Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Brunei Restaurant Review: Aminah Arif Restaurant

When asked about what food signifies Brunei the most – one would always say AMBUYAT! The next question people would ask is – where to find good ambuyat? I personally have been a fan of ambuyat from Tarindak D Seni as it’s a good place to showcase a variety of Bruneian food as well as handicrafts. If you’ve never heard of Ambuyat – it’s a starchy like carb dish – made mainly from sago starch (ambulung) and warm water to make a sticky goop – in which you use chandas – chopstick like sticks – to make a ball from the Ambuyat and dip it with dipping sauces – you then swallow it without chewing. It is quite an important staple especially for Bruneians during the Second World War when rice was scarce but now it’s become an iconic part of our traditional cuisine.

 

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Tarindak offers quite a variety of different dips for your ambuyat ~~ my favourite is a mix of binjai and tempoyak (fermented durian)

 

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Now for this post – the main focus is on Aminah Arif – another place that locals would recommend to go for good old fashioned Bruneian cuisine. When the UK bloggers were invited by Royal Brunei Airlines to visit Brunei, I was asked to host an Ambuyat Session – and naturally – Aminah Arif is the chosen restaurant for this important task.

 

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You can order their Ambuyat sets – which will consist of Ambuyat and dips as well as other traditional Bruneian dishes to accompany your meal. We ordered one Normal Set and One Special set because we had quite a lot of people to share the food. I’ll highlight some of the yummy dishes in the set ~~

 

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Stir fried Pakis – our local wild fern is a good introduction to our Bruneian cuisine – that slightly crunchy slimy vegetable with a touch of spicy kick from the sambal ~~ priceless!

 

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Pucuk Ubi are sweet potato leaves cooked in a spiced up coconut soupy gravy which goes super well with rice and of course Ambuyat!

 

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This oily greasy looking dish is a favourite for many but shunned by doctors or health gurus – the Urat Goreng Kunyit – the trimming of the beef cooked in turmeric and other spices – tender, delicious and addictive…. this should come with a health warning but many cannot resist this yummy goodness – comfort food with an element of YOLO!

 

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We also had quite a number of fish dishes such as the Assam Fish and the Ikan Goreng (deep fried fish fry)

 

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Hati Buyah: sliced beef lungs, either dried or deep fried is another Bruneian delicacy that’s part of the set. I personally prefer the dark saucy versions but these are pretty good!

 

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A Bruneian meal is never complete without Pais – meat marinated, wrapped in banana leaves or aluminum foil then grilled or baked.

 

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Daging Lalap is type of local beef jerky – usually dried and then deep fried. I love the texture and taste of daging lalap – one of my favourite dishes here.

 

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Belutak – which is a local sausage – comprised of beef trimmings and other innards of the cow – has quite a pungent flavour and is an acquired taste. They serve stir fried or deep fried belutak here but I love my belutak with fried rice. The Nasi Goreng Belutak will allow you to enjoy the depth of flavour from Brunei’s traditional sausage!

 

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Butter Chicken is another one of their trademark dishes ~ the UK bloggers love this dish but I’m not as impressed – perhaps I preferred the wet version – buttermilk chicken ~~

 

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It was a fun night for Brunei bloggers and UK bloggers to gather while enjoying a traditional Bruneian meal for locals.

 

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Blogger: Niamh from Eat Like a Girl having a go at using Chandas to eat Ambuyat ~~

 

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The UK bloggers really enjoyed the Bruneian meal and I hope they will visit again – next time I hope to bring them to try out more restaurants in Brunei!

 

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We also brought them to our Pasar Malam Gadong to try out a lot of cheap and good local hawker food! I must commend Royal Brunei Airlines for organizing such events! Travel and food bloggers are an important marketing tool to improve tourism for our country!

 

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This is a big fan moment for me as Niamh is actually a top 10 food blogger voted by the Times. It’s indeed a pleasure for a foodie to meet someone so prestigious. I hope one day I would achieve global recognition like her.

 

Aminah Arif is a good place to introduce local Bruneian cuisine to any visitor – or if you’ve never tried it – do pop over and order your Ambuyat set! For this blog post – we visited the Kiulap Branch.

Address: Unit 2 & 3 Blk B Ground Floor,

Bangunan Hj Abd Rahman, Simpang 88,

Kg Kiulap Bandar Seri Begawan

Phone: 2653036

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BerryWan EyeCare Optical

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For many years – I’ve always drove to Miri for affordable spectacles and avoided shopping in Brunei until I come across BerryWan Eyecare Optical, which is located at Gadong Properties. After years of driving hours to Miri, kept waiting at their busy store and having to drive back again for any alterations (which happens pretty often) due to not so thorough eye check services – I’ve decided to shop for glasses in Brunei instead! I usually don’t blog about anything other than food – but I do love to show support for local SMEs.

 

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They have the most extensive collection of fashionable frames, consisting of 100 % pure titanium and beta- titanium frames with ultra- light weight strength, hypoallergenic composition and superior corrosion resistance – at pretty affordable prices too~

 

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Shades to protect your eyes from the harmful sun’s rays ~~

 

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I like this special picture at their shop – when you don’t wear sunglasses – it looks like this

 

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After looking through the sunglasses – you can see someone carrying a surfer board! Sunglasses help to protect our eyes especially when we’re driving from the harmful UV rays. It’s highly recommended to wear one during driving since we’re not allowed to use tinted glass for our cars in Brunei.

 

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They have TR90 material plastic frames which are highly flexible type of plastic material and it comes in a wide selection of kids and adult frames. This coupled with unsurpassed quality, style and durability delivers a collection that is a step above the competition.

 

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For clumsy people like me who have a tendency to accidentally sit or drop my glasses – they have these ultra bendable frames – suitable for sporty people or clumsy ones!

Bend bend bend it like Beckham!!

 

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They come in pink too – yes you can be FASHIONABLY CLUMSY ~~ *cough*

 

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I am also impressed with their reading glasses! These come with LED lights you can switch on during the dark when your partner’s asleep or when you’re on a plane.

 

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Read your book in the dark without disturbing your sleepy friends while travelling or your life partner who sleeps way earlier than you! Best part is you can have an eye test and get your prescription to match these glasses.

 

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Yes – they come on many fashionable designs too!

Promotion Packages starts from $48 complete with Multicoated lens 1.56 (with Anti-Glare, Anti-Radiation and UV protection type of lens) not higher than 4.00 degree.

Anniversary Promotion “ALL FRAMES FREE MULTICOATED LENS 1.56”* (*terms & conditions apply)

 

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One of the reasons to visit BerryWan is their qualified professionals and the equipment they have for your eyes. They provide very good services along with the purchase and choice of your glasses.

 

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Dr. Jhoanna Dumlao grew up in Manila, Philippines and completed her Degree in Doctor of Optometry at Centro Escolar University, Philippines in 1999. She has been practicing her profession for almost 15 years now. According to her, there would be no better career than one that allowed her to help people on a daily basis with their most precious sense, their eyesight.  That desire led her down the road of Optometry and continuously helping people to improve their vision.

 

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Dr. Alma Rose Canizo grew up in Mindanao, Philippines and finished her degree in Doctor of Optometry at Mindanao Medical Foundation College, Philippines in 2001. She has been practicing her profession for almost 13 years. It has been her advocacy to help other people in improving their Eyesight by performing comprehensive eye test on a day to day basis.

 

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The optometrists at Berrywan EYECARE Optical will be assessing your current eye wear and also measuring your vision and ability to focus.  This is followed by measurements to determine whether any vision correction is required in order to provide a prescription of the most comfortable vision to meet your visual needs. 

 

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This is me doing the Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy Examination. It examines in magnified view of the frontal structures of the human eye such as eyelid, cornea etc. and assess any significant signs of dry eye, infections or irritations, Also the natural Crystalline lens to help detect any signs of cataract development. Such a good service provided!

 

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Thankfully my eyes were pretty healthy except for dryness of the eyes – this is me having a consultation with Dr. Jhoanna.

 

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My prescription for my dry eyes comes in many forms – I chose the Refresh Plus as they’re the ones which provides the most lubrication.

Visit Berrywan Eyecare Optical at Unit G-7, Ground Floor, Gadong Properties Centre, or call 8888944/ 2426966. It is open every day (including weekends) from 9.30am to 9.30pm.

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Paddington House of Pancakes Seasonal Sets for Christmas!

It’s a season to be jolly indeed ~~ with Paddington House of Pancake Seasonal Sets! It was a pleasure to be invited to try out this new set – which will be only available during the month of Dec 2013!

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Oh yes ~~ Christmas Tree and The Christmas Mountain ~~

 

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It was a pretty hot day and I was going to order my usual CafĂ© Latte ~ until the manager asked if I wanted to try their cold drip coffee – cold pressed and soaked coffee beans – which reduces the acidity and provides a smooth refreshing coffee – I went “ WHY HAVEN’T YOU INTRODUCE THIS TO ME AGES AGO'” – this will become my favourite coffee to drink during hot days – simply smooth good coffee – you might think it’s Kopi – O ping but you’re SOOO wrong – you can add syrup to sweeten it – but I like my cold drip coffee – dark and smooth without any sweeterners ~~ REFRESHING!

 

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Christmas decorations will make selfies and instagramming at PHOP more enjoyable – check out their festive decorations when you dine in ~~ lovely Christmas Tree!

 

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While waiting for the main event, I tried their Aglio Oglio pasta with prawns and enjoyed it very much. They serve pretty good pastas in PHOP so if you have a friend whose not in a mood for pancakes but want pasta, they have no excuse – so drag them there ~ lol

 

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We also took the opportunity to try other delicious goodies like these baked apples, crushed granola and coconut flakes, served with ice cream and strawberries.

 

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The Christmas Tree pancake finally arrived – and it’s tiers of fluffy pancakes of different sizes to represent a Christmas Tree ~~ and the cream looked like snow – served with chopped nuts, strawberries, bananas~~ oooh yum ~~

 

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The Christmas mountain comes in a single person set or a four person set. This is the single person set – Thin English style pancakes – served with blueberries, strawberries, cream and syrup!

 

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Slice slice nom nom nom ~~

 

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Now say hello to the REAL CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN! Mother of pancakes!

 

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Gotta love the layers of goodness!

 

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View from the top ~~~~

 

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Bon Appetit ~ remember – it’s to be shared ~~ unless of course – you plan to conquer this mountain yourself? 

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