A row of vendors at Gadong Night Market
Asia. I’ve been back long enough that I’ve forgotten just how exotic it is. The everyday exotic food that is so abundant and diverse has turned into just the everyday now. When I arrived back in Asia, to Singapore, by way of a sojourn in Brunei over a year ago, I was so taken with those first few heady bites that were at once familiar and foreign.
Delish BBQ, notice the chicken “tail” at the top left hand corner
Now that I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the bountiful gastronomic treasures right at my doorstep in Singapore and in my regional backyard. One of the highlights of my Brunei trip was Gadong Night Market. As I got out of the car, far from the market, I could smell the fragrance of deliciousness before I saw the smoke rising from the numerous miniature pyres of charcoal, pristine fish and fresh meat.
The market is huge, about the size of a football field and it’s divided into two sections. One sells vegetables and fruit, the other houses rows and rows of food vendors. There are whole skate wings and fish cooking on banana leaves. Lamb chops, beef steaks marinated in special sauces, and chicken thighs rubbed in spice mixtures sizzle from the heat of glowing embers of charcoal, the smoke perfuming the meat. There are drink stalls with drinks in every hue of the rainbow. There are parcels of food wrapped with leaves, hiding their treasure within. Cakes, noodles, desserts and a cornucopia of other dishes, it is gastronomic overload for me as I wander down the rows of stalls, coins clinking in my pockets, munching on something as I eye my next morsel with my brain and stomach debating on how much more I can ingest.
I heart anything cooked over charcoal
I have never seen such diversity of food in Asia, compared to anywhere else in the world. It really is quite staggering and I want to taste it all. But the dish I find myself coming back to on every visit to the night market, and in fact eating multiple times on a single trip is the chicken “tail.” Tail being a polite term for the butt of the chicken (not to be confused with the asshole.) It comprises mostly of fat and skin with a little meat and, if you are lucky, bits of crunchy cartilage. The butts are skewered on a stick; sometimes they are rubbed with a special reddish orange spice blend, and roasted over an open charcoal fire. It is essentially a delicious and addictive roasted chicken marshmallow. And it is culinary crack.
Before open kitchens became trendy in restaurants they were doing it here
Coconut rice in leaves
Skate wings grilled with sambal, fish cooking.
So many drinks!
Food Food Food!
BBQ meat and bones, makes me want to get medieval.
My favorite fruit, durian and champedak, fried. It just got so much better.
Using a fighter jet engine for a stove. It has two settings: high and afterburner.
I have absolutely no idea what all this colorful stuff is.
Leaves hide hidden treasure.
MOAR colorful cakes