Food Trip in Brunei
When traveling, especially to a foreign country, local food is one of the things I always try. Eating in restaurants and eateries of different types and economic levels is one way of blending with the locals and observing their day-to-day life. Flavors and how food are prepared and presented often reflect the culture and tradition of a place. Which is why, sampling their cuisines is also a learning experience. Most of all, trying the various tastes each place can offer is an adventure in itself.
In Brunei, food is quite a colorful mixture. You probably wonder where to eat in Brunei. There’s plenty to choose from because there is a variety of Asian cuisines that is available in the Bandar-Muara District. Prominent ones are Malay and Indonesian food, Indian and South Asian offerings, and cuisines from the Indochina region (Thailand, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Lao). There are also Filipino food, or something close to Filipino dishes, not to mention how the Filipino fast food chain Jollibee is faring well in this part of Asia.
In our four days in this country, we have tasted a variety of flavors. Let me take you through our culinary experience that have made our trip more interesting and satisfying.
Arriving late on a Saturday night, Brunei greeted us with solitude. I knew from friends and resources I read that there’s practically no nightlife in this country. But that doesn’t mean that there are no eateries open during the evenings. Our hosts, Nonoy Hautea and Poks Grajo, brought us to our hotel and invited us for late dinner across the street.
At the corner of ground floor just outside The Mall is the Chill. It has an artsy feel to it with a touch of Middle Eastern design. It has a nice ambiance and we took one of the tables outside as we dined al fresco. I ordered Ayam Penyet (literally means smashed fried chicken) at BND3.00, Strawberry Milkshake at BND4.00. We also tried Mee Goreng Seafood at BND5.50.
Ground Floor, The Mall
Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
Rajah’s Restaurant and Catering
It was our first morning in Brunei and our hosts took us to Rajah’s Restaurant and Catering, which serves authentic Indian food. Although we only had bread and some chicken, our breakfast was quite filling. Who wouldn’t when we ordered Tandoori Chicken, Tandoori Roti with Butter – BND2.00, Poori with Potato – BND2.80, Roti Kosong (Plain) – BND1.00, Plain Dosai (a South Indian food) – BND1.50, and Roti Bawang? To match this delectable feast, I had Kopi (coffee) for my hot beverage.
Rajah’s is open from 7:30am to 10:30pm. It was a Sunday when we went there and most diners were families.
Block A, Bangunan PAP Umi Kalthum,
Batu 11/4, Jalan Tutong,
Seri Kompleks/Batu Satu, Kianggeh, Brunei-Muara
+673 224 0379
Tarindak d’Polo Restaurant
We never planned to have our lunch in this luxurious restaurant. We came from the Brunei Cancer Centre, which is one of the projects of Nonoy and Poks, and we were just about to have a quick peak inside the Jerudong Park Polo Club. But as we were making inquiries, we learned that the restaurant is open to the public.
We opted to have our sumptuous meal in the august halls of the restaurant. It used to be exclusive to the Royal family and their guests, but they eventually gave non-members to have a posh dining experience in Tarindak d’Polo. The utensils were heavy, which truly looked like of high-grade material. But the price of the food can be quite expensive compared to the previous restaurants we’ve dined in. Take for example their Satay Jerudong, which costs BND11.00 for only six pieces. I ordered Ayam Goreng and a Rose Lychee juice. My companions had salad, beef soup, and a noodle dish.
We were the only guests at that time. But we could here other visitors outside at the swimming pool area. The restaurant is huge, with a dancing floor in the center, and large columns made of what seemed like granite or marble. After our lunch, we asked the manager if we can take a look at the ballroom at the second floor. One of his staff members, a fellow Filipino, gladly showed us the upper level. The Banquet Hall is very stately. Regal and elegance is written all over the place, from the ornate designs to the splashes of gold in almost every corner. I must say that our lunch is one awesome experience that has a close brush to royalty.
Jerudong Park Polo Club
Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam
+673 261 2500
Pasar Malam (Night Market) Gadong
From a very luxurious dining experience, we shifted to the extreme side of the pendulum as we spent our dinner at the famed Pasar Malam Gadong. Rows of tents that were housing food stalls filled a huge parking lot. We went around, inspecting the goods sold. The night market reminded me of a bazaar I visited at the Taipei Expo Park parking lot. At one end are grilled stalls as smoke almost enveloped the entire area. Then the hot dishes area, where vendors sell cooked food and cold drinks. Next to it were rows of fruit stalls, while the other end were selling vegetables and raw food ingredients.
Locals usually come here to buy food that they can bring home for dinner. There are no tables where one can sit and dine. So, what we did was we bought this Papa John sandwich at BND2.50, a few satays and coconut juice, then took out the stall from Nonoy’s car and ate at the side of his parked vehicle. At times, we were munching the food we bought while strolling around the market.
Gadong Fish Market Parking Lot
Jalan Pasar Gadong
Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
Even though our hotel wasn’t offering breakfast meals, it was still convenient to find an eatery open in the morning because the Abul Razak Complex has many restaurants. At Block J, next to our building, we found this Chinese eatery near Pizza Hut. The signage was in Chinese characters so I couldn’t determine what the name of the dining place is. It was clean and have various food dishes being served. Their whole menu is displayed on the wall. The staff were composed mostly of our kababayans. We ordered congee, mine was a seafood congee at BND4.50, and hot beverage. I asked for Kopi while Betsy got The Tarik. It was still early but as soon as we started eating, the place was slowly filled with other diners. There are two or three other Chinese eateries along that row, we found out later.
Block J, Abdul Razak Complex
Jalan Dayang Siti Hamidah
Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
Nonoy was speaking highly of SCR Express. The ambiance has a blend of a fast food feel and a Chinese eatery, where you can see the kitchen. The place is popular because of its Chicken Rice which each of us ordered and the meal only costs BND3.50. It was indeed good and I realized why it has been a favorite of most locals and expats in Brunei. I also got Fresh orange juice at BND3.00, which I liked as it was neither too sour nor too sweet. I’d recommend it, too, to other travelers in Brunei.
Lot 10, Bangunan Hasbullah 2,
Jalan Gadong, BSB, Brunei
+673 802 445355
Syazwan Café and Eatery
When Betsy and I roamed Bandar proper on our own, we came across Syazwan Café and Eatery. It rained a bit that time and while waiting for it to pass, we decided to have some light snack. As we were walking along Jalan Sultan, we spotted this Indian eatery across the street. We crossed and entered the café. There were tiny desserts on display and we ordered one serving of each since the sweets only cost BND1.00 per serving. The Gulab Jamun were two pieces per serving. The same with the Ladoo. The Jalebi were about six or more, much to our surprise. Though I’m not a big fan of Indian cuisine, I seem to like their food as I was able to explore more of their dishes and delicacies while in Brunei.
30 Gr Floor, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan
+673 223 0727
KTM Thai Seafood Restaurant
Coming from the Empire Hotel and Country Club, we stopped near the Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Mosque for dinner. Large aquariums of live seafood – shrimps, crabs, lobsters, shells, and fishes of different kinds – greeted us at the entrance.
KTM Thai Seafood Restaurant has a nice ambiance. There’s a small water fountain by the door while the interior is clean and not intimidating. I got my favorite, the Seafood Tom Yum, which is the best that I have tasted outside of Thailand. I also got Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet with Rice at BND5.50 and Fresh Honeydew Juice at BND3.50. We also ordered the Deep fried Kangkong. They also served house pickled vegetables and kropok as appetizers. It was a sumptuous meal, we didn’t even get to finish all our food, except for the Tom Yum, which we all liked.
1 & 2 Spg 632, Jalan Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam
+673 261 0140
Hou Hiong Beef Noodle
Our last day in Brunei was spent roaming around Gadong, especially the area near our hotel. But before checking the shops and looking for souvenir items, Betsy and I had breakfast at the Hou Hiong Beef Noodle. I wasn’t exactly happy with my Beef Noodle – BND3.00 and the warm Lemon Tea. I found the noodle a bit oily and the beef was not spectacular.
Block C, Abdul Razak Complex
Simpang 37, Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
+673 244 8888
After buying our souvenir gifts to bring home to loved ones, we got ready to have a late check-out from our hotel. Since Poks would be picking us up mid-afternoon, we had lunch at the restaurant just below our hotel floor. The CAM Restaurant offers Malay and Indonesian food. We ordered for Mango Fish at BND4.50, Mixed Vege Soup at BND2.50, and Lychee Juice and Longan Juice for beverage. The food was delicious, a welcome change from our unsatisfying breakfast. The ambiance is also nice with beautiful lighting. Even their al fresco area is nice.
Block I, Abdul Razak Complex
Simpang 37, Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
Restoran HDL & Anak-Anak
Our dinner was exciting as we ate at the Kianggeh Open Air Food Court which just across Kampong Ayer with the view of the Brunei River and near the mouth of the narrower Kianggeh River. The palace dome shone from afar as sounds of motor boats were roaring by the river. There were small stalls selling satay and there was an al fresco dining area with different restaurants.
We bought our beef and chicken satays at the stalls, including the sticky rice wrapped in a diamond-shaped woven coconut leaves, which reminded me of the puso in Cebu. We sat at the Restoran HDL & Anak-Anak where I ordered Dragon Juice at BND2.50. Nonoy and Poks ordered for soup but I was already content with the satay and chicken rice.
Kianggeh Open Air Food Court
Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
It was a great experience trying all those food. It definitely made my Brunei trip more memorable. Savoring all those flavors was an adventure in itself. Now, I’m excited where my feet will take me next and sample a different kinds of food.
*As of this writing, one Brunei Dollar (BND1.00) is equivalent to USD0.72 and PHP35.07.