Chinese cuisine represents one of the richest and most diverse culinary heritages in the world. It originated in different regions of China and has now gained global popularity. To the Chinese, food family and friends are inseparable. At Yi Yuan Ting Fine Dining Restaurant in Butu Bersurat you can relax and enjoy exquisite meals prepared by Master Chef Sun in an oriental atmosphere that is simple and serene.
Embracing an oriental aesthetic, this restaurant relies on creating a cosy, inviting atmosphere with beautiful Chinese artwork, lanterns and ornaments. But what adds a distinctive personality to the space are the poems on the walls which have been written in Chinese, but have also been translated into Malay and English. Written by one of the owners, these poems reflect positive thoughts about the essence of love and life. This tranquil setting with its reminders of the importance of core values, like respect and honesty, is the perfect place to disconnect from busy schedules and to reconnect with what is important in life.
Impeccable service and excellent cuisine are what is to be expected at Yi Yuan Ting. Both traditional favourites and innovative Chinese dishes will be prepared by MasterChef Sun and his students. Chef Sun who was an apprentice to renowned Chef Martin Yan brings over 27 years of experience to this restaurant and prides himself on the prefect preparation and presentation of every dish. He’s also won many international awards and medals for his well-known dishes. Some of his popular dishes at Yi Yuan Ting Fine Dining Restaurant include Thai Style Fish Head Curry, Binchotan Charcoal Beancurd with the Chef’s signature Butter Custard Sauce and Cheese Stuffed Squid Balls to name a few. For CNY 2016 many customers have ordered Chef Sun’s Special Yeesang and his Braised Eight Treasure in Hotpot. And the great news for Bruneians is that Chef Sun will now be permanently based in Brunei at Yi Yuan Ting Fine Dining Restaurant so we can look forward to trying his new dishes which will no doubt continue to push the culinary boundaries and to provide a fine dining experience that is truly exceptional.
Here is a Q & A with Chef Sun.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
Since 1988, I started at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sabah.
What was your big break?
I have to say it’s not having anyone complain in 28 years, or perhaps it’s boiling hot water…. Haha…Just kidding, it’s my golden prawns, dubbed – Dragon’s Shadow on Golden Sand. I was awarded Champion in the 2nd Malaysian Golden Chef Competition where my dish was chosen over 1996 others.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I have to say that I don’t have a specific style – I just use my heart to make every dish that I can. However, I like to experiment with different ingredients from around the world.
Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
As a professional chef, I don’t have any particular preference for a dish or cuisine.
How has your food/menu evolved over the years, and which chefs have had the most influence on you?
Like any professional, constantly evolving one’s craft is necessary. As long as one has a great passion and a strong sense of one’s raison être for one’s profession, one should constantly search for ways to excel. As for which chefs have influenced me the most, it is in fact a group of chefs. When I started working in Penang, I got to know a group of chefs who worked in a hotel. It was then I found out that there were competitions in which chefs could compete in and that was when I first started to compete professionally. I could see their passion for cooking in their eyes. Every one of them could speak English fluently, which was rather rare; estimate costings and manage a team -and this is what inspired me. And it was because of them that I changed my attitude towards cooking. Consequently, Chef Martin Yan gave me a lot of guidance when we filmed a TV program about cooking together. While Master Chef Michael Au became my mentor.
In recent years, I have begun to integrate cultural elements into my dishes and cuisine. I started to study the depths of Chinese cuisine as well as the cuisines from different cultures with the hope of presenting my cooking with a cultural backdrop.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
I dare not say that they are any great achievements, I only strive to excel in my profession. In recent years, I have been creating original dishes that are inspired by Chinese, Western as well as Japanese cuisines while integrating a poetic flare to their presentation.
What trends are you seeing in Asian cooking today, and which are you most excited by?
The best of Asian cooking is Thai cuisine, you can find this anywhere in the world, followed by Indonesian cooking. I think that for a particular cuisine to flourish, it is not only the responsibility of the chef. Instead, the government also bears great responsibilities in developing and promulgating it because a nation’s cuisine embodies its spirit and culture.
What future challenges and developments do you foresee in the restaurant business in Brunei?
The restaurant business in Brunei is indeed challenging – suitable players and ingredients to make the dishes are very difficult to come by. To expand the Bruneian food and beverage industry, the government must first boost the tourism industry and put this industry in the international arena.