Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Brunei Restaurant Review: Bistro Chez Fio is in town!

Chez Fio, which means Fio’s Place in French recently opened in Kiulap opposite Big Mama Restaurant and Netzone. The head chef Fiona Chian is born in Canada and was brought up by Bruneian parents. She has an enormous passion for food and decided to come to Brunei to open a restaurant. I must say I am very inspired to see someone bringing in Canadian influences to the Bruneian Dining Scene. Step forward – Chez Fio, Canadian Inspired Bistro.


I personally loved the ambience, décor and choice of soft soothing music. Upon entering the bistro, it sparked fond memories of cafes or breakfast places in Australia – the smell of freshly baked goods, coffee and tea ~~ ahhh ~~ I’m loving it!


I like the good old chalkboard when it comes to writing up the specials of the day! You simply can’t go wrong with it! Notice that there’s plenty of photos and pictures being displayed as well. Chef Fiona personally designed the cafe, paying painstaking attention to the small details to add a welcoming yet unique dimension to the look and feel of the bistro.


They recently added more colours to their chalkboard menu! *picture taken from their facebook page* The wonderful use of colours and art really attracts attention and sparks your inner childhood memories of playing with chalk during ones primary school days.


They have an assorted array of drinks to choose from ~ ranging from the classic caffe latte to signature mocktails! You gotta try them!




I bet you got thirsty after looking at these drinks!


Chez Fio offers a good choice of muffins for breakfast such as their Apple Cheddar Muffin – for only $3 – you get a hearty muffin and free house coffee or tea! Now that’s a good deal or what?! They have different muffins daily so do check the board on what special muffins are sold ~~


Chez Fio has two different menus for Breakfast and Lunch! Breakfast is usually from 7am till 11am – Lunch from 11 am till 2pm. All breakfast items comes served with complimentary house coffee or tea!


The customer has an option of choosing whole wheat or normal pancakes. I chose the healthier option pancake stack – served with mixed berries sauce and whipped cream ~~ hubba hubba ~~ *picture taken from phone in dim lighting*


Another breakfast item I ordered was the vegetarian omelet – chocked full of goodness and served with a side of sautéed potatoes. I’m feeling healthier already! There’s quite a lot of other breakfast options available from the menu or the colourful chalkboard – be sure to give them a shot! *photo taken with phone in dim lighting too*


For lunch, they have got a fixed set of items to order from the menu – and special items depending on which day you visit. I had the privilege of trying quite a number of their dishes ~~


Their beef burgers are cooked properly (medium with a pink center) and topped with cheese and crispy onion rings (oh yesh!). I like the dressing on the salad leaves and tomatoes that come with the burger. They also serve sweet potato fries which gave a pretty colourful presentation!


Next comes my favourite lunch – their roast beef sandwich – using Chef Fio’s home made bread! I simply loved the texture of the sandwich! Bravo on the bread!  I still felt the sandwich could do with a little bit of sweetness to contrast with the savoury roast beef and cheese. The accompanying salad is a welcoming addition of fresh tasting goodness with extra crunch from chickpeas and raisins!


The beef stew has a sweeter taste to it and is pretty fork tender to eat. It’s served with sautéed long beans (I initially thought it was asparagus!) and mashed potatoes. A fusion dish making use of local produce.


Their house lasagna makes use of ricotta and mince beef. It’s not as creamy as the typical lasagna we get in Brunei – and it’s served with a side of fresh vegetables. Make sure you eat them to balance out the lasagna! *photo taken from Chez Fio’s Facebook Fan Page – the one I took with my phone wasn’t satisfying*


This dish is interesting – when I posted the Chez Fio pictures on my Instagram. Fellow SocMed friend Maurina, asked if they have Poutine, indicating it as a popular Canadian dish . I wasn’t sure but when I sat down at Chez Fio for another lunch session and saw Poutine ~ I simply had to try it. Poutine is basically French fries with cheese curds and good old fashioned gravy ~~~ hmm… I liked the cheese curds and gravy – but I felt the fries could be crispier to contrast with the curds and gravy. *photo ALSO taken from Chez Fio’s Facebook Fan Page – it’s never easy taking picture with your phone*


Now here’s something interesting (and I had not tried it yet!!) – ice cream sandwiches! Oh my! I found this photo on their Facebook Fan Page and simply cannot resist not posting it! *credit goes to whoever snapped this tasty looking morsel!*


*picture of the ice cream sandwiches (oh my Android!) taken by Jane Chang* Beautiful!


One thing I liked about Chez Fio is their wonderful friendly staff – and you can always see Chef Fiona buzzing around like a busy bee. Chez Fio currently operates from 7am till 11am for Breakfast Menus, 11 am till 2pm for Lunch Menus and I heard they are now extending their opening hours from 2.30pm to 5pm for their special HAPPY HOUR – serving Freshly baked cookies, garlic herb scones, and sausage buns – or perhaps some new creations from Chef Fiona!


This is Thanis Lim ~ your well fed food blogger ~~ signing off ~ *licks salt off rim and sips mocktail* Hmmm ~~

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Taiwanese Pop Corn Chicken

Taiwanese popcorn chicken or 鹹酥雞 is a popular snack in Taiwanese culture. Even in Taiwanese style restaurants or shops overseas like in Sunnybank, Brisbane Australia, or Boxhill in Melbourne Australia; you will see this dish. You can also find it in CheezeBox or Gripps for $5.00 a plate. 鹹酥雞 means Salty and Crispy Chicken if you translate it directly. Yes - it's nicely spiced with salt, pepper and five spice powder, then dipped in a special flour that gives its extra crisp, ! In fact, this is one of my favourite way to coat my meats to pan fry or deep fry. The secret is .... *drum rolls*

Sweet Potato Starch, get the one that's coarse and grainy like breadcrumbs texture. I guarantee the most crispy coating you can have if you use this type of starch to coat! This is also served with Thai basil that's deep fried quickly.

Here's the recipe:
1.5 kg boneless skinless chicken thigh (Cut into bite size pieces) : Chicken thigh has better texture than breast meat but if you want, you can still use chicken breasts.
1 cup thick soy sauce (or you can use teriyaki sauce)
1/4 cup sweet cooking rice wine (mirin is also a good choice)
3 tablespoons white pepper
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder (you can find in Hua Ho, and most Asian grocery stores)
2 whole garlic clove, minced. (I usually cut extras into tiny chips so that I can sprinkle those deep fried garlic with the chicken too. iYum!)
3 tablespoons honey or (2 tablespoons brown sugar or white sugar)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (usually they don't add this but I simply like the smell of sesame oil)
Two eggs (for coating later - helps to bind the flour and also add flavour)

For Coating:
Lots of sweet potato flour (aka SWEET POTATO starch, used for the coating of chicken) - get the more grainy ones.

Sweet fresh Thai basil (not the Italian Basil) for deep frying.

Spice Sprinkles (for sprinkling on the popcorn chicken)
2 tablespoons white pepper
1/2 tablespoons five spice powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Toast the spice mixture on a pan (constantly shaking them to prevent burning) - once you can smell the fragrance - you hit the right spot!


1) First of all, mix all the ingredients (except the egg and flour) to marinate the chicken together first - give them a gentle massage to mix well.

2) Marinate the chicken with the marinade for half an hour to one hour - covered, in the fridge

3) Heat up the oil to the right frying temperature.

4) Deep fry the basil leaves first (make sure they are dry) till crispy and set aside (this also flavours the oil). Heat up oil to right temperature for frying the chicken.

5) Take out marinated chicken from fridge and 'massage' in your eggs.

6) Coat the chicken with the sweet potato starch (give them a bit of a rest before deep frying - this let's the moisture of the eggs and marinade cling better to the starch) and deep fry in small batches till golden - just about cooked - then scoop them and set aside. When you're about to serve - heat oil till hot, then add the chicken again to crisp them up in high temperature oil - this double frying technique ensures the batter to be hot and crispy!

7) Sprinkle the spice mix on the popcorn chicken at this time - serve next to basil leaves. Delicious on their own!

NOTE: The time to add the basil varies - some prefer to actually add it while you're frying your chicken to increase flavour - but I am skeptical as this suddenly lowers the oil temperature during frying - I would prefer to fry my basil leaves at the beginning. It's just my method.


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Kota Kinabalu Food Guide For Tourists – walking distance from Centrepoint – Seng Hing Restaurant

For the ultimate compilation of the Kota Kinabalu Food Guide – Where you can find the best food within walking distance. Click here for the KK Food Guide for Tourists!

Having travelled to Kota Kinabalu on a consistent basis and blessed with great friends – I would always have transport to go to various places outside of town to dine. Locals would stress that most of the good food’s out of town and not within walking distance but I beg to differ – there are definitely good eats to be had within walking distance! This guide is specially for those who are staying around Imperial Boutec Hotel, Warisan Square, Centrepoint, Suria Sabah or Gaya Street areas. All within 20 minutes walking distance (for an average healthy person of course). Welcome to Part III of the KK series – this time we introduce to you Seng Hing Restaurant.

Seng Hing Restaurant is located just behind Le Meridian Hotel in Kota Kinabalu along Sinsuran 2. It boasts it’s title as having the best Tom Yum Bee Hoon in KK and also having very good Tuaran Mee (a famous delicacy from Tuaran, about 45 minutes drive from town). '

Picture of the restaurant thanks to Meitze, she believes this place boast one of the best Tom Yum Soup in town and I have to agree with her. It’s sour and spicy kick is something to be raved about!


Picture of this Tom Yam Noodle courtesy of Meitze


This is my all time favourite dish of Seng Hing – their huang jiu tuaran mee. Tuaran mee on it’s own is already pretty good – but the addition of Huang Jiu (yellow wine), home made by the restaurant and stir fried together gives a fragrant sweet rice wine taste to the noodles! OMG – heavenly! I usually order mine with their signature crispy fish slices for my Tuaran mee. If you had not tried this dish while you were in KK, you’re missing out!


Meitze has a better looking picture of this Tuaran Mee in her blog – I think she went full blast on the toppings!! ~~ great photography!


While the restaurant is famous for their Tom Yum and Tuaran Mee, there are other dishes that are quite popular there such as this YU WAT (shaped fish paste) soup – has a sour salty taste to it. Like salted vegetable soup. (same shop but different stall – selling Yu Wat Soup and Chicken Rice)


Anyone tried Mongolian Chicken Rice at Seng Hing? I gave it a shot and wasn’t very impressed. It’s quite cheap and if you’re in a mood for chicken rice, I supposed it’s ok. (same shop but different stall – selling Yu Wat Soup and Chicken Rice)


Seng Hing have pretty decent fish slices curry with long beans and eggplant – pretty spicy and delicious – but I prefer the curry at Ang’s Hotel (which is nearby – soon to come in next post).


This dish deserves a special mention. This is their Thai Style Crystal Phoenix Claw (or chicken feet for those who don’t eat Dim Sum often). What I like about this dish is that they’ve taken off the bones so it’s easier to eat and served it in a sweet, sour and spicy salad – this tastes a bit like the jelly fish salad you get in Chinese Restaurants – a good dish in my opinion and good to share with your friends to nibble with your other dishes! A must try!


There are some other signature dishes that I’ve yet to try in Seng Hing but I saw quite a few customers order them when I visit: Bittergourd Fried Bee Hoon (which is interesting as I always like stir fried bittergourd as it’s very healthy yet delicious if you fry them correctly), their Wa Tan Hor (stir fried kway teow with an egg swirl sauce) and their Laksa, some claimed it’s very good! (the next stall with Yu Wat and Mongolian Chicken). I tend to come here for their Yellow Wine Tuaran Mee and have no space to order these dishes – if you come as a big group – it might be a good idea to order and share just to have a taste! (no pictures obviously cause I didn’t order them!)


Drinks wise – they got plenty of options to choose from but I always go for their Xiao Huo Chau (remove heat grass tea – direct translation) as I’m always eating so much in KK and getting too heaty! They also got 3 layer milk tea for those with a sweet tooth! There’s also a stall selling Lua Han Kuo (another cooling drink) just outside the restaurant!


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Just 5 minutes walk from Imperial Boutech Hotel to this yummy restaurant!

Kedai Kopi Seng Hing
(Location: Ruang Sinsuran 2, Near Le Meridian Hotel and Centrepoint)
Block E Lot 10, Sinsuran Complex, Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088-211594
Business Hours: 7:00am - 4:00pm


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Hidden Gems: Thai Kg Style Restaurant

There’s this place that a friend recently brought me to try. It’s a Thai restaurant in Brunei that serves really down to earth Authentic Thai Food. I will not mention the place in this blog as I don’t want it to be closed down.

First of all, this place is not halal as they serve pork – and this place has no airconditioning – nor is it a proper restaurant. It is more like a house – and we eat outside next to their outdoor kitchen. It is better to come in a group to this place instead of just one or two person.

Another thing I must mention is that the pricing here is very very affordable. Getting water is also self service here (though I would prefer to bring my own water)


As you can see – this is their kitchen – with just two chefs preparing the food. Ordering can be challenging if you don’t speak Thai but we still managed to order some decent dishes.

Oh good spicy kick - ground dried Thai chilies! For the fire breathing dragons!


Stir fried Minced Pork – quite spicy and I am really loving this dish! Oh my!

The Minced pork goes damn well with sliced cucumbers or lettuce. Good stuff!

Very tasty Tom Yum Gong! We told them not to be too spicy because we know how spicy Thai people usually eat.


Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots. Delicious! Something so simple yet so appetizing!

Thai Mango Salad. I’m luvin it!

Stir fried minced pork with long beans. Hmmm ~~

Spicy Stir Fried Kang Kong

Simple omelet ~~ but oh it's yummy!

Spicy stir fried chicken with vegetables.

This place is affordable yet delicious! Where else can you have Thai style cuisine in Brunei which serves pork?! I will definitely come back here next time to savour their other authentic Thai dishes. I have to say the dishes give you the feel of a good home cooked dinner in Thailand, cooked by a Thai housewife!

I usually would bring my own drinks as I am not very confident with the hygiene. Buy canned drinks or bottled water. The owner won't mind.

If you know where this place is – it’s best not to comment and say where it is. Thank you. Others just PM me and I’ll tell you the location if I can trust you.


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