Christmas Eve Dinner @ Senja, Saujana Hotel

christmas eve dinner

Senja is an Italian restaurant despite it’s Malay sounding name. The food is prepared by Chef Filippo Giunta, a friendly Sicilian which I got to meet later. It is best known for it’s homemade pasta and pizzas (they even have a firewood oven) and the ambiance – it’s built on stilts above a man-made lake and the view is quite pleasing.

senja saujana

I was there to check out their Christmas Eve Dinner. I haven’t been here for a while and I thought I’ll come and check out their new pasta machine. Thanks for the invite Azimy and Azirah and it’s a pleasure to meet you Karen!


The five course meal was preceded by their wonderful home-made bread, which I absolutely loved. It came with four different types of dip – the whole olives and sun-dried tomatoes being two of my favorite.

Schiuma di Papate con Capesante ed Aneto
Potato Mousse with Scallop and Dill Oil


This is the first course proper – the amouse-bouche. It’s a nicely cooked piece of scallop topped with black caviar with potato mousse and dill oil. I thought it’s a nice start for the Christmas Eve course.

Capaccio di Manzo con Rucola e Dressing al Parmigiano
Carpaccio of Black Angus with Rocket and Parmesan Dressing

black angus carpaccio

I really, really liked this. The circular tissue-thin Black Angus is aged well so you can taste the intense flavors in this apt appetizer. I wish I could have more of this. Perfectly dry-aged (I think, forgot to ask) beef.

chef filippa giunta

There are three main courses you can choose from:

Linguine con Funghi Selvatici e Tartufo
Homemade Linguine Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle

linguini black truffle

This would be my recommendation for the main course if you’re not one of those people who must have turkey on Christmas Eve. I’ve seen how they make their pasta in-house and the linguine is cooked to perfection – dictionary definition of “al dente”. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, spruced up by generous shavings of black truffle.

Salmone in Padella Sevito con Spinaci, Salsa Prosecco e Caviale Nero
Tasmanian Salmon served with Butter Spinach, Prosecco Sauce and Black Caviar


There’s nothing wrong with this dish, but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It’s a generous slice of salmon on top of spinach and it was the first main dish that I ate but I felt that the salmon overpowered all the other flavors in the dish and it was a tad overcooked but then again I won’t pretend to be a food critic. Heh. I just felt that the other two dishes were much better.

Petto di Tacchino con Mele Verdi, Funghi in Padella e Riduzione al Vino Porto
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Poached Granny Smith Apple, Cepes Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce


I really liked the crisp turkey skin and the juicy turkey meat. I loved the stuffing. It’s a classic Christmas dish that has everything done right including the apple cubes beneath the turkey that gives it a sweet dimension. Highly recommended, I would go for this or the pasta for the main course. Come to think of it, I’ll recommend this, coz you can have pasta any other time. 😉

Panettone Tradizionale con Crema di Mascarpone e Caffe
Traditional Panettone “Tiramisu” with Mascarpone and Coffee Cream

panettone tiramisu

This is hands down the best dessert I’ve had this month, or maybe even this quarter. I might even hazard to go “this year” due to this wonderful creation from Chef Filippo Giunta. It’s not a regular tiramisu made with Savoiardi – that has been made passé with this “tiramisu” made from Panettone. Just think of Savoiardi being substituted with Panettone Antica Ricetta and you’ll have an inkling of what this marvelous dessert tastes like.

It’s awesome – there’s no other word to describe it. The Mascarpone and coffee cream dominates the Panettone that has been rendered soft and yielding and the burst of fruitcake combined with the thick, cloying cream resulted in a truly fearsome dessert. It’s delicious! 😀


This is the Panettone used for the Christmas Eve Dinner dessert at Senja. It’s the specialty Christmas cake of Milan which traces its roots to an ancient Franciscan cloister in Saronno. It’s orgasmic – there’s a bit of fruitcake to remind you of the festive season and I was very impressed by this dessert. The Mascarpone and coffee cream slathered on top of this Panettone “tiramisu” takes the cake (haha). I’ll go just for this dessert again!

christmas cookies

We also had mince pies, biscuits and gingerbread cookies after the meal and I was so enamored by the Panettone “tiramisu” that Chef Filippo Giunta came out with what the dome-shaped Christmas cake. The Christmas Eve Dinner at Senja, Saujana Hotel is priced from RM 160++ to RM 280++ with optional wine pairing.


They also have a New Year’s Eve set dinner priced at the same range where you can watch fireworks by the lake. Senja Restaurant is also starting a new tradition of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day brunches with buffet style antipasto and desserts from RM 90++. They can be reached at 03 7843 1234 for reservations. Oh, and they also sell that Panettone cake by itself but it won’t nearly be as good as the one made into “tiramisu”. Heh.

Italiano’s Pizza and Pasta review

italianos kuching

Italiano’s Pizza and Pasta is an authentic Italian eating
establishment located at Abell Road in Kuching. The place is owned by
an Italian and it’s been in operation for quite a while, and with a
reputation for authentic Italian food to boot (no pun intended).

italianos interior

The interior of the place is nicely done, there is a lot of wood
based furniture and a large replica of the outline of Italy strung
together with cloth with the colors of the Italian flag on the ceiling.

italianos napkin

Italiano’s has a set lunch promotion going on for RM 9.90, with a
choice of four different main dishes. I went there for lunch just now
with my co-workers Penny and Mancy. We each ordered a different main so
we could try the different variations.

italianos waitress

The person in charge of our table was friendly and attentive – the
service at Italiano’s Pizza and Pasta is great, and the waitress was
kind enough to accommodate unusual requests like customers asking to
take photos of her. 😉

italianos soup

The meal started with the soup of the day – it’s a tomato based
creamy soup, with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower,
carrots and various other ingredients. It’s a hearty soup, nice and

italianos pizza

This is one of the mains that we ordered. Pizza Margherita
is described as “pizza bread baked with tomato sauce and cheese”. It
has a thin base and is unlike the topping piled American style pizzas.
This is a more authentic Italian pizza with just tomato sauce, cheese
and herbs. It’s great – I give this two thumbs up!

italianos risotto

The second main dish that we shared is Risotto Francheska
which the menu bills as “Italiano’s style tomato rice cooked with
tomato sauce and vegetables”. I liked this dish as well; the risotto is
rich and creamy, with a lingering aftertaste.

italianos pene

The last main that we ordered is Pene Arabiata,
which is “short tube pasta cooked with tomato, dry chilly, olives, and
garlic in tomato sauce”. This is a spicy dish, and that always scores
points with me. It tastes good and it’s always fun to stab penne rigate
with a fork. 😉

italianos mirela

I wanted to order tiramisu, unfortunately Italiano’s were out, so
Mirela recommended another dessert. At least, that’s how I remember the
spelling as she enunciated it out for me. She’s not from Italy, as I
assumed, but is of Bosnian origin. She’s really friendly, and has this
fragile beauty about her…but I digress, we should be talking about

italianos pudding

This is the pudding type dessert that Mirela (pronounced MIER-la)
recommended. I don’t know what it’s made of, but it’s very creamy, with
a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a sweet aftertaste. It’s has cherry
sauce and chocolate drizzled over it, but it’s not cloyingly sweet, it
manages to allow the creamy taste to dominate the pudding. It’s

Italiano’s Pizza and Pasta comes highly recommended from me. The
food is good, the ambience is warm, and the service is great. You can’t
go wrong with Italiano’s if you’re looking for authentic Italian food
in Kuching.

USB chargers and Tiramisu

Well, my cell phone charger died on me again yesterday. At that time my
cell phone battery was really low and I needed to have it on to coordinate
my group projects so I decided to head out to the campus center mobile
phone shop to get another charger. Unfortunately, the girl there couldn’t
find a T-28 charger so she gave me a pen with the store’s number and told
me to call them at around 5 pm when the owner comes back. Well, I didn’t
want to wait until 5 pm because if it turns out that they don’t have one
in stock, I’ll be stuck with a flat battery the whole day. Thus, I headed
down to Clayton to see if the mobile phone shops there are still open. On
a whim, I went to a computer hardware shop first because it has come to my
attention that there are USB cell phone chargers out now. I was a bit
doubtful that the computer shop will carry any coz this is Clayton after
all and USB cell phone chargers aren’t very widely available anyway. Well,
guess what…they do carry a T-28 USB charger and it goes for only A$15.

What luck. Basically, USB chargers work by drawing the power from the
computer supply instead of a power outlet. I have one spare USB port on my
powered USB hub so this is good indeed, since my computer is on most of
the time anyway.

Anyway, I happened to pass by McDonald’s after that and I saw that the

New Tastes Menu
[] has been updated again and this
time the country featured is Italy. I got a Romano Chicken Burger meal,
the Herb Bread and the Tiramisu dessert. I didn’t like the napolitana
sauce in the Romano Chicken Burger and the Herb Bread is pretty dismal
compared to the garlic bread available at Monash Pizza, an Italian run
pizza place 10 minutes from my halls. The tiramisu was pretty good though.
I ramble.

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