The curiously named SugarBun is a restaurant that specialises in Borneo cuisine. Borneo is an island (third largest in the world) and its land broken up into three parts, which are governed by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
I first came across SugarBun while stuck in really bad peak hour traffic. My car was idling for 20 minutes on Russel Street, which is where SugarBun is located. During that time, I spotted SugarBun with its bright pink neon sign and glossy black paintwork. As I had time on my hands, I grew more and more intrigued about the restaurant. What is Borneo food? What does it taste like? Why is it called SugarBun - do they serve sweet buns?
At the earliest opportunity, I wandered in there for lunch. It's a narrow space but it's very smartly decked out. Bright lights, polished concrete floors, exposed brickwork, nice little touches of pot plants (albeit of the plastic variety). The pink and white sign of its name and the black and white high-gloss tiles made me feel like I was setting foot into an American style soda shop rather than an Asian eatery.
It's very prim and proper, and there's also this really nice homely feeling about the place and its enhanced by the ever so sweet and friendly staff.
For my inaugural meal, I went for one of the main dishes, a SugarBun Delight. I went for the very reasonably priced broasted chicken ($11). I didn't know what broasted meant (I actually thought it was a typo). But Google told me that broasting is essentially deep frying breaded/crumbed meats in a pressure-cooker. In this case, it was two fairly hefty pieces of chicken marinated in Sarawakian (one of the Malaysian states in Borneo) spices, served with savoury rice and Appe-hancer.
The menu declares the chicken to be juicy and tender meat with a crispy crust, and boy, it's a spot-on description! To borrow a (trademarked?) term, it's definitely finger-licking good! The skin is 100% crispy all over, and impressively it's not oily at all - the skin is incredibly dry. There is no grease on the plate. The meat is definitely juice and tender. The seasoning is an aromatic blend, and I think it has thyme and cinnamon in it. Even more impressively was that, despite wolfing all the chicken and the sides, I didn't feel bloated afterwards - even several hours later.
The sides were also a delight. The savoury rice had these nubbly bits of what I think is pork through it (but given that Malaysia has a large Muslim population, I'm not entirely sure that it is pork) and juicy sultanas. It tasted very much like a pilaf. The Appe-hancer was a pickle of deseeded cucumber and pineapple. I don't know what the name refers to, as I did a Google search and was none the wise.
So impressed was I with SugarBun that two days later I convinced Mr G and Mr P to come along with me to try it. This time, we all went for the $12 lunch special - you pick from a selected range of mains and get a drink with it. Mr P went for the Ribena Sprite...
...and Mr G and I both went for the Sabah (the other Malaysian state in Borneo) tea. We were both expecting something more than just a Sabah branded tea bag.
As I liked the broasted chicken so much, this time I went for the nasi lemak with broasted chicken. The chicken was as delicious as the first time. The rest of nasi lemak was pretty good too. A mound of coconut rice, fresh side veg, a generous serve of roasted peanuts. The sambal was a sweetly savoury smooth-ish sauce which was a blend of the usual chilli sambal ingredients and ikan bilis. I quite liked the sambal served this way.
While both the guys liked the sound of the broasted chicken, they chose other dishes to see what they're like. Mr G got the fish burger with fries and served with two types of chilli. While this was a tad smaller than I was expected, it was quite cute. Mr G said it was a nice crumbed fillet of white fish, with a nice sauce and fresh salad ingredients inside. He also said that it had a fairly generous serve of fries.
Mr P went for the hearty beef stew with mixed grain rice, served with a different type of chilli sauce. While I didn't get to try this, Mr P quite liked it and said it had good flavour and liked how tender the beef was. It was served in a clay/iron pot and in this red wicker basket. These clay/iron pots seem to be a speciality of the place, as quite a few people were ordering this type of dish.
Food – 9
Ambiance – 8.5
Service – 8
Price – 8.5
I'm loving SugarBun! It's only six months old but I reckon it won't be soon before everyone knows about this place.
I loved the cuteness of the place, the more unusual menu items (including offal and buttermilk fried prawns). I want to go back to try their bak kut teh, which appears to be a speciality. The staff are friendly and the food is tasty and quite reasonably priced. More, more, more!
Plus, I still have a reason to go back - next time, I have to ask the staff where the name SugarBun comes from. There's no sweet buns on the menu... any excuse to go back to SugarBun!
205 Russell Street
Telephone: 9650 4336