Lest We Forget

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES

Compiled by Marilyn B

A taste of Brunei at Jalan Residency

Sham

AUGUST 21, 2010 – Almost every local in the country is familiar with the food stalls at Jalan Residency – also known as Gerai Residency – located in the heart of the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan. Officially it is referred to as Gerai Makan Jalan Residency.

Prior to the construction of the slightly more modern stalls, the area was initially allocated for makeshift stalls. Built in the 1960s, Gerai Jalan Residency is well known as one of the older cluster of stalls in Brunei.

Located by the Brunei River facing the water village, Kampong Ayer, this gerai attracts the attention of both locals and foreigners as well the tourists that visit Brunei.

The stalls begin their daily operations in the morning and stall open until late at night. Customers always have a choice of a wide variety of dishes as well as the choice to dine underneath a roof or out in the open.

Business in this area usually peaks between mid afternoon and night with the area being particularly packed during weekend evenings as well as on public holidays.

Since it is situated next to the busy Brunei River, the roaring sound of engines from passing by motorboats and water taxis are common place.

A riverside view of some of the stalls during sunset. PHOTOS: SHAM
A fancy seating area with coloured tiles and potted plants

The myriad selection of local Brunei dishes and beverages available here never fail to satisfy. Beverages such as fresh coconuts, sugarcane and soya bean are very popular, while foods such as burgers, noodles and rice-based dishes are available in abundance.

It is safe to say that without a doubt, the most popular and famous delicacy here is satay. This food item is so synonymous with the area that one particular family business has been selling the dish here for generations.

Satay – a grilled skewered meat, which is usually made of either chicken, beef, lamb, beef fat and beef organs – has proven to be a favourite of tourists and foreign residents in Brunei.

Stall owners can be seen using their creativity for the purpose of attracting customers. Some provide entertainment in the form of satellite TV programmes on huge television screens while either even go as far as installing coloured tiles to make the area more pleasing to the eye.

In opposition to colourful plastic chairs and wooden tables, some stall owners provide modern, light aluminium seats sheltered underneath double layered umbrellas. These seats are arranged neatly along the edge near the river, taking advantage of the stunning view of the water village.

Some stall owners provide cushions for their seats to provide extra comfort, while other make use of other local flora placed in flower pots spread around the seating area.

There are also public restrooms in the area for both men and women that can be accessed for a small fee of 20 cents per entry.

There are also wooden landing jetties here which are used mainly for those residing in the water village. A well-build maroon coloured jetty fenced by three-foot high wooden planks called the Titian Amal, was constructed in 1997 courtesy of the first battalion of the Royal Brunei Land Forces.

A very light but strong aluminium railing has been put up along the edge to provide safety to all. Several lamp posts are also sporadically placed along this edge with colourful neon lights hung between each one, further brightening the night.

As part of the landscape, no more than 10 one-and-a-half-feet high islands constructed from unpainted bricks, decorated with trees and colourful flowers can be found around the area.

An old monument located precisely at the area centre, has been designed based on groups of blocks that vary in sizes and are stacked on top of each other in a spiral formation with the smallest block at the top acting as a base for a stone torch place at the apex.

A ticketing booth selling boat tickets to the Temburong District via fiberglass boats berthing at the jetties daily can also be found close by.

In addition to the presence of an abundance of cafes and eateries sprawling around Bandar Seri Begawan, it is remarkable that after decades of conducting business in this area, the food stalls still succeed in drawing respectable numbers of people in this modern day and age.