Very sour most of the times and therefore not as popular as the langsat or duku langsat this fruit is now put at the back of the shelves in the market because other fruits have surfaced in the last ten years. The skin is rather thin and the flesh chewy (not crunchy like some of the best rambutans). Furthermore the seeds are usually swallowed with the flesh because the flesh does not come off easily.
The rambai tree is small and branches are brittle. Quite often children have fallen off the small tree because of breaking branches. However ytoda this fruit, a common backyard tree in the kampong , has even been considered "out of fashion" by even the Ibans and Melanaus! In fact many of the older trees have been cut down and never replaced. In this way the rambai might even been on its way to extinction.
A few adventurous and enterpreneurial Ibans I know have tried to process the fruit into local rambai rice wine. Like the pineapple the rambai is usually on the sour side and is just as suitable for making tuak. The rice wine (tuak) turns out to be quite palatable. In fact if a greater effort is made I suppose this little homemade wine industry can be quite lucractive. Pineapple tuak has been sold at RM 8 per bottle (Johnny Walker bottle). And I have been given one bottle of rambai tuak several years ago. Somehow I can still remember its white wine quality similar in body to a Riesling in fact. The flavour of course was similar to that of sake.
The name of the fruit must have been adopted by one of the mukims of Brunei . Today Rambai is a mukim in the Tutong District of Brunei. It is located in the south bordering Mukim Lamunin to the north, Limbang, Sarawak (Malaysia) to the east and south, Mukim Sukang (Belait District) to the south-west, Mukim Bukit Sawat (Belait District) to the west and Mukim Ukong to the north-west. Mukim Rambai contain one of the largest lake within Brunei called Tasek Merimbun or Merimbun Lake (in English) and also one of the largest dam in Brunei as well, which is Empangan Air Jubli Perak Benutan or simply the Silver Jubilee Benutan Dam (in English).
A friend said that her grandmother used to cook river fish or even prawns with the skin of the rambai. She remembered that the soupy dishes tasted very good. She and her family continue to eat rambai whenever they have the opportunities. For sometime they do not have a kampong to return to because they have lost their land to timber logging in the Baram. Now they have their own low cost housing in Miri and have only one belimbing tree and some vegetables in plots in the backyard.
According to one of the hawkers who brought some rambai for sale from Ulu Balingian many younger Sarawakians are strangers to this fruit. Only the older consumers have come looking for rambai. To him it is sad that such a refreshing fruit has this kind of fate. May be the govenment should consider doing research on how to improve the breed.