Gadong Night Market Tour
The Gadong night market is a great destination for foodies, tourists and locals alike who want a cheap meal with local flair. The market sells a variety of items ranging from grilled meats to deep fried snacks. The night market is located close to The Mall and is within a large open air building with tables located throughout so you can settle down for a bite after getting some food.
When walking through the market, you’ll find many local, traditional delicacies such as kelupis and pulut panggang. These contain sticky rice mixed with coconut milk, stuffed with some form of cooked dried meat (usually prawn, chicken or beef) and wrapped in banana leaves. The main difference between the two local snacks is that kelupis is only steamed while pulut panggang is grilled over a hot coals after steaming. This is what gives pulut panggang its name where the word ‘panggang’ means to grill. Other than savoury delicacies, they also sell a range of cakes with a modern twist on local tastes. These include cakes like chocolate and pandan, durian and cheese as well as oreo and yam. Certainly very innovative!
Some other popular treats to go for at the night market are roti john and kebabs. Roti john basically translates to John’s bread and according to the local story, this snack was inspired by a Westerner who wanted a hamburger. The roti john we found here consisted of a long bun similar in shape to that of a baguette which is sliced in half and stuffed with an omelette as well as a generous squirt of ketchup and mayonnaise. Though the bun looked similar to a baguette, it was much softer, chewier and sweeter. The ketchup added a pleasant sweetness and tanginess which was balanced out really well with the creaminess of the mayonnaise. Although ours didn’t have any minced meat, I have seen some stalls that offer that option should you want more protein. The kebabs, on the other hand, consisted of half a pitta bread stuffed with grilled meat, which they cook up on the spot. The pitta is also stuffed with some chunks of cucumbers and again a generous mixture of chili sauce and mayonnaise. The meat was flavourful and juicy which paired perfectly with the condiments which were both creamy and slightly spicy. The addition of the cucumbers also gave a much needed refreshing taste.
Walking further along the market, we spotted several stalls selling lots of grilled meat and decided to get a grilled stingray and spicy, honey chicken wings. These are displayed at the front of the stall and when you order an item, the hawkers will regrill these up for you. The stingray was also finished with a generous dollop of chili sauce, a piece of chili and some local limes on the side. Meanwhile, the chicken wings are brushed with some honey right after they are taken off the grill. The stingray meat tasted rather similar in texture to that of a chicken as it was meaty, stringy and at the same time rather tender. As the fish was grilled, I liked that it had a pleasant charred taste to it. Additionally, the chili sauce was thicker and sweeter than I had anticipated. With the addition of the freshly squeezed local limes, it contrasted the sweetness rather well. The wings were equally tender and juicy and I loved that the charred bits tasted of caramelised sugar. Though these wings were labelled spicy, I didn’t find them spicy at all and I liked that the addition of the honey on the wings was not overpowering. Although I can imagine the red colour might be a little odd for non-locals, don’t let it put you off as these are worth a try.
If you’re looking for a heavier meal, there are also several stalls that sell side dishes which you can pick and choose to go with a serving of rice. These side dishes include things like chicken and beef rendang, stir fried vegetables, sambal green beans and several more. The side dishes vary from stall to stall but a majority of them usually serve some form of curry and vegetables. Some stalls also sell prepackaged Nasi Lemak and Nasi Katok which are rice wrapped in leaves or brown paper and comes with fried chicken and a sambal chili sauce. The Nasi Lemak also often come with some cucumber slices, fried anchovies and peanuts (depending on where you get it).
Another type of food you can find throughout the market are deep fried snacks. There are several stalls that sell things called cucur which are battered and deep fried items which can either contain prawns, tempe (fermented soy beans), a mixture of vegetables, sweet
potatoes and even sardines. One of my favourite fried snacks include keropok lekor which look like sausages and are made up of ground up fish mixed with flour. If you can get a freshly fried batch, these usually have a thin crispy skin on the outside while the inside is super chewy and gummy. Although these contain fish, they don’t taste fishy at all. The stall that my friends and I got this at offered a sauce which tasted like very thin, runny honey that was soaked up by the keropok lekor. Though I prefer my keropok lekor to come with a sambal sauce, the addition of the sweet sauce produced a great balance between sweet and savoury flavours. Towards the end of the market, we came across a cakoi stall where the hawker was rolling out a giant batch of dough by hand. Cakoi is the equivalent of Youtiao in Chinese cuisine which is also called a Chinese doughnut. We chose for our cakoi to come with pandan topping which tasted very much of kaya but was unique in that it was orange in colour. The cakoi was also much softer and had more of a doughy texture compared to the typical crunchy outer layer of a Youtiao I was used to.
If you haven’t yet been to the Gadong night market, I’d recommend paying it a visit with an empty stomach and some friends as there are a lot to try here. In addition to all the unhealthy (but delicious) options I’ve mentioned, there are also several stalls selling a range of local fruits and sweet drinks. You can even get a whole fresh coconut cut open for you here. Additionally, the food here is also super cheap usually costing around $1 with the most expensive being about $4. Be sure to give it a try!
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.