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Knock! Knock! The story of Nasi Katok…

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2011

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Knock! Knock! The story of Nasi Katok
DASHINEE PURUSOTHAMAN BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN Tuesday, March 3, 2009 MOST c ountries have signature foods — foods not necessarily original in its form but unique to the country for various reasons. Nasi Katok was the first food I had when I arrived in Brunei. It seemed at first like an average meal I could have easily found in my home country Malaysia, but little did I know how significant it was. Nasi Katok is ac tually hot rice with a side of spic y sambal, and a piece of c hicken or beef or pusu (anchovies). But what makes it spec ial is not just the dish itself; but the story behind it: It is the singer not the song. The story behind Nasi Katok is embedded in its very name. Back in the days of old when 24-hour eateries were unheard of, the only way for a hungry soul to get a midnight fix was to literally to knoc k on the doors of a food outlet and get the owner out of bed. The sleepy owner will then prepare a simple dish which over time derived its name, Nasi Katok. Today, it seems to have morphed into the Bruneian answer to the craze for fast food. Katok means knoc k in the Malay language while nasi translates to rice. So, there you have it! Knoc k for rice. The concept gained trac tion and became popular as more people bought into the idea of simply knocking for food. It did not long for this to catch on and become a routine for many, which then grew into a trend and has now developed into a culture, if you like. Eventually, sharp-nosed business folks smelt a business opportunity in it and many Nasi Katok stalls started sprouting all over Brunei, selling the packet of rice at an incredibly low price of a single dollar. To my surprise, franchises have been set up too. But I guess, it is the common denominator that operates in all businesses: Supply and demand. Nasi Katok is the one most easily available meals in Brunei and I can safely say that there is one available every kilometre of Brunei, hardly miss-able. Any visitor to the Sultanate who hasn't had a taste of it must simply make a beeline to the nearest Nasi Katok outlet and try one. Otherwise, he would be missing out on something so very Bruneian. Here are a few Nasi Katok outlets: Nasi Katok Mama (outside Sim Kim Huat Supermarket, Kiulap) Red Canopy Food Court (Ground Floor, Kiulap Plaza hotel, Spg 88, Kiulap Commerc ial Area, BSB. Taro Bubble Zone (Bangunan Kambang Pasang, Gadong). The Brunei Times

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Bruneian fast food: (Above) Nasi Katok with spicy sambal and a piece of chicken. Pictures: BT/Ang Ting Sing

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