Connected…

I dropped by here

Green House, Sibu

…again the other morning and it was gaily decorated…

Green House CNY decor

…to welcome and usher in the forthcoming Chinese New Year. They even have the auspicious plants for sale…

Green House CNY plants

…but no, I was not there to buy any of those.

I made my way there because I saw on their Facebook page that they are now selling these pies…

John's Pies at the Green House 1

…that I had before here…and also here

John's Pies at the Green House 2

…but their outlet here in Sibu did not last very long then. The one that I went to in Kuching is no longer there as well but they are still around at their newer outlet here, outside of the city centre. You can browse through their Facebook page if you are keen on finding out more.

Now, how are these pies and the shop selling plants connected, you may ask? Well, it seems that they sell those herbs…

Rosemary

…that are used…

Thyme

…in the making of the pies…

Mint

…and that is why they are selling them there.

So what did I think of these pies this time around? Well, the truth is I did not get to eat any as I went there for the sole purpose of buying a few, frozen, to heat up for my girl to enjoy when she comes home this weekend. She is so into these western pies and with all those herbs and everything in them, I am very sure she is going to love them!

I had left the place and was about to get into the car when the boy at the shop came running after me to pass me these cookies…

Dollee CNY cookies

…from Victor for Chinese New Year. Oh my!!! Isn’t that sweet of him? Thank you so much, Victor – do drop by my place come Chinese New Year, friends and family all welcome.

Advertisements

Rise…

I googled and found out that bangkit in Malay means rise and this is what we call kuih bangkit

Kuih bangkit
*Archive photo*

If I am not wrong, it is made from sago flour and the quality of the flour is of vital importance in order to make really good ones. Those days when they used to make it at home, some might not be so white, sort of yellow or brown in colour and some might have a not-so-pleasant smell to it. Other than that, there is also the question of how much santan (coconut milk) is added, how thick and rich it is.

My missus bought these…

Made-in-Singapore kueh bangkit

…at a supermarket here, made in Singapore and it was not expensive. However, I could hardly taste any of the much desired coconut fragrance in it, far from being anything like the real thing.

In my younger days, my mum and aunties and also my maternal grandma would make our own. We would all converge at my grandma’s house and all of them would work together to make the most delightful kuih bangkit. They would make the dough and use a brass mold to stamp out the flowers and I would help clip the “designs” on top using these brass pincers…

Brass pincers
*Archive photo*

…and once ready, they would be baked painstakingly to perfection in this brass oven…

Antique brass oven
*Archive photo*

…over a hot charcoal fire with some of the embers placed on top of the thing as well. Of course, the connoisseurs would tell you that the ones these days, baked in an electric oven, would come nowhere near the ones that we used to enjoy so much a long long time ago.

A few years ago, I heard that the ones at the nyonya stall at one of the leading shopping malls in Kuching had very nice ones…

Kuching kuih bangkit
*Archive photo*

I think the stall is still there though I have not heard of anyone dropping by to grab their Chinese New Year cookies lately so I do not know if they are still making them.

Meanwhile, here in Sibu, I stumbled upon these…

Payung Cafe kuih bangkit 1

…very nice ones…

Payung Cafe kuih bangkit 2

No, they did not make them themselves. I was told that they were only helping a friend out, selling them  for him or her.

No, they do not look quite like the ones we used to make…

Payung kuih bangkit 3

– the shape of the flower mold is not the same and it does not have the clipped patterns on top either. Obviously, they have used a flower mold and that was it!

However, they are very nice. The moment you open the jar, the whiff of the rich santan fragrance will sweep you off your feet, definitely a lot nicer than the ones my missus bought from the supermarket and nicer than some that I have had, available here and there at any time of year. They do not come cheap though – RM22.00 a jar and if you buy 10 jars, you will get one free! Well, if you are interested, you can drop by the café where they have samples for you to try and you only need to buy only if you think it is really that good and value for money, no obligation whatsoever…but you’d better hurry before it runs out – they’re selling like hot cakes, so to speak. LOL!!!

Certified…

Congratulations to the Cafe Ind…

The Cafe Ind, Sibu

…on receiving the long-awaited renewal of their certification…

Certified halal

…from the authorities concerned. Yes, it has always been certified halal, all this while…just that the last one had expired and they had to apply for a renewal and from what I understand, it is a really long and painful process and it took them months after the very stringent and thorough inspection and everything to issue the certificate. I guess that is why many do not bother to apply at all while some would just put up signs to declare that their places are pork free or they serve no pork though strictly, that will not suffice.

Anyway, we dropped by for lunch on Saturday as I know my girl would love their biryani kambing or lamb bryani (RM19.00)…

Cafe Ind biryani kambing

…that she did not order the last time we were here as she wanted something lighter and had something else instead. Needless to say, as always, she enjoyed it…

Cafe Ind lamb curry

…to the max and it sure made her day.

My missus wanted the kalio ayam again but I insisted that she tried the opor ayam (RM14.50)…

Cafe Ind opor ayam

…that I had on our previous visit and loved so very very much…and she requested for it to be extra spicy. Indeed, it was VERY spicy and my guess was that they added pounded green cili padi as the colour was not red at all.

I cannot remember if I had had it before but anyway, I ordered the ayam penyet (RM14.50)…

Cafe Ind ayam penyet

…to see if it was any good and I would say it was nice as well…

Cafe Ind ayam penyet

…but personally, my favourite rice dishes here from their Indonesian menu would still be the opor ayam, followed not all that very closely by the kalio…but of course, different people may have different tastes so I would not know which one you would enjoy the most. Come, go and give it a try and let me know.

Again, the boss waived the charges for the three glasses of iced water that we had so the bill that day came up to RM48.00 which, of course, was perfectly all right by us considering that we had such a delightful lunch.

Wherever you go…

…everybody will follow.

This shop was at the corner of Central Road and Ramin Way opposite the Standard Chartered Bank here, a small place but it was so popular that it was always packed and it would be very difficult to find a seat.

Well, they have moved now…

Wan Jia He Cafe, Sibu

…to the block of shops behind the Hong Leong Bank branch and the Sugar Bun outlet at the Sibu Gateway and even though I was there very very early the other morning, at around 7.00 a.m., it was already packed with people there for breakfast.

They have retained the old name and their new signboard has the photos of the ladies running the business. Their kampua mee was very good but it seemed that they have given that up to somebody else…

Wan Jia He kampua stall

…and they would not be doing that anymore. I guess with the bigger premises, maybe four times the size of the former place, they feel that they will not be able to cope.

That means that they only handle the drinks and the fried stuff…

Wan Jia He fried stuff stall

…and yes, they are still serving their very nice traditional Foochow longevity noodles or mee sua, the char bee lau (fragrant root) and the pek ting eyok (eight treasures) pork leg soup.

I heard that one of the “bigger” ladies on the signboard made the best coffee at the old place but that morning, I did not see her around and there was one much older than the rest who was doing that and it was very good…

Wan Jia He kopi o peng

…too, I would say.

I ordered the Hock Chiew char mee (Foochow fried noodles)…

Wan Jia He Hock Chiew char mee 1

…and yes, it was good…

Wan Jia He Hock Chiew char mee 2

…despite the lack of ingredients…

Wan Jia He Hock Chiew char mee 3

However, I guess I can’t complain as at RM3.50 a plate, it is cheaper than many other places (RM3.80 or RM4.00 or more) and the kopi-o-peng was RM1.50 only (RM1.80 at most other places these days)…and I only had to fork out RM5.00 for that very satisfying breakfast – I don’t think you can get that at most other places these days especially in the bigger towns and cities in the country.

Incidentally, in my late teens, there was a stall in the row of wooden ones by the stream behind the old chicken market along Central Road (where many would converge for the delightful cendol at the time). A very nice lady there used to dish out one of our favourite Hock Chiew char mee in town and her equally nice daughter whom we called Ah Leng would be there helping to do the serving and everything. What I heard was that the ladies at this shop are in some way connected to Ah Leng and her mum but I wouldn’t know how true this is. Anybody in the know?

Everything has changed…

It has been said that Sungai Merah was where the early Foochow settlers who arrived in Sibu from Fuzou in southern China from 1901 to 1903 landed. In my growing-up years, the bazaar comprised a few rows of double-storey wooden shophouses but by the 1970s, some had been replaced by concrete buildings and a row in the centre of the bazaar met this same fate when it was burnt down in 1985. The last row of wooden shops that housed the stalls selling local fruits, was demolished in August, 2009 to make way for the present 3-storey block of concrete shophouses where this coffee shop is located.

The bridge crossing the river linking one side of the bazaar to the other is still where it has always been but of course, it does not look quite the same now. This school and church was set up by the Catholic mission in 1927…

Hua Hin school & church
*Archive photo*

The school premises is still being used though I am not too sure about the church as there is now a bigger and more modern church, St Teresa’s, for the Catholics in the parish.

This is the wet market…

Sg Merah market

…in Sungai Merah as it stands today. I am not too sure but I think it stands where it has always stood all these years though restoration works might have changed its appearance a little.

I remember quite sometime ago, before I retired, I used to do some work for the exam office in the Education Department and one morning, the officer in charge took me here for breakfast and though I did enjoy the Foochow fried noodles from a stall at the back of the market, I was quite put off by the stench from the chicken stalls a little to the front.

Well, I went strolling around the vicinity the other morning and I spotted the stall, still going strong. Of course, I took a seat and ordered a plate (RM3.50)…

Sungai Merah market Foochow fried noodles 1

Hmmmm…it looks like the noodles here are cheaper than many other places in town where it can go up to RM3.80 or RM4.00 or more these days and the best part was that there were a lot of ingredients in it – meat, liver and so on…

Sungai Merah market Foochow fried noodles 2

…unlike elsewhere where one would be hard-pressed to find anything noticeable at all.

I would say it was nice and I sure would not mind stopping by for it again should I happen to be around these parts anytime in the future…but then again, there are lots of coffee shops around here and I may want to try those instead. We’ll see.

This time of year…

Well, it’s this time of year again…and no, I have not finished my spring cleaning and everything yet. At my age, I am going very very slowly, doing a little at a time so no, I have not put up my decorations yet, unlike here…

Payung Cafe Chinese New Year decoration 2016

…at one of my favourite cafés in town…or at this megamall here…

Star Megamall 3 wise monkeys

…where the decorations have not failed to impress…

Star Megamall CNY decor 2016 1

…each year…

Star Megamall CNY decor 2016 2

…and this year is no exception.

Of course, you will get to see anything and everything that has got to do with Chinese New Year…

CNY lanterns & decor

…everywhere for sale, like these lanterns and decorations, for instance…and all the jars of cookies and stuff and these edibles…

CNY edibles

…that seem to be the favourite of many.

Well, there is still a little over three weeks to go so I guess I still have time to dilly dally a bit and get everything ready before the time comes. What about you?

Eternal flame…

This place is very new – in fact, it does not seem to have a sign up yet, probably because it just has had its soft opening only, not quite in full swing, and if not for the name on the “opening soon” banner…

Eternal Dining Sibu

…one would not see it and know this is the place.

My friend, Julia, was back in Sibu from Perth, Australia and as always, every time she comes home, we would go out for dinner and since she said she did not mind western or whatever cuisine, we agreed to meet here and give this place a try.

While I was taking the above snapshot, a lady walked out of the place, heading towards the shopping complex next door. She smiled and asked if I was there for dinner and I said yes, and went on to ask her if the dining section was upstairs seeing that there was a bar on the ground floor. She said that I could go to the upper floor or go through the bar to the section on the left. Of course, going up the stairs is out of the question so I chose the latter.

Once we were seated, a nice Indian man approached our table and made some suggestions as to what we could order. I asked and he said he was originally from Taiping, Perak but spent most of his life in Ipoh, Penang or Kuala Lumpur and he had been recruited to “carry out the training” here at this point in time so he would not be around permanently.

He recommended the pork chop and sausage platter, small (RM45.00)…

Eternal Dining pork chop and sausage 1

…and I asked if they made the sausages themselves but he said no, they were imported German sausages…

Etarnal Dining pork chop and sausage 2

…and of course, I wanted that.

Now, that is what I would call a pork chop – very well-chopped or clobbered using the spiky meat tenderiser hammer unlike what I have had elsewhere where the chops are not pulverised and can be really tough at times. It was very nice especially with the very delightful gravy that came by the side (though I thought they could have wiped the side of that little bowl before serving). As for the sausage, it was very strong on the herbs but after the initial few bites and getting used to the fragrance, I would say I enjoyed it as well. The mashed potatoes underneath were very nicely done and I loved the broccoli and the corn on the cob but not the cauliflower – I never buy the ones here as they are bland, absolutely tasteless and do not have that very nice cauliflower fragrance, so nice that I could just eat it, boiled with just a pinch of salt, on its own.

They certainly were very generous with the serving and that dish alone would have been more than enough for the two of us. I think it is good for 3, or perhaps 4 even but the man suggested a pasta dish to go with it and said that we should try their specialty with fresh prawns and pork (RM32.00)…

Eternal Dining prawn & pork pasta

Again, the portion was big enough for 2 or 3 persons and yes, it was very good too. The pasta was very flavourful and a bit spicy, probably with the addition of chili flakes and the roast pork…

Eternal Dining roast pork

…was so good – not quite the same as the ones at the Chinese places and personally, I thought this one had an edge over all the rest that we can get here.

As for the grilled freshwater prawns…

Eternal Dining grilled prawns

…these huge ones would set one back by around RM55 a kilo at the wet market and one would not get all that many. They were all right but eating the head was out of the question as they did not remove the sac and the black stuff…

Not cleaned

…inside. I would always remove that when I de-vein the prawns as it has an unpleasant bitter taste but I guess you can’t remove it if you want to keep the heads whole for a more impressive presentation.

So based on our two orders, I would say that the food was really great and the service was prompt and efficient. Julia kept insisting that they probably knew that I was a blogger as she did not see the man going to talk to any of the customers at the other tables. Hmmm…I wonder if it was so. Iced water with two slices of lime in each glass was RM2.00 each…and poor Julia seemed to attract a lot of mosquitoes while we were there. I was left in peace all night though probably because my old skin is tough and hard and not to their liking. LOL!!! However, I was quite annoyed that there was a fly fluttering around and my guess was that these pesky insects could come over because of the open bar on the other side.

In-house music was all right, not too loud – mainly retro oldies like Chicago’s Hard to say I’m sorry for one, nothing that would create a pleasant ambiance and put me in a feel-good mood. The place was brightly-lit, great for photo-taking but I did wish they did not put the huge à la 7-Eleven kind of fridge in the open at the back – the lines of beer bottles were fine but the not-so-nicely-arranged boxes of fruits, probably for the fresh juices, and whatever else inside…

Eternal dining

…were such an eyesore. There was a wooden staircase by the side, at the back as well, leading up to a platform and I could see all the carton boxes dumped on top like it was some kind of attic used as a storeroom and that too was not a welcome sight. Probably a couple of bamboo blinds up in front of the platform would do the trick and keep everything out of sight.

Other than the aforementioned, I was wishing at times that they would station their waiting staff at strategic places and not leave them to their own devices, walking around doing their own things and talking among themselves and what not…but at least, I did not see any fiddling with their smartphones like one that I saw at one place here. I also noticed that one of the plates were chipped – for a classy place, that is a no-no and considering that the plates are big and heavy, they should tell their workers to be a lot more careful when handling them. Well, they’ve only just begun so hopefully, they would manage things a little better and make sure that everything is of that same high standard as the delightful dishes served.

Thank you so much, Julia, for the scrumptious dinner treat and also for the goodies you brought home from Australia…

Goodies from Oz from Julia

…for me. That is so very sweet of you, as always and I sure look forward to the next time you come back to town. Take care there, God bless and all good wishes in your current undertakings. Cheers!!!