Fritters or what is commonly known as cucur is definitely local favourite; whether savoury or sweet, it is a culinary staple in the Bruneian food culture often found readily present in our day-to-day, existing through diverse social settings from the casual high tea, friendly get-togethers and even professional business meetings.
Despite its huge popularity, however, the cucur is always known and associated with street food most likely by the nature of the cuisine that encompasses anything and everything that is coated in batter and deep-fried.
Enter The Cucur Tearoom, a recently opened cafe located in Batu Bersurat, dedicating itself to bring the deep-fried cuisine beyond the realm of food markets, giving it a modern twist with trendy cafe aesthetics.
How it started
Officially referred to as The Cucur Tearoom powered by The Cucur Factory, the cafe is actually the next level evolution of a series of cucur stalls run by the latter which saw its humble beginnings in 2018 at Beribi Eats, a container-style food court located in Jalan Gadong near Kg Jangsak.
“I come from a family that loves to cook. Most of our family lunches and dinners were held at home, whether it was my mother on the stove or my father, my siblings and I grew up surrounded by food and cooking,” began Ahmad Taufeeq Hj Kamsani, Founder of The Cucur Factory.
“After much encouragement from our relatives and friends, we decided to open a business specifically focussing on our quite popular (with the family) cucur, which follows a unique family recipe that has been passed down from my grandparents to my parents then of course, to myself,” added the 21-year-old.
“Beribi Eats was quite new at the time, even the concept of the place was new so it understandably became popular with people, and due to that, we thought it would be the perfect place for our first stall,” he continued.
Business was booming within the first year of The Cucur Factory’s debut, according to Taufeeq, with rave reviews from regular customers for their flagship menu of sweet fruit and vegetable fritters as well as spring rolls.
However, as the novelty of Beribi Eats began to wind down and with the open-air food court being closed temporarily for renovations, Taufeeq and his family decided to migrate their business by setting up a stall in Mentiri by early January, 2019.
The family that fries together
From there, the ball started rolling with The Cucur Factory quickly gaining popularity and expanding its business by opening two new stalls between early 2019 and early 2020 in Kg Sungai Tilong near the Nasi Katok Kaka Restaurant and Kg Tungku respectively.
Buoyed by this great reception, new cucur were introduced, cucur that were not necessarily common in the sultanate at the time such as fried oyster mushrooms and fried okra, which became a big hit among the masses, prompting them to also expand their services to include delivery and live-cooking.
According to Taufeeq, the reason for introducing these new menus came from his experience as a culinary degree student from the University of Wollongong Malaysia KDU, recalling the first time he experienced fried mushrooms during a food festival in Shah Alam.
“The point for starting The Cucur Factory was always to showcase our cucur, its a recipe that has been passed down in the family, everything is hand made, from scratch, and I think our cucur, our batter has a unique identity and in a way, it was also to highlight the traditional Malay cucur,” he said.
“But from my time studying in culinary school, how our cultural definition of cucur may be limiting because by right, cucur encompasses anything that is deep-fried with batter so in that sense, the possibilities are actually endless,” he added.
“During the early months of operating our stalls, my parents and I would do most of the frying, I would accompany my brother for deliveries, we would take turns when it comes to the live cooking gigs, it was very much a family affair,” continued the 21-year-old.
With more than five deliveries a day, each delivery having a minimum order of $20 worth of cucur and an almost weekly schedule of live cooking gigs, Taufeeq and his family had their work cut out for them, it was all hands on deck until the family could afford hiring additional staff to help out with the burgeoning demand.
“Alhamdulilah, we were very grateful for all the good reception we received and whether during deliveries, pick-ups or live gigs, we were often approached by our customers asking us when we were going to open up a cafe or restaurant of our own,” Taufeeq went on to say.
“We would get comments about our customers wanting to enjoy our cucur with a cup of coffee or Teh Tarik, of customers wanting to enjoy our cucur fresh as they sat down and hang out with friends and family, that was how The Cucur Tearoom began,” he added.
The Cucur Tearoom, what’s on the menu?
Located on the Ground Floor of Shophouse Block J at Batu Bersurat, The Cucur Tearoom is a quaint and small cafe that could easily fit about 20 to 30 people.
Open from 8am to 8pm, Taufeeq said that the cafe was meant to be a place for their customers to unwind and enjoy freshly made cucur.
The number one best seller is undeniably the banana fritter, made out of ‘Pisang Kapas’ which are naturally sweet according to Taufeeq.
“When it comes to cucur pisang, it has to be sweet, it has to be crispy there is no going around that and the sweetness must come naturally from the banana and not from any sugar or honey,” he explained.
“We get our bananas just before they are ripe, then we cover them in storage and only use them as ingredients exactly when it is just ripe. So obviously there is an in and out cycle for our bananas due to this, but we do so to ensure the quality and taste of our most popular dish,” he added.
The banana fritters like all the other fritters on their regular menu can be eaten with a side of condensed milk but if you are feeling just a little bit adventurous, you can opt for the homemade caramel dip, which is just pleasantly sweet.
Next on the best seller list is the fried mushrooms, which comes in five different flavours namely; original, salted egg, spicy, tom yam and cheese. One must be careful with this one because it is highly addictive!
Made from fried oyster mushrooms, this savoury snack tastes like chicken, and with the diverse flavours, you will not be able to stop munching! The fried mushroom pairs particularly well with other fried dishes such as the fried okra or the popcorn chicken.
Third on the list is the prawn fritters which come in two different forms. The regular one that we all know and love or the whole prawn, either or, both are mouthwateringly good as the seasoned batter takes the prawn flavour to a new level.
At The Cucur Tearoom, you can take your cucur with the regular fare of Teh Tarik and Milo or you can indulge in the coffee drinks that are available, the Ice Caramel Latte, in particular, is divine. If you are not a coffee drinker, then go for the Hot or Cold Chocolate which is perfectly warm and cozy to the palate.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN