Jombali @ Citta Mall

Jombali

We were at Citta Mall when we came across this relatively new restaurant. Jombali had taken out a large sign which advertised (of all things) a Michelin inspired dish. smirk

Michelin Inspired

Needless to say, this had nothing to do with Michelin and I have no idea where the whole “inspired by Michelin” bit came in.

Oreo Shake

I ordered an Oreo Shake (RM 8.90) and my better half had a Coconut Shake (RM 8.90). The latter was quite enjoyable, tasted a bit like the Thai counterpart it was meant to emulate but the former wasn’t anything to write home about.

Nasi Goreng 3 Rasa with Ayam Goreng

It was dinnertime so I had the Nasi Goreng 3 Rasa with Ayam Goreng (RM 13.90). This was from their Jomabli Top Sellers menu and the 3 Rasa part means “3 tastes”. It pulled that off quite well – the fried rice was salty, sour (from the tomatoes) and spicy. The portion was GIGANTIC though and I couldn’t finish it although it was good.

Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Berempah

My dear had the Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Berempah (RM 10.90) – the chicken is the same but hers is made with rice steamed with santan (coconut milk). It also came in a Supersized portion but the rice wasn’t very hot. I think part of it was due to them trying to serve us both at the same time, a very noble concept but maybe not so suitable for an eatery of their aspirations.

Jombali Citta Mall

Jombali serves up decently priced food and adds to the selection at Citta Mall but we probably won’t be going back again unless we were really hungry.

Umai and other local delights @ Fisherman Restaurant

claypot tom yam prawns

I’ve been craving for umai lately and had the chance to eat it again for dinner with Arthur last night. Fisherman Restaurant is a popular local restaurant to bring visitors coz it has a lot of Melanau native delights like lokan, umai and ikan terubok. These are all Sarawakian dishes – they even have dabai (a local type of olive) when it’s in season.

umai

Umai is a local version of ceviche. Fisherman Restaurant does it in a style that’s similar to umai jeb in Mukah. I’ve had it when I went to Mukah in 2008 – it’s very fresh fish (in this case white pomfret or ikan bawal putih) that’s been cured with lime and mixed with chopped onions and chillies.

sarawak prawn crackers

It’s delicious when you eat it with the prawn crackers they serve as an appetizer.

prawn crackers umai

(although it’s traditionally eaten with sago pearls)

individual prawn claypot

We also ordered an individual serving of large prawn in a mini claypot. These prawns are huge and used in big head prawn noodles. The prawn is cooked in an assam tom yam broth soup and it costs RM 20 per prawn. It’s worth it though coz they do it very well – the broth is flavorful and spicy and the prawn meat is firm and juicy and sweet.

paku santan

The fibre quota was fulfilled by paku santan. It’s a local fern cooked Melanau style in santan (coconut milk) and shrimp. I really liked this dish too, everything the cook sent out really hit the mark.

fisherman restaurant

That’s why Fisherman Restaurant is so popular despite being relatively decrepit – peeling paint on the walls, dated single-unit wall air conditioners, and a musty interior. There were a lot of people who came after us coz we went really early – the place was quite full. I do wish that they put some money into renovation though – it looks the same (except a bit more worn) as when I went in 2008!

fisherman restaurant sibu

This isn’t even the original restaurant – they were located at a different part of town at first and shifted to this place.

fisherman restaurant us

I have to say that the best dish of the night is the roast lamb with mint sauce. This is a newer dish that came to pass with the current generation (the son came back from New Zealand where he had his own restaurant and brought some recipes home) and it’s cooked really well. I have to say that it’s even slightly better than my late mom’s famous lamb (sorry ma). smirk

roast lamb mint

The roast lamb here is sliced generously thick and the meat is juicy. You’ll love this if you’re fond of the slightly gamey taste of lamb, and they don’t overcook it unlike other places. They have two sauces – the mint sauce and a garlic inspired Asian dip, the former is the one you want since the latter is uninspiring. It costs RM 50 for the dish with two large slabs of lamb, definitely a must-order if you visit.

thick lamb slabs

The bill for the two of us came up to RM 126.40 but the roasted lamb (RM 25 per slice) and the tom yam prawns (RM 20 per prawn) accounts for RM 90 so the dishes aren’t really that expensive if you don’t order the premium stuff. Thanks for dinner Arthur! It’s always good to catch up when I’m back home. :)

Dinner at Payung Cafe, Sibu

Payung Cafe Sibu

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 Sibu 2014

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.

Payung Cafe Couple

The rest, as they say, is history. smirk

Payung Cafe Christmas

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!

Pomelo Salad

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.

Sour Chicken

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

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.

Otak Otak Fish

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.

Durian Shake

My better half also had the Durian Shake (RM 8) – a very thick concoction sure to please all durian lovers and connoisseurs of milkshakes.

Payung Cafe Ling Dad

The bill came up to RM 82 for the three of us, which is quite reasonable for dinner at Payung Cafe.

Sambarina Ice Cream

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!

Mulu Ice Cream

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.

RM 16 bowl of Heng Hua Spicy Assam Tom Yam Fish Noodles

henghua assam tom yam noodles

There are a lot of fish and prawn noodles in town but none quite like this. The most (in)famous one would be the RM 35 bowl of fish noodles from Min Kwong. There’s also a RM 15 bowl of prawn noodles in the small and hilariously named town of Jakar. However, the closest tasting one would be the justifiably popular RM 14 bowl of Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles in Glory Cafe, Sarikei.

It was my dad who suggested this place for dinner. He’s a Heng Hua and this is a Heng Hua owned coffee shop, and since it’s a small community, we might be somewhat related. smirk

sieng hing cafe

The first question the lady asked me when I ordered this RM 16 bowl of goodness is whether I can eat spicy food. I replied in the affirmative, taking pride in my cast iron stomach (and tongue) and the chilli flakes in the broth gave me the sniffles and nearly drove me to tears…in a good way.

I asked why they use a thick kind of rice vermicelli noodles called hung ang in the local dialect and it’s coz that’s the best pairing for the dish. The thick but short noodles doesn’t clump together and unlike wheat based noodles, the rice vermicelli noodles is the perfect vehicle for *transporting the broth* to your palate.

henghua assam rice vermicelli

There’s a lot of space between the rice vermicelli – you can’t really pick them up with chopsticks without large gaps – so the spicy asam tom yam broth gets into the crevices and it allows the full flavor impact to hit you.

cat
Resident cat approves of this nomz!

The fish is a mixture of tapah and patin and there’s easily 3-4 times the amount in the regular Foochow twice cooked noodles I had for RM 14 at Y2K Cafe. There’s also generous amounts of lemongrass, egg, tomatoes, chilli flakes, baby corn, fungus and a special type of pickled salted vegetable in the asam tom yam soup.

assam tom yam noodles

It left me sweating but very satisfied when I finished the dish. They also sell a large prawn version for RM 26. The generous amounts of fish and the ultra spicy broth made the Sieng Hing Cafe fish noodles one of the best gastronomic finds in Sibu. It’s perfect if you have a blocked nose since the spice will clear up your sinuses in no time! :)

Turtle eggs preparation recipe and report

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs are considered to be very nutritious and purportedly
have a lot of health benefits. Unfortunately, they happen to be illegal
due to the wildlife preservation enactments to prevent rampant poaching
of turtle eggs (which is a protected species) in Malaysia. However, I
managed to hook up with someone who sells turtle eggs through a
coworker.

turtle eggs sandy

The transaction was very covert, which I found amusing – the turtle
egg seller called to tell us where he is and we got him to deliver it
to the office. He was an overweight slightly grimy looking man carrying
one of those tote bags with probably 100 turtle eggs inside (and also
some porn VCD’s on the sides). I bought 10 turtle eggs off him for RM
15 (it’s RM 1.50 per turtle egg). The turtle eggs are still sandy from
the beach and each one is about the size of a ping pong ball.

turtle eggs wok

I don’t know how to cook turtle eggs, so we brought it downstairs to
solicit the help of Kakak (literally “Sister” in Malay) who works
downstairs. She told us that it can either be eaten raw, or heated lightly (emphasis on lightly) with boiled water. Thus, we set the wok (there’s a kitchen downstairs, sorta) on boil with some water.

turtle eggs washed

The turtle eggs are washed by putting them under running water to
get rid of the sand. The interesting thing about turtle eggs is that
they’re very pliable – it’s so soft that pressing on it will
make indentation marks (as can be seen in the first two photos). The
turtle eggs in their natural configuration also has that property –
surrounding eggs impact each turtle egg by forming recessions around
each other.

turtle eggs cooking

The turtle eggs were then put into the water for a short (less than a minute) amount of time and left to simmer for a bit.

turtle eggs kakak

I also got Kakak to pose for a photo beside the cooking wok with the turtle eggs in it. ;)

turtle eggs cooked

This is what the slightly heated turtle eggs look like. The eggs are
soft and slightly translucent, so that you can see the yolk inside.

turtle eggs bowl

You can eat the turtle eggs by opening up the shell (it’s so soft,
it’s almost like peeling instead of opening) and eating it as it is. It
tastes surprisingly good…it doesn’t need any flavoring for the turtle
egg taste to shine through. Unlike other eggs, turtle eggs have a
distinct musky aftertaste to it.

turtle eggs single

However, I’m told that the proper way to enjoy turtle eggs is too peel off a small hole at the top…

turtle eggs single sauce

…and put a drop of soy sauce inside to flavor it, before sucking the whole egg contents.

This method of consumption is more visceral and much more enjoyable. :)

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