3 uniquely Sibu dishes

I’m back in my hometown, eating delicious food you can really only get here – at least, if you want the authentic stuff! :)

1. Char Kueh Tiaw Omelet

CKT omelet

Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it! It has been around for over 40 years (no kidding) and this particular way of cooking it is a Sibu institution. I first ate it as a kid in Kwok Ching Coffee Shop (now defunct) and this is the son carrying on the legacy, cooking it the exact same way.

How do you get char kueh tiaw into an omelet? The CKT is cooked first and even though it’s a simple dish – spring onion and bean sprouts are the only ingredients – it tastes superb in its simplicity.

kueh tiaw omelet

The CKT is dropped on a cracked egg on a hot wok, flipped and served. This technique has been copied by many other cooks in Sibu but there is only one heir of the original and he does it best! This stall is located at Aloha Cafe and it’s only RM 3.30.

2. Twice Cooked Tapah Fish Noodles

foochow fish noodles

There are RM 35 bowls of this stuff out there. I had that with my better half when we came back last time at Min Kwong. I can’t justify eating that all the time so this is an equally good (if not better) version from Y2K Cafe. It’s RM 12 and is cooked in the traditional Foochow style – the noodles are first *fried* before being *stewed* in a hearty soup.

tapah fish

That means you get both the Maillard reaction and caramelization on the noodles from frying in the fiery hot wok, making it taste wonderful, before it’s softened in the rich seafood broth. Infinitely satisfying, and a local classic. You can drink the wonderfully tasty soup after you’ve finished your noodles too – it’s full of flavor!

3. Kampua Mee with Pork Tripe and Pig Liver Soup

kampua noodles

Yup, this is our famous kampua noodles. I always like to add a bowl of pig liver soup to my order (RM 4) coz it makes the noodles taste even better with that rich, mineral-y taste that liver has. I also like pork tripe soup (RM 5) coz of the chewy texture and the acidic dipping sauce it comes in.

pork liver soup

It’s a perfect side dish(es) for kampua noodles – the offal works very well with the slices of BBQ pork in the noodle dish and I always love drinking the soup after I’m done – alternating between the clear pork tripe soup and the dark iron-y pig liver soup with tendrils of liver. It’s always the *first* thing I eat when I come back and this one was at Yum Yum Cafe.

Raw Pork Noodles a.k.a. Sheng Rou Mee

raw pork noodles

I first heard my uncle singing praises about this new place in Sibu. It was the coffee shop that we wanted to go to after my mom’s 3rd day funeral services but it was closed. My dad and I went hunting for it with my aunts the day before I was supposed to fly back to KL.

sheng rou mee

The place serves sheng rou mee which is roughly translated as “raw pork noodles”. The meat is not raw per se but it’s very rare. The meat is pounded into small, thin slices and then served in a broth and it cooks with ambient heat much like shabu shabu.

oily noodles

There are four (4) types of noodles on offer – the most popular is kampua mee, followed by oily noodles e.g. “you mien”. The latter is different from the ones in KL – the Sibu version is much thinner and absorbs the lard well. The noodles are tossed in lard oil, much like kampua mee.

wan li sheng rou mee

There you have it – Wan Li Sheng Rou Mee is basically kampua mee with a side dish of clear broth with rare pork slices inside…

raw pork soup

…and it’s delicious!

wan li pork noodles

The place was *packed* when we were there and new customers streamed in as soon as the others left. It’s RM 5 per dish, irrespective of the noodle type you choose but I’ll opt for the kampua as it goes with it well.

pork slices

It’s the latest fad to hit the town and I have to say that my uncle was spot on, it’s a nice place. Considering that a plate of kampua with radioactive red char siew goes for RM 2.50 in most stalls, paying a little extra for a nice bowl of clear broth with generous amounts of pork slices inside is apparently, a very solid business model!

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

Kampua @ Rasa Sayang Cafe and other tales from Sibu

kampua mee

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

kampua tossing

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

kampua noodle

Kampua mee!

pien nuk

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

kampua mee sibu

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

kampua price

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

kampua noodles

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

rasa sayang cafe

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

arthur hb

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

ring for shag

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

cordyceps capsules

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

nz shirt

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

chicken pies

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

copyright

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

Sibu kampua mee and mixed soup

sibu kampua mee

I’m a huge fan of kampua mee and we can’t exactly get the authentic ones in KL so I make it a point to eat this whenever I come back to Sibu. It’s actually just noodles tossed with lard and sprinkled with spring onions, shallots and fried onions but it tastes delicious!

sibu kampua mee with mixed soup

I like mine with soy sauce and chilli – you can also opt for an either or if you don’t want the plain noodles. The trick to good kampua mee is in the lard. A lot of places switched to vegetable oil instead. THAT IS NOT KAMPUA MEE! A proper bowl of kampua mee is made with lard.

sibu mixed soup

There are also endless customization options – you can have it in soup, with sliced char siew, with pien nuk (dumplings – kinda like wanton) or with a side order. My favorite used to be a side order of pork liver but today I went for the Full Monty (except for tofu coz I don’t like tofu!!!).

sibu mixed soup pork

It not only has pork liver, but intestines, meat and various innards from this non-halal animal.

My favorite place closed down but this one is pretty good too – the soup was peppery and yes, the kampua is made with lard. I make it a point to check. smirk

Monkey Kampua

monkey kampua

Kampua mee is to Sibu what char kueh tiaw is to Penang. There are a lot of good kampua places here but the best is arguably the one beside the fire station, dubbed Ang Kao kampua (Monkey kampua) after the owner’s nickname. I believe most of the locals here know about the income tax fiasco and the buzz that the owner drives two luxury cars, one of them a Mercedes, despite being a “humble kampua stall owner”.

monkey kampua business

Word on the street is, one day some people from the IRB came in and sat there posing as customers, with an increment clicker to count how many plates of kampua they serve on an average day, tallied against their reported income. The discrepancy was so colossal, no amount of hyperbole can sufficiently describe it, and thus the owner was slapped with a huge fine.

monkey kampua cook

I am not sure about the veracity of the story, but if it’s true, this has made the proprietors understandably wary about people with monitoring devices in general. I was asked if I was a reporter when I waltzed in and started taking photos of the place, and although they are friendly people, I had the distinct impression that they would not take it very well if I had stated that I represent the IRB. Heh!

monkey kampua original

However, the kampua is the best in town. This is the classic version of kampua mee - the flavor comes primarily from pork lard and shallots. It’s served with finely diced spring onions and char siew.

monkey kampua soup

Monkey Kampua also serves a mean dish of pork liver soup. It’s mixed with pork balls in this photo but kampua is versatile in the sense that you can order it with pien nuk (pork dumplings), in soup (ching tang mien) and with pork liver (tu kang in the local dialect).

monkey kampua soy

I like mine with soy sauce and chilli sauce. The accepted vernacular for this is kampua puak lak puak tau yu and should be preferably vocalized with an appropriate Foochow accent.

monkey kampua eddy

My only beef with this place is that they don’t serve beer. ;)

Noodle throwing @ Siong Kee Mee Kampua

siong kee

Siong Kee is one of the most famous kampua noodle stalls in Sibu. Siong Kee Mee Kampua is located in Taman Muhibbah. The proprietor is the one manning the stall and has almost acrobatic displays of noodle handling from the pot of boiling water to the bowl.

siong kee kampua

This friendly and unassuming owner is a Guinness World Records holder (!) though not for kampua noodles. He is credited under Most weddings attended by a best man. Mr. Ting Ming Siong from Sibu, Sarawak has been best man at the most weddings in the world with 1,393 occasions and counting. His record holder status can be verified here.

siong kee card

He even has a name card that lists his achievements in…er, matrimonial services, and he is also the Malaysian Book of Records holder in that department. Siong Kee Mee Kampua is very busy almost every night due to the good noodles that he churns out (and I suspect his acrobatic feats and record holder status as well).

Kampua noodles is actually very simple to make but this man is the only one who makes it entertaining to watch:

siong kee 1

1. Blanch noodles

siong kee 2

2. Throw noodles up in the air (no one else does this except him) and catch it again

siong kee 3

3. Mix noodles with a lard based sauce

sibu noodles

I’m not sure if the noodle throwing actually adds anything to the flavor (though rumor has it that it makes the noodles more pliable) but it certainly makes for a very lively performance.

Everybody loves kampua throwing!

sibu kampua

I’ve been told by kampua aficionados that you should always eat the noodles plain to gauge the taste properly. Kampua is served plain de facto but you can opt to have it with soy sauce, soy sauce and chilli, or chilli sauce.

kampua me

I ate this one plain and I pronounce it good!

kampua us

I was searching for his record in the Guinness World Records website and chanced upon a record that I could easily beat – Most Ferrero Rocher chocolates eaten in one minute which currently stands at a meager five (5).

Watch out Reuben Williams! I’m gunning for your record. I can do six easily. ;)

Stoopid

Ah…it feels good to sleep for a solid 10 hours. Spent the rest of the day with my girlfriend.
Today was very hot, maybe I haven’t acclimatized from the Melbourne winter. We went to get some ice
cream…found a really good one with pineapple chunks in them. Just the thing for a hot afternoon.
While driving past the Bukit Lima swimming pool, I saw the Chinese association building had a lot
of cars parked in front. Looks like they have a food court at the bottom floor now. Anyway, I found
an interesting property of milk. I bought back some fresh milk and freezed it so it will keep
longer. The color of the milk turned slightly yellow, like the condensed milk in cans. After the
defrosting, it returned to its normal…urm, milky color. It could be that I’m easily amused, but I
found that interesting. Well, I also managed to get some of that good ol’ kampua lovin’ action.
Went to my favorite stall in Pedada and had a big plate of kampua mee. It’s noodles with soy sauce,
chilli, red wine, green onions, fried onions, pork oil, pork slices, and plenty of MSG. Very nice,
and tastes very different to that nasty kolo mee stuff. Fed the cat some of that
sardine-calamari-shrimp cat food, which she loved. The Whiskas Cravers stuff must be good too. My
cat usually snubs dry food, but this one seems to agree with her. Anyway, I saw on the news that
there was stuff going down in Carlton after the Italy-Korea match. Heh. Wish I was there to take
some pictures. Then again, it’s entirely possible that I will be mistaken for a Korean and get my
ass kicked. =D

Link: Italian fans get a yellow
card
[theage.com.au]

Kampua with a side serve of meat dumplings. It doesn’t look appetizing to the uninitiated, but
it is.

The heat is making me stoopid. I find myself puzzling over basic grammar and having to think
really hard to find the right words to explain something.

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