Anyone from Tutong would readily identify with Soto Hj Tuah at the Tamu Serambangun, Tutong. But a lesser known, though just as tasty and just as popular among many Urang Tutong too, perhaps, is Soto Hj Jamudin in Kampung Luagan Duduk. If my memory serves me well, this soto has not been around quite as long as Hj Tuah’s, although I have to admit I’ve not been a frequent client. But the few times I’ve been there, I’ve never been disappointed.
You know how in most restaurants now the soto is simply a bowl of noodles with condiments chucked in and poured over with a rather generic soup or broth? Well Soto Hj Jamudin is not like that. People say a good soto is defined by its soup. Well, this is certainly the case for Soto Hj Jamudin. In fact, it’s one of the few sotos around that I can think of and quite confidently say have “that Malay taste” ~ real Malay spice mix with strong Cangkih and Bunga Lawang ~ much unlike the said generic bland soup.
I was there recently with the whole family for a very rare family breakfast. Rare because 1. I’m not normally a breakfast person, 2. I don’t breakfast with the the family a lot of times, and 3. Soto for breakfast, really??
Nevertheless, I felt rather compelled to share this soto with the rest of the world… well, with my two readers, my mum, and the friend I owe money to and who’s trying to locate me through this blog. I kid, of course, coz really only one person reads this blog- and it’s not my mum.
There’s also a certain Kampung charm in the way this ‘restaurant’ operates. It’s basically a little place with a few seats and a food prepared from the house kitchen. Well, it is essentially a two-storey wooden kampung house. You don’t get a lot of these ‘restaurant’ any more nowadays.
On this occasion too I witnessed a customer who’d wanted to take away $10 worth of soto, only to be told straight up, “$5 saja ah… kan mengampiti urang lain lagi.” To me, this can only happen because the place embodies a real community spirit in making sure as many people as possible “ampit” its food, rather than worry about profit.
I’d better be careful here and not fall into the trap of becoming a restaurant review, which is not what this blog is about in the first place; we’re about the food. But Soto Hj Jamudin qualifies as an institution that is made up of its food, its service, its operation, its place, its spirit – this really is a prime example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, where you simply can’t look at just the food alone.
The person who started it all has sadly departed, Mulah Hj Jamudin (Al-Fatihah). But his legacy lives on in this little gem of a restaurant and its special soto, and long may it continue.
(London, 25 Dec, 2011. Merry Christmas family & friends!)