The Gerai Ramadhan in Belait is back in a downscaled format with 114 vendors – a little more than half the participants from the last edition in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
105 vendors are stationed at the Tudung Saji market in Kuala Belait, with another nine at the Seria wet market, with both locations keeping vendors one metre apart in line with COVID-19 protocols.
At $90 per booth, rental at Belait’s Gerai Ramadhans are amongst the most affordable in Brunei for a municipality, and despite being downscaled, are still full of interesting finds with respectable crowds gathering as the hours near sunset.
Here’s a sample of some of the vendors that have set up this year.
22 years of kebab: M Kebab
Claiming to have never missed a Gerai Ramadhan in Belait since it was formally established in 1999 is M Kebab, founded by Molika Pg Hj Yusof, a retired government servant who has kept his menu of kebabs and roti johns (fried omelets with meat inside a long baguette-type loaf) unchanged for more than two decades.
“We pride ourselves in our consistency. People know us from way back when; we’d have customers from the grandfather, to the father to the son coming to us for their kebabs,” said the 58-year-old, who also runs a foodstall in Kg Sg Tali, Lumut outside Ramadhan with his sons and nephews.
Fritters galore: RR Café
If you’re craving for cucur – or have yet to try the full array of fried fritters – then RR Cafe is worth the stop, serving up at least seven different types of fritters including banana, yam, prawn and vegetables.
Behind the business are Hidayah Rahgeni and her parents, who have been running RR Cafe from their home in Kg Mumong while also gaining more exposure through regularly joining Gerai Ramadhan.
RR Cafe is all about affordability; everything ranges between $1 to $4, including their other singature dish of a whole grilled chicken leg with rice.
“We are open for orders year-round; we also do custom orders (for multiple or group of people) where we prepare boxes of cucur ranging from $5 to $25 per box,” said Hidayah.
Traditional treats: AS Homemade
If you’re looking for something sweet to balance out your palate after all the gerai’s savoury foods, then look no further than the traditional kuehs (cakes) by AS Homemade.
Owner Aini Darat prepares seven types of bingka, a soft, chewy, tapioca-based cake; talam, a pandan-based layered cake; and apam balik, a nutty pancake similar to a waffle or crepe.
“We have been in business coming in 14 years now,” said Aini. “When we’re not at festivals or the Gerai Ramadhan, we usually sell at the old KB market from Friday to Sunday.”
Affordable barbeque: CN Foodies
The Gerai Ramadhan in Seria is admittedly small, with only one salai (barbeque and grill) vendor, CN Foodies. Owner Asmah Mahmood assumes the mantle by serving up a wide variety; and is evidently popular, selling out well before the traditional cut off time of 6pm.
CN Foodies sells four chicken tails for $1, a whole chicken wing for $1, half a chicken for $5 and a whole mackerel for $5. They also offer a grilled and pan-seared whole fish topped with sambal similar to percik for $6 to $7.