Donned in black as a trio, my mother, sister and I entered a café in a new and upcoming buzz spot in town to bursts of laughter, clinks of glassware and the breathing sounds of cards being shuffled, dice being thrown, blocks tumbling down.
Opting for a characteristically predictable all black ensemble, I attempted to channel a slightly more thugged and gothed out bohemian vibe.
The top, with its sheer sleeves, layered hems and beaded details, was easily the central piece of the entire look. While easily mistaken for a dress, the top is not at all appropriate to wear as a stand alone piece thanks to the slit right down the middle two thirds of it.
I put on a pair of black shorts underneath, anyway, deciding to carry out the illusion of wearing a dress. By slipping on the most distressed pair of tights I own -- completely intentional, I assure you, -- a choker and -- what else? -- deep purple lipstick, I think I did pretty well with the initial idea of thugged out, gothed out boho.
What do you think?
Situated at Regent Square, Ner | Dee Café is the first of its kind to land in Brunei Darussalam; a board game café, complete with quirks that make it a name of its own. I had the opportunity to catch the owner of the place when we dined in and had an interesting little chat with him.
From the viewpoint of an avid traveler, I was told in front of a lab bar, where lines of beakers and test tubes stood in racks, titration biurets and syringes sat in line, that the board game café was something inspired by similar trademarks overseas that was brought to our lands as (the safest) fuel for the entertainment life of our quiet culture.
Named for an accidental portmanteau comprising the (nick)names of the two co-owners, Bernard and Diane, the café which opened up roughly a month ago has been quite the talk of the town.
Aside from the entirely new concept of board games being an integrated part of an eating place, the focus of the place has mainly been on its quirky serving tack. While food come served in routine utensils, drinks are brought to our tables -- labelled for the periodic table of elements -- in volumetric flasks -- complete with syringes for syrup and sweetness.
It is not so much as odd to hear the Joe next door yelling out, "Please, we need an extra beaker over here!"
Asked about this fascinating aspect of the café, Bernard told me that he and his co-owner are both graduates of bio-medical and chemical fields. Having seen a similar concept employed on a side small-scale in an overseas cafe, the both decided to incorporate the idea into their new business -- one which works extremely well for the immaculate branding of the place.
We sat down and immediately an extremely friendly waiter attended to us, introducing to us his name, three menus in hand and a full blown explanation of today's special menu. He had to lean in and raise his voice due to the sheer fullness of the place -- a full house on a Thursday evening, with shouts of glee and protests coming from all corners of the café, board games strewn across every wooden table in sight.
Throughout odd intervals during the time we dined, we were checked upon by the same waiter.
"How's your night going?"
"Do you need anything else?"
"Would you like me to help you with that?"
Needless to say, customer service ranks as one of the key attributes of the café, a trait similarly displayed by the kitchen workers and cashiers.
While Ner | Dee boasts superb novelty in menu, interior and concept design, the café falls slightly short in terms of food, with the general verdict amongst our trio being, "Eh. Could do better."
This comes as a slight disappointment as the place leans slightly towards the pricey side for a college student on a budget. The Kimchi Noodles (BND 4.50) opted for by both my mother and sister reached the conclusion of, "slightly bland," and the Chili & Pita (BND 6.00) I placed an order for tasted stale and lifeless to my taste buds.
Sipping on interestingly advertised concoctions such as an Old Way (BND 3.60), which claims to be a mixture of lemon and mint -- the classic -- I tasted nothing of lemon and mint and instead of tangy, zesty sourness and infused bitterness.
Perhaps that's just luck (or the lack thereof) on my side, though, because my sister's H20down -- malt and watermelon -- (BND 4.50 [L] 3.50 [S]) tasted satisfactory to her and my mother's The Hulk (BND 4.00 [L] 3.50 [S]) was not too shabby.
As we finished our game of Scrabble and packed to leave -- the sister won by 12 points with me ending up penultimate -- we were checked in once more by our friendly host, a piece of paper and pencil in hand. It was a feedback and criticism sheet and we were asked in earnest politeness to please fill it up if we don't mind.
We thanked our host, filled it in honestly, handed it face down to the cashier and left, hoping to drop by once free time opens up.
During the conversation I had with Bernard at the café, I asked him whether he has plans for the new business, to which he chuckled good-heartedly and responded, "For now? We'd really like to just open up and expand."
TL;DR | Conceptually innovative with nerdy themes of chemistry as its foundation, the café boasts excellent customer service but sub-par food. Extremely promising for the first board game café in town.
If you're in Brunei, Game On at
NER | DEE CAFÉ
1ST FLOOR, UNIT F11, BLOCK F,
KENANGAN II, SIMPANG 150-5-13-8,
REGENT SQUARE, KAMPONG KIULAP