Brunei Restaurant Review: The Energy Kitchen by Wu Chun 吴尊
Wu Chun has been promoting a healthy lifestyle for Bruneians with his health and fitness club Fitness Zone since 2008. Recently, he has ventured into the restaurant business and co-founded the first truly healthy restaurant in Brunei called the Energy Kitchen. It is my pleasure to be invited to taste test the food in his restaurant.
The Energy Kitchen is located just right below his flagship Fitness Zone gym in Kiulap; with the concept of promoting nutritious superfoods to recharge your life – or should I say energize your life!
I must say – there have been many claims from restaurants or attempts to actually showcase healthy menus but none have been as regarded as serious contenders to be labeled as a truly healthy restaurant. According to Wu Chun, he calls this the eat smart food revolution, where one eats nutri-dense meals to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The Energy Kitchen is serious about their culinary ideals – as you will find no presence of white sugar in their kitchen and they try to go as natural as possible when it comes to their ingredients. They also believe in introducing ingredients that are high in nutrition and filling for you. They are so serious about their breads – they worked together with Mr Baker’s Bakeshop to supply them with healthy breads and buns.
The Energy Kitchen sports a pretty brightly lit ambience, giving the impression of an outdoor feel to the restaurant with natural light coming in from the windows during the daytime.
You will notice crates of fresh fruits on display near the bar – ready to be juiced or served in salads or their main dishes!
The sofas have an interestingly artistic colourful design to add a playful energetic feel to the décor.
Behind the brick wall, they also have a special seating area with more privacy – enough to seat 6 people.
Now let’s first take a look at their juices. Have you ever heard of cold pressed juices? You probably ordered quite a lot of fruit juices in restaurants in which they use normal juicers or blenders to process the fruits. These machines would normally produce heat as well as breaking up the nutrients and flavour of the juices, producing inferior products. Most restaurants don’t use cold pressed juicers because they are slower and are very expensive machines.
Using a cold pressed juicer, instead of blending the fruits or vegetables, they actually slowly crush or squeeze the juices, while separating the pulp and since it’s a slow process, it does not produce heat which damages the nutrients and flavour. Notice the colour of their different juice blends, seriously superior flavour and nutrients compared to the typical blenders or juicers. Try it – and be amazed at the difference. Drinking these juices regularly makes a very good investment for your overall well being. Naturally, these drinks are pricier than normal juices you get in restaurants obviously due to their superior quality.
They offer two sizes for their drinks – the smaller 9 oz bottle or the bigger 16 oz glass. I chose Glow for my 9oz bottle, which is a refreshing mix of green apple, cucumber, lemon and watercress to enhance the glow on your skin. For my 16oz bigger glass, I opted for the Supergreens because I felt I need more nutrients from vegetables in my diet – it’s a delicious mix of spinach, bak choi, marunggai (a super herb locally grown!), green apples and lemon. I enjoyed both drinks and for the first time in my life, I think I’ve actually consumed so much nutrients from vegetables in one meal!
Rano checks out the REFRESH ~ which is a watermelon cucumber lime and mint combination.
We had a good interview session with Wu Chun, who explains his passion in promoting a healthy lifestyle not only to Bruneians but also internationally. He also admits his love for food as well as cooking, insights on how he co-founded the first truly healthy restaurant, which complements his health and fitness club, Fitness Zone.
One common interest of ours is surprisingly his passion for food and he collects quite a lot of cooking magazines and cook books, which are now on display at the Energy Kitchen. I have to admit my book shelves are over-flooded too!
The Energy Kitchen currently serves breakfast menu from 7am to 11am. We were treated to quite a spread on Friday morning. Wu Chun, who confessed that he’s a foodie himself, was very excited to introduce the dishes to us, which he personally taste tested.
This is their Nut butter toast, which uses a special low GI bread, apple and banana slices, organic Borneo honey (gotta support local honey!), the popular superfood Chia Seeds and your choice of in house cashew butter or almond butter, which are made without any preservatives – a truly healthy nut butter!
It’s not common in Brunei culture to have a sweet porridge in the morning but why not try this Oat Quinoa porridge? Whole Oats with quinoa porridge, served with a drizzle of Borneo Honey, crushed nuts and seeds – with the option of stewed prunes ~~
or cinnamon apples like this one ~~ or you could go for banana slices. What a heart warming sweet start to your day!
The Energy Granola Bowl is another high fiber protein packed breakfast – crisp whole oats, ground omega 3 rich flaxseeds, raisins, honey and apple juice, sliced green apples, crushed nuts and seeds, served with your choice of yoghurt or milk. Your colon will be smiling and your body will be ready for a workout after this meal!
Everybody loves pancakes but the pancakes in The Energy Kitchen are very different because they are 100% whole-wheat pancakes – a less guilty version of everyone’s favourite! This is their pumpkin spiced pancakes, served with orange slices, Borneo honey, toasted pistachios and yoghurt.
They have these green pancakes called Popeye pancakes because they are 100% whole-wheat spinach pancakes, served with toasted walnuts, Borneo honey and yoghurt.
We also got to try these Paleo and Gluten Free pancakes that are made entirely from eggs, banana and almond butter! So if you want to go Carb free or if you have an allergic reaction to gluten – these are the pancakes for you! Served usually with banana slices, toasted almonds, organic Borneo honey or yoghurt. These are mini taste test portions specially made for us!
For those who prefer a savory breakfast and want to prepare for a workout, how about trying this Protein Veggie Omelet!? Made from three egg whites and one egg yolk (reduced fat and higher protein), chopped healthy veggies like zucchini, onions, asparagus, tomatoes, feta cheese, marunggai leaves with a choice of Low GI Toast or a 100% Whole Wheat Chia Seed Flat Bread. An omelet loaded with fresh goodness of vegetables with less fat and higher proteins for your workouts!
Last but not least is the Mexican Sunrise! This yummy looking breakfast features a 100 percent whole wheat, chia and flaxseed flat bread topped with scrambled eggs, smashed beans, guacamole (avocado goodness!) and grilled corn salsa! What a healthy way to start up your day with this nutrient dense high fiber breakfast!
Wu Chun was kind enough to spread the ingredients on top of the flat bread and slice into small serving size portions for us. Having such a handsome man serve us breakfast – I think makes the meal taste a hundred times better for many women out there ~~ HAHAHAHAHAHA! But I have to admit – the beans, avocados and corn salsa works very well together and that’s why this is my favourite breakfast – not because of Wu Chun! To be fair – even he thinks this is his favourite breakfast item – seriously filling, healthy yet delicious!
The Energy Kitchen is still on it’s soft opening times – so they close at 11am and then reopens at night around 6pm. In order to show my readers more – I decided to pop over for dinner to try out their dinner selections.
Their best selling starters are their Vietnamese style Tofu Summer Rolls – rice paper stuffed with fresh shredded vegetables, fresh mint, avocado, firm tofu and served with a delicious spiced cashew sauce. The unique dip is a winner for me! It goes very well with the fresh tasting starter.
These Baked Skin-On Sweet Potato Wedges are a healthier alternative to potato wedges and are served with a special rich vegan cashew dip.
If you have friends who can’t stand healthy food but still want to hang out – they can order these lemongrass lime spiced chicken wings – hot or not hot versions – that are baked. That should keep them happy while you’re happily enjoying the healthy spring rolls and salads.
The Energy Kitchen has quite a few soups in their menu but they usually serve only one type of soup per day. This is to ensure the soups are made fresh daily and not pre-made and stored in fridges to reheat. I think this is a good idea and ensures the nutrients of the hearty soups are not lost. I enjoyed the green pea and watercress soup with a good refreshing taste of lemon mint and a dollop of yoghurt to add some richness to the soup.
They have quite a few salads to choose from but this Superfood Salad caught my attention simply because it contains most of the popular hipster superfoods l’ve read about! Quinao, Avocado, Alfalfa Sprouts, Edamame, Roasted Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber, Marunggai, Feta, Toasted Seeds with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon!
Seriously a dosage of healthy goodness in every spoonful! This actually tasted pretty good and I wouldn’t mind eating this salad entirely for lunch!
If you can’t live without rice, you can compromise and say yes to a brown rice dish. This is their Zen Veggie Plate – brown rice, steamed pumpkin, seasoned carrots (yummy!) and shitake mushrooms, Adzuki beans, local leafy greens, firm tofu, broccoli ~~
which comes with a good dollop of their in house tahini and miso dressing. Give it a good stir and the flavours and contrast of textures go very well together!
Wu Chun had a lot of input on the menu – and he specially requested a Satay Chicken burger to be on the menu. The creative chefs created this grilled marinated chicken burger, served with onions, cucumbers and grilled pineapples but topped with a special satay sauce made from almonds! Talk about an ATAS (POSH) satay sauce! Be sure to add the extra satay sauce on the side! I’m lovin these nutty sauces! Best thing? It’s a healthier whole meal burger bun!
I admit I’ve never truly enjoyed an all vegetarian burger until I tried this Haloumi Burger! You have two slices of grilled haloumi cheese, lettuce, grilled pineapple, Portobello mushrooms and a delicious basil pesto sauce! Eventhough the burger is presented like this – open your mouth wide and eat like you would normally eat a burger – grabbing with your hands and taking a bite! Do not try to be fancy and use the fork and knives! The combination of the cheese, mushrooms, pineapple and pesto go really well together and not to mention the healthy bun is nom nom!
I’ve tasted quite a lot of risottos and I usually love the creaminess with a slight al dente texture of the rice but the Energy kitchen’s Barley Risotto is surprisingly creamy and is delicious with the shitake mushrooms! They serve their risotto with pan fried salmon and I request them to undercook my salmon fillet ~~ just the way I like them! Ahhh Itadakimasu!
For a unique main course, the adventurous me decided to check out their Steak and Grilled Watermelon with Blue Cheese dressing! I must say I am no stranger to grilled watermelons as I know this concentrates their sweetness! A yummy dish but if you’re not a fan of blue cheese – you might best stay away from this! The quinoa on the side will definitely keep you full and nourished!
Curries are actually pretty good for those who want to reduce the acidity of their blood as the spices from the ingredients help to reduce acidity. This healthy version Thai Green Curry (they made the paste themselves) is served with brown rice and bak choy.
Being a healthy restaurant doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert! In fact you would be surprised by their flourless chocolate brownie, made from mashed pinto beans and dates, avocado, 72 % dark chocolate and served with stewed prunes and toasted pistachios! The stewed prunes help to add some moisture to this chocolate brownie.
If you happen to like Thai style mango sticky rice – do give their mango sticky chia a try! It’s a chia light coconut pudding, served with a mango ginger puree, sliced mangoes, crushed nuts and sesame seeds! I was surprised the flavour profile is pretty similar to mango sticky rice – but not the texture of the rice though. A high fiber dessert!
The Energy Kitchen prices can be a little bit on the high side because they use expensive healthy ingredients in their food preparation. They are not willing to sacrifice the health benefits by using inferior ingredients loaded with preservatives and additives, and prefer to use healthier cooking methods. After all, for those who try to eat healthy at home will also realize – eating healthy isn’t cheap and it ain’t easy to buy the ingredients in bulk and cook for yourself.
For once, I now have a place where I can truly go to whenever I feel like treating my body to a good wholesome nutritious meal – where in the past – that wouldn’t be possible to find. I must applaud Wu Chun for his courage to venture into this healthy eating concept especially in Brunei where we are more likely to indulge in unhealthy eating habits ~~ perhaps this will inspire more people to lead a healthier lifestyle in Brunei.
The Energy Kitchen
Ground Floor, Fitness Zone,
Phone 223 3323
Updated Opening Hours ~~
Tuesdays to Sundays
Breakfast till lunch 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm – 10:00pm