Brunei Darussalam


Exactly a decade ago today on the eve of Valentine’s Day, my wife and I were expecting our first kid. She had been in labour pains for the longest and most torturous moments of imminent motherhood. At 8.49 AM on the 13th Feb 1998 our son Jamie was born and today he turns double-digit 10!

© Jan Shim Photography

I asked Jamie what sort of cake would he like for his birthday, he said, “I just want the blow out the candles, I don’t like cakes!” Since the candles needed something to stand on, I choose a black forest cake with a choc-board on which “Happy 10th Birthday, Jamie” is written.

Up until tonight, Jamie had been excited about celebrating his birthday at Kaizen Sushi after a memorable first time there not too long ago. Before Kaizen, the only places where we can find decent Western/Japanese food after hours are in Kuala Belait notably Fratini or Excapade Sushi (the other exceptions being the kopitiams). Between KB and Seria, the kids would instinctively choose Seria as would I—a no-brainer choice between 30mins vs 8 mins drive!

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© Jan Shim Photography

The other compelling reason to eat at Kaizen being the absence of crowd. The ever so popular and highly successful Excapade is inherently noisier and you can’t just drop in without having first made a reservation. We had way too much to eat tonight and I’ve taken a fancy to a dish called “Half Cooked Beef” (pictured top left). The Japanese fried tofu served with special sauce is simply delicious while salmon head remains a clear favourite with my wife. We never used to be this mad about Japanese food but lately HSBC CEO Tareq Muhmood introduced me to the allure of Indian cuisine @ Zaika.

As a sidenote, today being the 7th day of the lunar new year is also ‘People’s Day’ traditionally called Renri, the day everyone grows one year older. Turns out also, according to a Wikipedia article, that today is the day Yee Sang is tossed and eaten and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.

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Brunei Darussalam


It’s no secret that I like Japanese food a lot. My wife, my daughter and to an extent my son do too and I think (coz I never asked) what attracts them to Excapade Sushi Restaurant in Kuala Belait is the runaway train that takes centre stage. Kids are fascinated by this train set and I admit, I am too and have been curious about the possibility of owning one. Equally fascinating is how a hobbyist train set has transformed the way food is served DIY by taking the plate of your fancy right off any one of the railroad cars. The locomotive with all its attention to details is no less interesting except there’s no smoke although that’s a no-no these days.

For a long time now, Japanese green tea is what we adults have and iced milo for the kids. That changed, at least for me, when I discovered they also serve a mean iced lemon tea is and since then, it has taken precedence over green tea whenever I remembered.
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Screaming red locomotive, powerful, quiet yet smokeless. The only items conspicuous are the miles of coloured plates it hauls non-stop. My son Jamie at one point got so fascinated by something the chef was preparing, he leaned over the track and mom pulled him back like a second before causing a major derailment. That would not be cool!

Health is good but do not over indulge in food. Take note of food hygiene and avoid eating uncooked food. — Rooster, Zodiac 2008, Geomancy Hut

So I cheated and feel pretty miffed about warnings to stay away from my favourite Japanese dish–Salmon Sahimi. I wonder if an extra slice of lemon would make it OK to indulge. I am also a big fan of lemons and its alkalinic properties. I know one thing though, it’s advisable not to let kids eat uncooked salmon. There’s toxins in these fish however fresh that may be tolerable by adults but may not bode well with the little ones.
You know you’re in the Oil Town (or in a town next to THE oil town) when you see this logo other than the gas stations
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“Seaweed” it’s called and recently became a popular starter for us right next to baby octopus. Jewel refuses to even try the baby oct, apparently she finds it hard to eat something so ‘cute’ but she has no hesitation when it comes to unagi (eel) below.
Fried rice is a universal favourite with kids. As long a restaurant has fried rice or chicken rice no matter how exotic will have the kids behaving their best.

On the evening of the official opening of Kaizen Sushi in Seria, I’m waiting for fellow blogger and Seria resident Spiritual Garden to give us her unbiased review. I, the conservative individual that I am, preferred to have a predictable dinner with the family and leave Kaizen Sushi to try another day.

All images © Jan Shim Photography

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Of Skin and Flesh: Japanese Take Out.

It has been a wet morning not the same morning that I woke up to. At 7.30 am the sun was out and at the time it appeared we would be blessed with a good day. How wrong was that first impression considering the morning glow got me thinking about a swim but the sudden downpour at around 10 am pretty much dampened that plan. How ironic that rain would ruin my swimming plans! Trapped at home, I slowly worked up an appetite for Fried Salmon Skins and Salmon Sashimi, two of my favourite items at our local Japanese eatery, Excapade. 

Fried Salmon Skins & Salmon Sahimi © Jan Shim Photography

And fried salmon skins and salmon sahimi I had. Preparing for this shoot was, how shall I put it, torturous. I really wanted to eat instead of fumble with camera equipment and presentation that you see here. Up until the moment I discovered fried salmon skins this idea of additional revenue from discarded components of the salmon sashimi never crossed my mind but it turned out to be a good one and has become something of a delicacy to me.