Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Brunei Restaurant Review: Poon Choi at Lucky Restaurant

During Chinese New Year – it has become a trend to order Yee Sang; arranged slices of fish, salmon, shredded vegetables, crackers and sauces of various colours, then the family members grab their chopsticks and toss the Yee Shang like a salad to mix well and eat. I am sure many families would prepare their own or order from restaurants such as Excapade Sushi or Kitaro. For this post, I want to introduce a dish that has lately become quite popular in Singapore during festive occasions. Poon Choi.

 

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Poon Choi or Penn Chai literally means “basin vegetables” (盆菜) as it was traditionally served to the Emperor in wooden washbasins during the Song Dynasty. It is a traditional one-pot Chinese dish of Cantonese origin and gained popularity as a CNY dish. A distinctive feature of Poon Choi is that the ingredients in the pot are cooked separately, layered and topped with an assortment of vegetables, delicious poultry or meat as well as expensive gourmet seafood fit for royalty (abalone and scallops) served with hot broth. Eating Poon Choi signifies abundance and richness in the coming year. I will explain a little bit on the layers of Poon Choi.

The Lucky’s staff has kindly helped me take pictures of the layers in the kitchen as I was unable to find the time to enter their kitchen. We ordered this to celebrate my sister’s birthday. The three pictures are taken using the chef’s camera phone – just to give you an idea – please don’t mind the quality of the image.

 

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As you can see from the first layer – it’s usually the vegetables and mushrooms. These will absorb the essence of the soup from other two layers of the dish and it’s usually the last and bottom layer to finish up the dish.

Layer 1 usually consists of Cabbage, beancurd sticks, sliced lotus root, carrot, winter melon,straw mushroom, Bai ling mushroom, white fungus.

 

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The second layer is usually the seafood, meats and poultry. It can vary according to different restaurants. This is my favourite layer as I’m a big meat eater. Notice that the only vegetable here is the shitake mushrooms (which taste slightly meaty – or they say the vegetarian’s meat)

Layer 2-sliced fish, squid,steamed chicken drumstick fillet,roasted chicken drumstick fillet , roasted duck fillet,char siu, sliced ham, sliced pork belly and shitake mushrooms.

 

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The top layer usually consists of the expensive ingredients – such as abalone, scallops, sea cucumber, top shell etc. This would be where you expect to see your NEW MOON or FORTUNE brand canned expensive seafood.

Layer 3 - pacific clams ,sea cucumber, sea asparagus, fish maw, scallop, top shell, big prawns , baby abalone, broccoli, abalone mushroom.

 

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For broths – you can choose either the chicken broth – which is lighter in taste but some might say is suitable to cook together with the Poon Choi to absorb the essence of the dish

 

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Or you can choose this strong hong sao abalone broth – which is stronger in flavour and is delicious even on its own. Some prefers this while some might think it overpowers the Poon Choi. My family chose this one as we preferred stronger flavours.

 

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You can either pour the hot broth onto the Poon Choi – or you can choose to just pick the items you like and pour the soup into your own small bowl. The traditional method pours the hot broth and has a flame to keep the soup hot but you can eat it anyway you like ~ as long as everybody’s having fun!

 

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Poon Choi – Are you joining the new trend for Chinese New Year?

The Poon Choi is $268 per set – which is understandable as even one can of baby abalone can cost up to $39 in the supermarket. It is good enough for 12 people – or 10 hungry adults. It’s okay to order extra rice, fried rice or noodles to match the delicious Poon Choi

Lucky restaurant will be serving this Poon Choi dish until the end of Chinese New Year – but I think they should make this available all year round for special occasions! Don’t you think?


For pre booking please call 2220181/2220182 or 8712196

 

Extra extra! New Dim Sum at Lucky Restaurant!

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By the way – Lucky restaurant is also introducing new dim sum to their menu ~~ expect to see this delicious Xue Shan Bao (Snow Mountain Bao) which is a popular item from Tim Ho Wan (famous dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong). It has a great sponge cake like texture as opposed to the bread like texture of typical char siew or chan baos. It is a must try dish and I personally can eat 6 in one go! Delicious.

 

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Lily bulb and baby abalone dimsum ~

 

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Thai style fish balls – pretty yummy Thai influenced dim sum!

 

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Siew mai with Baby Abalone – how exquisite!

 

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Yummy prawns – crispy fried nooodle outer crust ~~

 

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Minced prawn with a salted yolk center ~~~ oooooh yummm!!

 

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Ma Lai Kou ~~ a sweet soft dessert popular in Hong Kong Dim Sum ~

 

Lucky Restaurant

No7-10,PAP UMI Kalthum Shophouse,

Jalan Tutong,B.S.B

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Brunei Restaurant Review: Din’s Bistro

I’ve heard of good things about Din’s Bistro for months but I haven’t tried them out until recently. The story of three brothers starting out their business in the food industry and chefs trained in Australia does give a promising note. Din’s Bistro serves Western food, more closer to Italian cuisine and one key feature is their hand made pastas. We’ll go into that later.

 

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Expect a straight forward and simple décor, with simple wall paper decorations.

 

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A small simple restaurant that caters to small groups and dates but I am sure seating can be easily re-organized to fit bigger numbers.

 

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I see a lot of pasta and burgers on their menu, but do check out their specials of the day, which is written on the board. The fish and chips look promising but for this time – I’m going for the lamb shank!

 

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The complimentary appetizers: Garlic bread – for me, I love the outer crispy crusts of the garlic bread and the flavour but I felt the bread was slightly dense or chewy for my taste. It’s acceptable but could be better.

 

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We also ordered the King Prawn Tortellini, which is pasta stuffed with cream cheese, delicious plump King size prawns and tossed with pine nuts, raisins and burnt butter or caramelized butter to my knowledge.

 

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The cream cheese stuffing is rich and I like the slightly charred crisp texture from the butter on the pasta, it complements the bouncy king prawns well. Flavour wise, this is more on the rich tangy side. It’s a good delicious dish but I would suggest a touch of acid to balance it. The burnt butter while giving good flavour, it does make the dish a tad greasy which is yummy for me but some might not like it. Some might have a gripe about the vein not completely removed from one or two of my prawns – but I’m okay with it. This is a delicious dish that I had not tasted in Brunei for a long time and worth ordering. Thumbs up!

 

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Their Lamb Shank is a pretty affordable dish at only $18. A dish which requires slow cooking to tenderize the tough cut of lamb. I like the gravy and the lamb is quite tender, though not as tender as I liked my lamb shank to be. I personally like this dish but this time, the main character, Mr Lamb Shank is not the star but ….

 

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Look at that smooth mashed potato! It’s properly seasoned to me, although my date thinks it’s too salty but I like the texture and how well it goes with the lamb. While some purist foodies might preferred chunky mashed potatoes and claim mushy potatoes as fast food crap – the mashed potatoes at Din’s Bistro is very good! They should market this as one of the side dishes to order! Nom Nom worthy!

 

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Unfortunately for me, I’ve a food review to go after my lunch at Din’s bistro so I do not have the capacity to try out the famed good burgers and other main dishes for this post – perhaps I will update this in future. I do however – have space for dessert!

 

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Chocolate churros dipped with quality melted chocolate ~~ hello hello ~~

 

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The joys of dipping this Spanish snack with melted chocolate ~~

 

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Last but not least is their chocolate gateau – my dish of the night – you can forget about cheesecakes – this is the dessert that you want to eat! High quality chocolatey fudgey slice of heaven! A must try dessert at Din’s.

 

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I’m happy to see that Din’s Bistro uses the quality Gryphon teas. On impulse, my date decided to try the Hanami; Japanese Sencha with Cheryl Blossoms. Sounds exotic and yummy right? Well. at first sip, it does smell good and I kinda like it but more sips and you’ll start to realize it tastes like lip balm or chap stick. It’s good to drink on it’s own but doesn’t really match the desserts. Go for other teas instead but don’t hesitate to try it just for curiosity sake~

 

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The coffee’s pretty okay – not up to Australia’s standards but acceptable for Brunei’s standards. This goes well with the chocolate gateau~~ *drools*

Overall – this is a great place for Western dining to supplement the already popular ones in Brunei. I would pay a visit here soon for their fish n chips – and burgers. Can’t wait!

Din’s Bistro can be found in Gadong – turn in at Ayamku Gadong block, drive towards to end till you see Mohan Carpets. It’s right in front of Mohan Carpets.

Opening Hours: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm, 6:30pm till 11:00pm except Friday 12 – 2 pm.

Din’s Bistro
No: 8, Block E,
Ground Floor,
Abdul Razak Complex,
Bandar Seri Begawan,
Brunei Darussalam.
Tel: +673-8786160

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Brunei Restaurant Review: Padi Mas Korean Restaurant

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Padi-Mas has been around for some time now. It’s a Korean restaurant that serves pork in their dishes – and it’s their main highlight – fancy having some good Korean BBQ – sliced pork belly with some spicy paste wrapped with lettuce and kimchi ~~ *drools*

 

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When I visited them last year – I wasn’t very impressed or awed by their food. This year – after many recommendations and good reviews from friends – I decided to pay them a visit again.

 

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The place has obviously gone through some renovations – and I agreed – it makes the place more welcoming – it adds a better element of privacy as well as buttons to press to signal attention from the staff

 

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It’s way better than the plain old kopi tiam style décor when I first visited here – a thumbs up on the new look ~ now let’s check out the food ~

 

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Nor surprisingly – I opted for the pork belly ~~ who can resist? The meat is obviously marinated and put into the freezer as I can still see some traces of ice ~~ can’t wait to grill them though ~

 

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The other dish – garlic pork belly ~~~ hubba hubba ~~

 

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Grill your slab of pork belly on medium to low heat ~~ *sizzles*

 

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Then use the scissors they provided to cut them into smaller slices ~~

 

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There’s the usual side dishes that come with Korean restaurants and for you to wrap your grilled meats with ~~

 

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They have Korean Rice Puff crackers as a yummy crunchy snack as well as that a good salty spicy dip for your meat. Dip your meat on the sauce – add it to lettuce and other side dishes and wrap ~~ yes – delicious Korean BBQ Wraps ~~ healthy healthy ~~

 

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I also ordered their Jjajangmyeon – dark sauce noodles – which I find was a bit bland and asked for more sauce – they proceeded to give me extra sauce (without extra charge). It’s alright but nothing to wow about – order only if you got cravings for this.

 

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Their Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi Stew) is pretty good – my girlfriend who studied 6 months in Korea regarded this as the closest thing to what she usually eat in Korea. Thumbs up for this dish ~~ it wasn’t overly spicy or sour – just the right amount for me.

 

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The best part is they served red rice – I think it’s a mixture of Korean black sweet rice and plain rice but it does add flavour and gives it a nice purplish colour to enjoy with the Kim Chi Stew. The black sweet rice called heukmi chapssal.

 

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Overall – I would come back here again just so I can have pork for my Korean BBQ. The pricing isn’t that expensive compared to typical Korean restaurants within Asia – $20 for a 3 person portion of pork belly is reasonable ~~ their Kimchi Stew $8 is good enough for two. I look forward to coming back again to sample other dishes in their menu – still so much to try! I will update this page soon!

The only problem is of course the lack of those tubes that suck the smoke from grilling – you will definitely walk out smelling like BBQ if you eat here! I would also worry about their speed of service if it’s actually packed as they do take time to come out – but won’t be a problem if you’re having a nice time with family and friends – not when you’re in a rush – like dinner before movie etc.

May the Pork be with you --- Running Man ~~~~

Location:

Padi Mas Korean Cuisine

Opens 8am till 10pm daily (except Friday 12pm – 2 pm)

Tel no: 2457644

Unit 6&7, Block C, Warisan Mata-Mata Complex, Simpang 322, Jalan Gadong, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

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Kota Kinabalu Food Guide For Tourists – walking distance from Centrepoint: Hot Rod Sausage House and Beer Garden

Here’s another addition to the walking distance series - specially for those who are staying around Imperial Boutech Hotel, Warisan Square, Centrepoint, Suria Sabah or Gaya Street areas. For this post – we venture to Hot Rod Sausage House and Beer Garden!

 

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Hot Rod is located at Warisan Square – which basically means it’s just less than 2 minutes walk from my hotel. You might think it’s just a normal bar with live entertainment at night but I have to say they have pretty good hot dogs!

 

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Hot Rod has pretty good cosy ambience as well – click on the pictures to enlarge and have a better view. Seats are comfortable and fully air-conditioned. The décor’s pretty good – kinda like a Wild Wild West Cowboy style tavern bar – I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

 

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Gotta love the ketchup and chili bottles they use here!

 

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They got quite a few choices for their hot dogs – one interesting thing about their hot dogs is that they use bamboo charcoal with muesli buns – healthier and yummier! You can also choose between two types of sausage to match the sauce. The staff will give you recommendations.

 

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This is their truffle cream sauce hot dog ~~ you gotta love the kick of truffle from this hot dog! Very delicious!

 

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My girlfriend preferred chili con corne hot dog – which has a spiced kick and of course – more saucy! This is also very very good! Did I mention the fries are good too!?

 

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The best part? Live entertainment or DJ music during the night and of course – Draft Kilkenny or Guinness to match those delicious Hot Dogs! I heard their steak sandwiches are good too ~~ perhaps my next trip I will try them out!

Hot Rod

Ground Floor Lot 2, Block A

88000, Kota Kinabalu.

Opens 3pm to 1am daily.


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