Excapade is one of the most successful Japanese restaurants in Brunei; with 7 restaurants spread all over Brunei. They have been around for over a decade now, and just keep expanding. This review is based on the Gadong branch, where I have over 5 dinners in the short 6 weeks I spent back in Bruei.
I like this branch because it has big private “booths” and it is quite easy to make reservations. Every trip home in the past 5 years always include a couple dinners at Excapade and it has stayed fairly consistent in terms or pricing & quality over the years.
My in-laws wanted to take my family out to dinner before they left Brunei and asked me to book a nice fancy restaurant. Instead of a nice fancy Chinese restaurant, I thought Excapade would be better since all of us love Japanese food and it is still one of the “nicer” places for dinner. We had a group of 18 people and they manage to get us a nice corner at the back of the restaurant.
The menu at Excapade is extensive (might be a bit much) but there is definitely something for everyone~
Their sashimi selection is fairly impressive:
There is even yakitori:
This is what we ordered:
3 orders Rock & Roll @ $3.80 each
2 orders Una Hama Maki @ $3.80 each
Pretty interesting – the centre has some kind of deep fried roe topped with nice big slices of unagi. I can’t decide if I like this or not but my brother enjoyed it immensely.
Nama Kani Tempura $10
Loved this! Each order comes with two soft shell crabs the size of my palm. The tempura batter was a little on the thick side but in this case, it was ok because the crab could hold up to it. The crab was fried well, with the insides still soft and juicy! The meat was sweet, the roe was amazing and the shells give it a nice “chew”.
Pretty good – how do you really screw up seaweed anyways~
2 orders Tempura Mori Wase @ $8 each
Mixed tempura w 3 prawns, fish, cuttlefish & 5 different veggie.
Not bad but not great. The tempura batter is a little too heavy, not as light & crispy as I would have liked. The prawns were a little overcooked, and the fish just tasted like nothing because all I taste was batter. The veggies were ok.
2 orders Lamb Vege Skewer @ $2.50 each
Disappointing skewer. The lamb was tough, dry and didn’t taste very good. (It doesn’t even look very good).
Layer Sushi $3
This was interesting – it was a random combination of things with a little too much rice in this. The unagi on top was a sad little piece but quite nice & moist. Sometimes the unagi in Excapade is dry and stringy, other times it is nice, soft & moist. It’s not bad.
Phoenix Roll $10
When this hit the table, we were all in awe. This roll was massive (and it looked like a giant caterpillar!).
I was too full to try this but it looked scary! with all kinds of random stuff on it, with a giant tiger prawn that is tempura battered in the centre and crisped up veggie on top.
Mini Salmon Mayo $3.80
Delicious! My favourite menu item after the Alaska maki~ The salmon, mayo & roe goes together very well, with a nice amount of rice right in the centre.
2 orders Alaska Maki @ $3 each
One of my favourite items. The roll is made well and holds together when biting into it. There is too much rice on this roll, sometimes it has too little (quite inconsistent) BUT it always has a nice piece of salmon~ The avocado adds a nice creaminess to the roll, while the roe adds bits of saltiness.
Tongarashi Maki $3
Soft shell crab maki - Pretty ok roll, not enough flavour on its own but a very generous amount of soft shell crab.
Mini California Special $3
Another must order on every trip. This could be a hit & miss – sometimes the roll is cold with soggy tempura bits but on the good day – there is a nice crunch from the tempura bits, saltiness from the crab stick and creaminess from avocado. Great combination!
Nama Kani Special $3
I loved this roll. It has so much texture from the crunchy bits of tempura and a nice piece of soft shell crab tempura right in the middle. The spicy mayo is quite light and added a nice creaminess to the sushi.
Twins Roll $3
I found this a little strange – there was cream cheese, mayo, salmon roe, salmon and it just didn’t seem to go together. It is just so random.
Inari Salmon $3
I find sweet tofu skin weird so I didn’t try this. My sister really enjoyed it though.
Hamachi Sashimi $18
I love hamachi, the fish is firmer than salmon with a nice lemony aftertaste. The quality of sashimi here is as good as the ones I have had in Vancouver or SF Bay area which was great. It is sliced uniformly and actually a nice thickness. Fish was firm and fresh tasting but one thing I did not appreciate was they left the bloodline on the fish – which is usually the “fishy” bit so it left an unpleasant aftertaste.
2 orders Salmon Sashimi @ $15 each
Everyone’s favourite sashimi~ The sashimi had nice uniform white lines (the more yellow – the less fresh, or so I was taught), sliced evenly. It comes to the table nicely chilled (always on a bed of ice – necessary for such warm weather in Brunei, I guess?).
But sometimes the salmon sashimi is a little inconsistent; some days it is very good – fresh, not slimy, firm and has a sweet aftertaste. Some days it is just ok – not bad but not great. Even on the bad days, the sashimi is good (just not great).
Tuna tataki $6
Not bad. Not as good as it could have been, just an ok dish.
Avocado Salad $6
Boring dish of just a plate full of sliced vegetables with a side of Thousand Island dressing. This is what I called a waste of money dish~ lol
Ebi Skewer $3 , Scallop Skewer $3
These were delicious! Scallops were sweet and grilled perfectly with a nice light sauce over it and the shrimp was a little on the undercooked side but it was fresh and lightly grilled.
Seafood Teppanyaki $12
One of the more disappointing dishes. The seafood sits on a pile or random veggies with some pieces overcooked and soggy while others were a little crunchy. The seafood looked overcooked and the piece I tried wasn’t that good. Not great considering all the nice sashimi, it is kinda a dish with reject seafood!
Spicy Scallop Temaki $3.80
Special request by the sis in law~ She wanted a spicy scallop temaki and asked the server if they could make it because it was not in the menu. She said it was not bad. I find their spicy scallop hot sauce not very good.
Tori Katsu Don $8
Salmon Asparagus $5
Another crowd pleaser. Salmon wrapped neatly over asparagus spears. Usually prepared really well but there are times, the salmon is way overcooked (which is disappointing when it happens). The teriyaki sauce over it is good, not too sweet and not to salty. I appreciate that they don’t drown it in sauce.
Age Dashi Tofu $5
My sister’s favourite. The tofu is fried to perfectly, with a nice light golden shell and soft smooth insides.
Sashimi Combination $18
Salmon, Hamachi, Tuna, Octopus, Scallop, Sweet prawn (Amaebi) and Red snapper
I find the sashimi combination to be of great value. A great way to get a whole range of sashimi for a reasonable price. All the sashimi pieces were quite fresh and pretty good.
Too bad they did not deep fry the shrimp heads, like how they usually do it in most sushi places in N.America.
Sushi & Sashimi Deluxe $40
Salmon Sashimi, Tuna Sashimi, Octopus sashimi, Tai sashimi, San Shoku maki, Salmon sushi, Unagi sushi, Tuna sushi, Saba
I tried every sashimis on the plate and all of them were pretty fresh & tasty. I found the octopus a little chewy & tough. I thought the nigiri sushis had too much rice with a tiny piece of fish on top.
Rice Cake Combo $5.50
One of the special desserts they were promoting. It was ok but a little too sweet for my taste. Like little mochi cubes covered in dust.
Dishes not pictured:
Chicken Teriyaki Don $8 – Average tasting, but hey it is Chicken teriyaki so don’t expect much.
Chicken Skewer $2 – Didn’t try this.
Unagi Sandwich $3 – This always seemed strange to me, the bread part is made of rice (a little too thick for me) with a sliver of unagi and egg in the middle. Not crazy about it.
Gyoza Udon $7 – I didn’t try this
Unaju $10 – pretty good, the unagi pieces were nice, thick and moist with the sweet glaze.
Unagi Maki Special $3 – their special rolls are pretty good with nice tempura crisps on the outside
Salmon Skewer $3 – didn’t try it
Hakata Roll $3 – honestly, I can’t remember this because I don’t have a picture of it
Hoso Roll $3 – can’t recall without a picture
On other trips I have tried:
Tai Sashimi $10
Red Snapper sashimi. I was not crazy about this, unlike the salmon & hamachi sashimi that were consistently firm and quite fresh; this was a little mushy. Not very, but it was borderline good quality. Not bad but not good…
Sake nigri $3.80
Nice change from the usual sashimi. The pieces are cut longer and thinner over a little rice ball. I appreciate that it did not come w too much rice.
Unagi nigri $3
Not a big fan. The unagi was a little dry and sad looking. I like unagi to be cooked less with a nice fat content.
Grilled Salmon $3
This was surprisingly good. There was a nice char on the fish giving it a nice smoky flavour. It was cooked perfectly with a light sweet salty sauce over it. A little too much rice but hey – still very good!
Tama Ebiko Sushi $3
This was not bad. I am usually not a fan of tamago because I find it too sweet. This rendition has mayo & tobiko giving it a nice creamy saltiness – which in my opinion makes it pretty good~
Enoki Hotate Butter Yaki $7
Pretty good. A little too much sauce for my liking because the mushroom absorbs all the sauce and becomes too “heavy”.
The mushrooms and scallops were nice combination. The scallops were pan fried well which is always nice~ A combination of sweet & salty with buttery richness.
Haru Maki $3.80
Japanese spring roll with prawn & cheese.
This is a weird one. I thought it was not a well thought out dish because the prawn, cheese and sweet chili dipping sauce just didn’t work for me. The spring roll skin was too thick as well (not enough filling).
Kimchi Fried Rice
This was not good AT ALL. One of the rare moments where I had a bite of something and I just rather not have another. The rice was bland and all you get is spiciness with not other flavours.
Spicy Scallop $3
This was not very good either. The scallops were drenched in a runny hot sauce and is sour. Very very spicy, very sour and strange. The cucumber slices, with rice and runny spicy scallop was just not very good.
California roll $3
This is ok. Made well, with generous amounts of filling. I didn’t like the addition of tamago in the roll but it was ok.
Tamago nigri $3.80
Meh – as mentioned umpteenth time, not a fan of tamago~
Ebi Tempura $10
Not bad but batter too thick and some of the prawns were overcooked.
Tama Unagi Sushi $3.80
This is more korean than Japanese. Their egg rolls are usually more savoury than sweet, with additions of carrots, onions, seaweed and etc. This was a good version but still sweet like the Japanese traditional tamago. It was quite good with a little piece of eel in the centre.
Ura maki $3.80
I didn’t try this. The centre is some kind of tempura fried roe with a sliver of avocado & salmon on the top.
Hokkaido Maki $3
Fried salmon, asparagus, spicy mayo & ebiko. Not bad, the salmon was a little dry but everything together is actually not bad.
Baby octopus $3
My friends love ordering this, I found the sauce too sticky and sweet but that is just me.
Norwegian roll $3
I didn’t try this but it was the size of my palm! It was huge and didn’t look very appealing.
Total Damage : BND$323.80
Personal Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Pretty darn Good)
I have to say, I was quite impressed with how the service staff dealt with such a big group (18 of us). They split the group into 3, and had different tabs set up so they could keep track of what got served and what needed to be served. Overall, the whole dining experience was pretty good. The food came out in a steady stream, and most of what we got were pretty well made/prepared.
Most of the seafood items were of good/decent quality, nothing bad was sent out. The prices for everything was quite reasonable and actually came off as “cheap” to my In-Laws because we are used to paying double or more for the same amount of food in North America.
I like the appetisers and sashimi and the sushi selection but not a big fan of their teppanyaki items~
Considering the 4 other trips I have made to this Excapade in Gadong – the food quality is always fairly consistent and prepared well, but the service pretty inconsistent. I have had trips where we waited forever for a menu item that never came – so both times I asked to cancel the items but it was still charged on the bill. And there are certain servers with attitudes that made me feel like walking right out of the restaurant.
I was surprised also when I tried to get a privilege card for my sister and they said we could not. What does it take to get a privilege card? Would spending over $300 not qualify?
Unit 4 & 5, 1st Fl. Blk C
Abdul Razak Complex Gadong
Bandar Seri Begawan
Tel : 244 3012 / 242 2603