Friday, November 28, 2008


Ann-Sio Bao Chai (Braised Chinese Cabbage)

The name Hock Chiew Lau (Foochow Restaurant) evokes memories of a by-gone era, when there were only 2 so-called restaurant in town; this one and Yien-Kieng (Capitol Restaurant was a Johnny-Come-Lately). So when someone mentioned of an old chef (80 something, he said) from that restaurant operating out of town, serving the same dishes of the restaurant, I'd better try them before the offer expires...

It was a leisure cruise to the said restaurant on a weekday with minimum traffic. There was only only car and some bikes parked at the front of the restaurant - staff from nearby businesses having their lunch break and playing cards. This is as laid-back as you can get in this part of town. Order of food was taken by a silver-hair lady, the proprietress, while the husband did the woking with a little help for the sons on the mise en place and doing the serving.

Direction: Drive to the old airport at Brooke Drive; turn left at the road leading to UCS college. Cross the Igan Bridge, then bear left at the round-about. This road leads to Bawang Assam, Ling Chu Ming etc. Be on the lookout for a blue-roof bangalow on the right. The only sign visible is the tiny one in Chinese.

Tapah Fish Soup With Chow-Chai

We ordered a few of its vintage signature dishes as 'wowed' by a certain someone. First off was the braised cabbage; it's one of those homely dishes one would relish, not because of it's fabulous taste, more so as it pulls a heart string or two as it harks back to what rustic home-cooking is all about - unpretentious and soulful. Beside the mushrooms, there were a few clamps (canned stuff) embedded into the casserole to lend a bit of sweetness.

Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet

The fish soup wass a hot and sour entity, which was provided by the chili and Chow Chai, with the aid of some tomatoes: good but not that great! The sweet and sour fish was like any other. The Foochow fried noodle is a variant of the fried Hokkien Noodle, with added dark soy sauce for depth, and braised slightly to work off the gluten to give the sauce a natural body without the aid of cornstarch: another good but not that great item!

Fried Noodle Foochow Style

Lastly, this Sio Bee (Sui Mai dumlings) was a finale of the old restaurant's banquet dish. So in the grand tradition of the old restaurant, that was how we finished off the meal.

Sio Bee

Oh, the meal only came to RM35 with 3 bowls of rice and 4 bottled drinks.

The Grandmaster Himself... Kiu Chiong Kiong

Psst, one has to take all those 'wowness' one hears with a pinch of salt... if you want to take a trip down memory lane (if you have any), this restaurant may be just the ticket. All those silver hair does make one respectable, but the chef is just a wee lad of 60 plus...

Thursday, November 27, 2008


If you were on the look-out for some chick at the book launch last Saturday, you'd be disappointed. But anyway, those of you who were there, didn't you have a good time?

The dinner we had last night was deja vu. A treat from Aunty Maggie again! A meeting of aunties, uncle, cousins, and a new found blogger. Until the next book launch...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Had the sea cucumbers (1 large one and 2 small ones) in the freezer for quite some time until my mum dug it out and insisted of having it fried for dinner with some minced meat. I had other idea... small ones for vinegar soup, and the large one to be stuffed with minced pork because it would be a shame to chopped up the nice looking one. As always it wasn't a planned event, and everything was rustled up for dinner within an hour's time frame. Even I couldn't find the usual twine instead of this furry one - add a bit fiber to the diet. As for the soup, I did a fast instant Zi-Char style on the wok; thus didn't have any photos as it was the last dish and was way past dinner time.


1 Large Sea Cucumber

160 gm. Ground Pork

1 Tbsp. Carrot (Finely Diced)

1 Tbsp.
Re-hydrated Mushroom (Finely Diced)

1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce

1 Tsp. Sugar

1 Tsp. Cornflour
1 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp. Oil


Boil pork stock for 2 hours; I use one large bone, with 6 dried dates and 1½ liter of water. Skim off the oil layer.

Mix together all the ingredients, except the sea cucumber. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use. The pork mixture is good for 3 to 4 fillings. You can use the remainders as poached or fried meat balls or fillings for wontons.

Fill the sea cucumber with the marinated pork mixture. Use a twine to secure the sea cucumber.

Place the bonded sea cucumber onto a pot. Ladle the hot pork stock around the sea cucumber, and submerge it under the soup. Bath it over low flame for 30 minutes, covered.

Remove and let the sea cucumber cool before cutting off the twinge .

Fry the Kangkong like here. I use Kangkong, 1 clove garlic, and 1 chilli (julienne), and sprinkling of red Chinese cooking wine.

Place the cooked Kangkong at center of the plate. Then carefully nestle the sea cucumber on top.

Bring one cup of pork stock to boil. Then melt in a couple knobs of butter. Add salt to taste, and thicken slightly with cornflour slurry.

Ladle the hot stock around the vegetable; then a bit on top of sea cucumber, running lengthwise. Finally garnish with a bit of the mince carrot and green onion.

Monday, November 24, 2008


White Lady

When you've built a reputation for yourself, and decide to set up a new base in some unfamiliar territory, do you think the crowd will come? Well, it has paid dividend for this second outlet of the ever popular snack place at Jalan Nanas/ Rambutan. The same can't be said of a similar nearby outfit, which has a successful run at Saberkas. I think it pays to be mindful of who you put behind the counter preparing the food; some young punks or some old hands (even if they are not very good in the first place)... I think most people will go for the latter; it's a matter of perception.


So here I was on a Saturday afternoon with the blogger (still stuck in second gear) from Sarikei and 2 others. Being a guest in town, he still offered to pay... such generosity didn't go unnoticed, meaning I quickly withdrew my hand from the wallet and enjoy the freebies thrown this way. For RM18, this is what we got...


... a White Lady (a milky concoction with orange syrup) for the lady, a small Rojak (Shrimp paste salad), Matterhorn (Lime smoothie of sort), ABC (with everything under the sun), fried fritters with the usual suspects of shrimps, yams, sweet potato and tofu, and finally a Lai Chi Kang (a 'cooler' consisting a variety of dried preserved fruits). These are only the standard fares...

ABC (Air Batu Campur)

... there are still a lot of others knickknacks where these came from, judging from the long list of menu that it has. This place can be equivalent of Archie's Pop Tate's Chok'lit Shoppe... nice place to hang out without the usual cramps of a hawker's place seating arrangement, albeit you pay more for the niceties and ambiance.

Fried Shrimp Fritters, Yam, Sweet Potato & Tofu

Lai Chi Kang

Friday, November 21, 2008


Lemongrass Spare Ribs

When Sibu Bloggers praised Ruby to no end as if it's the best there is in town, I couldn't resist trying it out. I asked Ah Lee about the place, as I had no clue where the place was. Then he gave me a rundown of the place from its former owner, who had worked in Hong Kong, to him selling the place to the present owner, and then returning to open a place called Dynasty. Dynasty?!!! I thought I'd better try the original than the clone... and here we were, six of us, for a dinner at 7 p.m. This place is just next to the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank.

Tau-Ju (Fermented Bean Cube) Shrimps

When we arrived there were just 2 tables being occupied, and by the time we left, we were the last one to come in and leave. From the look of its menu, it has quite an extensive selection from the familiar local favorites to some exotic sounding ones. We went for the latter. It's no use treading on familiar grounds when you have a cook or two beside you who can whip out those in a blink of an eye. It's one of these eating sessions that I cherish where you have a discourse on the food before you, not so much to critique but attempting to divulge into its quotient through our taste buds, and hopefully one day you'll see it replicated in this blog. That's the joy of eating!

Deep Fried Bitter Gourd in Braised Sauce

If I'm not mistaken all the dishes ordered for the night had been earmarked as chef's specials. They sounded promising enough... even without any prodding from waitpersons... why waitpersons? Because a horde from the kitchen came out to entertain us as well on one particular dish... secret will be revealed!

The lemongrass spare ribs had the heavy citrus scent infused into its sauce. Worthy of its name. However, the Tau-Ju shrimps failed to live up to its reputation. There wasn't the slightest hint of the fermented beancurd piquancy; it tasted good, nonetheless.

When it came to ordering the vegetable, one was of the opinion of having a 'cooling' bitter gourd soup; bland and superficial - 3 against 1, and we opted for the exotic sounding one on the menu, and we asked for a description. That's when the chefs popped out with a couple of frozen fried stuffed bitter gourds for us to see. Now you know this one is not freshly prepared. Thus the texture of the gourd was a bit soft and limb, froze-bite fatigue. The braising sauce covered up any misgivings one might have of the earlier encounter. And any bitter gourd fearing person will have no qualm becoming an instant convert. There was hardly any traces of bitterness.

The lamb stew was quite good, and voided of any herbs used. The aroma of the meat spoke for itself, and lent a distinct flavor to the bland beancurd sticks.

Claypot Lamb

The good news about this dinner was that the food only came to RM40, inclusive of rice, plus RM30 for drinks; and the bad news was that the person who footed the bill left his 2 phones on the table, and realised it 5 minutes after we left. Despite the fact he called immediately, and also we were the last customers, they were goners. So was the PYT waitstaff he had the eye on; the moral of the story is... there is none.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This dish, water convolvulus with coagulated pig's blood, is a favorite staple at Sibu's Zi-Char, be it having it with rice or porridge. The process is simplicity in itself... so simple that you'll miss it if you blink. That's why I roped in Ah Lee in Sibu to perform this feat while my finger was firmly on the shutter trigger. The whole process took a mere 60 seconds or so.

As with frying vegetables, one has to be fast to keep it fresh, green and crunchy... frying too long will cause decoloration, withered and wimpy leaves. So the essence to a great vegetable is, how you you say it in French, mise en place; getting everything in place and ready, and then BOOM!!! Also frying the pig's blood for too long will cause it to burn and have a bitter taste. You have to keep moving the content of the wok around - scoop, toss and turn.

Don't be intimidated by the fire-gushing wok-burner... using a home-stove burner at full-flame will achieve the same result. Just have the wok greased up all around and fire it up to the max... use boiled hot water instead from the tap; this will immediately steam the vegetable rather than having to wait for the water to boil. **If you don't mind using lard instead of vegetable oil, the dish tastes even better.


1 Bunch of Kangkong

A Doz. Pig's Blood Chunks

4 Tbsp. Cooking Oil

1 Clove of Garlic (Slivers)

½ Cup of Water

1 Tsp. Salt

Cut the Kangkong into bite size, discarding those hardy bottom-end stumps; or if you prefer, pluck the leaves with its adjoining stems, leave out its middle core.

Pile the vegetables onto a plate...

... worry not if it seems like a heap (left), but it shrinks a bit, and falls within the perimeter of the plate. Put the coagulated blood together with the greens.

Spoon the oil around the hot wok, and let it drip down, thereby coating its circumference. Throw in the garlic and briskly agitate with the spatula on high heat.

Dump in the entire content of the prepared plate of vegetable.

Swiftly toss the vegetable around to have them sealed and coated thoroughly.

Pour in the water...

... followed by the salt. However, you can mix the salt with the vegetable and pig's blood when preparing. thus bypassing this step.

Give it a final toss or two...

... scoop out onto a plate and serve. Best consumed hot!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Claypot Tofu

Having a name like Hong Kong Cuisine calls for close scrutiny, whether fairly or unfairly, because the connotation of the name brings high expectation. However, I think, its Chinese name is less ambitious, and its sponsored signage points towards that direction.

This is a family operation, and everyone is roped in to do their bits, the majority of whom are fronting the customers and in the line of fire. As with most unfamiliar places, I would be in my clueless mode and let them walked you through the best from its menu, even though I'd given it a once-over; rather let them fumble than me. The young chap taking the order failed miserably at his first attempt by our inquisition, and had to send in the sister as reinforcement. These were her recommendation...

Bitter Gourd Fried With Salted Egg

Sweet & Sour Pork

Fish Lips Soup

Fried Black Promfret Done 2 Ways

Shrimp Balls

... and our selection. The most expensive item ordered is what you see left and immediate top. We were cautioned that it costed RM3 a pop, just in case if we went overboard with that particular order. How good was the food? Let's just say a chef is only as good as its supporting staff... if they don't throw the switch, it matters not how brightly one shines.

The evening's meal came to
RM130 inclusive of rice and drinks for 7 persons.


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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