Restaurants and Food
in Kota Kinabalu
Malaysia Food 3

Anchovies at Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

"Malaysia food 3 KK" was last updated on April 19, 2012 
Prices listed below are subject to change

So, what's so special about the food in Sabah and KK?

KK is strategically located by the ocean and has access to numerous fish and seafood!

And before I forget, it has of course also access to Sabah's natural resources like various herbs, wild plants, and fruits (durian is king!) that you can only find in the deep jungle of Sabah.

Must-have flavors are ginger, turmeric, dried shrimp paste (yum!), tiny dried fish (if not anchovy) and so much more. Mushrooms (known as Shiitake for the Japanese) are grown in Sabah, and are a common ingredient in their cuisine.

Hinava is a famous dish in Sabah which is basically a raw fish salad.


Another favorite is Jaruk (belonging to the hill people of Muruts) - uncooked wild boar tucked into a bamboo tube with cooked rice and salt. If you're wondering who the Muruts are, they're an indigenous ethnic group living in southwest of Sabah ;-)

Since the Muslims made their way to Borneo, they've left a print in Sabah's cuisine.

Their cuisine is similar to Malayan cuisine, but they use more chili and food is often wrapped in banana leaf.

Oregano Café in KK

Oregano cafe in Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia food 3: Oregano cafe at night

Nasi Kampong Goreng at Oregano Cafe in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Oregano Café has nice price meals - most meals cost between RM 7-12 and the portions are large! And if there's one thing you have to try, it has to be their crabs - they're to die for (RM 50)!

Their Nasi Goreng Kampong Special (RM 12.90) was so good. It's an explosion of different tastes like fried rice with anchovy, egg and Satay. Satay is a very popular dish in Malaysia - it's barbecued meat in a spicy, peanut sauce.

I came back to Oregano four times, so I could have the Nasi Goreng Kampong for lunch and dinner.

Another dish I tried was the Malay dish, Curry Laksa soup filled with noodles bathing in coconut. It smelled so good and looked good - but when I had a sip of the soup, it tasted like soap. I think my taste buds had gone crazy this day because when my boyfriend tasted it, he was like:

"Soap?! What are you talking about Amanda? It doesn't taste like soap!"

Laksa curry at Oregano cafe in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Malaysia food 3: Curry laksa at Oregano cafe in KK

Lemon chicken at Oregano cafe in KK

My dearest had lemon and mango chicken with rice (each cost RM 7) and he thought it was really good.

But have you eaten too much of a same dish that you just couldn't stand the taste anymore…?

Well, yeah, that happened to him and the lemon chicken...

After 10 minutes, he was like: "Aaahh, it's too sweet!" (this dish had a lot of sugar in it - like lemonade)

We had nothing to complain about when it came to Oregano's service.

The waiters were just sweet and friendly!

One of them commented that my boyfriend looked like David Beckham...!

He didn't know if he could take it as a compliment (because he doesn't like Beckham), but he just smiled. It was a hilarious situation…! Haha!

And on top of that, you get to enjoy your meals right at the harbor, next to an excellent sea view. And at night, the whole harbor lights up and create a cozy atmosphere.

Where: By the waterfront

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Restaurant Thien Thien

BBQ lamb dish at Thien Thien restaurant in Kota Kinabalu

I just loved their food and its mouth running Chinese food! (But they also serve Malay food)

We were there one evening and it was packed with local families. My boyfriend was the only "white" guy at the restaurant, but no one seemed to bother.

We dug our mouths into deep fried lamb in dark sauce (RM 11) with some plain rice (1.20) and it was absolutely delicious. It was fatty, but still good.

I tried not to eat fast, so I could make the food experience last (forever). When I'm writing now, I can still feel the taste in my mouth. All I can say is that I'm definitely going back! We washed it down with cold coke (RM 2) - a blessing in KK's high humidity.

Where: It's in the same block as Summer Lodge, but on the other side of the building

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Shamrock in Kota Kinabalu

Playing pool at Shamrock in Kota Kinabalu
My boyfriend at Shamrock in Kota Kinabalu

Spending your evening at Shamrock is like spending an evening at a Western pub. Here are some prices for alcohol at Shamrock:

Tiger pint: RM 23,50

Heineken pint: RM 25,50

Tiger jug: RM 58

Corona: RM 22

Becks: RM 12,50

A bottle of red, white or rose wine costs RM 90.

Most cocktails cost RM 22.

The prices for alcohol are a bit cheaper during Happy Hours (12 pm - 8 pm). And as with the rest of Malaysia, their service charge is 10%.

If you're dying for some Western food, grab a fab chicken sandwich (RM 25), chicken nuggets (RM 15), toast (RM 15) etc. I tried the mini samosas with chili and ketchup (RM 15) and they were alright. Don't buy water here - it's so damn expensive! A small bottle of water cost RM 8 with tax!

My boyfriend was itching for some entertainment after the heavy walking around KK for two hours. Shamrock had a pool, but it was so unstable that I beat my boyfriend by accident :-P

Where: Right by the waterfront, close to Api Api Center

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Rainforest Café
in Kota Kinabalu

Oxtail soup at Rainforest in Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia food 3: Delicious oxtail soup in KK

We were immediately drawn to Rainforest Café because of its unique rainforest interior. It was a cozy café and the staff was friendly.

So, how about their food?

The food was very good, but not excellent.

I enjoyed their Nasi Kampor (RM 11) with some strong calamansi tea (RM 3,50). I also liked their mushroom soup with a piece of garlic bread (RM 7). It even had fresh garlic boats on it. The soup was creamy and the taste exploded in my mouth. And their curry dish was actually swell - but the rice that came with it was dry.

My boyfriend tried the oxtail soup. I had a taste of it, and it was probably the best dish at Rainforest. It tasted like the oxtail soup we have in the Philippines - the stock was fatty, but tasteful. And the ox was so tender.

Delicious curry dish at Rainforest cafe in Kota Kinabalu
Mushroom soup at Rainforest cafe in KK

Malaysia food 3: Curry dish and mushroom soup

Here are the other dishes we tried:

Nasi goreng: RM 5,80

Mee hoon goreng with egg: RM 5,80

Chicken curry: RM 9

For dessert, try a fresh fruit platter: RM 5

Juice (watermelon, orange, mango): RM 6,50

Where: Near Summer Lodge, on Jalan Pantai

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Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Craving for some good coffee?

I was missing a cup of good old cappuccino (RM 7.80) and went to this place. And my boyfriend could finally sit down and sip on an espresso (RM 6.50)

Where: Right by the harbor, near Oregano Cafe

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BB Café in Kota Kinabalu

BB cafe in Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia food 3: BB Cafe

BB Café is located right outside Summer Lodge and offers karaoke in the evenings.

There were mostly tourists, few backpackers and locals hanging out here. It was cozy to sit and watch the entertainment, but I didn't appreciate the cockroaches running across their floor. It is Asia though - cockroaches are inevitable.

Most drinks cost between RM 12-15. Like, my margarita cost RM 13, while my boyfriend sipped on a Guinness Malta (RM 4,50). Coke, juice and bottle of water cost RM 3,50 each. I started smoking again this day and bough a packet of Camel (RM 12,50).

I don't have anything special to say about their food. I only tried their beef set (RM 20), and it was OK. It contained beef which was good, miso soup (which was too salty), fried rice and some sushi. It was a really awkward combination -but what a heck, I finished it! ;-)

Where: Just outside Summer Lodge

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The Place at Api Api Center

Food at Api Api center in KK

I could clearly hear that this restaurant was run by Filipinos. On their menu, they had mostly Filipino dishes, but also a few Malay meals.

We tried the Sweet and sour Chicken (Malaysian Style - RM 10) and the Nasi Lemak (RM 8).

Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia, and I was so excited when I saw it on the menu! Nasi Lemak basically means "rice in cream." The rice is soaked in coconut cream with a hint of ginger (which is a common ingredient in Malay cuisine).

The Nasi Lemak I was served had anchovies (which is the only thing I ate on the plate), and the rice wasnot soaked in coconut cream.

I would rather eat my Nasis somewhere else. My food was not fresh. The meat was dry and it smelled weird (as in old), and the rice was dry. It was the first time I couldn't eat it all up! I had to return the plate almost full. I could hear them say on Tagalog (Filipino language):

"Why didn't she eat it?!"

She was clearly referring to me.

All I can say is that I was disappointed. No wonder we were the only people eating there!

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Filipino Market
in Kota Kinabalu

At the Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia food 3: Filipino Market in KK

Fish at the Filipino market in KK

As far as I know and saw, the colorful Filipino Market was divided into 
two food parts.

One part is covered with fresh vegetables and fruit which are nicely organized, large piles of anchovy (which is frequently used in Nasi dishes), fresh fish, fresh meat - it's all there!

You should have seen the size of these fish - the largest we saw was a tuna I think, and it was almost one meter.

A bizarre part was locals decapitating the fish. The fish were still wriggling their tails after losing their heads, and the blood kept floating on their cutting boards.

Sometimes I wonder why I haven't gone veggy… But who doesn't love seafood - it's full of vitamins and taste damn good!

Watch my video clip from Filipino fish market:

Then you have the second part where you can actually try the amazing street food. Wherever you turn, you'll smell BBQ! The smoke will penetrate your nostrils and make you crave!

Grilled fish at Filipino market in KK

They have Halal chicken on stick (RM 1), BBQ chicken (RM 1-2), nasi dishes, noodle dishes (RM 3), BBQ chicken wings (RM 1), grilled seafood etc.

If you want to try Malay dishes, they've laid out the dishes as a buffet. You can just pick what you want, pay and eat! ;-)

Among other things, I tried:

BBQ seafood on stick (squid, prawns): RM 7 (large), RM 5 (small)

Fruit juice: RM 3 (try the fresh coconut juice!)

Coconut pudding: RM 2,50

The Filipino Market was all in all worth a visit! It's one of the things that you must experience! ;-)

Food stalls at the Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia food 3: Food stalls in Kota Kinabalu

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Supermarkets in KK

Mee Hon Goreng dish in Kota Kinabalu

Go to a supermarket to save money on food, drinks and alcohol!

We went to a supermarket to grab some supplies, and it was a good place to stock water, beer and cookies! YEAH!

Here are some prices:

Big bottle of water: From 1.20 (price depends on brand)

Bottle of Heineken beer: RM 6-7

Pringles: RM 4.95

Potato chips: RM 4.90

Cigarettes - ex. Marlboro Light (20s) - RM 9

Where: There's a supermarket right across Rainforest Cafe near Summer Lodge. And then you have the popular Tong Hing Supermarket (on Jalan Gaya).

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