After the fire…

There was a devastating fire here in 2013 that destroyed this block of shops along Blacksmith Road, now known as Jalan Tukang Besi, but they have rebuilt it and upon completion…

Blacksmith Road shops, Sibu

…it has been business as usual since. I don’t know how many of them were originally there before it was burnt to cinders but currently, there are two coffee shops here, a smaller one at the second shop from the right and this bigger one…

Sion Hin Cafe, Blacksmith Road, Sibu

…at the end of the block that stretches from this side to the other side facing the so-called Butterfly Garden, the location of the pasar malam (night market) here in Sibu and if I am not mistaken, there is at least another coffee shop or maybe two, on the other side.

We dropped by this one the other morning and I noticed that the Malay stall selling halal kampua noodles had ceased operation but there is a roti canai stall there. Further in, there is this chap fan (mixed rice) stall…

Sion Hin Cafe chap fan stall

…and I must say that the choices they had that day looked pretty good…

Sion Hin Cafe chap fan selections

They are very clear about the prices…

Sion Hin Cafe chap fan price list

…so there would not be any need to try and guess how and why they charge a certain amount for what you pick to eat.

We saw somebody eating the GIANT pao (steamed buns)…

Sion Hin Cafe giant pao

…that was a lot bigger than the ones I had in KL, named after a certain Hong Kong actress for obvious reasons (I had placed the spoon there so you can see how big they were!). It came as no surprise at all that he could not finish it and had to ask for a doggy bag to bring the rest of it home. I did catch a glimpse of the filling inside…

Sion Hin Cafe giant pao, filling

…and I would not say I was all that impressed but my missus insisted on buying two home, at RM2.50 each, to try. The skin was very nice but I did not quite care for the filling, mostly those preserved vegetables but there was HALF a hardboiled egg in it and THAT, I liked!!!

Well, that morning, we had the noodles from this stall…

Sion Hin Cafe noodles stall

…at that shop. I had the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Sion Hin Cafe Foochow fried noodles

…and yes, it was very good. I don’t think it was exactly like the original or authentic ones that we grew up eating but it had its own taste and I did enjoy it very much.

My missus had the sambal kway teow (RM5.00)…

Sion Hin Cafe sambal kway teow

…and she loved it. However, the serving was too huge for her to handle so she was not able to finish all of it and I had to help her with that. It was spicy and had the very nice hint of the fragrant belacan (dried prawn paste) and I really liked it a lot – I would say it was nicer than the noodles I had and I would prefer it to the kway teow here…and definitely a lot more than the one here.

I also caught a glimpse of the wat tan hor that someone else ordered and it sure looked very nice as well. I certainly would love to go back there again to try whatever else there is on the menu but that coffee shop is located in the terribly congested part of town and searching for a parking space can be such a pain…plus it is not free. So, we’ll see…

Don’t shoot me…

I’ve mentioned it time and time again that all opinions expressed in this blog of mine are entirely my own – what I like, you may not, what I feel is expensive or cheap, you may think otherwise…so if you do not agree with me, do feel free to say so and like I’ve always said too, it is not so much what you say but how you say it.

There are more ways than one to say the same thing. I think this is from a book on communicative English by a guy named Littlewood. The example given is: Why don’t you close the door? Depending on how you say it, that may come across as a suggestion, a reprimand, a ridicule…and if you are sitting on the bed and you let your hair down and you say that to me seductively, you know jolly well that it is none of the aforementioned. LOL!!!

So if you come and tell me that I always blog about this place and praise it to the skies but the things there are so expensive, depending on how you say it, it may come across like you are not too happy with what I have written, just to put it mildly.

Well, for one thing I would always specify the prices (unless somebody else is picking up the tab and I do not have the information I require) so you can see and judge for yourself and don’t shoot me if you do not read everything I write in my posts. If you think it is expensive, then it is your prerogative not to go to such and such a place and no, don’t shoot me if you still choose to do so despite your opinion that it is expensive…but no, I would agree to a certain extent that it may not be all that cheap though I did mention once that it may relatively be the same as or perhaps even cheaper than many places elsewhere but that would depend entirely on what and how much you order.

For a start, let’s say that you pick this Bangladeshi lamb curry…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry

…which is a whopping RM19.00 with one rice…and if you ask for another plate of rice, that will be an additional RM2.00 – RM21.00 now. There is meat in the dish with potatoes, enough for two and with the rice, that is a complete meal by itself. For an upscale cafe, I would say that is not expensive unless you want to compare it with prices at a no-class-at-all coffee shop or hawker stall.

Ok, you feel that is not enough, so perhaps you would want the pomelo salad (RM8.00)…

Payung pomelo salad

…or the Payung rojak, small (RM10.00) to go with it and maybe, you would want a mushroom roll (RM8.00) as well…

Payung Cafe mushroom roll

…that would bring the total to RM37.00 or RM39 if you are having the rojak. All that, I would say, is just nice for three so you may have to share the two plates of rice or order another plate, RM41.00.

It may be less that that if you go for the chicken dishes instead of the lamb like the green curry…

Payung Cafe green curry chicken

…or the kacang ma

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

…or perhaps you can opt for the fish…

Payung Cafe Payung fish

…or the otak otak

Payung Cafe otak otak

…which are all very much cheaper.

Of course, if you get carried away and order everything, all at one go, and you just can’t resist the lovely desserts here, then don’t blame me if the bill goes sky high. For one thing, we always ask for iced water…and we get special treatment there and it is on the house, so we get it free. Three of you would mean an additional RM3.00 for 3 glasses…but I do know of places where they charge the same or even RM2.00 for a glass, mind you! Still, most of the time, I would spend more or less the amount I would fork out eating here or here…and definitely not as much as here or here but even at those places, it may depend on what you order and how much.

And while we are on the subject of places that I often blog about, I would like to state here in no uncertain terms that if you plan on dropping by here, perhaps it would be a good idea to go on any other day other than Sunday, but of course, it is closed on Tuesdays.

We stopped by two Sundays ago after the morning service in church and it was packed so we had to leave and go elsewhere. Last Sunday, we tried again and we did manage to grab a table…but I was quite put off by the guy who went around taking orders and did not bother to come to our table (which was on the pavement outside by the extreme side) no matter how frantically I waved…even when he was standing there looking quite lost. I had to get the boss’ wife’s attention to our predicament before she sent him our way.

As it seemed, they did not have the staff to cope with the crowd on Sundays so the whole family was set loose to run the show. Even the nice lady who would wait at the tables was roped in to go into the kitchen to help out there when usually, the guy would do most of everything himself and she would go and help out sometimes with whatever she can do.

Then the food came. My missus had fried kway teow

Colourful Cafe fried kway teow

…but it looked so little, like only two-thirds of the above serving that we would usually get. What I know is the guy actually weighs the amount of noodles for each plate so it should be exactly the same – I was quite sure that I saw a lot more in some of the plates going to the other tables and I remember when he was still employed at his previous station, we did encounter the problem of a lot one day…and very little on another day.

When my nasi lemak with masak hitam beef came, I think there was just about a spoonful of the meat, definitely not as much as what I would usually have in the past, not even half of this…

Colourful Cafe nasi lemak masak hitam

…and we waited and waited for my girl’s nasi lemak with beef curry but it never came. My patience was wearing thin and I was about to explode…but my girl kept frowning and frowning – she never likes me making a scene in public so I just asked them nicely and told them to hurry up – we were going to leave right away to send my girl back to her school in the jungle.

Looking at how things would be like there on Sundays, you can jolly well guess that I would never go there again, not today nor any other Sunday from now on…and if you choose to do so and have the same not-so-pleasant experience, don’t shoot me and don’t say that I did not warn you!

Incidentally, the kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) I had that morning was like plain water with a very very slight hint of coffee in it – it was so so so horrible, the worst I have ever had!!! I asked when I was paying the bill and was told that they had a new guy there making the drinks. Well, if that is the kind of coffee that he is capable of making, I’d just have plain water next time…or I’d wait till I get home before having a drink. Sometimes, these things can really spoil one’s day! Tsk! Tsk!

Work it out…

I heard that there is a new Korean restaurant in town and friends were sharing photographs of what they ate there on Facebook so when my girl was home for the weekend last week, I took her there for lunch at around noon on Saturday – I had read in some of the comments that for some reason, it was not open for dinner till the 19th.

When we got to the place, there were a lot of people standing outside, waiting for a table and there was no proper queuing system so I guess you could just grab any that was made available, the survival of the fittest. Tsk! Tsk! It has some kind of a coffee shop setting, nothing fancy, nothing impressive, no nice decor, nothing (I would say that I have seen some coffee shops around here that are a whole lot nicer) and when I looked around, I saw that more than half of those seated either had not ordered or they were still waiting to be served and none of them looked very happy. Of course we did not bother to wait and left the place right away.

I don’t know whether we will ever go back there again but for one thing, I did get to see the menu here and the things sure look rather expensive for a dowdy place like that and it made me wonder what prompted somebody to say that it was cheap, nice and cheap.

Anyway, that day, we made our way to this coffee shop just round the corner…

Liza Cafe, Sg Merah Sibu

…where I thought the food was indeed really nice and cheap but I really could not work out how they charged us each time – here and also here.

As a matter of fact, my missus and I dropped by there the day before, Friday…and as it was our no-meat day, I had this…

Liza Cafe, nasi campur 1

– half a salted egg and two types of fish, the very nice stingray curry and the fried kembong

Liza Cafe, kembong

…which was quite good too. Very often, at many places, they would use the cheap frozen-for-too-long ones that are neither sweet nor tasty, so very bland despite all that they use to marinate the fish.

I was wishing they had split the stalks of the paku (wild jungle fern)…

Liza Cafe, paku

…into two though as it was quite a task for me to chew. Thankfully, it was nicely done and we had all the time in the world so I did manage somehow and licked the plate clean.

As always, my missus was more disciplined and she had the stingray curry as well plus 2 types of vegetables…and this time around, I did find out that our drinks cost RM3.00 only, one kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) and one iced lemon…so deducting that from the overall total of RM14.00, the food cost us RM11.00. Gee!!! It was RM13.00 the last time, inclusive of drinks, and I picked 5 items altogether then, this time only 4. Perhaps fish is more expensive, I wouldn’t know.

As for our lunch the very next day. my missus tried their mee mamak (RM4.50)…

Liza, mee mamak

…which they said was all right though I did not see them getting all excited about it so I guess it was just that, all right.

I also ordered the rojak tambi (RM3.00)…

Liza Cafe, rojak tambi

…from the stall at that shop even though we did not really intend to have that with our lunch. I noticed that the man could only use his left arm – his right arm was hanging limp by the side. I did not ask why but I just thought I would order something from him just to give him some extra business and help him out a bit. It was not as nice this time around though – the peanut sauce was not as thick, a little too watery but the cucur ( fritters) were slightly better, not as rubbery.

So what did we eat from the nasi campur stall? My girl had this…

Liza Cafe, nasi campur 2

…the lamb curry with the sambal brinjal and fried ladies’ fingers, 3 items only – one meat and two veggie while I had this…

Liza Cafe, nasi campur 3

…the beef curry with potatoes, the sambal egg and the lovely fried egg with all those golden frills…the sambal brinjal and the daun ubi masak lemak (tapioca leaves in coconut milk), 5 altogether and minus the drinks and my missus’ noodles, the total for our two plates of nasi campur came up to…RM11.00 – exactly the same as what we had the day before.

No, there is no way I can work out as to the how or the why – just eat!!! LOL!!!

We’re back…

My friend, Mary, contacted me and asked me when I would be free to go back here

Flavours Thai Kitchen, exterior

…for her chicken rice that we loved so much the last time around and praised to the skies. Well, for the uninitiated, this is the Flavours Thai Kitchen at the Orchid Hotel (2.292906, 111.828398) at Brooke Drive here in Sibu where this used to be sometime ago. Of course, if it has got anything to do with food and such good food at that, I am available anytime! Hehehehehe!!!!

Well, before I knew it, there we were, back again the very next evening, with my missus and my friend and ex-classmate, Robert, and all the rest for the awesome simply-the-best chicken rice in town and the perfectly done white steamed free range chicken…

Flavours Thai Kitchen steamed chicken

…to go with it…and if you think that was all there was, you couldn’t be more wrong. If you know Mary, you can expect a whole lot more than you can imagine so the dishes kept coming like they were never ever going to stop.

This was the table setting for another big group of people there that night…

Flavours Thai Kitchen table setting 1

…and this was our table…

Flavours Thai Kitchen table setting 2

…complete with “excavators”…

Flavours Thai Kitchen chili and toothpicks

…for anyone who may need to do some excavation works in the course of the evening. LOL!!! The chili dip in the bowl on the right was for the chicken and it went so very well with it that everyone went back for more and in no time at all, it was all gone.

We also had the grilled catfish (ikan keli)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen grilled catfish

…which was really good but somehow it did not to go down too well with the rest. Perhaps, they were not all that keen to mess up their fingers and it was quite a hassle eating that with a spoon and a pair of chopsticks. Of course I did not care and jumped right in – I could always go to the washroom to wash my hands right after that. I had my fair share of three of those – the rest did eat a bit, all of them, and Mary was so sweet as to insist that I took the remaining three home. Yippee!!!

The mango kerabu (salad) on top was so good and Mary even asked the chef to make more so I could take that home as well along with the fish…and I took home with me what was left of the huge bowl of chicken rice too. “face palm* Ah well. Mary insisted that good food should never ever go to waste and of course, I wholeheartedly agree. Hehehehehe!!!!

There was this dish of shrimp sashimi

Flavours Thai Kitchen shrimp sashimi

…too and I loved it! Some were of the opinion that it was too spicy but I thought it was just nice. Then, Mary got me this – the sea crab sashimi

Flavours Thai Kitchen sea crab sashimi

…from another table to try…and I heard someone saying, “How come he has crab and we’re not getting any?” Na na na na na!!! LOL!!! Yes, it was very nice too, the first piece that I had and I loved it! Then I went on to the next piece and oh boy!!! You can guess from all those chili seeds on it what happened! Hmmmm…if any of the rest had that, they would be drinking gallons of water to “put out the fire”, I’m sure.

Because of the general opinion of the rest, Mary asked the chef to tone down the level of spiciness of the som tam (green papaya salad)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen som tam

It was good too and there were prawns and sotong (squid) in it but between the two, my vote would go to the mango salad on top of the grilled catfish. I felt that was much nicer.

Then, there was this dish of chicken satay

Flavours Thai Kitchen chicken satay

…and I enjoyed a couple of sticks just like that. Each one was bursting with the flavours of the marinades that went into the cooking though I wouldn’t mind it if it had been grilled a little bit more for those lightly burnt edges that would enhance the taste even more. I did hear praises of the dip, something with pickled cucumber or whatever, but no, I just had it on its own and it was good enough for me – anything that tastes so good, I would not want to drown it out with whatever sauces or dips.

There was also a dish of kangkong fried with lots of garlic and whatever else but I did not manage to take a photo of that – I was enjoying the fish at the time and it was all gone before I could take out my camera. Then, somebody said that Mary’s kampua mee was so very good…and she insisted on getting the chef to make one for me…

Flavours Thai Kitchen kampua mee

…and it was indeed very nice! No, it was not the same as any other kampua mee as everyone would know it – it had its own special taste and yes, I did enjoy it very much.

It was indeed another delightful evening with the most wonderful dinner – thank you so much, Mary, for having us all back again. Cheers!!!

Pleasant and delightful…

I was planning to come here that night to check this place

Eco-Delight Cafe, Sibu

…out but we ended some place else for a dinner that was not all that great plus I thought it was rather expensive.

Well, if it is of any interest to anybody, this place has opened another outlet…

Fish Culture II

…here to the right, just two doors away.

Back to the café that we went to, it really is a very nice place…

Eco-Delight, inside

…with an open kitchen concept…

Eco-Delight, open kitchen

…so one would be able to see the hive of activity inside – I did spot two or three very young and handsome chefs and a couple of helpers, all caught up with their work the whole time we were there.

No, I would not say it is one of those classy, fine dining (and expensive) restaurants – I would categorise it as some kind of family restaurant, a pleasant and delightful place to bring the whole family to for a nice and inexpensive dinner. If I am not wrong, it opens from 3.00 p.m. onwards so dropping by here for lunch is out of the question.

Having said that, I wish they had a cabinet with sliding doors instead of the open one right below the kitchen window – with all the plates, bottles of sauces (right)…

Exposed cabinet and boxes

…and everything else dumped inside, all exposed…or maybe they can move it some place else and yes, they should put those boxes away too…for I do feel all those kind of spoil what would have been a very nice place.

Service was excellent with all the young eager beavers, all ready to please but I spoke Mandarin to them the whole time so I am not too sure if they are conversant in English or not. Maybe I will try next time. They had these lovely cakes…

Eco-delite Cafe, cake counter

…on display in their cake counter but I didn’t have any that evening.

My girl had the Hainan chicken chop (RM7.90)…

Eco-Delight Hainan chicken chop

…and yes, it was very nice. My girl did let me try a bit of the chicken and I thought it was very good. The only time I had this before was the unbelievably cheap one in Penang but I hear the place has closed down, no longer there. I wouldn’t mind ordering this for myself the next time we drop by here but I probably would be torn between that and the grilled chicken chop with mushroom sauce (RM7.90)…

Eco-Delight grilled chicken chop with mushroom prices

…that my missus had and I did try a bit of it as well and that too was very good.

Oooopsss!!! Gotta get rid of the plate now…

Eco-Delight Cafe chipped plate

…I’m afraid!

I had their spaghetti chili beef (RM8.90)…

Eco-Delight spaghetti chili beef

…which I thought was all right, not something I would be rushing back for more but it was o.k. I think those were strips of beef bacon, not fresh beef, and despite the name, I could not detect any chili in it. They probably would have to be a lot more generous with the chili powder.

I did not want anything too heavy as I also ordered their chicken quiche (5 for RM9.90)…

Eco-Delight chicken quiche

…that a friend on Facebook said was very nice. To me, I thought that indeed, they were nice but I would not say they were anything spectacular. I liked how they served them like this…

Eco-Delight chicken quiche set

…though – on a wooden paddle. That sure would come in handy if anyone is in for a spanking. Ouch! Ouch! Muahahahahahaha!!!!

I did see somebody else having their baked cheese mussels and they were served like that too. They looked pretty good so I probably would order those to try next time…and hopefully, they would have the cheese croquettas that were on their menu but were not available that night.

Sky juice was 50 sen a glass, 100 Plus was RM3.50 and iced lemon lime with plum was RM5.00, bringing the total to RM43.60 – no GST. I thought that was really cheap but incidentally, except for the quiche, those were promotional prices so I would not know what everything would cost when they are not on promotion.

All in all, we liked the place, the people, the food…and the prices so you can expect to see us back there again.

Bears…

I saw some people over in the peninsula blogging about this…

Bear Paw

…but I never did bother to read to see what they actually were. I just assumed they were some kind of mantao (steamed buns) with the imprint of the bear paw on each of them, some kind of a gimmick to draw the crowd.

Then I heard that somebody had opened an outlet at a megamall here and recently, a friend shared a photo of it on Facebook but he never said anything about it, what it was…but he did say it was worth a try. It so happened that when my girl came back to town last Friday, she was at the supermarket at that megamall with her mum, shopping for her rations for the week ahead and before she was done, it started to rain really heavily so she called me to tell me that they would come home later when the rain had eased.

I asked her to buy home one of those bear paws for me to try and that was what she did…

Bear paw burger, chicken

She said that it was chicken – they did not seem to have fish anymore – and since it was my no-meat Friday, I just chucked it in the fridge and the very next morning, I heated it in the oven for my breakfast. Oh no!!! It turned into something like bread or a bun…

Bear paw burger, toasted

…but thankfully, it was very nice. I liked how it had a nice crusty top but now, I would not know exactly what it would be like originally.

As it turned out, it was quintessentially a burger…

Bear paw burger

…and it had chicken slices inside…

Bear paw burger, inside 1

…not patty plus a bit of lettuce and what seemed like cheese to me…

Bear paw burger, inside 2

…and some kind of dressing, probably honey mustard.

It was nice, that much I would say but when I asked my girl how much it was, I almost died!!! That thing cost over RM12.00 for just one of it!!! I said that she should not have bought it since it was so expensive but she said it was all right – at least, I would get to try it…and according to her, there were quite a number of people there eating. Good grief!!! People must be really rich to be able to afford that!

Ok, so I’ve tried it and ok, it was nice but I would not think it was anything exceptional that I would reserve for some very special occasion to indulge in and pamper myself with – the bottom line is…it is what it is, just a burger.

Beside you…

I’ve blogged about this place a couple of times – I used to go there for the kampua noodles which I thought is quite nice and more recently, I went there for the Foochow fried noodles which I could remember having before a long time ago and yes, it was nice too…but the last time I was there with my relatives from Kuching, we ordered one big plate (RM15.00) to share but it was not really that good.

Anyway, when I was there, I noticed that they had taken over the shop unit right beside the original one or that was what I assumed until my friend, Robert, told me that it…

Sibu Cafe

…seemed to be a different place altogether and the beef noodles he had there were pretty good so I just had to go and check it out.

Well, I found out that it was the one and the same shop with the name in English this time, Sibu Cafe instead of Kedai Kopi Sibu. This new section is very nice, quite unlike the not-so-impressive old school kind of coffee shop next door but the drinks that you order all come from there. There is a stall here and you can see from these displays on the wall what you can order from there, the mee sua or hung ngang in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Sibu Cafe displays 1

…or kompia or fish balls tang hoon (glass noodles) or perhaps, you would like their beef noodles…

Sibu Cafe displays 2

…or beef tripe noodles using their own-made “hand-beaten” mee.

They certainly were not all that generous with their chili dip…

Sibu Cafe beef noodles chili dip

…but it was all right as they had it all on the counter at their stall and my missus went and helped herself to more and they did not even bat an eyelid.

She had the beef tripe noodles (RM7.00)…

Sibu Cafe gu tor mee

…while I had the beef noodles (RM7.00)…

Sibu Cafe beef noodles

…and though they were quite nice and the servings were huge (lots of noodles, especially), we do think that for this kind of what they call Taiwan-style beef noodles, the one here has an edge over this one plus it is cheaper by one ringgit.

I may go back there again and perhaps I would try their mee sua the next time around or maybe I would just go back to the kampua mee or Foochow fried mee stall next door.