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. ;)

New Capitol Restaurant, Sibu

gold tablecloth

I just came back from dinner with my parents! I brought my better half along, we just flew in this morning – it’s been a while since I’ve visited my mom.

new capitol restaurant

She just went through another killer bout of radiotherapy from tumors spreading to her scalp and it’s been impeding her movement and cognitive systems a little so I thought I’ll drop by and say hello.

blended ice lemon tea

My mom is usually in Singapore but my dad convinced her to come back for a 1 week sojourn to eat the chicken over here. Apparently, it’s more nutritious. ;)

raw vegetables

I was thinking about where to bring them to dinner tonight when New Capitol Restaurant came up. This is a very old establishment in Sibu – look at the display case with cognac bottles and the old school gold tablecloth!

sliced century egg

We wanted to have the signature Claypot Mutton but unfortunately it was sold out, so we ordered:

fried kampua
Fried Kampua
This is for my dear, who has eaten a lot of different incarnations of Sibu’s most popular noodles – except fried. New Capitol Restaurant does a pretty good rendition.

sweet sauce chicken
Sweet Sauce Chicken
This is quite good actually – it has cashew nuts and other goodies inside. I ate the most of this dish.

fu kui
Fu Kui Vegetable
I have no idea what this is. The New Capitol Restaurant waitresses came up with a platter of raw vegetables (see above) for us to choose from. My dad went with this one.

Tofu Soup with Oysters
It’s tofu, I ate half of my bowl just for the sake of eating it but I don’t like tofu as a general rule. It’s so funny, I just realized that I didn’t even take a photo of this dish coz I don’t like tofu! Haha!

foochow wine duck
Red Wine Sediment Duck
This is the famous Sibu Foochow cuisine condiment known as “hong zhou” – literally the remains of home made red wine. It’s slathered over a duck and deep fried. I’m not a huge fan but it tasted alright.

huai yee

The bill came up to RM 66.70 – it was cheaper than our extravagant lunch! It’s good to talk to my parents and spend time together with all my loved ones over dinner though.

red wine duck

That was worth the price of the flights back home! :)

A funny story about voting in GE13 (and indelible ink)

ge13

My voting station is in SRB Tung Hua and all the hype about indelible ink (or rather the delible nature of the ink) has made it the central topic in my mind.

tung hua voting station

I flew back to Sibu to vote in the GE13 (13th General Elections) yesterday and I’m flying back to KL later. I had changed my address here coz I think the Opposition has a good chance in my constituency. There’s three (3) candidates for the 212 – Sibu seat – DAP, BN and an Independent.

rocket

Ling took a video of me this morning letting off a fireworks rocket – I guess that much tells you which party I voted for. ;)

(For those unfamiliar with Malaysian politics, DAP’s logo is a rocket taking off)

oscar ling dap

I don’t even know Oscar Ling, the DAP candidate for my constituency – I wanted to vote for change, so I voted for the party instead of the candidate.

212 sibu

I went to the voting station and got assigned a number. I was asked which hand I write in (I’m right handed) so I got the indelible ink painted on my left hand. It’s done on the opposite index finger.

I took the slip into the voting booth…

malaysian elections indelible ink

…and promptly put my left index print beside the DAP logo. -_-

indelible ink malaysia

Indelible ink has been on my mind all the while and I thought the new rules is to mark for the party you’re voting for using the ink. That doesn’t make sense at all coz:

  1. Voting is supposed to be anonymous and having your fingerprint there isn’t anonymous
  2. They wouldn’t have asked you for the *opposite* finger you write with if you’re meant to mark it
  3. There are writing implements there, just like past elections

I somehow looked past all that and for some robotic reason put my thumbprint (or index print rather) for the DAP candidate.

Mom: Idiot! You’re like a first time voter, being so blur.
Me: I thought that was the new rules instead of putting an X.

voting us

It’s okay though, I asked and old people have used their thumbprints or just put a single dot using a pen on the candidate they want to vote for in the past and it’s *confirmed* counted. It’s all good. :)

ge13 removable ink

…and on the subject of the ink, it’s not really that indelible. I’ll say it’s hard to remove, but after a shower and two hand washes, it has faded. I’m sure a dedicated person can totally remove it.

ge13 indelible ink
Obligatory GE13 photo: Giving the finger to show where my support lies. ;)

I have blue ink all over the tissues and other stuff I touch when in contact with oil or water e.g. during lunch!

Update: 212 Sibu is won by DAP! The other major urban seat 211 (Lanang) was also taken by DAP with over 8,000 votes! :D
Unfortunately, the smaller rural areas didn’t swing due to lack of education and Internet access. This, I believe, will change in the future.

Payung Cafe revisited with CNY cakes

payung cafe

I was out with Arthur last night – planned to go to this Indonesian and Indian restaurant but unfortunately it was closed. It seems to be closed every time we want to go. Haha. Anyway, the second option was Payung Cafe in Sibu.

arthur

We both like this place for the ambiance – I’ve been there when Payung Cafe opened and it has gotten even better since then. Arthur knows the owners very well and their food is always consistently good.

Durian Shake (RM 8)

durian shake

This is made with durians and you can have the ice cream version too. The waiter kindly asked me if I wanted more durians in it. Of course I said yes and the result is:

durians

They use cooked durian flesh for this and after the addition of more it tastes better than any durian shakes I’ve ever had. The taste is so strong it qualifies as a dessert. :D

Bumbung Soda (RM 5)

bumbung soda

I loved Arthur’s reaction when he drank this one – he gave an involuntary shudder and said it was way too sour. Haha! It’s made with several different fruits, cucumber among them. Bumbung literally means “roof” so it’s apt that Arthur hit the roof (in a way) after sipping it.

Garlic Bread ( RM 8)

garlic bread

This is a great appetizer – the garlic bread is fresh and goes very well with the chicken dip that’s served on the side. The chicken has bits of meat inside and it’s creamy and a perfect match for the warm garlic bread.

Bangladesh Curry Lamb (RM 17)

I had this before and I quite liked it. It’s Arthur’s order and they’re quite generous with the portions, probably coz of what he commented last time. ;)

bangladesh lamb curry

There’s a huge chunk of lamb inside too, it takes a concerted effort to pry it apart but I like lamb meat with lots of tendons.

Assam Chicken (RM 16)

assam chicken

This is what I opted for – it’s not too bad, tastes a little bit like the belimbing prawn pasta but that’s where the similarities end. I thought it was okay too but then I was quite hungry at this point.

Otak-otak (RM 12)

otak otak

They make this in-house every day and it’s spicy as hell. Lovely stuff though, a must-order if you’re in Payung.

Chinese New Year fruit cake (RM 75 per loaf)

cny fruit cake

They gave this free of charge to us – it’s quite tasty, and different from the dry and tough as nails fruitcakes that you can use to clobber people and kidnap them. Payung Cafe’s CNY fruit cake is steamed and it’s soft and moist. Different, but I though it was nice.

hb arthur payung

It’s an awesome dinner as always, good company and great times! :D

Raro East Meets West Cuisine

soup in bread bowl

Raro serves up a mish mash of cuisine, like the restaurant’s name suggests. However, the “Eastern” dishes consists basically of rice with the steaks and other mainstays of “Western” cuisine. My dad is a regular there with his friends and he says the bread is really good.

raro

I took my dad out to dinner last night and checked out the Chef’s Special Mushroom Soup. That’s the official moniker for it, it’s mushroom soup inside a hollowed out bread bowl. The bread is sourced from a bakery here and it’s pretty good.

soup in bread

This appetizer goes for RM 6.90 and you can opt for it to be separated (like my dad’s order) if you don’t want the bread to go soggy. I like the soup inside the bread though so I went the regular way.

bread in soup bowl

I also had a New Zealand Lamb Chop (RM 20.90). It’s quite cheap for the portion – three thinly sliced lamb chops served in an oblique dish with half a boiled potato and some vegetables. I wasn’t very impressed with the sides but the meat is solid enough.

nz lamb chop

My dad doesn’t eat a lot of meat so he didn’t order a main and just had some off mine. Even with his help, the portion is quite satisfactory. However, one thing I didn’t like is the fact that everything comes in at once – they don’t wait for you to finish the appetizer before serving the mains.

hb dad

I think that’s how it’s done in Sibu but I still don’t like it. The drinks are pretty good though – had a Milo Shake (RM 8.90) and they didn’t skimp and dilute it. Raro East Meets West Cuisine is primarily known for its steaks and soup in a bread bowl but I didn’t find it exceptional.

raro restaurant

Good bonding time with my dad before everyone comes back tomorrow though! :D

Kampua @ Rasa Sayang Cafe and other tales from Sibu

kampua mee

I’m back in Sibu for Chinese New Year! The funny thing is that there’s no one at home then – my dad’s in Kuching, my mom and sister is in Singapore.

kampua tossing

My sister was supposed to come back earlier than me but changed her ticket and my dad got held up so I grabbed my keys from my grandma and had the dish I always have when I’m back in Sibu.

kampua noodle

Kampua mee!

pien nuk

Kampua noodles is a deceptively simple dish, but delicious. We also ordered a bowl of pien nuk – a pork dumpling soup that’s sold together with kampua.

kampua mee sibu

Kampua is tossed in lard and served with char siew and it’s one of the dishes I believe that only Sibu can do well (the noodles are all made daily).

kampua price

I haven’t had kampua at Rasa Sayang since it moved from their old place. The price is now RM 2.50 per bowl, which is pretty steep for Sibu standards. However, a lot of people say this is one of the best places to have kampua in Sibu.

kampua noodles

It’s a matter of personal preference, the one at Rasa Sayang is pretty good but I think Pedada has the best kampua in Sibu. The one at Siong Kee is also quite popular.

rasa sayang cafe

However, one good thing about Rasa Sayang is that they don’t use the radioactive red char siew but one with a more natural color. They also throw in some minced pork, an unusual addition that’s usually associated with kolo mee.

arthur hb

I ordered two bowls but didn’t manage to finish the second one. I figure my stomach has shrunk coz I used to be able to eat two, no problems. :x

ring for shag

Arthur was kind enough to bring me some souvenirs from his recent trip to New Zealand – there’s a bell that goes “Ring for a Shag” and a bottle opener in the shape of a kiwi bird.

cordyceps capsules

He also passed me some cordyceps capsules coz I’m still recovering from the flu.

nz shirt

In addition to *all* that – he also got me a shirt from NZ! I love it, I studied high school in Christchurch and went back to Auckland in 2010 when my mom did her first operation for small cell lung cancer. She’s still on chemo and due back on Tuesday after the course.

chicken pies

I have to say that STP is one of the most thoughtful and generous people I know – he brought me a bunch of chicken pies (still warm from the bakery!) and coconut ones for lunch yesterday. I was at home and about to head out when he buzzed me. Thanks buddy!

copyright

Arthur picked me up from the airport and pointed out one of the photos my blog posts about Kingwood Resort in Mukah is featured at a travel agent’s booth right outside the arrivals hall. How about that? smirk

Camwhore Level Asian

sony center

I was walking through MidValley on the weekend when I saw that the Sony Center over there had a contest for the Sony NEX-F3. This is exactly the very same camera that I used to take awesome photos like this in Germany:

germany profile pic

This incidentally became my profile photo for Facebook, Twitter and my other social media sites. Heh.

I also took quite a few in Sibu, you can see the sheer quality of photos here:

sibu backyard

My backyard. It used to be bigger and filled with mango, rambutan and apple custard trees but it was chopped down and paved with concrete to make way for parking. There were five cars at one point before my dad sold one off, junked one and I drove mine to KL.

largest temple asia

The biggest temple complex in Asia or South-East Asia. I think it’s the former and it’s located in Sibu.

snail

One large garden snail. We eat this in Sibu. It’s considered a delicacy. I’m kidding, just took a photo of it to show the incredibly low noise in low light conditions. I snapped this after midnight when I went out back for a smoke.

I’m telling you, it sure was hard to return the review unit, I really fell in love with the dSLR quality images with easy shooting modes that the Sony NEX-F3 affords.

promoters

Thus, I tried to enter the contest. It’s quite easy, really. Just head into any of the 10 participating Sony Center outlets on a weekend (Saturday or Sunday) and go to the counter where the Sony NEX-F3 is.

sony nex f3

You won’t have any trouble finding it – there are promoters there to help you with the process.

sony nex f3 promoters

Basically, what you do is to take a photo of yourself using the 180 degree tilt function (a camwhore photo self-portrait in other words ;)) and they’ll help you upload it to the official contest website.

sony nex f3 launch

I did mine at the Sony NEX-F3 media launch with Kim, Rachel and Shah – didn’t win anything though – and asked the promoters if I can do this again at the Sony Center.

camwhore

It turns out that you can – just take a self-portrait of yourself and upload it to The Ultimate F3 Photographer Contest. The contest requires you to upload shots taken with the camera at the Sony Center itself. However, you can also bring your own SD card and slot it into the Sony NEX-F3 if you want to keep the photos. :)

One of three Sony NEX-F3 units awaits you! I hope one of them is mine, this is really a nifty camera to bring traveling.

Apple duck, prawn with black pepper and honey and midin

apple duck

I’ve never heard of an apple duck before – the waitress taking the order assured us it was a very popular dish and thus, we swapped one of the meat orders (black pepper beef) with this menu item. We were at Nice House Restaurant – me and Arthur originally wanted to go to Cafe Ind for some fusion Indonesian and Indian food, but it was closed.

Thus, we headed over to a place which serves a gigantic roti canai that I wanted to try but that was closed too.

nice house restaurant

We ended up eating at Nice House Restaurant. I’ve been here a couple of times before and it seems that their typical Chinese cuisine has changed into something which I’ll call quasi-fusion. It’s still Chinese food but it uses much more non-traditional ingredients to cook.

prawn honey black pepper

Arthur recommended the prawn with black pepper and honey. He said it was much better than Ruby Restaurant‘s famed butterscotch prawns and I have to wholeheartedly agree. The combination of black pepper sauce with honey creates a sweet and savory gravy that had us scooping up all the gravy till the plate was almost clean. :)

black pepper lamb

The black pepper lamb was really good too – the meat was tender and juicy, and it goes very well with rice. A superb dish which wasn’t as sweet as the prawns (coz it didn’t use honey).

midin sambal

We also ordered midin cooked with sambal – it’s a wild jungle fern that’s very popular in Sibu but hard to find anywhere else. It’s our vegetable quota.

green apple duck

I felt that the apple duck was the most interesting dish during dinner. We ordered half a duck since a lot of people don’t eat duck due to the gamey taste but both of us do and we have been rather deprived of this particular fowl. I quite liked it although I think Arthur didn’t enjoy it as much. He hasn’t tried it before so we ordered it and the two of us finished everything – right down to the lettuce and green apple slices.

me arthur nice house

I think a lot of people thought we were having a major argument coz when the time came to pay the bill, both of us stood up and insisted on settling it. It must have looked quite interesting since I was blocking his way to the cashier. Heh.

Thanks for dinner Arthur and see you next time I come back to Sibu! :)

Love each other as I have loved you

wesley church sibu

It has been a while since I last attended a church service. By “a while” I actually mean 18 years (!!!). I stopped going when I was 13 – it used to be a family affair before that. We’ll all go for the 7:30 am English worship service followed by brunch.

I’ve been meaning to find a church that I’m comfortable with in KL and made a promise to myself that I’ll start looking last Sunday but since I was in Indonesia, today was the first day I stepped foot inside one.

wesley church

Wesley Methodist Church is a relatively small assembly in Sibu that my family goes to. It can best be described as a conservative Methodist church with strong fundamentalist teachings. The service is very orderly, quiet and steeped in tradition.

I told my dad of my intention to join them for the morning service – my dad is very involved in the church, he’s one of the ushers today so we had to go earlier. I wolfed down a huge chunk of chocolate generously spread with peanut butter (buried would be a better word, I scooped up a good quarter of the contents of the jar) and we all arrived well before the service started.

I was surprised that a lot of the older members of the congregation still recognize me. I didn’t see a lot of new faces, it doesn’t attract a lot of young people due to the reserved and orthodox nature of the church.

church sarawak

Don’t expect loud music and fervent singing, it’s all about solemn hymns with subdued piano music here. I don’t think the church believes in any music written after 1900. smirk

I did enjoy the service though. I sat beside my mom while my dad was performing his duties as an usher. I remember as a kid, we always looked forward to eating at our favorite places right after Sunday service but I quit going to church when I went to high school.

I went for brunch with my parents at my dad’s favorite kampua place after that. The kampua is quite different from Sibu’s normal kampua. It’s somewhere in between kampua and kolo mee. This is the part I miss the most, spending quality time with my parents!

church brunch

I got my mom and dad batik from Jakarta and we’re going to have a nice sit-down dinner later to celebrate Father’s Day.

It’s good to be back! :)

My mom’s battle with lung cancer

mom cancer

It has been three months since I last saw my mom. She picked me up from the airport this morning and I noticed some physical changes – particularly a really aggressive acne-like rash all over her face and upper body. It’s more visible in real life, but my mom’s a fighter.

She was diagnosed about two years ago and opted for lung surgery in New Zealand. However, that didn’t really work out and she went on chemotherapy and then radiotherapy (which explains the hair loss, it’s more noticeable around the eyebrows) which forced it into remission for a bit before it the cancer returned again.

My mom switched her medication recently and she told me she’s not particularly curious about how it works. I know it’s a TKI and it costs an insane amount of money. The side effects are really intense – the skin condition being the most dangerous since it can be fatal if not monitored properly. Yes, this drug can kill you in rare cases, but the same is true for all medication.

However, the FDA has approved it for certain types of advanced lung cancer where chemotherapy alone has failed. It improves the overall survival rate by 19% when used together with chemotherapy and the manufacturer claims it extends life by 3.3 months when the end game comes. It is rather expensive though – the single dose per day tablet costs RM 300.

It’s a patented drug that will only expire in 2020 although there is another pharmaceutical company embroiled in a lawsuit for producing generics for the Indian market (who won’t be able to afford the patented drug anyway).

This means the medication alone will cost RM 9,000 per month. The other ancillary costs like PET scans, tumor marker tests, hospital bills etc hasn’t been factored in yet and I’ve been meaning to contribute more to help defray the costs.

bandaged fingertips

My mom has bandages on most of her fingertips due to the rash (it looks like acne – raised pimples and patches) so I’ve been helping around the house. I just realized that our kitchen sink is built really low – got a backache just from washing all the dishes inside.

mom rash

However, I’m glad I came home. I’ll be here for a week, all the better to spend some time with my mom and dad. :)

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