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Located in Kota Kinabalu, Wine at the Peak is a one-year-old steakhouse that’s all about paying homage to the land it takes from.

Its head chef, Bryan, shared with Vulcan Post: “It doesn’t always have to be imported to be better, Sabah is a rich state with so many things to discover, possibilities are endless as long as we’re willing to learn and love our roots.”

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

While he’s neither the founder nor the owner of Wine at the Peak, Bryan is undoubtedly a core part of the team.

Prior to Wine at the Peak, Bryan had been a chef at an European-themed wine and dine steakhouse, LAVINE Restaurant and Wine Bar.

How he came to be at Wine at the Peak was through a shared passion with the restaurant’s owner, which is to eat. As foodies, they were inspired to add more to the already vibrant food scene in KK, and thus set up Wine at the Peak in January 2023.

Inspired by the greats

Though a steakhouse at heart, Wine at the Peak also serves many seafood and pork dishes. With sustainability, authenticity, community, storytelling, and nostalgia as its core values, Wine at the Peak is dedicated to being a farm-to-table establishment.

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

“When we decided to do a farm-to-table concept, it was really inspired by Dewakan,” Bryan revealed, referring to the two Michelin-starred restaurant. “A few years back, I realised a lot of the things they used came from our backyard in Sabah.”

From a financial aspect, farm-to-table concepts are admittedly not as cost-effective, though, as it typically means buying in less quantity from small businesses who don’t enjoy economies of scale.

However, Wine at the Peak wants to move forward in a sustainable way, paying the bills of less fortunate farmers in the villages.

“I’ve always had a compassion for people of older age that may not have had access to education and technology,” he said.

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

“That’s why we’ve decided to support local farmers and entrepreneurs in whatever way possible, I feel that this way I’m actually contributing to my own home, rather than sending it away to a different country or continent.”

A lot of their ingredients are sourced from DumoWongi, a Sabah-based social enterprise.

“Irene, the founder, really helps empower these bunch of amazing ladies to plant things as it should be,” Bryan explained.

But sourcing from smaller enterprises means that supply isn’t always stable, such as when there are weather issues. When that happens, though, Bryan said they always fall back to the trusty Tamu (weekly market) in Dongongon.

Elevating local flavours

Aside from sourcing local, Wine at the Peak also serves local flavours, though oftentimes adding a modern twist.

He said that their staples provide an experience that is nostalgic of traditional flavours but executed in modern techniques. For one, there’s the sous vide pork belly.

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

“Sabahan flavours if I were to describe, are pretty vast as we’re so multicultural, but I think it hinges on these few things—savoury, sour, and spicy,” he said. “At times, a lot of fermentation and pickling as well depending on the dishes.”

Bryan believes that Sabahan flavours are underrated in many places, even among locals, especially as more and more cuisines become available in the scene.

However, he also believes that comfort food is above fancy food, and hopes that Wine at the Peak can bring people on a journey to maybe discover or rediscover local flavours in the long run.

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

Some local ingredients they feature include Tuhau, a wild ginger that grows abundantly there, and bambangan, a wild seasonal mango.

With storytelling being one of the core values, Bryan said they do try to go around explaining why they do certain things a certain way—but not everyone is keen about it.

“But we try,” he said. “And most of the time we’d make new friends, and sometimes hear stories from our guests as well, that sometimes we take inspiration from as well.”

Giving back to the land

Bryan believes that especially after the pandemic, the F&B scene has been flourishing. That said, the Wine at the Peak team isn’t concerned about competing with other restaurants in the area.

The reason is because they believe everyone’s offering different concepts and menu. Bryan added, “I’d say we’re the first one in our area that does local flavours and at the same time serving really good steaks.”

Rather than relying on the same dishes all the time, though, the team does come up with new menus from time to time and also audit their quarterly sales to see how the dishes perform.

“The only thing we’ve never changed would be our crispy pork belly served with a butter sauce, it’s been a signature based on our guests taking a vote,” he shared.

Food aside, the Wine at the Peak team is also concerned about creating a healthy work environment and culture.

With that, the restaurant is geared to achieve its bigger mission of seeing Sabahans proud of their lineage, their traditions, their flavours, and their identity.

Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

The struggle with Sabah, he expressed, is that people often take from the land, then leave elsewhere to make a living instead of giving back.

“I think it’s easier said than done,” he admitted about changing this behaviour. “The plan is hoping that one day the actions of a few really pave the way for our future generations.”

  • Learn more about Wine at the Peak here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: Wine at the Peak

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)