Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Best Laksa Sarawak in Kuching...

According to me, that is.

Street food, hawker's favorite, uniquely Sarawak... whatever it is called, this dish has always been my favorite Saturday morning breakfast. Laksa Sarawak is easy to find all over Kuching compared to other parts of Sarawak, but whether you like what you're being served is very subjective and entirely up to your taste buds. Or if you're a little industrious and diligent, then hey you can also opt to fix a bowl on your own!

But in case you're new in town --- and remember this is a review based on MY taste buds only --- and is looking for some awesome Laksa Sarawak experience, here's MY Top 10 places to have the best Kuching.

1. Fat Cat Cafe, Stutong 
- same row with J&J Cafeteria Stutong and next to Ambank
- RM6 for a big bowl. Steamed chicken as per photo below is additionally ordered from the chicken rice next stall (cause I like my chicken in big pieces instead of shredded)
- Very consistent in taste.
- Opens daily but they normally finished serving by 11am, so wake up early man.
- This Cafe is usually crowded in the weekends but not so bad on other days
- My rating: 10 star!
Fat Cat Laksa...
2.  Chong Choon Cafe, Jalan Abell
- same row with Air Asia sales office; Raja Ayam Bakar)
- Around RM6 - RM8 for a big bowl
- Also consistent in taste. And they also have a very big glass of teh C peng to go with it.
- Normally finished serving by 11am, so if you're late, then it's your own fault.
- This cafe is almost always packed with customers so sharing tables with smiling strangers are almost always a necessity too. Food connects people, yes?
- My rating: 9 star
 Chong Choon Laksa...

3. Sin Chong Choon Cafe, Green Height Commercial Centre
- just right behind the Cold Storage
- very crowded during peak breakfast hour at any time of the day so if you mind waiting, you can nicely ask to share table, although waiting for an empty table won't be that long
- Around RM8 for a big bowl
- We usually order steamed chicken drumstick (no rice) from the next stall to add in to our laksa (the chicken rice is also not bad weh)
- My rating: 7 star (or 6.5 if they don't have the coriander leaves which I love so much in my laksa)
Sin Chong Choon laksa...

4. Foody Goody Cafe, Stutong/Jalan Setia Raja
- the next block of shop before Kuching Specialist Hospital; in fact it's also almost at the same area with Fat Cat Cafe, just different blocks of shops
- reasonably priced for a big bowl, although sometimes the prawns are not so big even when you ask for a special bowl (which they make up for with quantity)
- Business is brisk and the good news is they normally finish by 12pm, if you're lucky, which is convenient for me in case Fat Cat laksa is gone, I can always opt to come here as a second choice
- My rating: 6.5
Foody Goody Laksa...

5. Mom's Laksa, Jalan Semarak or at any location
- This cafe has a few branches in Kuching, just watchout for the logo (with the same name)
- The one I normally visit is at nearby Gita/Matang area, opposite Bemmers Cafe, because it's closer to home. There's another one at Jalan Astana, Petra Jaya
- Opens daily (7am - 11pm)
- The gravy is slightly thick and creamy and sometimes they have king prawn to go with it, if they don't run out of stock too fast
- My rating: 5.5
Mom's Laksa...

6. Fu Xiang Food Court, in between Rubber Road/Jalan Satok
- I might have missed the road signs but this food court is right opposite Hong Leong Bank in Satok (this side of the road on Rubber Road) before you pass by the Original Car Wash
- The laksa here is not bad, in fact if they also serve it with the green soup leaves (or coriander), I might've frequented it more often since it's not that far away
- The gravy is consistently nice
- We also usually order extra steamed chicken meat from the next stall just to add more bites to it
- My rating: 5 (also because the lady owner is sweet)
Fu Xiang laksa...

7. Madam Tang's Cafe, Jalan Petanak, Padungan
- ah king prawn, the 'big special' is priced at RM12, last time I ordered
- The gravy is nice but not always consistent, sometimes it's a bit salty and sometimes slightly bland but I supposed I can forgive them for the amount of garnishing they usually put
- Laksa is served throughout the day although lunchtime would be very packed and you won't be able to find an empty table for awhile
- My rating: 4.5
Madam Tang laksa...

8. Ciak Pa Boi Cafe, Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli
- Near 3rd Mile roundabout and Jua Joo Park, you can't miss it on your coming down from the flyover heading to Boulevard Mall
- The good thing about the laksa here is that it opens from morning till late at night
- A special order would have the red pork meat in them (so this makes it non-halal)
- The gravy is not bad (although can be better) and the portion is big
- My Rating: 4.5
Ciak Pa Boi laksa...

9. Yee Ho Yan Cafe, Matang Jaya
- Is a new cafe, same block with a discount score
- Now this place was introduced by an avid food critic on FB.
- Overall I'd say it was ok
- Gravy slightly lacking in the creamy department but the presentation is nice; the lady selling it was also friendly. If all else fails, I'd probably make this the second last resort
- My Rating: 4; but you gotta try it to rate it yourself
Yee Ho yan laksa...

10. Garden Cafe Laksa, Golden Arch, Hua Joo Park
- right at the 3rd Mile roundabout, can't miss it
- Finding a parking would be a slightly challenging task
- The laksa sarawak here used to be the talk of the town due to its big prawns and real creamy gravy.
- Lately I found the gravy getting spicier, like hot spicy, the kind that can make your nose run.
- The service is fast and the waitresses are always friendly especially to regular customers, so points scored for that.
- On a normal craving day, this would be my last resort
- My Rating: 3.5 
 Golden Arch laksa...

So there you have it! You either take my word for it or you don't, that's entirely up to you. And there are actually a lot more other places selling really nice Laksa Sarawak, but probably I haven't discovered them. These ones above have been tested and tried.
And if you noticed, most of these cafes have Chinese names, but that's Sarawak for you. And don't be worried about its state of halal or non-halal. Most Laksa Sarawak do not have pork or lard in them (otherwise you would be informed about it). Or to be safe, you can always opt to visit Muslim cafes selling laksa. :-)
ON THE OVERALL FRONT... And this goes without saying...

Of course, I still prefer my own home-made laksa sarawak (below) because I can customised however I want, add more prawns than I dare and play around with the garnishing according to my own taste buds. You can read about that little laksa adventure HERE.

Coffee Girl's home made laksa...

Bon appétit and have a great laksa ahead people! :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Those little thirst quenchers...

I once resolved to actually chronicle this whole journey here (some parts anyway), but between here and there and so much going on in between, that became another forgotten good intention. Who knew being in the family way could sap the energy from a person like a vacuum suck up dust?

Anywayyyyyy... Week 34 today and thus far all I can say about myself at this stage are:

1. Didn't completely leave coffee off my diet the entire time, well, i.e. until the first trimester was over and we sailed by the danger zone safe and sound. It was completely nuts going cold turkey on such a short notice, but hey... things we do for love, right? Although I alternately consume them consciously and rather sparingly during the second trimester onwards, and counting my quota per day, as per doctor's advice. 

 Ipoh white coffee...

2. A sucker for Coca Cola at most times... A lot of times... All the time. The minute I think or say about having one, I gotta and must have one. In fact last night I had two cans before bedtime which kept we up slightly later than usual. Wasn't proud of myself, but sometimes you just got to have one, you know, as long as it's counted in the quota intake. Wasn't this crazy about Coke before, but hey... At least this craving is easier and cheaper to assuage than some crazier and more unreasonable ones that some other people have, thank God.
 Coke on the rock...
3. And young coconut juice. Funny how I never actually liked it before, now I just cant have enough. On the bright side, reviews actually said they're good for the baby and me. 5 points for that!

Fresh young coconut juice with extra ice...
4. I still drink the recommended maternity milk... usually with a dose of cereal to make it tastier. Although now a little less since we changed gynae. He said those are 'stuffs made of sugar and fat' and that it would do us both a lot better having my calcium intake from natural fiber sources. Well ok doc... You know best.
Milk with choc cereal...
5. Lots and lots of plain water in between. Other than to dilute the sugar/caffeine intake as per above etc, also excellent for avoiding swollen ankles/hands or puffy face caused by water retention. Makes no sense to reduce water retention by drinking more water right? Apparently it works! Although it frequents the toilet trip. But no biggie. 
 Iced plain water...

So there you have it. No judging please. We're fine. Meanwhile, this oversized otter has a few more weeks to go... So with God's grace and mercy, we can do this baby! Wohoo!!

Note: Photos of S3 and Mi3 quality only

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The tricky thing about choosing your preferred Obstetrician ...

[Note: Motherhood Journal Pt 1]

Sometimes there's just no way to say it but to say it straight.

When we first knew we were expecting -- you know, like, after the first 3 pee-on-a-stick tests to be really really sure -- the first question that came to mind was... so hey, on which episode did it take flight? Haha. Oh trust me... the doctor will want to know this too, to try to pin out your estimated due date. Well, more accurately, they will ask when your last day of menses is. So if you screw that up and forget when, then your EDD will be messed up a bit too. 

And then there are the other more pressing questions like... Do we go see a doctor right away? Which doctor do we go to and which clinic or hospital? Are we going to stick with the same doctor till we go into labor or do we get him/her to recommend us a better option?

I supposed nobody can blame first timers. In fact, you should be asking all these questions and find the answers because the things you read in Google search these days can either be right or more opinion-based than the actual thing. So it is a very good idea to get an expert's opinions.

Peek-a-boo! At 32 weeks... Pic courtesy of daddy.

Now back to the question of choosing the right doctor. 'Right' means to me that the doctor provides all the information and care that I expect from a doctor, and offers information instead of asking if i have any other questions. New mommies sometimes don't really know how to deal with "Do you have any questions you want to ask me?"

When asked the first time, of course I was ready with my sets of questions of things I feel I need to know in case my doctor didn't tell me right away. Standard first-time-appointment questions that every new mommy felt obliged to ask. But as we progress, I felt there were less and less questions and I wasn't sure I covered every ground or if I missed anything I'm supposed to know but didn't or were afraid to ask, in case you know, I'd look stupid if I were supposed to know the answer to that but didn't.

Sometimes there are some embarrassing concerns some women feel more comfortable discussing with a lady doctor than a male doctor. And sometimes there are moments you'd feel like the lady doctor takes you being a woman for granted and expects you to learn these things as you go along like every other woman before you because perhaps that would be the best lesson.

And sometimes some male doctors are more understanding and more sympathetic to your plight than you ever thought possible, because you know... they're male. What would they know about giving birth other than what they're being taught in medical schools, right? Which brings to mind, what makes a man suddenly decide to be an obstetrician or a gynecologist in the first place? Baffling thought, like wonders of the universe known only to the man himself.

I started out picking a lady doctor blindly from a list of few other lady doctors from this private hospital. Not knowing much about her other than what her reviews in blogs said about her. Which is not bad either. In fact, the reviews were right.

She is nice, friendly, crack jokes once in a while to put us both at ease. We were fine with her in the beginning, in fact, we thought we would stick by her till the time comes. But as we moved along month by month, I found that the more she asked me if I have any questions at the end of every consultation, I found like, there it was... that feeling like I should know something or ask something advance, but what the heck it is I can't put a finger on it. Like, there must be something missing.

And then, like a cue from heaven, she decided to take a 1-month leave to go overseas for a personal religious trip. So what was I to do but find a replacement doctor until she comes back. Picking another doctor blindly is something I found inconvenient and a little troublesome considering HEY THERE'S A LOT I DON'T KNOW ALREADY AND NOW I HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN? 

Of course I didn't say that out loud. Ever the lady I must be. *smirk*

There you go. Tricky, isn't it. But like a good Christian, I prayed about this too for God to show me something... some sign... that perhaps I had missed in the first place. Some wisdom and discernment sure is tacky at a moment like this.

That being said, we met this other male obstetrician last week and whoa... Halleluiah! In the space of a few minutes, he was answering all the questions I didn't even need to ask and didn't even know I should already be asking! Like, hey, he can read my mind! Of course, this was after the few minutes of getting over my background check just to get it right even though most of my history is right there on the ante-natal card. Doctor's own policy, he said.

Even when doing the ultrasound scan, he was so patient and gentle. There are some merits on him that I found amazing and thought to myself "Imagine if my doctor didn't conveniently go on a prolong holiday, I would never have discovered you!"

His secretary was also much much nicer (but all of them were nice there). By the way, I asked the missy "Is it ok if I change doctor? Is she going to be offended? Is this going to create problem among them? Is it unethical of me?" She convinced me it is okay and in her own words "You're the one who's going into that labour ward. Your comfort is what matters. Besides, people do it all the time."

Some signs huh?

It's like going shopping, sometimes you like what you're paying for but eventually you will feel like you need something more. So then like it or not, you need to go shopping again and maybe make a change here and there, by trial and error. So what do I look for when choosing my preferred doctor?

1. One who offers the information instead of asking if I have any questions.
2. One who is patient, gentle and understanding.
3. Soft-spoken and always make an effort to make me feel comfortable.
4. Address all the embarrassing concerns to my face, without batting an eye, and make sure it's important that I get it right
5. Address my husband like an equal, because he is an essential element in this picture
6. Not too serious, knows when to joke, and when to keep it real
7. Is not to busy or have too many patients otherwise you just have to wait in long queues
8. Read all the reviews about the doctor, Google is a good source. And also ask the other nurses.
9. Has that generally trustworthy 'confidante' face.
10. Makes you feel like you can trust him/her with your life... and your baby's.

That being said, it's decided. The heck with it, I am changing doctor.

Generic colours for the lil one...

P/s: By the way, in case you're wondering, me and baby check in at Normah Medical Specialist every month. Among many personal reasons why we decide to go there and not to a government clinic/hospital, the only one reason I can tell you is that it is only a few minutes away from home.

P/s again: And no, we do not want to know the sex of the baby. We even pre-warned the doctors not to tell us even if they knew. So will it affect shopping for baby stuff? Nah... In the olden days, our parents got by just fine.