Friday, April 25, 2014

Brunei Restaurant Review: Wang Jia Wang Restaurant

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When one thinks of Foo Chow cuisine, one would think about Sibu. Having visited Sibu when I was in my teens and sampled their trademark dishes, as well as eating at my Foo Chow friends open houses where they serve Foo Chow dishes – I must say I’m happy that a restaurant is serving these dishes in Gadong!

 

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The restaurant took over Heng Heng restaurant, which is located on the same row as Chin Nam Hong (building next to Jin Chiew Kopitiam). They are still in their soft opening stage but it’s already gathered quite a following from the local Foo Chow populace.

 

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Foo Chow friends and people who visited Sibu will surely have tasted Kam Pua Mee – it’s the Sibu version of Kolomee – but it has its own distinct texture and taste. I remembered friends who would buy the instant noodle version of Kam Pua from Sibu just to satisfy their cravings. Thankfully – you don’t need to go through so much trouble now.

 

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This is something pretty new to me – Hong Guang Man Mian – which is a Chinese phrase for a face that’s blushing red. The red colour comes from fermented red yeast – to give quite a delicious taste to the noodles. This uses a different noodle from the Kam Pua noodles as well – using the curly kind. I personally like this dish for the unique taste of fermented red yeast in my kolo mee.

 

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Dian Bian Wu, another Foo Chow dish is served here as well. A soupy scrambled rice noodle type of dish.

 

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Known as Bagel of the East – Gong Pia is made using a special oven similar to Naan. It has a nice chewy texture and is usually fried to enhance the crisp outer layer – and filled with minced pork. One of my favourite things to eat when I visited Sibu.

 

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Wang Jia Wang also serves Penang cuisine in their restaurant. So far – many had been raving about their Kway Teow having good Wok Hei (caramelization) and giving it the thumbs up. It’s pretty good – I must agree – but not as good as the ones I had in Penang.

 

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This is the popular Hokkien Mee Penang style – which is sliced pork, prawns in a spicy prawn broth. I must say it needs more ooompph in the soup. Having tried lots of Hokkien Mees in Penang, this is quite bland and I’ve told their management – I hope they heed my advice and improve this dish. A good dish but more room for improvement.

 

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Penang style Lu Mian/Lo Mee. It’s a gravy heavy noodle dish served with stewed pork, chicken feet and eggs. I felt it needed more stickiness and a touch of vinegar but that’s my preference.

 

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Snack wise – they have Hainanese fried Spring Rolls, Five Spice Meat rolls and these Sambal Chicken Wings.

 

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There’s still other dishes I have yet to try but for now – rejoice that there’s a place for Foo Chow and Penang dishes under one roof! Now – if only they serve Lui Char here!

 

Wang Jia Wang Restaurant

Building same block as Chin Nam Hong/Next to Jin Chiew Kopitiam

Gadong Central

Brunei

Opening hours is 7am to 10pm for now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brunei Restaurant Review: Pappa Rich Restaurant

 

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Franchises are mushrooming in Brunei and now Bruneians are spoiled for choice! Pappa Rich was one of the anticipated ones this year with rumours of spending a lot (more than 1 million) just on renovation and equipment. Naturally for Brunei, franchises are bound to be packed in the first few months of opening. Since franchises need to order a lot of their stock from their main franchise kitchen overseas, it can take time to replenish. I heard their supposed 3 month’s supply of certain popular items like wholewheat buns, fried mantou etc ran out within 3 weeks of operation! Yes – Brunei Boleh! We’re an excited bunch when it comes to trying out new places.

 

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The first few months were pretty challenging for the franchise in Brunei – the staff and management pushed to their limits which was expected. I finally got the chance to give the place to try just this month, having heard many mixed reviews about the service and the place – I came with not much expectations. The place is still pretty packed when I tried out their food.

Ambience wise – I like the place. You can see they spent a lot of money on the interior design. Seats are comfortable and spacious, with child seats for young children. They have different sections in the restaurants to cater for family meals, dates or meetings.

 

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We’ll start with their bread – it’s different as it’s pretty soft in texture unlike typical white breads. Reminds me of the soft textured white breads in the famous kopitiam in Damai KK. This is their honey toast.

 

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I’m always a fan of peanut butter and kaya – so this Hainanese style peanut butter kaya toast really suits my taste. Soft textured white bread with two of my favourite spreads. This would make a lovely breakfast daily – if I can afford to eat this daily that is! Probably for dates or gathering with friends or business meetings.

 

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If you don’t like peanut butter (I know right? Some people just don’t like them) – there are other spreads to choose from in the menu – such as this simple kaya toast – or you can have them with soft boiled eggs. Hmm …. toast and eggs ~ hubba hubba.

 

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Sorry to say – My favourite will still be their peanut butter kaya toast. How can you say no to that?!

 

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Another good breakfast item or snack is their steamed wholemeal buns, filled with bean paste. I think the wholemeal gives it a more fragrant smell, especially when they arrive steamy hot and you try to peel them because you can’t wait!

 

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Now – this is the epic one. Deep fried buns (mantous) with egg mayo. Crispy outer layers and soft inner layers paired with the rich eggy filling. Highly recommended and this is something I would crave for! Thumbs up!

 

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Their porridge is quite good as well – served with peanuts and fried anchovies on the side. I regretted not adding an extra egg to the porridge.

 

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Pappa Rich serves dim sum like these too but unlike the steamed wholemeal buns, I wasn’t impressed with these. You would need to dip them in a lot of sauce for extra flavour. On their own, they taste pretty bland.

 

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Their Curry Mee while not being the best in Brunei, is still pretty good. Rich, spicy slurpy soupy noodles. Just be careful when slurping especially if you’re wearing that white office shirt!

 

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I for one prefer their dry curry mee, which is a bit like kolomee – noodle tossed in their signature soy sauce blend, with some thick curry gravy. Basically like having kolomee with curry sauce. Yum!

 

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You have the option of pairing it with their steamed chicken – it works well together!

 

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Dry curry mee with steamed Hainanese chicken ~~ oooh yes! Good combo! For me it’s more worth it to order this as a set since the usual chicken rice is already 5.90.

 

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Ipoh Hor Fun – an Ipoh style prawn soup base with silky rice noodles. The dish is pretty standard but I wished it had a stronger flavour – perhaps I am spoiled by my frequent trips to Malaysia – so I tend to expect more.

 

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If you have a craving for Assam Laksa from Penang – you can pop over to try Pappa Rich’s version. Having tried Penang’s famous Assam Laksa and learned to make the dish myself, I think Pappa Rich’s version passed the test. It’s a good Assam Laksa but it cannot compare to freshly made Assam Laksa – understandable because it’s a franchise. Pretty good for a franchise Assam Laksa though, I must say.

 

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If you’re really hungry – you can order this rice set – aromatic rice (quite yummy) served with curry chicken, beef rendang and sambal sotong. It has a bit of everything and will satisfy your hunger. Good for those who like a bit of everything and variety in their meal.

 

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They have Western food too like this fried chicken chop and fried rice. Their frying technique and coating for the chicken is pretty good. Very crispy – though I would ask them to put the sauce on the side as I don’t want the sauce to drench the crispy skin.

 

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Now I must say – I’m a big fan of Penang Kway Teow and I was very skeptical when my friend ordered this to share with me – since I don’t believe that franchises can have great kway teow. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it – and I must say I highly rate this plate of kway teow. Good caramelization (wok hei) and strong flavours – while using the same type of thinner kway teow used in Penang! Funny thing on my instagram – someone posted and asked if this is the #blogger special – I mean – how can you make a kway teow any more different or special just for a food blogger? A few other readers tried this and gave a high rating to this as well – but of course – some do complain that it’s pretty expensive. I guess it’s normal for places with better ambience – you cannot expect to pay pasar malam or kedai kopi/kopi tiam prices. Let’s hope Pappa Rich Brunei make sure no one kidnaps the chef who makes this delicious kway teow!

 

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Dessert wise – they have two types of sago in coconut milk dishes. This is one of them served with gula melaka.

 

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I prefer this one with an added slice of pudding ~~ oooh yeahhhh!

 

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You can adjust the sweetness to your liking with the gula melaka ~ I personally like mine less sweet.

 

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Their ABC is pretty epic too. Creamy sweet corn, grass jelly, red beans, lychee etc and topped with ice cream. Refreshingly good – though I don’t care for the lychees or longans.

 

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They also have glutinous rice balls/tang yuans and dried longans in soy milk but I am not particularly fond of this dessert. Some friends liked this though – so I guess it’s a love it or hate it kind of dessert.

 

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I didn’t expect Pappa Rich to have brownies – so decided to give it a try. It’s pretty good – quite moist and goes well with the ice cream. I’ll definitely have this with a nice hot cup of coffee or cham (mix tea and coffee).

 

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Or I could have it with this iced premium coffee – this is their signature gold quality ice coffee. Ahhhhhh ~ Pappa Rich is popular for their wide variety of drinks. When I was in Malaysia and visited their branches – they are pretty busy especially at night time – where people hang around there sipping their specialty drinks. Pricing wise for drinks – I was surprised that compared to Singapore and Australia branches – the prices in Pappa Rich are cheaper for their drinks. The management told me they negotiated with the franchise to lower the prices to be competitive in the Bruneian market. Considering that we pay quite a hefty $5 to $7 for typical drinks in other franchises – the prices for drinks in Pappa Rich are pretty reasonable. Below are some of the drinks we tried.

 

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My friend ordered this iced mocha with ice cream (or was it a shake). It was pretty good as I like the thick coffee creamy flavour and the added bonus of an ice cream on top instead of whipped cream sealed the deal for me. Ice Cream > Whipped Cream – anytime any day.

 

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I was excited when I saw Frosty MUG Root Beer Float on their menu. This sparked good memories of that icy cold mug – root beer float from A & W in Brunei which unfortunately closed down. To my dismay – I think their fridge for the mugs were out of order – so my 'supposingly frosty icy mug came out like this …. quite a disappointment and I hope they fixed this soon! I’m a big big fan of FROSTY MUG ROOT BEER FLOAT! Rawr! #incrediblehulkrampage #hulksmash

 

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My brother being the adventurous type tried this Ribena and Watermelon drink. He likes it but not for me. There are some things in life that you just cannot imagine going well together. I still can’t fathom why my brother likes this drink! Try it and see if you’re on my side or my brother’s side (Dark side)! LOL.

 

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Last but not least is my absolutely favourite drink in Pappa Rich. This is their Soy Milk, with pudding and grass jelly. The contrast of the soft pudding and the slightly firmer texture of the grass jelly goes very well with the fresh soy milk (ordered daily from a local supplier. Now if they could serve this with black sesame ice cream (available only in Malaysia branches.. sniff sniff) this would be the most epic beverage in Brunei. Highly recommended! I actually can finish two of these on my own!

 

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After trying some of these dishes in a few visits, I can say the food is pretty standard in Pappa Rich – some hit and misses as I described. People would always debate about the price point – since you can get pretty much most of the food for cheaper prices in other kedai kopi or kopitiam – which would be an unfair comparison considering the extra costs of interior design, maintenance as well as franchise fees. It would be more fair to compare their pricing to other cafes or franchises in Brunei.

It’s not possible to eat here often but I’ll definitely return just for the dishes I really like and for occasions where I want to hang out with my friends and chat over drinks (ooooh that delicious soy milk grass jelly pudding) while having some food. It’s also a good place to bring your clients or business meetings, or a casual date you want to impress – a not too posh place as if you’re trying too hard and not a kopi tiam (no ambience la)

 

PappaRich Brunei
ANSH Restaurant,
Block G, Ground Floor,
Abdul Razak Complex,
Gadong, BE4119,
Brunei Darussalam.
Tel: +673-2432333

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sri Latha Restaurant–Kota Kinabalu Guide for Tourists–Walking distance from Centrepoint

Sri Latha is highly regarded by the locals as the go to place for good Indian cuisine. If you’re a fan of the banana leaf concept of Indian food, then you’re in for a treat. In my trips to KK, I had been recommended to try this place through different people. This just goes to show how popular this place is. The best part is – it’s just 11 minutes walk from my favourite hotel: Imperial Boutech .

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Located along Jalan Berjaya within Bandaraya – Sri Latha is easy to find for the locals but might be challenging for tourists. Thankfully – the landmark to spot is a Merry Brown Fast Food Outlet – and the row of shops behind it. The google map directions should help you find this place easily.

 

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The Sri Latha menu – you might need to squint your eyes or zoom into the image for the list and prices.

 

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They don’t use plates much here – instead they put a banana leaf on your table and you order your choice of curries to go with the condiments and rice.

 

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Condiments are pretty yummy spiced up veggies!

 

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Oh would you look at those spices! YUM! Drooling already as I was taking the picture.

 

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You can request for briyani rice which has more flavour than plain rice. DUH ~~ lol.

 

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A close up picture of the goodies! ooooooooh yessss!!

 

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There are quite a variety of curries to go with your banana leaf dining experience – this is the curried lamb – all hail the spice culinary kingdom!

 

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Or you could go for seafood such as these yummy squid – They have prawns, mackerel, beef and chicken curries too but I was seduced by the lamb.

 

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Someone preferred these spiced up fried chicken – they’re not tandoori – but marinated with aromatic spices and deep fried. Not so crispy – the skin was kind of soft and a tad too salty for me – but my friend loves them.

 

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Hubba hubba ~~ yummy in my tummy banana leaf cuisine experience! Thumbs up!

 

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“The most beautiful woman is one who loves food.” Anonymous Foodie.  Thanks Sherina for bringing me here for the first time – few years back!

 

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Their fish head curry is their signature dish which we always order to share while enjoying the banana leaf rice sets.

 

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A visit to an Indian restaurant would not be complete without ordering Roti. It’s okay but it can’t be compared to the best roti in the land! See my post on Best Murtabak here

 

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They also got fried quail here! Oooh crispy spiced goodness! nom nom!

 

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Last but not least – you simply cannot miss fried fish eggs – basically caviar – deep fried with aromatic spices! OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!! SO SO SO MUST TRY!

 

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Bing and Calista happily posing for the camera during last year’s mini KK Blogger’s makan at Sri Latha.

 

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The best part about being a food blogger is meeting other bloggers while travelling and having them to show you around – hunting for the best eats! Thanks Dinoza, Charlotte, Calista and Bing for showing me around whenever I pop over KK!

 

Below are google map directions to this delicious curry house!

 

Sri Latha Curry House

No. 28, Jalan Berjaya,

Bandar Berjaya,

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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