If I had a hammer…

If I had a hammer, I would be able to eat crabs! That is exactly what they will give you if you have their signature dish for dinner at Hai Bing Restaurant along Jalan Maju (facing The Esplanade) so that you can crack the hard shell of the claws…

Crabs @ Hai Bing

I remember that I brought jeremychee there with Kpg Nangka Boy and the others when they came to Sibu a number of years ago. Jeremy’s was one of the earliest blogs I was reading way back then (when I didn’t have one myself) and posting comments in. But on Sunday night, I was there with a totally different group of people. In my previous post, I mentioned that Bongkersz had taken the opportunity during the long weekend to come all the way to Sibu again to visit me (Wink! Wink! LOL!!!). He was here in early July, I think and now, he’s back again…..

Bongkersz @ Hai Bing

Hang Yuh was there too; he’s an ex-student of mine who is now working in Shell (Miri) and spending most of his time jetsetting all over the globe to places like Amsterdam, France, Switzerland and so on…and putting the English he had learnt from me to good use! LOL!!!

Hang Yuh @ Hai Bing

He had contacted me a few days earlier to tell me that he would be home in Sibu for the weekend, so I asked him to join us that night. Obviously he had never been in the company of bloggers and was quite tickled by the fact that we had to say grace for every dish and no one would be allowed to touch the food until everybody had had the chance to take satisfactory post-worthy shots! ROTFLMAO!!!

Other than the crabs, I ordered a few typical Foochow specialties such as the ang chao pork leg (I must say that my wife can cook it a lot nicer!)…

Ang chow pork leg @ Hai Bing

and the tofu soup, Foochow style.

Tofu soup Foochow style @ Hai Bing

In my opinion, among all the restuarants in Sibu, Huai Bin Hai Bing does it best. Then of course, we must have the Foochow fried noodles (with gravy)…

Foochow fried noodles @ Hai Bing

…and for the vegetable dishes, we had asparagus…

Asparagus @ Hai Bing

…and midin (jungle fern) with belacan (prawn paste).

Midin with belacan @ Hai Bing

Don’t worry! It wasn’t an all-stag party as we had our sweet young thing, Clare, with us. You can click this link to her blog to see her post on the dinner.

Clare @ Hai Bing

Yes! Yes! Her photos are bigger, clearer, nicer etc…etc…etc!!! Humph! Perhaps I should stop asking her out to dinner so that she would not be posting snapshots that would put mine to shame! Sob! Sob! LOL!!! I invited Huai Bin (Don’t let that cute, lovable, innocent look fool you! Hahahahaha!!!)…

Huai Bin @ Hai Bing

…and Bengbeng to join us too but the latter had to leave earlier to attend another function.

Well, I hope everybody enjoyed the dinner and the company…and the hammering too! I most certainly did…..

P.S.: Incidentally, this is my 200th post and the last time I checked, I had 52,653 views and 4,096 comments. Keep them coming! I only have a PR3 on google page ranking while my website according to www.websiteoutlook.com is worth US$3,679.20 (It used to be US$299.50 not too long ago) with an average 1,101 daily page views. Thanks to one and all for your unfailing support!

Sailing…

Nope! We were not anywhere near the beach nor the sea, just at this very new food outlet in town named Ark, located at the Esplanade along the mighty Rejang River. The owner is somebody somewhat religiously-inclined and his other restaurant is Manna at Wisma Sanyan. Bongkersz was in town yesterday, so I took him there for lunch. Outside, it does not look like anything to shout about…

Ark exterior

…but inside, it is a different story altogether with its unique design and relatively classy ambience.

Ark 2

There seems to be a few sections on the ground floor and this is one of them. The whole place appears like it is not air-conditioned but apart from being environment-friendly, the fans plus the breeze bringing in the fresh air from the river make it quite comfortably pleasant and cool. The interior design is impressive. Formerly London Cafe and later a rather shabby Chinese restaurant, the renovations included some elaborate extensions around an old tree that they had circled with a fish pond with Japanese koi swimming around freely…

Ark 3

There is the staircase to the upper level but I did not bother to go and have a peek at what is upstairs.

ARK 4

For one thing though, the service needs a lot of improvement. We were there for a good 10 minutes or so and yet nobody came to serve us. When we spotted one of the staff, we had to wave frantically to get his attention before he came to show us the menu. There are a lot of choices – both local and western and we decided to try the former and ordered the lamb curry…

Ark lamb curry

I liked it very much and no, they did not use A1 instant curry mix! LOL! It was more expensive (RM12) than chicken (RM10), but lamb is definitely more expensive in Sibu. The meat was nice and tender and the gravy was rich enough and very tasty. Thumbs up also for the ladies’ fingers with belacan (prawn paste) that we had… 

Ark ladies' fingers with belacan

…but the bitter gourd with beef, though good enough, was not as nice as Y2K’s or Ruby’s bitter gourd with salted eggs.

Bitter gourd with beef

All that with rice…..

Ark rice

…came up to RM33.00, inclusive of drinks. Very reasonably cheap, I would say, for the fine dining experience at a much more sophisticated place than some of my usual haunts. 

Well, Bongkersz, do come to Sibu again (or anybody else who would care to drop by) and we will go sailing again…..

The girl is mine…

Never one for such formalities and pageantry, I hardly ever watched the live telecast of the National Day parade but this year is an exception because my daughter is taking part…

Hari Kebangsaan 51 Pic 1

She is somewhere there among the 2000 teacher trainees from various institutes in the country and 100 from Institut Perguruan Sultan Abdul Halim (IPSAH) in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

They have been brought all the way to participate in this year’s parade. Things were not all that encouraging right from the start since they arrived some 9 days ago. They were dumped in some apartment in Putrajaya, given nothing but ONE mattress each and they had to practise morning, afternoon and night – rain or shine! All I could say to her was that she should take it as a learning experience and such adversities would only serve to make an individual stronger and able to face the challenges ahead in one’s life…and more appreciative of whatever little blessings that we might have in our midst but had failed to realise it and appreciate them.

Hari Kebangsaan 51 Pic 2

As the days passed, she began to get used to it all and was getting excited about the big day and being a part of it all.

Hari Kebangsaan 51 Pic 3

Say what you want about me being biased and what not, but I think they put up a good show…and what is most important is that my girl is part of it all.

However, now that I am posting something about the event, there is something that I would like to bring up. My wife and I went to Seoul, South Korea in the 80s. I do not know if it is still like this today but at the time, much of the things were underground – the shops, the people moving around. They said it was because they feared an attack by North Korea. So, at ground level, it seemed like a pretty quiet city but once you stepped underground, it was bustling with life with crowds of people going here and there. At a certain time of the day, suddenly everybody stopped and stood to attention. My wife and I were still walking, oblivious to what was going on. Then I realised that the national anthem was being played over the public address system, so we quickly joined them and stood to attention as well.

This is a photo of the crowd at Dataran Merdeka as the national anthem was being played…

Hari Kebangsaan 51 Pic 4

Unlike the South Koreans, it is a real shame that nobody stood to attention to show their respect and sense of patriotism. Some even stood with their arms folded. Little things mean a lot and it is through the little things along the way that we can learn to love our country. Don’t bother talking about anything else if we can’t even do this little bit…

And to get back to the post proper, thumbs up, girl! Way to go! Daddy’s very proud of you and for your contribution to this great day!

Shall we dance…

50th Merdeka logo
From Melbie’s blog and it seems that she got it from Noktah Hitam

DANCE

By FADZILAH AMIN

We are like partners in the ronggeng,
Approaching nearer, nearer, nearer;
But just when one would think we’d meet at last,
We turn away, reverse our steps, withdraw.

And like the ronggeng too, my life seems now,
With steps mechanical, repeated, meaningless;
Arms swinging back and forth, expressing nothing,
Feet pacing up and down the floor, going nowhere.

I am tired of going through these ronggeng motions,
Long to break this impasse of reserve;
If only at one point our hands would clasp,
What rich variety of movement and gesture could be ours.

Malay traditional dance
The Anak Dalam Gading Dancers from SMK Lundu. Photo from Fred’s album@www.friendster.com

So, reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make our country a better place, if we can. It’s up to us, you and me! A Happy National Day to one and all…

P.S.: This is about the way things are and how we may make it better. PERIOD. Please do have the decency not to spam my comment box. All comments deemed unsuitable for general attention WILL be deleted. Kindly take note, thank you!

Stories…

Sometime ago, I was tagged by cc of www.quaintmelody.com and my apologies to her for having taken my sweet time to get down to it. Well, as they say, better late than never! LOL!! This particular tag is about books and reading. It is a bit long, so I have left out a few of the questions. These are the ones that I have chosen to respond to…

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
When I was young, I loved reading comics – Superman, Batman, Flash, The Phantom, The Green Lantern, Aquaman…you name it, I had read it! I also had an auntie who would buy books for me for Christmas, birthdays, doing well in examinations, so I guess that also contributed to the inculcation of the reading habit in me since young.

Children's book

What are some books you read as a child?
I do not think there were any Ladybird or Bookworm books at the time. I remember I had some fairy tale books with big letters and lots of colourful pictures. I had “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” and “Bluebeard” among others and I read Enid Blyton too…and later I progressed to The Secret Seven, The Famous Five and so on.

What is your favourite genre?
Fiction, of course…and I like to read the works of local/Asian writers with the more familiar setting and culture.

Do you have a favourite novel?
I loved “Goodbye, Mr Chips” by James Hilton and my all-time favourite has got to be “Twilight of the Nyonyas” by Chin Kee Onn…

Twilight of the Nyonyas

…until I read Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie”.

Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
I do not usually read non-fiction books unless I need some information, so it is definitely different. In fact, I have not bought many – just this collector’s item…

Non-fiction

and some books on science or nature…but I do keep abreast with such factual stuff in the magazines that I subscribe to. My missus buys a lot of recipe books though (…but hardly ever cooks! Can just drool over the pictures! Sob! Sob!).

Do you buy most of the books you read or borrow them or check them out of the library?
I normally buy my own. I love the smell of new books…like the smell of new currency notes and I cannot stand old books that have turned yellow and have a horrible stench. I may borrow from friends and family sometimes but not from any library.

Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?
I normally do…but sometimes people borrow and never return. Darn!!!

What books would you like to reread?
My daughter does that but I usually don’t except for some humorous light reading books like these perhaps…

Humour

Who are your favourite authors?
None in particular, but I used to like the short stories written by Catherine Lim, especially her “Little Ironies – Stories of Singapore”…

Books by Catherine Lim

So there you have it, cc! I’ve done it…but I’m not going to tag anybody though. Wouldn’t wanna spoil their weekend. We’re having an extended one here because of National Day. Do have a bash this weekend, everybody!

P.S.: Oops! Looks like cc tagged jeremychee and I was tagged by him. Haiz! Old man lah! Memory not so good anymore (but can remember sweet young chick better! Hahahahaha!!!!). Coincidentally, we have the same title for our posts. I know “Stories” by Taiwan singer, Ch’yi (Best known for her theme song from the Chinese movie, “Your smiling face” or her cover of Mac Davis’ “Whoever finds this, I love you”).

Just the two of us (2)…

I went out on a dinner date on Wednesday night with one young hot babe who was celebrating her 23rd birthday. Gee! I’m more than twice her age!!! So all you guys out there, go eat your hearts out! Hahahahaha!!! Well, the birthday girl in question was Clare of Kampua Talk…

Birthday girl

We went to the cafe at the Garden Hotel where the food has always been to my liking and comparatively cheaper…

Garden Hotel cafe menu

I’m not too sure about their slogan though – linguistically, that is! Anyway, it’s the food that counts…and nothing else matters or at least, for someone my age! Clare had lamb chops…..

Garden cafe lamb chops

– nicely-grilled, juicy tender lamb chops! One advantage in dining with a sweet young thing was I got to eat half of the lamb chops. Hehehehehe!!! And good grief! She did not touch her french fries and coleslaw and everything on the side!!! I would have wanted all that as well, but I had to keep myself in check as I was being the perfect gentleman…and did not want to shock the other diners and embarrass the poor girl! ROTFLMAO!!!

So I quietly licked my own plate clean… 

Garden Cafe tom yam spaghetti

This is their tom yam spaghetti. I used to have this quite often when it was on promotion and was available at a lower price. Now at RM12.00, I would rather go for the other options like their fish and chips or mixed grill. But since I had not had it for quite sometime, I decided to go for it just for a change. I also had my daughter’s favourite dessert (Gosh! She’ll kill me when she reads this! Drooling away there in Sungai Petani, poor thing!) – pancake with ice cream…

Garden Cafe pancake with ice cream

My daughter will always have it everytime we dine at the place. It is really very nice…but a bit expensive at RM6.00. On the other hand, the lamb chop is very very cheap especially when we compare it to the other places in Sibu or elsewhere (not counting those NCCA* “taman selera” places).

Well, I hope you enjoyed the dinner (and the company), Clare…and wishing you a really great year ahead! Those of you who would like to read about our date from her point of view…and drool over her much clearer and nicer pictures can click this link to her recent post on it in her blog. Just don’t say that I didn’t warn you! LOL!!!

* No class at all

You can do it…

In one of my previous posts, Drumsticks was asking me for lessons on cooking. Well, for beginners, I think Chinese cooking would be the easiest…and fastest and anybody can do it if he or she gives it a try. LOL!!! And you should pay attention too, Melbie!!! Humph!!! What do you mean you are too lazy? Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Well, yesterday I cooked this simple chicken dish. I marinated the chicken in soy sauce and added a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Then I cut four thin slices of ginger, heated a bit of oil in the wok and threw in the ginger. Keep stirring till the slices have turned a bit brown, then put in the chicken. Keep turning the pieces over and over to coat them in the simmering soy sauce. Never mind that the sauce is starting to stick to the wok. After a while, add water. Stir the water to dissolve the soy sauce that has stuck to the wok and leave it to simmer…until it dries up and you have only a little bit of thick soy sauce gravy left. Now it is ready to serve. This was what I had in the end…and it was nice! No salt and no msg!!!

Stir-fried chicken in soy sauce

Then I also cooked a vegetable dish – French beans! I usually cut them thinly and diagonally. Take two cloves of garlic, peel and chop them into tiny fine bits. Heat a bit of oil in the wok, throw in the garlic and saute until golden brown and then, put in the French beans. Add a teaspoon of chicken/ikan bilis (anchovies) stock…and a bit of water. Keep stir-frying till the beans are cooked…and this is what you will get.

Stir-fried French beans with garlic

Normally, I would break an egg and stir it into the veg for additional flavour…but my mother has developed an allergy to eggs, so I did not do that yesterday.

And if you’re one of those who must have soup with your meals, there are many easy-to-prepare clear soups in Chinese cooking, but maybe you would like to try this one…

Easy-to-cook crab and tang hoon soup

Just follow the instructions on the packet, and this is the secret! Add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce…and when the soup is ready, you will get something like sharks’ fins soup, minus the sharks’ fins which is fine, consideriing that the fish is endangered and many activists will be cursing and swearing at you for eating that! Make sure you keep stirring the soup though and turn down the fire once you have brought it to boil or it will overflow and stick to the bottom of the saucepan as well.

So, ladies…now it’s over to you. But before I sign off from this post, I received something from that old Cock(a) via email and I would like to share it with everybody. Well, Clare did a bit of pole dancing recently (I thought that is something they do at places like Patpong in Bangkok? LOL!!!), so being the kiasu fella that I am, imagine me doing that as well…

Pole dancing, STP style

ROTFLMAO!!! Have a nice day!