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: