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.
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! :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
It’s even better when you find that the standards have increased and not dropped – Ruby Restaurant is truly a gem!
My better half came back with me to visit my dad during the weekend and since it was just a 24 hour trip, we only had *one* dinner and this is the place we chose to go to – Payung Cafe! I was one of the first people to visit when they started six years ago (we were even asked to name the first iterations of the desserts which are refined staples now) and I make it a point to visit when I’m back in my hometown.
Payung Cafe opened in 2008 and it was very unknown back then since they only had dinner service and the place was shuttered during the day with no signboards. It didn’t help that it looked like the reception area for a marine survey company either. However, the same Joyce who gave us the number of Glory Cafe in Sarikei is also very active in a Chinese language local forum and a bunch of us paid this newly opened place she heard about a visit.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The food here is unique and the service is great. That’s what makes Payung Cafe a favorite among certain locals and visitors alike despite the relatively higher prices it charges on average. The Christmas decorations are up when we went – we opted to go to the original al fresco outlet instead of the new Payung Mahkota (which is located in the lobby of a hotel). I feel the former has a much better ambiance since the latter can be a little antiseptic due to it’s location.
For starters, we all shared a Pomelo Salad (RM 8). I love the choice, the pomelo comes in large chunks and the dressing is restrained, making it a fresh and vibrant dish. My late maternal grandma used to have a pomelo tree and I remember this fruit as being bitter but like Brussels sprouts, it seems to have been genetically modified to be less bitter nowadays!
It’s sweet and juicy and we all were ready to dig into our main courses after popping a couple of the large chunks of fruit.
The special of the day is Sour Chicken (RM 16). It’s not on the regular menu, this is written on the chalkboard that lists what’s fresh and cooking on that very day and I like to order from here since I’ve tried most of their menu items. This is something I’ve never had before and all of us loved it! The chicken is moist and tastes appetizingly sourish.
I asked how it was made since we were all trying to guess what the sour element is and was told it’s a mixture of laksa leaves (Vietnamese coriander/Persicaria odorata/daun kesum) and coriander seeds (which provides the sour citrus tang). I highly recommend this dish – it’s delicious!
I also ordered Kacama Chicken (RM 16) for my dear. I wanted her to try this uniquely Sarawakian dish while she was here. Kacangma chicken is made from a herb the Hakka people call yi mu cao (益母草) or motherwort. The taste is like nothing else, it’s traditionally used as a “confinement dish” and the liberal use of pounded motherwort makes this dish taste bitter and earthy.
Kacangma chicken is always doused with copious amounts of alcohol which is intentionally *not* cooked off. It’s meant as a tonic as thus the alcohol is never fully evaporated or burned off – some preparations are so strong you can get *tipsy* from drinking the stew! Payung Cafe’s version is quite strong too but it’s delicious to me! It’s an acquired taste, kacangma…
Of course, the Otak-otak Fish (RM 13) is always a must-order when you’re there. The price has more than doubled since 2008 but if Payung Cafe had a flagship or signature dish, this would be it. They actually make it in-house every day! The ground fish meat with tapioca is wrapped inside a banana leaf and baked to perfection.
The otak-otak is served bursting from the seams and the generous use of chilli and tumeric makes this a dish not for the faint-hearted. It’s very spicy but if you can take the heat, you’ll love it. It’s very different from the steamed otak-otak from Johor or grilled otak-otak we get in Malacca. They really make one of the best versions around.
My better half also had the Durian Shake (RM 8) – a very thick concoction sure to please all durian lovers and connoisseurs of milkshakes.
The bill came up to RM 82 for the three of us, which is quite reasonable for dinner at Payung Cafe.
We made room for dessert and shared a Sambarina Ice Cream (RM 8) which is made in a yin-yang fashion with large scoops of chocolate and creamy vanilla ice cream stuffed into a jumbo sized ramekin and topped with a mixture of crushed nuts and other crunchy bits. I approve!
My dear loved the Mulu Ice Cream (RM 10) – a beautiful creation of huge slabs of their own ice cream layered and sandwiched with cake and cream and sprinkled with muesli. It’s a gorgeous and deliciously messy end to a wonderful dinner together.
I remember eating the absolutely fabulous and rightfully famous Inanam ngiu chap in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah when I was based there a few years back. Ngiu chap is the local Hakka dialect for beef noodles, prepared in a distinctive way. The traditional Inanam style consists of a semi-clear broth but there’s another preparation which has a darker soy sauce tinged soup. This is the latter.
I was pleased to see an outlet for Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap open up near my place in Kota Damansara. It’s just been open for a couple of months and we wondered what shop will pop up there. I’ve been to Kota Kinabalu several times – samplingthelocaldelights, climbing Mount Kinabalu and even stayed there for 1 ½ years so I’m quite familiar with their food.
Their signature Ngiu Chap Soup Noodles (RM 13.90) is a hearty bowl of beef tripe, beef stew, beef slice, and beef balls in a rich broth. There’s HUGE chunks of brisket inside and the meat portions are *very* generous. There’s three types of noodles to choose from – yellow oily noodles, rice vermicelli and ho fun and I personally think the first choice is the best way to enjoy it.
You can also add on a portion of the following to your bowl of noodles starting from RM 2 onwards:
The Ngiu Chap Kolo Mee (RM 14.90) is similar to the above but separates the noodles from the soup. The waiter got our orders wrong and thought this is what my better half ordered so it took a while for me to realize that and send it back (she doesn’t like beef).
My dear ordered the Chicken Kolo Noodle (RM 9.90) which comes with pieces of chicken cooked with soy sauce. It’s an afterthought in a beef joint and it tastes just like that – dismal. The chicken offerings are for people who don’t like or eat beef and they’re not good at it. It tasted pretty awful.
However, I loved my order of their flagship Ngiu Chap Soup Noodles. Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles are good at what they do best – which is beef. I strongly suggest you eat beef noodles when you go or not go at all. This is strictly a place for people who love our bovine friends…in their stomach!
Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap is actually a true Sabah chain that came over to Peninsula Malaysia. It takes up a large corner shoplot and you won’t miss the bright signage. It’s always pretty empty though, it seems like it didn’t really take off here but their beef noodles are really good. I’ll recommend it if you like bowls of hearty beef noodles with lots and lots of beef!
Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles (Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap)
No 2-1, Jalan PJU 5/7
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)
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.
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).
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.
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. ;)
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.
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.
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. ;)
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!
We wanted to have the signature Claypot Mutton but unfortunately it was sold out, so we ordered:
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
This is quite good actually – it has cashew nuts and other goodies inside. I ate the most of this dish.
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!
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.
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.
That was worth the price of the flights back home! :)
I woke up having pains and aches in places I didn’t even know existed. I had been running around the pool with the kids for several hours last night, swimming and remembering how to do stuff like:
Haha! It was a lot of fun though, and we went just opposite the hotel to the tourist trap seafood restaurants for a bite to eat.
I wanted to head over to this cool looking place with the menus written in English and Cyrillic script (!!!) called 3 t.i.g.a. Antara (no relation to the 3 Line criminal gang) which looks like something out of the trendy beach front eateries of Bali or Boracay. I figured if you wanted to be ripped off, at least we can get ripped off…in style!
The menu was surprisingly cheap but the kids didn’t like anything on it so we walked to a Chinese seafood restaurant (which strangely serves no pork).
The place was comfortable though – we’re just beside the beach so we can feel the breeze being enhanced by the ceiling fans.
Fresh coconut (RM 4)
Now, the lady taking the order warned us that small is VERY SMALL. Sorry, that should have been very small. The wah tan hor (Medium – RM 12) that came out made us apprehensive about all the other Small orders – would there just be a few pieces?
I woke up really, really early during this long weekend coz I had always wanted to go to the wet market to shop for fresh produce with my dear but never could get myself to wake up in time. I’m glad I did coz going to the pasar pagi (morning market – don’t know why people here call it this) is fun! :)
The SS2 wet market is located at an intersecting lane and you’ll see a fair amount of vendors selling all sorts of stuff from chicken to vegetables (and everything in between). Pork butchers, fish mongers, they have it all!
There’s even a car that’s filled with flowers – for sale!
(the fresh flowers, not the car, I presume)
We got some piping hot yu tiaw (fried dough) to munch on while doing our weekly grocery shopping at the equivalent of the local market (instead of the supermarkets we usually go to).
The deep fried dough is awesome when eaten straight out of the boiling oil! :)
I also got two bak chang (glutinous rice dumplings) – the Dried Oyster Rice Dumpling has dried oysters, mushrooms, pork, salted egg, dried shrimp and chestnuts for RM 5.50 while the Salted Egg Rice Dumpling has all the above except for the dried oysters and with the addition of lintel / green bean for RM 4.50.
It’s really good when we ate it later in the day. However, there is only 1 small oyster about the size of my index fingernail so I thought a RM 1 premium isn’t really justifiable. I wanted to try their Pillow Rice Dumpling too but it’s a 3 day order wait. This stall has been featured in the papers and for once it’s worth the hype! Highly recommended! :)
My dear also bought this huge take away bag of soy milk for just RM 1. There’s about 1 liter of soy bean milk inside and the queue for this is insane – not because it’s good (it’s rather diluted) but coz you get a lot of bang for your buck.
We also looked at the fresh fish stalls – some of them had specimens that are still alive and kickin’ (or rather, swimming).
I was interested in this huge eel that we later found out was called yellow conger eel. It’s RM 8 / kg.
I bought two generously long slices for RM 9. We later cooked them three (3) ways and it was really good! I didn’t know it was an eel at first, I thought it was a fish. Ling insisted it was an eel and I still thought it was a fish so we Googled it and discovered my better half was *right* – it’s a seasonal eel!
We also bought two chicken legs for RM 16.50 which I thought was a total rip off! It’s kampung chicken (free range chicken) and I was appalled that just one (1) chicken leg costs RM 8+. My dear told me the price range is about right. I’m used to supermarket chicken prices (the ones reared in stacked cages PETA types are always honking on about). Hot damn, that’s expensive!
I also found a vegetable which I thought was rather interesting so I got that and lotus root, which we haven’t cooked before. It made for a nice meal with the eel done 3 ways.
We also bought some pork ribs (to be cooked tonight!) before we headed to one of the food stalls located right inside SS2 wet market.
I had the Hakka Mee (RM 4) while she had the Curry Mee (RM 4). Mine had a bucket-load of MSG, which made it taste really nice. The owner/cook manning the stall is one grumpy lady though. I could tell she was slightly irritated when I ordered but for some reason or other, she didn’t take the piss out of me.
The woman who ordered after me was half of a middle-aged couple that just finished jogging and the owner raised her voice and was so rude to her that I wondered why they didn’t just walk away. We didn’t get the nasty treatment so I was thinking that this must be real good food for the other couple to take the abuse. The food wasn’t anything to write home about but it’s decent and cheap.
It’s the coffee that really takes home the cake though – home brewed old style with muslin cloth sieves blackened after ages of filtering the coffee grounds and with a sheen of grease (from the frying of the coffee beans with butter, lard, margarine or ghee). It’s a perfect cuppa hot strong brewed coffee that kick started an awesome day of fun in the kitchen and quality time spent together during the long weekend.
I’ll go to the local wet market again! The prices aren’t necessarily cheaper but the produce certainly is a lot fresher! :D
I’m in Sibu! I flew back with Ling early this morning and arrived at the airport so I can spend some time with my family (mom is flying back later tonight) before we all go to vote tomorrow. I think we might be voting for different parties but that’s the beauty of democracy ain’t it? :)
Anyway, I noticed that Chopsticks Chicken & Rice now has a new signboard. This is a place that has been around since my childhood! I remember eating the mixed rice there as a kid and chu cha (dai chow in Cantonese) when they moved over to Pedada.
However, what they’re really famous for is their chicken rice. My dad is a huge fan of it. There are scores of Sibu people who loves the chicken rice here. Lunch time will be *packed* with people ordering chicken rice and it’s sold out real soon.
They’re doing so well that they dedicated an entire shoplot just for it. That place was previously Peppino’s Pizza (also by the same owner).
There’s a bunch of things you’ll expect from a chicken rice place – char siew, roasted chicken, duck, innards, siew yoke, braised egg and also some that you won’t.
…like this Foochow style curry chicken.
It’s the same thing I’ve eaten as a kid – there used to be three compartments (not including your rice) and I’ll have curry chicken for all of them). Arthur ordered this one for us – he was kind enough to pick us up from the airport. It’s milder (in spiciness rating) than regular curry yet more intense (they put a lot of the curry powder). A peculiarity of Foochow cuisine.
The signboards are new and there’s a lot of people eating there but what I really crave is kampua mee. Unfortunately, everyone was sold out then (must be the people coming back for elections!!!) so we had lunch here.
It’s not too bad though, I think most people come here for the rice – it’s fragrant and what makes Chopsticks Chicken Rice special! The char siew is also good – glazed with honey and with no color additives that makes it radioactive red.
We’ll be staying a night here – she’s already met my grandma and we’ll have dinner together and vote tomorrow! :D
I was invited by Suanie to come along for my first yee sang dinner at Tai Zi Heen. It’s the resident Chinese restaurant of Prince Hotel & Residence and I was quite impressed by the view looking out of one of the private lounges:
It’s glass so you can see the entire lobby without the noise intruding. You also can’t jump out of it, so if you’re scared of heights, don’t worry, it’ll take quite a concerted effort to do so. Haha.
Vegetarian Snow Pear Yee Sang
This is the traditional first dish – yee sang (which actually means “raw fish”) is an imported tradition where you toss a salad (of sorts) while wishing for something. The very polished waitresses says a couplet of prosperity, health and general good wishes when she adds each ingredient – a rather nice touch!
You can see her doing just that. The video also shows the yee sang tossing session. If you strain your ears hard enough you can hear me say “Win 4D”. I’ve never won before and that very day (after an impromptu decision to get a couple of lottery numbers) I managed to win slightly less than RM 1,000 (about USD 300).
That’s some mighty wish fulfilling yee sang going on there.
I do like the addition of snow pear instead of salmon or jellyfish (which they both offer) – it makes the entire yee sang more crunchy and sweet.
Stewed Dried Oysters with Fatt Choy and Lettuce
I liked this dish as well although it’s not customary to serve it with lettuce (there’s more unique dishes coming up). Fatt choy is a type of bacteria that produces a very hearty and distinctive flavor – it basically absorbs whatever sauces are around.
Excellent stuff, and a Chinese New Year staple.
Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Diced Prawns, Scallops and Grouper
Oops! Did I use the S-word? Well, you can ask for it without shark’s fin as well. It tastes just as good – the combination of prawns, scallops and grouper makes it a very sweet broth.
I really liked this one as well.
Roasted Chicken dusted with Crispy Garlic and Five Spice Salt
I was expecting regular sea salt but they used five spice salt, which vastly improves the taste of the roasted chicken. There’s plum sauce on offer too, but I’m probably not the best person to ask about roasted chicken. I didn’t like it, but all the other diners were in agreement that it’s delicious.
There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like roasted chicken.
Chef’s Special Baked Cod Fish
This is the flagship of the Chinese New Year banquet. Well, to me anyway. It’s a fusion dish made with mushroom, onions, cheese and turkey bacon. Yup, this is a halal outlet.
Check out the plating – there’s a Chinese character written on it with sauce.
The ingredients goes really well together and the result is this magnificent piece of cod that’s baked and dripping with cheese and bursting with flavor. I highly recommend this one, it’s not in the regular Chinese New Year menu but you can ask for it – it’s the Chef’s Specialty.
Stir-Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese-style Preserved Duck
Waxed meat is another traditional Chinese New Year meal. This one is done Hong Kong style and I have to say, it’s one delectable dish. The saltiness of the duck is offset by the rice and the best thing about the dish is that there’s some stir-frying action going on.
Warm Almond Purée with Glutinous Rice Dumplings
This is basically tong yuen swimming in a concoction of milky almond. It sounds simple but it’s heart-warming food. The glutinous rice balls are filled with black sesame too.
It’s a righteously hot dessert that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Deep-Fried Chinese New Year Cake with Thousand Layer Puff Pastry
This is actually two desserts.
The first is nian gao (the above-mentioned Chinese New Year cake) dipped in batter before being deep fried. It’s a wonderful execution – much better than what I’m used to eating at home. The nian gao is made in-house and that makes all the difference – it’s not saccharine sweet and more suitable for adult palates.
The second dessert is the Thousand Layer Puff Pastry – a silkworm like cocoon surrounding a sweet corn and salted egg based interior. The crumbly texture of the pastry gives way to the warm salted egg filling. It’s still sweet, but has that tang of saltiness from the salted egg. I loved this so much I ate 4-5 pieces!
You’ve gotta eat it while it’s still hot though.
Tai Zi Heen @ Prince Hotel has 3 different Chinese New Year menus, starting from RM 1,188 for a table of up to 10 people. It was a cozy dinner, with just the six of us sharing a banquet meant for 10. It’s also a halal outlet, which I was quite surprised to find out (asked about the usage of turkey bacon instead of real bacon).
The restaurant does a great Chinese New Year banquet and the Chinese New Year menu is on offer from now till 24 January 2013 – Chap Goh Meh. I particularly liked the baked cod fish so ask for it if you’re there – it’s really something else. :)
Thanks for having us over Elisa! Happy CNY everyone! :D
There is a stall in town that doesn’t have a name but serves up great herbal chicken twice a day. The operation is quite quaint and rather appealing in a sense – tables are lined along the side of a narrow lane and you can practically see flora growing out of cracks in the centuries-old building.
The food choices are quite simple – there’s herbal chicken drumstick (which I highly recommend) and stewed pork (which doesn’t taste good to me). They both cost RM 6.
All the provisions for washing up and cooking is located right by the stall itself. The clientèle consists of office workers around the area, according to the proprietor.
The herbal chicken is cooked in aluminium foil and this retains a lot of the moisture of the drumstick.
The meat for the stewed pork on the other hand is picked from a container and then mixed with hearty broth from a large simmering pot by the side. I don’t think much of “reconstituted meals” like this – it works for some items, but not pork, since what comes out will be one tough piece of un-kosher meat.
I am hugely impressed by the herbal chicken though. The tasty broth bursts out of the foil when it’s opened and the hot, hearty soup goes very well with rice – it’s very salty.
The chicken is ultra-tender too – the meat literally falls apart from the bone when you pick one up. Delicious, and a rather good find in the alleyways of KL.
The Stall with No Name is located in Lorong Bandar 4. It’s open from 10 am – 3 pm and then again from 5 pm to 10 pm. Go for the mouth-watering tender herbal chicken. :D