The Stickiest Business in Brunei

By Mark Wiens 7 Comments

Unless you happen to dwell or grow up on the islands of Papua, the Maluccas, or Borneo, you will certainly hold Sago palm tree starch and the accompanying meal as a brilliant culinary novelty.

In Brunei Darussalam, the sago is a local staple and is known as Ambuyat.  After searching out a traditional location to eat Ambuyat in Bandar Seri Begawan, I joyously ordered the combination meal from a cheerful family serving out of a food court eatery.

As the smiling waiter emerged from the kitchen with Ambuyat in hand, an overwhelming feeling of happiness swept over my being and I knew I was ready to have another great cuisine experience in the far-off and unique Brunei.

ambuyat in brunei

Here is a short video of how I managed to eat Ambuyat:

The transparent glue paste (ambuyat) is eaten with a utensil that is a double pronged bamboo stick (Candas), resembling a pair of amateur chopsticks where the two sticks automatically spring back together. The sticks are twirled into the ambuyat to create a bite size peice and dipped into the sauce.

sago starch in brunei

ambuyat candas twirl

Along with the sago paste, the meal deal came with a fish based soup (Ikan Rebus), a green leaf boiled vegetable (Sayur Bayam), and the craziest tasting sauce in the world (Cacah Binjai).

The cacah binjai sauce is made from the binjai fruit which resembles a mango but has been neglected throughout much of world except in parts of Borneo and is still thriving in Brunei.  The sauce was one of the more intense flavors that I have ever come across in my life.

Try to imagine this; cream of fermented mushroom soup blended with a super shrimp paste, mixed with pickled sour ginger, and doused with a dash of vodka, just enough for a sharp bite.  I was left speachless at the mercy of the powerful cacah binjai and loved every bite of super pungent excitement.

Much like a durian buffet, an ambuyat feast in Brunei is an imperative move for a gourmet guru.