Vacation is a time when you want to relax and unwind. One of the best ways to do this is to enjoy a delicious meal. A holiday cannot be considered complete without gastronomic exploration of the places you visit.
Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah in Malaysia, is a hidden gem in this sense. Everyone who has tasted the food in Kota Kinabalu immediately falls in love with it. To make your choice a little easier, we've done the research and listed some of the best dishes and places to eat in Kota Kinabalu.
Best Food in Kota Kinabalu
1. Mee Tuaran
As the name suggests, this dish comes from Tuaran, but it also has roots in Chinese culture. Mi Tuaran is a noodle dish where noodles are fried and mixed with egg yolk or beaten eggs, but the dish is nothing like regular egg noodles.
This dish has become quite popular among the locals of Kota Kinabalu. But if you really fall in love with this dish, you can try it locally in Tuaran.
Where to find: Seng Hing coffee shop, Lok Kyun restaurant (open from 7:00 to 16:00).
Prices: RM 5=1.5 USD, RM 6=1.8 USD.
2. Sang Nyuk Mian
This is another noodle dish. It originated in Tawau in 1979, and the name literally means "raw pork noodles," but the meat is not actually raw. The fresh pork dish is considered a specialty of the state of Sabah in Malaysia.
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If you want to enjoy Chinese style, you will be served noodles in a separate bowl mixed with pork fat and soy sauce, and pork broth with pork chunks in another bowl. Looking for a healthy meal in Kota Kinabalu? Then this dish is for you!
Where to find: Kedai Kopi Jia Siang (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Price: about 7.5 RM=2.15 USD
3. Roti Cobra
Roti, a type of bread quite common in Southeast Asia, is usually eaten together with lentil soup, curry, or sauce. This delicious dish combines all these elements into one. The base or bottom layer consists of roti, which is then covered with lentil soup, refried beans and vegetables, and pork or chicken, and topped with eggs.
Most places also offer chicken with curry, which makes this dish even more delicious. It is a very healthy dish that is usually available at very low prices.
Where to find: Kedai Makan Islamic Restoran
Price: 6.5 RM=1.55 USD
4. Yee Fung Laksa
Laksa is a spicy soup served with tender chicken, chicken broth, noodles, and beans. In some places, this dish is cooked in coconut curry, which adds sweetness to its spicy flavor. Its origins can be traced back to the early Peranakan Chinese tribe.
This unsweetened food in Kota Kinabalu is popular with locals and tourists, and you may have to wait outside the restaurant to get a table - this dish is in high demand.
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Where to find: Yee Fung Coffee Shop (open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
Price: RM 8=USD 1.93 - RM 8.5=USD 2.05.
5. Pan Mee
Pan Mi is a local form of hakka noodles that is quite famous in the Sabah state of Malaysia. The dish is made from wheat noodles. The soup for this dish is made from anchovy broth, pieces of shredded pork, and vegetables. The dish has become a popular street food in Kota Kinabalu. An alternative version of the dish, known as Chili Pan Mee, is also quite famous.
Where to find: Wing Xan Pan Mee (7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
Price: RM 7=1.69 USD to RM 12=2.9 USD.
6. Bak Kut Teh
The literal translation of the name means "pork tea. A pork dish cooked in a broth with Chinese herbs. This dish is quite popular in Malaysia and Singapore. Some restaurants also have chicken as an alternative to pork, and some even offer seafood dishes.
Popular restaurants in Kota Kinabalu are so busy in the evening hours that you might not even get a seat. Two of the best restaurants serving this dish are on the same street, and there is also an open-air restaurant.
Where to find: Man Li Hong (17:00 - 23:00) and Pin Xiang (11:00 - 15:00)
Price : RM 3=0.73 USD to 20 RM=4.84 USD.
7. Ngau Chap.
The name means "mixed beef." The noodles are served with a thick beef broth and a variety of beef meat. The dish is quite popular in Kota Kinabalu and can be found in a number of good restaurants.
Where to Find: There are several places you can consider, such as Kedai Kopi Loi Hin, Kedai Cheng Wah, Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap and Mee Sup Pipin.
Price: 7 yuan=1.69 USD, 9.5 USD=2.29 USD.
8. Melvic BBQ chicken wing
Where to find: Ang's Hotel
Price: RM 3=0.73 USD to RM 7=1.69 USD.
9. Beef Satay
This is a popular street food in Kota Kinabalu. The beef kebab is smoked over charcoal and coated in a spicy nut sauce. This deliciously tasty dish is definitely worth a try. You can also enjoy chicken, lamb, rabbit or even pork in most places.
Where to find: Kedai Kopi Yuit Chang and Brunei Satay House
Price: RM 0.7=0.17 USD to RM 6=1.45 USD.
10. Roti Kahwin
Literally translated as "marriage bread," this dish can be the perfect dessert for your herbal tea. The layers of bread contain butter, sugar, jam, and sometimes even an egg or coconut milk.
Where to find: Kedai Kopi Gunung Emas (8:00 - 18:00) and Fook Yuen (6:30 - 1:00)
Price: 1.30 RM=0.30 USD.
11. Ais Kacang
It is a crushed ice dessert that is a specialty of Malaysia and Singapore. It is made by mixing ice with beans, jelly, and sweet syrup, and topped with condensed milk. The excessively hot conditions in Malaysia make this food in Kota Kinabalu the perfect meal to cool down.
Where to find: Tun Fuad Stephens Park parking lot
The price is about RM 5=1.20 USD.
12. Coconut pudding
This sweet dish of chilled coconut jelly is served in a coconut shell. It is the perfect dessert after a nice spicy dinner in Kota Kinabalu. You can also easily find this dish at roadside stalls in Kota Kinabalu, and each establishment has something special and different about the dessert.
Where to find: Kedai Kopi (8:00 - 23:00) and Gerai Lokan Panggang, Kelapa Bakar
Price: about RM 4=1.2 USD.
Best places to eat in Kota Kinabalu
Borenos Fried Chicken
If you want to enjoy the local version of KFC, this is the place for you. The very first Sabahan fast food chain prides itself on the freshness and quality of its food. If you are in Kota Kinabalu, you should definitely try something from them.
Where to find: L9-B1, basement, Jalan Centre Point
Office hours: 247.
2. Sri Latha Curry House
Want a South Indian lunch in Kota Kinabalu? Sri Latha Curry House will act as the perfect place for delicious and spicy Indian food in Kota Kinabalu. Their sheet set serving rice, lentil soup with an assortment of banana leaf chutney is quite popular. This place is in high demand among the locals, and no tourist has returned from there hungry.
Pro tip: Combine your set of leaves with chicken or lamb curry to enjoy this vegetable delicacy.
Address: G/F, No. 28, Jalan Berjaya, Bandat Berjaya
Opening time: 6:45-17:00.
3. Welcome Seafood
This seafood restaurant has a bunch of fans in Kota Kinabalu. This place offers the best seafood in town and is very famous among the locals. They have many options at low prices. They let you choose your food from the tanks and baskets of freshly caught fish.
Address: Welcome Seafood Restaurant 652, Jalan Penampang Lama, Fu Guan Industrial Center.
Opening hours: 12:00-00:00.
4. Yen Ai
This store is an authentic Chinese tea store and is filled with families most of the time. They have been serving amazing herbal teas and desserts since 1988. Their sea coconut is a popular drink among locals. Desserts such as coconut pudding and jelly are also quite delicious. This is the perfect place for a nice dinner in Kota Kinabalu.
Address: Lorong Lintas, 21, Lintas Plaza.
Time: 11:00 - 23:00
Keep in mind that although the food in Kota Kinabalu is delicious, eating too much of it can make you feel sick because it contains a lot of fats and spices. We wish you a happy experience of their culinary culture in the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu!