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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hail The Fruit Season

The rain did not deter us to venture outside. I had forgotten to bring an umbrella with me this trip .... and hence, I borrowed one from the hotel.

Immediately after class dismissed in the evening, a few of us headed to the Sibu Central Market. It was the largest market in Sarawak! Even though it was near 5 pm, there was a hive of activity there. What we loved the most was the fruits!!


 The market

There were so many durians! We walked around and surveyed the fruits and the prices. Cheap. 3 pieces sold for RM10.00. The vendor told us that the durians were from Kanowit. It was impossible to bring durian into the hotel, so what we did was to pay and ate there and then. Delicious indeed!

 So many durians at the market

Good quality durians at bargain prices

There were also lots of dabai!!

 Lots of dabai; the price depended on the grade. 

I did not buy the dabai as I did not have the means to prepare them here ... perhaps I would buy them to bring home. 

I could not resist the langsat and the mangosteen, though. 

Langsat at RM5.00 per kg, and mangosteen at only RM3.00; Darn cheap, if you asked me.

We also walked to the pasar malam .... 

 The Sibu Night Market site 

But because it was raining, the vendors started late; So we decided to head back .... 

The fruits provided a consolation to be here in Sibu ..... especially when I could indulge in good quality fruits at reasonable prices!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chicken Rice Lunch @ New Capitol Restaurant, Sibu

The taxi driver recommended for us to have our chicken rice here. RM5.50 a plate, he said, but a large portion served. Don't go too late, he advised, lest the chicken finished.

This was purportedly the first chicken rice shop in town. They used to operate near the Capitol Hotel in Sibu, and hence the name. Now, they moved to their present location, just opposite Premier Hotel.

So at 12.00 noon, we headed to the shop. Downstairs, they were no more vacant tables, so we went ushered upstairs. It was only after I was seated that I realised that this was a full-blown Chinese restaurant. People would have banquets here .... and here I was eating chicken rice? Hmn ....

"Are we in the right shop?" I asked TY, my colleague.

"Yes," he replied.

"No need lah ..... only 3 of them ...," I overheard the staff saying.

Huh? Only 3 of us and they weren't interested?


"Do you have chicken rice?" we asked when she approached us.

"Steamed chicken?" he asked.

"Yes, of course."

"Anything else?" the staff asked.

We ordered a stir-fried baby kailan to go with our rice.

While waiting for our rice, we were served a plate of peanuts, and 3 glasses of Chinese tea to drink.

Peanuts
The peanuts were crispy and tasty .... 

The condiments  ....

Just one saucer of chilli sauce ... guess we had to ask for more if we needed to; either that, or they were confident that we could do without the sauce

Ginger sauce
The taste of the ginger was rather subtle

Before long, our food was wheeled out on a trolley ... 

The rice
The rice was fragrant and tasty, but I found it to be a little light on the salt .... 

The steamed chicken 
Judging from the look, free-range chicken was used; The chicken was fresh, tender and succulent, and naturally sweet too; The texture of the meat was also good. However, it tasted a little plain to me; I definitely had to add the condiments to my chicken - chilli, ginger and also soy sauce .... Those condiments, to me, brought out the flavour of the plain steamed chicken.

Stir-fry baby kailan
The vegetables were stir-fried with oyser mushrooms and a few slices of carrots, the portion felt a little small. Taste wise, the vegetables were alright - crunchy and not over-fried, and lightly flavoured too.

How much did the whole meal cost us? Well, looking at the bill, the chicken and vegetables cost RM22.00; 3 bowls of rice was RM4.80; 3 glasses of tea were RM1.80; and 1 plate of peanuts cost RM3.00. The total amount we paid was RM31.60. I'd say that the price was reasonable. 

That afternoon, I was chatting with my friend, and she recommended me the shaomai at New Capitol. Yeah? I did see someone eating shaomai at the restaurant, but it did not occur to me that it was a specialty. Hmn .... I'd definitely try them in the next few days .... 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Premier Hotel

The flight took off promptly. Perhaps the ground staff sensed that I was in an explosive mood, so that I was assigned to sit on my own in the flight from Miri to Sibu. :P It suited me just fine as I welcomed the extra space. I shifted from one seat to the other during the flight, just because I could. Lol.

Refreshment consist of a glass of juice and miserable packet of salted peanuts .....

Refreshment

55 minutes later, we landed. My colleagues and I shared a taxi to Premier Hotel. We conversed casually with the taxi driver, and he was nice enough to recommend some places we could access near our hotel.

Upon checking in, I decided to bitch about. Firstly, what I did not like about the hotel ...

1) The room used the conventional key instead of keycard locks. Darn. It was going to be inconvenient as I was going to be sharing a room with another teacher. We would be going out at different times ... and since there was only 1 key, we had to drop and collect at the front desk every time each of us wanted to go in and out.

2)  The room was old and worn, and badly needed refurbishment. It had a .... big box tv, .... a dysfunctional bar fridge ........ and still a bath tub .....

The room

3) The room was also infested with ants .... eew ... crawling on the table in the room, and in the bathroom vanity top.

4) The view sucked big time .... my room faced the parking lot ... and at night, I could hear the cars and their alarms.

5) The water was not hot enough for me, particularly at night; thus i was unable to enjoy hot relaxing showers after a long day.

6) Breakfast was the best meal - with relatively better food choices served - nasi lemak, fried noodles, porridge and condiments, fruits and pastries. The food they served for our refreshment, lunches and dinners were ordinary .... and some even looked downright unappetising.

Lunch

Now let's see. It was rice with stir-fried cucumbers. Hmn .... it was stir-fried angled gourd yesterday .... and now cucumbers? One would think that Sibu was short on supply of vegetables; The cucumbers were tasteless. Honestly, I could whip up a better version. 

Then, there was sweet and sour fish .... and tom yum fish on the day before .... ; curry chicken and sambal egg ...... quite unappetising, not only to me but to a lot of my colleagues. 

Soup

There were fish ball soup and tofu soup .... and today it was white fungus soup .... and because it was served really hot, I found it quite alright. Actually, the soup tasted the same daily .... only the ingredients were different.

I think the hotel should work on improving its quality of food.



However, there were some things worth commending here ...

1) The hotel's excellent location which was a walking distance to the Sibu Central Market and the Night Market.

2) Its friendly staff. All of them smiled cordially when I met them or walked past them at the corridors ..... they warmed me up and melted my enmity.

3) The staff was helpful too ... when I asked them to recommend me places nearby to eat, and when I asked to loan an umbrella ...

And best of all, I finally got the whole room to myself ... the girl I was sharing with decided to bunk in with her colleagues. She's fully welcome to do what she liked! I surely did not mind privacy. :))

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chellam Curry House

It was with a heavy heart that I went to Sibu.

I had been called for training at the last minute, and I WAS NOT happy, because it was during school holidays. Now, I WAS WORKING assiduously for the past 10 months and HAD NOT been called for any form of training. Now that I was on holiday, I was ASKED to go on course. Darn. Of course, I had the right to be upset. Most people would.

The organisers - officers from the state education department - had pleaded with us to understand their plight. They had of course wanted to hold the course since the beginning of the year, but apparently, the Ministry HAD NOT approved the course till the very last minute. Tsk, tsk, tsk ..... I'd shake my head and ask why they bothered to approve in the first place as it had done nothing but cause inconvenience to many people.

Because of the last minute call, the personnel who were supposed to attend COULD NOT attend as they had made holiday plans. Because of it being held during the school holidays, many HAD NOT the slightest motivation. The poor organisers were downright scolded left, right and centre by parties involved.

Me? I pulled a long face ..... and criticized everything and everyone along the way.

But no matter what I said or did, I had to attend. Sigh. "Count your blessings," my friend An told me ..... Yeah, right!!

***

My flight was at 9.00 a.m. that morning. I went to the airport to check-in at 7.30 a.m.; I could not check in on my mobile, somehow ... and I did not have a printer to print out my boarding pass if I were to check-in online. So, I had no choice but to get to the airport earlier to do it ....

Check-in was a breeze, and thereafter, AT and I went to have breakfast at Chellam Curry House. This is a new establishment, located at the shophouses across the road from the Miri airport.

AT's teh tarik and my plain unsweetened tea

For breakfast, there was not much of choice. Perhaps that was why they weren't many people eating there, for there was only roti or bread. Many types of paratha and thosai were on the menu. AT had the egg paratha, which was served with a curry and kurma gravy.

Egg paratha, RM2.50

We also decided to order an egg kottu paratha. It was a chopped up paratha, mixed with egg, bombay onions, and curry leaves. It was a huge, huge portion! The kottu paratha was served with curry and dhal.

Egg kottu paratha, RM6.00

Both AT and I preferred the simple egg paratha, rather than the chopped up one.

Well, I did want to return to try the briyani rice during lunch time. Next time, I suppose .... for I had to drag my feet to Sibu. :(

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dinner @ Hot Point Cafe & Restaurant

Three storeys high. The proprietor is a Singaporean. It is very packed during lunch and dinner times.

These were what my friend always told me. So finally, we went to eat there one evening. Well, it was a first time for me. My friend, on the other hand, had been at least seven times! It's her current favourite haunt.

We had ....

Samboi special cooler, RM4.50

Sea Honey Coconut, RM4.50

Both the drinks were yums ... the Samboi or plum drink was shiok ... as it was sweet and tangy; the sea honey coconut, on the other hand, was sweet and very pleasant indeed. 

To eat, we ordered .... 

 Thai Tom Yum Seafood, RM13.80
Well, the soup was spicy and sour enough, and were infused with lots of flavours of fresh herbs .... but then ... it did look very sorry with the minimal ingredients used. My friend thought she could cook me a better version. Lol. 

Singapore Fried Beehoon, RM5.50
Both of us did not like this dish which we found to be dry ..... and flavoured with curry.

Spring Chicken in Basket 16.80
This was our favourite of the night ... the chicken was well-marinated, and grilled till crispy ..... it was really yummy. 

Our total bill was RM45.10 ..... quite reasonable pricing. But then, there were some hits and misses where the food was concerned. :P I look forward to go back to try the MANY other items on the menu.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Curry Rice

This coffee shop was famous for its notorious treatment of customers. That was according to hearsay. But it did not deter me from dropping by. A popular dish here was the Curry Rice. Indeed, just a glance around the shop, and I could see almost everyone was eating it. People polished off everything on the plate too! For I saw empty plates, where people had finished eating.

So I ordered a plate of curry rice at RM5.00.

Curry Rice

Presentation wise, the curry rice really looked yummy. White rice had been spreaded out on a plate, and on top of the rice, there are 3 types of meat . Plain steamed chicken, BBQ pork or char siew, and braised pork belly. Then, curry gravy in a bright orange hue was doused over the meat ....

Taste wise, well .... the rice was sticky .... I suppose it sopped up the curry gravy better that way. I'd say that the meats tasted ordinary; but it was the curry gravy that held the whole dish together, and gave it that irresistible appeal - the curry gravy was indeed lemak - very rich. It was not too spicy, and was well balanced with flavour, and had good consistency.

Some people chose to have their curry gravy served in a separate bowl; and some people finished up their gravy and went back to ask for more ..... :P I would too.

Business was really good, so be prepared to wait a bit.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Curry Noodles

We are having curry noodles for breakfast, my colleague told me.

I assembled myself some ....

Curry noodles for me :P

After I had finished eating, I felt that I needed to provide him with feedback. "Not nice," I said. This version of curry noodles needed a lot of improvement. I was sure I did not hurt his feelings ... we had catered this from a vendor, after all. 

It led me to think about what an ultimate bowl of curry noodles should be like. I hadn't much idea, as curry noodles was not peculiar to Sarawak. Over here, Sarawak Laksa was what we were familiar with. We knew exactly how we wanted our laksa and what were the compulsory condiments to accompany.

But not for Curry Noodles. I did not know much about Curry Noodles.

I searched my memory and recalled the times I had Curry Noodles in KL. The Chinese hawkers would serve their noodles with a fragrant and rich curry broth in good consistency - not too thick and not too diluted. The most basic of accompanying ingredients included fat and juicy cockles, fried tofu (tofu pok), deep-fried pork skin, bean sprouts and a side-dish of sambal. I had always had the yellow noodles substituted with rice vermicelli. Most of the time, I had found Curry Noodles to be rather satisfying.

I had these so-called Ipoh versions ....

Curry Noodles from Ipoh Town Kopitiam

 Curry Noodles from the Mee Jawa stall at Food Republic Pavillion KL

Both were so-so ... hardly to die for. Both had different condiments, the only similarity being the long beans, bean sprouts and tofu pok. Well, I had not been inducted in Ipoh Curry Mee .... these inauthentic version did not count. 

Hmn ... I supposed I had the Sarawak version of Curry Noodles, which was basically yellow noodles with normal curry gravy, served with hard-boiled egg, mustard and beansprouts. I thought it was a confused version, a neither here nor there version, like it could not decide whether it was Mee Jawa or Mee Kari. Lol. Therefore, breakfast today was a disappointment.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spinach With Century Egg

I wondered who invented this dish, cause people never did used to stir-fry spinach with century eggs LAST time. I had certainly not eaten spinach with century egg .... till a few years back. I distinctively remembered where. I attended a family reunion at Pending Seafood ... and one of a highly recommended dish was this : Stir-fry spinach with century eggs.

Since then, Mom started replicating at home .... for it was a rather simple twist to a common dish we always cooked at home. I suppose the century yolk lend a rich and unique flavour to the dish, and that is why it is a favourite among the family.

Today, while browsing at the market, I picked up a bunch of spinach ... and thought I would jazz it up with some century eggs. It was simple to prepare alright. I stir-fried my vegetables as per normal ... and today I added fresh meatballs and one century egg.

Stir-fried spinach with century egg and meatball

And I enjoyed the dish with my rice. It was my nutritious and wholesome homemade one-dish meal. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Colourful Stirfry

Well, I supposed I was influenced by my friend who tended to include a lot of colours when she cooked. She wanted to make her food look appetising.

Hence, with my broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and chicken strips in hand, I decided make a vegetable stir-fry. I even cooked rice to eat with my vegetables.

Broccoli, carrot, mushroom and chicken

Sometimes, when I had the ingredients at hand, I could make it more even colourful!

Yellow corn, orange carrot, green beans and meatball

Then I went over the top ....

Glass vermicelli stirfry

Excess is not good. Lol ... when I put in too many types of ingredients into a dish, it turned out wrong. Lol. In this dish of glass vermicelli, I had 10 different types of ingredients :

  1. Garlic
  2. Red chilli
  3. Chinese sausage
  4. Meatball
  5. Fishball
  6. Chicken
  7. Leek
  8. Carrot
  9. Black fungus
  10. Shiitake mushrooms
Lol ....  there was too much of textures and flavouring, resulting in a confusing plate of noodles. :P Nonetheless, homecooking is the best! I knew exactly what I was eating, for one. And for another, there was less oil ... and I had my fill of vegetables. :P

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Glass Vermicelli Stirfry

The leeks looked rather fresh at the supermarket, and I was tempted to buy them. I wanted to fry them with some Chinese sausages which I bought in KL .... and I thought I might just throw in some glass vermicelli to it so that I'd have a simple noodle dish for dinner.

So it only took me a short while to prepare the ingredients ... wash and cut leeks, wash and slice the Chinese sausages, slice the pre-soaked Shiitake mushrooms, and soak the glass vermicelli noodles. When they softened, I heated up the wok to stirfry the leeks, sausages and mushrooms till they were fragrant .... and then I cracked in the egg, followed by the glass noodle. 

Simple glass vermicelli stirfry

For seasoning, I added in some pepper and light soy sauce. I then dished out and ate it for dinner. My friend had some too .... and she liked it. :P  Looks like I'd be cooking this easy peasy dish more often for dinners.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ice-Cream Bean

My friend brought it back all the way from Ba'kalalan. It's the first time in my life seeing such a fruit.

A pod of ice-cream bean. It was so long .........

We pried the pod open .... 

Inside the pod were the fruits .... the pulp was soft like cotton wool, and tasted sweet and fragrant

A pod contained 10 seeds! 

My friend sang praises for it ..... but perhaps because I was not accustomed to its taste, I did not find it particularly yum. :P Anyone eaten this fruit before? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Late

I was late. I was not supposed to be so late. But I had to attend a talk. It was given by some lady from the offices. It would have been great had she been straight to the point, and made everything short and sweet. Instead, she was really a NAG! Because of this person - who was really long-winded, who elaborates at length, who needs to justify every statement she says, and yet is sarcastic, who turns me off with jokes that are NOT funny - I was late. There was no time to waste ... and I had to cook my dinner in 30 minutes. I was sure I could be in time.

To eat with my porridge, I had planned to stirfry a vegetable ... and then I had wanted to have a chicken and pickled lettuce stirfry with lots of white rice wine. It was a cold and gloomy day, and I just thought the ginger and wine would warm me up!

And so when I got home, I washed the vegetables ..... and then chopped up some garlic, chillies, dried prawns and ginger ..... lucky that I had already gotten the chicken marinated and the porridge cooked early that morning.

It was just to heat up the wok and to stir-fry the vegetables in garlic, chillies and dried prawns for a few minutes before I added some salt for seasoning. Then it was ready to eat. Then in another pan, I stir-sauteed the ginger and garlic .... and then dumped into it the chicken and pickled lettuce to stirfry ... and then added some water and light soy sauce and sugar .... and lots of white rice wine. Because my pan was rather shallow, I got the whole thing en flambe. So exciting .... and I bet it enhanced the flavour of the whole dish. Well .... no recipe and no measurement. I simple estimated the amount of seasoning I put into the pan.

Stirfry Baby Romaine
Crispy and crunchy, and lightly flavoured, I could taste the sweetness of the vegetables. Perfect with hot porridge. 

Stir-fry Chicken with Pickled Lettuce.
Yummy. I loved the intoxicating and distinctive flavour of the white rice wine ... the tender slivers of chicken breast .... the crunchy and salty pickled lettuce, and the spiciness of the ginger. Try this. I loved this dish from time to time. 

Dinner is served. :))
Mind the dark colouring here ..... bad photography. Maybe I was too hungry. Hadn't eaten all day! No wonder I was finding everything wrong with the talk!! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Lovin' It : Sausage & Egg Mcmuffin

As I have mentioned earlier, I did not like to eat Sausage Mcmuffin. I just did not like the taste of the sausage. Because of that it had been years since I had the last Sausage Mcmuffin.

"Hey girls!" my friend, CC called. "Hurry up for breakfast. I'm hungry." Western, she insisted. And we headed to McDonald's. I thought it was a great opportunity to try the Sausage Mcmuffin.

"What's nice?" my other friend VV asked the guy at the counter. That's her favourite question since she appeared indecisive about what she wanted to eat.

The guy pointed to Breakfast set no. 2 ... The Sausage Mcmuffin with egg. And I did not know what she said to him but she ended up ordering the wrong set. LOl. Dear VV .... as usual was not focussed.

Anyway, I ordered meal no. 2 - the Sausage Mcmuffin with egg.

Sausage McMuffin with Egg, RM9.35

Well, I must say that the sausage had improved in taste - more well-balanced in flavour now. That overly-seasoned taste of beefy patty was no longer there.

"The sausage mcmuffin wasn't nice last time," CC said cheerfully, before taking a huge bite of her double sausage Mcmuffin. Exactly.

"The breakfast here isn't bad," VV chipped in. She did not have the habit of having breakfast at McDonald's, but I think she would not hesitate to eat here in the future.

Yums .... 

For me, I did like the pairing between the sausage and the egg and the cheese ..... served on a grilled soft and chewy muffin. Yeah, I liked my breakfast too.

We had free re-fills of the coffee, while we sat there and gossiped away .... girls' talk. :P

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Veges & Meat Only, No Rice

I personally know of at least 3 people who abstain from rice, for either health or weight loss purposes. So I try to learn from them ... and turn to dishes of vegetables and meat stir-fry. Minus the rice.

Crinkly mustard & pork belly

Cabbage, carrot & dried prawns 

Okra & dried prawns, sausage & egg

Sweet mustard & pork meatballs 

 Capsicum, carrot, onion & chicken

Broccoli, carrots, black fungus, black mushroom & chicken

I really did not mind having just a single type of vegetable at one time .... but my friend preferred her vegetables to be multi-coloured. More appetising, according to her. So ... well .... I thought I'd try having more colours in my food as well. Just to trick myself into eating. :P 

Anyway, it still felt weird eating those vegetables and meat without rice, and I did get hungry after a few hours ... I don't know. Maybe I still need time to re-condition myself! :P  

Steamed Pomfret

We had a friend come over for lunch ..... and that was something that happened very rarely. It was because we both hardly cooked complicated meals. So anyway, my friend and brought back this very fresh pomfret from home .... and we thought we would steam it for lunch that day.

Early in the morning, I went to buy some ingredients to steam the fish with. Back home, I shredded the ginger, salted vegetable, pre-soaked Shiitake mushrooms, and tomatoes. The garlic and chillies were chopped finely. Then to the ingredients, I added a generous amount of sesame oil .....

 Ingredients for steamed fish

Just before we steamed the fish, we poured all the ingredients atop it .... and then placed in the steamer over high fire. 15 minutes later, it was ready to eat ....

Steamed pomfret

Lol .... the fish tasted really good! Probably cause it was fresh and we could taste its natural sweetness. The accompanying ingredients were delicious too. My friends said they were reminded of home because of this dish .... it was like how our moms used to do it. Well, it should be .... cause those were the ingredients Mom used when she steamed pomfrets back home. :))

Of course, besides the fish, we had a Stir-fry mustard green, a Szechuan vegetable soup, and fried rice. What an elaborate lunch .... cooked by ourselves at home. :)) 

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