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

donald lily nyonya food

Donald & Lily’s Authentic Nyonya Food is an unassuming establishment located inside a residential lot. I wanted to try the ayam ponteh (which is apparently quite good) and called the night we drove into Melaka to see if they have it. They did (at that time) but we only went the next day. Donald & Lily’s only cooks ayam ponteh during public holidays and on weekends so be sure to get there at the right time if you want to sample that.

donald lily melaka

The place is decorated pretty much like a living room – you feel like you’re eating at someone’s house…and that’s exactly what Donald & Lily’s offers – home cooked food. They’re famous for their Nyonya style cendol and laksa. They also have a sign that says “Beware of Dog” – it’s not there for show, Fido really does reside here…

donald lily jonker

…he’s in the kitchen, near the washrooms.

nyonya cendol

Nyonya Cendol
Ahh…now this is one of the best cendol I’ve ever had in Melaka. Yup, it’s better than the one in Jonker Street. They literally douse the entire shaved ice concoction with gula Melaka (palm sugar) and it’s extremely sweet and cold – perfect for the oppressive hot weather in Melaka. I had two bowls of this. Bliss!

mee siam

Mee Siam
This is fried rice vermicelli mixed with some sort of sweet sauce. I didn’t like it, and neither did Mel. Go for the laksa instead.

nyonya rojak

Nyonya Rojak
This is recommended by the proprietor, who I assume is Lily of the restaurant’s namesake. It consists mostly of fish slices and tofu with a heavy sprinkling of chili sauce and sesame seeds on top. It’s an interesting dish and quite different from the rojak we usually have.

nyonya laksa

Nyonya Laksa
This is Donald & Lily’s signature dish. The bowl of piping hot laksa is heavy on the palate, but in a good way. The gravy is so thick that you can float a soup spoon full of rice vermicelli on top and it won’t sink. The secret of a good laksa dish is always in the gravy. I’m not a fan of creamy gravies in laksa – I’m more of an asam laksa person. However, I have to say Donald & Lily’s Nyonya Laksa is really delicious!

laksa

Donald & Lily’s serves up a hearty bowl of authentic Nyonya laksa. This old lady came in with her son to order a bowl but she was told they’ve sold out. The disappointment on her face was palpable – she mentioned that she has walked a very long way just to try their acclaimed laksa…and the kitchen relented and cooked up a batch just for her. That’s how good their laksa is. It comes highly recommended from me too. :)

shah alam laksa stall

I was driving yesterday afternoon when I realized I haven’t had breakfast or lunch and I was really early so I decided to stop by this roadside stall.

shah alam stall

Now, when I say roadside stall, I mean the REAL kind – the ones that can pack up and leave without a trace…

shah alam chairs

…with plastic chairs for you to sit on, arranged nicely in clusters under the shade of trees.

shah alam laksa

I only had RM 4 in my wallet and I ordered their Laksa Utara (RM 3). It tasted pretty good, probably coz I was very hungry. It had all the right stuff inside – boiled egg, fish pieces and shallots. Laksa Utara (Northern Laksa) is asam laksa, sorta, kinda.

shah alam chendol

This was washed down by a bowl of nice cold chendol (RM 1). The patrons of this place seem to be predominantly blue collar workers and truckers as can be seen here:

shah alam people

You’re supposed to throw the bowl and spoon in one place and there’s a bucket of water for you to wash your hands in.

shah alam rubbish

Now tell me this isn’t authentic street food!

shah alam wash

Alas, I think I used my right hand to wash though. smirk

All photos taken using the Sony Cyber-shot TX-5. You know the best thing about these outlets? I only had RM 4 and pulled it out (all of the cash in the wallet) and the dude said, it’s okay, we’ll just make it RM 3 (so to not leave my wallet empty). *touched*

Location:

N 03° 03′ 14.8″

E 101° 32′ 49.2″

madam tangs

You know how I always say I prefer Asam Laksa to Sarawak Laksa? Well, I don’t know if it was the rather intense workout this morning but I just had lunch with the Project Alpha Season 1 bloggers at Madam Tang’s Cafe in Petanak and it was fucking good.

madam tang interior

The Sarawak Laksa Special (RM 10.80) comes with a lot of huge, juicy prawns. It is as good as the one in Golden Arch Garden Laksa which was a favorite haunt of mine when I was working in Kuching due to the proximity to my office back then.

sarawak laksa

Sarawak Laksa is a bit different from the other santan (coconut milk) laced concoctions and it was refreshing (not sure if this is the correct adjective but it feels right to me) to get reacquainted with this superb specialty from my hometown again.

A squeeze of lime into the belacan paste mixed into the Sarawak laksa is a ritual I haven’t done in a long time. Heavenly.

beef noodles

The Beef Noodle Special is pretty awesome too! We had a taste of it and ended up ordering a bowl to share.

I also managed to meet up with a lot of Kuching bloggers and good friends today – that was another highlight of the trip! :)

sarawak laksa special

Next up is dinner at Topspot @ Permata Carpark which is really famous for their seafood. I’m still full from lunch though so I’m not sure if I can handle a lot of that tonight. >.<

asia laksa house

I was brought to Asia Laksa House for some Curry Laksa while I was in Seremban. This place seems rather popular with the locals and I was told it has the best curry laksa in Seremban.

restoran asia

Asia Laksa House is the flagship stall of Restoran Asia. The place was packed when we got there with the lunchtime crowd.

seremban curry laksa dry

You can opt for the dry version which comes with a topping of minced meat (didn’t even know there was such a thing as dry curry laksa)…

seremban curry laksa

…or the regular version with rice vermicelli (that’s bee hoon).

seremban curry laksa mixed

I went for the large curry laksa with noodles mixed with rice vermicelli and optional egg and clams. Now, the best thing about this place is the prime piece of chicken they chuck into your bowl. I ended up with two coz Caydence’s mom gave mine hers.

seremban curry laksa large

The chicken is tender and flavorful and I like the clams that goes into the gravy. It’s rich, creamy and goes very well with the noodles. There is also an egg if you go for the works. Curry laksa with chicken and cockles and egg costs RM 4.80 here – a lot less than you’ll be forking out in KL.

seremban curry laksa stall

The Curry Laksa at Asia Laksa House does brisk business and it’s no surprise for they serve some really good curry laksa. I even finished the thick gravy.

seremban curry laksa caydence sis

This is Caydence’s sister. Her super tulan face is probably coz I took over her bedroom for the night. Kidding! ;)

pasar air itam laksa

I’ve always been a big fan of Penang Asam Laksa. I prefer asam laksa over the santan (coconut milk) saturated variants out there. Cheryl brought us to the best Penang Asam Laksa in Penang when I was there for the long Labor weekend.

air hitam laksa

In true Penang tradition, the best Penang Asam Laksa lies not in an air-conditioned food court but at Jalan Pasar in Air Itam. The stall is a bit dingy and the seating arrangements nothing more than plastic stools and slightly shabby tables beside a drain.

air itam montage

Appetite stimulated by the authentic smells and ambience, we ordered ice cold five fruits soup (it’s a shaved ice dessert popular in Sibu too, except we call it five tastes soup) and fried popiah with century eggs.

penang asam laksa

The Penang Asam Laksa (RM 2.70 and worth every cent) at Pasar Air Itam did not disappoint – it came in a broth that had the signature medley of tastes distinctive of asam laksa. Tamarind? Check. Lemongrass? Check. Onions? Check. The hearty soup went down really well with its minced fish pieces. It’s awesome-ness!

air itam laksa

I also learned a trick from Cheryl – dipping popiah into the rich Penang Asam Laksa broth is addictive! I’m lovin’ it.

“Over here in Penang, we just call it laksa”. ;)

ah cheng laksa

Ah Cheng Laksa is one of those “hawker fare inside a mall with WiFi and air conditioned comfort” franchises, which shows no sign of slowing down. I think a lot of it has to do with their pricing and convenience. Personally, I went just coz I love the tagline, a parody of Phua Chu Kang with their version being “Best in Subang Jaya & Sunway & some even said in PJ!!”

I think the grammatically incorrect tagline adds to the good ol’ hawker stall appeal. :)

ah cheng laksa montage

I went to the one at the Curve since they had a promotional deal worked out with Cineleisure where you get a 10% discount off your food with a movie ticket. It’s only valid for a la carte items though, and not the Combo Set Promotions, which we went for. I like the seating arrangements at the outlet over here – the seats are absurdly low but a pit of sorts where you can put your feet in compensates for the height problem. Nifty.

ah cheng cham

Ah Cheng Laksa also serves the increasingly popular Cham (RM 2.50). Cham is a Hokkien word meaning “mix”. It’s a half and half mixture of coffee and tea and I’m starting to like the medley of tastes and the reduced caffeine content – very useful for combating stress in KL traffic. ;)

ah cheng laksa food montage

Combo Set 1, which is recommended for 2-3 people, is priced at RM 13.90 and comes with JR Asam Laksa, JR Curry Laksa and your choice of a regular (JR stands for junior, I presume) Asam Laksa, Curry Laksa, Kueh Tiaw Soup, or Nasi Lemak Ayam/Daging Rendang. I went for the Nasi Lemak Daging Rendang option. You can also choose the type of noodles you want in your laksa – it’s customizable.

ah cheng laksa us

Verdict:
Asam Laksa: Delicious! It’s very appetizing.
Curry Laksa: I didn’t think much of it. I prefer asam laksa to curry based laksa.
Nasi Lemak Daging Rendang: It’s okay, but not great. The pakcik that parks his van outside my condo weekday mornings sells much better nasi lemak from the back of his mobile stall.

laksa shack

Laksa Shack is a franchise operating along the trend of establishing hawker food fare in the air conditioned comfort of malls. It has outlets throughout Malaysia and specializes in laksa, as the name implies.

laksa shack interior

Laksa is a noodle soup dish originating from Malaysia and has two major variants – curry laksa and asam laksa. The first one is santan (coconut milk) based while the latter is a medley of sour and tangy notes from tamarind. Sarawak laksa is an offshoot of curry laksa but I tend to prefer the asam laksa more.

laksa shack asam

Asam laksa has no coconut milk and is based on a fish paste broth with tamarind, which gives it the distinctive sour taste. I find that very appetizing, and it’s served with translucent thick rice vermicelli instead of the thinner version.

laksa shack operation

Laska Shack is a quick service operation and offers Asam Laksa, Johor Laksa, Curry Laksa, Laksam Kelantan, Tom Yam Laksa, Laksa Nyonya Melaka, Sarawak Laksa and Laksa Lemak Singapore. The soup base is all pre-cooked and kept in heated receptacles at the counter so they just need to pour the right gravy on the right kind of noodles.

laksa shack drinks

I went with my girlfriend to the outlet at MidValley Megamall and we shared a Laksa Set (RM 14.90) which comes with the laksa of your choice, 2 pieces of otak-otak and Sirap Bandung Cincau. The drink (left) is a rose syrup drink with milk and cincau (black jelly). I ordered another drink (right) for RM 5.50 – Ipoh White Coffee Cincau.

laksa shack set

This is what the Laksa Set looks like. The laksa ordered separately costs RM 9.90 each and the drinks will set you back RM 5-6 so it’s usually more cost effective to order the popular laksa set. The two pieces of otak-otak came really fast – the operation at Laksa Shack is all very streamlined.

laksa shack otak

Otak-otak (literally brains-brains) is a fish paste snack wrapped in banana leaves. Laksa Shack offers the steamed version and the otak-otak is (very) highly processed, leaving very little taste, as is oft the case in mass produced bulk food.

laksa shack asam laksa

The Asam Laksa at Laksa Shack is surprisingly good for a quick service restaurant. The soup base is tantalizingly sour and comes with pieces of fish. I find tamarind based broth to be very appetizing and drank all the soup in the dish.

laksa shack asam laksa macro

I didn’t quite like the fish pieces though – it seems to be sardine to my untrained palate and sardine is one of the few aquatic lifeforms I do not like to eat (due to taste rather than any sentimental PETA/Greenpeace ideology).

laksa shack end

You can probably get better laksa for a lower price at regular hawker stalls but Laksa Shack offers the experience (and convenience) of eating hawker food in air conditioned comfort inside a mall. I have seen this trend take off and I suspect the end is nigh for the novelty value of hawker-food-given-premium-treatment concept eating establishments.

It’s going to jump the sardine soon, mark my words. ;)

golden arch shopping mall

Golden Arch Garden Laksa (not to be confused with
the Golden Arches, which sells a totally different food product) is
located at Golden Arch Shopping Mall and I heard its laksa is serious
fucking business.

golden arch garden laksa

Golden Arch Garden Laksa has RM 3/4/5 bowls of laksa and the RM 5
bowl, which is their flagship, has two large tiger prawns in it. The
laksa booth is also the flagship of the eating establishment – it
belongs to the owner.

golden arch prawns

There is a huge tray of differing sizes of prawns, which is selected
depending on your order e.g. an RM 3 bowl of laksa would have small
prawns while the RM 5 bowl of laksa would have two huge tiger prawns.

golden arch laksa

Behold! The legendary Golden Arch Garden Laksa. This is the large (RM 5) bowl and contains 2 huge tiger prawns in it.

golden arch laksa tiger prawn

I’m told that the proper method to partake in tiger prawn infused
laksa is to pour the laksa soup down the head of the tiger prawn to
allow the flavors to really shine.

Laksa – Serious Fucking Business.

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