The food & beverage industry in Brunei has always been massive. This naturally comes with its ups and downs with newly opened eateries beginning their culinary journeys facing stiff competition. This is why it usually helps if you have a gimmick, a unique feature of some sort to help you stand out. Or, simply be the purveyor of food so good that every customer encountered leaves with the thought “Definitely coming back!”
Take for example this recently discovered gem that opened roughly a year ago – GeoEats – situated in the heart of Kg Jerudong. As you drive toward Jerudong Park from Sengkurong you can see a sign post hammered into the soft earth on the left side of the road, pointing diners-to-be in the right direction. Entering this simpang and driving a short distance leads you to a two-storey home that is an earthy brownish-red. An outdoor seating area marked by its namesake is easily spotted by the entrance to a cute little space that is, essentially, a physical extension of two sisters’ desires to introduce foreign dishes within a local context.
Wearing matching grins, the sisters say “We love food,” and even though this can be easily said of us all, these true-blue food enthusiasts took that passion to the next level. An interesting thematic model to be sure, GeoEats as the name suggests is a reference to a selection of food that hails from many geographical locations. A large map of the world painted onto one section of wall supports this concept.
“We do travel quite a lot, and enjoy searching for new and interesting dishes that we can introduce to Bruneians.” These ladies are not fans of fusion, preferring to keep the items on their menu as close to their original form as possible because, “We are purists who want people to enjoy, for example, a Swedish dish as if they were in Sweden. However, “There are times when specific ingredients need to be replaced because either the ingredient is too difficult to source, or it is not halal.” By doing this, the sisters have created accessibility for many dishes that the average Muslim would never consider. In fact, “We enjoy looking for dishes that are typically not halal so we can convert them to suit a Bruneian audience.
“We enjoy making everything from scratch so we can better control the flavours. We also believe in criticism as being necessary to improving.” In a surprising show of honesty that earned the respect of the BHC Team, the sisters cite an example in which, “We received a bad review on a Turkish dish on our menu. The two diners at the time were actually Turkish nationals so even though the dish was not to their liking, it was a good opportunity to figure out what we did wrong. I mean, how else are we going to get better without honest feedback such as that? Especially when many of our customers tend to book seats with a specific dish in mind.
A small space that can accommodate around 25 people, the sisters share how, “You need to make a booking. We have had many customers walk-in only to find they can’t be served. We’ve even had private events such as birthdays held here.” Rendering assistance to the sisters are part-time workers whom usually consist of students.
Open from 9am to 2pm, and 4pm to 8pm from Tuesday to Saturday, as well as from 4pm to 8pm on Sunday, the eatery enjoys an off day on Monday. When asked for the top three reasons why these foodies chose to venture out into a highly competitive industry, the sisters respond, “We don’t have to drive to work, we love being our own boss, and most importantly, we absolutely love what we do.” If only everyone could be so lucky.