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!

bagpipes

My mom passed on about two weeks ago and the funeral started at our home in Sibu followed by a service in Wesley Methodist Church with a bagpipe band before laying her to rest at Methodist Grace Memorial Park Cemetery.

moving casket

These are the photos from that day. We didn’t think about having a photographer around but one of my aunties kindly arranged to have her friend take the pictures and handed them to us.

home service

My better half flew back to Sibu too, it’s fortunate that my late mom has met her before and I’m glad she managed to take the time to come back. My sister and brother-in-law and my nieces and nephews are all here too – the family is all dressed in white.

home funeral

We don’t wear black for mourning unlike Western funerals, the immediate family is usually dressed in white for Chinese funerals.

coffin van

I went with my dad to accompany my mom’s casket on the van to the church.

church service

There was an hour-long service which a lot of her friends attended and me and my sister gave a speech.

movie

I also made a short movie to commemorate my mom that was screened at the church service.

moving coffin

The coffin was then carried to Methodist Grace Memorial Park to be buried (technically, no caskets are “buried” anymore – they’re double sealed in concrete)…

speach

…and we paid our last respects before coming back again 3 days later. I’m not sure if this is a Chinese custom or a Christian one though.

funeral service

I’m back in KL now after shuttling between here and KL and Singapore, doing the documentation for my mom’s sudden passing. She has been fighting cancer for a long time and a sudden deterioration made her unable to undergo her radiotherapy sessions, and relying on chemotherapy alone didn’t really help as she rapidly went from wheelchair-bound to bed-ridden to oxygen dependent.

wesley

Thanks again for all the thousands of people who came to visit and the others who send messages of condolences and funeral wreaths and food and other shows of support. It is much appreciated, all your kindness, during a difficult time.

coffin church

We will miss you mom. We hope you lay at peace knowing you have raised us well and we’ll do the best we can and be there for each other and dad until we meet again.

called home

Goodbye, mom.

(Called home 6th March 2014)

crispy floss sandwich

My late mom is Foochow while my dad is Henghua and they both have different cultural traditions for food after a death in the family. We’ve just done the 3rd day ceremony where we sweep the cemetery grounds and bring her photo back. It’s customary to eat together after this and the two different cultures have different dishes that you’re supposed to eat.

1. Chicken mee sua with red wine and boiled-fried egg

henghua noodles

This is a Henghua tradition. You’re supposed to eat longevity noodles cooked with chicken stock (real, not from a cube or bottle) and served with pieces of chicken and an egg that’s been boiled before battered and then deep fried.

There’s also locally fermented red rice wine used for cooking in this dish. The dish above replaces the mee sua with hung ang noodles (see below).

2. Fried thick beehoon with boiled-fried egg

foochow noodles

This is a Foochow tradition and we originally wanted to follow this custom since my mom is Foochow. The fried thick beehoon is known as “hung ang” over here – it’s best described as a cross between mee hoon and lou shi fan.

Unfortunately, we drove to three (3) different places and all of them were *closed* so we settled on eating just whatever we wanted, since my dad is Christian and doesn’t follow all these pantang (superstitious beliefs) anyway.

The picture above is a type of Foochow style fried noodles – the next best thing, which most people had.

3. Pork leg longevity noodles

pork leg noodles

I had this with one of my uncles. It’s stewed pork leg cooked with a specific combination of herbs and spices called pek ting yok (usually translated as 8 treasures herb). It’s RM 7 and I found it to be quite good and it fulfils the Henghua tradition of eating longevity noodles after a death and the subsequent visit to the family.

pork mee sua

My grandma was so worried that we didn’t eat this (she’s of the older generation) and cooked dry longevity noodles tossed in lard for us at night!

rojak tambi

As for us, since we don’t really follow tradition, you can even eat rojak tambi if you want. I just thought it was interesting, all the cultural believes surrounding death and I never got a proper explanation on why we eat a certain dish and not another. However, as in all cultures, the consumption of food after a funeral is the norm.

tambi rojak

I did a quick search and found out that the reason we eat after a funeral is to celebrate the life of the deceased…

death dishes

…and we’ve been doing it as far back as 12,000 years (!!!) since the Natufian people in the Stone Age!

mom wake

We’ve been quite busy getting all the stuff sorted out for my late mom – we’re heading to the cemetery in a couple of hours for another ritual. My dad practically stayed up for almost two days without sleep when he flew with my mom’s body from Singapore to Sibu.

mom vigil

My better half also came back with me for the wake (which is *different* from a funeral viewing here, the latter is done just before the coffin is buried and the casket is open instead of closed) and all of my relatives came over. A bunch of my friends turned up too, while I was sleeping in the afternoon, so I was a bit groggy when I talked to them – thanks for coming.

food

My uncles and aunties stayed up the entire night too but mostly we took turns to keep vigil over my mom’s casket throughout the two days she was here. We’re lucky to have all the help to meet and greet people – there were a couple of tables at our car porch that a restaurant provided so lunch and dinner can be served to everyone staying over. I was surprised to find out that it’s common practice for them to read the obituaries and offer their catering services.

cross wreath

There’s still a lot of things that require sorting out, so I’ll be updating intermittently and staying here until at least the weekend.

Thank you all for all the condolence messages, funeral wreaths, food and support.

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

1. I gave her flowers that lasts forever

blue roses

I originally ordered a bouquet of blue roses but unfortunately, they looked rather worn down and sad when I arrived to pick them up before going to the airport (more about that soon). I wanted to surprise my dear with flowers at the airport but I didn’t want these miserable looking specimens.

forever flowers

However, the place was pushing flowers that lasts forever (or at least a good 3-5 years). These *forever flowers* are real flowers, not fake ones – they have been freeze dried, which preserves them and makes them keep their scent and shape for several years (more if you don’t expose the flowers to oxygen by opening the case).

roses lasts forever

I thought that was a pretty meaningful gift. I had RM 65 credit at the store coz I refused the flowers so I used them on this. I wanted our relationship to be like this too – something real, which lasts forever! <3

2. My dear flew down to Sibu

arrivals

I was still in Sibu at the time coz of my mom so my better half decided to fly down as a surprise and told me to pick her up at the airport! It was just for the weekend, but I’m glad we managed to spend Valentine’s together – she flew in on Valentine’s Day itself (Friday) – and we both flew back to KL on Sunday.

3. We celebrated Chap Goh Meh and Valentine’s Day at my grandma’s place

chap goh meh

Chap Goh Meh is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. My dad was flying out to Singapore the next day so we decided to go to my grandma’s to eat and only celebrate our own Valentine’s Day dinner the next night.

4. We had ice-cream in the car

ice cream

It’s a simple thing to do but it’s one of the things that’s “ours”. It’s a bit of a tradition and something we both like to do.

5. Valentine’s Day dinner

cafe cafe

I brought her out to Cafe Cafe (they also have a sister lounge called The Queen) for Valentine’s Day. It was a day late but we had a great dinner in Sibu. This is one of the better places to go if you factor in ambiance – just get a seat at the back coz the front is really noisy.

valentines dinner

It was wonderful coz we didn’t have a lot of time together (just slightly more than 48 hours before we had to fly back) and the full day that we had was perfect!

6. She mailed me my Valentine’s Day presents

valentines gift

My better half thoughtfully boxed together a care package containing Granola Maple Pecan cereal and an assortment of candy bars, all with their own messages inscribed on them.

granola maple pecan

It was lovely!

candy

She always takes a lot of effort in putting together something nice. I love you dear! *hugs*

7. I gave her a personalized fireworks show

Yup, I left two of my biggest fireworks cakes till she came back on Chap Goh Meh/Valentine’s Day (which falls on the same date in 2014) and let it off for her to see at night.

sparkler

I also managed to convince her to light a few of the less dangerous ones.

I had an awesome 119 shot fireworks cake that discharges all the bomblets in an aerial barrage lasting probably 10 seconds, which is a pretty intense display.

valentines us

It was a great Valentine’s Day and I’m glad I have my dear with me. :)

cny 2014

Chinese New Year is coming up! Here’s 8 things (a very auspicious number) I bought for Chinese New Year:

1. CNY Hamper – Majestic Spring

hamper cny

I got this hamper for my dear’s family. There are heaps of hampers at BIG in Publika and I wanted to get one that doesn’t contain a lot of cookies (coz she already makes them). This hamper is called Majestic Spring.

cny hamper

I like how the hampers nowadays are packaged with this wrap – it makes it look nicer than the old “pyramid” style hampers. Her parents have been absolutely bang on awesome to me and I thought that the least I can do is send a hamper their way as a token of my appreciation.

2. Pineapple Tarts from Maxim, Hong Kong

maxim cny cakes

This is a wonderful CNY metal gift set from the famous Maxim bakery in HK. They have two versions – one contains biscuits and cookies (sold out) and the other is pineapple tarts (there’s only a couple left and I got one). It’s mahjong themed so each pineapple tart is shaped like a mahjong tile and *individually wrapped* with the tile picture! It’s RM 88 per box though.

cny cookies

My dear also baked my family some awesome Chinese New Year cookies! Thanks for that! <3

3. Jeep Trainers

jeep shoes

No, I didn’t get myself a Jeep! Haha! These are their footware apparel. Jeeps were used during World War II – it played the role that Humvees are playing in theatres of war today. That’s the interesting fact of the day, if you didn’t know it already.

jeep

I got myself a pair of trainers at just RM 149. It’s 50% off from it’s original RM 300 price tag. I reckon it’s a good buy, it’s my footware for CNY!

4. Sanbanto Pork Jerky

sanbanto bakua

I nearly didn’t manage to get the coveted organic Sanbanto pork jerky made from free-range pigs with no added preservatives. It’s RM 48 for the minced ba kua and RM 49.50 for the sliced pork jerky. It sold out real quick!

sanbanto pork jerky

Luckily, I managed to secure myself six (6) packs – 3 of each type. You just can’t get it now, they sell out really fast! The individually wrapped packages you see are already booked and ready for collection. I told my dear I’ll get her these last year and I gave her some this year! :)

5. Arrowhead Chips

arrowroot-= chips

Yup, this is the famous ngaku chips. It’s made from arrowroot. I can never figure out why these are so popular. My dad even got some from Kuching at RM 19. Mine was cheaper at RM 11.

6. Dorothy Perkins

dorothy perkins cny

I *didn’t* suddenly decide that I’m a female trapped inside a male’s body. I’m *not* saving up for gender reassignment surgery. I just wanted to get my dear some CNY clothes! smirk

dorothy perkins

She had bought me my Chinese New Year shirts and I wanted to buy her some too! I wanted to get her shoes as well but she didn’t see anything she liked.

7. Oink Floss

oink floss

Pork floss! It’s a must for CNY! I got three flavors – pork, chilli pork and seaweed pork. It’s RM 16 per can but I got it for RM 45 for 3.

8. Empurau Fish

ikan empurau

This is the (in)famous empurau fish from Sarawak! I saw it on sale while driving my dad and aunties out for a spot of CNY shopping just now. It’s *notorious* for being expensive, the prices are driven up by consumer demand over here since rich tycoons snap them up as if they’re going out of style.

empurau fish

This empurau fish is slightly longer than 1 meter and costs thousands. It’s the most expensive fish here, much more expensive than white cod, due to the unique qualities of the flesh – it doesn’t degrade much after chucking it into the freezer.

I’m neither rich nor a tycoon so unfortunately I didn’t get it. I was sorely tempted to but we don’t even have a steamer big enough to cook it. Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :D

big prawn noodles

Yup, it’s the most expensive noodles in town! RM 35 for a bowl of big prawn noodles and RM 30 for a plate of fish noodles. It’s ludicrous!

(but quite a satisfying indulgence)

peeled big prawns
They even peel the prawns for you – including the “claw” of the freshwater Tiger shrimp

The last time I ate here was in 2008 and at the time the big prawn noodles are priced at RM 20. There’s been a RM 15 increase in just five (5) years for the same dish! We just came back to Sibu to visit my mom and decided to have lunch here. I told my better half about their ridiculously priced noodles just earlier in the day before we flew over.

most expensive noodles

Min Kong is famous for their Foochow style fried and cooked noodles (char chu mee) and it usually comes in a huge bowl (but the portion is just enough for one person). My girlfriend went for the plate of tapah fish noodles (RM 30) while I went for the big prawn noodles (RM 35).

min kong couple

I must admit, we received absolutely *fantastic* service the moment we stepped into the door and asked for the high flying dishes. They also have normal versions (sans fish or prawns) at much more reasonable prices.

We both enjoyed the RM 67.30 lunch though – it does taste good, albeit overrated and overpriced. The extra RM 2.30 is for a glass of iced Milo – yeah, Sibu prices are much more expensive than the going rates in KL for brewed drinks.

sibu foochow noodles
Portion is for one, despite the high price

My dad tells me no one (locals or visitors) actually orders this nowadays due to the absurd cost. I guess we were the first in quite a while – we certainly did got top notch service. ;)

fatt bakery

Well, or so my dad says. Haha! Everyone has their favorite kompia stall. The humble kompia is a bagel-like pastry that supposedly was strung around the neck of soldiers back in China (coz they have a tiny hole in each of them, like a donut) and eaten for sustenance in the battlefield.

flavoured kompia

I don’t know about that but people in Sibu have been snacking on them for ages. Fatt Bakery still does their kompia the old school way – slapped around a brick oven. It’s cooked by the ambient heat from the brick/stone oven – a lot of places uses a regular, modern oven now and it tastes totally different.

buttermilk kompia

Fatt Bakery does have one tasty new innovation though – buttermilk kompia! The sweet filling is placed inside the regular kompia and it sells for about 30 cents each (RM 2 for 6 pieces). Look at how it’s made to the left of the photo above! They also have pandan, custard and coconut flavors.

making kompia

Kompia actually only refers to the sesame seed covered, slightly salty variant. The larger and sweeter version is called chu nu piang. I loved this as a kid while my sister preferred the chewy kompia.

kompia sibu

Fatt Bakery does a brisk business though. There were people waiting in line to get the kompia while the husband and wife team prepares them in the open bakery. I had to walk around a bit to find it but it’s *opposite* the Sibu market, near the pork section. My better half loved the buttermilk kompia too!

I should have gotten more – we got a whole bunch back for her parents too! :)

gold tablecloth

I just came back from dinner with my parents! I brought my better half along, we just flew in this morning – it’s been a while since I’ve visited my mom.

new capitol restaurant

She just went through another killer bout of radiotherapy from tumors spreading to her scalp and it’s been impeding her movement and cognitive systems a little so I thought I’ll drop by and say hello.

blended ice lemon tea

My mom is usually in Singapore but my dad convinced her to come back for a 1 week sojourn to eat the chicken over here. Apparently, it’s more nutritious. ;)

raw vegetables

I was thinking about where to bring them to dinner tonight when New Capitol Restaurant came up. This is a very old establishment in Sibu – look at the display case with cognac bottles and the old school gold tablecloth!

sliced century egg

We wanted to have the signature Claypot Mutton but unfortunately it was sold out, so we ordered:

fried kampua
Fried Kampua
This is for my dear, who has eaten a lot of different incarnations of Sibu’s most popular noodles – except fried. New Capitol Restaurant does a pretty good rendition.

sweet sauce chicken
Sweet Sauce Chicken
This is quite good actually – it has cashew nuts and other goodies inside. I ate the most of this dish.

fu kui
Fu Kui Vegetable
I have no idea what this is. The New Capitol Restaurant waitresses came up with a platter of raw vegetables (see above) for us to choose from. My dad went with this one.

Tofu Soup with Oysters
It’s tofu, I ate half of my bowl just for the sake of eating it but I don’t like tofu as a general rule. It’s so funny, I just realized that I didn’t even take a photo of this dish coz I don’t like tofu! Haha!

foochow wine duck
Red Wine Sediment Duck
This is the famous Sibu Foochow cuisine condiment known as “hong zhou” – literally the remains of home made red wine. It’s slathered over a duck and deep fried. I’m not a huge fan but it tasted alright.

huai yee

The bill came up to RM 66.70 – it was cheaper than our extravagant lunch! It’s good to talk to my parents and spend time together with all my loved ones over dinner though.

red wine duck

That was worth the price of the flights back home! :)

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