The ‘Land of Unexpected Treasures’. Being Bruneian allows one to consider all the nuances of this phrase, regardless of whether they be subtle or overt. It all depends on the context.
This raced through my mind when the BHC Magazine team arrived at Food Messenger, a Taiwanese eatery often mistaken for being a bridal shop courtesy of the pastel pink slathered all over the exterior and interior walls. Situated in one of the Gadong Central Business District’s older areas, Food Messenger is a single velvet rose among a garden of thorns. A beacon of colour, class and style within an otherwise rundown neighbourhood populated by numerous small car workshops; this eatery is definitely an unexpected treasure.
Driving along Jalan Gadong towards Menglait eventually leads you past Court Furniture. Taking the simpang straight after, takes you down a cracked and gravelly slope which leans toward the left. The path eventually branches off and following the path left again takes you to a block of buildings, within which stands a unit so pink it would give a certain US singer with a claim to that name a good run for her money.
With floral arrangements suspended from the ceiling in a looping fashion, this eatery which is capable of accommodating around 30 people in a single sitting boasts a strong ‘girly vibe’. Popular with women whom fall under the early to late 20s demographic, there are also items on the menu that will also satisfy ‘manly men’. If you find this hard to believe, then you can’t go wrong with the beef noodles which comes in a strong meaty broth.
From humble beginnings as a food delivery service, Food Messenger just recently celebrated its first year anniversary on July 21. Co-owner, Joline Ho, answers the most important question of all – why pink? Bursting into a smile, Joline reveals how a good friend of hers from high school has a brother who specialises in interior design.
“Gavriel Ryan is responsible for all the décor you can see in here. He’s 23 years old and currently lives in Taiwan. But before he left, he was heavily involved in Food Messenger,” the co-owner says before describing with a giggle the roundabout process of how they arrived where they are. “Pink was a pantone colour of the year when we first came up with the idea to do this and our designer just went with it. What was funny was that Gavriel did not think the menu suited the colour scheme at all, and we ended up changing the menu quite a bit to match the colour theme we had.”
So after 3 months of extensive planning, renovation works were carried out in their unit and just after 1 week, it was good to go. “It is not just the colour. The flowers, the lights, mirrors, everything was Gavriel and for that we are grateful,” Joline says. Lifting one’s head upwards reveals a few things of interest. A traditional wooden piece of handicraft suspended from the ceiling, with the open mouth facing the entrance and full of one-dollar notes is a testament to the Feng Shui practice of welcoming prosperity: “Money goes in, money does not go out.”
Offering catering services as well as renting out their space for private events are other methods for boosting overall revenue and staying relevant in a competitive industry. “Just 2 weeks ago, we hosted a private birthday dinner for a family,” says co-owner, Evelyn Ting, who added, “The limitation of our space inside can be overcome. In this case we set up a tent outside enabling us to host the 70 people involved in the celebration.”
To enliven the atmosphere further, “We are planning to had movie nights once maybe twice a week. We hope to start this next week.” Do you know what that means Brunei? This means that as you are reading this story, Food Messenger will have commenced their show times. I wonder if customers can choose in advance what is screened.