Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pasarneka Kuala Belait: Fresh Food Haven and More

















Hafiizah Maideen
BELAIT
Sunday, May 1, 2016

IT'S BEEN about three years since Pasarneka Kuala Belait was opened, selling fresh fish and meat, retail products, snacks and a place to dine under one roof.

The elongated building, which can be easily spotted when driving to Kuala Belait town, might be fairly new, but the vendors are no amateurs. Most of them are seasoned hawkers for more than 20 years, relocated from the old Pasar Kuala Belait, which has now become a food hotspot on weekend afternoons.

True to the nature of the word ‘pasarneka’, the place hosts a variety of stalls selling diverse products. The building is divided in three sections – fish and meat, light food and retail. The place to dine in is at the middle of the building.

In addition, there's also a weekend market at the carpark vicinity.

Taking into consideration the number of vendors from the old market, which is located further down the road, there are currently more than 30 stalls in each section, except for the light food and traditional delicacy section where only a handful of vendors can be found.

As the name goes, the light food section houses vendors selling easy-to-prepare meals and also traditional delicacies such as local kueh mueh. These usually sell out fast, with the customers normally office workers who dropped by before 8am to get something for their tea breaks.

The retail sections, despite the name, are mostly hawkers selling vegetables, fruits and other farm-grown products. One of the stalls, Musteh Enterprise, which is manned by seasoned vendor Dayang Puteh, sells a variety of home-made traditional delicacies.

She shared that like many others, she has been selling for more than 20 years, and her customers usually go for her home-made snacks.

“We made these fresh every day, and sell it here every day except the weekends,” she told The Brunei Times. “We cater to orders as well. My children are also in the food business.”

Meanwhile at the fish and meat section, vendors display sea and farm harvests on tiled quarters. If you’re lucky, you can also find squids, clams and other unique sea edibles at reasonable prices.

For residents in Kuala Belait, this is the only place where they can get the freshest fish.

Under the same roof, visitors can also have their breakfast or lunch at the eating area. Though there’s only two main restaurants to take your orders, they offer a variety of Malay, Chinese and Western dishes.

To make it easy for visitors, there are pictures of the food that they served. The majority usually go for the no-fuss chicken rice and fried noodles.

Despite being somewhat in the same vicinity with the wet market, diners can rest easy and enjoy the food as the area doesn’t reek of fish stench.

Not lacking in terms of space – especially the parking area – Pasarneka Kuala Belait does have its shortcomings. The building seemed closed off and unwelcoming at most times, unlike the concept of ‘open market’ adapted by the former Pasar Kuala Belait or Seria's Friday market.

Vendors have also voiced out the need for better indoor lighting, and certain places could be quite stuffy in the day.

“The place may be new, but there are still rooms for improvement,” said one of the vendors who refused to be named. “Either way, this is the only place in KB where you can get fresh perishables and also have a quick bite, so it’s not all bad.”

The Brunei Times

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