RM 30 Coconut Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles @ Dian Xiao Er

dian xiao er prawn noodles

I’ve heard people telling me about this after I posted about the RM 33 big prawn noodles in a coconut available at Glory Cafe in Sarikei. Rowena and Alex both told me that Sibu itself has a version of this which they copied from Glory Cafe so I went to check it out with my dad yesterday. It’s located far inside the Ding Lik Kong industrial area near Igan River, which is about a 20 minute drive from Sibu town.

ding lik kong 31

It’s actually quite easy to find, I just forgot about the place. My dad called my uncle and got us oriented and it was just a matter of following road signs after that.

dian xiao er

The name of the coffee shop is Dian Xiao Er and it’s located along a block of shophouses that has three (!!!) coffee shops – it’s the middle one and they have a large banner promoting their Coconut Tom Yam Big Head Prawn Noodles.

dian xiao er sibu

The guy taking our order was a very friendly and chatty young kid who seemed to take a liking to me. He told me that there’s at least 5 different places in Sibu that offers the same thing now – all duplicates of the original recipe from Glory Cafe. He also confided that he’ll be shifting work places at the end of the month and he personally did not think this was as good as the Sarikei version.

sibu coconut big prawn noodles

I was pleased to see that the big head prawn (大头虾) is indeed quite large with claws intact.

big head prawn

The big head prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is favored by Sarawakians due to the more intensely flavored meat. The other common type of prawn here is the big white prawn (Litopenaeus vannamei) which is milder. You can see the difference – the former really has a huge head in relation to the size of its body. If it were an inanimate object, I’ll compare it to a bobblehead or a chibi anime character. smirk

claws 2B pencil

The claws are very important too as the meat from them is equivalent to a *2B pencil*!

me big prawn noodles

I had a taste of the tom yam soup and I thought it was quite similar to Glory Cafe except for five key differences:

  • Calamansi lime not cooked in
  • Lemon grass stalk is chopped up (makes it hard to eat with the short inedible bits)
  • Cheap canned mushrooms from China used here
  • Not as much coconut juice
  • Spicier tom yam soup but less prawny broth

uncooked calamansi lime

The uncooked calamasi lime is the obvious one as Glory Cafe in Sarikei has a very mushy lime that’s almost *disintegrating* compared to this relatively fresh specimen and that adds a lot to the tom yam flavor profile.

sibu me dad

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my meal and it turns out to be cheaper than driving down to Sarikei for their RM 33 Tom Yam Coconut Big Prawn Noodles. It’s also better than the notorious RM 35 big head prawn noodles in Min Kwong. There are some problems with the recipe and it’s not exactly similar to the original one in Sarikei – anyone would be able to tell from a blind test taste.

sibu big prawn noodles

However, the one in Dian Xiao Er is a reasonably good facsimile of the original Glory Cafe Tom Yam Coconut Big Head Prawn Noodles and I’ll recommend it if you don’t feel like driving down to Sarikei – you can have your fix right in Sibu! It’s located at Lorong Ding Lik Kong 31.

Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles served inside a coconut for RM 33

coconut tom yam big prawn noodles

Behold! This Coconut Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodle is the latest innovation from Glory Cafe in Sarikei and it’s not just served inside a coconut, it’s cooked with *coconut juice*! I’ve been eating their famous tom yam spin on big prawn noodles since 2008 and it’s worth the hour’s drive from Sibu. It used to retail for RM 14 and was subsequently raised until the current price at RM 33 per bowl (or coconut, rather).

glory cafe sarikei

The first time I went, I was so taken by their take on the big prawn noodles that I wrote a glowing review. Strange thing was, the owners actually took notice and printed out my blog post and pasted it on their stall. Thus, the next time I went, they actually served me a complimentary bowl of their tom yam big prawn noodles for the early exposure!

glory cafe

I drove down to Sarikei to show my better half and my dad what this storm in a teacup bowl is all about over the weekend. We just had lunch and wasn’t sure what time Glory Cafe closes so it’s a good thing Joyce got us the number and I called ahead. It used to be cheaper than the notoriously priced RM 35 big prawn noodles in Sibu so people in the know started coming here but it’s now almost the same price.

big prawn noodles sarikei

The Coconut Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles here tastes a lot better though! They still serve the old version in a bowl instead of inside a coconut but the new coconut variant is better. The updated recipe is actually very sweet and I asked what the difference was – it turns out that they actually use coconut juice instead of water to make the tom yam soup for the big prawn noodles!

coconut tom yam prawn noodles

There are two different options for prawns/shrimp – RM 25 for a coconut bowl of big white prawn (Litopenaeus vannamei) and RM 33 for the larger giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii). The latter is actually cheaper in Sarikei coz it’s closer to the source and it’s what people here call da tou xia (大头虾) or big head prawn. We went for the latter since it tastes a lot better and it’s the traditional prawn to go into big prawn noodles.

prawn noodles in coconut

It’s absolutely delicious! My dad was still full so me and my dear shared a coconut bowl of the tom yam big prawn noodles. There’s actually not a lot since the volume inside of a coconut is rather small (the husk makes up a large mass of the actual coconut) but it’s the perfect serving for one.

sharing plates

There’s one large big head prawn inside split into four and about a fistful of noodles but it tastes soooo good – the broth is spicy and savory and sour and sweet at the same time, this really hits all the notes. I wished we ordered a coconut bowl each but that would be too much since we just ate lunch.

coconut juice

We also ordered coconuts for drinks (RM 3.50 each) and my dear tried their new homemade coconut pudding (RM 6). The coconut pudding is very popular – almost every table ordered it, and we wanted to check it out too. It’s made in-house with coconut milk and coconut juice and it’s not the same thing as the coconut jelly that we have in KL and Thailand. It’s sweet and the perfect counter-balance for the tom yam big prawn noodles.

coconut pudding

The tao geh nio gave me a strange look when I paid the bill and she said I looked familiar and I told her about how I used to make the hour long drive down just to eat their noodles and wrote the original review they printed out six years ago. Haha. This is a relatively new dish – it was just launched last year so if you haven’t been back in a while, I would highly recommend Glory Cafe’s Coconut Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles.

glory cafe us

It’s definitely worth the time to drive down but keep in mind that they’re very full during weekends and the last order is before 4 pm.

The infamous RM 35 bowl of noodles in Sibu!

big prawn noodles

Yup, it’s the most expensive noodles in town! RM 35 for a bowl of big prawn noodles and RM 30 for a plate of fish noodles. It’s ludicrous!

(but quite a satisfying indulgence)

peeled big prawns
They even peel the prawns for you – including the “claw” of the freshwater Tiger shrimp

The last time I ate here was in 2008 and at the time the big prawn noodles are priced at RM 20. There’s been a RM 15 increase in just five (5) years for the same dish! We just came back to Sibu to visit my mom and decided to have lunch here. I told my better half about their ridiculously priced noodles just earlier in the day before we flew over.

most expensive noodles

Min Kong is famous for their Foochow style fried and cooked noodles (char chu mee) and it usually comes in a huge bowl (but the portion is just enough for one person). My girlfriend went for the plate of tapah fish noodles (RM 30) while I went for the big prawn noodles (RM 35).

min kong couple

I must admit, we received absolutely *fantastic* service the moment we stepped into the door and asked for the high flying dishes. They also have normal versions (sans fish or prawns) at much more reasonable prices.

We both enjoyed the RM 67.30 lunch though – it does taste good, albeit overrated and overpriced. The extra RM 2.30 is for a glass of iced Milo – yeah, Sibu prices are much more expensive than the going rates in KL for brewed drinks.

sibu foochow noodles
Portion is for one, despite the high price

My dad tells me no one (locals or visitors) actually orders this nowadays due to the absurd cost. I guess we were the first in quite a while – we certainly did got top notch service. ;)

8 delicious (and strange) food at Phuket Town Night Market

1. Sunny side up quail eggs

fried quail eggs

This is a whole lotta cholesterol in a package but it’s delicious! Perfectly fried quail eggs sold in a packet containing nine (9) sunny side up eggs with a toothpick. You can opt for a dash of pepper and soy sauce and it’s absolutely delicious! The feeling of slipping 9 eggs into your mouth for just THB 20 (about RM 2) is awesome! :)

quail eggs

You can opt for the soft boiled version with a packet of soy sauce too – just crack all the eggs into the bowl and enjoy!

2. Pork floss (jerky) with sticky rice

pork floss rice

This is also THB 20 and consists of two types – a tough jerky type pork floss and strips of marinated BBQ pork. I went for the latter and was very satisfied with the bed of fiber rich sticky rice!

thai pork satay

Watch out for the famous Thai satay too – it’s a piece of marinated BBQ pork on a stick for THB 10 and it’s the most tender and juicy pork you’ll ever eat!

3. Bananas dipped in chocolate

chocolate banana

There are several versions of this THB 20 dessert on a stick. The plain version is just a peeled banana on a skewer that has been dipped in chocolate. There’s also sliced and re-skewered bananas, which is the one I got – it’s been sprinkled with hundreds and thousands colored sprinkles and absolutely tasty in the hot muggy night market.

4. Deep fried insects

deep fried insects

The night market also has deep fried insects and quite a wide variety of them too. The lady will ask you to “contribute” to the photography tip jar if you take a photo without purchasing anything. I didn’t coz I didn’t like her tone. ;) I just had the same ones in Bangkok. I ate deep fried grasshoppers and other insects just two weeks ago.

5. Salt grilled fish

salt grilled fish

This is a Thailand speciality and it’s an entire fish that has been liberally packed with coarse salt and then grilled over a charcoal fire. It’s surprisingly cheap for an entire fish and you’re meant to eat the inside of the fish e.g. the salt covered outer skin is discarded.

6. Thailand orange juice

thai orange juice

You MUST try this when you’re in Thailand – it’s the local orange, squeezed into a bottle and it’s fabulous! I had the ice blended version for THB 40 and it came in a thong like plastic bag. Thirst quenching stuff – walking around the night market in the hot weather armed with this makes it a more pleasant trip!

7. Agar fruits with mung bean filling

agar fruits

This is an interesting snack – it is a mung bean dessert that’s been shaped to look like various fruits and then coated with agar agar (a Jello like substance). I was surprised when I popped one into my mouth coz I thought it was fruit! It goes for THB 40 for a packet containing every type of “fruit” they have – from grapes to guava.

8. Tiny pineapples

mini pineapple

OMG! This is the best find I had in the Phuket Town Night Market. The mini pineapples are much smaller than your fist and intensely *sweet and juicy*!

tiny pineapple

I bought one (it’s sold by weight – mine was about THB 25) and they cut it into four segments for your enjoyment. I can’t believe there’s such tiny, yet fully formed pineapples out there! It’s marvelous! :)

Eating Fried Insects in Bangkok: Beetles, grasshoppers, frogs, crickets, worms, red ants!

fried insects

It’s a veritable feast of creepy crawlies! The first thing I think of when I see, say, a spider, is to throw a shoe at it. The Thais go about it in a completely different way. The immediate thought seems to be “I’ll fry and eat it!”. smirk

fried insect stall

I found this street vendor selling all sorts of deep fried insects on the streets of Bangkok. Okay, frog is not actually an insect but she also had grasshoppers (huge and small ones), crickets (not the sport), beetles (which I am secretly scared of) and even red ants! Deep fried red ants! Imagine that!

deep fried insects

I bought a pack of large grasshoppers for 20 THB and a mixed bag of every single insect she had for 30 THB (RM 5 total). The street vendor laughed and complied with my request – a deep fried cricket here, a sprinkling of deep fried red ants there. There’s even two types of beetles (water beetle and weevil). It’s supposed to be a delicacy here.

fried bugs thailand

I ate it sitting on the steps where my girlfriend took this video of me eating all the deep fried insects:

I also made her eat some, much to her disgust, but at least now she’s tried it. :)

I’ll give a quick review of the insects:

fried grasshopper

Deep fried grasshopper
Surprisingly crunchy and delicious but the legs can have spines that can cut your tongue.
Deep fried frog
These are tiny frogs that can fit in my hand. They don’t even remove the bowels! Tasty and crunchy.
Deep fried beetle
The wings can be hard to swallow coz it sticks to the top of your mouth like peanut butter.
Deep fried cricket
Tastes like grasshoppers but has more of a bee-like texture to it.
Deep fried bamboo worms
Tasty and creamy!
Deep fried red ants
Highly toxic when consumed in large quantities. It makes my mouth itch just thinking about it.

eating insects bangkok

I’m not a huge fan of deep fried red ants – it’s hard to pick up (they’re tiny) and I find their venom to be a bit hard to take. It actually made me sick!

snacks insects bangkok

I was feeling slightly unwell after eating all these, she thinks it might be coz of the fried grasshoppers, I thought it was the toxin from the deep fried red ants. It’s an interesting experience nonetheless! :)

Posted: 10:30 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

Eating pong tia koon – Cambodian balut!

duck-embryo

Pong tia koon is the Cambodian version of balut. It’s simply a fertilized duck embryo which adds a lot to the eww factor for a lot of people. We were in Siem Reap and saw a street vendor selling it – that’s the only way to eat pong tia koon! :)

eating balut cambodia

I’ve eaten balut in the Philippines before. On the streets of Manila, eating fertilized duck embryo is just a simple matter – you crack open the balut, suck out the juices and get a twist of salt to go with the egg. It’s just that simple.

cambodian balut

However, the process of eating pong tia koon is quite complex in Cambodia. Cambodians have a wide variety of condiments to add to the fertilized duck embryo before it’s ready to eat. There’s almost a ritualized feel to it. It’s balut, Khmer style! smirk

eating pong tia koon

The egg is cracked into a plate, with the embryo and juices flowing freely. Fine salt and black pepper powder is added to it. Fresh lime is cut while a mixture of garlic slices and chilli is liberally poured into the plate and Cambodian mint (laksa leaves) sprinkled before it’s suitable to be served.

cambodia balut

It’s delicious! I found the Khmer style of serving balut to be extremely tasty! I ordered 3 pong tia koon and it left me wanting more. It’s just 1,000 KHR (0.25 USD) per egg. The mixture of spices goes very well with the egg and also the tiny duck inside. I told Ling it just tastes like chicken soup and got her to eat some so she’s experienced eating balut before. :)

pong tia koon

The Cambodian pong tia koon is a lot more intense in some ways than balut in the Philippines – they keep the duck longer (19 days compared to 17 days) so you can see a mature chick inside. It’s fully recognizable as a baby duck!

balut developed chick

There’s a head staring back at you with huge eyes, a long neck, webbed feet. You can even see the rib cage of the baby duck! It’s delicious though – the sweet, sour and spicy condiments make this a truly delicious dish that you’ll crave for instead of something to eat just to experience. :)

Black Thorn durians – more expensive than Musang King!

black thorn durians

I just came back from a Black Thorn durian session with Poey. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to taste this particular durian since I inquired about it. It’s much more expensive than Musang King (currently going for an average of RM 22 / kg), which is an overrated culvitar IMHO.

new black thorn durian

It’s not easy to get either. I dropped by several times and the only stall that sells it says they don’t have stock and I finally got the guy’s number so I can call and check if they have it before I drive over.

black thorn durian

The banner advertising the Black Thorn durian says that it won some kind of award in 2012, which is probably their justification for the high price. The Chinese words seem to translate literally – hei tze (black thorn).

black thorn size

The NEW Black Thorn durian goes for RM 30 / kg. The price didn’t budge until I asked the dude if I can get a lowered price if I come today. He offered it at RM 25 / kg.

durian black thorn

Note that only three (3) durians in the topmost row in the display picture are Black Thorn, the others are just chucked there. The interesting thing I noticed about Black Thorn durian is that it has a flat bottom, much like Musang King:

how to tell black thorn durian

There are no thorns at the end of the durian (opposite from the stalk). This particular durian cultivar originates from Penang and another interesting quality that distinguishes it besides the flat bottom is the presence of a longkang (drain) like Teka durians, except this looks more…er, anatomical in nature. smirk

black thorn characteristics

Black Thorn pretty much tastes like advertised – the durian flesh is a bright hue of orange, a color some people like and feel is more palatable. It starts out sweet and has a bitter end note, like XO durians – just as intense but not quite so long lasting. It’s creamy and sticky – the flesh comes off the seed well.

poey hb

It also has little to no fiber, which is a plus point…it makes the durian coat the palate easily and overwhelm it it does – this is a very rich durian, make no mistake about it.

hei chi durians

It’s a medium to large sized durian (ours is almost 3 kg) and the others are pretty much in the same weight league. It was sold for RM 65 for this 2.6 kg durian.

black thorn durian flesh

However, there are abundant seeds inside – counted 14 seeds and despite having medium seeds (I don’t call that small seeds, misleading advertising) it does have a lot of flesh on it – quality flesh to boot.

hb black thorn

I’ll rate this as a not very complex durian flavor wise but it’s a good, rich and satisfying one. It’s the *KING* of the King of Fruits, price-wise at least. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price though, but definitely a must try for all durian fans. :D

Durian Degustation – 5 great late season durians!

1. D160 / Teka / Green Bamboo

durian teka

This is a rather distinctive durian that is easily identifiable from the “longkang” (drain) running down the middle of the fruit. It was purchased for RM 15 / kg and the fruits are normally medium sized. This particular durian weighs 2.1 kg – about the average for this cultivar, making it over RM 30.

green bamboo durian

There are only 10 seeds in the durian, which translates to about RM 3 per seed. The seeds are tooth shaped – these come from Pahang and there are regional differences when planted in different locations.

teka durian

The Teka in the market now are delicious sweet to bittersweet specimens, but rather expensive – the original listed price is RM 18 / kg. It does have a very high flesh to seed ratio though.

2. Udang Merah / Red Prawn / Ang Heh

ang heh pahang

Look at the unique shape of the durian! It’s a star-shaped durian with 5 sides like a durian I came across not too long ago. These are not the original Balik Papan, Penang Red Prawn durians but cultivars that has been transplanted in…Pahang.

pahang udang merah

It’s where we get most of our durians here. The flesh is orange to reddish, the distinctive color that gives the durian it’s name.

red prawn pahang

I got it at a great time – RM 11 / kg and it’s absolutely fabulous with tiny seeds. These Pahang Ang Heh really tastes good but the drops are irregular so it’s hard to come by.

red prawn pahang durians

I’ve only had it three times this season.

3. Mas Selangor

mas selangor durian

This is a popular durian – sweet and creamy. The 1.6 kg fruit we chose is sold at RM 14 / kg. There’s only five (5) seeds inside so that works out to about RM 4.50 per seed.

mas selangor

It’s not a durian with a very complex flavor profile.

durian mas selangor

I reckon the Mas Selangor breed is more for the times when you just want a classic, fleshy, sweet durian. :)

4. D163 / Holo / Hor Lor

holo durian

This is named after a gourd – the words “hor lor” actually means water gourd. It’s a Northern durian but the ones we get are from Pahang. It’s listed as RM 15 / kg but managed to get it at RM 14 / kg. It’s also a medium sized fruit, got a 2kg + durian for RM 33.

horlor durian

Holo is great for those people who likes a dry, bittersweet, creamy and sticky durian with medium seeds that coats the palate and tongue like nothing else. Highly recommended.

5. Kan Yao (D158)

durian kan yao

This is an absolute bargain at RM 6 / kg. I had a 2.1 kg fruit for just RM 12. The Kan Yao we get here is also from Pahang and it’s bitter to bittersweet, just the way I like it.

kanyao durian

The seeds are large but with the low price it’s a good buy, and the season has just about ended so if you see any, I’ll go for it. :D

Durian jantung (heart shaped durian) – genuine species or description?

jantung durian

I was trawling the SS2 durian spots the other day, asking around for something a little different. I wanted to sample something other than the usual Musang King/D24/XO/D101 etc. The usual suspects, in other words.

durian jantung weight

One seller told me about durian jantung. I asked around a few shops in the area – some of them carry it, some doesn’t. It would seem that “durian jantung” literally means “heart shaped durian”. Not heart as in <3heart as in the organ in your body that’s prone to cardiac arrests.

unique durian

What no one could tell me is whether this is a genuine species (it doesn’t have a D-X classification, but neither does multiple other good durians) or just a type (e.g. shape) of durian.

durian jantung thorns

Durian jantung is a really interesting durian – I was quoted RM 12 / kg which is a little on the high side of things. I bargained down to RM 10 / kg and that was the minimum price they’ll let it go…and with good reason.

two seed durian

It doesn’t look like much. I bought a 1.6 kg heart shaped durian that when opened produced only two (2) seeds!

heart durians

I was surprised. That works out to RM 8 per seed!

durian jantung outer

I was told that durian jantung usually only has 2 seeds due to the unusual shape, but those are huge seeds and I wasn’t disappointed.

durian jantung flesh

Imagine a piece of durian the size of:

  • A hand grenade
  • A large lemon
  • A mouse (the large old office ones with exactly the same size and mass)
  • An adult human fist

…and now imagine it FULL OF DURIAN FLESH!

durian jantung

There’s only a tiny seed inside.

durian jantung segment
Start eating…

durian jantung seed
…and after a whole lotta durian, ends with small seed

durian jantung eat

It’s maybe 1/30 the size of the flesh. It’s absolute value for money, RM 8 buys you a gigantic fist sized hunk of light fibrous, sweet to slightly bitter-sweet, semi-alcoholic, and slightly wet durian flesh.

durian jantung seeds

It’s perfection.

durian heart

Durian jantung is my new favorite durian.

durian jantung size

I paid RM 16 for the entire 1.6 kg durian which produced just 2 seeds but the flesh is equal to many other popular strains and it tastes fabulous!

Golden Swallow durian with unusual dual seed configuration

Has anyone heard of a Golden Swallow durian?

golden swallow durian segment

I was out getting some durians when I came across this stall explaining the virtues of this particular strain of durian to an elderly lady. He didn’t pay much attention to me as he made his pitch – it’s called Golden Swallow (jin yan zi) and it’s very popular in Singapore.

golden swallow durians

This Golden Swallow durian sounds a little like Golden Phoenix to me (except the latter is called jin feng) and apparently just a few of these babies drop in the orchards each day. The durian seller only had two and the lady bought one of them.

golden phoenix durian

I was intrigued when he opened it up – the flesh looks really good – yellow with a reddish hue and I asked the durian seller how much it was. He quoted me a price of RM 8 / kg which is about the same price as XO strain is right about now.

golden swallow durian spikes

He started doing his pitch again, this time to me, and I told him I heard what he said to the lady. I was more interested in the origins of the Golden Swallow – the dude, named Ah Ti, usually operates out of SS3 in Petaling Jaya and they have their own orchard, from which comes this new durian.

Well, it’s new to me coz I haven’t had it before.

golden swallow durian

I told him I wanted two but he said he only had one left after selling the other to the lady and opened it up for my inspection. It looks good and I haven’t had a Golden Swallow durian before so I bought the one that was left. It’s 1.7 kg but the guy gave me a discount and sold it at 1.5 kg – RM 14.

tiny seed

Golden Swallow taste notes:

  • Bitter to slightly bitter-sweet
  • Wet/runny/watery
  • Little to no fiber – very creamy
  • Pungent with lots of fresh
  • Unusual dual configuration seeds

durian flesh

Eating the durian:

large seed durian

First, a large seed…

bite

Followed by a tiny one…

eat

It’s the same large-tiny arrangement throughout the segment!

seed

The dual configuration seeds is perhaps the most telling aspect of the Golden Swallow. It looks like this:

golden swallow seeds

It’s remarkably consistent! There’s 4 whole segments and it produced:

Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed – tiny seed
Huge seed

jin yan zi

I think I might have accidentally eaten that last tiny seed. It’s smaller than my fingernail! I got the person to write down the name in Chinese for me on the box and I got his number so he can tell me when there’s a fall in his orchard.

golden swallow durian flesh

I reckon this Golden Swallow durian is absolute value for money if you like durians with the taste notes above. It also has a characteristic huge-tiny seed configuration that’s consistent throughout the entire durian. It’s always in a pair – each segment will have one large seed and one tiny one, the size of my fingernail.

jing yan zhi

I can see why it’s called Golden Swallow if the seed configuration is that unique.

Has anyone heard of this strain/cultivar? It’s called Golden Swallow and I think the most distinctive part about it is the seeds. Just look at the tiny-large seed consistency in one segment below! It also has wrinkly skin that barely holds in the deliciously bitter creamy flesh inside.

durian seeds

I would definitely buy it again – it’s cheap right now at RM 8 / kg and a truly remarkable durian!

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