Thursday Apr 27

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Get to know Diana & Bernard, founders of Nerdee Cafe

Editor's Note: The local FnB culture remains strong, and the cafe scene is growing. The last 12 months have seen a number of new places pop-up, and Nerdee is one of them. We visited them recently. The first things we noticed were the fun sounds and colours. People were laughing, board game tokens were getting passed around, cards were being shuffled and slammed onto tables, quirky food and colourful drinks were sprawled across tables... This place is a fun place. Follow their journey on FB and on Instagram @nerdee.cafe

p.s. Diana and Bernard, your profile photographs are gold! =)

photo 1Share with us a bit about yourselves.

Diana: I am currently doing financial planning in a company in Brunei, and have been there for two years now! My background studies is in Health Science. I did my studies in Brunei and Melbourne. It was Melbourne that raised the bar for me in regards to how cafes can look and be.

Bernard: photo 2Cooking is my passion and the kitchen is my playground. I have always loved it when people go “WOW” after having a meal I prepared. I started cooking with my grandma at the age of five (steamed eggs with cut up sausages), and I recently spent three years in Singapore studying culinary arts. I also worked in various cafes and hotels there.

Tell us about Nerdee Cafe.

Diana: Nerdee is a lab-themed board game cafe. The main idea behind the cafe is to have people talking, reconnecting and laughing at the table. The board games are excuses to put those mobile phones and devices away. We love what we have seen so far: children and adults with no phones in their hands. Friends, children and parents are laughing and interacting. We aim to give a fun experience to all patrons, and at the same time, promote and grow the interest in board games in our country! 

Bernard: It’s THE place to be at the moment. And we are really humbled by the support of every single one of our customers. We see people from all ages and we love that! From regular customers who is a three year old girl who keeps coming with her mother...to an elderly lady who brings her family back again and again. It’s a place where we hope to bring a little more color into Brunei.

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How did you come up with the concept of the cafe?

Diana: Well, for the board game part, both Bernard and I did our own travels. Coincidentally we visited some board game cafes on our own before we started talking about opening a cafe together in late 2014.

Bernard: Yeah! It was weird. One day right after work when I was Singapore, out of the blue, Diana called and said, “Hey! Remember we had talked about opening a café in the future - back when we were in Secondary 4? You want to open a café together?” The rest was history! Things were not as easy as ABC or 123! Take the name for example, we (by we I mean she) almost named our café “SHIOK LA!” *shudder*

Diana: Haha, we each came up with a list of names. We finally settled on a name, but apparently a tile company had already taken it. Haha. It took us a whole day driving around together to come up with the name NERDEE (which is a combination of our nick names). In terms of the Chemistry Lab theme, Bernard suggested it! So it went from there.

Bernard: In all of our individuals travels, we thought to ourselves, if this and that country can have it, why not Brunei? So we decided to bring it into our community! 

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How has the response been?

Bernard: We are about three months old now. It has been an incredible ride thanks to the public. The response has been favourable and we hope to keep it that way. We love interacting with our customers whether they are retuning or brand new to the whole concept. That way we can grow, serve and host everyone better.

Which board games are a must?

Bernard : Hmmmmm this is a tough one. We have over 120 different games, and every game has been played at least once by our guests. But if I had to choose, I would always suggest people start off with Speed Cups, Ghost Blitz and Moustache Smash. Then slowly move onto Pass The Bomb, BANG! and Machikoro. These are games that you have probably have never seen or heard of, and they may sound overwhelming, but the kick that you get out of them is music to our ears! (We have guest shouting "WHERE CAN?! Anyhow play one!! PACAH JUA!")

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Tell us about the food and drinks on offer at the cafe.

Bernard: There isn't a specific (food) theme. It is really about experimenting and fusion. A lot of times we tend to think that our resources here in Brunei (in terms of food) are limited, but I say, use local! Instead of saying you wish you had that particular ingredient that is only available in say...Papua New Guinea...why not work with something Brunei has? We buy all our ingredients from local supermarkets and wet markets. I love it when our guests go "WOW that looks good!" or when I see returning guests ordering the same things again and again! But the one thing I must say is that we do not use any MSG or Ajinomoto or even chicken cubes! That is something I am really proud of.

Diana: The drinks are from the "Lab Bar", served in beakers, conical flasks, reagent bottles, etc. We have more ideas we will share with Nerdee customers in months to come. We look to have more where you are pouring and seeing reactions in your drinks.

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Which are the popular food items?

Bernard: Our menu is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs and wants of our guests! What has stayed with us so far these months are our Nachos (with beef sauce made from scratched! I mean I don't grow my own beans or raise my own cows...but you get the idea) and our Kimchi Noodles. It is something that will have a special place in my heart because the Kimchi is made in-house! Our new offering, the Doughwich, is not your normal sandwich! It plays with your senses - sweet toasty doughnuts with a savoury spread.

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What do you hope to see for Nerdee Cafe in 2016?

Bernard: I think in 2016, with how things are going, we are looking take the whole Ner Dee Café experience up a whole ‘nother level. We (thankfully) have managed to pull an integral man into our core team. He joined us in our starter team and now he's like family! Have you met Sid?

Sid: Hi! I am thrilled to be with Ner Dee Café as the Game Ambassador. We just brought in some new games and we have some events (game nights, board game competitions, etc) coming up this year. It is going to be an exciting one for sure.

Bernard: Yeah, like Sid said, we believe 2016 will be an exciting one! We personally would love to see ourselves grow in all areas: our board games, food items, the ever evolving drinks and even our service towards YOU - our Nerds in action!

Is there anything you would like to say to the public? To those who have already visited and those who have yet to give it a try?

Bernard: Thank you for your tremendous support! Like, really! We are tremendously blessed to have been able to make your experiences at Ner Dee Cafe a worthwhile one. For those who have yet to join, well, if you REALLY want to know like know KNOW your boyfriend or girlfriend or children, play a round of different boardgames with them here at Ner Dee cafe! Like honestly...all bets are off in battle. GAME ON!

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