Friday, April 29, 2016

Soto and More by the River












Ikhwan Salleh
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Sunday, March 27, 2016

LOCALS are always on the lookout for new hype through social media, especially ones that are related to food.

Just two months ago, photos of soto went viral on the Internet.

What was special about a bowl of noodles soaked in flavourful soup topped with sliced chicken and garnished with herbs? Nothing out of the ordinary. However, what caught everyone’s eyes was the scenic view of Kampong Ayer in the background.

People searched far and near for the eatery that is blessed with the breathtaking view of one of the nation’s heritage.

Not long after, the location was shared and with the existence of GPS, it was not hard for anyone to discover Soto Pabo, which is situated in the nook of Pintu Malim.

With only three months of operation, the new startup has garnered more than 15, 000 customers, who fell in love with the aromatic broth of soto as well as the scenery.

Of course, the food choices offered by the riverside restaurant include a lot of favourite staples that tickle the local palate such as nasi ayam penyet, tumpi, and fritters.

Grilled goods like Lukan Bakar or Ikan Bakar are also available from 9am to 8.30pm on a daily basis.

Moreover, patrons have the option to savour their meals indoor or alfresco.

Owner Pg Hj Abu Bakar Pg Hj Othman said the food venture started as a side business to cater to nearby contractors building the bridge to Temburong.

However, a wide range of customers started to drop by and from then, the eatery bloomed with liveliness.

“I must thank our customers, both locals and foreigners, who helped to market the place as one of the go-to spots in Brunei to eat,” said the 56-year-old.

Pg Hj Abu Bakar also explained the concept was long concocted as a way to please the eyes and taste buds of the public, in accordance with their motto – Menikmati selera kitani dengan keindahan Kampong Ayer.

Currently, Soto Pabo can only house 70 customers at a time and during peak hours, 12pm and 5.30pm, few customers may have to wait in line for their turn to sit down.

He stated they would like to stabilise the food venture before expanding it both in space and menu. “In which, we will add more items such as Nasi Sambal Udang, Lukan Masak Lemak and not to forget Ambuyat.”

He added the growth may give opportunities to locals, who are looking for work.

“So far, we have only hired locals… and we would like to keep it that way as a way to tackle the alarming unemployment rate,” he said.

“This will also give them the chance to learn entrepreneurship and culinary arts.”

The kitchen department is led by Pg Hj Abu Bakar’s spouse Diana Hj Untong, who is happy with the positive feedback from their regular customers.

“Positive or negative, we would like to accept every criticism as a way to better our service,” she affirmed.

She elaborated that their soto and the rest of the fare are recipes that were passed down through generations.

“It has become a staple for us to prepare it (soto) and other dishes during family occasions… and this is a good chance to share the good in it with everyone else,” she said.

For those who are keen to have a small gathering at Soto Pabo, the indoor room, can accommodate up to 30 people. In addition, guests can have the choice to order ala carte or buffet.

For bookings, call Pg Abu Bakar directly at 8998898. To get there, turn into Spg 222 on your right side if you are on your way from the capital to Kota Batu.

The Brunei Times

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