Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this

Mr Brightside - The Killers

That's how the journey ended... in Sarikei - the other side of the river, another county. It began, after breakfast at Sg. Merah, with a leisure drive along Sg. Igan Bridge route, then boarded a ferry into Bintangor, home of Sarawak's another famous son, a Tan Sri (who gives respectability to open bigamy for a Chinese in this day and age, and make Andrew Lau's Wait 'Till You're Older's twist like a slight bend), whose company, I beg your pardon... the company he's an adviser to, won some annual awards from some Spanish organization for 2 years running for some construction feat. (Who says Sarawak is a remote place that nobody knows?) Sad to say, his grand hotel in town is boarded up, his chunk of land that is supposedly meant for UTAR lies undeveloped, and his showcase of a paper-pulp plantation goes unattended (like those in Kuching). I was trying to find something nice to say of this town; even its reputed green pandan steamed pau was a disappointment - unappetizing in looks and in taste.

Without Harnesses - Getting A World-Class Safety Citation • Not Getting A Citation While Others Do!
Only In Malaysia... Malaysia Boleh, eh!

Pardon the kong-kay moment... we traveled farther, took another ferry across the Sg. Nyelong and we were at another town - Sarikei. It was lunch time, so we lumbered into this empty restaurant. Two of us were the only customers in the upstairs joint. Although the trip was unplanned, It's no accident that we stumbled upon this place.

This is a Cantonese institution famous for its Ching-Chieng - Gold Coin. It consists of a piece of fat, a piece of lean pork, and a piece of pork liver sandwiched in between; the marinated slices with sprinkled sesame seeds are skewered and then grilled. The hole in between in the middle of meat makes it look like an old Chinese coin, hence its name is derived. The grilled meat has a taste of Chinese sausage (Lap-Cheong). It's a wonder that the liver doesn't turn stiff with the grilling, but it's still maintains its soft texture and its moistness. The Ching-Chieng costs RM50 per kg.

We had Fish Maw Soup and the Asparagus fried with garlic. The soup is an egg-drop version - different from the norm - clear soup. The meal came to RM39.69.

Wonder If They Put A Piece The Ching-Chieng Inside The Sarikei Time Capsule?

On the way back to Sibu, we dropped by Wen Wen to look up the Tans. Senior Tan was in Sydney holidaying/cooking for the other 2 sons; only two are left behind manning the stall - Jr. and Mrs. Tan, who treated us to
locally grown Dragon fruit smoothies.

**If you've never visited Hawaii, come see Sarikei! Same difference; weather is humid, lots or pineapples, and in the evening the ladies come out in their national costumes - we call it night-gowns here.

Monday, July 30, 2007


In search of a great fried koay teow, brought me to this village some 5 miles from town center. This is Huai Bin's (Sixthseal's infamy [sic]) county - land of the Hinhuas. This is also the breeding ground of another Sibu's famous son - remember Carrian, the company the brought Bank Bumiputra to its knees in H.K.? Of late, the place has developed from parallel rows of wooden shop houses to concrete ones, plus a Legendary Walkway along the banks of the red river in honor of the early Foochow settlers.

On with the food; the koay teow here bears the same name of its fore-fathers' legacy - Kok Cheng's Fried Koay Teow. Kok Cheng is the name of the coffee shop opposite the Chung Hua Primary School in town. That koay teow stall was one of the early ones that did Taugeh/Kuchai Koay Teow in town. I remember in the old days, my dad used to bring our own eggs to save cost for the Ta'Pau - Kuhong, eh?

This new stall has no familiar faces in sight. No male ones - must be the 3rd. generation. We ordered the Sambal Koay Teow... nothing to samba 'bout! Looked alright but lacked the oomph! factor. Rather bland for a Sambal one... trailing Ghim Eng's koay teow (She's Ah Kow's Mrs. - just found out on this trip. By Ah Lee's account, Ah Kow does all the legwork of wifey's Sambal Haibee.) by a mile. Must have forgotten to shout: "Flame On!" while woking. So much for nostalgia!

The shop is on the left side of the road if you coming from town using the old Queens Way, before the Legacy Walk.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Rou Spare Ribs

After hanging out at Chap-Gee-Hou until 8, we adjourned to Champion's place for supper. Nothing specified were ordered, just told him to dished out 3 Ching-Chais. The first 3 came to RM16. The last dish, steamed Terubuk or Chi-Kak was courtesy of an acquaintance on the next table (He brought his own fish).

The bitter gourd was featured on one of the secret recipes; the duck's neck from his Lor-Ark (braised duck) is something nobody wants. That accounted for the cheap eats. The drinks were more expensive than our grub.

Fried Bitter Gourd with Salted Egg

Fried Duck's Neck and Pig's Intestine

Steamed Chi-Kak (Terubuk )

Saturday, July 28, 2007


On a slow boat down the Rejang River, Ah Kow managed to purchase wild boar and cooked it along the way in his boat. This is the result when the boat berthed in town.

• Wild Boar
• Garlic
• Ginger
• Lemongrass
• Dark Soy Sauce
• Star Arnise
• White Tau Joo (Fermented Beancurd)

Cooking time is dependent on the condition of the boar - young or old. So frying and adding water when it dries up is the order of the day, until the meat is tender.

I'm not too fond of the thick skin, but its tiny spare ribs is another matter. Beneath all the skin, its lean meat is a taste to be reckoned with. "Tastes like chicken" is not the phrase to be used here; nor does the no-brainer "pork"! Well, it tastes like wild boar!

Friday, July 27, 2007


That day when Ah Kow was making the Sambal Belacan, he commented that it would be nice to make Belacan Beehoon out of it with shrimps. That stroke a chord... I immediately handed him RM30 to buy ingredients for a chowdown the next day. Shrimps were bought at RM18 per kg. and Belacan for RM8. All were set for lunch the next day.

Unfortunately Ah Kow had to make a fuel-delivery run to Kapit on D-Day; but not before he cranked out a batch of Sambal Belacan, and left instructions with Ah Lee on the procedure:
• Cook shrimps in boiling water until cooked
• Shell the shrimps.
• Return the shells to the liquid and boil further to sweeten the broth.
• Scoop the prepared Sambal Belacan into the broth to one's liking.
• Add salt or fish sauce to taste.

I arrived late that morning, after noon. Sad to say, Ah Lee had already cooked the Belacan Broth already, so there weren't any production photos, but only those of assembly of the end product: blanching the Beehoon, beansprout and Kangkong; laying out the shrimps and pouring the cooked broth.

Ah Kow is Cantonese from Sibu, and nobody in Sibu sells Belacan Beehoon - it's a Kuching's thing, where processed cuttlefish (tan color) with cucumber is used with Hai-Ko (shrimp paste).

We had a plate of braised pig's tongue chopped up from Ah Lee's kitchen. Yummmm! Oh, the RM30 investment yielded 8 bowls Belacan Beehoon, with half a pot of broth left.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


• Bitter Gourd
• Woodear Fungus
• Tofu
• Pork Stock
• Tomatoes
• Salt & MSG
• Spring Onion

Soups are easy peasy. Throw in the broth, and everything else... boom, bang! Guo-Tim... All done! All under five minutes!

Why am I showing all these? Well, Thursday's usually a non-event... remember? So, consider this a filler, in desperate times.

Did I mention that Ah Lee is Foochow? He cooks while the mum helps out. Lucky wife stays at home with the kid. There is only one other food stall 2 shops down. Business has slowed down a bit since they shifted all the express boats a few hundred meters up the road to its new terminal building and jetty. And those with baggage aren't likely to stop here for a bite and lug their belongings to the terminal. So nowadays, the customers are mostly people from the central market.


• Tau Cheo
• Bitter Gourd
• Sliced Pork
• Garlic
• Salt & MSG

Another quickie from Ah Lee. The followings are self-explanatory. Just Kay iam and bee-cheng (add salt & MSG). Don't try this at home, unless you want to test the effectiveness of your smoke and fire detector.


• Garlic
• Kangkong
• Pig's Blood
• Salt & MSG

This is the last of the series of Zi-Char from this kitchen. Does it inspire you to go out and get one of those mean burners? It doesn't make one a better cook, but it certainly improves on the taste.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


• Bak Ong (Fish)
• Chow Chai
• Preserved Mustard Green
• Pork Stock
• Tomatoes
• Salt & MSG

This is Ah Lee's daily chore at #13: producing food on on the fly. All ingredients are sliced when an order is made, and most of the dishes come out in a jiffy.

Since the initial intro. the day before, most of my meals here are provided f.o.c. or at cost. Like the other day, I dropped by after 1 p.m., and wanted a simple curry rice; Ah Lee said: "Wait for a while." Ah Ming, the fishmonger, made a dash to his stall at the central market and came back with 2 black pomfrets. And we ended up with having assam fish curry instead.Today's no exception, the fish is provided by J.T. a regular hanger-on at #12. Here goes the nonologue sequence....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Instead of high tea, we have a lowbrowed after-office hours' snack at Justine's drink stall. My friend has an office nearby, and we meet up here for a drink or two. This is a rickety dank of a joint where many call "home pre-home" - a place to let off steam after work before facing the reality of home!
This Melanau lady runs this drink stall with her 3 school-going kids. All the stalls don't have names, and are only referred to affectionately by its stall's number. This is Chap-Gee-Ho (Number 12). She's not allowed to sell food, but when all the other food stalls are closed for the evening, we get whatever fish and vegetables from the market next door, and have her cook them. On this particular evening, we have Leong Kut (Dragon's bones), otherwise it is simply stingray's tail - courtesy of Ah Ming, the fishmonger. She fries it with garlic, lemongrass, chilli and soy sauce. The tail is firm and full of meat. Sedap! The other dish (below) is shallow-fried fishes coated with flour. Yup, I'm having iced Kasturi lime drink with those, but somehow at the end of the evening it evolves into some green bottled stuff called Tsing Tsao.

This is where I'm introduced to Ah Kow and Ah Lee, foodies in their own right. Ah Lee runs the Zi-Char stall next door - Chap-Sʼna-Ho. While Ah Kow, a fuel tanker boat's skipper by profession, hangs out here during his off-days and dreams up things to cook. While Justine is busy at this side of the kitchen, Ah Kow prepares the Sambal Belacan (featured last week) next door. Ah Kow's and Ah Lee's cooking will be featured in the next few days (nonologue). I'll be hanging up my apron and taking time off cooking for a couple of weeks.

And while we are eating, someone calls up saying Sago worms are on its way. Well, that will be featured in Babe in the City - KL's Muhibbah's edition (subject to editor's discretion).

Monday, July 23, 2007


Q: Who is more Foochow than a Foochow?
A: A Foochow from Foochow.

That's what a trio of Foochows working (legally) at this coffee shop are: True Blue Foochows! Even the local Foochows are having a hard time understanding their spoken Foochow.

These Foochows are brought in to cook and sell Foochow specialties. They serve Tien Mien Hu, fried noodle, abalone porridge (chook), fried Mee-Sua (thread noodle) and the Foochow Stuffed Fishball Soup.

The fishballs are all self-made, in-house. They are huge compared to ordinary ones. They are first blanched. Water discarded, then fresh water are boiled with the veg., vermicelli and fishballs thrown in. Chicken stock from the bottle is added for flavor. The fishballs are excellent -QQ! And there are substantial amount of meat in the stuffing. It would have been better, had they boil their own broth than using the bottled stock.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This is a new shopping mall that sprouted out following the success of Farley, which sits across the road. It's a spacious eatery located at the end of the block.

Against my expectation, the soup doesn't have a strong smell of the dried cuttlefish. I tastes like a normal mee suah. The pig's trotters will benefit from a longer gestation period in the pot. Plenty of meat for a RM5 bowl.

I ordered the U-Char Kueh and the fish Koropok from the Malay couple. These dough are freshly fried on the spot. Good with the chilli dip. It was RM1 for that plate of fried dough.


As the name implies, it's all about nothing! Kongkaying is like grasping in the air - more like hot air with occasional fartulence. Hopefully, something aromatic will come out of it! If not...

May the Farce be With You!


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