither seen nor tasted these before so I am just as ignorant about them as some of you but I have just received a comment on Facebook from my friend/ex-classmate, Robert’s sister that these are not tomatillos but are actually cape gooseberries or Physalis peruviana. Well, they certainly look the same as the ones in the photograph, if you click the link to go and see, except that those look more colourful, like tomatoes.)

In my mind, I reckoned Raphael would want to go for our local ethnic Dayak cuisine here especially when it would not be anything he could get there or at most places anywhere and yes, he was keen.

I picked the pansoh babi (pork cooked in bamboo)…

Anak Borneo pansoh babi

…and he loved it very much and we also had the fish with the sourish terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal)…

Anak Borneo terung Dayak fish
*Archive photo*

Somehow or other, it turned out that I did not take a photograph of that so I am using a recycled pic here.

Of course we had our favourite daun Bandong aka daun ubi (tapioca leaves)…

Anak Borneo daun Bandong

…and we tried the kasam ensabi (fermented/preserved vegetable) with pork…

Anak Borneo kasam ensabi

It was very nice, something like salted vegetables and I sure would want to have that again should I happen to drop by anytime in the near future.

We had their dabai (our local black olives) fried rice…

Anak Borneo dabai fried rice

…instead of the usual plain, white rice and Raphael liked that too.

It was not all that cheap though, everything altogether – the total came up to RM12.50 each! I did not see the price list where it used to be originally – perhaps they have moved it elsewhere – but 2 meat and 2 vegetables with rice would be RM9.50 so my guess was that they deducted RM1.00 for the rice and the dabai fried rice was RM4.00 per serving, hence the total but I do think it was value for money especially when we can’t get this easily around here plus we enjoyed what we had very much, and it was not oily and msg-free.

It sure was good to see you again, Raphael, and thanks so much for the goodies and thank you to your mum too for the tomatillos. I sure am looking forward to seeing you again on your next trip home next year. All the best, take care always, cheers!!!