CNY Trip to Kuching 2019 Part II: Pizza Ria, Kolo Mee, Sarawak Laksa, Prawn Fritters, Big Pao, Gula Apong Ice Cream, Crispy Tomato Mee

The first thing I did after sending Mandy off to the airport was take a Grab to Kubah Ria. I’ve been craving for Pizza Ria, our local Kuching pizza/pasta/pancake chain. This is their original outlet in Satok – they’ve been open for over 30 years at the same spot! My dad used to bring me here when I was a little kid (we moved to Sibu when I was 7).

I also indulged in my favorite beef pancake many times when I was working in Kuching around 24-25 but I haven’t eaten it since. That’s a good 12 years without this sinful creation. It’s basically mince beef inside a crepe that’s doused with tomato sauce but it’s extremely nostalgic. The best pairing is Pancake + Spaghetti (RM 8.50) – you get both options on your plate. You can even request to have it mixed up into a gooey mess!

The pancake used to be topped with a made-to-order sunny side up runny egg but they’re all line produced now so that reduced the enjoyment factor a little. The runny yolk mixed into the minced beef was one of my favorite things – a bite with umami tomato sauce, gossamer thin pancake, savory minced beef and creamy yolk is the perfect mouthful!

You can’t leave here without ordering a slice of pizza too. It’s not the best but I love it. You probably wouldn’t enjoy Pizza Ria if you didn’t grow up eating it. This isn’t exceptional cooking. It’s the taste of nostalgia. Every true-blooded Kuchingite should have fond memories of eating this, especially if you’re born in the 80s or 90s. I’m glad I had a chance to revisit my childhood. It was delicious!

I woke up bright and early to go to Choon Hui Café the next day. This is the place made famous by Anthony Bourdain. He claims it’s the best Sarawak laksa in Kuching. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open and wouldn’t be open until a few days after I leave. Alas!

Not to be dissuaded, I went opposite to the only kopitiam open at 7 am to eat some breakfast. I ordered kolo mee, which took over 1 hour to arrive! To be fair, the guy warned me that it’ll take a long time to arrive since many out-of-town people were back for Chinese New Year. I probably wouldn’t have minded if it tasted good.

Unfortunately, it was almost inedible. The guy was so rushed he barely tossed the noodles and the texture was disappointing. The flavour was barely there too. I left the bowl after eating two mouthfuls. That’s something I very rarely do as I don’t like wasting food. It was that dismal.

Thankfully, my morning meal was saved by Kelly’s Fritters. This was a stall selling various fritters. I went for heh piah (prawn fritters). These is a crispy Kuching specialty served with a chilli dipping sauce. I have fond memories of eating this during tea time at the start of my career in Kuching.

This tasted really good! The fritters were crispy and flavorful, with just the right amount of prawn. 🦐

I went to Sin Kwang Foochow Big Pau twice over two days but they sold out and closed before I arrived both days. 😭 This is another item I ate during my working days in Kuching. It’s a huge pao with pork and egg. Quite delicious! Too bad I didn’t have a chance to eat it again.

Mandy suggested Hock Hai Dim Sum Café down the road. They also have a big pao, at a fraction of the price of Sin Kwang (RM 3.40) but it was oversteamed. The bottom is hard and crusty.

There’s no egg inside and the mystery meat is a rolled-up ball instead of identifiable chunks. Sin Kwang’s version is way better.

I have never eaten gula apong ice cream in Kuching before. It wasn’t available back then. This is a relatively new thing. Now there are many different ones mushrooming around town. I had to try it!

I wasn’t impressed with DP Ice Cream Gula Apong’s version though. It was very icy and diluted. Disappointing.

Since Kuching hawkers don’t like making tons of money, a lot of stalls are closed over the first week of CNY. That includes all the belacan bee hoon stalls in Song Kheng Hai rugby field. Sigh.

However, I managed to get my tomato crispy mee fix. The best version is in Hui Sing Hawker Center but that’s quite far away so I had this at a random coffee shop in Padungan. It was pretty good too! I had this at an odd hour too – 3-4 pm in the afternoon. You can’t do that in most places. These noodles are kolo noodles that’s been deep fried and doused with seafood filled tomato sauce. They have a kueh tiaw version too but I prefer the noodle ones.

Another must-eat in Kuching is kueh chap – various innards and offcuts of the pig in a thin braising liquid. It’s served with rice sheets. I’m actually not a fan of kueh chap. I never crave for these things but it’s nice to eat once in a while. I can’t remember the last time I had kueh chap. Definitely more than a decade ago.

I also found a durian stall at the cat statue in Padungan. I hear this is the designated seasonal fruit vendor’s location now.

We don’t get branded durian cultivars in Sarawak, but that is slowly changing. This is a kampung durian for RM 10. Not bad!

I managed to squeeze in one last meal at Mee Sin Café before I had to catch my flight to Pontianak. I woke up very early at 6:30 am and went there to eat seafood kolo mee. They’re famous for sheng rou kolo mee (fresh meat kolo mee) but I prefer the seafood version.

The kolo mee here is very delicious! I requested for cha siu oil to be added so it’s red. The proper way to order this is “pang ang” (literally “put red”). The kolo noodles were springy and chewy, a very pleasing toothsome bite. This more than makes up for the disappointing kolo mee I had the previous day.

I’ll love to go back to Kuching again to catch up on the places that I’ve missed or were closed. I suspect I’ll come here more often now that my girlfriend’s hometown is Kuching.

CNY Trip to Kuching 2019 Part I: Lao Ya Keng Laksa, Mandy’s House, Chun Yang Tea, Topspot, Darul Hana Bridge, Pork Leg Rice

I planned a 4D/3N stay in Kuching starting Day 4 of Chinese New Year to visit my girlfriend Mandy in her hometown. I’ve worked and lived here for many years but it’s been a while since I’ve been back, with the exception of my cousin’s wedding the year before. So many things have changed, but there are constants especially around my old workplace of Padungan.

Mandy drove to the airport to pick me up. We checked in at my hotel and went out for a late lunch at Lao Ya Keng. She wanted to eat Sarawak laksa (we just call it laksa here) and this is one of the few places still open so late in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, I once told her that I found the tall and fair young woman who owns this stall attractive. I also told her the story about how I asked said laksa seller for her personal Facebook and added her. This was during the ethanol-induced loose lipped era before we got together. She remembered the anecdote from that time I mentioned it in passing and kept her watchful eyes on me the entire time.

I kept my gaze directly on my laksa bowl the entire time. I did not dare to peer elsewhere, lest my eyes accidentally locked on the roaming laksa seller. My neck was sore by the time we finished eating.

I have to state for the record – I only find my girlfriend beautiful and have no time for other girls besides her. I was also not forced to write this. Okay – Approved by Mandy Chua. No further changes required.

Mandy was quite against her family meeting me at first. She thought they’ll not like me. Little did she know, I do quite well with parents in general. As a well-spoken, educated and relatively good looking young man I seldom encounter issues in this realm. Hehe. Her mom asked me to sit down and eat lunch with them.

I spent the most of the afternoon here.

We managed to go to a new bubble tea place in Kuching called Chun Yang.

New as in Mandy has never tried it before. I was surprised to see that this chain originated from Taiwan!

I refused to believe it at first and lost the bet with Mandy after Googling.

We headed back to the hotel to refresh ourselves before a seafood dinner at Topspot. I wrote about it in a separate post, but it was a mediocre feast.

There was a huge fireworks show in Kuching as we left Topspot and we stopped the car by the side of the road to watch it. These are huge aerial shells, and lots of them too. Definitely government sponsored, you need a license for these large shells.

Mandy brought me to Darul Hana Bridge at Kuching Waterfront, which is one of the hottest new attractions in town. The place was PACKED with people. This may be due to the fact that it’s still early in the CNY celebrations so a lot of out-of-towners were there.

There were projected screens on the river that shows videos of Kuching.

The bridge across the river is brightly lit and very well maintained. Throngs of people took the trek over in the cool night breeze. We did as well. It was good, wholesome fun. I’ve never been here before. The waterfront of my time was dodgy and crime-ridden. Kuching has managed to gentrify the area successfully. Good work.

The next day we had a pork leg rice breakfast. I have been craving for Kuching style pork leg rice. I got a special (whole trotter) and a normal portion, with egg. I really enjoyed this thick-cut pork leg rice back when I was living in Chong Lin Park. These thinly sliced and meagre pieces did not hit the spot.

I was a little disappointed with the flavors and the amount of meat. The pork leg rice of my dreams may have been tinted by nostalgia (and the hunger resulting from smoking weed after 3 days of no food while on meth before eating) but this was quite mediocre.

We headed for a walk in India Street after that.

It was a nice 2D/1N before I sent Mandy to the airport for her flight back to KL. I was staying an additional 2 days before heading to Pontianak. Part II of my Kuching trip is a solo food adventure coming up soon!

CNY meetups: Rasa Sayang kampua + Chuang Yang Restaurant

As you grow older, the only time you really meet up with friends is during festive seasons. Mindy lives relatively close to me in KL but I’ve only seen her once in the past year. Interestingly, we’re practically neighbors in Sibu. That’s probably why we ended up in the same high school (though different classes and years). I got to know her from trying to tapau one of her friends back in school. Haha.

I haven’t had a proper plate of kampua since I came back and I thought we’ll check out One O One to see if they’re open. They’re not so we popped over to Rasa Sayang. My cousin loves the kampua here and so do many other people. I’m not such a huge fan since they’re not the most authentic version. Rasa Sayang uses the curly kolo mee noodles and minced meat.

It still scratched my itch though. There were so many people here today! We had to wait a long time and the menu was very limited – the guy told us there’s only kampua noodles and bian nuk. They sold out by 12 pm too. Crazy! Too many outstation folks back for CNY.

They pegged us as non-locals too – dude called them wanton instead of bian nuk.

Not bad but I’ll still need to eat a simple (and authentic!) plate of kampua before I got back. The kind with cheap soy sauce + chilli and the boiled pork masquerading as char siu colored red.

I also always meet up with my bro Eddy every time I’m back.

We went to Chuang Yang Restaurant for dinner the other day. This is located quite far from Sibu (somewhere in Lanang) but the food is pretty good.

Guinness pai guat (spare ribs). My favorite.

Mani chai with egg. One of the things Sibu does best.

Fried yam. Yum.

Midin. This is a fern that only grows in Sarawak. You’re bound to see Sarawakians eat this whenever they come back. It’s the fucking bomb.

This is deer (rusa). We get a lot of exotic meat here but most people don’t go for the extreme ones like bat and crocodile. Deer is pretty good though.


There’s also bitter gourd!

Best! Happy CNY everyone. Hope you’re having a great reunion with friends and family.

Fireworks with Mandy: An early Chinese New Year celebration!

I will be heading back to Sibu tomorrow so I wanted to have an early Chinese New Year celebration with Mandy. I’ll be meeting her in Kuching on the 4th day of CNY but we wanted to do something here first. We saw a fireworks stall while eating chicken rice the other day. They also sell CNY snacks like ngaku (arrowhead chips) and we bought a container of that while browsing their selections. We went back again over the weekend to get some fireworks to let off together.

The guy said the large fireworks cakes were not in stock yet, and the only ones they have are the smaller 25-shot ones for RM 58. I’ve lit similar configurations and they have a pretty nice ending so we got one of that. We also bought 20-shot Roman candle tubes for RM 45 and some dragon eggs, Pop Pop bangers, and sparklers. We saw a neighborhood park near our condo and thought it’ll be nice to let these off there.

Well, all except the fireworks cake that is. This one is louder and slightly illegal, and people are apt to complain if we lit this in a residential area. I went to the shophouses opposite and stopped the car at a dark corner before lighting the fuse.

Our own mini fireworks show. This is the 25-shot Happy Boom Shoot fireworks cake.

The finale tubes are nice.

We then adjourned to the neighborhood park to play with the Roman candles. These don’t produce a salute or bang so it’s alright for residential areas.

Mandy expressing childlike delight at the Roman candles. Haha.

We also tried doing a synchronized video.

These are the Dragon’s Eggs.

It was really fun! I’m glad we had our own small CNY celebration before I went back to Sarawak. I like seeing how Many enjoys playing with fireworks and it’s nice to do things like these together as a couple.

We also made a potato heart. <3 Haha.

Happy CNY everyone!

Poon choy feast cooked from scratch for Chinese New Year!

Poon choy with abalone, Korean oysters, scallops, tiger prawns, fish maw, mushrooms, soy chicken, siu yoke (roasted pork belly), quail eggs, broccoli and daikon radish.

I love eating poon choy. I’ve had it in 2014, 2015 and 2016. I only paused after that coz this isn’t a dish you can eat by yourself. I’ve always wanted to try making my own version of poon choy. It’s not difficult, just labor-intensive coz you need to cook all the ingredients separately before combining in a big bowl. Nothing that can’t be done with proper planning. I nailed down all the ingredients I wanted to have inside and how long it’ll take to cook each one and came out with a shopping list and recipe.

I had ordered all the dry seafood the week before via online shopping. I got large dry scallops, Korean dried oysters and huge dried mushrooms from a specialty dried produce store. I read mushrooms need to be soaked for a day prior to cooking so the preparation started the day before I started cooking. I even timed when I needed to get the fish maw (12 hours), dried oysters (8 hours) and dried scallops (2 hours) into the soaking basin.

I also prepped the tiger prawns by deveining and removing the long feelers. This took longer than expected coz I don’t have much experience in deveining prawns. I usually get the frozen and peeled ones. It’s quite intuitive though and after this episode I’ll be able to do it a lot faster in the future. At the end of it, I didn’t even need to cut open the back – I could just twist into an opening in between the shell and pick up the vein. Next level up is doing it with a toothpick.

The prawns are cooked in a mixture of Japanese sushi vinegar, mirin and sucralose. I also boiled the quail eggs in this sauce. Mandy helped peel the shells of the quail eggs, which was her only contribution to this endeavor. Haha. To be fair, I actively told her not to assist me coz I wanted to be the one to cook her this poon choy feast.

The only two ingredients that wasn’t cooked from scratch are the abalone and siu yoke. The former came already pre-braised in a can. The latter I tapau from one of the chicken rice stalls near my house coz there’s no way I can make better siu yoke at home, considering I don’t even have an oven!

Next was the “master stock”. This was a mixture of oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken stock, coriander, Shaoxing wine, fish sauce and sucralose but at the end of it was heavily flavored by the dried oysters, scallops, fish maw, and mushrooms too. I started with the plump rehydrated mushrooms before adding in whole chicken legs.

I also chopped up the stems of coriander leaves to add that distinct taste into my braising stock.

I then added in the rehydrated Korean oysters. This added SO MUCH FLAVOR to the stock. Dried oysters have the essence of umami inside them and they contribute so much savory taste to the braising liquid. It’s uncanny! I would say this is one of the most important ingredients in poon choy.

I also dumped in the rehydrated fish maw while chopping up the daikon radish. I really enjoyed the fish maw – it absorbs up so much of that delicious broth. It was one of my favorite things to eat in this poon choy big bowl.

The daikon radish goes in last and I let this whole pot simmer at low heat for about 30 minutes before adding in the scallops. Rehydrated scallops are very fragile so I used a strainer to keep them together. This makes it easier to scoop up and also prevents other sturdier ingredients from bumping into it. You want them plump and whole to be displayed in the poon choy.

All that’s left after that is arranging the ingredients into the bowl. There’s abalone, Korean oysters, scallops, tiger prawns, fish maw, soy chicken, siu yoke, mushrooms, quail eggs, broccoli and daikon radish. I also heated up a bit of the braising liquid with tapioca starch to make a gooey gravy to go with the poon choy.

It’s really delicious! This came out way better than I expected. Everything tasted so good! 10/10 – a success. 👏

Unfortunately, I’ll be eating poon choy till I go back for Chinese New Year. At least I have Mandy now so she can help out a bit. I wouldn’t have cooked this before she came into my life coz it’ll be impossible to finish by myself. Haha.

Prosperity Begins with a POP!: Carlsberg CNY dinner at HXC Grand Ballroom @ ICC Pudu

“Why so early CNY stuff come out dy?”. I hear this refrain every year without fail on my Facebook. Let me share a recent finding by Google I was privy to at work – search interest in Chinese New Year picks up 3 weeks before the actual date e.g. now. Thus, the decision by marketers to do CNY early is based on solid data. As someone who loves Chinese New Year and listens to CNY songs starting Christmas, I’m one of those who definitely gets into the mood early.

I love Chinese New Year. I adore everything about it – the lou sang, the reunion dinner, the gettogethers with family and friends, the yearly display of fireworks, the sojourn back to our hometown. I’m going back to Sibu and Kuching this year so I’m extra in-the-mood. I was talking to my housemate Mandy about how much I like CNY. She doesn’t feel the same excitement, and I realized that my passion for the Lunar New Year has remained relatively unchanged since I was a kid. What can I say? I’m a romantic when it comes to CNY.

I went to Carlsberg’s “Prosperity Begins with a POP” Chinese New Year dinner/launch event last night. I’ve seen these bottles with the brightly colored caps around. Lots of brands do CNY-specific SKU refreshes and it’s nice to see what’s coming every year at the grocery aisles. I also enjoy these dinners with lou sang so I jumped at the chance to go.

This was held at Hao Xiang Chi Seafood in ICC Pudu. It’s a huge event with a grand stage and lots of tables. I hear they invited 500 trade partners and media guests to the dinner. There were pop-up bars serving the entire Carlsberg range as well as food stands serving siu yoke, chicken wings and other finger food before the banquet dinner started. I was honestly impressed by the entire thing.

Oh! I also saw Crystal Ong of the CNY group M-Girls. This is the second M-Girls member I’ve met this year!

We also got the chance to play a replica version of “Probably The Best CNY Shopping Experience – You Shop, Carlsberg Pays!”. There was a huge Carlsberg Smooth Draught can that we popped to get a chance at the top prize of RM 800 worth of groceries and beers paid for by Carlsberg.

I managed to win the second prize of a 6-pack of Carlsberg Smooth Draught!

This activation will be held at participating supermarkets and hypermarkets on 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26 and 27 January 2019. There have been 65 lucky winners who’ve won the grand prize of RM 800 worth of groceries paid for by Carlsberg thus far. You just need to buy RM 200 worth of Carlsberg products to get a chance to pop the can!

Somersby Oriental Yee Sang.

We ended up spilling more yee sang on the table than eating it but it was fun! This is my first lou sang of the year.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc Lobster Salad. I really enjoyed this dish! It’s a mixture of lobster meat and various fruits. One of the guys at our table had a shellfish allergy so I ended up eating his plate too. Best.

Asahi Superior Soup with Scallop. A beautiful bowl of chicken, huge Shitake mushroom, scallops, and an abalone. Luxurious.

Carlsberg Smooth Draught Braised Abalone. I love braised abalone! Nothing says CNY more than abalone.

Carlsberg Steamed Estuary Grouper. I’m a huge fan of grouper too. I think all Chinese will have a fish dish during the CNY reunion dinner coz it sounds fortuitous.

Connor’s Pork Ribs Stew. I was quite full at this point but I like how they provided a glove for you to eat this. Very thoughtful.

Carlsberg Superior Chicken Rice. I honestly can’t remember how this tasted like. I had indulged in quite a few drinks and I was too stuffed to be able to appreciate more food.

You’ll get a chance to win frantastic grand prizes like electronic mahjong table sets that auto shuffles and sorts the game tiles for you! There are also limited edition mahjong sets, RM 100 ang paus and playing cards! All you need to do is check the winning icon under the bottle caps when you enjoy Carlsberg or Carlsberg Smooth Draught big bottles at coffee shops and food courts.

You’ll also get a mahjong set by topping up RM 88 when you buy two cartons of Carlsberg or Carlbserg Smooth Draught AND one carton of Somersby (any variant) OR one carton of Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc. Tesco is giving these mahjong sets away FREE when you spend RM 600 on Carlsberg Malaysia products.

“Prosperity Begins with a POP” also has a bistro, restaurant and pub activation – enjoy Carlsberg or Carlsberg Smooth Draught at these places to get a deck of playing cards and stand a chance to win a RM 100 beer voucher! Check out www.facebook.com/CarlsbergMY or visit www.probablythebest.com.my for more information.

The promoter girl asked my Chinese zodiac when I registered. It turns out they had a personalized gift pack of 8 cans of Carlsberg and Carlsberg Smooth Draught featuring the four festive colors with my name written in calligraphy and zodiac on it. Pretty cool!

The 2016 Chinese New Year Fireworks and Firecrackers Roundup!

Chinese New Year Fireworks

It’s Chap Goh Meh today! As per sixthseal.com’s custom, we’ll be doing a roundup of the wonderful fireworks and firecrackers we’ve bought this year. There were no firecrackers last year due to my mom’s passing so this year sees the return of firecrackers. I got a huge fireworks cake, it’s larger than the 2015 flagship fireworks cake in some ways.

Fireworks

I also ordered two large 2″ fireworks cakes. These large bore shells make the cake taller than they are wide, producing a unique and beautiful format. I got this a month ahead and it was delivered to my place for safekeeping until Chinese New Year. I have 9 fireworks cakes and 3 firecrackers this year, mostly 100 shots and up.

530-shot VIP display-in-a-box 22 kg fireworks cake

530 Shot Fireworks Cake

Behold! This huge fireworks cake produces a staggering 530 shots and lasts almost 5 minutes!

Biggest Fireworks

It measures a very respectable 73 cm x 52 cm x 17 cm. Here’s an iPhone for comparison. smirk

Yup, there are 530 individual mortars arranged together in this 22 kg cake that requires two people to carry. It’s made by VIP Fireworks and is the most expensive individual cake I’ve ever purchased. It just came out this year in their 2016 fireworks lineup. I’ve never even heard of a 530 shot fireworks cake before this. These things are marketed as “5-minute display-in-a-box” fireworks in the US for professionals.

530 Shot Fireworks

I waited until my sister and her family came back before I let this one off. This is my centrepiece for this year.

I have another video recorded in 1080p in 60 fps which makes for a more beautiful (and smooth) viewing experience here! This large fireworks cake has an INSANE start – full sky saturation and mine effects to kick it off in intense style before the pace picks up into wonderful segues and loops till a shattering finale. Awesome stuff!

2″ 25-shot fireworks mine cake

25 Shot 2 Inch Fireworks

I’ve always loved these large bore formats. 2″-4″ fireworks cakes tend to be taller than they are wide. This is coz the larger shells require a longer mortar in order to fire the aerial bursts, comparatively the normal 0.8″-1.2″ fireworks cakes are quite short/shallow. These large shells produce a large burst in the sky too, which tend to be more beautiful breaks.

I should note that this fireworks cake is actually a mine! Mines are ground level effects, meaning the pyrotechnics start from the ground. You can see the glitter charge shooting up from the tubes before the main break in the video. Mines are starting to be less common nowadays, I have no idea why but it seems that demand has largely ceased.

2 Inch Mortars

It’s nice to be able to purchase a nice mine fireworks cake again…and in large format breaks too! Check out the 2″ mortar tubes. These come packed 2/1 – this means there are two fireworks cakes in one box/carton. I let one off during Chinese New Year eve and the other when my niece and nephew were back.

You can view the 60 fps vertical oriented video here. I feel this is the best way to view a mine fireworks cake. It’s 25 shots, which may sound unimpressive at first, but each shot is more than 4x the size of regular 0.8″ fireworks cake in power and effect!

258-shot Saturn Missile Battery

Saturn Missile Battery

This is a 258 shot Saturn Missile Battery. Saturn Missiles are smaller rockets which whistles up and usually comes in 50/100-shot cakes (most common format). This larger format is round and cost RM 35. The interesting thing is that you can let this off in the day or night – it doesn’t make much of a difference.

I quite like this red, green, yellow and white Saturn Missile Battery which finishes with a report. It’s not very fast, unlike some batteries, so some people may like the duration. This clocked in at almost 3 minutes from the time I lit the fuse to the end of the cake.

39,999 Chinese firecrackers

Firecrackers

This is the largest commercial Chinese firecrackers for sale. Of course, there are larger counts e.g. 188,888 fireworks, which requires a lorry to transport and a crane to lift up before it can be lit but those are so expensive it’s usually only set off by companies, not private individuals. Keep in mind that these class of firecrackers are almost like salutes and are rated 1.1G – they’re very illegal!

Longest Firecrackers

This is coz the firecrackers are very large and contains a chalk plug (which essentially makes it a salute).

Huge Firecrackers

There are 39,999 individual firecrackers in this string but it’s not very long compared to the 3,000 string firecrackers coz the single firecrackers are larger and it’s stacked on top of one another for a 3-layered firecracker, making a very intense and loud burn compared to the “regular” 3,000 count firecrackers.

Biggest Firecrackers

You can see the difference here. I had to light this directly coz I lost the Visco fuse. Haha! I pulled my hand away as soon as the firecracker caught (this is more from experience than reaction, as you can see).

I really like this video, give it a spin to see what the firecrackers we get in Sibu look like.

3,000 Chinese firecrackers

Firecracker

These are the “common” firecrackers which you can get in KL and even the US. These firecrackers are a lot smaller than the previous one – they don’t break the skin if you light one in your palm/hand so they’re very safe. The “ending” is just a bunch of the same instead of the salute-like power you get in the 39,999 traditional Chinese firecrackers.

I see a lot of places like KL are starting to switch to this coz they’re not as harmful (you can hold them in the hand, not to say that you should coz it’ll still burn you, but it won’t break the skin) compared to the traditional kind (as per above, the 39,999 Chinese firecrackers) which won’t be so kind to your hands and fingers. Unfortunately, they’re also not as loud or powerful so generally most people in Sibu don’t favor this kind. It’s very cheap though at RM 12.50. The 39,999 roll is more than 10x the price of these kid-friendly crackers.

36-shot Chai Yuan Guan

Classic Fireworks

This is a classic fireworks cake with 36 shots. It’s been around for a while – I actually got this from a friend’s house. She had heaps of these lying around and I let it off during Chinese New Year.

Unfortunately, I think it’s starting to show its age – most of the tubes didn’t go off. There were 8-9 mortars which didn’t fire.

This is the 60 frames per second version. It’s really a nice old fireworks cake, this was the epitome of greatness back in the late 90’s.

25-shot vintage fireworks cake

Vintage Fireworks

This is another beautiful classic fireworks cake. It’s not as impressive as the newer firework cakes with fancy breaks and effects but it’s a nice reminder of how the fireworks cakes looked 10 years ago.

It’s a trip down memory lane.

This is the vertical view with 60 frames per second (you can really see the difference). This slow tempo fireworks cake is characteristic of an older design which is less favored now. It’s still lovely to watch for sentimental reasons though.

100-shot classic fireworks cake

Fireworks Cake

This is also a more traditional 100 shot fireworks cake. It unfortunately exploded while the last row was firing so there was a bit of a fireworks malfunction but it’s still quite beautiful to watch.

It’s a classical fireworks cake that’ll give you a nice dose of nostalgia.

This is the 60 fps vertical version.

100-shot New Wild Billy

Italian Fireworks

This is a cake by Morena Fireworks. Yup, that’s an Italian fireworks brand, much like the Jupiter Fireworks horseshoe fountain fireworks I got in KL last year. Morena Fireworks makes a lot of 100 Shot Assortments and New Wild Billy is one of them.

It’s a nice example of their 100 shot fireworks shows.

111-shot 2016 fireworks cake

New Fireworks Cakes

This is a new 2016 fireworks cake. The new cakes all have two fuses – the primary fuse and the secondary fuse. This is to make it easier to link up fireworks cakes for a show e.g. you can just use Visco fuse to run a line from the secondary fuse of a cake into the primary fuse of the second. What happens is that the primary fuse burns, the cake goes off, and the secondary fuse burns last after the cake is done so this in effect makes a cascading effect where each cake goes off in sequence. You can also run them into the primary fuse if you want them to go off together. There’s a lot of flexibility built into the new cakes and the quick match fuses (blue and red) already have a Visco end so you can just cable tie two (or more) together. Also, the effects are quite varied in one cake.

There is an initial array of 8 x 8 tubes going straight up for 64 shots of effects after the primary fuse. This is followed by 3 x 5 angled tubes. The 15 fanned shots following the first set of effects are angled for complete sky coverage and it’s of a larger size than the first. This is followed by a 8 x 4 tube array for the finale which produces a 32 shot finish for a nice 111 shot cake.

That’s all I have for this year! Here’s a video I made of all the bigger fireworks cakes I let off this year in Full HD 1080p 60 frames per second smooth viewing glory. Click on this one if you’re just going to watch one video, you won’t regret it. Hope you all enjoyed the fireworks and firecrackers videos and the explanations I wrote to give non-fireworks enthusiasts a glimpse into the world of pyrotechnics.

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Fireworks 2016

I had a lot of fun letting this batch off. Rest assured, I’ll be saving up for a better display next year – I’ll keep an eye out for even larger cakes! Gong Xi Fatt Chai everyone and have a happy Chap Goh Meh! :)

Dinner @ (the new) Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi moved during the Chinese New Year and we haven’t been to the new location yet. It’s one of our family favorites. The restaurant consistently puts out good food and I go at least once every time I come back to Sibu. My sister and her family was back and we decided to come here to eat before she flew back. The new Ming Mei Shi is just located two blocks away from the old site.

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant

It’s now a standalone building (!!!) by itself. Ming Mei Shi has been very successful, there’s no doubt about it. Even my brother in law was impressed by their food. However, despite having over 3 times the capacity of their old lot, the restaurant was still packed. We managed to get a table on the second floor, beside a group of (loud) MLM/insurance dinners.

Dong Po Pork

Dong Po Pork
This is their signature dish and it comes with fluffy man tou (steamed buns).

Man Tou

The server will slice up the stewed pork for you and you stuff it inside the warm buns to eat. The kids loved this!

Foochow Tofu Soup

Foochow Tofu Soup
We don’t usually order soup but we were looking for something different to eat and the waitress suggested this classic. It’s tofu soup done in the classic Foochow way, with a tin of razor clams thrown in for flavor. I liked it very much, it was just like how my maternal grandma used to make it.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken
This proved to be a hit when my better half came with the kids last time. We ordered the exact same thing and they liked it. However, the bright yellow color of the lemon chicken doesn’t come from food coloring, it comes from turmeric. Unfortunately, my niece and nephew didn’t like the taste of turmeric (we got this for them) so I ended up eating most of it.

Butterscotch Prawns

Butterscotch Prawns
I have always ordered this in Ming Mei Shi and they have always come out with the dry version e.g. it’s deep fried with butter. I wanted the wet version like Ruby Restaurant, which comes with a butterscotch sauce so I made sure to repeat the order several times. It still came out slightly dry with barely a teaspoon of gravy. I still love the huge de-shelled prawns though. I just don’t think they do the wet version here. smirk

Four Beans

Four Beans
This is a dish called “Four Heavenly Kings” and it’s basically a mixture of 4 different types of “beans” – okra, eggplant, green bean and corn. They do a mean and delicious version here, it’s very nice and not oily unlike other places.

Rendang Lamb Shank

Rendang Lamb Shank
This RM 60 lamb shank is made with condensed milk and it imparts a very sweet and creamy aftertaste to the gravy. There are only a couple made every day – last time I was here, they were all sold out and we managed to get one this time. It’s a little expensive for a regular sized lamb shank but you won’t complain when you take your first bite. It’s delicious.

Ming Mei Shi Sibu

The meal cost around RM 200 for all of us. There are five adults since my sister’s maid always flies in with her to take care of the children (she was the one who took this photo) and two kids so it’s quite reasonable for 7 pax. The new location is a lot better – all the tables have tablecloths and a dedicated lazy Susan and the chairs are comfortable. Be prepared for a long wait though, it took over an hour for the first dish to come out for us.

Our Heng Hua (Putien) Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner!

Poh Family

The Heng Hua (Putien) celebrate Chinese New Year on the fifth day instead of the regular Lunar New Year cycle. There is a very interesting story behind this – a rogue warlord called Tu Fei caused all the Heng Hua to hide in the bamboo jungle and they only managed to come out on the 5th day. Thus, CNY was celebrated then in remembrance of our ancestors who survived the war.

Loong Jin Restaurant

That’s our entire extended Poh family clan. My grandma is the matriarch and the rest are my aunties, uncles and cousins. We had dinner at Loong Jin Restaurant @ Tanahmas Hotel on the 5th day of Chinese New Year. It turns out that there were two tables that was “unclaimed” during Yih Wen’s wedding so we had 2 tables of credit. We always get together on the fifth day for our proper Heng Hua reunion dinner, it’s very important to my grandma.

Tanahmas Hotel Entree

Tanahmas Hotel Four Seasons Platter
This is the first dish that came out. You’ll notice that it’s almost similar to the 8-course dinner we had during Yih Wen’s wedding. That’s coz it’s the exact same menu – 2 tables were not taken so we had “credit” there (so to speak) and they decided to claim it on our Heng Hua Chinese New Year so we had (almost) the same dishes again.

Shark Fin Soup

Shark’s Fin Soup
Zero fucks will be given if any Sea Shepherd types gets butthurt from this photo. smirk

Cheese Baked Cod Fish

Baked Cod Fish with Cheese
I rather enjoyed this fish during the wedding banquet and we had it again for our CNY reunion dinner. It was good.

Duck Two Ways

Duck Two Ways
There is a difference in this dish. In the wedding banquet, it was 1/2 roasted duck and 1/2 braised duck. This time we had sliced wok-fried duck in place of the braised duck. It’s nice to have a change, the menu can differ slightly but the main components are similar.

Sea Cucumber

Braised Sea Treasure
This is a dish of sea cucumber, razor clams, Pacific clams and other assorted seafood over tofu skin (fu chuk). Very tasty stuff.

Butter Fried Prawns

Butter Fried Prawns
My niece is allergic to dairy products (among other things). She absolutely cannot eat dairy so my dad always stocks up on soy and other non-dairy goodies before she comes over. This year we found a no-dairy biscuit from London and some crisps made from soy from the US. However, she managed to eat one of this after it was de-shelled so that’s good.

Red Bean Pastries

Red Bean Pastries
This is done two ways – a classic flat pastry filled with red bean and deep fried (hot) and a modern interpretation with red bean stuffed into a mocha-like casing (cold). It was quite popular at our table.

Fruit Platter

Fruit Platter
There are also slight differences here. The previous time we had this, the middle was filled with lychee. This time it was grapes. I prefer grapes.

HB YJ Kara Josiah

I took a photo with my sister and my niece and nephew at the lobby before we went back. I only see them once a year so I made sure not to fire off my fireworks until they came back. The kids were a little afraid of the large fireworks cakes last year but this year they’ve grown bigger and they weren’t afraid at all. They were looking forward to the show each night and started calling me “Fireworks Uncle”. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)



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