Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

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Brunei Restaurant Review: Empire Hotel’s Pantai Restaurant’s Seafood Buffet

Pantai restaurant has recently been redesigned and renovated to cater for in house guests and the Bruneian public. It’s really an honor to receive their invitation to attend their grand opening to be one of the first few to check out their architectural design, ambience and of course – the food.

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Pantai has this concept of a restaurant within a restaurant. Pantai is their main restaurant – serving their popular seafood buffet during weekends at dinner time, while serving ala-carte for weekdays lunch and dinner and weekend lunches. They also have Japanese style themed restaurant within Pantai – named Pantai – Zen Pavilion; serving a range of Japanese cuisine, mainly focused on Teppanyaki, fresh seafood or poultry, cooked right in front of the guests – Zen Pavillion seats around twenty two guests.

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The entrance to Pantai Restaurant – a stylish walkway awaits -

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Pantai restaurant gives you a choice to sit indoors or outdoors. It has a seating capacity of 180 guests. It’s wooden architectural design suits the equatorial feel of Brunei.

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Outdoor settings include long dining table like these for a big group where one can enjoy the Empire’s beautiful beachside ambiance ~~

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You can opt for these comfy lounging comfy sofa type settings for romantic dates or double dates ~~

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This colourful fountain really adds a touch of romance to the setting ~~ There was also a live Jazz performance on the opening night ~~ plus unlimited delicious cocktails. Gotta say – I am enjoying this! Note: Live bands and cocktails are only for this opening night.

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Mary and Rosie – sipping cocktails and enjoying the live music while waiting for the dinner to start.

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Kamarul (Geek in White) and BruneiFoodies Instagram took a very good picture of Pantai’s ambiance – and he’s full of praise for their Kain Jong Sarat wall – a proud traditional style of Brunei. I especially like his outdoor scenic shot! Simply stunning!

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Now on to their seafood buffet – there are quite a number of live stations as well as other layouts for the food.

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The station that caught my attention first was definitely their fresh seafood or so called the raw bar.

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Look at the size of those crab legs! These Alaskan crab legs are chocked full of sweet crab meat and very delicious (very expensive as well!) The chefs on station will help you crack the shells open to make it easy for you to eat the tender crab meat! If you love crab meat – this section alone will already get your money’s worth!

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The oysters are live and are shucked open only when dinner service starts to showcase the freshness of their oysters.

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They also got an Izakaya style Japanese Satay (minus the charcoal fire of course!) next to their seafood station. I personally loved the tiger prawns and squid satays!

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The automatic rotisserie of sausages and shish kebabs are also a sight to behold! My mouth waters as I watch them turn and turn ~~~ slowly cooked via the heat from the hot stones~

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Would you take a look at those Beef Ribs! That’s their main attraction at the carvery station where they will thinly slice the ribs and you can choose from their range of delicious sauces to match the tender beef slices (yes – very tender and medium rare – just the way I like it!). Choose from Asian styles sauces like sambal chili sauce, chutney and wasabi cream to name a few while also serving Western style acconpaniements such as herb garlic butter, creamy saffron sauce, olive and roasted pepper – to match these grilled meats or raw seafood items.

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They also have live cooking stations for pineapple fried rice and soup noodles – ooo so much choice!

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For appetizers – Salad choices range from crispy mix of oak leaves, mignonette, frisee, lolla rosa, lolla biaonda and watercress, grilled artichoke, asparagus, vine ripe tomato, fresh mozzarella, oil cured tomato, imported olives to roasted peppers. They also have a wide choice of homemade dressing such as Sesame Japanese dressing, shallot honey mustard, Thai basil balsamic, Italian, honey mustard, accompanied by a selection of cheese and Artisan breads. Their salad bar is enough to satisfy any gourmet salad enthusiasts or any rabbits.

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I always love cheese trays ~~ my favourite way to eat cheese is with grapes, honeydew, rockmelons or apples. They go very well together. Kurapak especially likes that orange looking fruity nutty cheese while I always have a preference for blue cheese and soft creamy brie!

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Fruits anyone? Yes please ~~ pair with cheeses! Always eat fruits before you dig into other sweet desserts – you won’t be able to enjoy the natural sweetness of the fruit if you had desserts first.

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They have a beautifully set up for their other appetizers – a good mix of Japanese and Western influenced seafood starters.

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Hmmm … scallop and pasta anyone?

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You can never go wrong with serving beautiful sushi like these as starters. Itadakimasu!

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Oh my delicious seared tuna! Hmmm…. I likey!

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This stuffed tomato with creamy pesto is one of my favourites – though my friend Kurapak did not really enjoy this – I guess it’s a love and hate thing with the strong flavour explosion of the rich pesto in your mouth! I personally loved it – more for me I guess!

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Angry looking baked whole salmon ~~ rawr ~~~

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Beautiful prawn tower! Watch as Angry Thanis propels himself to destroy this tower and munching all these delectable delights! (Some could even say this can double as a yummy savoury birthday cake – simply too beautiful to nom nom)

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Grilled vegetables – hmm ~~ look at the caramelization on these pineapples!

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Gotta love the roast lamb ~~ and those round pink peppercorns ~~

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Assorted shellfish in tomato based sauce ~~ Nyummers!

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Grilled corn on the cob ~~ with a rich creamy sauce and pink peppercorns ~~

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Black pepper crabs for those who live a spicy kick to their crabs ~~

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Steamed cut vegetables ~~

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Seafood Paella ~~ hmmm ~~~

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These might look like just mashed pumpkins but what’s hidden inside are delicious lamb shanks – the lamb shanks and pumpkin pie is a dish that looks plain – but don’t judge the book by it’s cover. This is a yummy dish! There’s also a wide range of breads (even charcoal bamboo black bread!) and soups like seafood bouillabaisse and lobster bisque! 

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This was my first plate – Hmm ~~~ I had lots of snow crab legs after this – was too busy to snap more pics!

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Do you still have room for dessert? Oh yes we do! Get ready for a bombardment of dessert pics! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

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This is a rich chocolate mousse like dessert with a wafer base. Yes – very indulgent.

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Both Mary and I liked this crispy wafer with a creamy fruity tang dessert. More please!

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Tall shot glasses of creamy desserts ~~~ oh yes!

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Chocolate mousse cake ~~ hmm … cut me a slice please ~~ or maybe two ~~

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They have quite a range of bite size desserts – I personally like these so I can have a bit of everything without having to slice the whole cakes myself. Needless to say – these were very popular.

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Empire is very famous for their Kuih Batik – this pandan kuih batik is one of their unique creations!

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Beautiful mini meringue tarts ~~

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Coffee cream filled puffs ~~ hmmmmmm

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Macarons overflowed with creamy goodness ~~

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Phew ~~ so much desserts ~~ I had my fun enjoying every single bite! Burp!

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Ahhh ~~ after all that ~~ its good to sit down ~~ with a glass of cocktail (very refreshing!) and listen to the live Jazz performance. A good end to a great yummy feast! It’s too bad they can’t have these performances every weekend buffet.

My verdict on this buffet? For a mere $48++ you get a huge range of choices ranging from great fresh seafood, creative fusion appetizers (sushi sushi sushi), crisp green salads and diverse range of dressings , a good selection of live stations to serve the food to you hot, flavoursome juicy cuts of meat and of course – their endearing sweet endings – the desserts.

If Empire can maintain the quality and service I had tonight – though you cannot compare the food to proper fine dining (like Spaghettini or Sorriso) or in a sushi restaurant (like Kaizen or Sushi Tei) this is indeed a very good value for money – considering it’s a buffet – In fact, I can dare say this has won my vote as one of the best buffets in Brunei.

Update: Upon recent feedback from my readers – the seafood buffet I had might be slightly different from the normal ones. The prawn tower is not available – but they do have lots of fresh prawns. They also don’t have the Alaskan Crab Legs – but lots of normal crabs available. I guess this is understandable as I went to their grand opening – which is more of a celebration dinner – with cocktails and live jazz band – they are bound to include more luxurious items.

For Spaghettini’s menu: Click here for their creative fine dining cuisine.

For Tiger Lim’s blogpost on Empire Pantai (Pretty entertaining and covers a lot of the ambiance) Click here.

Stay tuned for my blog update on Pantai Zen Pavillion’s menu.

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