15 Chinese New Year visiting photos

CNY Visiting 2015

1. Food! I went to just a few open houses this year – close friends and relatives. The good thing is that more people are serving hot food, which makes for a more substantial meal than snacks and cakes and such – it’s a nice savoury change.

Prawn Fried Noodles

2. This is a thin fried yellow noodle with hints of Thai chilli sauce and prawns. It’s very good, so much so that I went back for second (and third) helpings.

Beef Satay Sauce

3. There’s also beef in satay sauce…

Ketupat

4. …with the accompanying ketupat.

Kacangma Chicken

5. Arthur also broke out the kacangma chicken. I was reminded of a joke another friend told about cannabis, he said he accidentally pulled out a packet of the good stuff to pay for a meal and only later realized it wasn’t a wad of cash. Luckily the auntie who was the (unintended) recipient said “What’s this? Kacangma herbs?” smirk You just had to be there.

Baked Chicken Wings

6. This is some great baked chicken wings to complete the feast. I had an awesome lunch here on the first day.

HB Arthur

7. Here’s a photo of me with Arthur!

Honeydew Cake

8. One of the more unusual cakes I had – the lowest right is a honeydew cake! It’s not sweet at all and just had a hint of the melon. Delicious! I had this at Alex’s house and was happily munching on some macadamia nuts he had on hand too (love them, they’re my favorite type of nuts).

Huge Nasi Briyani

9. Huge pot of nasi briyani at another friend’s house.

China Snow Beer

10. An unusual Chinese snow beer that weighs in at 4.7% alcohol. Very refreshing stuff, you can’t get it outside. Funny story, as we were visiting this house, there was another guy which I didn’t know there. The host suddenly brought up the topic of weed and how it relates to sleep. Thus, I joined in and said “Yeah, ganja is a lot better than alcohol, at least you won’t have to wake up at 3 am to pee” and saw my friend laughing. He later asked me “Do you know who the other guy is? He’s with the police and he’s in Narcotics.” -_-

HB Eddy Jona

11. With my bro Eddy and his wife. I hung out here most of the time, it’s nice to feel truly welcome instead of having someone be snarky and calculative behind your back. Eddy has always been solid, he’s always got my back regardless of what I did and I’ve learned a lot from him. You can tell the ultimate measure of a man by the friends he has in real life and this person probably has more than anyone can count.

Macallan Whisky Makers Edition

12. Drinking The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition.

Philippines Pork Belly

13. Pork belly cooked with a spice mix found in the Philippines that’s the most awesome thing I had – ate here three meals in a row.

Philippines Food

14. It went very well with the daging masak hitam (beef cooked in black sauce) too. Tons of flavor!

My Niece

15. Me with my niece, who’s getting bigger now! :)

My Chinese New Year Eve Diary

0800

I usually let my fireworks stash dry out a bit to wring out any excessive moisture during sea transport or storage. I’m quite proud of my piece de resistance this year – it’s a 27 kg (60 pound) fireworks cake with 333 shots. This is a 1.3G display grade item and it was amazing! Here’s a video of my fireworks cache this year. I have some interesting items here.

1300

Sanbanto Pork

Sending out the last of my Sanbanto pork jerky. These are gifts meant for friends and family – I don’t have much space so I could only bring back 14 packs. One of my friends in particular has been very kind to me – Cydney from Melbourne so I made sure to bring her one. She also brought back heaps of Adriano Zumbo Tim Tams for me.

1800

Reunion Dinner

The reunion dinner commences with a bottle of wine! Here’s a photo of me with my dad and grandma. I had packed ang pows for them and got some from my uncles. My cousins came and we played a bit of Blackjack – changed the rules to casino style Blackjack rules so being the dealer, I didn’t lose as much this year. smirk

2200

Cousins Waiting

My cousins came back to my house with several of my aunties to watch me let off my monster 27 kg fireworks cake. The neighbors were watching as well – one of them came up to me and asked me how much it was since it’s so ginormous. I also had another neighbor come and compliment me for turning my back from my wayward past (how she knew is a mystery to me).

2300

Here’s where I let off my huge 27 kg fireworks cake – it took two people to haul it out since it’s more than a 0.62 x 0.59 meters in size. It’s beautiful, I wasn’t disappointed in the money I spent for this, check out the video above – this is a vertical take, I have a proper horizontal take (2 of them in fact – got one of my cousins to help me film) uploading.

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This is what Sibu looks like at the stroke of midnight. I still haven’t let off all my fireworks so I’ll do the full roundup in a couple of days. I was quite happy with a fountain I got too, the colors were intense and I’m not usually impressed easily by fountains (prefer aerial repeaters) so it’s quite an interesting new item that I’m glad I bought on a whim. The video isn’t up yet due to slow broadband but you can see the item in the first video in this post.

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Happy CNY 2015

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

2015 Chinese New Year Fireworks Roundup in Kuala Lumpur

2015 Fireworks Collection

Yup, I’m going to do two fireworks roundups this year – one in KL where I work and one in Sibu where I come back for the Chinese New Year holidays. Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of fireworks in Kuala Lumpur compared to Sibu, the stock is pretty meagre and the large firework cakes are twice the price of what we pay here.

Fireworks Stall

However, I did want to put on a nice little show for the kids and my better half so here’s what I got:

25 Shot “Your Wish in Flowers” Fireworks Cake

25 Shot Fireworks Cake

This is a 25 shot compact fireworks cake called Lu Yi Zhi Hua which translates to “Your Wish in Flowers” – very apt considering Valentine’s Day is around the corner and Chinese New Year is coming up.

It’s a pretty decent multi effect cake, heavy with a nice mixture of crackling willow, whistles and beautiful pearl breaks. I thought it was worth the RM 40 I paid.

100 Meteor Shots Shots Crossfire

100 Meteor Shots

This is a Saturn missile battery with 100 shots. I got it for RM 20 coz I combined this purchase with another fireworks cake. I wanted to show the kids what a classic firework from my youth looks like – this can actually be fired during daylight or at night since it doesn’t make much difference.

100 Shot Saturn

It really has 100 shot but it’s just a whistling effect with a comet tail streaking up into the skies – you can see the array here.

Here’s the video of the 100 Meteor Shots Shots Crossfire Cake.

5 Minute Horseshoe Fountain

Fontana Ferro di Cavallo

I actually reviewed this in another separate post which I put up last week. I had to do a bit of research to find out what this new firework was and why it was called this so check out my writeup on the new Italian horseshoe fountain fireworks this year.

Single Shot Mine

Single Shot Mine

This is sold in a package of six (6) and has six different effects. It’s a non-reloadable pre-packaged single use mine and as you can see, the diameter is quite large (around 1.25”) which can be larger than most high-shot-count firework cakes. What this translates to is a bigger and better aerial break.

This one is a triple effect with report – there’s a comet tail, sparks and a double bloom with crackling willow which is really quite nice for the price. A mine is the same thing as a single/multi shot aerial shell but the effects packed into it are released all at once instead of in sequence. Mines are not that popular nowadays coz it finishes in 3-5 seconds max. I remember having one in 2006 in a mine cake format.

This is just RM 10 each or RM 50 for a six-pack and I thought it’s the best firework you can purchase this year. It’s not chained together like a fireworks cake so there’s no “display-in-a-box” but for the price, the shell is beautiful and the aerial break is quite remarkable. I would get this again if I see it! :)

New fountain fireworks from Italy that lasts 5 minutes!

Illegal Fireworks Stall Malaysia

I was shopping at the local wet market during the weekend when I saw a fireworks stall that has something very unusual – it’s a boxy fountain “cake” format firework that has all Italian writing. Best of all, it’s *new* – the manufacture date listed is 2014! This was the only shop that carries it and the person didn’t know the price, that’s how current the stock was.

Fontana Ferro di Cavallo

There’s actually two groups/gangs selling fireworks there – one has a yellow tablecloth and the other blue, but their stock is essentially the same. I was given a brochure listing all their products and everything was similar. However, this stall had one interesting stand-out that no other stall had – a strange Italian fountain. I knew it was a fountain coz it doesn’t have the holes/tubes that aerial fireworks shells has, but it’s in the format of a cake.

New Italian Fountain Fireworks

I was quite intrigued by the firework seller’s cell phone notes which goes “Lasts for 5 minutes! Price = ???” and since he couldn’t reach his boss for the actual price and no one else was selling it, I compelled him to let it go for RM 25. smirk I thought that was a great bargain for a new firework that I’ve never heard of.

Fountain Fireworks Mechanics

I let it off for my better half and the kids to see since Chinese New Year is coming up soon – it didn’t last 5 minutes, but it was close, it was over 4 minutes! It’s basically an array of 3 rows of 5 firework fountains chained together into a cake, as you can see when I tear off the top. You can see the Sunsong Fireworks logo at the other (bottom) side of the top cover, it might have been an OEM for Jupiter Fireworks. Here’s a video of the new Italian firework:

It’s an interesting mix of traditional fountains and some shooting effects and the color mixture is nice, but it’s the duration that’s the USP – I’ve never seen a fountain last this long for commercial fireworks (not counting professional ones). It might have really lasted a *full 5 minutes* as the packaging Italian text suggests since the original format seems to be in a horseshoe shape and apparently radiates outwards in an arc before coming back, easily adding another minute to the display.

Horseshoe Fountain

This Jupiter made Fontana Ferro di Cavallo (Horseshoe Fountain) is an awesome buy (and a hell of a deal) for RM 25 but I suspect it won’t be that price when they finalize the price list – it doesn’t make sense to sell 15 fountains for RM 1.60 each (it’s 5 fountains x 3 for a 15 firework array). Even the 12” cone fountains already retail for RM 35 and doesn’t last nearly as long.

Horseshoe Fireworks

I suspect this is a Chinese divert though, the original is really in the shape of a horseshoe and has about 3 of these connected together, as can be seen in the Jupiter 2014/2015 Italian catalogue (Page 17). It’s common for Chinese manufacturers to divert and resell partly assembled fireworks to other countries – a horseshoe shaped firework cake would be really hard to package economically, especially when it’s illegal here so it’s cheaper and more effective to smuggle in and sell one flat section.

Burned Fountain

It has a bit of a flaw though, maybe due to the departure from the original horseshoe shaped design – the firework fountain got REALLY HOT at the end (unusually so) and it ended up *burning up* after it was finished. This could also be due to the strong wind though, but I suspect it was meant to go a lot further down the arc before coming back which led to the overheating issue.

Fountain Fireworks Italy

Still, the diverse colors and crackling effects makes this a pretty awesome sequential fireworks fountain cake…and you can’t beat the price! :)

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. :)

Yee Sang @ Xia Mian Guan, Sunway Pyramid

Toss Yee Sang

Xia Mian Guan is a Chinese restaurant located outside Sunway Pyramid. I went with my better half for lunch (and our first yee sang together). The food here is surprisingly good, and we’ve never even heard of Xia Mian Guan before – this is our first time eating here! :)

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang
Made with 7 colorful prosperity ingredients and fresh salmon, topped with special plum sauce

Salmon Yee Sang

I’ve had my first yee sang of the year last month but this is my first with my dear. I like how they’re very generous with the salmon – there’s none of that “thin slivers of salmon” thing going on here. You have thick slabs of salmon with the yee sang and that’s always a good thing.

However, I felt the yee sang at Celestial Court is much better, but these are two very different places – one is a high-end hotel restaurant and the other is a more affordable mall dining experience. It’s still decent but the best dishes are yet to come!

Tea Leaf Smoked Village Farmed Chicken
Healthy fresh village farmed chicken smoked with Pu Er tea leaves

Pu Er Tea Smoked Duck

I thought someone had lit a cigarette or at least popped out for a quick smoke before coming back into the room. That’s how strong and intense the smoke was! Of course, on second whiff, it doesn’t smell like tobacco at all, but your mind just automatically makes that connection. I have to stress that the plate was very far from me when it was brought it, which makes it all the more amazing!

My better half really liked this. The smoky flavor of Pu Er tea leaves can be smelled on the whole organic free range chicken and it’s really something different.

Pork Ribs infused with Red Wine
Succulent pork ribs cooked with Xia Mian Guan’s signature red wine sauce

Signature Red Braised Pork

Mmm…there are lean pieces, fatty bits and pork ribs mixed into this dish. I quite liked the house signature red wine sauce. This is Chinese style red wine meant for cooking, not the red wine you see in French cuisine. The common name for this dish is “Red Braised Pork” or 红烧肉.

Prawns in Curry Sauce
Made with chilli sauce, milk and fresh prawns. Best served with fried Man Tou for dipping.

Prawn Curry

My favorite dish! I was raving about this for days! This is easily the best thing that has come out of the Xia Mian Guan kitchen by a long shot. The prawn curry is so intensely infused with prawn flavor (perhaps they blended up the prawn heads) that it’s pleasantly shocking! The prawns are big and juicy and the fried bread is crispy on the outside and warm on the inside.

Man Tou

I can dip the fried bread into the delightful sweet and spicy curry sauce all day long!

Hong Kong Kai Lan
Specially selected Hong Kong Kai Lan, made with a pinch of salt to enhance its flavor

Hong Kong Kai Lan

The interesting thing about this dish is the contrasting texture – the stalks of the kai lan is steamed while the leaves are shredded and deep fried! There’s not a lot of oil so I suspect it might have been done in an air fryer. We’ve had a different twist on this dish before in banquets and dinners before – it’s also part of the “4 Heavenly Kings” way of preparing vegetables – this makes for crunchy, crispy vegetables combined with the soft juicy stalks.

Red Bean Kuih
Freshly prepared daily, the red bean kuih is soft, tasty and complements the sweetness of red bean

Red Bean Kuih

My dear was waiting for the final course to come out coz it sounded quite promising. The dish is portioned individually, with each person having one Chinese soup spoon. The red bean kueh is very nice – it’s not sweet at all, in fact there’s barely a hint of sweetness, all there is comes from the red beans so it’s a nice finish for people who don’t like overtly sweet desserts. I love the mochi-like texture of the chewy kueh too!

Xia Mien Guan

Xia Mian Guan (no English name) is a gem of a restaurant that we’ll be sure to go back too. Conventional wisdom suggests that hotels and malls don’t have really good restaurants but there are of course exceptions to this (there’s a couple of Michelin-starred establishments attached to hotels). This is one of them – a very nice restaurant that’s located at a very popular mall – Sunway Pyramid!

Xia Mian Guan
Outside Oasis Boulevard
Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall
Jalan PJS 11/15 Sunway
Tel: 03 5611 7949

Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial

Sheep Yee Sang

I just had my first yee sang dinner of the year last night. This salmon yee sang is made with shredded vegetables made to look like the Chinese character for “sheep” (羊) coz the Year of the Sheep is coming up.

Celestial Court Imperial Sheraton

It’s just less than a month till Chinese New Year so the annual “lou sang”/“sau kong” (traditional end-of-work before CNY company dinners) sessions are starting to kick in gear. This one was held by Tourism Australia at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial KL.

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

I love how they made the raw fish salad to look like the Chinese character for sheep – 羊. I didn’t actually notice it until someone pointed it out. The waitresses poured in all the ingredients and each one signifies something e.g. fish for 年年有余 (Abundance throughout the year), oil for 一本万利 and 财源广进 (May you have 10,000 returns with your capital/Numerous sources of wealth), carrots for 鸿运当头 (Good luck coming) and even the crushed peanuts for 金银满屋 (Household filled with gold and silver).

Tossing Yee Sang

It’s a highly ritualized service and a lot of places actually states the auspicious Chinese phrases out loud as they pour in the ingredients. We tossed the salad while wishing for various things, mine was for family and more vacations and travel for 2015. smirk

Double-boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

Double boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

I really liked this clear soup – the baby abalone is super tender compared to the wedding dinner I went to last weekend. The broth tastes amazing too, the seasoning is just right and the sea cucumber and fish maw just slides down my throat.

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

This is my least favorite dish in every Chinese banquet and I don’t usually partake much but the golden garlic “sand” that goes with the roasted chicken is very nice.

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Delicious! I liked the thick, reduced spring onion sauce which was heavily seasoned with dry scallops – it coated the stuffed scallops and added a lot of flavor and a slippery texture prized in traditional Cantonese cuisine. The stuffed scallops were very flavorful and I couldn’t help popping more than a few of these babies into my mouth.

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

The fish dish is my favorite dish in banquets! I like how this one was presented on a lotus leaf and it’s pan-seared instead of steamed, giving it the Maillard reaction and caramelization that adds a note of sweetness to the fish.

Red Grouper

It was slightly overcooked though and I felt it should have come before the saltier stuffed scallops dish but it’s still great paired with my white wine.

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

I was quite surprised to find out that I actually rather enjoyed this dish. I eat everything but there are certain things that I don’t like (but will still try) – beancurd/tofu being one of the examples. This doesn’t taste like tofu at all, it’s stuffed with fish paste and the tender texture of the beancurd contrasted nicely with the slightly resistant fish paste made in-house.

Fragrant Wok-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Black Bean and Seafood

sss

The staff at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial offered to portion every dish (including the fish) which I thought was great. It’s a service that’s expected in higher end Chinese restaurants nowadays, although you can refuse, of course, it’s up to each table’s preference. I don’t know what that says about the evolution of community dining but even our family opts for that when we eat out in Singapore.

The kueh tiaw was actually pretty good, if slightly oily, and each bowl had a large prawn, slice of fish and scallop.

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

This dessert was conceptualized by Chef Sherson Lian (have seen him on AFC before) who coincidentally sat on the same table as I did. It’s supposed to be a local crème brulee made with local ingredients, which begs the question about the glaring foreign ingredient in the dish – raspberry. It turns out that the component was supposed to be roselle jam but the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) came too late for it to be incorporated into the dish.

I loved the crispy battered rambutans, pieces of jackfruit and lotus root and I can see the direction it’s going – excellent stuff.

It was a great finish to the first yee sang dinner of the year and I polished off my (rather large) portion. :)

3-in-1 Food Review: Sarawak Laksa @ Aloha, Cafe Cafe, Sizzling Honey Chicken Wings Kampua @ Noodle House

aloha us

48 hours. 3 meals. We went to my grandma’s house for dinner on the 15th day of Chinese New Year so these are the selected places we ate at last weekend in Sibu when my dear came over.

1. Sarawak Laksa @ Aloha Cafe

laksa stall

My better half had wanted to eat Sarawak Laksa for ages so this was the first place we went to. It was early in the morning, I had just dropped off my dad at the airport and we were heading back to town for breakfast when my dad commented that Aloha Cafe has the best Sarawak Laksa in town.

sarawak laksa
Regular (RM 5) Sarawak Laksa

Everyone has a favorite place but I personally don’t like the dish that much. However, I haven’t eaten it for years so I ordered a Sarawak Laksa Supreme (RM 10). My dear wanted to go for the regular one (RM 5) but I convinced her to have the special (RM 7). The difference in prices is from the prawns, not the amount of noodles.

sibu laksa

The RM 10 dish has the largest prawns while the RM 5 has tiny shrimp meant for regular cooking. The RM 7 option lies somewhere in between – the prawns are large, but nowhere near the jumbo shrimp of the RM 10 dish.

big prawn laksa
L-R: RM 7 and RM 10 Sarawak Laksa with jumbo shrimp

Just look at the size of the monsters!

big prawns

Aloha Cafe is right behind my alma mater so I used to eat here when I was in high school. There’s a rather interesting signage that says that they won’t be serving 170 ml cup-and-saucer drinks anymore. These are the old school glass receptacles that hot drinks used to be served in, my late granddad loves pouring the coffee into the saucer to cool it down before sipping it. The regular glasses was considered “large” back then.

aloha drinks

I thought it was a rather interesting passing-of-an-age.

2. Cafe Cafe

cafe cafe sibu

Back in the early 90’s, there was one “cool” restaurant in town to hang out at. It was called Country Cafe and all of us high school kids went there during weekends. The place serves all sorts of food, including some wonderful fusion dishes that other places in Sibu didn’t have back then. One of the guys that I hung out with was called Peter, a classmate of mine who dreamt of opening his own cafe.

noodle house

15 years later, he opened Cafe Cafe and it was a resounding success and led to many other restaurants and last I heard, he was starting a new one in Kuching. My dear hasn’t been here before so I brought her here for our (belated) Valentine’s Day dinner.

mee mamak

The Mee Mamak (RM 11) is a localized version of the nationwide favorite, with lots of tomato and chilli sauce. It’s probably the dish that gets ordered the most coz the portion is HUGE and it’s relatively cheap. I had fond memories of this and I ordered one to share with my dear and it’s still as good as I remembered it, although a more refined palate tells me it’s really not that great, nostalgia wins out for this one. smirk

salmon lemon butter

My dear went for the Norwegian Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce (RM 28). We were rather interested in seeing if they took the time to pluck out all the bones from the fish and it turns out that they did! The sauce was good but it’s ultimately frozen salmon and you can taste that in the plated dish, which isn’t generally a good sign.

chicken maltaise sauce

I went for the Breaded Chicken with Spicy Prawn Sauce (RM 19). Unfortunately, they had run out of the sauce, so I switched it to Maltaise Sauce – an orange and Hollandaise blend. I really liked the chicken – the portion was good and it was from a cut that I enjoy, but what takes the cake is the Maltaise sauce. It’s delicious!

molten lava cake

However, there was barely a *spoonful* of the lovely sauce on my dish, so I think they were running low on it as well. It would have been perfect if I had more sauce to go with the chicken. It was a nice dinner though, loved the chill ambiance at the back instead of the noisy booths in front.

3. Noodle House

honey wings kampua

This is where we went for our kampua fix before flying back to KL. I had the Sizzling Honey Chicken Wings Kampua (RM 13.50) while my dear went for the Sizzling Spicy Seafood Kampua (RM 13.50). I wanted to try the new Sizzling Beef Rendang Kampua though but my better half doesn’t eat beef so I went chicken instead.

sibu kampua

Noodle House has good Sibu local fare in a cafe format and I like the concept. We also ordered some kompia stuffed with pork meat.

kompia sibu

My dear wanted to try their Crème Brulee but I convinced her to go for the Molten Lava Chocolate Cake instead. It’s absolutely fabulous – easily the best dessert I’ve eaten in Sibu. The hot molten chocolate oozes out from the mud cake when you break it open with a spoon.

molten lava choc

There’s also a scoop of ice cream and a dusting of cocoa powder to top things off. Lovely stuff.

sibu forever

We had chosen the places we wanted to eat at wisely and managed to go to all, except another visit to Payung Cafe, which was closed for Sunday lunch. It’s a good weekend trip back home! :D

7 things we did on Valentine’s Day

1. I gave her flowers that lasts forever

blue roses

I originally ordered a bouquet of blue roses but unfortunately, they looked rather worn down and sad when I arrived to pick them up before going to the airport (more about that soon). I wanted to surprise my dear with flowers at the airport but I didn’t want these miserable looking specimens.

forever flowers

However, the place was pushing flowers that lasts forever (or at least a good 3-5 years). These *forever flowers* are real flowers, not fake ones – they have been freeze dried, which preserves them and makes them keep their scent and shape for several years (more if you don’t expose the flowers to oxygen by opening the case).

roses lasts forever

I thought that was a pretty meaningful gift. I had RM 65 credit at the store coz I refused the flowers so I used them on this. I wanted our relationship to be like this too – something real, which lasts forever! <3

2. My dear flew down to Sibu

arrivals

I was still in Sibu at the time coz of my mom so my better half decided to fly down as a surprise and told me to pick her up at the airport! It was just for the weekend, but I’m glad we managed to spend Valentine’s together – she flew in on Valentine’s Day itself (Friday) – and we both flew back to KL on Sunday.

3. We celebrated Chap Goh Meh and Valentine’s Day at my grandma’s place

chap goh meh

Chap Goh Meh is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. My dad was flying out to Singapore the next day so we decided to go to my grandma’s to eat and only celebrate our own Valentine’s Day dinner the next night.

4. We had ice-cream in the car

ice cream

It’s a simple thing to do but it’s one of the things that’s “ours”. It’s a bit of a tradition and something we both like to do.

5. Valentine’s Day dinner

cafe cafe

I brought her out to Cafe Cafe (they also have a sister lounge called The Queen) for Valentine’s Day. It was a day late but we had a great dinner in Sibu. This is one of the better places to go if you factor in ambiance – just get a seat at the back coz the front is really noisy.

valentines dinner

It was wonderful coz we didn’t have a lot of time together (just slightly more than 48 hours before we had to fly back) and the full day that we had was perfect!

6. She mailed me my Valentine’s Day presents

valentines gift

My better half thoughtfully boxed together a care package containing Granola Maple Pecan cereal and an assortment of candy bars, all with their own messages inscribed on them.

granola maple pecan

It was lovely!

candy

She always takes a lot of effort in putting together something nice. I love you dear! *hugs*

7. I gave her a personalized fireworks show

Yup, I left two of my biggest fireworks cakes till she came back on Chap Goh Meh/Valentine’s Day (which falls on the same date in 2014) and let it off for her to see at night.

sparkler

I also managed to convince her to light a few of the less dangerous ones.

I had an awesome 119 shot fireworks cake that discharges all the bomblets in an aerial barrage lasting probably 10 seconds, which is a pretty intense display.

valentines us

It was a great Valentine’s Day and I’m glad I have my dear with me. :)

Poon Choi @ Restaurant Lee Hong Kee

poon choi top layer

I’ve always wanted to eat poon choi. It’s a a traditional Chinese New Year feast in a bowl that requires at least 8-10 people to finish. There’s an interesting article in Wikipedia that has the origins of poon choi – it’s apparently prepared in layers and meant to be eaten layer-by-layer instead of stirring everything up.

poon choi tapau

I decided to book a table at Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (previously known as Restorant LYJ) since their flagship dish is poon choi. However, the restaurant is fully booked for all the dates even *remotely* close to CNY. Thus, I decided to take away and have it at home instead.

full house

Restaurant Lee Hong Kee really is packed to the brim – there’s a sign saying “Full House” and all the tables are reserved. We sat down and waited about 20 minutes for our take-away poon choi to come. It’s served in a big, deep bowl and wrapped with aluminium foil and wrap to retain the heat.

restaurant lee hong kee

The people there will also help you to move the poon choi to your car!

poon choi to go

I also ordered some of their popular dishes like their signature roast chicken a.k.a. “Dong Tok” chicken. It’s literally a chicken that’s made to *stand up* with head and throat served intact. Since we had it to go, I couldn’t make it stand up without assistance, despite all my best efforts. smirk

standing chicken

There were 11 of us that day – some are kids, but all of them are my dear’s brothers and parents. The poon choi is priced at an auspicious RM 338 and contains a lot of goodies – the top layer (dry) has ½ Hainanese steamed chicken, ½ roasted duck, abalone slices, fishball cake, a dozen large prawns (unpeeled) and a token amount of vegetables.

poon choi

I found out that poon choi doesn’t have a lot of vegetables coz of the history behind the dish. There are a lot of premium ingredients though!

poon choi bottom layer

The bottom layer contains the “wet stuff” and other goodies which can absorb the sauces which drips down from the top layer – fish maw, roasted chestnuts, pig skin, bean curd, Shittake mushrooms, braised chicken feet and stewed pork, just to name a few.

big bowl feast

It really was a wonderful experience eating the poon choi! I had it with my dear’s family and the 11 of us couldn’t even finish the bowl! It’s not called the Big Bowl Feast for nothing. The sauce is really delicious and we all ate till we’re about to burst! I highly recommend their poon choi, it really is something special due to the chef’s familiarity with preparing the dish.

classic pun choi

The bill came up to RM 421 and it’s definitely worth it. I’ll happily eat the poon choi from Restaurant Lee Hong Kee again – according to my dear, it’s the best she has eaten to date.

Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone! :)

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