A little too much…

This was two Saturdays ago when my girl was home for the weekend from her school in the jungle and as always, we went round looking for some place and something nice for lunch. She said she did not want anything too heavy and would like to go for something western.

Well, we do have a lot of fusion and wannabe western cafés in town but I would steer clear of those with squiggles of mayonnaise all over or worse, those with those miserable cheap and not-at-all-nice mini-keropok (prawn crackers) by the side…which, of course, does not leave me all that many around to pick and choose. In the end, we decided to go to our favourite Italian restaurant here.

My girl did not feel like having pizza nor lasagna that day and she and the mum ended up picking the teriyaki chicken chop (RM16.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro teriyaki chciken chop

…that they had had before and liked a lot, and they also asked for the BBQ chicken chop (RM16.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro BBQ chicken chop

…to share.

We did not expect the chops to be that big and there really was a bit too much for us three to handle so it was quite a struggle to finish all of it, talk about not wanting to eat anything heavy, eh? LOL!!! Had we known that when we were ordering, we would have opted for just one chicken chop and something else like their fried calamari (RM16.00), for instance.

My missus insisted that the teriyaki chicken chop was very much nicer when she had it before but I thought it was all right just that the general consensus was that the BBQ chicken chop with its stronger, slightly spicy gravy, had an edge over it. Yes, we did enjoy both and finished everything including the fries and coleslaw by the side.

We also had this spinach and beef bacon pasta (RM18.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro spinach and bacon pasta 1

…but we thought it was rather watery…

Bistecca & Bistro spinach & bacon pasta 2

…and we remember when we had that before, it was a little to the creamy side and we would prefer it that way…but it seemed to have a different name then and was priced differently too.

For dessert, we had their chocolate fondant (also known as molten lava cake) and ice cream (RM8.00)…

Bistecca & Bistro chocolate fondant & ice cream

…which was very nice indeed except that the “lava” did not flow out all that readily…

Bistecca & Bistro chocolate fondant

…so they probably would have to work on improving that.

All in all, it sure was a delightful lunch. Iced water was on the house and the bill came up to only RM58.00 for the three of us, exclusive of GST.

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Once, twice, three times…

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI to all my Muslim relatives and friends, God’s abundant Blessings be upon you all and all your loved ones this festive season and the whole year through.

I did not go to the Ramadhan Bazaar all that many times this year – I think I did mention in my post the other day that the older I get, the lazier I become. However, I did stop by this one here that day on my way to the airport to pick my girl and the mum when they flew back from Korea via Kuala Lumpur.

Last year, everyone was telling me how good the nasi kerabu here…

RASCOM Ramadhan Bazaar nasi kerabu
*Archive photo*

…was so I simply had to buy and try but no, I did not think it was all that good, nowhere near our favourite one here, and there was all this talk about this nasi kak wok at the time so when I saw that the lady at the next stall was selling that, I bought a packet to try. Nope, I did not think it was anything I would want to buy again…unfortunately. I did buy her laksam for my girl though and she liked it very much, a whole lot nicer than what she had here…and anyway, that place has closed down already and let’s just say I am not in the least surprised.

I was quite disgusted, however, by the fact that at least 75% of the stalls there were using polystyrene containers even though the use of those not-environment-friendly things is banned here in Sibu. Never mind whether what they were selling was nice or not nice, I simply refused to buy from any of them. For one thing, I do think that to get to the root of the problem, the authorities should go round and nab the suppliers – I have seen them being blatantly sold at some supermarkets in town. Otherwise, why bother passing the ruling when everybody seems to be flaunting it openly right under your very nose…and you just turn a blind eye? I certainly hope all that campaign is not like most other campaigns we have had at one time or another, only just for show – NATO, no action, talk only! Tsk! Tsk!

Then, on Tuesday last week, I had to drive to my girl’s school in the jungle to get her back to town so she could fly off to Kuching early the next morning to attend a course there. That was why we did not cook that day and that was a good excuse to drop by the Ramadhan bazaar that I went to quite a lot last year – the one at Bandong here to pick up some things for dinner…and of course, I told them specifically not to buy anything in polystyrene containers. Period.

It had been almost a year ago when I last had satay and that was in Kuching and I cannot even remember the last time I had the ones here. I would order some very nice ones from this stall everytime we went for the ayam penyet around there but we had not gone there for quite a while now…ever since my missus heard people talking about some dengue cases in that area at one time, dunno whether there was any truth in it or not. I saw on Facebook some friends/ex-students enjoying the ones from this stall but no, I never did get the chance myself to go and try.

Now, this one…

MUC satay 1

…goes back quite a long way, actually. People were telling me that the best satay in town would be the ones at MUC, short for Malay Union Club. I did drive there once but it was kind of dark and we were early – they did not look like they had started their business for the day so we just drove away. Right now, that place is undergoing renovations – hopefully, it will be nicer once the job gets done. According to the very nice and friendly guy, it should be ready after Hari Raya.

I placed my orders and waited for them to be done…

MUC satay 2

– RM10 lamb (10 sticks) and RM10 beef (20 sticks), RM20.00 altogether so that would be around USD5.00 or AUD 7.00 for 30 sticks…

MUC satay 3

The lamb was very good, very nice and tender but the beef was a bit hard so that took away a bit of the enjoyment, unfortunately. I was rather disappointed that they did not have any ketupat nor did they give any complimentary cut cucumber and shallots that one might get elsewhere.

They were selling these barbecued chicken…

MUC BBQ chicken

…at the stall too but no, I did not buy any of those.

Here, you can catch a glimpse of one section of the bazaar…

Bandong Ramadhan Bazaar

…and this…

Mail Olen

…was right across the road at the proper designated stalls along the revamped and upgraded Bandong Walk. It has been around like…forever so obviously, business must be good to keep it going all this while. Incidentally, if I am not wrong, they are open even on ordinary days, not just for this Ramadhan bazaar.

Here, you can see some more chicken being barbecued…

BBQ chicken

…and these grilled sardines…

Grilled sardines

…were ready for sale at RM8.00 (USD2.00) each.

These were the packs of ayam berempah (spiced chicken) with rice and pickles…

Ayam berempah packs

…all ready for anyone thus inclined and my girl did buy one (RM7.00, less than USD2.00)…

Ayam berempah pack

…home for her dinner. I thought the chicken was nicer than the ones my missus bought for me and for herself (RM8.00)…

Ayam berempah nasi bryani

…with nasi bryani and I did not think the rice was all that nice since we have been enjoying the authentic Indian one all this while but with the dhal curry that came with it, it was all right.

My missus bought this tub of bamboo shoots (RM5.00)…

Rebung masak rebus

…cooked masak rebus kampung style and of course, I did not touch it for fear of a gout attack.

My girl also bought some of these vadai

Vadai

…a deep-fried lentil snack, an Indian delicacy made with kacang dhal and a whole lot of spices and the mum bought these kacang kuda (chick peas)…

Kacang kuda

…with curry leaves added. That sure brought the taste to a whole new level, very nice!

So, at the time of writing, I had gone once…and I had gone twice. Let’s see whether I did go a third time or not this year. Stick around!

What’s for lunch today…

I bought some of Stephanie’s very yummy mushroom pies for my friends to try and I dropped by here to pass some to Mary but she was out of town, in Bangkok. In the end, I just passed them to her very nice and friendly staff and asked them to enjoy on her behalf. Hehehehehe!!!! I did PM-ed her via Facebook to let her know and she asked me what I wanted from there. I told her that I did not want anything but knowing her, she would not take no for an answer and she brought these…

From Mary

…back for me. Oooooo…I sure can’t wait to try them out now!!! Real Thai indeed!

I went to the restaurant…

Flavours Thai Kitchen by day

…to pick up the goodies before noon last Saturday – they are open for lunch as well now, except on Wednesdays…

Flavours Thai Kitchen open for lunch

…not only for breakfast (daily)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen open for breakfast

…and dinner (except Wednesdays too).

I was early, not quite noon yet,  but the nice Filipino guy there, Jun, said we could go in and have our lunch, no problem at all – the Thai chef, Jos, was ever ready to whip up anything that we fancied. It appeared to me that there were actually no lunch sets and we could order anything we wanted from their regular dinner menu.

I asked for a glass of iced water and they gave me a glass plus one whole jug…

Jug of water

…of it and it was on the house! Now, ain’t that so very nice?

Of course, we had their pad thai (RM13.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad thai 1

…and while it was not exactly what we were expecting the last time we had it, this time, it was perfect…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai 2

…just like that first time when my missus and I enjoyed it so much and definitely very much nicer than what we had at that other Thai place in town…and yes, Andrew, they do have crushed peanut in it now.

That was their single serving but I do think there would be more than enough for two…or even three, if you’re ordering something else as well. In our case, we wanted to try the Chiangmai curry noodles (RM15.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen Chiangmai curry noodles 1

…to see what it was like and it turned out to be noodles deep-fried till nice and crispy, like what one would find in the claypot ones or what they do in the case of Cantonese fried noodles, served in a very nice green curry-like broth…

Flavours Thai Kitchen Chiangmai curry noodles 2

…with a whole lot of chicken in it. We enjoyed it a lot and because there was so much in the big bowl, we shouldn’t have ordered their fried kway teow (RM8.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen fried kway teow

My cousin in Australia saw the photograph and said that the extra broad kway teow is something like the Vietnamese ones they have over there. Like our earlier orders, the serving was very big too and there was no way the three of us could finish all of it – that was why I asked Jun to put most of it in a doggy bag for me to take home.

Incidentally, if you drop by here and you see a sweet-looking girl who does not seem to acknowledge you at all – you can say what you want, you will not get any response from her…but try using hand gestures, they may work. She’s an OKU or an orang kurang upaya, one of those special people that Mary has taken in to help out at her restaurant – that is so very sweet and charitable of her to do that, really. As far as I could see that day, despite being orally and auditorily impaired, this girl did her work well.

That certainly was a delightful lunch and it sure goes without saying that we certainly would be back again…

Wait your turn…

When my girl came home from her school in the jungle on Friday the previous weekend, I made it a point to take her to this Thai restaurant here for dinner. She and her mum were away in Korea when I went for the food tasting session so she was not able to tag along and we were supposed to go that Saturday before Father’s Day but she fell ill that evening. Well, I made sure that this time around, she got her turn so there we were that night!

Gosh!!! The place was fully booked except for a small table for four in one corner so we quickly grabbed that one – it seemed that many had booked a table for their buka puasa (breaking of fast) or sungkai or iftar, whatever they call it now, and there were so many people at their other eatery next door (same owners) that the diners were spilling over to this side.

Thankfully, despite the crowd, our orders came very quickly. I insisted that they tried my favourites the last time I was here so we had the miang kham

Sakhon miang kham

…but the leaves that day were way too small. I had to put it in my spoon, place the condiments on it, add the sambal…and gulp it all down in one mouthful. I hear that they cannot get them here and have to bring them over from Brunei but I do think that RM15.50 for that is a bit on the high side. The sambal came across to me like rojak sauce – it did seem somewhat different, some rather special dip, that previous time. Still, I enjoyed it very much and my missus too but no, it wasn’t anything to my girl’s liking.

Well, it so happened that a friend of mind in KL had this same thing around that same time at a renowned Thai restaurant over at the other side, one of the KL outlets, and I noticed that his had fewer condiments, not too sure what they left out and though he only paid RM15.00 for it, there were complaints (including one from a fellow-blogger who went to that same place three days earlier) that the lime was cut and kept for too long so the bits of it were kind of dry and they also found the udang kering stale, not so nice anymore. Thank goodness, all was good here – the one that we had, just that the leaves were too small.

The massaman curry beef…

Sakhon massaman curry beef

…also tasted nicer before – that night, I thought it tasted like those coconut sweets that we used to enjoy so much when we were small. It was still nice though, different from the usual curries and not spicy at all – maybe that was why there wasn’t any kick so the ladies were obviously not too impressed, the mum especially. I guess RM28.00 for that was all right seeing how the serving was quite big and there were those huge chunks of beef in it.

The pad thai (RM14.00)…

Sakhon pad Thai

…was a little too salty and if I am not wrong, there was way too much chili sauce so it came across something like mee mamak, not anything that we would want to rush back for more, I’m afraid.

A friend of mine dropped by a few days earlier and she liked the Thai spring rolls (RM7.50)…

Sakhon Thai spring rolls

…and yes, my girl loved it a lot too so the mum and I just had a piece each and left all the rest to her. Well, that’s her for you – she loves anything deep fried.

Of course, I did not miss out my favourite dessert, their mango sticky rice (RM16.50)…

Sakhon mango sticky rice

…and yes, it was very nice just that I would not mind a little less mango and more pulut (glutinous rice) and more coconut cream as well and that price tag seemed kind of steep too, don’t you think? But of course, we do not get mango that easily here and I did hear that glutinous rice doesn’t come cheap either these days.

I got to speak to the mum of one of the co-owners of this place and the one next door. It turned out to be somebody that I used to know – her mother was the one who used to run an immensely popular and successful Malay/nyonya restaurant here many years ago, the Metropole, on the first floor in the shops opposite the Wisma Sanyan (of course, it was not there at the time), above what is now a bakery downstairs.

Rice was RM1.60 a serving and sky juice was 60 sen a glass and the total that night came up to RM86.50. My girl insisted on picking up the tab that night, a belated Father’s Day treat for her old  man. She’s such a sweet girl, she is…

Good one…

My girl bought this made-in-Malaysia frozen puff pastry…

Kawan puff pastry

…sometime ago to make some ham and cheese puffs and I thought it was really very good. I loved the very nice and flaky pastry, just that it lacked the nice buttery fragrance.

She bought me a pack but I never got down to cooking something with it. I did try my hand at preparing some curry beef and potatoes filling but it turned out horrible so I just threw the whole lot away. I bought the minced beef at a supermarket here and the more I simmered, the more oily it got. Now I know better – do not buy if it is white in colour, not red. That would mean that there is too much fat, not much meat and perhaps, it has been frozen way too long and would not be suitable for use anymore.

Well, this time around, I decided to use this…

Can of roast beef hash

…and prior to wrapping, I fried it first…

Roast beef hash

…with some sliced Bombay onions…

Roast beef hash with Bombay onions

…and freshly-ground pepper for added flavour. Somehow, it reminded my of the stuffing for roast chicken or roast turkey but never mind! LOL!!!

There were 10 pieces of the puff pastry…

10 pieces puff pastry

…in a packet and after I had defrosted it, I took them one by one, brushed the inside with a bit of butter and also egg all along the sides, put a bit of the filling on one half like this…

Filling on one half

…added half a slice of cheddar cheese, folded the pastry over and sealed it by pressing the sides hard and using a fork to make the pattern all along the side. Then, I brushed some egg, beaten, over it…

Brushed with egg

…and poke holes on top with a fork and once I had finished all 10…

Ready to bake

…I put them in the oven for around 15 minutes and they were done…

Done

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating…

Beef & potatoes puff

…and yes, the pastry was very nice and flaky…

Nice & flaky

…and with the added butter, there was that nice taste and fragrance this time around but I thought there was too little of the filling so the taste did not come out that much. I wonder if I could roll the pieces of pastry to make them bigger so I could put more filling next time?

I would love to try making curry puffs next, with egg in it, of course.

A little better…

If you’re thinking that I have not been cooking all that much these days, I must say that you are quite right. I don’t know if it is the same with other people but I do find that the older I get, the lazier I become.

However, I still cook something very often in the morning for breakfast especially when there is nothing much in the house to enjoy…and also when I find a lot of leftover rice in the fridge like this char siew (barbecued pork) fried rice that I dished out not too long ago.

Char siew fried rice

…with thinly-sliced long beans, in place of the usual frozen carrot, peas and sweet corn, and egg.

Then there was this mee pok

Mee pok kolo kampua mee style

kolo mee or kampua noodles style, tossed in oil that I had used to fry some thinly sliced shallots and garlic, light soy sauce and chopped spring onions plus a spoonful of my missus’ blended chili and garlic dip. Of course, minus the lard, there was that missing link but it was good enough for me and was a hearty, satisfying enough breakfast.

My missus had gone and bought 1 kg of the noodles and there it was, the whole bag of it sitting in the fridge so I took some to cook once…and I took some more to cook twice…

Bovril mee pok

…in my very nice tossed-with-Bovril style and there was at least a third left. Gee!!! 1 kg of the noodles sure go a very long way so one can imagine how many plates those at the stall can dish out with that and at around RM2.80 a plate, imagine how much they can make in a day!

I did try my hand at frying some kway teow (flat rice noodles) too…

Char kway teow 1

I loved the pad thai I had at Mary’s place

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad thai
*Archive photo*

…and I noticed that theirs was different from our local kway teow that is very thick, very white, not translucent and not so fine…

Sibu kway teow
*Archive photo*

…That was why I asked her where she got hers and she said those would be the packet ones, available at the shops and supermarkets here…but she did say that some die-hards here are not all that fond of this type and would ask for our own local variety.

I did try one once, one of those dried Vietnamese pho available in packets – I think it did not have a colourful wrapper and no, I did not like it. It came across like flat bihun, the same as the dried kway teow that I bought once…and my missus bought again as she did not remember we had tried it before. Yes, a cousin of mine in Kuching liked a very nice one once, instant pad thai with the flat rice noodles and all the ingredients inside but it was very expensive plus I thought it was a bit too heavy on the msg so after I had tried it, I never did go back for more.

I’ve seen one with a red-coloured wrapper that I have yet to buy and try but the one I had this time around was green in colour – I did not take a photograph of it though nor did I check the details on the packet. It wasn’t too bad, a little better than the one I tried before but still, it was not quite there, not really like the nice kway teow in the northern parts of the country that I love a lot – some told me that they would call it hor fun but I wouldn’t know for sure.

I managed to find some prawns in the freezer – my missus bought them quite a while ago and thankfully, they were still very nice, very succulent and sweet, just that they were not all that big so they were not expensive like the rest. There wasn’t any taugeh (bean sprouts) in the fridge but I had some green vegetables that I bought sometime back and there was a bit left so I just used those, only the stalks though…

Char kway teow 2

…as the green leaves were sort of withered and did not look all that fresh.

It tasted really good though the texture and everything of the kway teow wasn’t quite there, unfortunately. Perhaps I would try those in the red packets next time…and I must make sure that I remember to take a photograph of it. Old people have this tendency to be forgetful at times. Hehehehehe!!!!

How can it be…

I don’t know for sure but I think if you want to register your business and somebody has taken the name of your choice, then you would have to pick something else. If that is the case, then how can it be that there are so many Wonderful this and Wonderful that all over town and there was this place named Delicious and this one here…

Delicious Cafe

…too? Maybe that one was a “food stall” and this one’s a “café” so it is perfectly all right? Or perhaps that one is under the municipal council while this one is under the rural district council? Ah well!!! In the words of William Shakespeare, “A rose by another other name will smell as sweet.

This one is in Jalan Ulu Sg Merah here (2.330641, 111.855959), right next door to this place. I was feeling kind of full from a somewhat heavy breakfast so I did not feel like having any dim sum and besides, I have been to their original shop many times and I did not think they would have anything that would be different and new. That was why we decided to check out the shop next door to see if they had anything good to offer or not…

Delightful Cafe banner

They seemed to be selling a whole lot of sushi in all colours and shapes but we were not into those – my girl might want to give those a try but it was a weekday and there she was at her school in the jungle, no sushi, nothing.

I can’t say I was attracted to their Sarawak laksa

Delightful Cafe Sarawak laksa

…though – the prawns look good in the picture but minced meat balls? Unheard of! And just as it has to be hard-boiled egg for a standard plate of nasi lemak, it must be thinly-sliced omelette for Sarawak laksa. It seems that these days, anything and everything goes – whichever way they want.

The guy kept asking us to try their deep fries [SIC] taro dumpling (RM2.30)…

Deep fries taro dumpling 1

…and in the end, we did order one to see if it was any good.

It was kind of small but it was very nicely done, the fibrous yam on the outside and the char siew filling was very nice too…

Deep fries taro dumpling 2

If only it had been bigger and less pricey, I would have wanted to buy a few home for afternoon tea.

My missus had their wanton soup (RM2.70)…

Delightful Cafe wanton soup

…aka pian sip soup and she thought it was all right. The kampua mee here is also selling at that same price, RM2.70.

I decided to go for their kolo mee with meatball soup…

Menu choices

…even though I knew only too well that it would not be anything like the kolo mee in Kuching.  That will be the day!

The kolo mee

Kolo mee

…was nice, nothing like kolo mee, as expected, and thankfully, it was not like kampua noodles either. I actually liked the taste of the minced meat mixed with the noodles but I could not help feeling that those three slices of char siew wannabe (boiled meat coloured red) looked kind of miserable.

I liked the meatballs…

Meatball soup

They were more than just minced meat rolled into balls and boiled in the soup. If I am not wrong, they beat the meat till firm or springy, something like the texture of fish balls but not to that extent. I wish I could say the same about the soup though. It lacked the much coveted meat or bone stock flavour, and it was the same too with what my missus had, nowhere near what we had here and the fact that they added vinegar to it put me off even more. I wouldn’t mind as much if it had been our traditional Foochow red wine instead.

All in all, for RM6.90, I would say that the kolo mee and meatball soup set…

Delightful Cafe kolo mee and meatball soup

…was, at best, all right but with that kind of money, I think I would go for something else that would give me a lot more satisfaction – there would be a lot of other nicer options even within that area of shops alone like, for instance, what we had at this place or this one just a few doors away.