Coming to Kota Kinabalu?
Need a tour guide? See how I can help you! >> KK Certified Tour Guide Services <<
* * *
After one whole month, hundred ringgit spent, and 3kg heavier.. I finally completed this post.
Prepare your tissue box, and stick your head closer to the screen, cause this is the Ultimate Guide to Kota Kinabalu Food™
(…tissue box is for saliva)
1. Bak Kut Teh 肉骨茶
There are many Bak Kut Teh restaurants around Kota Kinabalu (KK), and I believe this is KK most famous Bak Kut Teh restaurant. Why? This year alone, I met 2 different food shows filming there, Taiwan and South Korea respectively. This restaurant could be one of Malaysia’s icon at other countries.
Food hosts all over the country have visited this restaurant. This restaurant is equivalent to the Char Kuey Tiao auntie at Penang (but the Bak Kut Teh boss is friendly).
2. Chicken Wing 雞翅膀
Chicken wing has become one of the icon food at KK these few years. It all started by a little chicken wing stall at Beverly Hills. The owner has secret recipe that makes whole KK people crazy for his wings.
I remember buying this wings for RM1 each during my high school period. Few years later the wings quickly became RM1.80 when the reputation and fame caught up.
3. Ikan Panggang 燒魚
This is stingray, the same species that killed Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. This fish is not a human killer in nature, but once they were killed and put on a hot grill — they taste awesome! Especially with sambal and fresh lime juice, cooked on banana leaf. Yummy to the max.
4. Damai Roti Kahwin 麵包
What’s so special about roti kahwin? This roti, don’t play play. Got story wan.. let me tell you.
This bread has revolutionized the fate of shoplots at Damai. The kopitiam, call Foo Yuen (富源), makes the most awesome bread in the world that it *melts* in your mouth the moment you put it in. I am having difficulty on how to put this into proper words, you have to try it yourself.
This restaurant has practically changed the face of the street, many new food businesses appeared to cope with the hungry crowds, shops around closed down and converted into restaurants, attracted many stalls too. Now the street is call “Wai-sek gai”. You say “Damai roti kahwin” to any KK folks, we will say “ahhhhhh yes yes yes, you’re very smart ha! let’s go yam cha”. This kopitiam is never empty.
Fu Yuan also takes their Teh C Ping into a whole new level. 1/2 of the drink is evaporated milk… trust me, you’ll be in heaven.
5. Guo Min noodle 國民干撈面
Guo Min restaurant is famous for the chewy noodles and home-made fish cake (blue bowl), I prefer to order fresh fish slices or chicken slices. Beef tendon noodle is one of their specialty too.
This restaurant at Sunnygarden was visited by Ah Xian (Astro food host) recently. You can see his face on every wall, lol.
6. Hilltop Fish Noodle 魚雜米粉
This restaurant was recommended by my relatives. It’s their favourite because the soup is more tomato based and the ingredients are most diversify. You can order fish bladder, stomach or any intestine for your interest. I don’t think they serve fish scales though. There are many fish noodles restaurants at KK, it’s difficult to list them all in this list so I decided to pick this one.
You can also try Hung Kei Restaurant at Damai, which is my personal favourite. And another one called Wang Wang restaurant, listed below.
7. Coconut Pudding 椰香布丁
This is not exactly the MUST-HAVE food in KK. Since the list is mostly noodles, I think I add a dessert into the list.
Coconut pudding is one of my favourite dessert since young. If you never try coconut pudding before, I urge you to try out the coconut pudding at a seafood restaurant called Xia Zhong Xia (蝦中蝦) at Hilltop.
Make sure you only go after 6pm, and they only serve limited servings per day. So far, this is the best coconut pudding I’ve tasted at KK.
8. Ngiu Chap (Beef Noodle) 牛雜面
Can you resist beef noodle with tasty thick broth? There are plenty of famous beef noodle around KK, and one of them is at Lintas 33 bread shop. You ask any KK fella “hey which ngiu chap best in KK?”, you might get 20 different replies.
How did I pick this restaurant? I close my eyes and simply pick. This restaurant damn lucky. Despite simply pick, the beef noodle standard is definitely above par!
9. Inanam Custard Bread 下南南麵包
My dad used to buy this custard bread for me when I was young, I say, around 10 years old maybe? He bought a dozen of these custard cake, not a normal number for afternoon tea. But rest assured, the rest of the week I will treat my dad like a King! (he knows me weaknesses).
And guess what? I can finish the buns in few hours. Then my mum will scold me cause I am always too full for dinner.. and I finished it all by myself (without sharing with sister).
When I grew up. My dad’s friends and relatives will say “wahhh.. your son very tall and huge oh!”
“Of course la, you have no idea how many buns I fed him.” My dad replied.
10. Roast Duck 燒鴨
My dad says this restaurant serves the best roast duck noodle in KK. He announce the “greatest roast duck noodle” to everyone he knows. My dad often solves his brunch here, for many years. If I don’t trust him, who should I trust?
Personally, the roast duck noodle never fails to impress my taste buds. I grew up eating there, probably ate hundreds of ducks which accumulated all these years.
The yellow thingie (attached photo) is 春卷 (Chun-Gain in Hakka). I only came to realize (while collecting resources for this post) that Chun-Gain is Sabah specialty, you can only find this food at Sabah! No wonder I never see anyone selling this at West Malaysia.
What is a Chun Gain? Chun-Gain is the Chinese version of pork sausage — without the preservatives enough to mummified you. Once you start eating, you can’t stop.. very addictive.
11. Sheng Rou Mian 生肉面
“What? Raw Meat Noodle?!” (direct translation in Chinese). Eww.
You may be disgusted by the name of this dish. However, for KK people, this dish name is the most heavenly dishes we’ve ever hear. This dish is created for the love of pork… no, this noodle is not served with raw pork meat. I believe the original name derives from boiling the pork in hot broth before serving — thus the soft and tender thin pork slices.
What makes the soup damn special? The minced pork lards. The dry noodle is perfect combination too. Why? You tarik the noodle once, and you quickly send down the dry noodle with soup. Wah.. kesyokan x 10000.
Sometimes I wonder, do they mix the noodle with pork oil too..? I rather don’t want to know the answer. I rather die young than quit eating this dish.
Best place to eat this dish: Lintas (a few similar shops around)
12. Wan Wan Fish Noodle 旺旺餐廳
This is another KK most famous restaurant — Wang Wang restaurant. This is one of my favourite restaurant I mentioned earlier above the post. Wang Wang restaurant serves the most expensive fish noodle at KK (based on my experience). However, they have a valid reason for charging premium price — they serve quality and high standard fish, and damn delicious one. You’ll happy to pay the premium price after your meal — trust me.
The noodle itself is a dish of its own. As you can see from the photo above, the noodle contains fried shallots, green onions and mince chicken. Qualify as a complete dish. The soup base — you have two main soup base to choose from, tom yam or normal one. Both taste absolutely awesome. I didn’t say that because I am promoting KK food, it’s true – you have to taste it to believe.
This restaurant is also one of the favourite spot for food shows. Even one scene from TVB seriese Born Rich was filmed here. You can see 3 Hong Kong actors tarik noodle into mouth while filming ^^;
13. Tuaran Noodle 斗亞蘭面
Tuaran noodle is a local delicacy. I can guarantee you that this noodle cannot be found anywhere on Earth but here. I can be honest with you, this is a simple dish. Yet, this noodle has that special taste that keeps you looking for more.
Long ago, this dish only can be found at further district call Tuaran (hence, the name of the noodle). However it’s too troublesome to drive 20km from central business district to eat this noodle. Eventually a few restaurant offer this dish around KK area.
This dish might replace Char Kuey Tiao in 10 years time. You’ll never know.
14. Tanjung Aru Zu Chap 豬雜面
It takes me 3 weeks to finally have the chance to eat this dish.
This old kopitiam only serves during the morning, and the noodles are usually sold out before noon. Why is this restaurant so damn famous, for many generations? (The restaurant is very very old)
One word: DELICIOUS
For your information, they serve only one dish, and that’s pork intestines with noodles. They have perfected the recipe, and the recipe has been passed down for two generations (or three?)
The routine is a bit different when you go to this restaurant.
“How many people?”
“Which part do you want?”
“……[insert pork intestine name]”
Tips: or you can say “cham-cham”, which means MIX everything and all hell breaks lose
Oh, did you know why it takes me 3 weeks to finally eat this dish?
Answer: They already sold out by the time I wake up at 10am ^^;
15. Pan Fried Dumplings 鍋貼
OH. MY. GOD.
“This is only a pan-fried dumpling” anonymous says.
“NO, this is GUO TIE, the ultimate bestest-best-best-best food you can find at KK” I reply arrogantly.
“Have you ever try eating a dumpling that meat juice burst out every time you bite?” I added. “You will repeat the first sentence…”
This is the end of the list… hungry yet?
P/S – I’ve prepared the location for you
Pinpointing the exact locations of the food listed in this post. Steal it, and share
Applauds for the food stalls/restaurants for making a difference in KK food scene. Quietly, they have put in much effort and maintain quality standard to ensure KK foods gets mention locally and internationally. And of course, I encourage everyone to try the good food listed here.