Soto – a popular local soup noodle dish made with hot piping beef broth and spices is widely enjoyed throughout Brunei with its own unique recipes passed down from generation to generation. These soto joints can be found all over the country from home-based restaurants to family-owned commercial establishments. Garnished with different types of meat (tendon, tripe and ox-tongue are a huge delicacy to be had with soto!) and fresh herbs, each person usually has their own unique touch and taste of enjoying this heart-warming bowl, such as with soy sauce, vinegar, lime and homemade chili sauce, or all of it combined.
On that note, we present to you The Basic Bruneian Soto Trail (not an official name) to some of the local favourites around Bandar Seri Begawan! You may think that soto is just, well, soto – but it’s not! Each spot has their own particular way of preparing the special broth and a particular recommendation on what condiment to add into your hearty bowl.
Soto Hj Tuah
Contact Number: +673 866 8429
Address: Sengkurong | JP foodcourt | Menglait | Kiulap
Our first visit was to a well-known family owned restaurant specializing in soto since the 1960s. The brand Soto Hj Tuah is no stranger to locals; started by Hj Tuah Bin Raman in 1964 behind the old Bolkiah Cinema Brunei in the capital, he was known to prepare the broth daily with his signature spices and flavours that have been passed down for 2 generations. Now, 50 years later and with 6 branches divided between his children and grandchildren, the local brand still maintains its unique flavours and spices made fresh daily. They are also popularly known for their ‘gearbox’ soups that range from BND5.00 to BND12.00 depending on the size, and have also expanded their menu to include other local favourites. ‘Gearbox’ is also not really what you think it may be. It’s essentially the knee joint of a cattle and the marrow in the bone is used to flavour the broth. You can find the original Soto Hj Tuah at No. 318, Kampong Layong, Tutong. They are open from Monday to Wednesday and Saturday to Sunday from 8am to 8pm. On Thursdays, they are open from 8am to 6pm and are closed on Fridays. Also, check them out on Instagram at @soto.hjtuah for their various locations around Brunei.
Contact Number: +673 868 6388
Address: Spg. 222 Kg. Pintu Malim, Jalan Sultan Bolkiah, Bandar Seri Begawan
Brunei is known for its beautiful sunsets, especially overlooking the iconic Kampong Ayer – which brings us to our next spot. Not far from the new Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Bridge in the capital, we found a scenic restaurant built on the riverside called Soto Pabo. Here, we enjoyed a hot bowl of noodles served with broth made from the best beef parts handpicked by the owner, with a majestic view of the sunset in the Bruneian mangrove skyline creating the perfect ambience for a sunset dinner to end the day. Best to go around 5:30pm to make it in time for the vibrant sunset and you must also try their ambuyat set for two! Soto Pabo is located at the end of Simpang 222 in Kg Pintu Malim, and can also be accessible by boat from the waterfront or the jetty in town for BND1.00.
Rumah Makan Adresto
Contact Number: +673 888 7958
Address: 94E Kg Pandai Besi B, Bandar Seri Begawan BM2126
Exploring the sights of Kampong Ayer, word of mouth brought us to another local eatery, Rumah Makan Adresto. A short boat trip from the waterfront across the river and a short stroll on the boardwalk took us to a humble establishment adorned with fairy lights and friendly faces well known for their affordable and delicious bowls of soto. They also offer a variety of local favourite and affordable dishes for as low as BND1.00 catering mostly to tourists and locals who wish to enjoy the unique experience of dining in the water village. Rumah Makan Adresto is closed on Saturdays and is open daily from Monday to Friday from 6pm to 10pm and Sundays from 2pm to 10pm. You can find Rumah Makan Adresto at Jetty 13, Kampong Pandai Besi in Kampong Ayer or check out their Instagram page at @rumahmkn_adresto for latest updates.
Contact Number: +673 874 2053
Address: Spg 15, Bangunan Abu Bakar, Jln Menglait
Finishing off our soto trail in the heart of the capital, we went on a short drive across the bridge to discover another local family run soto joint. Started in 1984 with humble beginnings, Soto Rosmini has expanded over the years to opening 3 branches around the country – all serving their specialty soto made with their own fine blend of spices and flavours. The broth is cooked fresh daily from as early as 7am, and they have unique offerings too such as ‘Nasi Goreng Kembayau’ (fried rice cooked with kembayau – a local fruit which looks and tastes like an olive) and Claypot Soto. Soto Rosmini can be found in various locations in Kampong Menglait, Kampong Lumapas and Kampong Masin and is open daily. For updates, visit their Instagram page at @soto_rosmini.