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Foreign Grocery Friday: The 'Nasi Katok' Fast Food of Brunei

August 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

Who goes to Brunei? Not many, in truth, since the tiny, oil-rich Sultanate in Southeast Asia only sees around 250,000 visitors every year. Make that 250,001 for 2013, as we recently ventured there ourselves to find out exactly what there is to do besides get a cool passport stamp. So Google Map it and stay tuned as we share Brunei travel tips all week.

It may not look like much, but luckily beauty is not a requirement for excellent flavor. Meet Nasi Katok, Brunei's fast food take on the Nasi Lemak and Nasi Goreng you're more likely to find around the rest of Southeast Asia.

The dish is simple, appropriate for its incredibly budget-friendly price of $1. It's a heaping helping of hot white rice, ladled over with a sweet and spicy sambal sauce, topped off with a piece of fried chicken you select (wings, thighs, drumsticks--it's up to you).

Even the name "Nasi Katok" is straightforward; "Nasi" means "rice" and "katok" is the Malay word for "knock," such as knocking on a door. Nasi Katok originated decades ago, when 24-food stalls were unheard of and the only way to score a meal after hours would be to knock on the door of a food vendor and get him out of bed to drowsily throw something hot, comforting, and filling together in a to-go package.

Each $1 serving of Nasi Katok thus appears as a wrapped parcel with a plastic spoon to aid in the licking up of all that tasty sambal.

The taste: The white rice is white rice, but that sambal sauce takes it the level of food to crave. The flavor is both tangy and spicy, but not too spicy. You won't be sweating from the spice, but a swig of cola wouldn't hurt. The fried chicken is greasy and savory, the ideal addition for a fast food lunch of comfort food. Pick a big piece for maximum meat if you're really hungry; it's all $1 unless you ask for more than one piece of chicken.

The price: $1 Brunei Dollar. Yes, really.

Where to find it: You'll want to head to Nasi Katok Mama's central kiosk on Jalan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien, near the intersection with Jalan Pemancha. In Brunei's other towns and in the market, keep your eyes open for similar Nasi Katok packets, but Nasi Katok Mama is most well known.

We flew to Brunei as a guest of Singapore Airlines, but all other travel, opinions and photographs are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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