A small but endearing space that can fit around 15 people comfortably at any given time of day, and around 30 people while standing, the Wildflower Café has a welcoming vibe that is both light and fresh.
It is understandable how at first glance many will likely label this locale as being purely a Hipster joint. It isn’t. With a unique twist on their healthy selection of items on the menu, the Wildflower Café is gaining in popularity with advocates for better nutrition, individuals looking to try something new, and yes, hipster do like it too. Children also benefit from special meals that cater to their demographic, therefore raising the café’s profile with families.
With a garden theme in place, this space located right by the front entrance of the Royal Brunei Recreational Club, serves a dual purpose, as it is an extension of The Collective’s floral services, now managed in-house at the Wildflower Café. This is similar to how the well-known Makers’ Space is the community-group’s venue for aspiring creative businesses, as well as being a popular venue that can be rented for a variety of events.
When asked how the process works, Wildflower Café Manager, Shinny Chia, replied simply, “Just tell us what you want.” It really is that simple. “Most people already have an idea in mind of what they would like,” Shinny says before adding that for those less sure of what they would like, “just stop by and have a chat with us. We’ll definitely be able to help in some way, whatever the occasion, be it Mother’s Day, a birthday,” and so on.
Elaborating on the Wildflower’s origins, Shinny begins with a laugh, her expression breaking into a massive smile as she jokes “Well, I couldn’t get a farm, so this is my next best thing!”
On a personal note, she shares that her mother had always wanted to open up a restaurant. This genetic disposition has been inherited in some regard, as “I have always wanted to open up a café, although, I’m pretty sure mum would have steered me away from Western cuisine. On a professional note though, a serious love of food has always been part of the Collectives’ brand. “Since we have conducted a few activities here in the past, we developed a good relationship with RBRC.” Good enough that they offered this space on a more permanent basis, as many of the events the Collective participates in do tend to draw crowds.
“There’s more to it”, Shinny says, sharing her observations and opinion that more often than not, the Brunei food scene is “quite standardised, which has led to people often searching or requesting ‘more of the same’. In this regard the Wildflower aims to “break out of the mold” by serving dishes with a healthy twist. Shinny cited eatery Le Keris as a good example of the direction gastronomy in Brunei should move to. For a better understanding, the café manager cites David Chang as an example of turning healthy fast food into more of a staple through creations such as corn kernels with an egg on top. A self-confessed cheese lover, the café manager goes on to describe how she developed a taste for labne – a Persian yoghurt cheese that can’t be sourced from shops in the Sultanate – resulted in “I’m just going to make it myself.”
Open 7 days a week from 9am-8pm, and crewed by four social Humans, Shinny Chia shares her hope that the café will reach a stage of familiarity with customers where “we can begin guessing what certain regulars will want to order. Another reason we wanted it to be a small operation. We love that feeling of community.” The only thing BHC Magazine enjoys more than this outward love for community, is the Wildflower’s banana bread. Oh my, that banana bread.