Culinary Memoirs of A Biologist Who Loves Food

(Bandar Seri Begawan) Ambuyat – Aminah Arif Restaurant Serusop

July 2019, I was going to Flora Malesiana 11 Symposium in Brunei. For me, the entire week of symposium felt so long. Yet now, I really want to be BRUTALLY HONEST about that symposium.

I feel disappointed to the committee to NOT presenting one of your FLAGSHIP dish in the symposium even on that dinner which you took us to a remote restaurant! I expect any Bruneian food there, but 90% of the dishes you gave me were nearly identical as you serve on lunch in the symposium and that even almost the same dishes I found in typical wedding party here in Indonesia! I mean, oh come on! I went across the island and yet served with something familiar! The only thing different was the Bandung, rose petal flavored syrup (but hey, you can even find that in Malaysia and Singapore!).

Ah well, at least I found a lot of connections there and I am happy for that!

So then, to anyone who attend to the symposium with me might realized that I was absent from the symposium in the Wednesday, July 3 2019, AND the real reason was that I was going to find something different and truly unique to Brunei to eat! What is that? And that, my friend, is called Ambuyat.

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The whole dish, minus the fried fish. Clockwise from top: The ambuyat, sweet potato (ube) leaf stew, cucumber and carrot with sambal dip, spicy curried beef tendon, and tempoyak (fermented durian) dip

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Now featuring the fried whole fishes and we have the ambuyat pulled up

For everyone who wondered, what the heck is that white, gooey stuff, that is a carbo part of this dish. It is made of sago (Metroxylon sago) stem starch, mixed vigorously with water up to the glueey consistency. It tastes bland (as any other staple carbos like rice) so we need to eat that with the other side meals below.

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The fried fish, the main highest protein source for this dish. Sorry that I was hungry and already eating this fish while I took the photo

The fried fish was the salty and lightly seasoned, eat it with the ambuyat to gives some deep fish flavor and saltiness. For spicy kick, you could eat the ambuyat with this one:

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Spicy Beef Tendons (and Fat)

It has rendang (that awesome meat dish from Padang, Indonesia) like taste, thus I like the spices, but since I do not really like beef fat and tendons, I ate this only for some bites. Thing that I like though, it tastes soft to eat instead of chewy.

Now we go to the other dish which we can eat with ambuyat, but now for the best parts!

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Sweet Yam/Ube/Sweet Potato Leaf Stew in Coconut Milk Broth

I really love the deepness of the flavor from this stew. It has sweetness from the coconut milk but it is not really overpowering. The seasoning inside the stew really added more flavor to the stew and the leaves inside is so yummy to eat with the ambuyat.

Last but not least for the complementary meal, and surprisingly, my most favorite one (but for you who hates durian, it is up to you!)

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Sour and spicy tempoyak dip

Honestly, I do not really into durian, but for some dish, its creaminess and sharpness might be cooked into something really good! Take this tempoyak for example. You might disgusted with the sense of eating durian, leave alone the fermented version of that fruit. But this meal, combining the tempoyak with chili, lime, and other ingredients bring out the freshness of this dip! The acidity adds the freshness, combined with ambuyat, it was just really good! Especially with also the fried fish, and after that you can eat the ambuyat with the stew to indulge your taste bud with vibrant flavors!

As for the cucumber and carrot with sambal dip, I skipped this part. I believe this side dish is useful to cleanse your palate after the dense meal, but also to satisfy your need for sambal spiciness.

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Carrot and cucumber with sambal dip

At first, I was thinking that eating ambuyat was like you eating something with chopsticks. Wrong, and that is not how chandas (the bamboo long fork specially made for ambuyat) works! Eating this requires extra “skill” to manipulate this semi-solid food with speed and dexterity! Observe:

 

Interesting, right? After I went back from the restaurant, I felt so satisfied. I love this part of my visit in Brunei (next to the hotel with massive room they gave me and the lovely view of the city). Ambuyat, despite the quite expensive price, is the part of Brunei that I think I will going to miss. I heard the news that in the other part of Bandar Seri Begawan, they also serve fried ambuyat (ambuyat in style of fried noodles), but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to try all of those variants. Maybe next time.

My thanks to Aminah Arif Restaurant Serusop Branch, and the waiters who helped me eating ambuyat!


AMINAH ARIF RESTAURANT – SERUSOP BRANCH

Ordered dish: Ambuyat biasa (normal ambuyat; because there is the special one with more side dishes complement it; this one is actually for 2 persons) – BND 16

Address: Jl. Muara, Simpang 68, Serusop, Muara District, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Ph: +673 233 0773. Website: Link

GoogleMap: Link

TripAdvisor: Link

Notes: Some side dishes are interchangeable, ask the waiter/waitress!

-AW-

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