Father’s Day dinner with my dad @ Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi

I asked my dad where he wanted to go for dinner on Father’s Day – Payung Café, Ruby Restaurant or some other place that he liked (perhaps one of the new cafes out there). He said he’s more used to eating Chinese food and opted for Ming Mei Shi.

Cinnamon Lamb Shank (RM 29.68)

Lamb Shank Rendang

This is cooked rendang style (which originated from Minangkabau in Indonesia). It was recommended as one of their flagship dishes when we asked for something different. I don’t eat lamb much when I’m with my better half since she doesn’t like it but my dad does. Granted, it’s been made to suit local Chinese palates but it tasted magnificent! The strong cinnamon and aniseed gravy goes perfectly with the rice and the lamb is fork-tender.

Butter Fried Prawns (RM 16.96)

Butter Prawns

We usually go for butterscotch prawns but wanted something different so we switched to the drier butter fried prawns. Ming Mei Shi also has big head prawns for RM 50 per prawn which I was personally interested but my dad vetoed the idea since he doesn’t really like that type of prawn (don’t know if it’s coz of the price but I know he doesn’t eat crustaceans much). This doesn’t have the nice gravy but we have 3 other wet dishes so we thought it’ll make for an agreeable change. It was delightful!

Four Heavenly Kings Vegetable (RM 16.96)

Four Heavenly Kings Vegetable

This is a classic Chinese restaurant dish that consists of 4 different types of “beans”. The quotation marks are there coz brinjal (eggplant) is not actually a type of bean. They usually use the purple type but there’s also a green variety. The four vegetables are ladyfingers (okra), squash, brinjal and long beans. It’s topped with pork mince and taucu (fermented soya beans) and it’s very good.

Dongpo Pork (RM 19.08)

Dongpo Pork

This is another one of their signature dishes. Dongpo pork is braised before being slowly stewed with Chinese wine. It comes in a huge square chunk tied with cooking twine, which is then snipped off by the waitress before the meat is cut into manageable bite-sized portions with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Dongpo Meat

Interesting fact: I was using Pleco (the Chinese-English app) to research why this dish is called such. My dad thought it was dong as in east but it turns out that it’s named after the poet Su Shi a.k.a. Su Dongpo who perfected the recipe. It’s usually very good but the execution was a little off this time since the ratio of fat to lean meat was really low despite being from the belly of the pig. I had to chew very hard to swallow the tough bottom meat.

Fathers Day 2015

My dad enjoyed the meal immensely though and so did I. We usually just order 3 dishes for the two of us but I thought we should order 4 since it’s a special occasion. The waitress warned us against the large portions but I managed to polish off everything after my dad was full. The unusual decimal prices is due to the recent implementation of 6% GST and the bill came up to RM 90.95 although I only paid RM 90 coz the owner gave me a discount.

Fathers Day Dinner

Me: Dad, you’re not smiling in the photo.
Dad: What do you mean? I am!
Me: Hmm…I don’t see it. *show my dad the digicam*
Dad: That’s me smiling.
Me:

LOL

Happy Father’s Day, dad! :)

Aussie Story @ Sibu Bus Terminal

aussie story sibu

Aussie Story is new – very, very new. It has only been open for 4 days and we went on the fourth day of their operations. No newspaper advertising, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page, just pure old school word-of-mouth accompanied their soft launch and it’s been packed every single night ever since they opened their doors!

The congratulatory wreaths that celebrated the launch were still fresh! We didn’t know about the place, we chanced upon the restaurant by accident and decided to go in and take a peek at the menu. It’s a very nice place – you can say that the warm, soft-incandescent lit interior called out to us on a rainy day. smirk

aussie story restaurant

The place is a joint venture between two friends who’ve been classmates since their school days. Fredrick Wong is the barista and he’s in charge of the front-of-house while his partner Johnny Yong is the head chef and manages the back-of-house. I think this division of labor suits their personalities well, according to the long conversations we had with the both of them.

Aussie Story is still in the soft-launch stage so a lot of the items on their menu is unavailable, like the pita bread that I was interested in. Thus, we asked for recommendations and got:

Toasted French Loaf with Cheesy Egg Salad (RM 7.50)

toasted french loaf

This is the appetizer that Johnny the chef suggested. He almost insisted on it, so Arthur and I ordered it to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a baguette that’s been sliced and covered with melted cheese, finely chopped cubes of hard-boiled eggs, and an acidic element (the chef hinted it was based on the Thousand Island dressing).

However, it came out so fast I could see that only 2 of the 3 pieces had been browned properly. I don’t mind the chewy texture of the bread but I think it could have been on the oven/toaster/grill for a couple of minutes more so the Maillard reaction and caramelization would have been more even.

I thought I would dislike this pale looking appetizer but I thought it was delicious! The cheese and mayo works very well together and you can still taste and feel the texture of the tiny cubes of hard boiled eggs in the topping. There’s also a sour note which really made the dish!

The flavors works very well together and we both enjoyed it very much.

Irish Stewed Lamb Shank (RM 38)

irish lamb shank

I was surprised when this came out almost after the appetizer. It has barely been 5 minutes since we placed our order! The lamb shank is slightly smaller than the ones that I’m used to seeing but it tasted alright. The meat fell off the bone when picked at with a fork – a sign that it’s been slow-cooked to perfection.

I also liked how they left the cartilage on the top of the shank – the best part of ordering the lamb shank, I reckon. The mashed potatoes were good and I really liked their purple cabbage coleslaw.

However, one minor quibble I had was about the sauce – it was pretty evident that the gravy that came with the lamb shank isn’t the same reduced gravy that the lamb shank was cooked in – it tasted too watery, as if the gravy was sourced from generic stock and poured over the dish instead of the actual reduction from the lamb shank pot.

British style Fish & Chips (RM 15)

british fish chips

The fish and chips were made with good fish and the batter was seasoned well. It’s great value for the price too, since you get a huge fillet of fish (which is not the 50% filler, 50% fish abomination that’s been passed off as Dory fillets – they use proper fish fillets here).

The dipping sauce keeps up with the times too! They don’t use tartare sauce (despite what it states on the menu), it’s a pet peeve of mine when F&B outlets do, it’s so 90’s school canteen and it’s usually used to cover the taste of bad fish. Restaurants have found better combinations to go with good catches now and the last time I remember having tartare sauce was during my high school in Christchurch, NZ when the school canteen would serve fish sandwiches slathered with tartare sauce.

I’m sure I’ve had tartare sauce in bad local fish and chip outlets since but if I had, it wasn’t memorable enough to remember.

aussie story fish

Aussie Story uses a mayo based egg infused dip which I thought was very nice. It reminded me slightly of the dill aioli I had in CREST Café, Birubi Beach recently.

I think it’s actually the *same sauce* that goes on top of the baguette appetizer, but without the acidic component. The purple cabbage coleslaw is also the same as the one served in the lamb shank. Overall, I quite liked the dish.

white chocolate
White Chocolate Drink (RM 6.50)

I think it’s smart of them to incorporate similar and reusable things across dishes to minimize prep time. Fredrick and Johnny recounted the first day they opened and the trials of having to serve a full house, and having to comp a lot of tables since they couldn’t keep up with the pace of service.

One minor feedback that I have is that the appetizers and the main courses all came out at the same time – there’s no time for us to savor the appetizers and then wait for the main courses to arrive. Everything just came out almost immediately, it was so fast it made me slightly dubious on how they can cook everything to order.

CoffeX Bristot

Fredrick did address this when I raised my concerns though – it seems that Sibu people like having all their dishes on the table at the same time so they can share it. There’s no concept of waiting for a 3-course dinner here and I have to agree with him. It’s not Aussie Story’s fault, it’s the culture here and they have to accommodate for it lest people complain about their food not arriving promptly.

The service is impeccable and they really want to learn – we were solicited on our views of every dish. I told the owners that I was very impressed that the head chef and the front-of-house manager would take the time to go to every table and talk to the patrons about the food. We got all our drinks comped by Fredrick so the bill only came out to a discounted RM 60 for the food.

I would highly recommend this place due to the service – their PR is second to none and their food is pretty good overall. It’s up there with places like Tom’s Too but the service here is spectacular. It’s their passion after all, and I went back Saturday night with my dad to try and get a table, but the place was totally full.

aussie story

I really enjoyed the ambiance of the place and it’s the best service I’ve ever had in Sibu – totally customer oriented. Fredrick insisted on serving us coffee (they use CoffeX and Bristot) on the house when I asked to pay the bill too – which is a nice touch. There is a reason why the restaurant is called Aussie Story but I’ll let Fredrick tell the tale since it sounds more passionate coming from him – it is, after all, his story. :)

Aussie Story
Sibu Bus Terminal
(opposite 3° Celsius)

bla bla bla … restaurant review

bla bla bla restaurant

bla bla bla… restaurant is a relatively new
eating establishment that opened up in Kuching. It has a purplish pink
neon sign with a speech bubble around the restaurant’s name. It looks
like a small place but it’s actually 180 meters inside!

bla bla bla bridge

The interesting bit about bla bla bla restaurant is that there is a
water walkway/bridge with “stepping stones” which you have to pass
through in order to enter the restaurant. It kinda screens the patrons
a bit, coz you have to be at least reasonably sober to navigate
through, ya know. ;)

bla bla bla water

The square block bridge is also where the eating establishment
branches into the upstairs dining area or the al fresco seating areas
to the back. There are goldfish swimming around in the flowing water if
you look close enough.

bla bla bla produce

Bla bla bla restaurant has a great ambience with the water features
and other well placed decors like this great platter of fresh produce…

bla bla bla futon

There is a futon mound where you can relax and have a couple of
drinks coz you can get rather thirsty after saying the restaurant’s
name a couple of times. ;)

bla bla bla green walk

There is a second water walkway with lush greenery that leads to the
end of the long 180 meter dining area. The place feels like a lush
tropical paradise with the generous plant life placed around the area.

bla bla bla roof

There are chandeliers and (another) interesting thing about bla bla bla restaurant is the retractable roof on top.

bla bla bla long

The narrow aisle is nicely arranged with tables for groups on one
side and tables for couples of the other side so there’s room to move
in the middle. The interior design is amazing.

bla bla bla margarita

I had a couple of margaritas (RM 18) which came with the signature pandan leaf that this place serves with most drinks.

bla bla bla mussels

This is the spicy mussels (RM 20). It came in a huge platter and it tastes great!

bla bla bla ostrich

This is the ostrich roll (RM 22) which comes with a morsel of battered ostrich meat on a flat roll.

bla bla bla lamb

This is the lamb shank (RM 23) which came with a cutting knife and serving fork. It’s tender and delicious.

bla bla bla prawns

This is the cashew nut prawn (RM 28), a decadent serving of HUGE prawns (it’s gigantic, actually) with mayo. This is easily the best part of the meal.

bla bla bla group

L-R: John [blogspot.com], Huai Bin (me), Ericka, Sebastian, Kenny [kennysia.com].

bla bla bla … restaurant is a great place to have dinner. It opens till late and the ambience and food is great.

…and admit it, you love the name too. ;)

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