Stars are blind…

Victor had a post on this place sometime ago – the Twin Star Barbecue Steamboat House near the Sibu bus station, round the corner from the Rasa Sayang Cafe. I went there last week with an ex-student who is now a practising lawyer. (Nope! Don’t worry! I’m not seeking his professional services to write out my will or anything! LOL!!)

Sibu's Twin Star - steamboat and BBQ grill

At this place, adults pay RM19.00 per head for the eat-all-you-can buffet and you can help yourself to a choice of beef, chicken, fish (sliced frozen fish fillet), cuttlefish and prawns…

Sibu's Twin Star - meat and stuff

Ummm…perhaps prawns isn’t exactly the right word as they were tinier than my little pinky finger! Then there’s a section of fish balls, sotong balls, prawn balls and whatever balls, crab sticks and so on and on the other side, they have the vegetables…

Sibu's Twin Star - veg and stuff

For a moment, I thought those light yellow things were Japanese tofu…but then, I saw that they were labelled “Butter”. No, it was not butter, that’s for sure, but margarine instead – Planta or one of the cheaper brands, that is and not one of those mono or poly-unsaturated stuff! They wrap the portions in cling wrap to prevent wastage, and I should think that it is a pretty good idea as it would be cleaner too compared to providing a bowl of it and getting the customers to scoop as they like.

To the right, you can see the sambal belacan sauce…and I must say it was really very very nice. I think if I were to go back there again, it would be because I liked the sauce so much. There were some trays of fried noodles, kway teow and mihun but I did not bother to take those as they would only serve to fill you up so that you would not be able to eat so much. Drinks are also provided and you can help yourself to the variety available – orange, lemon, soya bean, herbal tea etc…etc…etc…but of course, the more you drink, the less you can eat.

For dessert, there is ice cream…

Sibu's Twin Star - free ice cream

Just look at the mess that the customers had made! I did not have any though as I was already very full…after just one round. I would think that it was somewhat expensive at RM38 for two or RM57 for 3 persons. With that kind of money, I would be able to enjoy a much more delicious meal at places like the Ruby Restaurant…unless you are the kind that can eat like a horse and go for 4-5 helpings.

And I wished they would not play such loud music – Chinese canto-pop and to make it worse – Jay Chou all night long! After a few rounds of the “Fearless” theme song, it was already getting on my nerves…and I had to make a quick exit for some peace and quiet. Hey! Wait a minute! Perhaps that was their ploy to make sure that diners do not stick around too long and eat too much???

P.S.
You can hop over to Victor’s blog to see the much nicer photos that he had posted. (See, Vic! I’m so nice! Doing promo for you! You owe me one there! LOL!!!)

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New kid in town (3)…

On Sunday, we went to the morning mass service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here…

Sibu's Sacred Heart Cathedral

…after which we went looking for this new dimsum place in town…

Sibu's MF Treatment Dimsum

Don’t ask me why it is named MF Treatment Sdn Bhd because I also do not know. If we did not spot some people eating out of bamboo baskets, we would not have known that was the place. I wanted to sit outside as there would be better light for my photos…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - outside

…but the old lady wanted to sit inside in air-conditioned comfort, amidst the crowd and the noise…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - inside

The char siew pao were quite nice but nothing spectacular…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - char siew pao

…and likewise, the siew mai

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - siew mai

…and the har kau…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - har kau

They all tasted all right but lacked the finesse of what we can get from an authentic dimsum restaurant. As a matter of fact, I would think it is along the same line as what we can get from dimsum stalls in coffee shops and hawker centres. But I just cannot say the same about the lor ma kai  though..

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - lor ma kai

It was soft and soggy and did not even have the taste to redeem it. I would sooner go for the RM5 pillow dumpling from the five-foot-way stall in Rejang Park. These deep-fried balls were quite all right…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - fried balls

The skin was chewy or rubbery and there was some meat filling similar to the stuff you can find in a meat pao/dumpling but generous would be the last word I would use to describe it. And they had durian pastry too…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - durian pastry

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - durian pastry inside

Just one look at it and you can tell that it would come nowhere near the ones we can get at the Mitsu Tea House. Not only do they lose out as far as the skin is concerned but the filling is not as substantial and does not taste as rich and nice. We also had some fried noodles…

Sibu's MFT Dimsum - fried noodles

Goodness gracious! The taste was okay but I could bite into the lumps (not grains, but obviously lumps of grains stuck together) of sugar.

The menu was completely in Mandarin and I did not like the young and cocky Mandarin-speaking kid who waited at our table either. I struggled with the orders in the language and when it was all done, he said something in Hokkien. I had tried using the dialect initially but he acted like I was speaking Greek as if he could not comprehend me! Later he came and asked if we got everything we ordered and I told him that we were still waiting for the fried noodles but he said it was not in the order. So I just let it pass…and after a while, he came with the noodles! I wish they would just push everything around in trolley carts and we could just pick what we wanted from there.

Later, I saw a woman employee with some plastic bags and I asked for one to tapao the remaining lor ma kai that we could not finish…but she refused to give me one and gestured for me to go to the back and get it myself! Gee! What kind of service is that?

The place lacked the sophistication and the ambience of the Mitsu Tea House or to be more precise, it was like a coffee shop! The bill came up to RM34.50 (inclusive of 3 drinks)  which was more or less, what I would have to pay if we had gone to the other place. All things considered, I doubt I would ever go back there again…

Tea for two…

Well, my daughter’s home and we spent the morning yesterday watching “Mamma Mia – the movie” together. It was my second time and I found it just as entertaining as when I first watched it. I did mention in my reply to one of the comments in my previous post that I had cooked Foochow ang chiew (red wine) chicken soup and mee sua (string noodles) for my daughter for lunch. She enjoyed that a lot and after that, we went out to roam around the shops and window-shop to spend some quality time together. At around 3.00 pm, it was time for tea, so we headed to…

Sibu Thomson Corner

…at Pusat Tanahwang, opposite Sacred Heart Secondary School. I’ve had a number of posts earlier on this place on its Sarawak laksa, seafood kampua, nasi lemak and nasi ayam pattaya, all of which are pretty good, I must say. I had the ang tau peng (red beans with shaved ice)…

Sibu Thomson Corner's ang tau peng

The red beans were well-cooked, nice and soft and the sweetness is just right. It was rich enough a bit of santan (coconut milk) plus evaporated milk to that and pleasantly sweet with gula melaka (brown palm sugar). Personally I found it very nice and I would not mind going back for that again. My daughter had the ang tau cendol which was something similar except that it had those green jelly-like things in it. You can click on this link to see the photo my daughter took of it. Other than those, we also ordered a plate of jiew hu eng chai (cuttlefish and water cress)…

Sibu Thomson Corner - jiew hu eng chai

…but it was nothing to shout about, I must say because the dip provided tasted like kuah rojak, not what one usually has with the dish so I found that somewhat disappointing. We also had this plate of sotong salad (cuttlefish/calamari salad)…

Sibu Thomson Corner sotong salad

This has always been my daughter’s favourite even before she went for further studies and she still loved it, so much so that she finished most of that herself. We also stopped by the Sibu Central Market as my mother had been asking for buah pakon (wild durian) and luck was on our side! I managed to get 4 for RM18.00…

Sibu's wild durian - buah pakon

We opened two and my mother ate most of that. They are not very substantial actually. They are smaller than durians, not as mushy and sweet and the smell is not so pungent. The flesh is more or less orange in colour. We are saving the remaining two for her to enjoy another day.

My daughter and I were still quite full by dinnertime, so we just stopped by the Soon Hock Cafe that I’ve posted about here and here, and she had the pian sip (kiaw/wanton) dry while I had the kampua with pian sip. Gosh! That certainly was a day well-spent, don’t you think?

Home (2)…

I’m staring out into the night
Trying to hide the pain
I’m going to the place where love
And feeling good don’t ever cost a thing
And the pain you feel’s a different kind of pain

I’m going home
Back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me

I’m not running from
No, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me

But these places and these faces are getting old
So I’m going home
Well I’m going home

Baby's back...
My daughter upon arrival at Sibu airport yesterday

The miles are getting longer, it seems
The closer I get to you
I’ve not always been the best man or friend for you
But your love remains true
And I don’t know why
You always seem to give me another try

So I’m going home
Back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me

I’m not running from.
No, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me
But these places and these faces are getting old

Ruby's claypot fish
Ruby Restaurant’s claypot fish

Be careful what you wish for
‘Cause you just might get it all
You just might get it all
And then some you don’t want

Be careful what you wish for
‘Cause you just might get it all
You just might get it all, yeah

Ruby's sotong salad
Ruby Restaurant’s calamari salad

Oh, well I’m going home
Back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me

I’m not running from
No, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me
But these places and these faces are getting old

Ruby's Thai-style midin
Ruby Restaurant’s Thai-style midin

I said, these places and these faces are getting old
So, I’m going home

I’m going home

Lyrics of “Home” by Chris Daughtry. Click the above link to listen to the song (featuring Final Fantasy anime video clip).

In the morning…

In the morning yesterday, I did not go out for breakfast so I cooked myself this plate of Mamee Mi Poh Goreng and fried an egg – sunny side up.

STP's Mamee Mi Poh Goreng plus fried egg

I think I prefer Indomie but anyway, this post is not going to be about that. My friend, an ex-colleague, has just given me a pot of fermented durian (tempuyak) the day before but the problem is her hubby has added too much salt to it (He said that the Bidayuhs usually add a lot of salt when making tempuyak) so it is very salty and other than that, it has not really fermented yet, so it tastes something like fresh durian with a whole lot of salt.

In spite of that, I still wanted to cook some fish with fermented durian (ikan masak tempuyak) for my mother. That was why I could not go out for breakfast. The fresh prawns (udang galah) that I cooked with tempuyak when Cooking4stp was here were absolutely delicious but my mother has this allergy for crustaceans, so I had to substitute it with fish instead. These were the ingredients that I prepared… 

STP's fish with fermented durian - ingredients

I pounded two shallots – peeled and sliced, three cloves of garlic – also peeled and sliced, one chilli and a small 1-cm piece of tumeric (kunyit) and I had two stalks of lemon grass (serai), the ends of which had been crushed. I defrosted one piece of fish fillet and cut it into bite-size pieces.

After heating a bit of oil in the wok, I put in the pounded ingredients and the lemon grass and sauteed for a bit before adding half a tablespoon of sugar. After a while, I added two tablespoons of tempuyak and two cups of water and once the gravy started boiling, I put in the fish. Simmer till the fish was cooked, and presto! The dish was ready…

STP's fish with fermented durian 1

For one thing, as the tempuyak was so salty, I could not add the usual anchovies (ikan bilis) stock to enhance the taste and because it had not fermented, the tempuyak taste was just not there. Still, it tasted nice, something like masak kunyit with assam (cooked with tumeric and tamarind) but it could not match what I cooked for dinner when Cooking4stp was here.

STP's fish with tempuyak 2

Never mind! I will try again when I can get my hands on some nicely-fermented tempuyak. In the meantime, perhaps you would like to give it a try and then you can tell me how it goes…

An old Christmas card…

When I was small, like any other child, I would look forward to Christmas as I would be getting new clothes and lots of presents. We had artificial Christmas trees with branches that looked like toilet brushes, or to be more precise, those brushes that people use to clean the inside of their baby’s milk bottles and one thing that I used to do was to stick the cards on the walls to create the shape of a Christmas tree.

Every year, around this time, I would be sending out the cards to relatives and friends, far and near because come December, I would be too busy marking the public examination English Language papers to do that. If, for some reason, I was unable to do so, then everyone would not be getting any for that particular year. I think I heard somebody saying once that whenever they got  a Christmas card in November, they knew it had to be mine.

Sadly though, Christmas cards have gone out of style or so it seems. I would send out a lot but each year, I would probably get less than 10 in return – hardly enough to make a decent-looking tree. Everybody prefers to send their season’s greetings via sms, so much so that the networks would be jammed all through the night on Christmas Eve till Christmas morning.

I don’t know if there are others like me but I would just delete those messages once I have read them but I would cherish nice Christmas cards that have been carefully chosen, with beautiful wordings that reflect the affection and sincerity of the ones who have sent them. Somehow I feel that it is very much more meaningful like this.

And talking about that brings to mind one of my favourite Christmas songs by Jim Reeves. The lyrics go like this:

There’s an Old Christmas Card in an old dusty trunk
And it brings back sweet memories dear to me
‘Though it’s faded and worn, it’s as precious as the morn
When I found it ‘neath our first Christmas tree

Chorus:
I thrill with every word, every line
Guess I’m always sentimental ’round this time
Pardon me if a tear falls among my Christmas cheer
It’s the memory of an Old Christmas Card

(Recitation)
You know, I don’t know why I get to feeling sentimental
about this time, every year
But every time I see a Christmas card,
I somehow can’t help reminiscing
About the very first Christmas that you and I spent together
What a beautiful Christmas card you gave me that year
Why I know you must have looked through thousands of cards
To find that wonderful poem that still brings a tear to my eyes

My sentiments exactly! Well, you can click on this link to listen to the song if you have never heard it before…and have you bought your Christmas cards yet?

Everybody knows…

I would think that this place needs no introduction, judging from the crowd there every morning from 8 to 10 a.m.

Sibu's Chip Chung Cafe 1

Everybody knows about the beef noodles here, it seems, at the Chip Chung Cafe. It is right behind the Sibu Kidney Foundation building (You can see the back portion in the photo) – the blue and white corner shop. Formerly, the lady had a stall at Chopsticks (that has since moved to the Delta Commercial Centre, also near my house), a coffee shop in the town centre next to HSBC. I used to bring my daughter there when she was small as she liked the soup – just beef and soup, nothing else. On one of my recent visits, the lady asked where my daughter had gone too and I told her that she had gone for further studies. “How fast time flies by!” she remarked.

Sibu's Chip Chung Cafe 2

The lady runs the stall in the front portion of the shop, and the main attraction is the kampua kosong (plain kampua noodles) with beef soup…

Sibu's kampua with beef soup

Actually, I have featured this before in an earlier post. Now, an alternative would be the beef noodles soup…

Sibu's beef noodles soup

…but personally, I would opt for the former as there are nicer ones of the latter elsewhere. She has other things to offer as well like pian sip aka kiaw or wanton and the usual kampua. I have never tried these, but this little girl seemed to be enjoying the kampua and stuffing her face with it…

Eating kampua in Sibu

But do avoid the peak hours though, as the lady might be in a pretty foul mood and could just snap at you. Other than that, be forewarned that everything will be sold out by around 10.00 a.m. Anyway, you may also choose to eat the fried stuff from the back portion of the shop. People say that the only-in-Sibu egg-wrapped fried kway teow is the nicest around, nicer than what you can get here or here. I wouldn’t know, of course, as I would stick loyally to the kampua kosong with beef soup…all the time.

In comparison, probably fewer people would know of this place – the Sibu Coffee Shop at Pusat Tanahwang. Acey lived close by and would be familiar with this place and the Star World Cybercafe right next door (So at certain times in the day, you will hear the two world wars plus a third one thrown in for good measure, raging inside!)….

Sibu's Kedai Kopi Sibu

I used to come here quite frequently when I was teaching at SMK Sacred Heart across the road on the other end. If you’re looking for more original/authentic kampua, what you can get here is not bad at all, I would say…

Sibu Cafe's kampua

This certainly looks and tastes more like the Ah Kow kampua at Kiaw Siong Restaurant that some of us grew up eating. Nope, it isn’t 50 sen a plate like during my childhood days but at RM2.20 a plate, it is the same as at Rasa Sayang and cheaper than at some other places, and so is the pian sip (kiaw/wanton)…

Sibu Cafe's kampua & pian sip

Personally, I would prefer the kampua-kolo mee fusion at Rasa Sayang or that at Soon Hock Coffee Shop (despite what they say about the lady’s long hair) but whenever I am in this vicinity, I may just drop in to have something different for a change.