In the Islamic country of Brunei, rice and fish are the staple foods, pork is prohibited, while beef is expensive hence less commonly consumed. The trading and import of meats which are not certified to be halal is banned, while the sale of alcohol is considered illegal.

Brunei may be the only Southeast Asian country to practice Sharia law, but it is one of the safest and the most peace-loving country I have traveled to. Curious to learn more about the different types of local dishes and cuisine in Brunei? Here’s a list to get you started!

must try food in Brunei
6 Must-Try Food in Brunei Darussalam

6 Must-Try Food in Brunei Darussalam

Nasi Katok in Brunei

Nasi Katok is one of Brunei’s most commonly found dishes. Sold from as low as B$1 (even cheaper in the suburbs), Nasi Katok is a minimalist and undecorated dish consisting of only three components: plain white rice, sambal (chili shrimp relish) and a piece of fried chicken. Despite being a simple dish, Nasi Katok managed to get itself into the franchising business and clinched the title of being a staple food loved by the Bruneians.

Nasi Katok in Brunei
Nasi Katok in Brunei
Nasi Katok in Brunei
The best Nasi Katok in Brunei
Nasi Katok in Brunei
Cheap Nasi Katok in Brunei

Exotic Durian in Brunei

There are a few types of durians that can only be found in Brunei and across the Borneo island, and Durian Sukang (red durian) and Durian Dalit (orange durian) are two of them. While commercially planted durian produces thicker flesh, the durians collected from the deep remote Borneo jungles have thinner layers of flesh and they bear a distinct alcoholic-like flavor. The redder the flesh, the stronger the flavors and the more expensive they are!

red durian in brunei
Exotic red durian in Brunei
wild durian in brunei
Red and yellow exotic durian in Brunei

Ambuyat in Brunei

Ambuyat is one national dish that surprisingly only very few know about. Created by the Bruneian Malay, this dish is prepared using the interior trunk of a sago palm. The starchy, flavorless and glutinous substance is eaten using a pair of prongs made using bamboo called chandas. To eat, simply and artfully twirl the starch around the bamboo sticks until it becomes a deflated ball, before dipping it into any type of cacah (dipping) or side dishes of choice, such as tempoyak (fermented durian paste), chili sauce, ulaman (raw salad) or curry.

ambuyat in brunei
Ambuyat - the national dish of Brunei. Photo credit: Brunei Tourism.

Kelupis in Brunei

Another classic recipe created by the Malay people of Brunei, Kelupis is a type of glutinous rice rolls wrapped in Nyirik leaves. It is traditionally served during wedding ceremonies or special occasions by the Bisaya, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh ethnic tribes as light refreshments, and is available in different varieties through different fillings such as dried shrimp or anchovies, or dipped into a peanut paste or curries.

brunei kelupis
Kelupis - a delicious Brunei snack. Photo credit: Brunei Tourism.

Cucur in Brunei

Cucur is really just fritters - pieces of cut up items deep-fried and eaten as snacks. In Brunei, cucur plays a huge role in the country’s street food scene and is sold everywhere from roadside food stalls to top-rated restaurants. Can be made into either a sweet or savory snack, they are most commonly made using fruits and vegetables such as bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots or yams, as well as using meat like shrimps. For more exotic varieties, look out for fritters prepared using local seasonal fruits such as durian, tibadak (cempedak), tarap (johey oak) or sukun (breadfruit).

cucur brunei
Cucur sold at markets in Brunei

Kuih-muih in Brunei

As Brunei is made up mostly of Malays, the preparation and consumption of kuih-muih is widespread. These traditional snacks are conveniently sold in bite-size pieces, come in different shapes and colours, and are made primarily using ingredients such as rice flour, sugar, coconut cream and tapioca. Examples of the most popular kuih-muih in Brunei are selurut, penyaram, tapai and kuih cincin.

kuih muih brunei
Local snacks in Brunei

As a rule of thumb, most of the dishes in Brunei can be found in Malaysia. If you are accustomed with the flavors of Malaysian cuisine, then you should have no issues dining here!

Malay food is generally mild, slightly spicy and very filling, so you can rest assured that your meals here will be a tummy-pleasing one!

For related travel stories, click here.

Tamu Kianggeh brunei
A vendor preparing chicken rice at Tamu Kianggeh, Bandar Seri Bagawan in Brunei.
Bandar Seri Begawan Food Guide
Local food in Brunei