I love flying royal brunei because, the leg room is soooooo much better than flying MAS.
See what i mean.. Everyone just falls asleep the minute they sit down because it is just so comfortable:)
Ah.. there’s the lovely air-stewardess showing us the safety exits.. I find the air personal of royal brunei really smiley and friendly.. unlike how some MAS personal can sometimes be, sorry to say.. ahem..
Before we take off, they even say a prayer for journey mercies and a safe flight! How nice. I say a little prayer too, in my own way.
Hmm.. not bad.. i can see that Bruneians are really into chandeliers and circular architecture…
Check in at the 7th floor to avoid the queue…
From here, you can have a birds eye view of the city… relatively flat land, with a mosque or two in the distance.
Oh yar.. one small thing about traveling to brunei… “Dry as a camel in the sahara”! No booze! If you are the sorta guy/gal who likes your wine with the evening meal, then be sure to pick up a bottle at the airport (KLIA, not burnei airport – brunei airport has no booze, for sure).
But you have to be discreet! The great thing is that be it 5 star dining or hotel lounge, there is no corkage incurred on your bottle, but you do have to drink in a separate room.. away form non-drinking eyes! lol… the stealth drinker.. that’s us 😀
Just look at the spread.
or pretty dishes all in a row…
mmmmmm…. siasta…. ZZzzzzzzzzzzz
Wow wee.. look at this place… filled with tourists. If I thought that Rizqun was 5 star.. this easily tops that ! It seems like as though the regal splendour of early majestic royal courts, reminiscent of Brunei’s Golden Age had re-emerged as we stepped into the marble floored lobby of the Empire hotel. This bygone era has returned to tantalize and pamper its guests and provide one helluva killer living experience. (erm, only for the rich perhaps, I have to add.. harhar)
The Empire is a grand, spacious, state-of-the-art, luxury 5 star hotel. Located on a magnificent stretch of Brunei’s pristine coastline, caressed by the South China Sea, the hotel evokes an opulent yet tranquil ambience. The hotel meanders through 162 hectares of lush tropical gardens providing an idyllic sanctuary and is Brunei’s only hotel on the beach.
The spectacular palatial lobby located on the fifth level of The Atrium wing is the heart of this vast “empire” and mirrors the opulence and elegance of a Royal Court. You will feel a little overwhelmed because this place is bath in light reflected off shimmering gold leaf and crazy ass, opulent furniture! A little too gaudy for me, really.
An Italian Tratorria. Food with flavours that recreate the cuisine enjoyed along the streets of Rome , the winding alleys of Naples and the waterways of Venice. (yadda-yadda-yadda..) Wow! That’s a tall order.. we hoped the food would not disappoint 😛
Here sits the Pepata di Cozze.
New Zealand mussels cooked in garlic-herb and butter broth – so rich and buttery and fresh that it was practically pulsating.
Enter the rack of lamb! The wonderful smell of olive pesto and red meat assaults the senses…
We were salivating…
As we carve up and dig in… i think to myself.. when life gives you gorgeous plump lamb… order rack of lamb! Hunks of meat, fat and juice still dripping off the bone is what I am talking about. What is it about the Rack that is so caveman like… so primitive, so carnivorous… It’s my favourite style of Lamb.
Great olive pesto, nice presentation… but too bad the lamb was well done, eventhough we asked for medium 🙁
Ah, but then I realised that today.. we were going to try local cuisine.. yay!
hmmm.. someone said that it looked like something from that infamous scene in There’s Something about Mary ..
Good thing I have guts of steel.. or I would have promptly loss my appetite.. Ooo but no.. i was in my element.. oh yes i was… The weirder the better 😛
Introducing AMBUYAT. It is eaten with the Chandas – elongated chopsticks, which are joined at the tip…
No…. don’t snap it ! (like the Japanese chopsticks) – if you do, you will get fined B$5! haha.. phew.. they told me just in time.. i was just about to!
Ambuyat is unique to Brunei as well as to Bruneians. It is a type of starch taken especially during lunchtime and mostly on Friday afternoons or anytime you fancy really… this was my first encounter with the gel like substance. I was psyched to try it.. and I swore I wouldn’t be the first to balk at the taste.. haha ! Guts of steel.. no pain.. find a happy place!
Cacah or the dip can either be made from local fruits known as binjai or pidada or from fermented shrimps known locally as cencalu. Normally the cacah is sour but may be added in with chillies for those who like it hot or more chillies to make it hotter.
As if the cacah was not stinky enough, we mixed it into the Tempoyak (fermented durian) to give it that extra kick. Holy smokes! It brought tears to my eyes.
Ambuyat taste best while hot so be very careful when swallowing it. However, if you accidentally swallowing a very hot ambuyat, don’t panic. An old wives’ tale states that to make the pain go away, you should hug a banana tree instead of gulping cold water.
Quick.. Find me a banana tree to hug!
But why a banana tree? Is it because a banana tree is cool… as in… cool bananas? 😛 hurhur.
The side dishes were amazing too. Daging lalap (jerky), Pucuk Paku(vege) and loads of Asam Fish(gone before I could shoot it). This thing called Daging Urat Tumis (top left) had to be my favourite of the lot. This rich, soft, squidgy urat (cow fats/tendons/cartilage) to me, transcended to the upper echelons of cartilage-dom.
And the tummies declared “Yea, it art great” and were peaceful and satisfied…until the lean meat was brought forth upon mankind… (the motto of my life : if it doesn’t shake or wobble, don’t eat it.)
A fantastic meal… Somehow I had a feeling I would be back, in the next couple of days, for my GLUE FIX (hahaha.. geddit? as in sniff glue… eek.. don’t stone me:P)
Anyway one last thing on the Ambuyat, there are other races in this world who make full use of the sago tree. The Penans of Sarawak processes sago flour from sago tree. The Kombai tribe, one of the tribes found in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, also eat the pit from the sago tree though not with cacah nor chandas. Incidentally the Rumbia (sago tree) takes ten years to mature. We should plant one for every tree that completes its lifespan – so that our future generations can still enjoy sago products and that strange but addictive thing called.. Ambuyat.
High tea at Rizqun Hotel :5.5/10
Spaghettini at Empire Hotel:6/10
Ambuyat at Aminah Arif: 8/10