Supersmash Down: The 3 Best Ayam Penyet in Brunei

Although Ayam Penyet had not originated from Brunei, many Bruneians know and love this dish enough to consider it a common comfort food.

Ayam Penyet, which means “smashed fried chicken” in Javanese, is a dish consisting of a golden-brown crispy fried chicken, fresh crunchy vegetables, piping hot steamed rice, and a spicy sambal sauce. What’s not to love about it?

Here’s a guide to some of the most popular Ayam Penyet eateries in Brunei.

Ayam Penyet Tanjung Nangka

Based in someone’s home, this spot offers a relaxed atmoshpere with friendly faces, a close-knit neighbourhood feel and food that reminds you of your mom’s home cooking.

Location: Simpang 1626-5, Tanjung Nangka, Jalan Tutong. Next to a sweetcorn (jagung) stand.

Cost: BND 3.50

Thoughts: The skin on the Ayam Penyet was thin and crispy and had been fried well without leaving a heavy and greasy feel in the mouth. The meat was soft but was seasoned rather plainly with just the right amount of salt. The sambal that was served with the Ayam Penyet was sweet with a strong chili aroma, mild dried prawn flavour and just a slight kick of spice so it’s perfect for those who can’t handle spice well. They also offer the option to have spicier green chili sambal should you prefer more heat.  Overall, it tasted very much like home cooked food with simple, universal flavours. (The Ayam Penyet here also came with free complimentary soup).

Ayam Penyet Siti Rabiah

For those looking for a non-traditional Ayam Penyet and are in with the salted egg craze, this spot is a must-visit for you.

Location: Simpang 28, Bangunan Hj Abd Rahman Hj Hussin & Anak, Menglait. Next to Ren Yi’s cafeteria.

Cost: BND 6.00

Thoughts: Again, the Ayam Penyet here had a wonderfully thin and crispy skin. I loved that it was smothered with a thick and creamy salted egg sauce that was not only milky and rich but also had a great salted egg flavour. Although the sauce was rather creamy, there was just the right amount of it so that it didn’t overpower the chicken nor made it feel like it was too heavy of a meal. The sambal here had a natural sweetness to it which I found to compliment the savoury chicken. However, I did find the combination of the sambal with the salted egg sauce to be rather odd and would recommend having them separately. Overall, I loved that the salted egg craze has graced even Ayam Penyet as I thought it fitted with the fried chicken quite well and would probably save the sambal for dipping my vegetables into.

Ayam Penyet Tamu Selera (Restoran Roliyana No. 7)

Although you will be spoiled for choice in Tamu Selera, one of the recommended places to have Ayam Penyet is Restoran Roliyana. With a cheerful stall owner, closely packed seats and friendly cats around, you’ll feel like part of the community in no time.

Location: Next to St Andrew’s Church in Bandar Seri Begawan

Cost: BND 3

Thoughts: The chicken here had a really great flavourful crispy skin and probably had one of the most juicy and tender meat. That being said, I did find that the chicken here had felt rather greasy. We chose to have both the original and spicy sambal to come with our Ayam Penyet. The original one had a great salty flavour to it with a sweetness like that in tomatoes. The spicy one had a sharper chili aroma, slight smoky flavour and builds up spice almost immediately. Overall, I loved the atmosphere in Tamu Selera but also felt that the sambal here had a more layers of flavours and with its price in mind, I felt that the Ayam Penyet was well worth it.

What are your thoughts on the Ayam Penyet mentioned here? Did I leave out some of your favourite Ayam Penyet restaurants? If so, please let me know in the comments section.

Any other recommendations?

Do you agree with my choices? Did I leave out some of your favourite Ayam Penyet eateries? If so, let me know in the comments section.

*Editor’s note: This story was written in collaboration with our local friend from Bruneian Eats. You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. To read her previous write-up that was featured in ‘Neue’, click here.

Battle of Brunei’s Salted Egg Fries

Bruneians are obsessed with salted egg dishes, myself included. And so, for my first ever collaboration with ‘Neue’, I believe that it would be fitting to have an article out  about where you can find ‘Salted Egg Fries’ in Brunei.

Over the past few weeks, I visited Piccolo Cafe, Twelv Cafe, Bake 250c & Spoonfull Restaurant – eateries that are KNOWN for their salted egg fries. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Piccolo Cafe (@piccolocafebn)

Piccolo Cafe is located at No 11, Ground Floor, opposite Waterfront, Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan

The salted egg fries here are really thick and of good quality! They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and most of them were firm.

However, the salted egg flavour was lackluster. I could barely taste it on the fries. Even though they provided me with a dip, if I’m being honest, the quantity given wasn’t enough for the amount of fries served. But I was informed that you could have more dip … FOR AN ADDITIONAL DOLLAR?! The fries were already pricey to begin with – BND 7.90 to be precise.

However, in their defence, out of the 4 places I visited for this article, Piccolo Cafe, when it comes to portion of fries served, this cafe comes out tops!

Furthermore, they have some of the best fries I’ve had i.e. NORMAL fries without any coating. They are really, really good … IF the price was right, that is. (I wouldn’t want to spend more than BND 5 for just plain fries!)

Twelv Cafe (@twelvcafe)

Twelv Cafe is located at Unit 1, Ground Floor, Block D, Bangunan Hj Abdul Rahman in Kiulap. It’s at the same building as Country Patch

Twelv Cafe has a different way of adding the delicious salted egg flavour onto their fries.

The fries served were not perfect – there were limp. They weren’t the chunky sized ones. Furthermore, they weren’t coated with salted egg that much either.

The way I look at it, it’s similar to chili beef fries. However, instead of chili beef, it’s salted egg bits with onions, curry leaves and chilies. To enjoy the full flavours, make sure you mix all of these with your fries!

I absolutely loved Twelv Cafe’s salted egg fries. It felt as though you were eating a savoury dish. There was a generous serving of salted egg concoction – it was enough to be mixed with all of the fries.

How much, you ask? Just BND 6.50.

(Editor’s note: On August 14, Twelv Cafe in its Instagram post announced that it would be closed until further notice. This story was written before the cafe’s unexpected closure. Do check out Twelv Cafe’s Instagram account for further updates.)

Bake 250c (@bake250c)

Bake 250c is located in Kiulap, the same building as Sweet Deli Bakery or Little Audrey’s

When it comes to pricing, Bake 250c’s salted egg fries are cheaper when compared to Piccolo Cafe and Twelv Cafe.

It costs BND 5.50 here – the same as Spoonfull Restaurant’s, which I will talk about later.

In terms of presentation, Bake 250c takes the crown – it had the most beautiful presentation out of the lot. Don’t believe me, take a look at the photos for yourself.

For the amount of money that you pay, the portion of fries served was somewhat generous.

However, in terms of taste (quality), it was not as good when I last reviewed Bake 250c’s salted egg fries for my own Instagram account so I was quite disappointed about this.

The salted egg taste is slightly better than Piccolo’s, but some of the fries were not coated and some of them were even overcooked!

Spoonfull Restaurant (@spoonfull.bn)

Spoonfull Restaurant is located at SEAMEO VOCTECH building in Gadong

The salted egg fries here are thick in size and I really enjoyed the texture of the salted egg coating. All of the fries were fully coated with salted egg, which is excellent.

However, they were a tad too sweet for my taste, so I did not favour them as much.

To me, any salted egg dish should be salty, NOT sweet. That’s just my personal preference.

Even when it comes to buns (pao), I won’t enjoy it if the filling was sweet.

If you’re preference is more on the sweet side when it comes to salted egg fries, this place would have to be your go-to restaurant!

In terms of portion size, for $5.50, I thought that what I was served here was the least when compared to the other three places I visited.

So which is my favourite?

After reading about what I had to say about salted egg fries served at these 4 fine establishments, you must be wondering, “So which is the writer’s favourite?”

I just want to make one thing very clear here: I am judging these salted egg fries based on (1) salted egg taste (not sweet taste), (2) serving size and (3) pricing.

In my opinion, the undeniable winner would have to be Twelv Cafe!

Even though the fries were not so perfect, the salted egg flavour easily won me over! Moreover, it was not so pricey.

I have to be honest: I would not even mind ordering two plates of these salted egg fries all for myself! (They are just THAT tasty!)

What do you think?

Do you agree with my choices? Are these really the best spots for salted egg fries in Brunei? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below or reach out to ‘Neue’ via Facebook or Instagram.

*Editor’s note: This story was written in collaboration with our local friend from Da’ Food Enthusiast who you can follow on Instagram by clicking here.

Fine dining for 2: All under BND 50

Whether you’re planning a romantic date night with your significant other, looking to impress someone you like or simply looking for a place to chill with your friends, Brunei is keen to impress. Be sure to check these 3 places out!

Jazz Bar and Grill

(Photo courtesy of @jazzbarandgrill)

For the romantic at heart who loves to splurge a little, has a soft spot for jazz music and warm lighting, the Jazz Bar and Grill (@jazzbarandgrill) has it all. Furthermore, this place gives you the choice to dine al fresco (outdoor) style to enjoy the night sky or you could stick to the cool, air-conditioned indoors. Serving a range of Western-style dishes including pastas, steaks and seafood, the choice is endless. To make your partner feel a little more special the Jazz Bar and Grill also work with Balloon Boutique to help you set up your table the way you like it (balloons, flowers, candles, you name it!)

Location: Regent Square, Kiulap located close to Sorriso.

What my partner and I had here: Slow-roasted herbed 1/2 chicken and blue cheese topped Ribeye steak. Both came with a choice of mashed potatoes or chips and garden vegetables, salad or coleslaw. The steak could also be cooked medium rare or well done.

Cost: Roast chicken was 15 Brunei Dollars (BND). Steak was BND 26 for 180 grammes.

Herb-roasted chicken
Blue cheese topped steak

Thoughts:  Being slow-roasted, the chicken had a thin, crispy skin with an incredibly flavourful, juicy and tender meat. The addition of the herbs also gave the meat a savoury aroma and wasn’t overpowering. Served with both the gravy and jam separate, it was fun being able to play around with the salty and sweet components to balance it out to my preference. Meanwhile, the blue cheese topping on the steak had a strong but not overwhelming smell with a good salty flavour and hint of bitterness. The steak was also cooked to our preference of medium rare so it was incredibly juicy with a bit of firmness. I loved that the chips served were fried to golden-brown perfection with a crisp outside while the inside was fluffy and well-seasoned. The coleslaw also added a pleasant crunch to the dish with creaminess that wasn’t overly heavy. Not to mention, the service here was excellent with the staff checking on us regularly and offered to explain the specials of the day. Furthermore, the portion size was huge and we were stuffed beyond belief by the end of our meal!

Alter Ego

(Photo courtesy of @alteregofoods)

If you’re looking to make an impression but still want to keep it relatively casual, Alter Ego (@alteregofoods) may the option you’re looking for. With natural lighting, clean aesthetics and modern decor, it feels both fancy and contemporary but doesn’t leave you feeling out of place. Priding themselves in serving fusion cuisine, this place is great for those who can’t choose between Western and Asian cuisine. Popular for their dainty and stunning desserts, this place is also great for those with a sweet tooth.

Location: Setia Kenangan 2 Complex, Kiulap located near Pepper Lunch.

What my partner and I had here: Classic tea set for 2, which includes a savoury tier and a sweet tier plus choice of tea or coffee each. Classic French strawberry cake.

Cost: Classic tea set for 2 was BND 20. Classic french strawberry cake was roughly BND 8.

Thoughts: Though I liked the cream cheese pastry from the savoury tier and the french opera cake as well as the carrot cake from the sweet tier, I felt that most of the other items in the tea set were a little underwhelming. Most of the cakes were a either a little too sweet for my liking or left a greasy film on my tongue. That being said, the classic French strawberry cake was exceptional. I loved that it wasn’t tooth-achingly sweet and had a lighter taste to it especially with the use of fresh strawberries. The white chocolate mousse was smooth and light while the lightly toasted meringue had a slight sticky marshmallow texture.

Le Keris

(Photo courtesy of @le_keris)

Want something that feels like the typical fine dining but with a more unconventional and back-to-basics setting? With Le Keris (@le_keris) aiming to modernise Malay cuisine, this location is a great option for those seeking to break away from traditional standards.

Location: First Floor of Seri Kiulap Mall

What my partner and I had here: Kerabu Sotong, Ikan Bakar, Kari Ayam and Tart Nenas

Cost: BND 33 total

Ikan Bakar
Kerabu Sotong
Kari Ayam
Tart Nenas

Thoughts: The squid in the kerabu sotong was cooked perfectly being just tender and the whole dish had a wonderful balance of flavours with a fresh zesty sournessgood amount of salt, hint of sweetness, kick of spice and bitterness from the pomelo. Everything tasted fresh and light from the crisp red onions to the fresh coriander and green onions. The fish in the ikan bakar was incredibly fork-tender and succulent with a sweet onion sambal smothered on top that tasted very similar to the familiar nasi katok sambal. Similarly, the chicken in the Kari Ayam was just as tender and juicy with a soft and flavourful skin. To make it better, the sauce that came with it was thick and creamy with a taste that reminded me of my childhood favourite snack called KOKO Snek Ayam. To end it all, the tart nenas was equally spectacular with a soft and smooth pineapple ice cream that had a pleasant caramelised scent to it and the slightest tanginess. Combined with the crushed biscuits and mini pavlova, the texture was a great contrast.

Any other recommendations?

Do you agree with my choices? Are these really the best spots to take your sweetheart in Brunei? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below or reach out to ‘Neue’ via Facebook or Instagram.

*Editor’s note: This story was written in collaboration with our local friend from Bruneian Eats. You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. To read her previous write-up that was featured in ‘Neue’, click here.

Brunei’s Ultimate Nasi Katok?

*This story was written in collaboration with our local friend from Bruneian Eats.

Lots of variations of Nasi Katok available at SDK Restaurant in Rimba. (Fun fact: Did you know that you can also order instant noodles here?)

For just one dollar, can you get yourself a satisfying meal? In Brunei, yes you can!

What can you get for one dollar, you ask? How about a packet of ‘Nasi Katok’?

But where can you find Brunei’s ULTIMATE Nasi Katok? We believe that it could be SDK Restaurant in Rimba (@sdksignaturefoods on Instagram, see map below), which serves a wide range of unique variations of Nasi Katok.

We were informed that this is the Nasi Katok stall is a popular food joint for students of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB).

(Courtesy: Google Maps)

How to get there?

When you enter the Rimba area, look out for Jalan 99, where Sekolah Menengah Rimba II is located.

Upon entering the Jalan, keep following it until you see Simpang 148 and turn in.

Once in Simpang 148, you will come across house No. 22, which is what you’re looking for.

When you enter the house, you will see a giant banner with the different types of Nasi Katok on offer. Convinced by the banner, we ordered their popular Nasi Katok buttermilk, their original and the honey flavoured one. You can also choose your sambal sauce preference (we went with original).

Original Nasi Katok

Original Nasi Katok

The original Nasi Katok was much like most other Nasi Katok, with a piece of deep fried chicken, sambal sauce and rice. As with all the other Nasi Katok offered here at SDK, the chicken had a very slight crunch and a great savoury flavour. What made the Nasi Katok here different was that the sambal sauce was thicker and sweeter with a more prominent onion flavour to it. We felt that the sambal even had a mild char aroma to it. As we had chosen original flavour, the sambal was not spicy at all. When combined with the savoury chicken, the whole dish was a great balance of sweet and salty, which made us crave for rice.

Buttermilk Nasi Katok

Buttermilk Nasi Katok with a side order of ‘pusu’ (anchovies)

In addition to what the original Nasi Katok had, the buttermilk Nasi Katok also came with the addition of a runny, buttermilk sauce coating the chicken. Again, this buttermilk sauce had a combination of sweet and salty flavours. Additionally, it had a hint of butter and milk aroma, which added a creamy and richer taste. We also loved the hint of curry scent from the addition of curry leaves in the sauce.

Honey Nasi Katok

Honey Nasi Katok

Similarly, the Honey Nasi Katok was different from the original in that the chicken came covered in a thin, honey sauce. What we enjoyed the most about the honey sauce was that it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, was light tasting and had a mild, sweet honey scent to it. Without a doubt, they had achieved a great balance of flavours once more.

Overall, we enjoyed each of these Nasi Katok so much that we had to get more for takeaway. We especially enjoyed the variety of flavours offered here and would surely experiment with different types of sambal next time. Furthermore, we were amazed at how everything here still cost the usual $1 for each Nasi Katok! (How is this even possible?! See also: Is it possible to survive with just $5 a day in Brunei?)

Do you agree with what you read here today? Is this really the place to find Brunei’s ULTIMATE Nasi Katok? Have you had any of the Nasi Katok here before? If so, do let us know what your favourite flavours are!

If you’d like to recommend other Nasi Katok stalls, drop us a comment below or reach our to us via Facebook or Instagram.

*You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. To read her previous write-up, click here.

Top Bah Kut Teh picks in Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia

*This story was written by our local friend from Bruneian Eats.

Growing up in Brunei Darussalam, I’ve only ever known one type of ‘Bah Kut Teh’ (pork rib dish cooked in broth). However, after travelling to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah, Malaysia) and Singapore, I’ve been exposed to different variations of this beloved dish.

Where do I get my ‘Bah Kut Teh’ fix in Brunei?

One of my go-to places for ‘Bah Kut Teh’ in Brunei is Yit Sum, which is located at Bangunan Menglait 1, Kg Pengkalan Gadong (Photos: Bruneian Eats)
Yit Sum’s ‘Bah Kut Teh’

Knowing ‘Bah Kut Teh’ in Brunei as a dark coloured, herbal soup dish packed full of different cuts of pork, it has always been one of my familiar favourites. One of my go-to places for ‘Bah Kut Teh’ in Brunei is Yit Sum, located at Bangunan Menglait 1, Kg Pengkalan Gadong.

Always served bubbling hot in a claypot, it is guaranteed to warm me up on cold nights. Furthermore, the herbal flavours are often just strong enough to leave a hint of bitterness in your mouth.

When combined with the soy sauce added in the soup and sweet soy sauce served on the side, the flavours balance each other out nicely.

Perhaps the most pleasant was that the offal in the soup also had no foul smells and were cooked to tender. That being said, other more meaty cuts did tend to be a little on the tough side.

How about dry ‘Bah Kut Teh’ in Kota Kinabalu?

Banner displayed at Da De ‘Bah Kut Teh’ store in Kota Kinabalu
Da De’s ‘Bah Kut Teh’

At Da De ‘Bah Kut Teh’, located along Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu and close to the Gaya street markets, my idea of a soupy ‘Bah Kut Teh’ was laid to rest.

Though their neighbouring restraurant, Sin Kee was popular, a local driver told us Da Dee was equally great and less touristy. Furthermore, we managed to try their champion, award-winning dish of dry ‘Bah Kut Teh’.

This dry version consisted of various cuts of pork, mainly pork belly, mixed with cut okra and some dark sauce. The sauce coated everything evenly to produce a sticky, slightly bitter, sweet and salty film. Having been served in a sizzling claypot, it also had a charred aroma and pleasant burnt bitterness which added further depth of flavour to the dish. Furthermore, every bite of meat was tender with no offal smell.

Soupy ‘Bah Kut Teh’ in Singapore 

Storefront of the eatery at Outram Park in Singapore that serves ‘Bah Kut Teh’
Soupy ‘Bah Kut Teh’ served at Outram Park

Although my idea of a soupy ‘Bah Kut Teh’ was brought back to life in Singapore, the version they served at Outram Park, along Keppel Road, Tanjong Pagar Complex, was rather different. Other than being given a choice of preferred meat cuts (I got pork ribs and loin), the soup was lighter in colour and almost clear. In terms of the flavour, the soup had a lighter and smoother taste with a prominent white pepper flavour and very mild herbal undertones. Moreover, the meat on the pork ribs were fall-apart tender and juicy while the loin had a softer and more succulent texture. My preferred way of eating the meat was to dip it in some dark soy sauce they provide on the side to add an extra level of sweetness and saltiness.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed these three versions of ‘Bah Kut Teh’ and was beyond thrilled to have tasted such variations of one dish.

Have you tried out the ‘Bah Kut Teh’ at any of the places mentioned? Did I leave out some of your favourite ‘Bah Kut Teh’ spots? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to ‘Neue’ via their social media accounts such as Instagram and Facebook.

*You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. To read her previous write-up, click here.

 

3 must-visit food stalls in Kuala Belait & Seria

*This story was written by our local friend from Bruneian Eats, who loves hunting for new and classic food in Brunei Darussalam.

Seria and Kuala Belait (KB) are often deemed quiet, laid-back towns. These towns, which are about 100 kilometres away from the Brunei capital, are located in the country’s largest district, Belait.

I often only stop by on my way to and from Miri but do not make plans to visit. However, beneath it all, they offer a great food scene with dishes that have been around for years. I set out with some local buddies to try out their favourite munching spots including Phang Bun Hin stall and Lee Teck Ming stall located in the Seria food court, as well as Lee Loi Fatt in Tudung Saji, KB.

Above & below: Seria Food Court, otherwise known as ‘Kompleks Sri Selera Seria’ (Photos: Google Maps)

First stop – Kolomee!

Kolomee from Phang Bun Hin (Photos: Bruneian Eats)

At the Seria food court, my friends and I ordered a Kolomee from Phang Bun Hin. The Kolomee consisted of noodles mixed in a thin sauce which coated the noodles just enough so that it was still slightly dry. The noodles are then topped with some well-marinated soy sauce minced chicken, slices of fish cakes, chicken char siu, fried shallots and green onions. The noodles themselves were slightly greasychewy with a bite to them and had a nice salty flavour. The minced chicken also offered a pleasant savoury bite to the dish. Combined with the aroma of the fried shallots and the fresh green onions, the whole dish was a well-balanced mix of deep and fresh flavours. Cost of the kolomee was B$2.

Second stop – Fried Kway Teow

Kway teow goreng from Lee Teck Ming stall

From the Lee Teck Ming stall, we ordered a couple plates of kway teow goreng. We ordered ours to come with eggs and taugeh (bean sprouts) but these are customisable. What I felt really stood out with these noodles were the pleasant char aroma, which is sometimes called “breath of the wok” or Wok-hei. Though slightly on the greasy side, the noodles were still nicely seasoned being just salty. They were also thin and soft but not mushy. Additionally, the bean sprouts were cooked just right with a great snap to them. Cost of the kway teow goreng was B$2 per plate.

Third stop – Chicken Rice & Rojak

Drop by Lee Loi Fatt for some roasted chicken rice and rojak
Lee Loi Fatt is located at Tudong Saji, KB (Photo: Google Maps)

Lastly, we headed off to Lee Loi Fatt for some roasted chicken rice and rojak. One thing I immediately noticed about the chicken rice was how the chicken sauce was thicker and sweeter than I was anticipating. Meanwhile, the chili sauce that came with it had a nice saltiness, slight spicy kick and garlicky aroma. The chicken, however, was a little tough and did not soak up as much of the sauce as I thought. Nonetheless, the chicken-flavoured rice was extremely fragrant and savoury. Perhaps, the most exciting was the rojak which we ordered to come with squid and yam fritters(again these are customisable).  The squid was boiled to tender and the yam fritters had an amazingly thin and crunchy outer layer with a fluffy inside. Additionally, the thick sauce on the rojak coated everything so well and had a great balance of sweet and salty with a mild nutty flavour from the crushed peanuts. Though generally a superb dish, I did eat several pieces of squid which had an odd smell. 

These are the places that my friends have often encouraged me to visit whenever I am in Seria and KB. What are some of the eateries there that you would frequent? Have you tried any of the food stalls mentioned in this story? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

What food would you like Neue & Bruneian Eats to check out for the next story?

 

*You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. ‘Neue’ was unable collaborate with ‘Bruneian Eats’ for the “Big Mac vs Whopper: Which is your favourite?” story, as she was on an overseas trip. But we look forward to working with her on future ‘Food Fight’ stories.

Big Mac vs Whopper: Which is your favourite?

What’s for lunch?

“It’s lunch time, and I’m craving for burgers! Where should we go? McDonald’s or Burger King?”

This was what one of my lunch buddies said in a WhatsApp group chat.

Some insisted on getting a Big Mac from McDonald’s, while the rest insisted on getting their hands on a Whopper from Burger King.

At first, everything was calm. But then one of them said, “McDonald’s burgers are better!”

McD’s Big Mac
Burger King’s Whopper

This was followed by a message that read, “No way! Burger King for the win!”

And before I knew it, I had to be the peacemaker in the group chat to talk some sense to them.

I never knew deciding where to get your burgers from could get so complicated!

What’s the difference between the burgers?

The ‘Neue’ team was called in to conduct a non-scientific experiment to help these group friends reconsile with each other following their PETTY but HILARIOUS argument.

That was one of them proposed having a side-by-side comparison of the burgers.

Just to clarify, this is NOT a story to determine which is the BETTER TASTING burger. Rather, it’s just a fun way of viewing things in this world.

A team of ‘burger judges’ was assembled to oversee a 6-round burger fight.

Burger Showdown Starts Now!

Round #1: Size matters

Burger King’s Whopper: 7.0 cm Height X 12.2 cm Width

McDonald’s BigMac: 6.9 cm Height x 10.4 cm Width

Winner: BK’s Whopper (Bigger)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s BigMac (0) – BK has the UPPER hand!

Round #2: Value for a burger with 2 patties

BK’s Whopper: $7.90

McD’s Big Mac: $5.50

Winner: McD’s Big Mac (Cheaper)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s Big Mac (1) – It’s a DRAW!

Round #3: Messier burger = More satisfying

After taking a big bite out of McD’s Big Mac

BK’s Whopper: As there is a sheet of lettuce (instead of chopped) and onion slices, eating this burger seems tidier compared to McD’s Big Mac.

McD’s Big Mac: Chopped lettuce all over the place. Sauce coming out of the sides.

Winner: McD’s Big Mac (The messier, the better! It’s so satisfying!)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s Big Mac (2) – McD has the UPPER hand!

Round #4: Juiciness of burger patties

BK’s Whopper: Flame-grilled … need we say more? According to our judges, there’s just something special about this.

McD’s Big Mac: Tasty … but not as great as BK’s flame-grilled patties.

Winner: BK’s Whopper (We think our judges have a soft spot for flame-grilled stuff)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (2) – It’s a DRAW … again!

Round #5: Sauce

BK’s Whopper: Tangy. Our judges enjoyed it but compared to the Big Mac, it was “just alright”.

McD’s Big Mac: The Big Mac’s Special Sauce won our judges’ hearts over. According to them, there’s just something about it. “We love it!”

Winner: All signs point to McD’s Big Mac.

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (3) – McD takes the lead!

Round #6: Packaging

BK’s Whopper: Just a wrapper.

McD’s Big Mac: Informative packaging. Bright colours.

Winner: McD’s Big Mac

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (4) – McD claims victory!

We shared the above findings with our ‘Food Buds’ group chat the following day.

But again, there were 3 camps formed – (1) Those loyal to McDonald’s, (2) Those who love Burger King, and (3) The people with no opinion. Which group do you fall in?

What would you like ‘Neue’ to compare in our next food fight? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via our social media accounts.

Final round – You decide!

Out of the 2 burgers, which is your favourite burger?

Enjoy authentic kampong cuisine at Brunei’s Eco Ponies Garden

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.

Welcome to Eco Ponies Garden
Say hello to the simple life

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.

A plate of freshly cooked sayur pakis and a pot full of tea infused with pandan and cinamon

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 lance.thoo@hoco.agency.

Cabins are available for rent if you’re interested in experiencing the simple life

Work-friendly cafes in Brunei

If you have to work on your laptop while travelling around Brunei, there are 3 ways you can connect to the Internet – (1) Connecting to TelBru’s Nationwide WiFi service, (2) Connecting to a shop’s WiFi network (if it is open to the public), and (3) Creating a mobile hotspot with your mobile phone.

There are five prepaid WiFi packages that are available from TelBru (see photo below).

(Image courtesy of TelBru)

If you are at a cafe that has TelBru’s Nationwide WiFi service, you can enjoy high speed Internet access via any one of the mentioned prepaid packages.

For our story, we opted for the 7-gigabyte WiFi plan, which is valid for 28 days. It only cost $15.

However, if you are planning on doing lots of video streaming (say YouTube or Netflix), we highly recommend getting the 1-day unlimited WiFi plan for $3.

TelBru prepaid WiFi cards can be purchased at any TelBru outlet. Alternatively, you can use your credit card to purchase one online (Photo courtesy of TelBru)

For a step-by-step guide on how to access TelBru’s nationwide WiFi service, visit https://www.telbru.com.bn/personal/nationwidewifi.php.

Over the past week, the ‘Neue’ team checked out various places around Brunei that we believe are ideal for getting some work done.

These are our picks:

(1) Depot VLO Cafe, Kiarong

(Photo courtesy of Depot VLO Cafe @depot.vlo)

Where is it?

Unit 6, Ground Floor, Block B, Kiarong Complex.

What are the opening hours?

10.30am to 10.30pm daily (except on Fridays: 10am to noon & 2pm to 10pm)

Is TelBru WiFi available?

Yes.

How much did I spend on F&B?

Just 10 bucks!

$7 for Depot’s Treasure, a basket of mixed deep fried fish fingers, calamari, onion rings and prawns.

$3 for a glass of Depot’s thirst-quenching lime juice.

Why come here?

The first that you’ll notice upon entering this eatery is its cosy ambience. It feels as though the restaurant itself was carved out of a solid block of concrete, leaving unfinished touches as footprints to resemble an aging, but modern warehouse interior.

Food served here is exceptional, and the ever attentive staff are friendly and helpful.

There’s plenty of tables and chairs here.

We highly recommend ordering yourself the breaded lamb cutlets for starters.

 

(2) Swensen’s, The Mall, Gadong (on Instagram)

(Photo courtesy of Swensen’s Brunei @swensens_brunei)

Where is it?

It’s located on the 2nd floor of The Mall in Gadong, a popular shopping area in Brunei.

What are the opening hours?

10am to 10pm daily (Except on Fridays, closed from noon to 2pm).

Is TelBru WiFi available?

Yes.

How much did I spend on F&B?

Just 10 bucks! $6 for a basket of French fries and $4 for a single scoop of ice cream.

Why come here?

As there are plenty of tables and chairs, you can easily find an ideal spot to get some work done on your laptop.

 

(3) The Work Space (@theworkspace.brunei on Instagram)

If chairs aren’t your fancy, you can opt to work on the floors as well (Photo: Lance Thoo)

What it it?

This isn’t exactly a cafe per se. It’s a co-working space.

Where is it?

Units 4 & 5, 2nd floor of Airport Mall, Berakas.

How much does it cost?

Per person: $5.50 (9am to 6pm) and $4.50 (from 6pm to midnight)

How much for F&B?

Free. Light snacks and drinks are inclusive of the entrance fee (as stated above).

Why come here?

Although TelBru’s Nationwide WiFi service isn’t available here, you can get free Internet access from the friendly staff manning the reception booth.

It’s advisable to bring a pair of headphones for yourself.

Silence is observed here, so you can be sure that you will stay focused.

Overview of The Work Place (Photo courtesy of @theworkspace.brunei)

 

Do you have any other recommended places where you can get work done? We’d love to hear from you.

How do you usually get WiFi for your laptop?

 

 

Is it possible to survive with only $5 a day in Brunei?

So what can I get with just 5 Brunei dollars (BND) in my pocket?

A local Bruneian in his 20s who works in the private sector said, “Surviving on $5 Brunei dollars (US$3.80) a day would be possible but it would be unhealthy.”

“You’ll be able to survive but budgeting would be tight. It would be possible to have just one-dollar ‘nasi katok’ (a packet of rice, fried chicken and sauce or a slightly fancier meal like $2.50 noodles,” said a resident from Muara. “You can also get cheap food from cube stores.”

However, he said, “There would not be anything fun you could do with just $5 a day.”

An expatriate who works for the private sector, said that living on $5 a day is only possible if it’s exclusively just for food expenses.

“You first have to put money aside for petrol for your vehicle,” he said. “It should not eat into your food budget.”

According to him, $8 a day would be enough.

“I usually have two meals a day – lunch and dinner,” he said.

“Really?” I thought to myself.

And so I took on the “5-dollar challenge” to see what I could get for breakfast, lunch and dinner with just $5 in my pocket each day.

After surveying prices of food around your usual food joints in Kiarong, Gadong and Kiulap, this was what I learnt:

 

From March 5 (Monday) to March 9 (Friday), I went to work with only a green-coloured dollar note in my pocket.

This was what I did:

March 5 (Monday):
I skipped breakfast. For lunch, I ordered a bowl of Kolo Mee for $2 from Teazone Corner in Kiulap. Later that evening, I craved for a plate of chicken rice from Thien Thien in Gadong. However, it costs $3.20 for a plate of chicken rice. All I had was $3! Thank goodness I was out with friends and one of them spared me 20 cents.

Leftover change for the day: Minus 20 cents. (Ah, friendship!)

March 6 (Tuesday):
I was feeling famished early in the morning. I regretted skipping breakfast the day before. I ordered myself a plate of Roti Telur from Nadj Restaurant in Kiarong at 8.45am. For just $1, I was surprised that the meal was quite filling. I skipped lunch that day. With $4 to spare for dinner, I bought three packets of Nasi Katok ($3) and a fizzy drink ($1) from a shop in Kiulap. I was feeling generous that night and gave the two extra packets of Nasi Katok to my colleagues.

Leftover change for the day: Zero, but my buddies got some free food.

March 7 (Wednesday):
I skipped breakfast and decided to have a heavy lunch. I ordered two bowls of Kolo Mee for $4 ($2 per bowl) from Teazone Corner in Kiulap. For dinner, I enjoyed a $1 meal. Yes, you guessed it correctly: A packet of Nasi Katok.

Leftover change for the day : Zero.

March 8 (Thursday):
I skipped breakfast and lunch so that I could have a heavy dinner at Great Taste Restaurant in Kiulap. (Add abit of Humor) For $5, I ordered myself a plate of Butter Milk Chicken and Rice.

Leftover change for the day: Zero, but my tummy was rumbling by tea time.

March 9 (Friday):
It was the last day of a five-day workweek. I did not want to skip any meals. I made it a point to stick to my $5 budget. And so I did the math: $1 breakfast (Roti Telur at Nadj Restaurant), $2 lunch (pastries I found from a ‘food cube’ store) and $2 dinner (a bowl of Kolo Mee from Teazone Corner in Kiulap).

Leftover change for the day: Zero.

Guess what? It is possible to survive on $5 a day. I’ve proven it.

However, I must note that we did not factor in the cost of transportation, parking tickets, etc.

Did I enjoy it? Probably not.

Why? Because I kept requesting for a ‘free’ glass of Air Suam (warm water) whenever I was at an eatery.

And so what was the first thing I did after completing this 5-dollar challenge?

I splurged.

The following Saturday, I ordered myself a $9.90 plate of marinated grilled chicken with herbs with a side of mashed potatoes from De’olde Cottage Restaurant & Cafe in Kiulap. I asked for extra sauce, and I was charged an additional dollar. I had no regrets. I loved every single moment of it.

Do you think it’s possible to survive on just $5 a day in Brunei?

Maybe the next time I do this challenge, I could start with a lower amount. What do you think? Do you think you would be able to survive on just 5 dollars a day? We’d love to hear from you.

You can cast your poll below: