My friend, Jimmy, from Bintulu is in town and owing to his tight schedule, we could only manage to get together for breakfast this morning. He consented to my suggestion of having some dim sum, so there we were at the Mitsu Tea House again. I opted to sit downstairs instead of the air-conditioned 1st floor section so that I could take better photographs in the natural light and they would not be affected by the yellow lights inside. It was quite cool actually, after the whole day of rain yesterday.

We had the usual dim sum favourites including siew mai

Sibu's Mitsu siew mai

and har kau

Sibu's Mitsu har kau

and char siew pau

Sibu's Mitsu char siew pau

…and I also ordered these crabstick rolls wrapped in seaweed. I had some the last time I was here and I felt it was nicer than both the siew mai and har kau…and Jimmy agreed. He was impressed that he could feel the texture of the meat inside unlike other places where the filling is all so finely-minced  that you really do not know what is inside.

Sibu's Mitsu crabstick seaweed roll

We also had these pork ribs with black beans…

Sibu's Mitsu pork ribs with black beans

It was nice but I would not think that it was anything to rave about. I also ordered this for Jimmy as he loves it…but on my part, I would never touch the stuff!!!

Sibu's Mitsu chicken claws

Chicken claws! Eyew!!!…Thanks, but no, thanks! LOL!!! I also had these custard tarts before…and I ordered them again as I liked their puff pastry. You can taste/feel the crispy layers and this special characteristic makes it better than any puff pastry that I had had elsewhere…

Sibu's Mitsu custard tarts

Hey! Wait a minute! What are these? Either they are new, or I did not notice them before in the menu. Durian pastry!!!

Sibu's Mitsu durian pastry

Suddenly, the puff pastry of the custard tarts is redelegated to second place! This one is so very fine, so brittle…that it melts in your mouth and yet, it does not crumble in your hand! I do not know if the ones in Kuching have the same kind of filling…but what was inside looked and felt like kaya but tasted somewhat like durian dodol, except that it was not rubbery or chewy like those things you get from Tan Kim Hock (which I do not quite fancy!!!) nor was it too sweet…

Sibu's Mitsu durian pastry - inside

The verdict! Well, should I be going there again, this is one thing that I definitely must have! Between the two of us, we managed 6 laus (storeys) and 2 plates of pastries…

Sibu's Mitsu multi-storey

…and we got another 2 storeys of char siew pau for my mum. All that for around RM40, inclusive of drinks. I would think that’s pretty reasonable for a special dim sum restaurant; at best, it would only be a bit cheaper if you eat at the coffee shops and there is/are none/no nice ones in Sibu, anyway!

So what do you think, Cooking4stp? Dim sum breakfast on the 18th morning??? I wouldn’t mind going there….AGAIN! LOL!!! 

Have you ever (2)…

Have you ever eaten these before ?

Buah pangai

These are called buah pangai in Melanau and if I’m not mistaken, the local Malay name for it is buah bawang (which sounds like onions) and the Foochows call it mawang…which sounds like the name of a local YB’s name mispronounced. LOL!!!

I usually eat it when it is ripe. Inside, it is orange in colour and it is sliced like mango and eaten ulam-style with sambal belacan. As for the taste, it is sort of sourish sweet and something like quinie (the local mango) or buah emplam. Other than that, you may eat it when it is not ripe yet by removing the skin the way Tom (Gundot’s hubby) did it, like this…

Buah pangai peeled

I am positive that’s Tom (not his real name) as I cannot imagine Gundot’s arms being so hairy! ROTFLMAO!!! Then it is chopped into thin strips or pieces like this…

Buah pangai chopped

After than, you pound it with belacan (dried prawn paste), chillies, udang kering (dried prawns) to make the sambal…and serve it with rice. I seem to have lost the remaining two photos that Gundot emailed to me, so I’m afraid there is no pictorial support available. What you’ll get in the end is something sour, hot from the chillies and fragrant from the other ingredients. I guess you can add a bit of sugar if you want, so it will not be too sour to your liking. Anybody would like to share anything of interest on the fruit?

Incidentally, Gundot, I did not lose the other photos that you sent. Perhaps I forgot to click “SAVE” after uploading them onto flickr. I still have this one, for instance… 

Monkeys in the tree

Hey! Just look at those two monkeys in the tree! Hahahahaha!!!

Gosh! It’s mid-week already! How time flies…and in just two days, the weekend will be here again! Well, Clare sent me an MMS early this morning to show off the Wednesday popiah at Handsome Court in Nanas Road (Kuching)…and as it was raining here, I did not go out for breakfast. Instead, I just cooked myself some instant noodles – curry flavour and I threw in a couple of udang galah (freshwater prawns) and an egg…

STP's instant noodles

I sent this via MMS back to Clare and I guess that was enough as a counter-response to what I got from her. She never replied after that! ROTFLMAO!!! So what have the rest of you been eating?…..

Save me…

Groan!!! My head is spinning, probably from replying to all the comments in the previous post…or perhaps, it is due to the intoxicating white wine in the kacang-ma chicken I had for dinner. Anyway, I think I’d better publish a “safe” post next, and what safer thing is there to write about than… LOL!!!

These days, the activists will come up in arms against those who indulge in the consumption of sharks’ fins…but actually, if we think of it, it is quite senseless to spend a fortune on something that is virtually tasteless. What will make it delicious is the soup and the ingredients used in preparing that. So thankfully, more and more people are opting for other alternatives besides sharks’ fins e.g. fish lips or sea cucumber or as in the case of dinner receptions here in Sibu, they are serving the very nutritious herbal black chicken soup instead.

But if you are craving for something that tastes like sharks’ fins soup, you can just hop over to the nearest grocery store and grab a packet of this…

Maggi's packet soup

This is Maggi’s crab and tang hoon soup – only RM2.70 and if you look carefully, it now has 25% less salt and is msg free! It is very easy to prepare! Dissolve the contents in 750 ml. of water and bring it to a boil, stirring continuously. Add 1 tablespoon (or slightly less) of soy sauce to it, and after breaking an egg and beating it, pour it slowly into the boiling soup, beating the soup with a fork or spoon so that the egg will be dispersed. You will get something like this… 

STP's soupy soup

Of course you can improve the taste if you add two or three slices of ginger (or you can cut it into thin strips…but I hate the taste of ginger in the mouth), minced meat or prawns…or even crab meat! Fish lips or sea cucumber is optional as, like sharks’ fins, they make no difference to the taste at all. Sometimes I even add a dash of Foochow red wine…and I assure you it can rival the sharks’ fins soup in many restaurants around!

So hopefully, this practice of eating sharks’ fins soup will eventually fade away…and the scenario where guests judge the value of the dinner you host by the size of the sharks’ fins will be a thing of the past. I HAVE seen somebody at the same table dipping the ladle into the soup to check…and making snide remarks like, “Only cornflour!” Or he/she will say, “Aiyor! As big as my pnee-khang-sai (What’s in your nose, that is!)!!” On the other hand, if there is a substantial amount of sharks’ fins…and huge ones at that, he/she will sneer and cast knowing glances at the friends at the same table as if to say, “Huh! Show off!!! Trying to tell us he/she is so rich!!” Obviously, it is all a matter of “face” and something quite as ridiculous as in the case of some Chinese brides wearing tonnes and tonnes of gold jewellery… ROTFLMAO!!!

(Image received via email and inserted in original post removed for fear  of copyright infringement)

Stand up against cruelty to all living things! Save the sharks!!!

Where do we go from here…

I was invited yet once again to give a talk to students, this time at the RH Hotel here in Sibu by the Academic Consultant Services, a student counselling agency here…

STP's seminar handout

Over 200 students turned up; that was about all the seminar room could accommodate…

Students at STP's seminar

As in the previous ones I presented to students in Lundu and Kota Kinabalu, the objective of the seminar was to give them the pointers and tips so that they could excel in the English Language in the coming SPM Examination.

In the adjoining room, they had an International Education Fair going on simultaneously. Here, you can see the organiser of the seminar cum education fair himself, Mr David Siong, with Mr Anthony Lim of AC Services Enterprise, Kota Kinabalu who organised the seminar there in early September and invited me over…

International Education Fair 1

There were representatives from overseas universities with local campuses like Curtin in Miri and Swinburne in Kuching, and also universities in Australia e.g. Adelaide and Gold Coast.

International Education Fair 2

International Education Fair 3

The sad thing was that many students did not go into the room to browse around the stalls and instead, they chose to loiter around the foyer. When I asked them why, they said that they could not communicate with the ang moh (red hair) as they were not proficient in the language nor could they understand what they might say.

I would not bother to dwell on the root cause of the problem (as it would only fall on deaf ears…and I would end up like the dog barking at the moon) which is clearly getting worse in Sibu. There was this girl who came up to me during the break to ask a question, speaking to me in Mandarin. I just told her that I could not speak the language, so she switched to her somewhat not-so-good Bahasa Malaysia. I replied in English and she did not seem to register much of what I said and walked away looking quite lost! I wonder why she bothered to come when she obviously could not make head or tail of anything English…and considering the plight she is in (and I’m sure there are many other students like her), I really wonder where she/they can go from here…

Thankfully, not ALL of them were like that, for instance, there was this very sweet and pretty girl from SMK Chung Hua (Sibu) who came up to the front after the talk had ended to thank me personally. I had jumped to the conclusion that she was a teacher, not because she looked old (and anyway, there are many English teachers around who look so young – like students) but she was the only one with the decency and initiative to take the trouble to come and express her appreciation. There were some others who waved and whispered ‘thank you’ when I walked past them as I was leaving…and needless to say, some would just give me the cold shoulder, pretending that they had never seen me before in their lives. It certainly makes one wonder what kind of parents they have.

There were some light snacks and coffee/tea for the university reps and I was asked to join them. Nothing much, just some fried mihun, cakes and sandwiches…

International Education Fair - sandwiches

However, I was already too exhausted after the three-hour session, so I just had coffee and left soon after that. To all the students who were there that day, good luck and may you all excel in the subject…and all the best in your future undertakings. “The river is wide; I pray that the water is kind to you in the crossing!”

A different corner (2)…

Well, yesterday (Sunday), I decided to go back to MAS Corner at the Kampung Datu shops. It is actually in the same block of shophouses as Ba Sen Bak Kut Teh which is at the corner in front facing the main road and MAS Corner is at the other end facing the river.

Once, it was reputed to have the best Sarawak laksa in town, but I have not gone there for a long time because I did not like the menopausal seller who would bark at you, should you repeat your order thinking that he did not hear you the first time! It seems that there is a lady there now, so I’m not too sure whether it is the same people doing it or not. Probably he had enlisted his wife to give him a hand. I did not feel like having any, so only my missus had this bowl of laksa special for RM5.00…

Sarawak laksa @ MAS Corner

Tastewise, the one at Thomson Corner here is a wee bit better but as far as the condiments go, this one wins hands down! Just look at those huge prawns…and there were so many of them too! I have not been there for quite sometime but I think the one at Thomson Corner is a bit cheaper.

I decided to try the Foochow fried noodles (with gravy) from the restaurant at the back. I understand it is famous for its drunken prawns and has its fair share of customers in the evening. Well, the noodles I had were pretty nice…

Foochow fried noodles @ MAS Corner, Sibu

…despite that horrendous pink colour of the plate used. Eyew…!!! LOL!!! For one thing, I noticed that instead of the usual sawi (vegetables), they used kangkong instead but it did not really matter as I did not think it made any difference.

As we were leaving, I heard some people ordering noodles fried with sambal and other than that, when I was ordering the laksa, I noticed on the sign that they also sell kampua with belacan. I wonder what they would taste like…so I guess I will have to go back there again one of these days to give them a try. I wonder if Gundot’s hubby has eaten those? After all, his office is just around the corner….

Mamma mia (The musical)…

Nope! This is not going to be about the movie that has taken the world by storm. A lot of people have seen it and I have heard a lot of fave reviews…and many bloggers have posted something on it already.  This is about the musical that was supposed to be staged in Malaysia way back in 2004. I remember seeing the advertisement in Going Places, the MAS inflight magazine, and then, nothing more was heard of it. The next thing I knew it was being performed at The Esplanade in Singapore. It seems that at the time, some people thought it was not morally-acceptable that a girl should have three possible fathers…so the musical was banned here.

I was lucky then as my family and I happened to be on holiday in the island republic that year and we managed to catch the show in its final week there, on 20th November,2004 to be exact…

Mamma Mia brochures 1

There were others, I heard, who drove all the way south to watch! Well, if you have not seen it, it appears that some people have had a change of heart, probably after seeing how successful the movie is worldwide, and have consented to the musical being shown here. You can catch it at the Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur from the 16th of December, 2008 to the 1st of January, 2009. Tickets are priced at RM500, RM400, RM300 and RM200 on weekends and public holidays and RM50 cheaper on weekdays. When I saw it in Singapore, I paid S$112.00 per ticket…

Mamma Mia brochure & tickets

After conversion, that would come to around RM250, so I guess it was very much cheaper considering that our seats were quite near the stage. But then at that time, everything was much cheaper. Incidentally, you can get a 20% discount on the tickets if you book before the end of October, I think. Mind you, people in the UK book their tickets years ahead should they feel like going to see a hit musical. Or perhaps you can try your luck in the competition that they’re having in conjunction with this and who knows, if you’re lucky, you may win some tickets absolutely free!

Mamma Mia brochures 2

I read somewhere that the one coming to KL is the London cast;if I’m not mistaken, what we saw in Singapore was the Australian one.

Mamma Mia @ The Esplanade, Singapore
An aspiring Broadway star? LOL!!!

I have posted something on the show a long time ago, and you can click this link to read  it, if you’re interested. Well, I have not seen the movie, so I cannot make any comparison but if you have never been to a musical before in your life, you should grab this opportunity as I am sure it will be an experience that you will not forget for a long, long time!!!

Time of the season…

In the past, everything was so predictable. It would be hot and dry around June and the end of the year would bring the rain…and flood. Year end would also be the time when all the seasonal fruits would appear on the market – rambutans, durians and so on. These days, with the global climatic changes, they may bear fruit at odd times in the year.

Well, it’s October and some fruits have made their appearance already like this buah engkala or what the Melanaus call “terbulus“…

Terbulus 1

I don’t know if it’s available elsewhere, though I had seen some at the Satok Market in Kuching once but Gundot said they were not nice as the people did not know how to pluck them. You cannot pluck them off the trees like other fruits. You must climb up and pluck them one by one by the stalk (as in the photo).

Now, how do you eat them? You must remove the fruit from the stalk like this…

Terbulus 2

…and put the number that you would like to consume in a pot or saucepan. Sprinkle salt over the fruit, cover the pot/saucepot and shake it (to toss the fruit inside and mix it thoroughly with the salt). Let it stand for less than 30 minutes…and the terbulus would be ready to be eaten. It would have gone soft by then and you eat the white part inside which would be rich, sweet and creamy like custard or icecream. Very nice!

Terbulus 3

Some people eat the skin as well as it is in fact good roughage…but I usually do not unless the skin is very thin.

Dabai or black olives are coming out too but they are still too expensive at the moment…

Gundot's dabai

There has been quite a lot of rain here this year, so I would expect quite a bountiful harvest of fruits within the next few months…so if you plan to come to Sibu, this would be a good time and you will be able to taste all those fruits and also all the exotic and unique mouth-watering Foochow or Melanau delicacies that are not available elsewhere…only in this little town!