There is a very high chance that all posts during this holiday will only revolve around food and dining. In fact, here is another one right now!
The obligatory achtung for hungry people. Does it help really?
Anyway, about a month or so ago, Sister 1 introduced this gem to me in a conversation about banana fritters, or cucur pisang as we Bruneians call it. Buried deep in the hills and ramps of Kampong Mata-Mata and Tungku, is a modest roadside gerai called “Soto Haji Saban”.
It specializes in soto, unsurprisingly, and is lovingly called by its patrons the Soto Seringgit (One Dollar Soto). Now, I must confess, I’ve actually only rediscovered soto a few months ago. My experiences before that has been limited to servings I am obligated to have during Hari Raya open houses. So, obviously, I don’t exactly know what makes a really good soto.
But I do know what makes a bad soto. I know that the beef portions plays a major part in judging a bowl of noodles submerged in a semi-clear warm liquid. I know that it should have the right combinations of salty, fatty, tartness and crunch all at the same time and that the condiments (bean sprouts, fried onions, spring onions) should not overpower any other part of the soto.
But most of all, I just know that when the simple ingredients of the soto combine together in my mouth to create a delicious experience, it means that something must have been done right in the kitchen.
I’ve been to the gerai only 2 times before and during both times, I have forgotten to bring my camera. So last night when Sister 1 extended the invitation to go there, I was adamant. I checked and rechecked that my camera was in my bag. I charged the batteries full, wiped the lenses clean and cleared the memory card. I’ve made up my mind that this is a place I must write about.
Soto Daging Biasa
I ordered the usual, Soto Daging Biasa, which actually costs a mere dollar. I seriously cannot get over the fact that it’s only a dollar. For one dollar I get tender beef pieces that feels like they melt in my mouth, enough to partially cover a generous portion of noodles submerged in the deliciously steamy soup.
Being a gerai, it does get rather warm (very warm), especially in our kind of weather, so I decided that it is very appropriate to get a tall glass of Milo Ping (fortunately with more than four ice cubes). A distant relative opted for the more refreshing Iced Lemon Tea.
Just as we finished our sotos, our second orders arrive: the cucur pisang, also called banana fritters. I love cucur. This gerai has a special twist to their cucur pisang.
Yes, sesame seeds. It gave a subtle nuttiness on top of the crunchy batter. Have I ever mentioned how sesame seeds always remind me of this movie? I guess not.
Inside the crunchy coating or sesame and fried batter are nice, warm, sticky and sweet bananas, threatening to turn anyone into a cucur pisang addict upon the very first bite. Personally, the cucur is actually my favorite part of the gerai. It tastes great and goes extremely well with or without ice-cream, also available on the premises.
Maybe I don’t eat at gerai often enough, but I am astounded by the price of the food and the consistent quality it is served in. I have never found fault in the service. Our food came swiftly, considering how many of us were there today ordering many many different things, the waitor and waitresses were polite and well-mannered, even under the blistering heat.
I am most of all impressed how this family establishment is maintained. Hj. Saban, the gerai’s namesake, mans the cashier, while his wife takes charge of the kitchen. He might be a little slow counting your dollars, much due to his eyesight than incompetence, but he makes sure he gets your change right.
I’ll definitely go back there again. If you are interested to try the Soto Daging Seringgit, it is inside Jalan Tungku, next to Sekolah Rendah Tungku. Oh and in case you haven’t noticed, this is a very good review.