Little bit of this, little bit of that…

I was down with a cough around two weeks ago. It was not really bad, worse at night when I was trying to sleep, but I had this lump in my throat that hurt terribly when I swallowed. Because of that, I had to go for a soft diet most of the time – porridge, and to go with it, I went out and bought myself a bottle of Bovril.

I have not bought Bovril nor Marmite for a long long time now as they are really not all that affordable anymore. Well, now that I had that in the house, one morning, I cooked some Bovril mee sua

Bovril mee sua

I missed eating that!

As a result of my ill health, I had to miss my alma mater’s annual reunion this year held on Saturday – for once, they invited the retired teachers and I got an invitation to attend. I missed the one last year too but I did go to the one in 2013 and also in 2014. However, I did not feel up to it when the day finally came so I had no choice but to miss it again this year. A cousin of mine in Kuching flew in for the event and she brought me this bak koi

Bak koi from aunt

…that her mum made for me. That certainly was so sweet and nice of her, thank you so very much, Auntie and thanks to you too, coz, for carting it all the way.

Incidentally, the other day, I spotted this red-leafed hibiscus hybrid…

Red-leafed hibiscus

…outside my neighbour’s house and I thought that was very nice. I’ve blogged about the different varieties here and also here but this was the first time that I had seen one with red leaves. Has anybody seen anything like this before?

We had not been here for quite a while now for the simple reason that we had not come across anything there that was worth going back for but I heard that the beef noodles lady who was here previously had moved to a stall in the food court…

Beef noodles stall at Bateras Food Court

If I am not mistaken, she is related to the guy here, our favourite beef noodles place in town, and they all started off here a long time ago.

We decided to drop by after the church service on Sunday morning and my missus had the dry noodles…

Bateras Food Court dry noodles with beef soup

…with a bowl of beef soup. Obviously, they are not using kampua mee and have replaced that with their handmade noodles instead. You have the choice either to have it white (with light soy sauce) or black (with dark soy sauce). According to her, she prefers what we would usually have at our regular place.

In fact, we also shared the same sentiments regarding what we had – my girl had the beef noodles, soup…

Bateras Food Court beef noodles, soup

…while I had the mixed version…

Bateras Food Court mixed beef noodles, soup 1

…the one with beef plus tripe and tendons…

Bateras Food Court, mixed beef noodles, soup

…and they all cost the same – RM6.00 each.

However, minus all the parking woes plus the fact that it is free here…and the food court is more spacious, not so crowded and congested, we might just decide to come here instead should we feel like having this again.

Incidentally, I found that many of the stalls that were there previously had closed down and had been replaced by some other people including the very familiar char kway teow guy, the brother of the guy whose son used to be here a long time ago…and he sure seemed to be getting a whole lot of business – perhaps I would order something from his stall next time.

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They said…

We dropped by here not too long ago when my friend, Annie, was home from KL and she and her family wanted to drop by for a bite to eat as they enjoyed some of the stuff that they served at the shop.

My girl and the mum had the fried pek koi (white rice cakes), moist…

Friends' Kopitian fried pek koi, moist
*Archive photo*

…but they said that the dry version would be nicer. That was why that day, my girl suggested going back there to try (RM4.50)…

Friends' Kopitian fried pek koi, dry

…and yes, it was very nice but she felt that both were equally nice so much would depend on the mood of a person, whether he wants it a little moist or he would like it dry.

They told us that the fried rice with ikan bilis/dried anchovies, (RM4.00)…

Friends' Kopitian fried rice

…was very nice too. Fried rice? My fried rice is very good as well. Hehehehehe!!!!

Well, I decided to order that to see…and yes, it was very strong on that much coveted wok hei fragrance, something that they say would need a really big and hot fire to get it like that so that would be something I would not be able to replicate at home on my gas cooker stove. However, I am not fan of those frozen peas – I do not mind the carrot and the sweet corn but the peas tend to be on the hard side no matter how long one cooks it. Thankfully, the ones in that plate of fried rice was quite all right, not all that hard.

I am not all that fond of the small and thin ikan bilis with the beady eyes…

Ikan bilis

…either but for RM4.00 a plate, I can’t jolly well expect them to use the ones I use at home, heads and insides removed. I think they’re RM30.00-40.00 a kg now, the ones from Langkawi, and the ones that are already done for you can set you back by as high as RM80.00 a kg. Sighhhhh!!!!

My missus opted for their mee mamak (RM4.00)…

Friends' Kopitian mee mamak 1

…and yes, she loved it a lot! Very nice, very spicy!

My girl tried and she liked it a lot too. She thought it…

Friends' Kopitian mee mamak 2

…was very much nicer than the fried pek koi that she had, moist or dry.

The Foochow fried noodles, wet, that I had on our previous visit was very good too…so this was not the first nor would it be the last time we’d come here. We definitely would be making our way back here time and time again for some of these delightful stuff that they have in store.

Baby, it’s cold outside…

I see a lot of moans and groans all over the social media as to how hot it is in the west, over in the peninsula and Singapore, and newspaper reports about the water level in the reservoirs in certain states running dangerously low at this point in time…and of course, there has been talk of the horrendous haze which is presently quite bad in Sabah, to the east of our island of Borneo.

Thankfully, it has been raining quite a lot here in central Sarawak. It rained almost the whole day on Wednesday but it had stopped by evening…

Sunset at Sibu airport

…when we had to go to the airport to pick my sister-in-law who was flying into town.

It rained around noon on Friday too – I always hate it when it rains around that time as my girl would be making her way home in her colleague’s car for the weekend and it is never great driving in the rain especially when it is extra heavy…and there was torrential rainfall on Saturday morning as well but it stopped by mid-morning.

Yes, it also rained on Thursday evening when Huai Bin and I went out for dinner. In fact, it started right before I left the house to go and get him at his house right round the corner a stone’s throw away and by the time we got to the restaurant, all that was left was a light drizzle which was really good in a way as the evening was pleasantly cool and for that reason, we chose to sit outside instead of going into the air-conditioned section.

I did mention that they do not serve dessert at that place where we had dinner so we adjourned to the gelato place in town for that…

nica gelato

…despite the fact that it was cold outside on that wet evening.

As in my previous visit, we were given samples to try in those little plastic spoons and like the man said, they will always be trying out new flavours so what they may have at one point in time may not be available the next time you drop by again. I did not see the salted caramel that I had had twice before but yes, the fresh banana that I liked was there and Huai Bin had one scoop of that. There were also a lot of other new ones like the passion fruit and the dragon fruit but the one that took my breath away was the ang moh lulian (soursop) so I had that and Huai Bin wanted the same alongside his fresh banana.

He had had gelato at other countries overseas before, of course, and he gave the ones here his thumbs up – they were as good as any other elsewhere but like my cousin who was here recently from the UK and said that the macarons…

nica macarons

…were quite good, not quite there but were not too bad at all, Huai Bin had a similar opinion – that he had had nicer ones in some of the countries that he visited. I picked the salted caramel, the Earl Grey & lavender and the raspberry (3 for RM10.00)…and I did think that the shell was not as nice and crusty as in the case of those that I had in the past and was kind of crumbly. Probably it so happened that we caught them on one of those days.

On the whole, we quite enjoyed what we had and thank you so much, Huai Bin, for picking up the tab.

Just one night…

I know for a fact that Huai Bin enjoys the traditional Melanau delicacy, the umai (RM15.00)…

Cabe Ijo umai

…so when he was home for the Ching Ming Festival and we had the chance to go out for dinner together, I took him here specially for that.

I ordered the fried chicken platter (RM9.50)…

Cabe Ijo lalapan ayam gurih

…for myself and the one with the barbecued chicken (RM12.50)…

Cabe Ijo ayam bakar

…for him.

For our vegetable dish, I asked for the kerabu midin (RM10.00)…

Cabe Ijo kerabu midin

Oops!!! Spoke too soon! In my post on my last visit to this place, I was commending them on the use of the more expensive and bigger ikan bilis, with the heads and insides removed. It sure looked like they had gone back to the cheaper smaller ones, those with the beady eyes.

And to wash all that down, we had the sup tulang (RM13.50)…

Cabe Ijo sup tulang

It was quite obvious that Huai Bin enjoyed the dinner even though I had ordered a bit too much but then again, since we just had one night and I wanted to get him to try as much as I could, it left me with not much choice. We did manage to finish most of everything though.

They do not serve dessert here so after hanging around here quite a bit, enjoying the food, chatting and catching up with each other’s lives, we adjourned some place else for that.

Gather ’round…

This place isn’t exactly new – in fact, it has been here for around 4 months now and I understand that it was located at another place in town for a number of years before that but I did not know of the existence of this restaurant anywhere around that location even. Now it has moved to this building that houses a new hotel here…

GBU Hotel, Sibu

…on the first floor…

The Gathering, Sibu

Do be careful when going up the steps of that rather steep staircase though – I found them a little higher than usual and too narrow for comfort.

It’s quite a big place and can accommodate 40 tables if you want to host a wedding…

The Gathering, Sibu stage

…or whatever banquet here and I think they have karaoke facilities as well so you can enjoy singing your heart out! I would say this place is ideal for small private functions though I can’t say I am all that fond of the gaudy pink colour and all the fake flowers.

I also found out that they do home catering as well and will deliver orders for buffet parties starting from RM20.00 per head for a minimum of 20 persons. For more information, you can call them at these numbers…

The Gathering, Sibu who to call

…to enquire.

It so happened that my sister-in-law flew into town the other evening for Ching Ming which falls on this coming Monday, 4th April, and my missus and I went to pick her up at the airport here and we decided to stop by this restaurant for dinner…

The Gathering, Sibu chili dips

…before sending her to my mother-in-law’s house.

The Foochow fried noodles (RM6.00)…

The Gathering Sibu Foochow fried noodles

…looked really good and tasted great plus they did seem extra generous with the ingredients but unfortunately, it wasn’t anything like what I enjoyed eating in my growing up years. Somehow, it just wasn’t quite there.

The midin (wild jungle fern), RM10.00…

The Gathering Sibu fried midin

…was good, more or less the same as most anywhere else serving the same.

Oh dear!!! I forgot to insist that they cooked smaller servings, just enough for two so for the steamed lajong (RM40.00)…

The Gathering steamed lajong

…we were given three slices of the very nice fish. I had one all to myself but the ladies only managed to share one between the two of them and were too full to have anymore so I had to finish off the last slice. If we had been given only two slices at two-thirds the price, around RM25-26.00, it would not have been that expensive.

Anyway, that is to be expected here – if you are having fish and prawns (RM30.00)…

The Gathering Sibu cereal prawns

…you can expect the bill to be on the high side. The cereal prawns that we had were very nicely done, the crustaceans were big and very fresh, so they were firm and succulent but there was just too much for us three to handle so we had to tapao the leftovers home.

I would not say eating at this place is more expensive than most. If we had ordered one meat dish, one veg and a soup and requested for servings for two, I guess it would come up to around the same as most other similar places around here and most importantly, the food was pretty nice – nothing exceptional, I must say, but yes, it was good.

This restaurant opens seven nights a week and if I remember correctly, they do not open for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As for the location (2.306990, 111.845320), it is on the left hand side of Jalan Pedada if you are heading towards town, a short distance from the traffic lights at the Jalan Pedada/Jalan Pahlawan t-junction. Turning left at the junction will take you to the Sibu Bus Terminal.

I must say, however, that they should draw arrows to make the traffic in the rather small area around the hotel more systematic. At the moment, once inside, one would not know whether one is coming or going. There are parking spaces…everywhere, making it even more cramped and not too comfortable to drive in and out. I can imagine if there is a big function at the restaurant and a lot of people staying at the hotel, it would get terribly congested, I am sure…unless you go early and park by the side of the main road beside the entrance into this place and walk in.

One man’s meat…

A friend asked me why I had not been here (2.325145, 111.839914)…

The Blue Door, Sibu 1

…before as she thought the food was nicer and not as expensive as here. I asked her what their signature dishes were, what I should order if I were to drop by and she said everything, everything would be nice. Duhhh!!!!

In fact, it is located quite near to where I stay, in the vicinity of the Sungai Merah bazaar, facing what they told me is called the Lovers’ Bridge

Sg Merah, Lovers' Bridge

It looked like they had put up some nice colourful lights all around the so-called heritage walk area so it is rather nice by evening, not too bad a place for a pleasant evening stroll and to go for a lovely dinner.

It so happened that a boat went past while I was there and I loved the rippling effect of the waves on the reflection in the water of the colourful lights on the bridge…

Sg Merah, Lovers' Bridge, ripples

Nice, eh?

Anyway, back to the restaurant…

The Blue Door, Sibu 2

…it has been around for a year or so now but somehow or other, I had never felt the urge to drop by. I did check out their Facebook page and had glimpses of some of the things they served, the happenings – a whole lot of wine and not so much dine – but I did not see anything that really turned me on. Once, some friends of mine dropped by and shared some photographs on Facebook so I quickly asked them if it was any good. Their reply was, “By our standard, it was good.” I guess that spoke volumes, don’t you think so?

Anyway, I thought we would go some place special for our Easter Sunday dinner and after discussing with my girl, we agreed that we would check this place out.

I loved the decor…

The Blue Door, Sibu 3

– very nice and tastefully done…

The Blue Door, Sibu 4

…and very much nicer than that other place (with the hideous giant fridge at the back and everything stuffed inside and the wooden staircase to what looked like the attic where they dumped all those unsightly carton boxes and all)…

The Blue Door, Sibu 5

…and while the ethnic waiters and waitresses over there spoke Malay mostly (except one who was proficient in Mandarin and insisted on speaking to me in the language till I replied in Iban), the Chinese boys here conversed in Mandarin but I think they could understand English. The proprietress, I think that was who she was, came to chat and asked if everything was all right and she spoke English, and very good English at that. Service was great and prompt at both places and I loved the colourful individual stoneware plates…

The Blue Door, Sibu crockery

…here that they gave us to use while sharing the orders and no, no chipped plates here – another point in their favour!

Dinner got off to a really good start when the Penang char kway teow (RM16.50)…

The Blue Door, Sibu Penang char kway teow

…was served. It was really very nice and there were prawns, cockles and even lap cheong (Chinese sausage) in it and even the kway teow (flat rice noodles) seemed different from the regular ones we find around here, the thick, coarse and white ones. We enjoyed it very much but did somebody say the things here would be cheaper than at that other place?

The pineapple fried rice (RM18.50)…

The Blue Door pineapple fried rice

…did not go down as well with us. We did not think it was as nice as some that we had had before here…or here, for instance and at best, I would just say it was edible, not anything to get anyone jumping up and down with delight and for that kind of money, I would much sooner go for the baked cheese pork chop rice (RM17.00) or the dried chili pork rice (RM16.00) at that other place – both of them go for around the same price, slightly less, and both would win hands down, anytime.

We had what-they-call the Farmer’s Feast for 2 (RM22.50)…

The Blue Door, Sibu Farmer's Feast

…and while it was RM23.00 at the other place for just one sausage, though a much bigger one at that, maybe longer by one third, the one here came with bits of bacon, egg and potatoes and I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had not been chorizo – I can’t say I am all that fond of that so personally, my vote would go to the one at that other place. However, I do not think it would be very fair to make a one-to-one comparison – somebody who enjoys chorizo who probably enjoy this very much.

I had the panna cotta (RM9.50)…

The Blue Door Sibu panna cotta

…for dessert and I loved the hearts in the jam…

The Blue Door Sibu hearts

…by the side. However, it paled in comparison to the ones that I love so much here (RM8.00) – it did not taste as nice, the texture was not as smooth and it was not as nicely wobbly but it tasted all right and at least it had an edge over the awful one I had at the Italian restaurant in Kuching sometime ago.

My girl had their own-made Nutella ice cream (RM10.00)…

The Blue Door Nutella ice cream

…and she said it was good.

While they had the sentimental love songs from the 80’s at that other place, here, they played R&B from the likes of Alicia Keys, Babyface and so on but just like at that other place, I do wish they would turn down the volume here as well and turn it up later in the evening at around 9 or 10 when everyone would have had enough drink to numb their senses and they would be too intoxicated to tell the difference.

Well, I liked the place, service was good but no, the food was not cheap, not at all, and of the three that we had, we would probably order the char kway teow again if the price had not been so steep. However, there are still many things on their menu that we did not try so we probably would come back again sometime to see if there is anything that will keep us going back for more. I do not really mind the prices if it is that good and real value for money…and yes, I will tell them to turn down the music next time if it is still that loud!

Some folks…

…have opened this new place…

Folkway 1

…here in the Tunku Osman area right next door to this coffee shop.

As far as I am concerned, this is one of the worst locations especially on working/school days as parking is practically impossible and it sure does not help one bit that they open during the busiest hours, 8.30 a.m. till 3.30 p.m. I certainly would avoid this area after school hours at around noon as the parents of the students at the school at the back would flock here to pick up their kids instead of going to the front entrance on the other side.

I guess like that beef noodle place that I blogged about not too long ago, the best time to go would be on Sundays and that was exactly what we did – after the church service…

Easter Sunday morning, 2016

…on Easter Sunday morning when finding a place to park the car would be quite a breeze.

It looks like a pretty decent place…

Folkway 2

…a little inclined towards things Vietnamese…

Folkway 3

…and since they can’t get an authentic sun hat for the decor, the Melanau one will have to do…

Folkway 4

Hehehehehe!!!!

I saw the Vietnamese coffee strainers/filters on the counter so I went closer to see what brand they had on the shelf…

Vietnamese coffee

Hmmmm!!!! Trung Nguyen, one of the leading brands in Vietnam. I did blog about it once when I got a packet from my niece, the one working in Singapore. Well, as long as it is not one of those that came out of an animal’s you-know-which-hole, I would be fine with it.

My missus wanted the grilled chicken rice…

Folkway grilled chicken rice

…and one look at it, I am sure you would not blame us for feeling a little disappointed the moment it was served. The chopped bits of carrot and whatever beside the rice was coleslaw and they certainly were not all that generous with the chicken…

Folway grilled chicken

…but if I remember correctly, that was only RM5.50, not too expensive. I suppose it tasted all right, not anything to shout about – my missus did not say anything about it.

I asked for the nasi lemak special…

Folkway nasi lemak special

…and therein lay another disappointment. The rice hardly had any santan (coconut milk) richness and fragrance and there wasn’t any ikan bilis (dried anchovies) by the side and the salsa-looking thing…

Folkway nasi lemak sambal

…was actually the sambal and to give credit where credit is due, it actually tasted quite nice despite the fact that it did not look anything like the real thing. The drumstick was all right, nothing great that would get me to want to order this again ever.

I ordered the panini egg and beef…

Folkway panini egg

…for my girl and she was put off the instant it was served – they had just used ordinary bread instead of panini in which case they should have called it an egg or beef sandwich (the other option available is tuna)…and Vietnamese bánh mì, it certainly wasn’t!

It tasted quite good though and my girl loved the beef brisket…

Folkway panini beef

…inside the beef ones. I went to ask where they got it from – I had not seen any in town – and the girl told me that it was a joint order together with one of those (expensive) branded coffee places in town. Hmmmmm!!!

The sweet young girl was running the place all by herself with the help of her very nice mum. According to the latter, everything served here is msg free which is one good thing, I would say. However, I don’t think I would be coming back again for any of the things we had ordered…except maybe for the beef sandwiches and I will call them that till they start serving them with the right kind of bread – those grilled lines on the toasted sandwich bread sure do not count.

I did notice though that everyone else was having the beef bihun (rice vermicelli) and it so happened that an ex-student, now a dentist in town, dropped by and he too ordered that…and later, he told me that it was good and worth a try. I wonder if that was anything like the celebrated Vietnamese pho but I guess to find out, it will have to wait till the next time I drop by.

Incidentally, Huai Bin dropped by my place yesterday to pass me this…

Kit Kat from Japan

– Hokkaido red bean Kit Kat! Obviously, he brought that back with him on his recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. I really appreciate how people are so thoughtful, carting home a little something for everybody while on their travels. Of course I have not tried it yet – that will have to wait till my girl comes home this weekend. Aren’t we parents all the same? Thanks so much, Huai Bin…and to you too, Ling.