Archive for January, 2012

Kuching Day 9: CNY Day 2

Day 2 of the Dragon Year was all about friends and family.

the guys

The boys, Mark, Ars and Wui Hao came to visit. Even though I haven’t seen them for almost a year, it feels like nothing has changed. I’m sure it will be even rowdier once their other kakis fly in to join them.

playing games

It doesn’t matter how old they are, the boys will still be playing games!

hc family

Jo’s new family members. HC’s sister and brother came to visit, do they look like HC?

dar and cheng

The best thing about Day 2 was Cheng coming to visit! He flew in all the way from Canada to attend Jo’s wedding, pretty good friend eh? Cheng still has the ability to transport me back to the days when I was 17 years old and used to tease him mercilessly during tuition. He still has the same big smile but is a lot more cheeky nowadays!

teh tarik

Another highlight of Day 2 was drinking kopi tarik (the picture is showing teh tarik though). I have been kopi deprived for about three days now and although this kopi tarik was a bit weak, it was still bettter than nothing.

roti canai

Jan’s favourite roti canai and curry at the Curry House at Satok. The roti canai was still good.This time I also tried their other rotis like roti kaya and roti telur, all very nice.


A closer look at the curry which was kambing/goat curry. Not bad, we managed to eat non Chinese New Year food during Chinese New Year. Cheng tells me that some kopitiams are open and selling kolo mee, I think it’s time to go foodie hunting again 🙂

Kuching Day 8: Chinese New Year Day 1

Happy Chinese New Year! Apparently this year it’s the Water Dragon year, we’re sure feeling the water part because it’s been pouring in Kuching! Then again, I don’t remember a Chinese New Year in Kuching without pouring rain.


All the showers meant that fireworks on Chinese New Year’s eve was a lacklustre affair. In fact, we still haven’t put off our firecrackers yet. Might have to wait till the wedding day. Still, the location of our house means we still get a fantastic 360 degrees view of all the fireworks in the neigbourhood.

road side burger

Our reunion dinner was a bit lacking this year. So we made do with road side burger for supper! One of the highlights of this holiday has been spending a lot of time with my brother and a lot of activities involved him bringing us out for makan haha.
dar and mama

Obviously my brother is my model in Kuching while Jo is my model in Perth. This is a picture of my brother and my mah mah, I managed to catch her mid laughter, she is very happy and loves Chinese New Year.

sua mee

Breakfast on the first day of Chinese New Year is always sua mee (long life noodles) with chicken abalone soup. My mum’s chicken soup has really fragrant chinese red wine in it, very nice.

Lunch at my grandmother’s was pot luck so my mum’s contribution was her signature dish fried sharksfin omelette. Others have tried to recreate this dish including myself but no one has come close to my mum’s version. I look forward to this every Chinese New Year!
Her second dish was mixed vegetables with a hint of luxury, sliced abalone from Australia hahaha.

kueh lapis

To tell the truth, I don’t really enjoy the snack food during Chinese New Year, they usually consists of kueh lapis and more kueh lapis. But when I’m back in Perth I miss kueh lapis? Very odd.
darren massage

This is my brother getting the royal treatment from Jo and our little cousin Janice. For some reason Janice has taken a liking to Darren and was giving him a massage. My brother was quite embarrassed hahaha.

dar and gg

My brother and my gung gung. Gung Gung is very frail now and doesn’t really know what’s going on, but I think he knew that we were taking a picture of him so he gave a little smile.
dar and ah pa

My brother and my ah pa! My dad was trying to teach my brother how to smile naturally and they both ended up laughing.

Kuching Day 7: Yee Ann kampua mee + Ya Huang

Kuching is all quiet now and reaching the stage where it’s getting hard to find good Chinese food around.

kampua mee

Luckily for us, Yee Ann kopitiam was still open so Jo could have her favourite kampua mee. The red noodles behind is her plate which is ‘puak’ with chilli sauce, my dad always has his kampua mee in its original state.


It was difficult finding a place to have dinner. All our designated places were either not open or fully booked! I can’t believe Kuching restaurants can be fully booked. So in the end we settled for Ya Huang which literally means King of Ducks. We had some simple dishes like this tofu spinach dish which was actually very nice.


Can’t go to the King of Ducks without having duck of some form. I did like the duck, much more meaty and tender than the ducks in Perth. But I think roast ducks in Perth are more flavourful.

kou rou

Mei Cai Kou Rou, something I love to cook at home. Their version was very good, the belly pork was very tender. I was quite impressed with the food at Ya Huang.

ma and dar

Hehe, my brother and mum bantering with each other, my brother has a way of teasing my mum and making her laugh.

orange tree

We’ve decorated our mini orange tree :).


Pretty table cloth all laid out and mini flower pot ready.


We’re ready to Ying Chun Jie Fu, welcome Spring and good fortune now. Happy Chinese New Year everyone, may the dragon year bring you lots of happiness, prosperity and good luck!

Kuching Day 6: Chong Choon kopitiam & Kenyalang CNY market

Can’t believe a third of my holiday is almost over! I know lots of friends have started flying out to Malaysia for the start of their CNY holidays. Soon they’ll be in Kuching and we’ll be catching up again 🙂

chong choon

Day 6 breakfast was at the popular Chong Choon kopitiam which is another old establishment in town. So popular that we had to wait around for seats, this doesn’t happen that often in Kuching.


I didn’t feel like having a big breakfast so opted for my usual kopi and kaya toast with half boiled egg. The half boiled egg was more like full boiled egg so that was a fail. The kaya toast was nice though, I liked the thick toast which was slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Spread with a thick layer of kaya and butter, yums.


My mum had some cheese toast, hehe, very different from the western style grilled cheese sandwich, but it looked tasty all the same.


I’m told that Chong Choon is well known for their laksa and sure enough, lots of people were having laksa for breakfast. Taste wise I couldn’t really discern any particular difference from the normal laksa, I’m not saying it wasn’t good, it was pretty good laksa, but I couldn’t find anything special about it.

jo and pa

I couldn’t resist taking a snap of Jo and Pa. It goes to show that it doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you’re getting married or have left the nest, you always need your ah pa to hold your hand when you’re crossing a busy road.

At night, Jo and I went Chinese New Year decoration shopping at the one and only Kenyalang CNY market where everyone is selling Chinese New Year goodies ranging from sweets, tidbits, decorations to mandarins. This is an annual Chinese New Year ritual and a must go for all Kuching-nites.


These buckets of pickles, sour plums and dried fruits always make a roaring trade during Chinese New Year. For some reason we’ve always steered clear of these for our CNY shopping, instead opting for dry goods like biscuits or cakes. I guess they’re just too messy and sticky.


Can’t help noticing that it’s the year of the Dragon with dragon decorations everywhere. It’s pretty hard to make the superior dragon look cute, but I reckon they did pretty well with this soft toy!


We don’t hang lanterns around our house during Chinese New Year (my ah pa says it makes our house look like a temple) but every year my father will still buy two new lanterns to replace the ones hanging outside my grandparent’s house. Although my grandparents are now too old and frail to make it to the back of the house to see the lanterns, my father still insists on buying new lanterns for them every year because he wants to keep the old tradition alive.

My ah pa is the epitome of filialness and respect for elders. Yesterday HC told us that one of his relatives told him that they went on a tour to West Malaysia with our family when Jo and I were still kids. They remember my dad vividly because he was the nice guy that carried luggage for two old folks (who were also on the tour)  throughout the entire trip. Jo and I immediately answered ‘Yup, that’s my ah pa’. I hope that when I grow old (ok I know I already am)  I will be like him too :).

Kuching Day 4 Jing Fook Lin popiah + Day 5 Hock Hai paos & CNY flower shopping

It’s almost the end of Day 5 in Kuching! 3 days to Chinese New Year….

pandan ice

This is the pandan icecream from Sunny Hill that we had for supper yesterday. It was even better straight out from the freezer than having it at the stall itself. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the extra icy texture?


I really love the flavour of pandan and try to incorporate it into as many desserts as possible in Perth. So when my mother offered me this pandan flavoured ming jiang kueh (a sort of crepe with peanut filling), I tried it immediately, it was nice but I’m not really a ming chiang kueh fan.

jin fook

This is the Jin Fook Ling cafe which sells the best popiah in town.

chai kueh
They also sell chai kueh too.


But of course it was really the popiah that we were after. Their deep fried version is very yummy too, but I love normal popiah on its own. This was really sooo good  and really made my day. Day 4 was specially good because of the popiah.

siu mai

Ok, we’re now on to Day 5. We went to Hock Hai bright and early for breakfast. This kopitiam has been around forever and is a Kuching institution famous for it’s dim sum and legendary paos (buns). We had a serve of the local siobi which is quite different from Hongkong style siewmai in terms of texture. It’s a lot stickier and stodgier, some people don’t like it much but it is popular in Kuching. My sister Jo likes the siobi here a lot.


My daily kopi with lots of paos! We had char siew bao, dua pao (big pao) and even tao sar bao. Can start singing the song ..char sio bao, ling yong bao..hahaha, this reminds me of my sister Jan a lot.
My brother demonstrating the size of a dua pao which is really very dua (big)!


What’s inside a dua pao? Juicy porkiness. We usually go to Xin Guang (another famous pao establishment in town) for their dua paos but I think Hock Hai paos are quite nice too.


But really the reason why the whole family went to Hock Hai wasn’t for the famous paos or sio bees, but for the kolo mee! My sister Jan told me that I should go to Hock Hai becaue the kolo mee is something special with this lovely mushroom flavour to it. And she was right!! There is this mushroomy aroma which I’ve never tried in other Kuching kolo mees, texture wise, my kolo mee was a little too bouncy (I suspect not cooked long enough) but that was only my bowl and everyone else enjoyed their kolo mee.


After breakfast we went Chinese New Year flower shopping with my father. This is an annual Chinese New Year ritual for the daitaoha family. The orchard that we visited was pretty big and had lots of pretty flowers and plants.

lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo is getting popular in Australia and they had tons here.


This flower is called the hai tang hua.It’s very pretty and elegant.

pussy willow

The pussy willow were  gorgeous and almost unreal in their glowing pink coats. My sister tells me that they’ve dyed the buds in pink so that must explain the vivid colours. Very eye catching.


These were my favourite flowers in the orchard. They were just so round and cute. But we didn’t buy them 😦


Our flowers for the Dragon Year!


Lunch was the annual Mcdonald’s Prosperity Burger. My sister and brother both like this peppery burger which only comes out during the Chinese New Year season. To be honest, I don’t like it much, the sauce is way too peppery and overpowering for me. I think I would prefer a Filet-o-Fish anyday.


While we were walking around the shopping centers we came across these! Very cute lah.


We’ve been trying to teach my brother how to cook easy Chinese meals for the past two days. Today it was my mother’s turn and she taught him how to cook this tomato honey chicken dish. It’s very tasty, easy to cook  and great with rice.

ah pa

My ah pa playing on the organ as usual. I didn’t realise how lucky we were as kids to have live music being played around the house all the time as we were growing up. For the past few days in Kuching, guitar music wafts out from my brother’s room daily and my father frequently sits down on the organ and starts playing lovely nostalgic songs. We’re lucky to be surrounded by talented music men in our family 🙂 Btw, remember the cute little stars?


They were so cute we brought one home!

Kuching Day 4: Kenyalang Market & Pohpiah @Noodle experts

One of the activities that I enjoy when I’m back in Kuching is accompanying my mother to the Kenyalang market.

The sights and sounds of the wet market are always interesting. There’s the rows of stalls selling their fare, ranging from chickens to fruits to clothes and all things possible. This stall sells Malaysian kuih muih, Malaysian desserts which can be sweet or savoury and are very yummy.

This is the floor level with all the food stalls, we used to come here a lot for supper when we were kids, this is our ‘Kenyalang Lao Deng’ meaning Kenyalang on top because it was on the upper level. I had many bowls of kolo mee here from this old aunty and uncle whom my father tells me have since retired :(.

mani chai

My mum bought my favourite local vegetable  ‘mani chai’ from this vegetable stall. I love this local veg and it’s my must-have when I’m back in Kuching. I believe you can only find it here in Kuching.

noodle expert

After the short shopping stint, I had breakfast with my parents at the Noodle Experts also located in Kenyalang, it was my first time in this refurbished and relocated cafe which has been around in Kenyalang since forever. My mum tells me that she used to buy this kolo mee takeaway for me for my breaktast/morning tea at school, but I don’t remember it at all!

kueh muih

I wasn’t ready for heavy eating so early in the morning, so had some gu chai kueh, which is a steamed dumpling (not eaten hot) with chives filling. You can also opt for dumplings with other vegetable fillings, my favourite being mang guang, otherwise known as radish. The dumpling skin is thin, chewy and lovely matched with the crunch of chives/radish, it’s easy to eat many of these at one go.

poh piah

My other ultimate must-eat food in Kuching is popiah, fresh spring rolls with mixed fillings of meat, beancurd, radish, nuts etc. Every popiah is different. I wasn’t expecting much of the popiah from Noodle Experts as our favourite popiah hails from Jin Fook Ling cafe (the king of popias) but this one was quite nice. Or it could be that I’ve been popiah deprived for too long haha.

poh pian2

This popiah had carrots, radish, spring onion and not much else, it was pretty good, I love the thinness of popiah skin, can I ever learn how to make this?!


Can’t have breakfast without my usual cup of kopi! I have to admit, I am not missing Australian flat whites, lattes or cappucinos. They taste so different from kopi and I really shouldn’t compare them at all. But I could get used to a daily dose of sweet kopi.

I had a nice afternoon  doggy session with our beautiful Goldie. She is still the friendliest, sweetest dog ever.


I roasted a chicken for dinner. I’m not sure it was a very good idea because Malaysian weather is not suitable for roasting, it was hot in the kitchen. Then again, Perth is probably sweating buckets right now, I should probably stick to roasting only in winter. In Malaysia, I shall stick to stir fries and iced desserts. Speaking of desserts, I know what I’ll be having for supper tonight, a bucket of pandan ice cream from Sunny Hill, gosh, it’s good to be home :).

Kuching Day 3: Kueh Chap @ JinMing Cafe and road side burgers

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of Day 3 in Kuching. Time flies when you’re spending time with family 🙂

kolo mee

We had an early breakfast at Jin Ming cafe. My ah pa had the ultimate breakfast for champions in Kuching, the one and only kolo mee.

kueh chap

But we were really there for the kueh chap. Jo never ceases to amaze me with her wonderful rapport with the stall owners! The kueh chap aunty recognized Jo as her old favourite customer, was chatting to her like mad and telling her about her chinese new year opening hours.


I think we’ve really been overeating quite a bit, I’m not sure I can handle the 4 or 5 meals a day menu. But somehow it feels as if you should eat all you can while you’re in kuching to make up for the whole year of cravings to come. For lunch, we went for Jo’s rehearsal lunch/test lunch for the wedding . It was a full 9 course chinese dinner, we ended up bringing home most of the food coz we just couldn’t work through it. Here’s some samples for those who are attending the wedding, above is the pipa sesame chicken.

honey longan

Dessert was this refreshing honey sea coconut longan dessert drink, very nice.


We gave up on going out and stayed home for a simple homecooked dinner. But even that was something special with my mum’s pan fried sambal fish, so good. But that wasn’t all! My brother brought us out for road side burgers for supper. What are road side burgers? Literally burgers sold by the roadside.

Looks wise they’re might be unassuming, but taste wise, these burgers are peppery, saucey, finger lickin good.Another good Kuching eats day.

Today we also went to visit my grandparents. It’s been a year since I last saw my gung gung and mahmah, sadly their health is deteriorating especially for my gung gung. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but his gaunt frame and sunken cheeks hit me really hard and I felt really upset when he couldn’t keep up a conversation with me. It was like we were both trying desperately to understand each other to no avail.I couldn’t do much but feed him an orange. I’m not sure he knew who I was.

Mah Mah was better, she remembered Jo and I. But she had memory lapses and we had to remind her a few times that Jan wasn’t coming home because she was having a baby. That’s when she would break out in happy smiles. She got up slowly and painfully from her chair, shuffled into her room and shut the door tightly. She doesn’t trust people to go into her room anymore. Then she came out, and pressed a red packet into Jo’s hands. It was a gold bracelet that she had been saving for Jo’s wedding. She forgets a lot of things but deep down inside, I don’t think she will ever forget us.

Mah Mah always sends us off from her house and my image of her is her, standing by the front porch of her house, waving madly and saying ‘bye bye! bye bye!’ while we wave from the open windows of our cars shouting ‘bye bye mah mah!’ Today we tried to tell her no to go out to the front porch because she walks so slowly and it’s obviously difficult for her nowadays. But she still insisted on walking out to the front porch. And she still waved to us, shouting ‘bye bye! bye bye!’

It made me feel really really sad.

Kuching Day 2 Bee Wee Hiong bak kut teh + Hui Sen dinner

I promised my sister Jan that I would blog frequently about my Kuching trip (especially about the food) so here goes Day 2 in Kuching.

My father actually wanted us to bring us for good kolo mee at Green Road, but we forgot that it was the weekend (I love holidays when everyday is a weekend) and the cafe was full. So we headed for our usual spot Bee Wee Hiong for bak kut teh instead. Good ol’ kopi to start the day.Jo had teh-c-peng and my father had his usual Kou Kou Gan.

pork leg rice
This kopitiam also sells good pork leg rice which we always have with a side of pig intestines, not for everyone but a favourite for Daitaoha’s family.

bak kut teh

Jason’s favourite bak kut teh. The owner told us that he will be open by the 6th day of CNY, just in time for Jaso’s arrival.Finally Gerry will get a taste of the real thing too! He’s been lying to strangers for years that he comes from Klang in Malaysia, with his house right next to the famous Ming Sen bak kut teh shop.

yew char kueh
I’m not sure whether it’s normal for other parts of Malaysia, but we always have yew char kueh (fried donut sticks) to dip in our bak kut teh.

ah chong

It was a busy day with visits to the shining star of Kuching the Spring as well as my favourite Kenyalang. By the time we went to Hu Sen for dinner, the open air food court was very very busy. Can you spot my ah pa in the crowd?


The food court was hot, smoky and humid. To beat the heat I had my favourite soft drink which can’t be found in Perth, Fanta Green. I don’t know why I like it so much, maybe the lurid green colour?

jagung peng

Jo had her favourite Jaguang Peng which means sweetcorn ice. She said looking at this photo made her feel like having another one.

matterhornThis is a Kuching special, the Matterhorn which doesn’t have the usual coconut milk in ices, but is tangy and very refreshing with pineapple, longan and lemon slices.


My usual order at Hui Sen which is kolo mee pang ang, straight kolo noodles with char siew sauce. Very good and one of my favourites, I finished my entire bowl.

Ok, end of Day 2. Day 3 has been full on so far, I’m really tired now, bye bye!

Kuching Day 1: kaya toast, Aladin chicken rice + durians!

It took us a long time to get to Kuching but we’ve finally arrived! We had one of those long wait in transit flights which ended up with us wandering aimlessly around the empty Changi Airport Terminal 2 in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing was open safe for Mcdonalds, so it became a temporary camping site for the early travellers.


Not willing to settle for just Maccas, we were delighted when ToastBox lighted up. It was such a cute looking stall too.


HC’s brekkie of kaya butter toast. Try to ignore the thick slab of butter in the middle which was sinful but yet good.

otah toast

Jo opted for the Otah Toast which I found a bit too overpowering for me in terms of taste, she said it tasted more like tomyum toast. We were not used to Singaporean prices, $1 -2(Sing dollars) for breakfast, surely that’s unknown in Perth.


I was feeling a bit ill then (airplanes do that to me) but was much better by the time we were inside the departure lounge for Terminal 1. So it was my turn for the breakfast of champions, Yakun soft boiled eggs, kaya toast and kopi. I enjoyed my eggs and coffee, but the kaya toast wasn’t toasted long enough to gain that lovely crispy yet soft texture. I think I prefer Killiney kaya toast more. Still, it was lovely to have a really Singaporean/Malaysian style breakfast.

angry birds

Many hours of waiting in the airport meant many hours of shopping and spending at duty free shops! There was an angry bird promotion in the airport, and we spent enough to get three angry birds! What are we going to do with them?! The blue one is kinda cute though.


But we finally left Changi Airport (still my favourite airport in the whole world) and arrived in Kuching. It was so heartwarming to see the familiar sight of my dad eating his soft cone icecream outside the arrival hall. He had his usual soft cone even though he was nursing a cough!

My little brother wasn’t there to pick us up because he had friends in town and was their designated tour guide for the day. But he tried to make up for it by having takeaway kolo mee from Bishop’s Gate waiting for us at home. Ok lah, forgiven. Bishop’s Gate is a famous cafe in Carpenter Street (one of the oldest streets in Kuching) well known for their kolo noodles. It’s an acquired taste because there’s vinegar in the noodles, ours being a takeaway was stiff in shape and rather dry. I’ve never been a big fan of Bishop’s Gate noodles but nevertheless it was still our first taste of kolo mee and I enjoyed it .

aladin cafe

After a rest in the afternoon, it was time for dinner. As you can tell, in our family, it’s just eat eat eat non-stop. For dinner we settled for Aladin Cafe, also located on Carpenter Street and famous for it’s fried chicken rice.

Can’t have good chicken rice without perfect rice. This rice wasn’t as great as the kind you get in Singapore, but fragrance and taste wise, it packed a lot of good flavour. I think Singapore chicken rice is perhaps smoother, oilier.

The steamed chicken rice was rich in sesame oil flavours and was tender. Again, different from Singapore and not not tasty, but somehow I still prefer the Singaporean version.

But really, Aladin cafe’s claim to fame is  their fried chicken. I can understand why people  go through stacks of these, they come out freshly fried, piping hot and juicy, salty and not too greasy. Sometimes you just need fried chicken.


Wash it down with an icy cold teh c special, and it’s another fantastic Kuching meal.


But that was not all! Our dessert of the day was durians! I haven’t had durian for almost a year now and you know you’re really home in Malaysia when you’re sitting on the floor with your family, with opened durians and empty durian shells on newspapers laid on the ground, feasting on the king of fruits and drinking salt water to ‘cool down’ your bodies afterwards.

A fantastic first day and more to come !

Going Home

Flying out in a few hours.

The next time I blog, it will be from Kuching!

3 weeks of family, friends and food. Can’t wait.  See you all in a bit 🙂

January 2012