by Amber L. Lanjuat & Azeera Az.
Other than its amazing nature and wildlife, Sabah is also one of the best places to be adventurous with your taste palate. From our many delicious noodle soups to our unique local cuisines, every dish has its own flavour and character that will surely make you crave for more. We’ve listed down some of the must-have delicacies to prove that you have truly visited Sabah.
#Bahmarilah tick off your food checklist!
✓ Traditional food
If you’ve never tried our traditional food before, then you’re not as adventurous as you thought you were. There are a variety of must-try traditional dishes guaranteed to excite your taste buds. We’ll deem you as a champion if you’ve tried these local dishes before:
- Kadazandusun – Hinava, Tuhau, Pinasakan, and Ambuyat
- Bajau – Latok, Kima, Nasi Tehe-tehe, Sianglag, Piutu, Kiulu
We’ll also award you with a (virtual) medal if you’ve tried the stinky and yummy bosou. As for the risk takers, have you tried the famous Sago worm or locally known as Butod? You can either eat it alive or fried to a yummy crisp.
💪 Do you have what it takes to withstand a historical and cultural fusion of salt-lime-chilli flavours of Sabah?
Kadazandusun traditional food
Bajau traditional food
The advantage of being close to the sea is that we get our seafood fresh from the sea – sometimes delivered by our local fishermen on the day of the catch itself! Some of the unforgettable must-try dishes: butter prawns (wet or dry), salted egg crab and a classic seafood steamboat will make you come back for more. A typical favourite Sabahan meal is the steamed or fried fish eaten with fresh chili padi and a lime dipping sauce… simple but SADAP. If you have a big appetite and are ready to get your hands dirty, you definitely should not miss out on the seafood fiesta to see if you have the appetite of a sea monster.
- Kampung Nelayan
- Welcome Seafood
- Restoran Masakan Sedap Seafood
- Restaurant Seafood 1088, Sandakan
- Sandakan Fishing Association
- Pearl City Restaurant, Semporna
- Ocean Treasure Live Seafood Restaurant, Semporna
- Kam Ling Fresh Seafood, Tawau
- Sri Titingan Seafood, Tawau
✓ Ngiu Chap (or Ngau Chap)
In Sabah, there’s nothing more nostalgic than eating a bowl of flavourful beef broth noodle soup with the family, especially during the weekends. It’s a very straightforward dish that is a favourite to any soup lovers. The best part? You can add on your favourite parts of the beef such as beef balls, beef slices, tendon, intestines, and more.
Tip: It’s also the best cure for a hangover.
- Nur Sakira Cafe (Halal)
- Penampang Ngiu Chap
- Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap
- Kedai Kopi Loi Hin
- Menggatal Nyuk Pau Baru
- Sandakan Kah Hiong
✓ Fish Noodles
Craving for a hot bowl of fish noodles? If you’re in Sabah, then you’re in luck. There are so many places that offer you a delicious bowl of your favourite fish head soup cooked in either hot and sour, Tom Yum, or tomato soup.
- Sabah Original Recipe (Famous for Tom Yum Soup and Vietnamese Chicken Rice)
- Fatt Kee Seafood Restaurant
- Kedai Kopi Wan Wan
- Kedai Kopi Sin Houng Kee
- Kantin Bakut (Famous for Seafood Tom Yum Mee hoon)
– KM28.7, Jalan Tuaran, Kampung Bakut, 89208 Tuaran, Sabah
- Leong Kee Fish Ball, Sandakan (Famous for their fresh fish balls)
– Bandar Prima Square (Behind D’Northstar Hotel)
- Kedai Makan Kong Teck, Sandakan
– Jalan Pak Tak, Mile 7, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah Tel: 016-826-4977
- Jong Fa Pai Kopitiam, Tawau
✓ Dim Sum
Bite-sized, flavourful and affordable; Dim Sum is one of the most famous Chinese dishes in the world. Dim Sum dishes are usually taken as a breakfast meal but you can easily find many restaurants serving a wide variety of dim sum dishes at any time of the day. Pair it with a hot cup of tea, and you’re good to go!
- Alu-alu Kitchen (Serves no Pork)
- Shang Palace, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort (Serves no Pork)
- Horizon Hotel (Halal Dim Sum)
- Jom Dim Sum (Sabah)
- Pasar Kim Fung Dumpling stall
- Hotel Sandakan
- Tawau Fajar Club
✓ Curry Laksa Mee
If you’re looking for a taste of hot, sweet and spicy, Curry Laksa Mee might be just the right dish for you. A bowl of curry laksa mee is served with egg noodles, tofu puffs, shredded chicken, and fresh shrimp, oh my! Its rich broth is made of curry and coconut milk, making sure that every spoonful is addictive. You can have this dish either during breakfast or lunch.
- Yee Fung Laksa (Serves No Pork)
- Seng Hing Restaurant
- Soto and Laksa House, Sandakan
- Kim Fung Market Laksa Stall
– 4, Batu, 92, Jalan Pasaraya, Bandar Pasaraya, 90000 Sandakan
- Kedai Kopi Kim Hing Lee, Sinsuran Complex
✓ Sang Nyuk Mian
An iconic food in Sabah, this pork noodle is locally known as San Nyuk Mian. You can choose between Mee (thick noodles) or Mee Hoon (thin noodles) or Kuey Teow (flat noodles) mixed in the soup; or Kon Lau Mien (dry noodles with soup on the side) according to your preference. You can even request for extra pork lard for that extra kick.
- Kedai Kopi Melanian 3
- Kedai Kopi Jia Siang
- Sinsuran Sang Nyuk Mee
- Kedai Kopi Hing Lee, Tawau
- Moon ‘N’ Star, Sandakan
✓ Sinalau Bakas [non-halal]
One of the traditional foods of the Kadazandusun People is the Sinalau Bakas, which directly translates to Smoked Wild Boar. While you are travelling around Sabah, you will find several stalls by the roadside with signs of ‘sinalau bakas’, making it not only a must-try but a dish that is quite easy to find.
- VOGS Sinalau Bakas
- Restoran Sinalau Bakas, Kundasang
- Sixteen Cafe, Tamparuli
✓ Bak Kut Teh [non-halal]
In Hokien dialect, Bak Kut Teh means “pork bone tea”. It is famous for its flavourful and complex broth, where cuts of meaty pork ribs are simmered with various herbs and spices. Is there any tea in this dish? Well, surprisingly no. The tea mentioned in its name refers to Oolong Chinese tea that is usually served alongside the soup in the olden days. Bak Kut Teh was originally a breakfast meal but since becoming a popular dish among tourists, you can easily find restaurants serving this dish for dinner.
- Yu Kee Bah Kut Teh
- Kung Fu Bak Kut Teh
- Sin Kee Bah Kut Teh
- Nam Chai Restaurant Bah Kut Teh
– No.1 Block D, Jalan Leila, Bandar Nam Tong, Sandakan
✓ Desserts in Sabah
If you have a sweet tooth or just craving to wash your palate after a good meal, desserts are the way to go and Sabah spoils you with mouth-watering choices that will make you come back for seconds. From unique yummy cakes to irresistible Leong Fun drink, you would not know where to begin!
- The Royal Coconut, Gaya Street & Lintas branch
- Crowd 99, Sandakan
- Urban Cafe, Sandakan (Famous for their fruit-based cakes)
- Kedai Yap Syn Kee, Sandakan (Famous for their homemade Leong Fun Milk)
- Bun Hock Bakery & Confectionary (Sandakan’s famous UFO tarts)
– W.D.T. 429, Jalan Labuk, 90009 Sandakan
- Indo Cafe, Tawau (Mango Sago and Pisang Goreng Cheese)
✓ Boba Tea
First created in Taiwan during the 80’s, Boba teas is now one of the popular dessert drinks in Malaysia. The drink is a combination of sweet cold milk tea with yummy chewy tapioca balls. This craze has led to many of our own local brands to jump on the bandwagon creating every sweet tooth’s favourite drink!
Save and tick your own checklist here!