Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kota Kinabalu Food Scene

It is great to be back!

Back home in this hot country, Malaysia, to see family and friends! Back to my hometown Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital city of Sabah. A wonderful place for tourism with beaches, islands, forests, mountains for the more adventurous; shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs for those who like city life.

and of course....Back blogging about food - my very first post in 2012.

First stop, noodles! There are so many different varieties of noodles in KK. Each named after the places (towns, villages, cities) of origin, with its own distinct texture, taste, flavours and accompaniments.

Foochow Kampua

Sarawak Foochow Kampua or Foochow Dried Noodles. Foochow is a place in China and people from there are called Foochow people, lots of Foochow people migrated to Sarawak, Malaysia. Hence, naturally the dried noodles they brought from Foochow is called Foochow kampua.

This dish is usually served with stir-fried minced pork and the noodles in it's original pale yellowish colour, different from other dried noodles mixed with dark soya sauce to give a brown-black colour.

Absolutely delicious thin noodles mixed with sauces made by the noodle stall owner. On the photo you can see slices of meat with a yellowish 'skin', that is called 'Chun Juan' or pork wrapped in thin layer of fried egg which is a bit like the Japanese Tamago. The Chun Juan is a Hakka delicacy found mainly in Sabah, so the Sarawakian noodle dish has been localized with a few pieces of KK Chun Juan.

Top with a few sprinkles of diced spring onions, this simple dish smells wonderfully fragrant and tastes superbly delicious!

Next come the dessert. With many new coffee shops or cafe springing out in KK, I could never keep up with them by coming home only once a year, or less!

For a small gathering of former high school classmates, we went to this new joint in KK called Station One Cafe.

For a new shop, it has the looks, the atmosphere and of course new customers who are always curious to try out new places.

However, the service was rather appalling as we had to wait ages to be served although we have repeatedly pressed the 'service call' button. The worse thing is that my friends had to wait almost 30 minutes for a glass of Three Layer Milk Tea and simple glass of Ribena with lemon slice!

Three Layer Milk Tea

Three Layer Milk Tea is literally three layers with the first brown layer of tea, second white layer of evaporated milk and the bottom dark brown layer of Gula Melaka (Melaka Coconut Palm Sugar). A nice glass of cold tea with the fragrance of evaporated milk and the natural sweetness of Gula Melaka.

Ice Cream Sundae

Since it was boiling hot, I ordered the Ice Cream Sundae that came with Strawberry, Chocolate and Yam ice cream scoops, one split banana and a chocolate love letter topped with some whipped cream. I guess the ice cream was more susceptible to the heat than I was because it melted into a smooth milky liquid in less than 10 minutes! Hence, I was left competing with the heat to DEVOUR the ice cream!

Lunch next day, again, consist of some sort of noodle.

This time it was rice noodle, which is known as the healthiest type of noodle as it was made of rice flour (gluten free!)

Giant Garupa Noodle Soup

What's incredible about this rice noodle soup? It was the main ingredient - none other than the Giant Garupa Fish meat!

Why is it so incredible? I will try and describe the taste and texture before going into the price of it!

It is a deep sea fish that can live more than 50 years and can grow more than 200kg, easily over 6 ft long!
The meat has a firm texture with a pleasant chewiness to it, which makes it a pleasure to eat!

The price? Can go up to RM8,000 (about GBP 1,650) for a 120-30kg catch. So my bowl of Giant Garupa Fish Soup Noodles cost RM22 when an average bowl of fish soup noodle cost around RM8!

The soup was of course delicious after being boiled for hours with the fish, pickled mustard leaves, tofu; sprinkled with some chopped parsley - a beautiful noodle soup dish!

Another cafe that we went to for dinner was Upperstar. Another coffee shop similar to the one we went to - Station One Cafe. Although they are called coffee shops or cafe, they are not exactly shops that sells coffee, tea and cakes only like Starbucks. Coffee shops here sell a variety of food ranging from Western meat chops to Asian rice and noodle dishes. They serve fresh fruit juices, coffees and milkshakes too.

Nasi Lemak King

I ordered the Nasi Lemak King.

They have three different range of Nasi Lemak, from the most basic Nasi Lemak Promotion, Nasi Lemak and the 'extravagant' Nasi Lemak King. All the same basic coconut milk rice with some shrimp paste sauce, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber slices and boiled egg. The only differences between these three Nasi Lemaks were the number and sizes of ingredients put on it, and of course the price difference!

The 'King' that I ordered has the additional chicken wing, which was a bit tough to bite, so I left it as it is after trying a few bites. It also had two long sticks of chicken kebab sandwiched with green peppers, and I DO NOT LIKE peppers, especially the green ones.

Overall, a so so Nasi Lemak interpretation as I have eaten much nicer and more authentic ones.

Then we went to another joint for desserts - Secret Recipe.

Mango Delight

The Mango Delight without much delight. The menu offers:"Juicy chunks of mangoes come together with home-cook mangoes puree and fresh cream..."As promised it has chunks of mangoes but they were not that juicy, the sponge was so dry that I had nothing nice to say about it, apart from the cake being light and posing minimal threat to increasing waist-line size.

Chocolate Indulgence

Now, the Chocolate Indulgence cake looked and tasted more promising. Made with layers of 'creamy and rich Belgian coverture chocolate and white chocolate filling'. With different tastes and textures to each layer of the chocolate cake, it was rich, tasty and nice to eat.

You can probably gather now that KK has been swamped with franchises and the local (much better) food places are slowly (now becoming quickly) being phased out, with only the very popular and long-running ones left!

Now going back to non-franchised food at Restoran Baba & Nyonya Recipe serving authentic Baba & Nyonya food.

Cendol Ais

Cendol Ais - green coloured jelly, served with crushed ice and red beans, drizzled with coconut milk and Gula Melaka. A delightful cold, sweet treat on a nice hot day! In the photo above, the owner forgotten to add the cendol on to the cendol ais! Hence, you can see the cendol being added afterwards in the photo below.

Cendol Ais

Rojak Buah

Rojak Buah - Mixed fruits with specially made sauce and crushed peanuts. A delicious local delicacy with a sweet and sour taste offering different texture from the fresh fruits, crushed peanuts and local vegetable.

Although it does not look like much, one has got to try it to understand what I mean when I say that it is a delicious dish!

Featuring my favorite drink when back home - Iced Milk Tea!

Iced Milk Tea

Many people like their HOT cup of tea, but I love mine served cold - ICE cold! A simple glass of iced tea with evaporated milk rather than normal cow's milk, simply refreshing.

Rice Noodles

Another bowl of noodles, this time it was the dried rice noodles in soya sauce (giving it a brown black colour). Served with a bowl of soup containing pork meat, pork meatballs and pork dumplings giving different textures to a simple pork dish.

Pork meat soup

A very satisfying meal indeed!

More to come as I continue on my KK food journey......


  1. I loved reading about the differen Malaysian foods you've been eating. I'd love to go there one day.

  2. Thank you Corina!

    If you have the opportunity, you should come to Malaysia! You will find different types of food in the many different places that you visit in Malaysia! :)

  3. where did you eat the rojak buah? My gf wish to try it desparately..haha

  4. Block E, Lot 34, Ground Floor,
    Grand Millennium Plaza, KK New Bypass,
    Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia.

    Chef Baba at +6016 8108206

  5. Hi, my friend and I plan to visit KK in the next few months. Could you suggest a good tour agency who can organize good and reasonable (price) rates? Also, what places do you suggest we visit while in the city? Any budget hotel you can recommend? Thanks.

  6. Hi sorry for late reply, i just got back from holidays...will let you know as soon as i find out the above :)