As I sipped on one of the best herbal teas I’ve ever tasted in my life, I could see why this small farm house nestled in the jungles of Tutong had become a magnet for international chefs and visitors from all over the world.
Welcome to the Eco Ponies Garden, which is about an hour’s drive (approximately 45 kilometres) from the Brunei capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
I was greeted by Eyon Ukoi, the co-founder of the family-run community farm stay, who proudly proclaimed that tourists, mostly backpackers, from more than 25 countries have had the pleasure of experiencing the “simple life” here.
According to her, the initial target of this project was to promote agriculture. However, visitors seem more interested in the food served here.
“Most people come here to sample our traditional home cooked meals that are prepared from the freshest of ingredients,” she said, adding that most of them are locally foraged from the jungle surroundings.
Besides people from various embassies, Eco Ponies Garden has also welcomed a host of personalities such as Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) presenter, Vanessa Mering , Dr Shahrim Karim, the host of ‘Cooking With Colours’ show featured on the TV Al-Hijrah channel, and Mohana Gill, a renowned cookbook author.
I was fortunate enough to sample some dishes, such as a plate of Nasi Belutak Bunga Kantan served with a side of ‘Acar Timun Mentah’ condiments, a plate of sayur pakis (a type of fern) and a basket of banana fritters (cucur pisang).
A fresh pot of tea infused with pandan and cinnamon was also prepared for me.
This was certainly one of the most unexpected hidden gems that I stumbled upon in Tutong.
I wonder how many more “unexpected treasures” there are out there in this beautiful country of ours.
We’d love to hear from you.
Is there a place in Brunei you’d like me to explore? Would you like to be my guide for the day?
Drop me an e-mail at [email protected]