Check it out…

There was a feature in the local newspaper on a new restaurant in town – Italian, no less…and when my young friend, Julia, who is currently back in Sibu on vacation, got in touch with me, I suggested meeting up there to check it out. Justin, another friend of ours, was able to join us that night and I asked Melissa if she was interested in coming along and she was too – so there we were that night, the four of us.

I would say that it was a nice little place and when we entered, they had Adele singing softly in the background. Unfortunately, that did not last very long – when the crowd came in, it became so very noisy that poor Adele was drowned out…completely! I thought that it got a bit warm too (for me, at least) and I definitely would not regard that as something in their favour.

Melissa had their chicken chop with gratin potatoes (RM15.90)…

Italian 1

…and she said it was very nice.

Julia had the Alfredo di Manzo (RM15.90)…

Italian 2

…and she too liked her choice from the menu. It was the only one in a long list of pasta dishes with cream-based gravy, in fact and other than the Aglio Olio, the rest were all tomato-based. I was hoping they had seafood carbonara but unfortunately, they did not.

Justin had the All’amatriciana di Manzo (RM13.90)…

Italian 3

…but he did not say anything so I wouldn’t know whether it was good or otherwise.

I opted for the Cacciatore Italiano with pasta (RM15.90)…

Italian 4

…and I would say the chicken was good but I did not like the tomato-based gravy which was somewhat diluted. Somehow it came across like some toned-down version of our usual sweet and sour meat dish.

Now, wait a minute! What was that????? The measly bit of lettuce? Hmmmm…I would think that normally, they would put a sprig of parsley, at least, for presentation…especially for those kind of prices!  Tsk! Tsk! If they had run out, they might as well do without it – that would have been better, I think. What about the rest of you?

For our dessert, we shared the poached pear ((RM14.90)…

Italian 5

…which was a bit too sweet owing to the bed of crushed oreos underneath and I also ordered the panna cotta (RM8.00)…

Italian 6

…just to see what it was and to give it a try – all I knew at that point in time were the terracotta warriors in China, not this. Melissa liked it but to me, it tasted like…milk pudding and the saving grace was that it was not sweet. I think I would prefer our caramel custard or sago pudding with gula Melaka (palm sugar) syrup anytime.

Another bone to pick about the place was the fact that the sweet and young waitress could not speak a word of English…and when I asked her to suggest the specialties of the house, she was stupefied…and could not name any. We had to resort to pointing to her the items in the menu so she could read the names in brackets in Mandarin…and key in our orders onto her iphone (Justin actually thought she was texting somebody and felt that was somewhat rude). Then when she repeated our orders to confirm, she rattled through in Mandarin…and nobody knew what she was going on and on about so we just nodded and hoped that luck was on our side. Thankfully, it was. Frankly, one would expect the employees at a western restaurant to be, at least, able to speak a smattering of English.

The newspaper did mention in passing that the chef had worked for 8 years in Singapore…and they would be setting up an oven so that they could add pizzas to the menu. Well, the food was all right, not anything that got me jumping up and down with delight but it was good enough…and I guess they could not do much if the regular diners always have that tendency to be loud and boisterous but they should, at least, get one waiter or waitress who is conversant in English to attend to those non-Mandarin speaking customers.

So, would I be going there again? Well, maybe yes…maybe not.

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41 thoughts on “Check it out…

  1. Hi Arthur! I totally agree with you on the garnishing… Lettuce? Nope nope.. not in an italian restaurant.

    Ya…and they use a whole lot more than that measly bit at the cheap Chinese chu-char stalls in the coffee shops…

  2. Prices seem to be much better in Sibu than in KL!

    KL, what to expect! I’m sure the overheads are killing. I would think the prices here are a little bit steep by our local standard…for chicken.

  3. Their plating and presentation is not bad except for the lettuce bit. I agree that the service staff need to be able to communicate in basic English. I’m betting that you won’t be back there again :)

    Well, I wouldn’t mind…if someone’s treating! Hear ye, hear ye!!!….Hint! Hint! LOL!!! :D

  4. The food looks good.. or is it your camera that makes it so? :) As for mandarin speaking, I guess we got to learn that language, either that or we have to keep pointing.. hahahaa…. (Maybe they employ a China girl? You mentioned sweet and young…..)

    I know enough to get by pretty well in Chinese eating places but when it comes to names of Italian dishes, I’m stumped… :(

  5. Poached pear. Too sweet ah? Too bad. Hop over to Nava Krishnan blog. She made poached pear before. Looks better than this one.

    A lot of people have blogged about it – and I did think all of theirs look a darker shade than this. This one’s not well done – tasting almost the same as fresh pear, peeled. The sweetness was due to the oreos though – otherwise, it would not be that sweet.

  6. Thankfully, it was. Frankly, one would expect the employees at a western restaurant to be, at least, able to speak a smattering of English.

    Depending on where you are in the USA, you might encounter that also. I vividly recall flying into Miami, Florida and staying at a hotel where most of the staff couldn’t speak English which was definitely not helpful since I ate at the hotel restaurant. I would never stay there again…

    In the US? Gee! What language do they speak if they do not speak English there? Not Chinese, I’m sure. Mexican?

    • Yes they were speaking Spanish. I’d heard about this for some time, that depending on where you go in Florida that you might have an issue with people understanding you. When my Aunt (she’s also a fourth grade teacher) told me about this I was hoping she was exaggerating until I traveled there and experienced it first hand.

      It initially happened with the people that clean the rooms. I had a question and I also wanted to thank her but the lady could not understand what I said. She had to find her boss who could.Then it happened in the restaurant, the server had no idea what I was saying so had to get the manager to listen to what I was saying. I’m all for people getting jobs but you need to be qualified to fulfill your duties. Customer service is a requirement in restaurants so it makes sense to employ workers that can understand what you’re saying.

      Here, I encountered a problem with a Bangladeshi immigrant waiter at a fine dining place in KL – he could speak enough English to wait at tables but he could not explain what an item in the menu was. However, he was able to get the Captain to come to me in a jiffy so that was perfectly all right. This particular so-called Italian restaurant, we had to struggle our way through…and hop for the best. Tsk! Tsk!

  7. Wa, how come the prices were so good one, here in Penang, Italian restaurant? it will be dining out at a fine dinning outlet instead for Italian.

    That’s fine dining, high class one…that’s why the prices also so fine one…but this one, where got class? Cannot speak even a bit of English. What kind of western restaurant is that?

  8. while others looked ok, I agree.. your tomato sauce looked more like soup that sauce.
    I guess everyone has their own rendition of recipes….

    I would expect an Italian restaurant to have staff that can at least speak English on a min else it would be difficult…. but then again, that’s my expectation… :P

    Mine too!!! I wouldn’t know the name of all those pasta dishes in Mandarin! Really, if they would only employ Mandarin-speaking workers, go open a Chinese restaurant lah!!! Really no class at all like that… Gets so put off at such places. All those that I frequent – even the Chinese ones, would have people able to speak English…or Hokkien, at least…and they would know enough of what they serve to tell you.

  9. the lettuce presentation.. tsk tsk it’s better to do without :)
    I would be stumped too if the waitress repeat the order in chinese.. how i know what was written down? you are so nice as not to get the manager over

    My sentiments exactly. Maybe the chef thinks people here, no class one – would not know the difference…just put that for a little bit of colour and he thinks he can get away with it. Tsk! Tsk!

  10. every dish uses the same lettuce leaf as decoration in the same style, hahaha!! errr, that chicken you had, sweet and sour or masak merah?? hehe~~ :p

    Very diluted sweet and sour… :( I would not mind masak merah, actually.

  11. The food looks good and the price is cheap too. The lettuce is really awkward here. Maybe they are running out of parsley…haha

    Exactly what I thought…and hopefully, that was the case.

  12. Mayb you should revisit for the pizza. Erm…a bit too bad if the waitress doesn’t understand simple English.

    Don’t think I would bother. Might as well go to my usual haunts where I would not be talking to the people there…like a duck and a hen.

  13. What’s with the lettuce? So strange. Poached pear at RM14++ fuiyoh! Quite pricey eh?

    Dunno, never had that elsewhere…and for a dessert dish – I would think that was expensive! The lettuce? Somebody claiming to have 8-years’ experience as a chef in Singapore…trying to bluff we dumb-dumb no-class-at-all Sibu people. :(

  14. Food looks great and I love the poached pear. Yum!!!…Yum!!!…

    It did look pretty… Tasted all right, but all things considered, I think I would prefer to go elsewhere…

  15. Why you so bad one asking Bananaz to shaddap, why you no likey Bananaz to comment very sad kek sim liao sobs no friend you already

    Hahahaha!!! I love this song! So cute one, very light-hearted…will brighten up your day. Did you listen? Nice, right? :) Come, come…let’s sing along!!!
    What’s-a matter you? Hey! Gotta no respect
    What-a you t’ink you do? Why you look-a so sad?
    It’s-a not so bad
    It’s-a nice-a place
    Ah…shaddap-a you face!

  16. Ah..shaddap-a your face! Got a godmum married to an Italian in Adelaide, stayed with them for some time can practically hear..mangiare mangiare most of the time. Those Italians love to drink rain water and in all their own built houses they have a special ‘door’ at the gutter to divert and collect rain water. They have to wait for a few minutes after the rain fall before opening the ‘door’ for cleaner rain water. Grandpa would called out my daughter ‘bambina’ *its baby girl*. Happy mangiare mangiare..

    This song was a hit in Australia – many Italians there obviously. Come, come…let’s sing some more:
    Uno, due, tre, quattro… LOL!!!

    • OK uno, due, tre, quattro…go hahaha. Since on Italian thingy guess you must have seen this joke hundred times but good to refresh memory and have fun before you shaddap
      on me again…enjoy this with some Italian slang..

      One day ima gonna Malta to bigga hotel. Ina Morning I go down to eat breakfast. I tella waitress I wanna two pissis toast. She brings me only one piss. I tella her I want two piss. She say go to the toilet. I say you no understand . I wanna to piss onna my plate. She say you better not piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch. I don’t even know the lady and she call me sonna ma bitch.
      Later I go to eat at the bigga restaurant. The waitress brings me a spoon and knife but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She tell me everyone wanna fock. I tell her you no understand. I wanna fock on the table. She say you better not fock on the table, you sonna ma bitch. I don’t even know the lady and she call me sonna ma bitch.
      So I go back to my room inna hotel and there is no shits onna my bed. Call the manager and tella him I wanna shit. He tell me to go to toilet. I say you no understand. I wanna shit on my bed. He say you better not shit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch. I don’t even know the man and he call me sonna ma bitch. I go to the checkout and the man at the desk say: “Peace on you”. I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch, I gonna back to Italy.

      LOL!!! I vaguely recall having heard the joke before. Good one! :D

  17. all the dishes especially that chicken dish looks great
    and the dessert were just stunning

    They looked good all right…but what I had was not really sensational, and neither were the desserts…in my point of view.

  18. well i guess waitress who can speak english even a bit is a must at every restaurant or stores i mean foreign customers needs it

    Not many foreign customers here, if any at all…but not everybody here can speak Mandarin, that’s for sure. Maybe they are not interested in the business of those…and also those non-Chinese folks around here.

  19. I ll definitely want to go there…all my fav dishes. Perhaps next year.

    Yakah? I guess you have no problem reading the Chinese names on the menu and placing your orders in Mandarin? ;)

    • Can…I am learning to read the chinese words. speaking in Mandarin much better now.

      No choice here. Everybody speaks the language so have to pick it up – with all that practice, getting better and better by the day.

  20. I love panna cotta. :)

    But i think i will give this place a skip. I better enjoy my foochow food. kekekkeke

    Yup…you can get better in KL – don’t waste time on these…

  21. ooo, on the plus side, the prices would be considered very reasonable (in KL) :D

    Though not here – there are other places around these same prices that are nicer…and some may even be cheaper.

  22. Just want to know whether you are able to converse in mandarin or not. I thought everyone in Sibu can speak mandarin. Maybe I am wrong. The food looks good, but I still prefer kampua or Foochow fried noodle.

    Now, the younger generation especially will speak nothing but Mandarin. Our time, we spoke Hokkien or Foochow…and other Chinese dialects plus English and even Sarawak Malay and those in Sg Merah would be predominantly Hinghua speakers and so on…but these days, the dialects are dying out.

    Even those few years before I retired, if I said anything in Hokkien in class, only a handful would understand…and by now, Foochow is slowly disappearing as well – nothing but Mandarin.

    I do speak Mandarin at places where the workers cannot speak anything but Mandarin e.g. in the shops or supermarkets – used to speak Hokkien and switch to Mandarin when I found that they could not understand, but these days, I don’t bother. Just use Mandarin, will save me the trouble of having to repeat…and don’t hope they can speak English or even BM – they’re all monolingual, that’s the culture here these days.

  23. HAHAHAHA

    Nice one about the lettuce and the sweet and sour comment. I think the plating looks too plain too, for someone working in the Singapore for 8 years.

    I wouldn’t be keen in trying it out.

    Nope, you can give this a miss. Lots of other nicer places for you to go while you’re back home. ;)

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