Carried down from generation to generation, if there’s one thing that has survived the test of time in Brunei, it’s definitely our food and our love for it. Live our culture in the best way possible, through your sense of taste.
While wajid can be found anywhere in Brunei, wajid Temburong is a well-sought after delicacy. A conventional wajid recipe calls for glutinous sticky rice, but in Temburong, locals use beras Jawa which is difficult to find elsewhere, hence it is also known as wajid Jawa. The texture of wajid Temburong is less sticky and less chewy. The dark brown colour is due to coconut milk and sugar cooked to a dark caramel consistency before it is mixed with the rice. It is neatly wrapped with daun nyirik (phyrinium leaves) and secured with a little skewer obtained from coconut leaves.
Kueh lenggang is a popular traditional sweet snack in Brunei and it is known by many names throughout Southeast Asia. Indonesians call it dadar gulung, Malaysians know it as kuih ketayap, Sri Lankans call it surul appam and Filipinos have a similar version named daral. It is a light, pandan-coloured crepe filled with a grated coconut and sugar mix and rolled into a cylinder shape. The pandan juice also gives this delicious delicacy a fragrant smell.
Kueh Pancut are lovely, little, round chewy cakes covered in shredded coconut. Made from glutinous rice flour mixed with pandan juice, it has a wonderful filling of melted palm sugar that oozes out when you take a bite. Making Kueh Pancut requires skilful, delicate hands to ensure the sugary filling does not leak during preparation.
You might know this soft delicacy as kuih kosui in Malaysia or kue lempang in Indonesia but this side of the sea calls it kueh kusui or kusoi. While the Malaysian and Indonesian versions use pandan and gula melaka (palm sugar), Bruneians use gula anau made from sago or the nipah tree sap as a sweetener. It gives this local kueh its distinctive dark caramel colour and a subtle nutty flavour. It’s the perfect cake to pair with afternoon tea!
Kueh koci is made from a smooth, glutinous rice dough filled with toasted, shredded coconut and sweetened with palm sugar. Sometimes, different fillings are used like sweet potatoes or crushed peanuts. This cute ping pong-sized dessert is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for about ten minutes till the contents within are cooked till a firm but soft texture.
Seri muka is loved in many countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The name literally translates to ‘pretty face cake’, even though it is a plain-looking dessert made up of two layers – a light green, pandan custard top and a glutinous coconut-flavoured rice base. The combination of sweet and savoury makes Seri muka a balanced tasty treat. This kueh is a common sight at any pasar tamu (market) in Brunei.
Brunei’s proud national dish. Derived from the interior trunk of the sago palm tree, ambuyat consists of a mix of starchy, solid whites (similar to tapioca starch) and water. Served sticky with a dip called cacah (usually sour and spicy), ambuyat is completely edible without chewing it. In fact, it’s normal to just swallow it; it’s the savoury taste that people yearn for.
Ambuyat is also one of the dishes that has a specific method of consuming it. Using a V-shaped bamboo stick called candas (think chopsticks, except one end is adjoined together), the way you eat it is to twirl some of the sticky texture onto your tips and then dip them in the cacah . It’s a satisfyingly fresh way of eating that you just won’t expect!
Nasi means rice and katok literally means knock. The story of how this name came about is that people used to have to knock on the nasi seller’s doors to make an order. Gradually, the name stuck and now we have one of the most beloved dishes of the country.
Though there many variations of the dish spread throughout Brunei, the basic contents remain the same: one serving of rice, one piece of fried chicken and the best part, the sambal (dip). Ultimately, the most remarkable thing about nasi katok has always been that it’s so affordable: at only BND1 per pack!
Essentially rice cakes made from glutinous rice, kelupis is one of Brunei’s all-time favourite snacks wrapped in Nyirikleaf. Traditionally, in the Bisaya culture, they’re served as light refreshments during a wedding or a special occasion. There are many varieties of the kelupis; some served with dried shrimp, some served with anchovies. But on its own, it’s still a sweet delicacy, especially when eaten with peanut or curry dip.
Brunei is also well-known for their pulut panggang, a similar snack which is prepared by having its wrapped contents grilled instead of steamed, like it is done with kelupis. For some of the best tastes of pulut panggang, we recommend stopping by a long-standing Chinese restaurant called Mei Fang in Tutong. Be wary though as they’re so delicious there, they can even run out as early as 8:30 am in the morning!
Unique to the culinary arts of Borneo, this rich and aromatic dish has long been a secret recipe to the Iban longhouse communities. Now that it’s out in the open, everyone gets to sample a taste of its succulent flavour.
Prepared by stuffing marinated chicken into bamboo poles, onions and other spices are stuffed along with it and wedged shut with bamboo leaves. Next, it’s nestled atop an open fire, and this is where the aroma begins to fill the air as the chicken is slowly cooked to perfection. Pair it with a platter of rice, and you’ve got a signature dish that will forever be a favourite here in Brunei.
The Selurut, a dessert of many names! So soft, your teeth practically slides through the steamed rice cake, with a sweet aftertaste left at the tip of your tongue. This traditional yet popular cone-shaped snack, is made with a floury brew of rice and sago, then drenched in salted water with a dash of coconut milk. The concoction is then poured inside a cone-rolled coconut leaf and left to steam.
Have you ever seen a UFO up-close and personal? Well, have you eaten a UFO before? In Brunei, you’ll get that chance. The Penyaram, or also known as Kuih UFO, a creation by the Bruneian Malay and the Bajaus. Take some rice flour, or corn flour, sprinkle in some coconut milk to mold the dough, before throwing it into a pan-full of hot cooking oil for a bite of Brunei’s very own UFO!
Fancy a wrap of Bruneian Tapai? A very lengthy process follows in making this traditional Malay snack, but with great effort forms a mouth-watering sweet-sour rice snack. It is made with rolling a mix of Siam rice with “laru” and sugar. Laru (or ragi) is the yeast starter which helps kickstart the fermentation process. The mixture is then wrapped with nipah leaves, kept in a cool place for fermentation, then Voila! You’ve got your hands on a much-loved Bruneian snack.
Fun fact! The word ‘Cincin’ translates to ‘ring’, and why would you ever want to eat a ring? Well in Brunei you will ‘want’ to eat a ring! Made with both red-palm sugar and brown-sugar, and coated with rice flour ready for a deep fry finish. If you haven’t already noticed, in Brunei, everyone loves rice flour!
A staple snack for both local dwellers, and foreign holidaymakers, the Keropok Udang is a traditional snack that is shared all across Borneo, including our Kalimantan neighbours. The shape of each Prawn Cracker vary from artisan-to-artisan, but by default, it has a yellowish-white hue. A blend of minced-prawn and starch; garnished with garlic, salt & pepper, and baked under the sun before frying in hot oil to crispy perfection!
THE BEST OF BRUNEI