Eating with the fish at Fish Buddy Cafe
By Hilary Ho
Photos by Julian Sim
WHEN YOU ARE WORKING on a thesis in marine biology and want to spread your appreciation to others, the last thing a layperson like myself would think about is opening a restaurant. It’s lucky then that I’m not the one specialising in marine biology, but Jason Voon, whose family owns the aquarium-themed restaurant Fish Buddy Cafe.
Jason, who is pursuing a Masters in Marine Biology, saw that people were more drawn to marine life when they were able to take time to sit down and appreciate its beauty.
Fish Buddy Café works on this concept, allowing people to sit down and have a good meal while being surrounded by the beauty of marine life.
Fish Buddy Café does more than just educate, they pride themselves in taking that extra step making sure that marine life is not the only thing you will be coming back for and you will see why. Jason is also the cook for this cosy café of almost two months.
Despite –or maybe because of – its name and theme, Fish Buddy Café currently only has one fish dish in their menu – their signature Fish and Chips. Don’t take this uninspiring common Western dish for granted as the little touches Jason adds to it are what make this special.
First of all, flounder is their fresh fish of choice against the more commonly used and cheaper option of dory. Once you cut into the flounder cooked in lightly crisped beer batter, you will see from its brilliant texture why they chose the flounder instead.
With a drizzle of tangy lemon juice and a slightly sweet, sour and savoury tartar dip, your first bite into the fish coupled with its meaty texture and light crispiness of its batter works so well together that it does not matter if this is the only fish item currently on the menu.
The Chicken Parmigiana is another take on the Italian classic, although you may find that this version is not as gravy-immersed as its more authentic counterpart.
This version instead has a mixture of cheese on top of a light portion of marinara over the crisp, breaded chicken breast. The cheese is aromatic as it is flavourful and gooey, while the marinara has ample flavours of sweet and slightly sour tomatoes. The toppings complement the crisp breaded chicken breast that is cooked well and juicy throughout.
The Spaghetti Ragu is a spaghetti dish that came as the biggest surprise as it did so many things right even with how simple this dish seems to be. This pasta dish is topped with slices of beef tenderloin soft and tender enough to cut with a fork covered in ragu, a meat-based sauce clearly infused with the juices of the beef and slightly sweet from the drizzling of red wine.
The pasta, cooked al dente, is also rightfully cooked together with the Ragu, ensuring the the pasta is fully coated. The topping of freshly grated parmesan also brings a sharp salty aroma to round off this dish.
This aquarium-themed cafe is as passionate about their marine life as they are about the food they prepare. It is evident from how fresh their ingredients are, to the meticulous way they bring simple methods to ensure the flavours and textures they desire for their patrons.
Fish Buddy Café is open daily except on Tuesdays from 7pm to 10pm. You may call for reservations at 0168897198. They are located inside Kpk Quantity Surveyors, Kuching along Jalan Ong Kee Hui. You can try using the link https://goo.gl/maps/21y0m for directions.
For more information, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fish.buddy.cafe/info?tab=page_info.
Hilary Ho is a teacher, aspiring writer and food traveller who writes about food and lifestyle for his blog urban-palate.blogspot.com. When he is not teaching or writing for others, he enjoys wandering the streets in search of food and the stories of the people behind them. He currently resides in Kuching.