Take that Covid! Singapore Food Festival in Brunei
Brunei’s International Airport is a pretty quiet place nowadays. No surprises there. Or is there? In an unexpected celebration of human senses brought back to life, the Anjung Saujana Restaurant was the backdrop for a most surreal gathering on the night of March 29.
In testament to the great relationship between the Sultanate and Singapore, as well as the terrific progress made by the city-state in bouncing back from the pandemic, our neighbours decided to host their much-loved Singapore Food Festival 2021 not on our doorstep, but within our home. The first cross-border food promotional event in over a year: this collaboration between Royal Brunei Culinary, The Singapore High Commission, Singapore Tourism Board, and Singapore Airlines was an endeavour that achieved multiple goals from a single stone cast across the narrow strait separating us all. From reiterating the strength of relations between our countries, and proving that Covid-19 is an obstacle we can indeed overcome, to promoting Singapore’s up and rising Halal food scene, and sharing that love with their friends next door, this event kicked off in style.
Decorated to provide an aesthetic representation of their home’s main ethnicities, the restaurant’s interior was decked out to represent China Town, Little India, as well as the Malay quarters of Kampong Glam. Was it pretty? Yes. Was it colourful? Yes. Did it showcase personality and our already well-established perspectives and understanding of life in Singapore? Yes. But when you come straight down to it – at the heart of the matter – what we all hungered to know was, what’s on the menu?
The majority of us were unprepared (and this was a good thing) as we got sucked into an innovative and flavourful universe that is the creation of The Black Hole Group. A creative collective of independent food brands gradually but successfully fusing the concepts of Halal cuisine in tandem with an approach to fine dining – albeit at a far more affordable price – are responsible for curating this year’s menu. From Tuna Tataki with Green Apple Ponzu, Ribena Wings, Tempe Fries with Sambal Matah, to Nasi Rawon Claypot with Grilled Squid, and artisan laksa pasta dishes. From Durian Sarawa Crème Brulee, and Red Velvet Speculoos Cake, to Putu Piring Cake, these are but a few drops in a sea of dishes that simply typing out has set my stomach growling once more.
With an audience comprising government ministers and officials as well as a strong showing from the diplomatic corps of several countries, The Black Hole Group’s Director and Co-Founder, the personality rich and well-spoken entrepreneur Kamal Mustafa, also attended the event. Working their magic behind the scenes and leading the team of cooks on-site were two of the body’s executive sous chefs. The quick-to-smile, lively and curious Zulfadli Normedi – who is known for mixing the culinary wisdom of generations past – while incorporating techniques of the future. He was accompanied by the quiet Muhd Helmi, who armed with a serious expression always seems to have a glint of mischief in his eyes, as he utilizes modern techniques to create the familiar, yet in a surprisingly innovative way.
Running from March 30 to April 11, the airport’s flagship restaurant under the auspice of Royal Brunei Culinary is offering Ala Carte dishes for both lunch and dinner from Monday to Wednesday. Ala Carte lunches are also available from Thursday to Saturday but during the evenings on these three days the dinner setting will be buffets. Meanwhile, Sundays will have special lunchtime buffets as well.
If this appeals to you and you would like to give it a go, do call Anjung Saujana at 673-2331853 in advance to make a reservation as the festival menu has already seen great interest, with many bookings already having been made.