Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Brunei Events: Healthy Pop Up Dinner at The Energy Kitchen


The Collective Arts Events recently joined forces with The Energy Kitchen to organize a healthy pop up dinner just for last Sunday night.



Wu Chun, the co-owner himself was there to offer his support for this event – focusing on healthy eating and living.



Lovely artistic decor by The Collective Arts Events ~~



You gotta love the decor and the chalkboard work drawn by @mujahidjohar & @cristina_nance


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The table settings have calligraphies of the guests on envelopes, to put our payment for the dinner, it’s more of a donation basis and you can give more if you want to.



I did what the food paparazzi would do and snuck into the kitchen to get the chefs for a group photo in the kitchen before the main event. Ready to go! Here we have @theenergykitchen @hip_and_healthy @pandachu and@prontobrunei so please follow then on Instagram!



The menu for the night ~~~



My dining companions for the night – SocMed group at the centre – it' was good to catch up and share our views on the dining experience. @emmagoodegg @maurina and @marul69 Big Social Influencers in Brunei. Be sure to follow them on IG if you haven’t yet!


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Pictures of some of the guests during the healthy pop up dinner – quite a diverse crowd we got here!



The first two Amouse Bouche – in front of you is the Umai, an Asian ceviche by @hip_and_healthy which has a strong kick but lovely tasting fish to start our meal. Some might feel it’s acid too overpowering but I’m fine with it. The vegan zoodles and coodles by @pandachu are actually zucchini and carrot strings tossed with a sesame dressing and I enjoyed the good crunch to it – I have to say I like this and I’m tempted to buy the tool to make my own versions in future. A good start to the dinner.



Chefs making their rounds and introducing their dishes while asking feedback from the diners



For appetizers, we started with the sesame wholewheat flatbreads with pistachio and parmesan crisp, we liked this for its sharp crisp flavours and textures but one thing we felt could improve was the temperature – it felt like it was prepared in advanced and not warmed up properly before it was served. A good appetizer despite that but could had been better.



These colourful  sweet potato and potato gnocchis are baked and served with a Thai basil pesto and lime aioli. It has a good crisp outer texture but again – the let down is the temperature of the dish – same reason as the previous one  which can be improved with better warming up of this dish– the aioli while it does have the pesto flavours, doesn’t reflect the texture of a creamy aioli.



Last of the appetizers were these buckwheat pumpkin ravioli which were supposed to be slightly seared in coriander oil but to me I think it’s not executed properly and the chefs did apologized for it. I couldn’t taste the coriander and the texture is slightly rubbery – though the pumpkin filling is alright but due to the way the ravioli’s cooked, was a tad too oily. This was my least favourite of the three.


The appetizers for this event is prepared by @prontobrunei – they have good ideas for the appetizers and I think that to cater for the huge crowd, the appetizers were prepared beforehand and when it was sent out from the kitchen, wasn’t warmed up properly. It will be a good lesson to take in for these talented home chefs.



The Energy Kitchen presented a reinvented a healthier version of our iconic dish the Nasi Lemak! They replaced the coconut rice with a coconut milk infused cauliflower 'rice", made a healthier miso sambal, cashew nut crusted baked chicken breasts, and replaced the acar n nuts with a mango ginger flower salad and walnuts! It was very good daring effort to make a traditionally unhealthy comfort food to a guilt free main meal!


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For me – I think one common opinion was the temperature of the food again – which is more on the lukewarm side – I think if it came out hotter – this dish would taste a lot better. The chicken breasts were slightly dry to me, lacking the juicy goodness of a good fried chicken but I do enjoy the cashew crust (which would be better of course if it was hot). The coconut infused rice had a slight hint of coconut scent but it needs an extra oomph to it .. though I quite like the idea of not having guilty sinful carbs and I think this ‘rice’ has promise if executed well. Some didn’t like the ginger flower in the mango salad while some liked it while the miso sambal lacked the punch of the traditional sambal for me. Overall – it’s definitely a healthy meal – it has promise in terms of taste – which can be improved in my opinion – and I’m looking forward to version 2.0 of this dish after this feedback.



I didn’t realize we looked dead serious while taking food pics ~~ LOL ~ now on to the desserts!



For desserts, @hip_and_healthy presented a refreshing lemongrass calamansi sorbet which would go well at parties with some added oomph.. wink wink – if you know what I mean. The sorbet was semi melted when it arrived at our table and we had to shoot the pic quickly. It was a shame that it ended up becoming icy shots but we enjoyed the taste and kick! This is something that can be improved upon in future when it comes to serving a big crowd from a hot kitchen.



@pandachu presented these spoonfuls of jasmine and honey tea jelly served with a dragon fruit puree. For me – the tea jelly despite having honey in it, the bitterness was too evident to complement the dragon fruit puree. Something just doesn’t work here for me – and my dining companions agreed,


DSCF7550 . @pandachu made amends with a very delicious durian panna cotta with almond crisp and I remembered she was looking for fresh durian on FB before. Good points for a yummy dessert using a local fruit. I wouldn’t mind more of these~~ picky critics might say how does this fit the healthy theme though but forgave it because it tasted yummy ~~ unless you’re not fond of durian



Last but not least is a rich dessert from @hip_and_healthy these healthy vegan coconut hazelnut crunch.. without flour, dairy and sugar but made from coconut cream and cashew butter and sweetness from dates!!! Texture and taste wise, I really enjoyed it - *confession* I actually had two of these (stole it from Marul ~ lol) but I think these are an acquired taste for some who might not like it but it’s a thumbs up to this dessert for me.



Overall, I quite enjoyed the night and I look forward to more events like these in the future. I think it’s understandable that it’s the first time these home chefs worked together in a kitchen to produce a four course meal for about 50 guests – there are some things that can be improved – especially with the execution of the food, which obviously must work well during trials for smaller numbers but difficult to replicate to a big crowd. However, it’s easy to be on the table, tasting and commenting but cooking for a big group can be a challenging process and I do take in the fact that they’re not experienced chefs working day in and day out in the kitchen and I think they will learn a very valuable life lesson from this and improve!



I must say well done to the organizers and chefs for the night and give yourselves a pat on the back! It’s good to have something like this from time to time and it is a refreshing dining experience from the usual we have.

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