Try again…

My girl had not tried the food here yet…

Ayam Penyet Ria

…as that time when her mum and I went, it was a weekday and not a holiday so she was in her school, and was not around. Now that the school holidays are finally here, I wasted no time in taking her to sample some of the stuff on their menu…

Khas Ibu Ruth

Hmmmm…this franchise is the brainchild, the baby of some Indonesian lady named “Ibu Ruth”, it seems.

They did not have this…

Self service sambal

…the last time around but the guy did say they were waiting for the tray or something. I was expecting something very special but it looked like one of those plastic ones with a cover that you can open and close to help yourself to what is inside, something like the ones they use here. True to what the guy said that last time when we said that they could be more generous with the sambal, now they have it ready by the side and one can just go and help oneself to as much as one wants. That day when we were there, there were two bowls and one was extra spicy – needless to say, my missus had a field day enjoying herself and going back for more. She sure likes it hot!

No, I did not order the chicken as on that previous occasion, I thought it was rather overly-soft and not nice and firm so I did not quite enjoy the texture of the meat and I did not think I would want to have that again. Instead, I ordered the fish (RM13.50, with rice)…

Ayam Penyet Ria bawal penyet plus rice

…which I certainly liked better than the chicken but being used to buying it fresh from the market and cooking our own at home, it certainly did not get me jumping with delight. Besides, I do think that I liked the one here a lot more but theirs was a little bit more expensive and what we had here sometime ago was very good too…but we have not had the latter for sometime now so I would not know how much it is now at this point in time.

Of course, I ordered the gado-gado (RM6.50) that I thought was very good but instead of the sup tulang (RM7.50), I decided to give their sayur asam (RM7.00)…

Ayam Penyet Ria sayur asam

…a try. It was not exactly sour – I thought there was a hint of sweetness in it and comparing the two, I would rather stick to what I had before.

My girl wanted the tempeh (RM3.80)…

Ayam Penyat Ria tempe

– something that she does seem to enjoy so we had that as well.

For one thing, although they did not have a really very extensive menu, there were stickers all over that stated in no uncertain terms that a few of the items were currently not available, like the lumpia, for instance but at least, they had stickers so one would know and not get quite pissed off when ordering only to be told that this and that are all not available.

All in all, it was an o.k. brunch and at least, now, my girl has been here and tried some of what they have in store.

Sincerely…

Last Sunday morning, after the service, we wanted to drop by here for breakfast but it was full even though it was still early, only around 9.00 a.m. We did not want to wait for a table so we just went to this place (2.293842,111.827209) instead, right down that same street in the next block of shops.

The Christmas decorations are up…

Opps Christmas decor

…and they even have snowflakes in their washroom….

Opps snowflake

Hmmm!!! LOL!!!

The place was very full too but we did manage to get a table so we promptly placed our orders and sat there waiting. In the meantime, an audibly and aurally-challenged man came along selling plushies. My girl was eager to buy one to help the poor guy out – she has been like this ever since she was small. Whenever we walked past a beggar or a visually-challenged busker on the street, she would insist upon giving a little something before we moved on – never mind what others may say about those people being exploited by some syndicate or something. She feels that it does not matter and what is important is that we have it in our hearts to lend a hand to the less fortunate and do so sincerely.

The guy had a card with him that stated that he was physically-impaired and when I gestured to ask him for the price, he turned it over to let us see – it was RM15.00 each and I chose this one…

Plushie

…that I thought was quite nice, around the size of a football or a little smaller.

My girl had the meat porridge (RM3.50)…

Opps meat porridge

…that was quite good and to her liking. The mum had the chao chai (preserved vegetables) hung ngang (big bihun), RM3.50…

Opps chao chai hung ngang

…that did not look like any elsewhere but she said it was very nice too which, of course, meant that it was sour enough for her.

I tried what they called their xin hua bihun (RM3.30)…

Opps Xin Hua bihun

…which was good too but I do think that what I dish out myself at home is nicer as I would be more generous with those canned clams in soy sauce.

I also ordered this bowl of liver soup (RM3.50)…

Opps liver soup

…which was so very nice, very strong on the fragrance and taste of the ginger and traditional Foochow red wine. My friend, Annie, ordered that once and she sure enjoyed it to the max. Everyone agreed that it was really very well done but I was kind of wary about eating that much liver – they certainly were quite generous with it…but thankfully, my missus helped me out and ate quite a bit but my girl would not have any of that even though she did drink the soup and liked it a lot as well.

So far, other than their liver soup and also their mee sua (string/thread noodles), I feel that generally all the things they have on their menu are all, at best, just pretty o.k. or at least, those that I’ve tried here before so if I make my way back there again, it would most probably be for one of those two or both…unless there are other things on their menu that I have not tried yet.

Winner…

Last Saturday evening, my girl said that she would like the Bangladeshi lamb curry (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry

…for dinner and also the green curry chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung green curry chicken

…so no prize for guessing where we went.

We went early, before 6.00 p.m. as, if I was not wrong, that day was a good day for weddings and on such days, all the banquet rooms at the hotel right behind this cafe would be fully booked for the receptions and the area would be terribly congested. On such days, it would be best to either go early…or go later but if you opt for the latter, there would probably be the problem of finding a place to park.

The boss was not around when we got there but it was very obvious that the staff members were all very thrilled and proud that they had been presented the much-coveted award…

Payung Cafe Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award 1

…which is now displayed quite prominently at the cafe along with the certificate…

Payung Cafe certificate

…that came with it. That kind of spirit is indeed commendable for truly, it is only with the joint effort of all of them as a team that the place has become what it is today. This was not the only time that I had dropped when the boss was not there but those very trustworthy and independent guys would manage very well in his absence. In fact, it was Claire, all the way in Ipoh, Perak, who commented that day that she asked her friend to drop by and she did, with 11 others, and in her own words, “My friend just came back from Sibu. Before she went, I recommended Payung to her and she showed me what she ate there. Very satisfied with everything she ordered for 11 people, kind of special especially the herbs salad, she said… And the boss was not around cos he went to receive an award...”

For one thing, I was kind of disappointed that it was not given much publicity except for a mere mention in this newspaper and in the Sarawak tourism website. There were reports in the more widely circulated Sibu newspaper on the event but sadly, there was no mention at all of our very own homegrown pride and joy…

Payung Cafe Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award 2

As  far as I know, I did blog about it and somebody else has done the same in Mandarin and that’s about it! I do feel that they do deserve some publicity as that would help attract more visitors to the town – after all, there isn’t much that Sibu as to offer other than food…food…and more food and of course, the best would be those things that are not all that easily available elsewhere, stuff that is quite different from the rest. Nonetheless, one of the guys did mention that within the week, there had been more people dropping by…including my friends, a family back from Australia. Hmmmm…I wonder who they were as nobody had told me they were back in town.

Going back to the dinner that day, I noticed that the lamb curry with rice…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry with rice

…had gone up in price by RM1.00 but that is perfectly all right. After all, we are getting quite used to the escalating prices of things – something that has been going on for quite sometime now in our frail economy and the weakening ringgit and word has it that the subsidies of items such as rice, cooking oil and so on would be removed, come 1st January, 2016. It sure does not look like it is going to be a very happy new year for us here, does it?

For a change, we ordered the pomelo salad (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and we sure enjoyed it. My girl said that it tasted very refreshing.

We also tried something new that they have on their menu – the Bangladeshi white chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi white chicken

…and yes, it was good, something on the lighter side compared to the other two meat dishes that we ordered. I am not sure how it was done but I was told that yogurt and a whole lot of onions went into the cooking.

For dessert, my girl wanted their banana cake with ice cream (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe banana cake with ice cream

…and I also ordered their Kahlua ice cream (10.00)…

Payung Cafe Kahlua ice cream

…with a special request for extra liquor to be added to it.

It certainly was a delightful dinner and needless to say, we would be back again…and again…and again…

It could be better…

We had something we had to see to last Saturday morning on the other side of town so we drove all the way there and in the meantime, I heard that there was a stall here (2.265245,111.859945) selling claypot rice. There used to be a stall at the coffee shop at the back of this complex selling that a long time ago. It was really very nice, as good as any that I had had elsewhere but the problem was it was not open for business on a regular basis and I would not want to drive there only to find it closed. The lady at the stall next to it told me that the guy had a full-time job and did it only to pass the time whenever he felt like it so she did not know when he would be around and when he would not.

They have a whole lot of food stalls here at the front section of the complex now…

Sing Kwong hawker stalls

…and this is the one selling claypot rice and a whole lot of other claypot stuff…

Sing Kwong claypot rice stall

I had the chicken with mushroom (RM6.00)…

Claypot rice with chicken and mushroom

…which was nice – like soy sauce chicken served in a claypot of rice and a bit of greens by the side.

My girl had the pork (RM7.00)…

Claypot rice with pork

…and I did try a bit of the meat. It had a stronger five-spice fragrance and did taste a little bit better than the chicken.

My missus had the chicken with salted fish (RM7.00)…

Claypot rice with chicken and salted fish

…and she said she could detect the presence of some bits of salted fish but there was very little of it.

Well, all in all, I would say they were all right – I would not mind having that sometimes for a change but definitely not when I have to drive so far out of my way. Sadly, I do not know of any other place in town that serves this so I guess if we want a really nice one, we would have no choice but to cook our own – with the lap cheang (Chinese sausage) and the long kiam hu (salted fish) and all. Perhaps I should give it a try one of these days…

This way…

I bought 1 kg of noodles for RM2.50 from my regular kueh stall at the kampung here the other day. I am not sure but it may be a little cheaper or the same elsewhere but anyway, with that amount, I would be able to cook a whole lot of noodles this way…or that, depending on how I would like it.

The first morning, I fried around half of it the lakia (Dayak/native) mee (noodles) style. It seems that they all call it mee mamak these days but I do feel that those would be very different with a whole lot of chili or tomato sauce used. Usually, outside, it would just be fried noodles, dry, with lots of fresh chili added while those at my school canteen before had bits of belacan (dried prawn paste) in theirs. I may have blogged about my own versions before but when I fried it that morning, these were the ingredients that I had…

Lakia mee ingredients

– one shallot, peeled and sliced, three cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped, some chilies, seeds removed and sliced thinly, some chopped spring onion, two eggs and some fish balls. Prawns would be nice but there weren’t any in the fridge and I would have added some taugeh (bean sprouts) but there weren’t any either. My missus had some pounded sambal belacan in the fridge so I decided that I would add a bit of that too.

This Malay version of the noodles are a little bit different from the Chinese ones here. They are thinner and firmer but no, it is not because of those not-too-desirable additives as there is none of that alkaline smell of yellow noodles that puts off a lot of people. Probably they add a bit more egg, I wouldn’t know.

I tossed the noodles with a little bit of soy sauce, mainly for the colour and a teaspoon of sugar…

Noodles, tossed

In the old days, I would hear people saying that the Malays used sugar in their cooking and never added any msg but these days, it seems that they have acquired the practice as well so sometimes I would get put off by what they cook especially when they add too much – just like at those Chinese eateries.

The process of cooking was pretty much the same as how I cooked most everything else – I fried the shallot and garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown before adding the fish balls and the chilies plus a teaspoon of the sambal belacan. Then the noodles went in and I mixed everything together thoroughly, adding a little bit of water periodically along the sides to let it sizzle and cook the noodles. Once done, I added the eggs and before dishing everything out, I threw in the chopped spring onion.

There you are! The noodles…

Lakia mee 1

…garnished with a bit of the sliced chili and the chopped spring onion that I had saved for the purpose.

Yes, it was very nice…

Lakia mee 2

…but I would love it a bit more spicy so I must add more chili next time. Other than that, I could not detect the sambal belacan so I would need a lot more of that as well.

I fried the remaining half of the noodles with the very nice lap cheong (Chinese sausage)…

Fried noodles with lap cheong

…that my friend, Annie, gave me and yes, it was very nice too.

Yes, there was enough noodles in that 1 kg for at least, 8 to 10 plates of what one would get outside so that would work out to around 50 to 60 sen a plate. At the rate the prices of those fried noodles at the stalls are shooting up – generally around RM4.00 or more, it certainly would make a lot more sense to just buy a kg and keep in the fridge and fry one’s own this way…or that.

You can’t win them all…

I’ve blogged about this place many times already and I would say it is very popular now any time of day. Many say the char kway teow is the best in town and my missus would go for the fried noodles sometimes. I love the Sarawak laksa and the nasi lemak (RM4.00)…

Colourful nasi lemak

…is my favourite in town with its relatively more lemak rice and the very spicy and tasty sambal and I would usually ask for the chicken or beef curry or the masak hitam beef to go with it. The guy does those very well too. I thought the kampua noodles were good but I did not care for the shredded chicken that came with it – this is a pork-free place, by the way. But I did hear that they now serve the noodles with masak hitam or the curry by the side though those would not get me all excited, I’m afraid. Perhaps the guy should think about using char siew chicken, breast meat instead – after all, it is the noodles that is the deciding factor as to whether it is nice or not and he does do it pretty well.

I wasn’t all that thrilled about their beef noodles either while the western dishes, available only in the evenings, are good and very much cheaper than at those more upscale cafes and restaurants in town. We liked the chicken chop in particular…and also the waffles. The bitter gourd bihun seems very popular but I somehow can’t get myself to order that to try as it is served with chicken and I am more accustomed to the pork version and I’ve never tried the fried rice either – I get more than my fair share of that at home. Hehehehehe!

I’ve tried the chicken rice (RM4.00)…

Colourful chicken rice 1

…before but was not all that thrilled by it but the other day, I ordered it again to see if it is any better now.

Well, the rice…

Colourful chicken rice 2

…is a far cry from the one here or here and yes, I have had a few others that do have a slight edge over the one here and the steamed chicken…

Colourful steamed chicken

…comes nowhere near what I had here but of course, there, you probably would need to fork out a lot more than just RM4.00 for a plate of chicken rice. Perhaps some may not be as fussy as I am and would not mind having this but personally, with so many nice stuff here to choose from, I would much sooner pick one of the others.

In the meantime, I dropped by this bakery (2.304665,111.849229) opposite the Sibu Bus Terminal that day and I was delighted to see some very nice looking cream puffs (RM1.00 each)…

Uncle Bakery cream puffs

…on sale. Ever since the one here closed down, I have not had any nice cream puffs from anywhere else in town. I did try some but no, I never came across any that I would want to go back for more.

They had these chocolate ones (RM1.50 each)…

Uncle Bakery chocolate cream puffs

…too and I bought two to try.

They were very nice, especially if you love chocolate, but for one thing, it appeared that they cut the puff…

Slit in the puff

…to put the chocolate cream filling inside…

Chocolate filling

As far as I know, they would pump in the filling through the bottom…

Cream puff bottom

…like what I saw the girl doing when I bought some cream puffs from her stall in Bintulu.

They certainly were a lot more generous with the filling…

Filling

…here and yes, it was pretty good – not the cake icing cream that they have in a lot of places but I did think it could be a little bit richer as far as the fragrance and taste of the egg custard were concerned but I guess for just RM1.00, I really have no cause for complaint. As for the shell or the puff, it was good too, some room for improvement but good enough for me to want to go back and buy some more, should I feel like having more of these…but no, I would give the chocolate ones a skip, thank you very much, and save 50 sen on each of them.

Expired…

It’s the last day of school today – the long end-of-year holidays will begin tomorrow and stretch right till January next year. That was why, when we drove to my girl’s school that day, we went through some of the stuff that she had there to take home.

That girl of mine is so serious in her work. She would be so engrossed in it and neglect her meals. Besides, for a rural school, there sure seemed to be a lot of things going on – meetings (which I disdained very much when I was still working as personally, I believe that action speaks a lot louder than words), extra classes and a whole lot of activities. Well, it is good in a way as being cooped up there in the middle of nowhere, it may get really boring and depressing sometimes for want of something to do. Most of the time she would be too tired to cook so she would probably just have a drink and some biscuits and that was it! We used to cook for her to take there and keep in the fridge so she could just heat it up and eat but I guess she wants to be independent and prefers to cook her own.

Anyway, I took home this made-in-Indonesia instant fried noodles…

Indofood mi goreng

…that my ex-Kanowit student, now based in Brunei, bought from there to give to me.

It had just expired a few days earlier…

Expired

…but I guess it wasn’t all that long ago so I just went ahead and cooked that for breakfast. There were two packets, just nice for my missus and I and I served it with the leftover char siew from our lunch that day, garnished with a bit of chopped spring onion…

Indofood mi goreng with char siew

Yes, it was still all right, no problem at all.

Other than that, we also took home a few packets of this…

Maggi asam laksa

…that my girl had bought for herself probably thinking that it would be something like the ones in Penang that she quite enjoys. My missus said that she had bought that flavour before, those days when she was still working to cook in their pantry and eat for brunch and she kept saying that it was not nice, nothing like the real thing and very very sour.

Never mind, even if she insisted it was not nice, at least, it should be edible and I could have that for breakfast and finish all the packets that were left eventually instead of just throwing them away as that would be such a waste. The expiry date for this one is in January next year so there is no hurry for me to do that and I can just cook one when there is nothing much in the house and have that for my breakfast.

Well, I did cook one packet that day to try…

Maggi asam laksa with fish balls and egg

…and indeed, it was nothing like the asam laksa that I had had before, never mind nice or not nice. It was sour, like what my wife said, and thankfully, I only used about half of the seasoning provided. Actually, it reminded me of the white tom yam bihun that I had sometime ago but of course, it was not as nice minus the fragrance of the lemon grass and all the other ingredients that went into the cooking but it was all right.

I added some fish balls to it and cooked an egg…

Hard boiled egg, yolk moist and soft

…hard boiled with the yolk still soft and moist. Yes, it was nicely done, just the way I love it. As always, I just used my direct boiling method – just put the egg straight from the fridge into some water in a pot (about three-quarters, no need to submerge it completely) and bring that to boil, small flame (I always use the smallest burner on our gas cooker), uncovered. I kept rolling the egg around so that the yolk would be in the middle and not to one side…and once the water started boiling, I covered the pot and waited for around 6-7 minutes before taking the egg out to peel and cut it into halves and serving it with the noodles.

It seems that this particular brand has also come out with the kolo mee and Sarawak laksa flavours…but if this is what their version of the (Penang) asam laksa is like, I don’t think I would be looking forward to those…especially when usually, theirs are more expensive than the other brands, any flavour.