CNY meetups: Rasa Sayang kampua + Chuang Yang Restaurant

As you grow older, the only time you really meet up with friends is during festive seasons. Mindy lives relatively close to me in KL but I’ve only seen her once in the past year. Interestingly, we’re practically neighbors in Sibu. That’s probably why we ended up in the same high school (though different classes and years). I got to know her from trying to tapau one of her friends back in school. Haha.

I haven’t had a proper plate of kampua since I came back and I thought we’ll check out One O One to see if they’re open. They’re not so we popped over to Rasa Sayang. My cousin loves the kampua here and so do many other people. I’m not such a huge fan since they’re not the most authentic version. Rasa Sayang uses the curly kolo mee noodles and minced meat.

It still scratched my itch though. There were so many people here today! We had to wait a long time and the menu was very limited – the guy told us there’s only kampua noodles and bian nuk. They sold out by 12 pm too. Crazy! Too many outstation folks back for CNY.

They pegged us as non-locals too – dude called them wanton instead of bian nuk.

Not bad but I’ll still need to eat a simple (and authentic!) plate of kampua before I got back. The kind with cheap soy sauce + chilli and the boiled pork masquerading as char siu colored red.

I also always meet up with my bro Eddy every time I’m back.

We went to Chuang Yang Restaurant for dinner the other day. This is located quite far from Sibu (somewhere in Lanang) but the food is pretty good.

Guinness pai guat (spare ribs). My favorite.

Mani chai with egg. One of the things Sibu does best.

Fried yam. Yum.

Midin. This is a fern that only grows in Sarawak. You’re bound to see Sarawakians eat this whenever they come back. It’s the fucking bomb.

This is deer (rusa). We get a lot of exotic meat here but most people don’t go for the extreme ones like bat and crocodile. Deer is pretty good though.


There’s also bitter gourd!

Best! Happy CNY everyone. Hope you’re having a great reunion with friends and family.

Syarikat Kiong Chuong Cafe – Malu apa bossku?

I used to date a married woman when I was working in Sibu more than 10 years ago. Malu apa bossku? I’ve always been very open about my colorful past. She tackled me at a vulnerable time in my life – I had just gotten out of drug rehab and started reintegrating back into polite society. This older person/cougar tackled me on my first week out! I know now that she was after my (relatively) young and succulent body but hey, sometimes we the buaya, sometimes we kena buaya. 🐊 It all works out in the end.

Anyway, this older person used to pick me up from my workplace and bring me out for lunch. Her favorite place was Syarikat Kiong Chuong Cafe. This was an old eatery behind my office then. My current girlfriend, who is infinitely more beautiful and younger than this old hag, commented that the owner must be OCD to arrange the soda cans like that. It’s actually a very common decoration in old coffee shops like these. BTW, I’ve also told her this anecdote from my past coz I love her.

The interesting thing about this place is that they’re renowned for their speed. Most of their items are already pre-fried and placed in the cabinet within easy arms reach. You’ll get your food within 5 minutes of ordering – no kidding. The corporate workers with their 1 hour lunch break practically demands this efficiency. I had missed this place so I thought I’ll come back with my dad today for lunch.

We arrived at 11:20 am before the lunch hour rush and ordered their famous sweet and sour fish. This is o chio (ikan bawal hitam) for RM 26. It’s a pretty good sized fish and it’s been deep fried so all the bones and fins are edible. I love their sweet and sour sauce too – I’ve also had their sweet sour prawns and both are equally good. I would say this is one of the items people order most often here.

I also got their pig brain’s soup since it’s the Year of the Pig. You hardly ever see pig brain being offered in KL – these more intense and unapproachable types of offal are usually more common in smaller towns. The pig brains here is quite intense tasting – you won’t mistake the flavor. I like it though. It’s stewed with chicken feet, pork bones, and their homemade pork balls so there’s not just pig brains inside this soup.

The vegetable quota was filled with this bitter gourd stir fried with taucu and assorted seafood and pork. I like the addition of sweet prawns and sotong. The chaps at Syarikat Kiong Chuong Cafe are friendly and the food comes out fast. The total for these 3 dishes including rice was RM 43. The food is more like Foochow home cooking so don’t expect fancy fireworks but if you’re after a hearty Sibu-style meal, you can’t go wrong here. I highly recommend them.

Crab Noodles

Crab Noodle

This is the famous whole crab noodles in Sibu! It is the natural evolution of our big head prawn noodles, but instead of a large shrimp, you get one (1) whole crab instead. It’s a luxurious lunch for the times when you want to splurge a little. There is a place that specializes in crab noodle called Wai Mai Lou near the Public Library in Sibu.

Wai Mai Lou

I first heard about this beautiful crab noodle on Facebook. I was told its around RM 73 / bowl which I thought was rather expensive. I decided to go and check it out for myself and it turned out to be a lot cheaper than that. The place is family owned and one of the brothers told me all about their crab noodles.

Sibu Crabs

The crabs are picked by hand from Tanjung Manis and arrives at around 3-4 pm each day to Sibu. They have several different sizes – the regular ones weigh around 300 grams per crab and that’s the option I went for. They also have a smaller crab (which averages 150 grams each) and I was told that some people prefer this as the broth would have a stronger crab flavor since they put 2 crabs in each bowl for the same price (RM 20).

Sibu Crab Noodles

You can also opt for the larger crabs which will be sold by weight – RM 7 per 100 gram. However, the owner advices against choosing ultra large crabs since they’ll be better cooked by themselves. I was eying this 1/2 kg frisky fellow for RM 40. However, I went with the advice and had the regular 300 gram crab noodles for RM 20 per bowl.

Crab Noodles

The crab noodles are cooked Foochow style (fried, then stewed) with a soy sauce based broth and the whole crab is put on top. The crab meat is very nice! I was surprised at just how tender and sweet the flesh is, especially in the area where the legs join the body. The flaky white crab meat is lovely and the crab claws are delicious too!

Crab

外卖佬 (Wai Mai Lou) is open from 11:30 am till late and I spent RM 22 for the crab noodles plus a drink. The regular crab noodles are just RM 20, which I feel is a great deal if you love seafood. The crabs are very fresh – you can see them actively moving around and they’re replenished each day. Don’t miss this crab noodle if you ever come to Sibu!

20 photos from my trip to Kapit

Kapit Boat

I went to Kapit a while back for a 2D/1N stay. Kapit is a town 3 hours from Sibu by express boat. There is no other way to reach it – you can’t drive there and you can’t fly in either, the river is the only route.

Sibu Kapit

This is a uniquely Sarawakian feature, there are a lot of random towns that is connected only via Rejang River and lacks the proper highways or road connections to civilization.

Express Boat View

The funny thing is that you have to fill in a form detailing your name and IC number so they know who’s on board. This didn’t exist before, it was the high profile express boat capsizes and accidents resulting in multiple deaths that initiated it.

Live Chicken

I meant human deaths, not livestock. ;) You can find lots of interesting cargo onboard, including live chicken!

Kapit Sibu Express

Interestingly, they don’t overload the express boats anymore too. This makes it a lot safer compared to previous journeys. Previously, there would be people *on top* of the boat, hanging on to the side rails.

Kapit Jetty

We arrived in Kapit 3 hours later and had to disembark.

Sarawak Express Boat

You do this by walking along the side of the express boat. I’m used to it coz I’ve done it when I was a kid, but new people might find this disconcerting since the river is just beside you.

Kapit Town Square

Kapit is a very small town. You can walk around town in a matter of minutes and that’s what we did. We passed by Kapit Town Square on the way to our hotel.

Star Hill Inn

We stayed at Star Hill Inn, one of the best hotels there.

Kapit Hotel

I took a room and my bro Eddy took another room.

Kapit Shoplots

The hotel is in a shoplot, as you can see from the view.

Kapit Roti Canai Goreng

One of the highlights of the trip was eating roti canai goreng. This is a distinctive Kapit invention, they literally fry the roti canai inside a wok of boiling hot oil. Ingenious, and very tasty too.

Kapit Fair

We managed to have some time off the next day and went to see what was going on in Kapit Town Square. It turns out there’s a lot of games of chance, like an indoor funfair of sorts.

Fun Fair Games

I took a spin as well. You pay RM 1 for a can of soft drink and put it at a color of your choice. You get a 1 in 6 chance of winning equal odds e.g. you win 2 cans if you wager 2 cans.

Fun Fair

This works by throwing a tennis ball into a receptacle with 6 possible colors which matches the one on the table. You get unlimited tries, there’s no penalty if you miss or if the ball bounces back up. You simply try again until you get the ball into a color square.

Kapit Gambling

Behold! These are the high rollers of Kapit! smirk

High Rollers

Seriously though, these whales are betting cartons of 24 cans at once. We thought that was quite funny.

Durian Isu

I also managed to get some wild jungle durians to bring home. This is a native durian called durian isu. It’s very different from regular durians, it only has 4 segments. I’ll do a comprehensive review during the weekend.

Maggi Instant Noodles

We had a quick lunch of Maggi instant noodles at the wharf the next day before we departed…

Kapit Wharf

…and caught the afternoon express boat back. It was a really fun overnight trip with my bro Eddy. I haven’t been to Kapit in such a long time!

5 photos from Sibu Market

Sibu Market

Sibu Market is a source of a lot of interesting products from the far corners of Sarawak. The traders come from places like Belaga to Song to sell their stuff. The wharf and passenger jetty is within walking distance so a lot of them just hop off the express boats (many towns are only reachable by boat) and come over to hawk their wares. I have acquired a few hundred dollars worth of local durians (called buah pekan and buah isu) and am compiling that for an upcoming post!

Kek Lapis

There are also quite a few people selling the famous Sarawak kek lapis here. Kek lapis is actually of Indonesian provenance but the Malay communities in Sibu and Kuching have claimed it as their own. You’ll find them in the Kuching Waterfront / Padang Merdeka / Lao Pa Sat (Old Market) area. The kek lapis comes in all sorts of flavors like prunes, Milo etc.

Telur Terubok

Ikan Terubok is a delicious fish that is currently only obtainable from Sarawak. The fresh ones are usually sourced from Satok Market in Kuching where they have dedicated terubok sellers packing whole boxes of them to be shipped. These are the dried version which I believe comes from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – it’s not as good, but it’s cheaper. They also sell the prized terubok fish roe here.

Lokam Jellyfish

Lokam is one of the local clams that you’ll find aplenty in Sibu. One restaurant in town called Fisherman’s Restaurant is renowned for their stuffed lokam (they take the clam meat and mix it with pork before stuffing it back). It’s quite good if you cook it well. There’s also a lot of jellyfish for sale due to an old wives tale – it’s said among the Foochow that you have to eat jellyfish after a haircut so the hair can be digested (something about the juices in the jellyfish) so it’s common to slice this raw and serve with a sauce of lime and chillis after a trip to the barber. I’ve had it lots of times as a kid at my grandma’s place.

Ghetto Ice Cream

Ghetto ice cream! These are simply satay skewers that’s been inserted into a tube filled with either Milo or strawberry flavored milk. Both are watered down but it’s pretty enterprising of these young boys to sell them for RM 1 each. I bought one last time my better half and the kids were in town for them to try, the “ice cream” is made by physically turning the huge churn (which rests on a bed of salted water with ice cubes) which will slowly freeze the receptacles holding the liquid.

De Vulture Café, Sibu

De Vulture Cafe Sibu

I caught up with my ex classmate Chew Yieng and her husband last night for dinner. I haven’t seen her in a while, I used to hang out at her house when I was 15 and back for winter break – she had a really awesome pool that we swam in at 2 am in the morning. Haha. It’s been a long time since those days, we were all in New Zealand back then.

De Vulture Cafe

I heard that she was back from China and based in Sibu now so it was good to catch up. We had dinner at De Vulture Café, which just opened a few days ago (!!!). I was quite surprised to see a lot of people here since it’s a little out of the way, but there’s a huge local community in the Ulu Sungai Merah area

Jug Orange Juice

The café is decked out like a ship with real doors and ports scavenged from a real vessel.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Yoghurt Mint Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chop with Yoghurt Mint Sauce (RM 19.90)
I had this for my dinner. I thought the portion was decent but it was the yoghurt mint sauce that I really enjoyed. It tasted good. They serve a wide range of “Western” dishes from the usual grilled chicken/beef/lamb to sandwiches/burgers/tortillas.

Fish and Chips with Tartar Sauce

Fish & Chips with Tartar Sauce (RM 15.90)
This was Chew Yieng’s order. They had come here the day before and wanted to bring me someplace new to try out. There has been a bit of a boom in the café/restaurant business in Sibu nowadays, heaps of new places have sprung out and even more surprisingly, there seems to be a market to sustain it.

Chew Yieng HB

The food at De Vulture Café is reasonable but not particularly impressive. I may be the wrong person to ask since I’m based in KL and there are so many options there which are better but I guess it’s pretty decent for Sibu standards. I liked their orange juice (RM 16 for a jug) and it’s a nice place to chill. It was awesome to catch up with Chew Yieng again, so much time has passed since our school days. See ya all when I’m back for Chinese New Year! :)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) 2016 Dinner in Sibu, Sarawak

PKR Dinner Sibu 2016

I was invited to come along for dinner last night at Good Happiness Restaurant in Sibu and listen to the PKR politicians speak. This is (as I understand it) a fundraising dinner of sorts – each table has paid a minimum of RM 400 for campaign contributions. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is one of the opposition parties in Malaysia.

PKR Dinner Sibu

I’ve always been very transparent in my political leanings – I voted for DAP (Democratic Action Party) in the last general election and make it a point to go for Bersih gatherings. I thought it would be interesting to hear the speakers and see the 2016 Sarawak State Election lineup.

PKR Dinner 2016

Good Happiness Restaurant was very packed, they had the entire second floor with over 100 tables. There were provisions for halal diners as well with outside catering.

Foochow Fried Noodles

Foochow Fried Noodles
This was the first dish that came out. Good Happiness Restaurant does decent Foochow style fried noodles, I quite like it. I think almost everyone was hungry at this point so it was smart of them to start with a carb heavy dish.

Pork Belly Soup

Sup Babi (Pork Belly Soup)
I have honestly never had anything like this before! It’s pork belly and leg that’s been boiled with pickled vegetables and served as a clear broth. It’s a nice soup but the sheer amount of adipose tissue is staggering…the abundance of unrendered pork fat makes you feel a bit jelak after a few bites.

Sup Babi

Interesting execution though. This is a very Iban style of cooking – simple and wholesome (in the sense that it’s filling and slightly oily).

Curry Fish Head

Curry Fish Head with Steamed Rice
This was the third dish that came out. The menu for the night seems quite starch intensive, which I guess is appropriate for massive events like these. It’s nowhere near as good as places like Sheraton but it’s done decently enough.

Abalone with Mushrooms

Abalone with Mushrooms
This is a classic Chinese banquet dish with abalone slices and enoki mushrooms stir fried and stewed, surrounded by heads of broccoli. It’s not very tasty but food is beside the point here – people come for the politics, the food just serves as a backdrop and a vehicle to raise funds. It’s purely secondary and I don’t think anyone minded.

PKR Candidates 2016

This is the Central lineup for 2016! These candidates would be the ones contesting in the upcoming Sarawak State Election 2016 to be held in four (4) months or so.

Anwar Ibrahim Badge

I got an Anwar Ibrahim (leader of PKR) button for contributing to the campaign. There were people going around with donation boxes – these will go towards campaign funds so I was happy to give to the opposition coalition.

PKR Dinner Me

It was an interesting dinner. I felt that some things could have been done differently to make things more conducive e.g. less ceramah (political speeches) would be nice since everyone in attendance is in agreement with you, it’s a little like preaching to the choir. I also think more mileage could be had from getting the upcoming political candidates to speak to and connect with people at each table – perhaps next time eh? Good luck! :)

Roti Canai Goreng in Kapit

Roti Canai Goreng

I first heard about this wonderful creation a couple of months back. Fried roti canai is a staple in Kapit and one of those quirky inventions that can only take hold in a small town. I decided then and there that I must personally investigate this dish and planned to go on a trip downriver. Kapit is a small town that’s only reachable by boat – you can’t drive or fly there.

Roti Canai Goreng Kapit

The journey to Kapit takes 3 hours via express boat from Sibu and I went down with my bro Eddy for a night. It’s not just to eat roti canai goreng, but that certainly was a highlight (at least for me). Haha. The stalls in question are located at Gelanggang Kenyalang (loosely translated as Kenyalang Court). It’s an assortment of stalls under one roof, an indoor food court of sorts.

Gerai Makanan Islam Sri Suria

There is one stall that’s famous for their roti canai goreng but everyone essentially does it the same way nowadays. I went to Stall #25 Gerai Makanan Islam Sri Suria and the kind lady manning the frying pan told me about how the roti canai goreng is made. I was quite surprised to find out that it’s not grilled first – the raw dough of the roti canai is slipped into boiling hot oil and fried straight away.

Roti Goreng Kapit

The same treatment is done for the roti canai telur goreng (fried roti canai with egg). The egg is folded into the dough and deep fried till crispy. It’s served Sarawakian style with curry chicken and a sweet sambal sauce. The latter is truly local, I’ve never had this saccharine sambal anywhere else except at home.

Roti Canai Kapit

The roti canai goreng costs RM 2 and it’s plain roti canai that’s been deep fried. The dough is cooked through, with a crispy exterior. You can taste the sweetness of the dough by picking up the sliced pieces and munching on them. It’s very satisfying!

Roti Telur Goreng

Roti canai telur goreng comes in at RM 4 and it tastes totally different with an egg. I was surprised at how distinctive the two are! This one has a pockmarked surface (from the hot oil) and it tastes a lot more savory than the previous one.

Roti Canai Goreng Inside

Here’s a look at the inside. The egg is perfectly cooked from the heat of the cooking oil. The funny thing about the two roti canai variants is that the egg version is rectangle in shape while the plain is round and circular.

Roti Goreng

Roti canai goreng has a distinctive texture that’s very moreish. I could eat several of them, although it’s probably not wise to do so as it’s quite oily and I feel that excessive consumption would probably be bad for your cholesterol.

HB Eddy Kapit

This is definitely worth a try. I’ll come again just to eat this! You can only find it in Kapit, so if you’re ever in Sarawak and looking for something different, take a boat here and eat their famous roti canai goreng! :)

Yih Wen & Kian Mun’s 8-course Wedding Dinner

Yih Wen Kian Mun Wedding

I’m back in Sibu for the weekend to attend my cousin’s wedding reception. Yih Wen is one of my closest cousins on my dad’s side. I used to hang out with her while waiting to go to school at my grandma’s place when I was younger. She just got married and we had the wedding dinner at Tanahmas Hotel in Sibu.

Wedding Reception

I’ve actually met Kian Mun (the groom) during my previous trip back to Sibu. We went out for dinner together with Yih Wen’s family, a pre-wedding get-together so to speak. I find him to be a nice guy, his family is from Ipoh.

Grandma HB

Here’s my grandma! She’s the matriarch of the family, pictured here with me and my dad.

Calvin Noble HB

The wedding dinner was held last night on the 19th of December. I was seated with my cousin Calvin and Noble.

Marzipan Wedding Cake

This is the wedding cake. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had the proper marzipan covering instead of the usual icing. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen this in Sibu. It tasted good too.

Four Seasons Combination Platter

Four Seasons Combination Platter
This is the first course. It has six (6) items instead of the usual four. I rather enjoyed the prawn cocktail in the middle. I have a weakness for sweet mayo covered shrimp. The pickled jellyfish was nice too.

Sharks Fin Soup

Shark’s Fin Soup
A traditional soup course that’s eaten with vinegar. The server didn’t pour the vinegar into the soup though (coz not everyone likes it) so we helped ourselves.

Baked Fish Head with Cheese

Baked Fish Head with Cheese
I believe the fish was battered and deep fried first before being put into a salamander and grilled to melt the cheese. This is my favorite dish of the night – I find that I like fish more and more as I get older. This wasn’t the case in the past, actually I don’t think I’ve eaten fish willingly before my mid-20’s (except for stuff like smoked salmon). The fish goes well with the cheese, the latter imparts a pleasant umami component.

Duck Two Ways

Duck Two Ways
The right side is a classic Chinese roast duck and the left side is a braised duck. I thought the duck should have been rendered a bit more but the plum sauce was good.

Braised Sea Cucumber

Braised Sea Cucumber
This medley contains sea cucumber, Pacific clams and razor clams arranged over fu chuk (tofu skin) and broccoli bordering the side. It’s another established dish in the Chinese wedding dinner repertoire. I’m quite fond of stuff like this – anything from the sea would catch my fancy nowadays.

Deep Fried Prawns

Deep Fried Prawns
This is a huge prawn but unfortunately I was quite full at this point so I only had one. I was very impressed with the size of the jumbo shrimp.

Red Bean Pastries Two Ways

Red Bean Pastries Two Ways
I thought this was a very clever implementation – both the desserts are made using red beans but one of them is deep fried into thin pancakes and the other has a mung bean filling and is stuffed into a mochi-type casing. The former is a traditional Chinese festive dessert.

resh Fruits Platter

Fresh Fruits Platter
Oh, how I’ve missed eating plum powder! Haha. This is the stuff we used to get with sliced guava and it always seemed to be in short supply when I was a kid. It’s very more-ish and goes very well with all sorts of fruits.

Yih Wen Kian Mun Dad HB

I managed to take a photo with my dad and the bride and groom after the dinner. Thanks for having us Yih Wen and Kian Mun! :)



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