Category Archives: Brunei

Le Doux Patisserie

A bakery was recently set up somewhere in Batu Bersurat by a graduate from Le Cordon Bleu Australia. The cakes and pastries simply looked delectable in pictures so my sister decided to buy some to share with the family.

The strawberry and pistachio tartlet tastes just as great as it looks. The strawberries were delightfully sweet and I loved the tart.

I did not get to try this but it does look good!

Caramel mille feuille — approved by the sweet-toothed.

I liked all of the cakes that I tried and I think it is safe to say that Le Doux Patisserie is my favourite bakery in Brunei. I would be happy with having three strawberry and pistachio tartlets from Le Doux Patiserie for my birthday in place of a slice of regular birthday cake. Hint hint.

Quack

Needless to say, Day 2 of ‘detox’ flew out the window the moment I saw roasted duck on my dining table.

Ching Nam Foong

After indulging in a high calorie and saturated fat meal the night before at Senja Lounge, I made a decision to ‘detox’ myself; detox in inverted  commas because there is no way that I am going to survive solely on juices or apples or boiled cabbages. My fake detox simply entails staying away from any meat or fatty food for the next two days. Pretty much go pescetarian, which is something I occasionally do in college when I get bored of meat. So how did my ‘detox’ plan go?

Feeling the need to eat relatively simple and healthy food, my family went for home-style Chinese dishes at Ching Nam Foong and ordered a total of six different dishes for lunch, four of which were vegetable dishes. I was off to a good start.

Fried Bittergourd and Egg

I used to hate bittergourd so much as a kid but I recently discovered that my tolerance for bitterness has increased substantially. Bittergourds and eggs make a pretty good combination but after a while, the bitterness started to get to me and I had to stop scooping them into my plate.

Eggplants

This was my favourite vegetable dish for the day. I might start adding eggplants to the list of vegetables to cook next semester.

Stir-fried Green Beans and Cabbage

So far so good. This was an okay start. Then came the next two dishes: sweet and sour fish, and chicken curry.

Sweet and Sour Fish

Kari Ayam

My dad claimed that the chicken curry is very popular in Ching Nam Foong and just by looking at it, I had the urge to shower my plate of rice with curry and potatoes. So I did.

Was Detox Day 1 successful? No. Even though my lunch was full of vegetables, I literally had too much on my plate in an effort to help clean everything off the table. Deep fried fish is not exactly healthy either but I managed to stay pescetarian…until dinner time. I ended up having ko lo mee with thin slabs of chicken and minced beef. How could I possibly resist ko lo mee, knowing that I won’t be able to have any of it for the next twelve months?

Senja Lounge

A few days ago, my family and I had dinner at one of our favourite grillhouses, Senja Lounge in Riverview Hotel. ‘Senja’ literally means dawn in the Malay language, which I found to be a very apt name for the restaurant. ‘Senja’ conjures up images of sunsets in my mind which I frequently associate with beauty and romanticism, and I believe that this is the atmosphere that the restaurant is striving for with their dim lightings, mock bar and fancy giant blackboard menus. While I enjoy basking in the ambience and all that jazz, I experienced some trouble reading off their paper and blackboard menus in their darking-than-dusk lighting. I started questioning myself as to whether I had night blindness issues until my dad started using his mobile as a nifty torch light to illuminate the menus. It is nice to know that I am not alone.

The darkness aside, I had a very good dining experience here. I loved the appetizers that we ordered and my pot roasted lamb shank.

 

Grilled Mushroom with Cheese and Beef Bacon 

Gotta love the juicy portobello mushrooms topped with savoury cheese and  beef bacon bits.

Molten Blue Cheese with Mussels and Shrimps

Literally a melting pot of blue cheese, mussels and shrimps. An excellent and sinful bread dip!

Pot Roast Lamb Shank

Tender lamb shank bathed in sweet gravy. Smooth mashed potato and salad on the side. Huge meat delight!

Made in Brunei

Asian French Toast with Cheese @ Universal Cafe, Seria, Brunei

This has everything I like – egg, carbs, molten cheese sandwiched in the middle and sugar on the side. This soft and fluffy french toast works well when dipped in sugar or ketchup — you can’t go wrong either way.

Keropok @ Soon Lee Mega Mart, Kuala Belait

Locally made keropok (crisps) with peanuts and dried anchovies. I was hoping to buy one of those bitter crisps, the name of which I can’t remember at the moment, but the store ran out of them I got this instead. I actually dig local Malay crisps more than stuff like Doritos or Lays.

Nasi Goreng Hot Point @ Hot Point, The Mall, Brunei

I did not order this but some of my family members did and gave their vote of approval. They especially liked the fried chicken.

Laksa @ Hot Point, The Mall, Brunei

 Satisfied my cravings for laksa with this humongous bowl of noodles drowned in coconut milk goodiness. That said, I did wish that the soup was spicier because I found it extremely mild. I will forever be haunted by the laksa I had in Singapore.

Ramadhan Stalls

Food, food everywhere.

The Stadium is simply food galore at this time of the year and if it were not for the heat, I could spend ages oogling at the hundred things that I want to eat but cannot down all in one night. Gotta say that I respect the food vendors who cook and sell food under the blazing sun while fasting — that takes great willpower and tolerance. Here are few of the sights at Stadium; few because I was too preoccupied hunting for food and deciding what to have for dinner:

Gerai Ramadhan @ Stadium Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei

Tungking ayam, which is quite literally chicken butt. This is a uniquely Malay appetizer that is savoury,chewy and like many delicious food, full of saturated fat. Most non-locals will display signs of aversion to this dish upon hearing the description of tungking ayam so it is recommended to let the unsuspecting tourist experience the fleeting joy that this sinfully savoury appetizer brings before breaking the news to them that they just ate chicken butts on a stick. At least, that is what I plan to do if my friends from college do come to Brunei 😀

Deep fried goodies of all types such as popiah ayam (chicken egg roll), popiah pisang (banana egg roll), cucur udang (battered shrimp) and bergedil (deep fried potato and beef patty). Even looking at them creates a wave of nostalgia in me. Burgerdil brings me back to my primary school days, when I would push my way to the front of the hungry mob at the school canteen to secure my daily dose of bergedil. Cucur udang brings me about ten years back to the days when my mom would regularly cook them for meals. And popiah pisang simply reminds me of a phase that I went through a few years ago when I was obsessed with popiah pisang from Sumbangsih and could not stop eating it (or thinking about it for that matter).

Sambal stingray, something that I hardly eat but should probably eat more of since they don’t have stuff like this in America. My friend shared some with me and it was delicious!

In the end, I found myself truly torn between two items: nasi ayam penyet and beef kebab. I ended up getting both. However, I felt guilty at the thought of consuming two meals for dinner so the little voice in my head convinced me save my kebab for lunch the next day. Yay me for exercising some self control.

There are a lot of stalls selling burgers at Stadium, including the famous Taty’s burger which I have yet to try. There is also a stall that sells burgers that were originally from Kuala Lumpur and one of the items on their menu was the Tower burger with nine patties, priced at BND 50. Definitely the most expensive burger you can find in Brunei.

The grilled satays and honey chicken wings were also very alluring but I was satisfied with my nasi ayam penyet and kebab. I recently found out from a friend that Brunei made it into the Guinness World Record in 2009 for “The Largest Serving Grilled Satay in the World”. 1,184kg of chicken meat was used, and this number was not arbitrarily chosen. It signifies the date of Brunei’s independence which was on 1st January 1984. More details here.

I am proud to say that I fared pretty well at Gerai Ramadhan by not completely caving in to all of my cravings. The Malay kuehs (cakes) such as tapak kuda were extremely tempting but I refrained myself from getting some, having had kek batik for the past two days. Speaking of kek batik, I plan on making some when I’m back at the States — both for my own gastronomic pleasure and to introduce my college friends to the awesomeness of Malay cakes. Looks like I am going to have to pack some Marie biscuits in my luggage!

Amo la Pizza

How do you like your pizza?

Personally, I like thin-crusted pizzas with some fruits or vegetable toppings like bell peppers, pineapples or artichokes. And the pizza better be oozing with molten cheese. Thin-crusted, because thick crusts are too heavy for my liking and I occasionally feel that the thick layer of carbs dulls down the taste of the toppings. For this reason, I favour pizzas at Italian restaurants over the thick-crusted ones in say Pizza Hut although there are definitely days when I would have some Papa John’s and the likes of it.

Over the past month, I have probably eaten Italian food at at least five different occasions and I can now say without an ounce of doubt that Fratini’s Restaurant is my favourite pizzeria in Brunei. Thin crust, cheesy and flavourful – their pizzas simply fit the bill. Furthermore, they have the 50% off any pizza and pasta for the month of Ramadan!  I do not have a picture of it here but my favourite pizza from Fratini’s is the Hawaiian. Gotta love the pineapples.

Fratini’s Restaurant @ Kuala Belait, Brunei

The Quattro Stagioni is a decent vegetarian option but I was quite disappointed with their artichoke toppings. I have had artichokes as pizza toppings and they tasted wonderful but the ones on the Quattro were quite sour. Perhaps they were pickled artichokes as opposed to regular artichokes.

Although I may have made Fratini’s seem more superior to Pizza Hut, I have to admit that I love their Honey Garlic Chicken flavour which is kind of hard to find outside of Brunei. I was hoping to have my Honey Garlic Chicken on thin crust but to my dismay, two of the Pizza Hut branches I went to at the Airport Mall and at Gadong did not have the Thin Crust option any more so we resorted to ordering The Edge.

 I still miss Pizza Hut’s Thin Crust. This was like honey garlic chicken on a giant cracker.

Not quite sure how to end this post following the expression of my delight at finally having Honey Garlic Chicken pizza but my chagrin when I found out that two Pizza Hut branches did not have Thin Crust, so I’ll throw in some interesting fact about Pizza Margherita that I learnt from Italian Magazine:

Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy who was presented with a pizza that resembled the colours of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green(basil).According to popular tradition, in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created  a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.

Now I will forever see the Italian flag on my pizza every time I have my Margherita.

Kaizen

Excapade, move over. I have found my new favourite Japanese restaurant in Brunei.

Kaizen Waterfront @ BSB, Brunei

My mom and I really liked the Philippine Roll which is quite similar to the generic California Roll. The best part? The sweet and succulent mango. I love Asian mangos!

The chicken katsu curry was decent; I am honestly not too big of a fan of Japanese curry or mild stews but this dish is pretty good for what it is. I would not mind ordering this again if I do ever have my rare cravings for Japanese curries.

I wrapped up my dinner with a sweet treat: Macha ice cream with red bean. I could tell from its texture that the ice cream was home made and I love how it is not overly sweet like Haagen-Dazs green tea ice cream.

The sushi and entrees in Kaizen are definitely made more meticulously and with fresher ingredients than in Excapade Sushi. The discrepancies in the quality of the dishes are also reflected by the differences in price though. Even though Kaizen has usurped Excapade from its throne as the best sushi bar in Brunei, I will probably still go to Excapade if I was in the mood for quantity over quality or if I wanted a casual meal with my friends. Kaizen, on the other hand, will be reserved for more special occasions or on days when I want to splurge a little more.

Roti Roti Roti

This time masquerading as noodles, served Mee Mamak style.

Roti Norbi @ C.A Ahmed, Brunei

This was my first time trying it and I found it a very interesting dish. Basically, it is a cross between roti and mee mamak. The roti is shredded to smaller pieces and they almost taste like rice noodles but with a more layered texture, and it is later stir fried like you would your mee mamak. Pour some curry sauce over this hybrid dish and there you have sitting in front of you a sinfully delicious meal.

Zest

Fancy schmoozing with your friends over some cakes and pastries at a place with elegant decor? Zest Cafe at The Empire Hotel & Country Club might just be the place for you if you’re looking for a place with great atmosphere and decent pastries.

My first experience with the pastries from Zest Cafe came in the form of scones served at a reception in the hotel. The scones were perfectly soft and creamy, way better than the ones I had in boarding school in Britain. Unfortunately, the cafe was out of scones after the reception was over so I had their pain au chocolat instead. I really liked the chocolate croissant and it made me pretty eager to go back to this cafe to sample the other items in their menu. I also thought that the pastries are reasonably priced for hotel food; the croissant is about BND 2 and many of their delectable slices of cakes are between BND 4 – 5.

On my second trip to Zest Cafe, I was tempted by the wide selection of drinks offered in the cafe. They ranged from mocktails to smoothies to lattes. However, the prices for the beverages are not as attractive as the menu, which did not surprise me too much considering that the cafe is in a very fancy hotel. After much deliberation, I went ahead with the virgin strawberry mojito (which was mintless by the way, because they ran out of mint leafs).

Can’t say that I was too impressed by this saccharine drink that was pretty much artificial strawberry flavouring, soda and ice. Man, I expected more from a drink worth BND 6. My sister definitely got a much better deal with her Cinnamon Latte. I did not have a sip of hers because I have a slight aversion to cinnamon but I could tell from the aroma wafting across the coffee table that it was one decent latte.

My pastry of choice was the apple chausson, also known as an apple turnover by fellow Americans. I just learn ten minutes ago that chausson means “slipper” in some language that I can assume to be French. I am learning something new every day!

This tasted a lot like apple pie and I really liked it. While I regretted the choice I made for my beverage, I am officially a fan of the pastries at Zest Cafe and am looking forward to trying their other pastries such as their jaffa ganache cupcake and different flavoured macarons. And although this is unrelated, I would like to add that the sunset at the beach by the hotel is magnificent and added to my high tea experience. I have definitely taken for granted the many different types of clouds, from the fluffy to the wispy, that adorn the Bruneian skies that are devoid in California.