Peppino has received accreditations from Malaysian Tatler as the Best Restaurant from 2005 – 2012, and from Sabah Tourism Board as the Best Hotel Restaurant in 2011.
When you first enter the restaurant, you would feel as though its interior stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the relaxed and laid back resort and spa environment. It was a good sore thumb though; a good change for a more contemporary, chic and elegant furnishing, adorned with warm timber fittings and lustrous leather furniture. You can based it on your mood to dine either at the alfresco terrace or the air-conditioned area. Just one thing – no shorts and flip-flops, and they enforce it.
Calamari Fritti (RM24++ / SGD9.80++) :: The batter was very light, and thankfully not too thick as the squid itself was very thinly sliced. For a standalone dish, I would say it’s only average at best; it’s one that has to go with some condiments (in this case, the spicy tomato sauce that comes along with it). I’d say try some other appetizers or focus your stomach energy on the main course.
Seafood Risotto (RM47++ / SGD19.20++) :: Carnaroli risotto is used here. Often described as the ‘king of rices’, there’s no doubt this is one of the better options for making risotto. It is also due to its properties, including higher content of starch and firmer texture, that this form of medium-sized grain keeps its shape better during the slow-cooking process. It wasn’t too mushy, which I’d very much preferred. Each grain was well-flavored with light tomato sauce, which was brilliantly concocted as even for a non-tomato fan like me, I thought it went very well together. The seasonal seafood made up of prawns, scallops and the likes felt like it was fresh out of the sea. One of the two must orders.
Salmon Fillet (RM67++ / SGD27.30++) :: The other half of the must-order is the Salmon Fillet. Having tried quite a number of salmons around, including the one at Coco-Joe’s Bar & Grill within the resort itself, I thought this was one of the most memorable. It stood tall, exterior firm, but when your fork gently prods through the meat, the portion you want falls through desirably. Again, every corner of the was well-marinated. It has the ‘omg it really melts in my mouth’ kind of effect after your first bite. It is served with sauteed potatoes and braised fennel.
Rossini Pizza (RM50++ / SGD20.40++) :: Pizzas are often boring because they bear non-substantial meat portions. So you can only imagine how resolved I was to try this. Topped not only with your ordinary rockets and cheese, you also get steak and foie gras, and not too bad a fragment considering the price. In spite of the mismatched pricing, the quality was really commendable. Both the steak and foie gras was up to standard from what you would get as a standalone course. The only disappointment was the pizza itself. It was on the dry and tough side. Otherwise a value-for-money order (8 slices).
Pear & Almond Tart (RM30++ / SGD12.20++) :: We were about to give up on its dessert as it didn’t quite appeal to all our tastes when I chanced upon this, written not under the desserts section but somewhere on the first page of the menu, I think part of a set menu but items can apparently be ordered individually. I was happy I did. I believe that because pear was used, the dessert plate was bearably sweet, which is always a good thing not to be overdosed with sugar, especially in the evening when bed time is near (sorry, I’m aging, I sleep early nowadays). Tart was firm but crumbly, a very well-balanced texture thanks to its smooth, compressed fillings, though it can turn out to be a messy affair of tearing them apart. Not too bad an ending to the self-made 3-course meal.
While the appetizers and desserts were not as outstanding as the main courses, they were still of a good standard. For the ambience, the price and the impeccable service, I would go back to this restaurant any day, if I were to be in Kota Kinabalu. Don’t be put off by its ‘fine-dining’ tag, it’s more than affordable and worthy. Hands down, favorite restaurant at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa.
—> Note #1: An exchange rate of SGD1 = MYR2.45 is used.
—> Note #2: Make a reservation for the restaurant anytime before 3pm of the dining day to enjoy a 15% discount (meaning you’ll more or less only be paying for the prices without GST (6%) and service charge (10%)).
Address: Peppino Italian Restaurant, 20 Jalan Aru, Tanjung Aru, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa
Opening Hours: 6pm – 10.30pm