RM 19.50 bowl of big prawn Sarawak Laksa

Big Prawn Sarawak Laksa

I have been lusting after this delectable dish since I saw it during Chinese New Year – the last time I was back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to eat it then. I just came back for my mom’s first Ching Ming and was determined to taste the RM 19.50 bowl of big prawn Sarawak Laksa for myself.

Laksa Udang Besar

The friendly tau keh nio (lady proprietor) had shown me how big the prawns were and I was quite impressed. There are different sized prawns for their RM 6/9.50/19.50 bowls of laksa. They also have fish laksa and fish/prawn combinations. It’s not the price of the bowl of laksa that’s unusual – we have RM 33 bowls of big head prawn noodles too, but that being said, this is the most expensive bowl of Sarawak Laksa I’ve seen.

Lady Showing Big Prawns

This is the size of the prawns for the almost RM 20 bowl of Sarawak Laksa. These are big white prawns (Litopenaeus vannamei/大白虾) not big head prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii/大头虾) but it’s still unusual to have such large and (relatively) expensive prawns in a commercial bowl of Sarawak Laksa. Golden Arch in Kuching used to have huge tiger prawns too, but it’s a different species (Penaeus monodon) of prawn, which tastes different.

Blanch Big White Prawn

The prawns are frozen and it took a while to prepare this dish as they had to blanch the peeled shrimp in hot water before serving them.

RM20 Big Prawn Sarawak Laksa

I was given four (4) big white prawns instead of the usual 3 and the proprietor actually remembered me from CNY – she asked where I was from since it has been a while during the gap when I expressed interest and actually came back. The previous time was when I came to eat kampua mee and happened to stumble across the signage on this stall when I was walking back to my table.

Chopsticks Sibu

I thought it tasted quite good. It’s not as good as our favorite place in Aloha – the composition of the laksa broth is less prawn-y and intense here but it does the job for a Sarawak Laksa craving and I’ve been curious about this dish for a long time. You can find this stall at Chopsticks in Pedada, Sibu.

Our annual poon choy dinner with whole baby abalone @ Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Poon Choy

I always look forward to our poon choy dinner as the proper start of the pre Chinese New Year celebrations. We got our poon choy from the famous Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (used to be known as Restaurant LYJ) last year and I decided to try a new place this year. I had passed by this small and unassuming shop and called them to ask about their Hakka Pun Choi.

Poon Choy is actually a Hakka tradition that has been adopted and popularized over the years here. It basically involves a pot filled with all manner of premium ingredients by layer – stacked from the bottom to the top so each layer seeps down to the next, providing a new ingredient as you eat “down” and having the gravy/juice absorbing stuff underneath so it gets all the wonderful flavors from the smorgasbord of meat and seafood.

Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Hakka Siu Poon Choy is helmed by Cheong Sifu (Master, can also mean Chef) and I called the proprietor to ask about their prices. Poon Choy is now streamlined into two (2) sizes – 5 pax and 10 pax. I wanted the Premium Abalone Poon Choy, their best offering, for 5 pax and it cost RM 280 for the basic set. You can also add whole baby abalone for RM 20 each and I had six pieces coz there are six of us eating and I wanted everyone to have one.

I wanted to try this small restaurant instead of the huge commercial multi-restaurant F&B enterprises e.g. Dragon-i, Unique Seafood etc even though they’re cheaper (probably coz they buy in bulk) coz a smaller operation would have a more homely feel. I had it to go since me and my better half had her parents over so it’s easier to eat at home, especially with the two kids.

Poon Choy 2015

I also got two craft beers from Oregon for my dear’s dad and myself from Betty’s Midwest Kitchen. I’ve always liked Rogue’s brews and I thought their Mocha Porter and Dry Hopped St Rogue Red Ale would be perfect for the meal. The first is a stout like beverage, dark and high in alcohol content, with a nice coffee aftertaste. The St Rogue Red Ale is a sweet affair that’s light and refreshing and tasty from the dry hop process.

Rogue Red Ale Mocha Porter

The poon choy from Hakka Siu Poon Choy did not disappoint – it was even better than last year! I called over the phone and told them to prepare a good one for me with premium ingredients and they did just that. The optional 6 pieces of whole abalone for RM 20 each was well worth it too! The good stuff is in the middle – there’s whole baby abalone, sliced abalone (the lighter colored stuff), sliced conch (the darker colored pieces), Pacific clams, sea asparagus (razor clams), top shell, dried mussels, dried scallops, fresh scallops, dried oyster and black moss (fatt choy).

Hakka Poon Choy

I’m quite impressed by that selection, although most of it probably came out of cans like New Moon, they’re not cheap either. The whole baby abalone and one type of scallop is fresh though. The dried scallops are large and flavorful too.

There’s also ½ chicken and ½ duck flanking the poon choy pot with huge prawns, spare ribs and fu chuk (whole beancurd sheets/tofu skin) interspaced between. I particularly liked how they had ½ fish maw with ½ dried and rehydrated pig skin at the second layer. There’s also a wonderful array of sliced pork belly and sea cucumber hidden below. The Shiitake mushrooms, straw mushrooms, broccoli and turnips at the bottom soaks up the wonderful juices from everything slowly soaking down very well.

I’m sure I have missed some ingredients coz there’s supposed to be 28 in total!

Whole Baby Abalone

My favorite has gotta be the prawns cooked in sweet and sour sauce though – the juices from that flavored everything beneath really well and I’m glad I paid extra RM 20 / whole baby abalone for a more festive treat! Everyone loved it and even the kids had extra rice! My dear even had to cook an extra pot of rice for a second helping for everyone.

It was a great poon choy dinner that has become an annual treat, much like our Christmas turkey dinners! I can really feel the Chinese New Year “mood” now. :)

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.

Ruby Restaurant revisited

big prawn rice

I haven’t been to Ruby Restaurant in quite a long time. My dad and I wanted to go on Wednesday but that was their off day so we had to go somewhere else instead. However, I was quite determined to head over since I’ve enjoyed their food a lot and so I went with my dad again and found them open.

ruby restaurant christmas

The place is much as I remembered, with a warm inviting interior and their small neon sign outside (the large signboard seems to have been taken down). The Christmas decorations are up though! :)

ambarella juice

We both ordered kedondong juice. Kedondong is a tropical fruit also known as ambarella (Spondias dulcis) and it’s makes for a tart and acidic drink.

butter prawns

I wanted to have their creamy butter prawns and the owner told me they have the large prawns that I like so I jumped at the chance to have that. This seems to be big white prawns instead of big head prawns but delicious regardless – the prawns are so crunchy you can eat them, shells and all but still soft and moist inside. I love their butter sauce – it’s so rich and appetizing.

puo chai chinese wine

My dad also ordered a vegetable dish – puo chai cooked in Chinese white wine. I was quite surprised at how good it tasted. Ruby Restaurant used to be a favorite of mine before I switched to Ming Mei Shi – which serves a more KL-style dai chow. I like the localized Ruby Restaurant better now. This is delicious, not overcooked, with a hint of raw Chinese white wine.

sour mayonnaise lamb

The other dish we had was recommended by the owner when I asked for something new. She suggested sour mayonnaise lamb. I asked her what the acidic component is and she *pretended* not to hear me twice before smiling and said it’s a trade secret. That definitely sounded promising and even my dad loved this – the addition of citrus or vinegar brightens up this otherwise cloying dish and the lamb isn’t overtly gamey too.

ruby restaurant sibu

The bill was quite reasonable – the prawn dish *alone* came up to RM 40 due to the two large prawns but the lamb and vegetables are surprisingly affordable. The two of us polished off everything in sight!

ruby dad me

My dad mentioned that everything they served tasted delicious and I have to agree. We had just come from a terrible dinner the night before and it’s nice to revisit an old favorite like Ruby Restaurant again.

sour mayo lamb

It’s even better when you find that the standards have increased and not dropped – Ruby Restaurant is truly a gem! smirk

Umai and other local delights @ Fisherman Restaurant

claypot tom yam prawns

I’ve been craving for umai lately and had the chance to eat it again for dinner with Arthur last night. Fisherman Restaurant is a popular local restaurant to bring visitors coz it has a lot of Melanau native delights like lokan, umai and ikan terubok. These are all Sarawakian dishes – they even have dabai (a local type of olive) when it’s in season.

umai

Umai is a local version of ceviche. Fisherman Restaurant does it in a style that’s similar to umai jeb in Mukah. I’ve had it when I went to Mukah in 2008 – it’s very fresh fish (in this case white pomfret or ikan bawal putih) that’s been cured with lime and mixed with chopped onions and chillies.

sarawak prawn crackers

It’s delicious when you eat it with the prawn crackers they serve as an appetizer.

prawn crackers umai

(although it’s traditionally eaten with sago pearls)

individual prawn claypot

We also ordered an individual serving of large prawn in a mini claypot. These prawns are huge and used in big head prawn noodles. The prawn is cooked in an assam tom yam broth soup and it costs RM 20 per prawn. It’s worth it though coz they do it very well – the broth is flavorful and spicy and the prawn meat is firm and juicy and sweet.

paku santan

The fibre quota was fulfilled by paku santan. It’s a local fern cooked Melanau style in santan (coconut milk) and shrimp. I really liked this dish too, everything the cook sent out really hit the mark.

fisherman restaurant

That’s why Fisherman Restaurant is so popular despite being relatively decrepit – peeling paint on the walls, dated single-unit wall air conditioners, and a musty interior. There were a lot of people who came after us coz we went really early – the place was quite full. I do wish that they put some money into renovation though – it looks the same (except a bit more worn) as when I went in 2008!

fisherman restaurant sibu

This isn’t even the original restaurant – they were located at a different part of town at first and shifted to this place.

fisherman restaurant us

I have to say that the best dish of the night is the roast lamb with mint sauce. This is a newer dish that came to pass with the current generation (the son came back from New Zealand where he had his own restaurant and brought some recipes home) and it’s cooked really well. I have to say that it’s even slightly better than my late mom’s famous lamb (sorry ma). smirk

roast lamb mint

The roast lamb here is sliced generously thick and the meat is juicy. You’ll love this if you’re fond of the slightly gamey taste of lamb, and they don’t overcook it unlike other places. They have two sauces – the mint sauce and a garlic inspired Asian dip, the former is the one you want since the latter is uninspiring. It costs RM 50 for the dish with two large slabs of lamb, definitely a must-order if you visit.

thick lamb slabs

The bill for the two of us came up to RM 126.40 but the roasted lamb (RM 25 per slice) and the tom yam prawns (RM 20 per prawn) accounts for RM 90 so the dishes aren’t really that expensive if you don’t order the premium stuff. Thanks for dinner Arthur! It’s always good to catch up when I’m back home. :)

Jakar Big Prawn Noodles

jakar

I have been told by Will that there’s a famous place serving Big Prawn Mee at Jakar so I made a road trip down there with Katherine during the weekend. Jakar is a small town about an hour’s drive away from Sibu. Jakar is apparently famous for their Sarawak pepper cultivation, as can be seen by their official mascot (?). It doesn’t really help that Jakar sounds exactly like the Malay word for penis with their phallic looking emblem.

peking restaurant

Peking Restaurant in Jakar is the place to go for the Jakar Big Prawn Noodles. Jakar is located to your right as you drive into the Kuching highway and Peking Restaurant is near the pepper tree ornament. I took 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there due to a couple of wrong turns but only 59 minutes to get back – and that was maintaining a constant 120 km/h with a lowest speed of 80 km/h and reaching a highest speed of 150 km/h.

jakar big prawn noodles

Katherine and I both ordered the Jakar Big Prawn Mee (RM 15). The waitress asked us if we wanted the “special” Jakar Big Prawn Noodles (which contains the large “antlers” of the prawn) and we replied in the affirmative. This is her bowl of the noodles.

jakar big prawn mee

This is my bowl of the Jakar Big Prawn Mee. There is no difference between the two – we both ordered the same thing, it’s just here for…er, illustrative purposes. ;)

jakar big prawn

The Jakar Big Prawn Noodles contains one (1) big prawn cut diagonally with the head and the “antlers” (would someone be kind enough to tell me what this is actually called?) included. The noodles are cooked Foochow style with the soup infused with the tasty prawn essence. It tastes delicious! I would rate this as better than Min Kong Big Prawn Noodles but the 1 hour drive there would make this a costlier dish due to the recent petrol price hike.

jakar splash damage

I heeded Will’s advice and wore a T-shirt in a dark shade due to the splash damage I incurred during my previous expedition for the Sarikei Big Prawn Asam Tom Yam Noodles. Unfortunately, some splash damage did occur again, but Katherine claims it’s inevitable with dishes like these. Oh well…

jakar us

Nevertheless, it was a nice road trip to check out the famous Jakar Big Prawn Noodles. It’s a long weekend since Saturday is a gazetted public holiday so there’s time to drive around and do some Rural Adventuring (TM).

jakar me

…and I just couldn’t resist touching Jakar. ;)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...