We woke up bright and early for the flight to Johor to go visit Legoland – it’s a good thing we’re flying from the (much nearer) Subang Airport. None of us has eaten breakfast and since we have been eating a lot of fast food lately, my better half opted for this place.
It was totally deserted, except for us.
Hong Kong Style Wantan Mee Soup (RM 10.90) A Hong Kong favorite, soupy wantan noodle
This is what my dear ordered – the soup is actually quite good, but nothing like the authentic wantan mee I had in Hong Kong. The crispy wantan is a nice touch though and there’s a lot of vegetables inside. Healthy!
Chicken Porridge (RM 8.90) Porridge served with boiled chicken
The kids shared this huge bowl of porridge coz they didn’t want noodles. I think the Nooodles signature dish (literally) are these *massive* bowls which makes the portion look like Thai boat noodles. It’s actually a regular portion, the extra large serving bowl just makes it look small.
Chicken Herb Noodle Soup (RM 13.90) A traditional recipe of herbal broth with steamed chicken, a favorite for the seasoned traveler
This is my order – it came with a drumstick and the herbal soup is really different from a Chinese style execution. I’m not sure what is up with the odd menu description (seasoned travelers?) but it was pretty decent for airport food. I quite liked how the goji berries were mixed in with more Malay style herbs.
Nooodles is a halal outlet and the cooking style reminds me of the food I used to eat when I was living in SS6 – Malay interpretations of Chinese dishes. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it’s certainly different. I wouldn’t go again since the food wasn’t that great but it was good to fuel up before our epic Legoland trip!
I thought the timing was awesome too – we even brought our Emmet minifigure to Legoland Hotel so we could take photos for tumblingminis.com.
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’m eating the best breakfast I’ve ever had in my entire life with the Sakuma’s and drinking the most delicious affogato on a chilly autumn morning and I’m happier than a pig rolling in the proverbial stuff!
Devon Cafe is a trendy breakfast spot located at Surry Hills. The shape of the cafe is slightly unusual due to the extensions, and they have parts in the middle where it’s almost al-fresco, except for the camouflage nets thrown over the ceiling in an effort to keep the heat in.
We were seated at the back, where lots of interesting graffiti graces the walls but unfortunately, a member of our party (her first time in Australia) couldn’t really tolerate the cold so we all shifted to a table beside an industrial heater.
You can actually see into the courtyard beside the cafe since it’s practically al-fresco, with just netting and fences, which reminds me a lot of the inner-courtyard of Adolf Wagner in Frankfurt. Devon Cafe is listed under Modern Australian in The Good Food guide and they deliver a short and concise but immensely delectable selection of breakfast dishes.
BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA’S (AUD 27)
miso grilled king salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63′ egg, radish petit salid & kewpi mayonaise
I asked our very bubbly waitress for a recommendation and she suggested this. I was torn between ordering this or the Eggs Blini and I’m glad I followed her recommendation coz this is one divine dish, as expected from ex-Guillaume chefs.
The delicious 63′ egg shimmered on my plate and it was the perfect combination of runny and soft textures. A proper 63′ egg has the *same* consistency for both the yolk and white and takes at least an hour to prepare. I’ve seen a lot of local breakfast places attempt to do this with an off-the-shelf vacuum sealer and sous vide combo (about RM 2,000 from your friendly neighborhood appliances store) but they’ve all failed miserably compared to experience and skill with a bain-marie.
However, the most wonderful component of the dish was the miso grilled salmon. I have never thought it possible for salmon to taste this good. I don’t even like salmon (and won’t eat it unless it came from Devon’s). The salmon here is sweet and grilled to perfection, before being given the sous vide treatment and it practically falls apart when I gently applied pressure with my fork.
It’s salmon perfection on a plate! The miso gives the entire piece of king salmon a strong dose of umami as well, making you want to eat more. I have yet to find a better tasting salmon and our guide (who has a Norwegian boyfriend who cooks fish well) even said this tastes better than his and she’s not one to give compliments to fish lightly. It’s so tender, moist and flavorful it’s amazing!
The crispy smoked eel croquette was so good I could happily eat 3 plates in a single sitting.
LITTLE LOST BREAD (AUD 18.50)
PB&J brioche French toast, warm banana, nutella, jam, peanut butter ice cream with bacon
This is just awesome. There are no other adjectives to describe it – the PB&J is “de-constructed” e.g. the peanut butter is actually an ice cream, and there’s a dollop of jam as well as a very generous smear of Nutella on the plate and piles of bacon on top.
It’s not 100% authentic since the coconut jam is actually mixed with butter but they made it even better and I love the sous vide egg.
I also had Devon’s Affogato (AUD 7) – a wonderful concoction where 3 perfect coffee beans are put on top of two scoops of artisan ice cream, a cup of melted chocolate with a shot of Five Senses single-origin espresso on the side. Devon’s Cafe has a barista on staff and they only use Alchemy beans and Five Senses single-origin coffee. It’s sinfully good.
We had a change to speak with the owner and it turns out that the husband-and-wife duo is Malaysian and Indonesian, respectively. However, their chefs are all poached from Guillaume Bistro and their barista used to train others at Toby’s Estate (still have an unopened tin of single origin Ghana drinking chocolate in my pantry by them).
Devon’s Cafe is also very famous for their muffins and we had one to share. It’s best eaten while hot – this is Devon’s Magic Muffin (AUD 4). Seriously, that’s what it’s called! There’s neither THC/CBD nor psilocybin inside (you should head to Amsterdam for those, I had a really good magic muffin while I was there) but it’s still magically delicious.
I would seriously recommend a trip to Surry Hills to check out trendy Devon’s Cafe if you’re in Sydney and into a modern twist on classic Australian dishes. It’s near the station and located right on Devonshire Street so it’s hard to miss. The breakfast here is to die for.
76, Devonshire Street,
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe at Solaris Dutamas started out as a gelato place before expanding their menu to offer a very interesting combination of gelato with hot dishes. It all sounds very exciting, new and interesting and thus we dropped by over the weekend to check it out and have a late breakfast.
I actually first heard about this place from Sean (who provides a very up-to-date listing of Klang Valley restaurants) and was intrigued at the unusual menu. It’s molecular gastronomy, in a sense, or rather modernist cuisine. I originally thought it’ll be somewhat gimmicky but I was proven wrong.
They don’t just put gelato into every single dish, they only do it if it makes sense and adds to the experience. I thought that shows remarkable restraint. The dishes with gelato are helpfully marked with an ice-cream symbol and we ordered ALL the unusual ones.
Tomato Basil Salad (RM 20.90) Cielo Dolci Basil Gelato manifests as cooling dressing on a garden of large Japanese cucumber strips, Romaine lettuce, red + cherry tomatoes, chive & goat cheese, with the complete touch of balsamic reduction.
This was the salad that we ordered to share and what dispelled my initial thoughts about gimmicky use of gelato. We had sharing plates and tasted everything and it was amazing! I don’t usually give rave reviews for salad but this one works very well.
The crunchy bits of baguette adds sweetness to the juiciness of the salad, and the balsamic vinegar works well for a touch of acidity but what made the dish magic is the basil gelato – it wasn’t sweet and it wasn’t savory, it just tastes strongly of basil and I was surprised at how well gelato goes with salad to provide a textural contrast and a delightful mouth-feel.
Rise & Shine! (RM 24.50) Cielo Dolci Beef Bacon Gelato shining upon a bed of pancakes with beef sausage, scrambled eggs & strips of beef bacon. Rounded up with salad on the side.
This is pure genius! The classic hot full breakfast with eggs, sausages and (beef) bacon is given a touch of magic with a scoop of beef bacon gelato! I didn’t quite like the usage of beef bacon but that was the only beef I had with the dish.
The beef bacon gelato goes very well with the hot breakfast, which I didn’t expect. I thought it’ll all become a messy gooey mess but it didn’t melt that fast, surprisingly. I ate this by cutting up the bacon, putting some eggs on it and scooping some beef bacon gelato into the eggs before popping it into my mouth. The pancakes soaks up the melted gelato well too!
Duck on the Run! (RM 23.90) A stack of smoked duck, caramelized onion & poached eggs on waffle & finishes with house hollandaise sauce.
We couldn’t find any more hot dishes with gelato so my better half ordered this instead. It’s okay, albeit the pancakes were slightly too thick in comparison to the (admittedly) paltry amount of duck.
Maybe this didn’t come across as interesting with the other contenders with gelato thrown into the mix so I gave it an honest fair try but I simply can’t recommend this dish. My dear couldn’t finish it either so we’ll try the other fare on offer next time.
Cotton Candy Affogato (RM 13)
This is a delightful concoction which rivals the best affogato I had in Sydney about a week ago. It consists of Cielo Dolci Coconut Gelato with gula melaka (palm sugar) which is topped with a nicely spun web of cotton candy!
You pour the shot of espresso into the mix and it’s puzzlingly categorized as a dessert over here (I was asked if I wanted it now or after my meal, at brunch) although it’s served as a standard coffee drink in Australia and Europe.
Nevertheless, it was a great affogato, the second best I’ve had in my life, and that is high praise indeed considering we just came back from France earlier this month and I just came back from Australia a couple of days ago.
We also had a scoop of Cielo Dolci Bailey’s & Chocolate Gelato (RM 10.90) for dessert.
I asked for a recommendation and the lady there suggested this flavor. There is a RM 3 surcharge for flavors with alcohol ingredients, which I thought was well worth it. I thought it was very good, as did my dear.
The service is attentive and good, and there is a current promotion where you get 30% off your bill if you fill in a survey form (which we didn’t get, but we still got the discount). I also strangely got a complimentary Whimsical Lemonade (RM 13) which no one told me about, but which I had asked about since it was so good. The total came up to RM 71.75 for the two of us after the discount, which is quite significant, considering the original price is RM 93.20.
Overall, I’ll say this is a great place for brunch on the weekends. It can be a bit full at times though, and besides the one miss on our order, I thought all the hot and salad dishes with gelato was delightful. I’ll like to see them do something with their nasi lemak gelato in a dish someday. Do note that they take cash only so no credit card facilities are available at this place.
It can also be a bit tricky to find if you’re not very familiar with Solaris Dutamas, and there’s no signage up yet, so here’s the address:
Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe
D2-G3-05, Solaris Dutamas,
No. 1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
I was fortunate enough to be invited for a tasting session of four (4) new authentic Korean burgers before their launch. I was a bit dubious at first, since the burgers are made by Bulgogi Brothers, who are more renowned for their Korean BBQ than their burgers but I went with an open mind and said mind was blown away!
I’ve been to Korea twice before, the first trip was to Busan for the Pusan International Film Festival and the second to Seoul.
Bulgogi Brothers are the first restaurant in Malaysia to successfully reproduce the taste of Korean dishes in a burger. You’ll know you’re not eating a regular burger from the use of authentic Korean flavors. I sampled all four of them and I’ll be back with my better half in tow to make use of my own discount code (more on that later) today!
The new Korean burgers are all made with premium Korean beef bulgogi and they’re wonderfully creative:
Bibimbap Burger (RM 25.90)
Bibimbap is a dish that uses rice and other ingredients mixed together in a stone pot with a raw egg to make a quick and tasty meal. It’s probably one of the most popular dishes in Korea. Eating this burger is like eating bibimbap, without the rice.
It’s made up of a huge home-made beef bulgogi patty (90% meat and 10% beef fat for a delicious and moist burger) topped with sprouts, carrots, zucchinis and a sunny side up egg to get all the flavors of bibimbap into a burger. It doesn’t quite look like bibimbap but it tastes spot on!
I really liked how everything meshes together, and the sunny side up egg is perfectly done to emulate just how the egg would turn out in a bibimbap. The charcoal buns are specially crafted for Bulgogi Brothers and biting into this stack was one of the greatest pleasures I had that night, with the runny yolk coating each mouthful richly.
Kimchi Burger (RM 22.90)
I’ve never quite liked kimchi. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s just not something I’ll eat regularly. I don’t usually even touch the complimentary kimchi when I eat Korean. However, I ate some of the kimchi at Bulgogi Brothers and I can honestly say that it was the best kimchi I ever had. The balance of the kimchi was perfect – the spiciness, the acidity and the umami finish.
The Kimchi Burger comes with the hand-made beef patty with mushrooms and lightly sautéed kimchi. It was moderately spicy and despite my aversion to kimchi, I found that I liked it quite a bit and this turned out to be my second favorite burger.
I particularly liked how well the kimchi goes together with the burger, making it a lot more than the sum of its parts. All their burgers are served with a side of crispy home-made sweet potato chips, which goes very well with the spicy kimchi burger as a sweet component.
Spicy Gwangyang Burger (RM 25.90)
This is a fiery burger for all fans of spicy food! The Spicy Gwangyang Burger is made of tender sliced beef brisket drenched in the Bulgogi Brothers sweet-and-spicy barbecue-like Osam sauce. It’s garnished with button mushrooms and onions, along with slivers of melted American cheese and comes off tasting like a Korean version of a Sloppy Joe.
I highly recommend this burger if you can take the heat. It’s painfully delicious and yet the osam sauce provides a sweet component so it’s not all spice. I like the selection of the brisket for the burger too, as it’s a very flavorful cut. If you’re only going to eat one burger, I’ll suggest this – you’ll definitely want more once you’ve taken a bite!
I could eat this every day for a month and be a happy man! :)
Unyang Burger (RM 28.90)
The burger for meat-lovers (get your mind out of the gutter), it’s a heavyweight offering with a thick home-made beef patty layered with American cheese, beef brisket in savory sauce and crispy shredded potato sandwiched in a toasted charcoal bun. The beef patties at Bulgogi Brothers are surprisingly juicy and I asked the head chef about it.
It turns out that they’re made with 90% meat and 10% beef fat mixed inside so when the latter melts, the juices are all retained in the patty. The Unyang burger is a very “clean tasting” beef burger that’s perfect for those who’re not into spicy food.
I like the flavor combinations and I ate a whole Unyang Burger and it stuffed me to the point of a near food coma…and I can eat a lot! The burgers are good value for money due to their sheer size, while not compromising on quality.
The Burger Revolution menu is a rather clever idea since you don’t always have the time or the inclination for bulgogi at lunch. It’s a quick burger that stays true to its Korean heritage and I loved the ambiance of Bulgogi Brothers with the K-Pop music playing in the background – you get the authentic experience the moment you step foot inside.
You’ll get a 10% discount when you order from the new Burger Revolution menu when you mention my blog too! Just say “SixthSeal” from 16th June – 30th June at any of the Bulgogi Brothers restaurants in Malaysia and you’ll get 10% off your order and get an awesome meal to boot. Let me know which one is your favorite!
I’ll be going with my dear in tow and use my own discount code too. Haha!
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
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.
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.
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.
L-R: RM 7 and RM 10 Sarawak Laksa with jumbo shrimp
Just look at the size of the monsters!
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.
I thought it was a rather interesting passing-of-an-age.
2. Cafe Cafe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
There’s also a scoop of ice cream and a dusting of cocoa powder to top things off. Lovely stuff.
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
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.
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)
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:
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)
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)
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. ;)
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)
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)
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)
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.
It’s an awesome dinner as always, good company and great times! :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
17th of June is Father’s Day for most of the world with some notable exceptions, namely Australia and New Zealand. I guess that’s why my sister was a bit puzzled when I told her that we’re heading out during her usual Skype session with my parents.
I asked my dad where he wanted to go, giving him a couple of suggestions like Tom’s Too. Arthur, being the resident food expert also contributed to the list. My dad wanted to go to an al fresco dining area where people doesn’t smoke and he hasn’t been to Payung Cafe yet so I brought him and my mom there.
Payung Cafe is one of the little known eateries in Sibu – the owners are friendly and the ambiance is great, with little touches like freshly cut flowers on the table and off-the-menu specials written on a chalkboard every single day.
It doesn’t have a large menu but they have an admirable aim of having cuisine from all over the world, with a focus on Asian countries.
Myanmar Sayur (RM 8) Sayur means vegetable and this dish is a kind of salad that contains an assortment of raw and cooked vegetables mixed together rojak style. The sprinkling of sesame seeds and the raw vegetables provides a nice texture that goes very well with the gravy.
Jelly Pisang (RM 7) Jelly Pisang is a dessert that used to be very popular in Sibu back in the days. It went the way of dinosaurs when I was born and to the best of my knowledge this is only one of two places that still serves it in Sibu. The other one is at a hotel (see link). Payung Cafe’s interpretation comes with loads of jelly and thinly sliced bananas.
I asked my dad if this seemed authentic enough and he mentioned that back in the days it wasn’t really served like this but…
Lamb Masala (RM 17)
It doesn’t look like much but this one was the first dish to go – the lamb is flavorful and tender with none of the gamey taste usually associated with this particular animal. It was a hit with both my mom and dad. The portion is a bit small and I only had one piece but other than that it’s highly recommended.
Otak-otak Fish with Rice (RM 13)
This is the most popular dish in Payung Cafe, bar none. It’s one of their signature menu items and it’s hand made otak-otak! One of the proprietors actually does this each evening and it’s fresh and very different from the usual mass produced otak-otak. People with a sensitive palate beware! This is not for the faint-hearted for it’s quite spicy.
Turkish Milkshake (RM 8)
It came highly recommended from the proprietor and I have to agree – it’s quite good. It’s one of the specials on the chalkboard so this is a limited time menu item. What is a Turkish milkshake? Well, it’s based on the drink called Salep in Turkey. It has ground dried tubers of the orchid flower (!) with spices topped with cream and chocolate flakes. The owners travel around to add new stuff to the menu.
Indian Red Beef (RM 17)
This is a rather spicy affair which was the special of the day. It was quite spicy and I ended up eating most of it. I didn’t like it as much as the lamb masala.
Pineapple Ginger Soda (RM 5)
I wanted the Durian Milkshake I had last time I was here but they ran out of durians (it’s not the season anyway). I asked for a recommendation and got this one – it’s apparently one of the most popular drinks and the combination of pineapple and ginger works surprisingly well. I like the sediments at the bottom, which contains a bit of both ingredients. Lovely.
Belimbing Prawn with Spaghetti (RM 16)
I also had this dish last time and was quite enthralled by it. Belimbing is starfruit (or carambola) in English and it’s a fusion dish that works very well. The type of starfruit they use is known locally as belimbing asam and it’s a very sour variant of the fruit used in cooking. It’s served with prawns and I wanted everyone to try this. It’s a very different dish that works very well. :D
The total bill came out to RM 99 which is very reasonable for a dinner for three that had us struggling to finish the dishes.
However, the best Father’s Day present that I gave my dad (and mom) happened to be a totally random act while I was talking to them the night I came back in the living room. I was showing how swipe typing works on my Android phone and my dad casually asked what app I was using. I didn’t know he’s unfamiliar with Whatsapp since my parents are pretty IT savvy, navigating the maze of social media pretty well.
Anyway, I found out that my sister is on it (coz she was on Skype with my parents at the time) and I gifted the app to my dad’s cell using my iTunes account. I added myself and my sister to the contacts list and showed my parents how to use it. They didn’t know there’s an option for free texting (although they use Viber) with quick photo, video and audio file sharing.
The look on my mom’s face when my sister snapped a photo of my newborn nephew and instantly sent it over followed by the smiles on my parents faces was worth the USD 0.99 I used to gift the app a gazillion times over. :)
I’m not a huge fan of fries. I used to love them but somewhere along the line I stopped craving for it. However I had fries with a burger at Tom’s Too and it was surprisingly delicious! They salted the fries so much that it was saturated with sodium. *clicks on Like
Tom’s Too is the sister outlet of the renowned Tom’s in Jalan Padungan.
I asked the waiter for a recommendation and he enthusiastically prescribed the Chicken Burger (RM 12.90). I thought they were well known for their beef ones and I said so but he was so adamant about the awesomeness of the chicken burger that I went with it.
It’s made with an entire chicken thigh and is deep fried with perfection. The chicken has a very smoky, burnt BBQ flavor which is actually quite good. If you like your food salty and packed full of sodium you’re going to love this.
I also headed down to Maple Leaf Fusion Cafe last night to catch up with Francine. I’ve known her since 1998 and I had drinks with her at Tom’s Too, er…too. I didn’t know where Maple Leaf was at that time and she told me it’s…just around the corner.
They’re apparently famous for their Giant Volcano Lava drinks, which is a huge 1 liter (or close enough) thick concoction. I had the Chocolate Lava (RM 11.90) which the waitress recommended.
It just so happens that yesterday night was the introduction of their new line of Alcohol Milkshakes. They had Kahlua, Irish Cream and Midori. I went with the Midori Milk Shake (RM 26). We both assumed that its been on the menu for ages but the waitress told us it just debuted yesterday.
I didn’t think much of it though – it’s overpriced and there’s not enough alcohol in it – you can taste it, but you certainly can’t feel it. It’s paying cocktail prices for a milkshake. Granted, it was a very good milkshake, but as an alcohol milkshake, it needs a bit of price tweaking.
The highlight of the night was the Fried Durian Cake (RM 12.90). Divine! It’s made with a crispy jala-like pastry that’s deep fried with a rich durian flesh filling.
It’s a good thing Francine doesn’t like durian so I ate it all. There are six pieces and each bite was like a taste of heaven – it’s fluffy and light, with a creamy durian center that oozes out. It’s…perfection. :D