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Famous places to eat in Malaysia: Sabah


Previously, we brought you the an article on places to visit in Sabah. But what is travel without food, right? So this time, let’s take a look at some of the places where you can enjoy scrumptious Sabahan food, most preferably without breaking your wallet.

Don’t leave Sabah without trying any of these!

1. Gerai Sudi Mampir

(Photo source: Jess-KITCHEN-Lab)

(Photo source: Mizz Allyna.Blog)

Location: Jalan Sulaman, KK

Specialty: Kelapa bakar, lukan panggang and coconut pudding 

Don’t judge a book by its cover – or in this case, an eatery by its makeshift appearance?  Along the road to Tuaran is this humble stall well-known for its panggang-panggang or bakar-bakar food. Since Sabah is a seafood haven, lukan panggang (grilled clams) is a must-try. Best served while hot, the clams are usually dipped in a sambal sauce to further bring out their ‘oomph’. 

Being a tropical island, coconuts are abundant. It’s no surprise then that this Malaysian state, like neighbouring Indonesia and Thailand, consume their coconuts in 'yumtastic' ways. You don’t just chop the top off and proceed to drink the water, you have to patiently wait for your coconut to be grilled (burned?) first before you can drink it.

(Photo source: Jess-KITCHEN-Lab)

Hot beverages may not be the first choice for anyone visiting this sun-rich land, but it is said that hot coconut water is even more nutritious than its already nutrition-laden ‘unburnt’ version. So, to reap its full benefit, just stay calm and keep wiping your sweat.

(Photo source: Jess-KITCHEN-Lab)

Still looking for something cooler? Cap off your hot meal of lukan panggang and kelapa bakar with a coconut pudding, provided you still have room for dessert. The chilled pudding is served in a whole coconut shell so it’s very filling. If you’re too full, just tapau, there are also cup versions so you can avoid lugging heavy coconuts around as you continue on your food adventure.

2. Lok Kyun Restaurant, Tuaran (Non-halal)

(Photo source: Hayden Chan)

(Photo source: A Daily Obsession) 

Location: Shop No.4, Block 8, Jalan Keogh, Tuaran

Specialty: mee Tuaran

You can’t stop by Sabah without having a taste of its famous mee Tuaran. This shop is the first to serve this noodle dish so it is no doubt the best place to savour the authentic taste of the mee. Make sure to eat it with the sasau (or char siew / barbecued pork), sawi (the green leaves) and chun kien (pork eggroll) to fully appreciate its flavour.

Though it’s often fried, some mee Tuaran also comes with soup or served “konomen” style (that’s konlau or dried). Try Tuaran Mee Restaurant at Inanam Business Centre for a variety of other styles, including fried seafood mee sup Tuaran and mee Tuaran Lihing (Sabah’s very own rice wine). 

3. Kedai Kopi Yuit Cheong, KK 

(Photo source: Sabah Tourism)
(Photo source: Sabah Tourism)

Location: No. 50, 3rd Floor, Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu

Specialty: roti kahwin, lao bo ping, satay

Go back to simpler times at this old school coffee house. Established in 1986, it is one of the oldest coffee shops in KK. Even the food served here are reminiscent of the olden days.

It is most famous for its selection of satay or skewered meat, which includes beef, chicken and beef tripe. The satay is, of course, best eaten with the side of peanut sauce and roti kosong (plain bread). For a sweeter treat, trade the plain breads for roti kahwin, same homemade bread but with added butter and kaya (coconut jam) which you can order freshly toasted.

If you’re a coffee lover, pair the meal with a cup of strong, dark coffee – Kopi O. Make it a Kopi C if you prefer milk in your roasted beans drink. 

To top it all off, have a bite or two of the pastries available there such as the red bean paste bun and the lao bo ping (sweetheart cake or wife cake), a must-try traditional flaky pastry.

4. Yoyo Café

(Photo source: centrepointsabah.com)

(Photo source: Shannon Chow - Live. Explore. Inspire.)

Location (s): Imago, Lintas, Center Point, Citymall, Suria Sabah, One Borneo, Plaza Juta, Wisma Merdeka (malls in KK)

Specialty: milky tea / bubble tea

Long before franchise giant Chatime entered the scene, Sabahans were already hooked on the milky tea craze thanks to Yoyo (stylized as YOYO). When it started in 2000, Yoyo only sold a variety of milky tea drinks. Fast forward 10 years later, and it would be selling cookies, bread and pastries to accompany the flavourful drinks.  Last year, it included cakes and gift sets on its shelves too.

Once you’ve tried a sip of their peppermint milk tea (or any other flavours, really), you’ll see why Sabahans really love quenching their thirst with this particular brand of milky tea.

There are several branches and most, like in Center Point and Lintas, are usually crowded since Yoyo’s a popular place for students to hang out with their friends. It’s not like they can go to bars for aramaiti! so let them enjoy their drinks and you can have yours to go. Sip it leisurely while you head to your next nom session.

5. Mango Garden Restaurant @ Rumah Terbalik, Tamparuli

(Photo source: Dulu Lain Sekarang Lain)

(Photo source: Dulu Lain Sekarang Lain)

Location: Telibong, Tamparuli

Specialty: exotic Sabahan appetizers

If you’re really looking to try the real taste of Sabah, this is one of the places to go. This Halal-certified restaurant is part of the Rumah Terbalik (Upside Down House) attraction located in Tamparuli, and it serves the more exotic appetizers available only in Sabah.
Some of these traditional dishes’ popularity is diminishing among the younger crowds but they are a must try for a true Sabahan experience. 

One of the most famous is hinava sada, which is fish fillet marinated in lime juice along with shallots, ginger, sliced chilli and grated badu (wild mango seeds). This dish is a traditional food for the Kadazandusun people. 

Also try the nonsoom bambangan (wild mango indigenous to Sabah) and tuhau (local ginger stem pickles), though the latter is more of a condiment of a sort to most locals so in this restaurant it is served with char-grilled beef slices – Tuhau Miampai Daging Salai.

(Photo sources: Dulu Lain Sekarang Lain, Mizz Allyna.Blog, Hayden Chan, Jess-KITCHEN-Lab)

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