Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Brunei Restaurant Review: A new beginning at Spaghettini Restaurant

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In my blog, I highlighted Spaghettini as a restaurant specializing in creative modern cuisine and I’m a big fan of their whimsical creative cuisines, which wows not only in terms in taste but also the imagination and sight. Read more about the old Spaghettini here: http://www.thanislim.com/2011/07/creative-modern-cuisine-at-spaghettini.html

 

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Dishes that are unique and interesting – to entice and surprise the diners. It has been a signature of Spaghettini for many years. Recently, the management has decided on a new direction for Spaghettini and return to the roots of Italian cuisine. A new head chef has taken over and introduced a style of cuisine that is very different and perhaps offers a fresh new beginning!

 

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The bread basket is quite the spectacle when it arrived at the table. A range of different types of breads – we picked up the focaccia with caramelized onions and raisins first  - more on the softer side – and the crispy oven baked roti at the back.

 

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They still have interesting accompaniments to the breads – such as the togarashi butter – which infuses a slight spicy kick of Japanese red pepper with the butter, apple vinegar and simple butter. I like both the butter and the vinegar to dip with the breads to get me started ~~

 

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This is the antipasto platter which is good enough to share for two – or even for three since you’re going to have other main dishes. It has grilled marinated eggplants, peppers, wild mushrooms, sweet potato, sun dried tomatoes, kalamate, green olives, basil marinated bocconcini, spice pickled vegetables, grissini – and a lovely bulb of roasted garlic.

 

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I quite like these tomatoes ~~ flavour packed smacking tomato goodness ~~ nom nom ~

 

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This is their grilled calamari appetizer, served with roasted corn, fennel salad and lemon oil balsamic. I like the arugula leaves ~~ mmmm my fav salad leaves next to rocket ~~

 

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Arugula avocado salad which is served with shaved pecorino cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and aged balsamic reduction ~~ life’s good when you have arugula in your salad ~~ yum!

 

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The Citrus marinated river prawn crudo is an interesting cold dish – pleasing on the eye like a garden ~ the prawns marinated and minced and served with chopped green apples and potato mascarpone. The brown yummy looking thing is actually teriyaki octopus ~~ most of us enjoyed this appetizer especially the ladies – an instagrammable appetizer that’s actually different and yummy ~~ #tooPrettyToEat

 

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While the girls picked the beautiful dish as their favourite – I am bias here because I like beef carpaccio and truffle oil ~~~ this beef carpaccio dish has a strong whiff of truffle oil when it arrived at the table – grain fed quality raw beef tenderloin sliced thinly and wrapped around rocket leaves,  marjoram and ricotta crème fraiche ~~ served with a pastry like breadsticks for texture contrast. A gentleman’s appetizer you might say as opposed to the previous garden like appetizer. #gentlemanfood #manlysalad

 

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Last but not least are fresh raw oysters served with apple cider, black pepper mignonette or just a simple squeeze a lemon ~~

 

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For soups – we had the truffled wild mushroom cappucino (which means 80 percent mushrooms) with black truffle oil and chervil cream.

 

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We also tried the classic minestrone which has a tomato vegetable broth,  with parmesan, basil pesto and foccacia croutons. A pretty hearty soup and I actually preferred this one but it’s my preference.

 

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These yummy sides comes with the Minestrone soup ~~~ I like dipping them onto the pesto and parmesan ~ mmmm ~~~

 

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After the soup, we checked out the other hot appetizers. This is Spaghettini’s version of Oysters Rockefeller, which is usually oysters topped with butter, herbs and breadcrumbs – baked slightly in the oven. This version users a rich herby mousse textured sauce – yum!

 

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Traditionally homemade chicken agnolotti (tiny pasta filled with chicken meat) hazelnut oil and served with grana padano cheese (popular Italian cheese)

 

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Crispy baccala (salt cod) beignet which is a trio of crispy, airy  New Orleans style doughnuts with minced salt cod fish inside the doughnut. It’s served with tomato basil, black olive sauce vierge, shaved fennel and grilled brocoli.

 

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Now on to the mains! Pan seared sea bass with wilted spinach, parsley puree, vine ripe tomato and basil vinaigrette. I have to say these vine ripened tomatoes are simply delicious ~~ a pretty fresh tasting dish!

 

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For steak lovers, they have this 180g of grilled Australian beef tenderloin with a side of wilted spinach, truffle whipped potato, roasted vegetables, seared porcini mushrooms (ooo yes!) and balsamic reduction. I always go for medium rare for my steaks ~~ pretty tender and goes very well with the roasted vegetables (I really enjoyed the vegetables!)

 

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For fans of ravioli, which is filled pasta, check out the spinach and ricotta filled ravioli, served with a plum tomato compote , duck confit and basil emulsion.

 

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The simple gnocchi shows us never to judge a dish by it’s look! This dish did not stand out amongst the other dishes but it won us over. Sauteed over sage butter, the gnocchi is served with roasted portabella, porcini mushroom, caramelized radicchio, wilted spinach and pine nuts. We really enjoyed the texture of the gnocchi and the sides complement each other very well. A dish that doesn’t look spectacular but pleases the crowd.

 

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This is Spaghettini’s signature seafood spaghetti ~~ fresh angel hair pasta with a spicy tomato arriabiatta sauce, with jumbo prawns, pan roasted sea scallops, squids and New Zealand mussels. Texture of the noodles is pretty good and the sauce is quite spicy to suit the local palette.

 

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Zuppe di pesce is a soupy seafood dish, a saffron oregano bouillabaisse broth, red pepper fennel, new potatoes, sea bass, squid, clams, mussels, scallop, served with lemon herb aioli and toasted bread.

 

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A more meatier pasta dish is the Saffron pappardelle with lamb shoulder confit, basil, beetroot, snap peas, parmesan and marjoram. A hearty dish bound to grab a man’s heart ~~~ through the stomach!

 

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After all that – it’s time for dessert – this is where you can order their good quality teas ~~ mmm. Spaghettini has four desserts to choose from. I must say they look pretty and has quite unique flavours but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea ~~ order to share with friends and try them out.

 

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Lemon mascarpone summer cake with apricot confiture and raspberry coulis on the left, Hazelnut semifreddo with apple and sultana sauce on the right.

 

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Chocolate caramel delice with a layer of roast apples and vanilla bean cream to the left, Rosemary panna cotta with cherry compote and almond biscotti for crunch on the right.

 

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Overall, I must say this is a very different style of cuisine from the previous Spaghettini menu – a more simple down to earth dining experience which focus on the quality of the ingredients. The side dishes especially the vegetables complements the mains very well. Do check out the new menu and share your thoughts!

 

Spaghettini Restaurant

The Empire Hotel

241 8888

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Brunei Restaurant Review: The FuChow Restaurant

There’s quite a number of Fu Chow people in Brunei and if you’re wondering what’s Fu Chow cuisine, and you asked around – most people would say – just go to Sibu and you will see plenty of Fu Chow cuisine. Recently, there’s a restaurant that specializes in Fu Chow cuisine that’s opened in Brunei and I had the privilege to try the food before their opening day together with Mei Ting, Radio DJ from Pilihan FM Brunei, who did the food talk show with me every Saturday morning at 10:30 am.

 

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Located just next to R & T Electronics, and same row as Guardian in Kiulap, the restaurant name speaks for itself – the FuChow Restaurant. Finally, one can savour the cuisine from the famous food town of Sibu in Brunei, don’t need to fly or drive all the way there to satisfy our cravings! It’s a non-halal restaurant as they serve plenty of pork dishes.

 

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Kong Pia – or known by many as the Asian Bagel, these are actually imported all the way from the famous Kong Pia bakery in Sibu and fried at the restaurant. I have to say ~ even when it’s plain – it’s very delicious! The slight chewy texture, the crispy crust and most importantly – the fragrant smell ~~ ooooo yes!

 

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Kong Pias are usually served with a saucy minced pork, and can be eaten as a snack or breakfast ~~ they are one of my favourite food from Sibu and also available in Kuching. So happy I can get good ones here in Brunei!

 

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They also have various flower and herb tea blends that goes very well with the FuChow cuisine ~~

 

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Rose and plum tea ~~~ ahhhhh ~~~ refreshing ~~ it’s good to order a pot to share ~~

 

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KAM PUA MEE!!! The FuChow/Sibu version of kolomee ~~~ is a must try! One plate is never enough for me ~~ *cough* Remember to add the chili vinegar to heighten the taste! *cries* Yay ~~ no need to go so far can enjoy this in Brunei! W00h00!

 

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The Fu Chow Style braised noodles with bittergourd is pretty good too ~~ my other friend who doesn’t like bittergourd actually enjoyed this dish ~~ the addition of chopped crispy pork cracklings adds an extra dimension to this noodle dish ~ a bit like Singapore Hokkien Mee ~~ yet different ~~

 

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They also have Pak Zhen Herbal soup, with pork knuckles ~~ Pak Zhen usually means 8 treasures but the boss divulge a secret and says there’s actually ten treasures in this soup – just that 8 sounds more traditional and nicer! A hearty soup that is bound to warm the hearts of many ~~

 

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Another interesting dish is this special pepper and pig stomach soup ~~ which has the strong kick of peppers and tender pork stomach ~~ my two friends enjoyed this soup very much but some others find this too peppery for their taste ~~ for me ? I LOVE IT! *slurps slurps* This is not shown in the menu – so you need to request for this ~~ Hei Jiao Zhu Du Tang please!

 

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Cao Cai Mee Fen – a special picked vegetables soup with slightly thicker rice vermicelli is their specialty too ~ the owner tells us that the rice vermicelli and pickled vegetables are specially from Sibu itself! Mmmmmm ~~~

 

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If Pan Mian is your thing, this would be a good dish to try – what’s special about this Pan Mian is that the rice flat noodles are actually pretty soft and silky as you slurp it together with the soup, harmonizing well with the light soup and fried anchovies ~~ adjust seasoning to your taste with soy sauce, chilies and garlic!

 

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How can we forget this Sibu iconic dish!? Ding Bian Hu, which essentially means wok side paste. The slurry batter is cooked on the sides of the wok, then scraped into the soup to cook ~~ then additional ingredients will be added.

 

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Usually, the soup would be full of vegetables and other condiments but the boss was demonstrating to us how to cook it ~~

 

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Let the paste cook on the hot wok side – then scrape it down into the hot water to cook further and soften ~~

 

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Have you seen these dried flowers before? They are usually tied up to look like a ribbon and added to Ding Bian Hu soup ~~ is actually related to Lilies ~ it takes quite a big amount of work to tie these flowers into ribbons just for the dish!

 

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It’s very cool to watch the boss do it step by step ~~ to show the essence of a proper Ding Bian Hu ~~

Here’s a youtube video of the process ~~~ Less than 15 second cuts ~~ *drools*

 

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*slurps* After watching the boss prepare the traditional Fu Chow Ding Bian Hu, it has really worked up my appetite again! Let’s EAT!!!!

 

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They also have stir fried Wild Boar (San Chu Rou) in their menu ~ oooo these would go so well with some fermented tofu (fu yee) ~~

 

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For snacks, they also have braised intestines, pork bellies and other goodies ~~

 

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They even got – Pig’s Tongue ~~ oooooh tenderlicious ~~ do you dare to try my foodie followers?! *nom nom*  ~~ don’t worry ~~ it doesn’t feel like French kissing a pig ~~~

 

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Mmmmm ~~~ pass me another plate of Kam Pua mee to finish my meal ~~ LOL! Be sure to check out The FuChow Restaurant in Kiulap ~~ they are still new so be patient if service is slow due to a packed restaurant. I’m just so glad I can have my favourite Fu Chow/Sibu food in Brunei! More Kong Pia and Kam Pua Mee please ~~~~ *om nom nom nom nom*

 

The FuChow Restaurant

Next to R & T Kiulap, Same row as Guardian Pharmacy

Opens 7am to 10 pm.

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