Kyspeaks.com

Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / East Coast Malaysia

Seafood in Sabah is like char kuih teow in Penang or Tomyam in Bangkok, if you find yourself in Kota Kinabalu, it is pretty much compulsory to get yourself to one of the many seafood restaurants and have a meal.

Salut Seafood, located within a prawn farm
Salut Seafood, located within a prawn farm

On our Mt. Kinabalu trip (more on that soon), we met up with one of my old friends Ben for dinner. On our previous trip we went to New Gaya, so this time around Ben suggested that we head to Salut Seafood, the restaurant located within a prawn farm.

It took us quite a while to get there due to the (un)expectedly rush hour traffic, but alas, we got there in time before sunset. The restaurant is located by the sea and accessible via cars, but if you’re on a tour bus, you’ll be out of luck. This place is built for the locals.

live seafood to choose from, including quite a variety of shellfish
live seafood to choose from, including quite a variety of shellfish

Like most seafood restaurants worth its salt in South East Asia, there’s a good selection of live seafood to choose from. Crabs, prawns, fish, and quite a few types of shellfish can be chose from the live tank to be cooked in the method of the customer’s liking. There’s also a big price list plastered on the wall to remove too many surprises.

haven't had this type of shellfish since Vietnam
haven’t had this type of shellfish since Vietnam

For the three of us, we ordered some live prawns, crabs, shell fish, and sabah vegetable to go with rice.

The prawns and shellfish were steamed, the simplest possible cooking method, this was to preserve the natural sweetness of the seafood. The quality were apparent as the prawn were quite a lot more difficult to peel than the usual “already dead for a couple days” variety.

butter crab, fresh prawns, and "sabah vegetable"
butter crab, fresh prawns, and “sabah vegetable”

This was also the first time I had the same snail since New Gaya & Hong Hai in Ho Chi Minh City, tasted a bit like a cross between lala & balitong, if you enjoy those, you will enjoy this.

The crab, while properly seasoned and prepared, was not as firm and “full” as I had hoped for, though it was nonetheless an acceptable dish.

great first meal at KK and to catch up with old friend
great first meal at KK and to catch up with old friend

Then there’s the unique “Sabah vegetable” that you can’t get in Peninsular Malaysia, with its slightly crunchy stem and soft leaves, I always make it a point to order this whenever I’m at KK.

Dinner came to about RM 50+ per person, right around the average for a good seafood meal at KK. We could have kept it a bit cheaper if not for the over ordering, but diet goes to hell when you’re traveling, right?

Thanks Ben!

map to salut seafood, kota kinabalu

Address:
Salut Seafood
Jalan Sulaman, Kampung Salut,
89200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 6.103970, 116.160311
Tel: 019-881 8515
Hours: 11:30 am to 9:30 pm

Following the previous post about diving at Tioman, I thought I’d share what are some of the choices of food available at Salang Bay (since food is mostly an ala carte affair here)

There are probably a dozen or so food and drinks outlets along Salang Bay, two duty free shop (one only sells alcohol to-go), and a partially stocked convenient store. In another word, everything essential is available.

Salang Indah Restaurant, tomyam, traditional Malay food, and more
Salang Indah Restaurant, tomyam, traditional Malay food, and more

One of the biggest restaurants here is Salang Indah Restaurant (yah these guys aren’t very creative with naming business establishments), located just a 100 meter north of jetty. They are one of the very few that open for business throughout the day. There’s plenty of tables and you get seated right next to the beach, sea breeze and holiday mood, very nice.

Here you can find Thai food, sandwiches, toast, pancakes, porridge, and even roti canai. The tomyam, kailan ikan masin, and omelet we had was pretty decent. At 6-8 ringgit per dish it wasn’t expensive either.

However, don’t ever eat here if you’re in a hurry. Service is super slow and ultra terrible. We asked a server to expedite our order on second visit as we had to dive within 25 minutes, she acknowledged and then sat down on and started playing with her phone, we ended up canceling the order 25 minutes later as they haven’t started cooking yet. No apologies given either.

Salang Beach Restaurant - Chinese food (pork free though)
Salang Beach Restaurant – Chinese food (pork free though)

The lone Chinese restaurant at Salang Bay is another super creatively named place called Salang Beach Restaurant. This place is perhaps a 8-10 minute walk north of the jetty.

We had clay pot mutton (RM 16), bean curd (Rm 13), and cabbage soup (RM 8) to go with some steamed rice. The mutton was tender and rather tasty, but the other two dishes were quite bland. We had to ask for soya sauce and chili. They weren’t bad, just .. tasteless.

Oh yeah, service is very slow here too, I guess it’s just the laid back island life.

Though this is a Chinese restaurant, they are pork free. In fact, the whole Salang Bay is pork free.

food court, on the left once you get off the jetty at Salang Bay
food court, on the left once you get off the jetty at Salang Bay

Just to the right of the jetty is a food court that usually has at least a couple shops open for business. We caught the national double’s pair playing on TV while enjoying some fried rice from the last stall to the right.

It was a meal that was forgettable, but the operators were very friendly, and we spent another half an hour chatting with them and a local dive master. It turned out to be a decent experience.

Haze & KY
Haze & KY at Salang Beach, Tioman 2012

These are just the place we ate, I was told that you get very good ikan bakar to the left of jetty at night, and there were many drinking place serving cold beer at RM 5 a can and other alcoholic drinks at RM 10-12 per glass.

Even though food wasn’t exactly anywhere near good, they were edible and priced pretty decent for a holiday destination. I wanna go back to Tioman!

Hai Peng kopitiam is no stranger to the beach goers and divers alike who frequent the beautiful islands at the East Coast of Malaysia – Redang, Tenggol, Lang Tengah, and Perhentian alike.

The kopitiam is strategically located at Cukai, at the Southern tip of Terengganu; which means it is about the end of trunk roads before heading to Karak Highway. The perfect place for a rest stop after a nice weekend dive trip before continuing the journey back to Klang Valley.

Hai Peng Kopitiam at Kemaman
Hai Peng Kopitiam at Kemaman

On my recent dive trip to Lang Tengah island, that was precisely what we did.

The kopitiam was established 3 generations ago (1940), and the old owner can still be seen hanging around while the younger generations run things.

Hai Peng serves quite a good variety of different foods, and they are the truly 1Malaysia restaurant before 1Malaysia was hip. You can find nasi lemak, nasi dagang, toast, meehun goreng, tapai, half boiled eggs, and a host of other things suitable for any race or religion to consume.

curry puff, tapai, prawn crackers, toast with banana and peanut butter
curry puff, tapai, prawn crackers, toast with banana and peanut butter

To start, we had some of their curry puff, prawn crackers (very light and flavorful), and tapai. The tapai comes wrapped in some leaves and were really good, I wished there were some cendol to with.

Their packet nasi lemak came soon after and we grabbed a few packets too, it was oily, spicy, and an absolute must try to those who love things wholesome and not in a diet.

half boiled egg, nasi lemak, special curry toast, garlic bread
half boiled egg, nasi lemak, special curry toast, garlic bread

The half boiled egg at Hai Peng is a little tricky, they serve the eggs in a jar of boiling water, and it’s up to you to know when the eggs are ready. As a rule of thumb, 5 mins is about half boiled, and 7-8 mins 3/4 boiled, and so forth. The one in the photo was about 7 minutes.

Horng ordered this curious toast that had banana and peanut butter in them. While the description might be a bit gross, it actually tasted very good and the dude ended up ordering a second portion.

For those who love things spicy, the special curry toast is a must order. The set comes with a sunny side top, a big piece of toast, and curry chicken with potato that is very, very spicy. Not for the faint hearted.

special coffee breeze, pina colada, kopi ice
special coffee breeze, pina colada, kopi ice

Then of course, there’s the coffees. I love their iced coffee (tho not enjoying the plastic cup), and probably should have ordered the hot coffee instead.

The special coffee breeze was sort of a local version of those Starbucks ice blended on steroid, a bit too much flavor going on I thought. The pina colada, on the other hand, was a disappointment, overly sweet and of course, no alcohol.

map to Hai Peng Kopitiam

Food at Hai Peng had more hits than misses, and definitely a decent stopover place on return trips. They are opening up branches here in KL soon, but it remains to be seen if the quality suffers.

Address:
Hai Peng Kopitiam
K-3753, Jalan Sulaimani,Chukai,Kemaman
Terengganu, 24000, Malaysia
GPS: 4.2351, 103.4225
Tel: 09-859 7810

Stuffed crab is one of those dishes that is so good you wonder why they only have it in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. My best guess is that we don’t have enough very kind and toothless aunties here in KL to separate crab meat from the seafood, that or there was an agreement for that during the formation of Malaya to protect the eastern states’ interests..

After all, aren’t our government known for setting up special agreements and policies to protect interests of certain groups all the time?

Tong Juan restaurant, Kemaman
restaurant Tong Juan at Chukai, Kemaman

The first time I had stuffed crab was only earlier this year at a pretty busy Pak Su seafood restaurant near Kuantan. The experience was rather good and I have been thinking of a repeat for this dish since.

So when the opportunity to have it again arises while on the way back from our previous trip to Redang last weekend, we naturally took it. This time we went to Tong Juan at Kemaman, located at the ideal spot that is just about half way point between KL and Kuala Terengganu.

stuffed crab, this is what we're here for
stuffed crab, this is what we’re here for

14 of us went in and Terence did the ordering, and for the first (and probably the last) time, the dude did not over order.

We had stuffed crab for everyone, grilled tiger prawns, spicy squid, vegetable, fish ball soup, and fried rice. This was for lunch on a Sunday (a working day in Kemaman, feed your parking machine)

grilled prawns, spicy squid
grilled prawns, spicy squid

While those super health conscious might complain that the stuffed crab at Tong Juan is a little too oily, I had no problem with it.  The crabs were good! With plenty of crab meat plus finely chopped onion and who knows what else in it. This is definitely a must-order.

The huge grilled tiger prawns were another awesome dish. They were easily the size of my palm and grilled with a bit of stuffed garlic at the back, a nice variation, delicious.

stuffed crab, fish ball soup, vegetable, fried rice
stuffed crab, fish ball soup, vegetable, fried rice

Fried rice was pretty good as well, but I didn’t think the fish ball worth a repeat, they were pretty life less and uninspiring, if not a tad too salty too. Vegetable’s just to satisfy vitamin C quota and for color matching, nothing to report.

The bill came to about RM 27 or 28 per person including drinks, while not cheap, I think it is still reasonable and definitely worth going there again on my next east-coast trip.

location map to Tong Juan restaurant, Kemaman

Address:
Tong Juan restaurant
K-117 Jalan Sulaiman,
24000 Kemaman, Terengganu
GPS: 4.231314, 103.428383
Tel: 09-859 1346‎

This is the last food post from the Redang trip last month. After stopping by for keropok lekor, our last item on schedule before heading back to KL was naturally, lunch.

Ed again served as the guide and this time he brought us to Restaurant Golden Dragon in Chinatown

restaurant golden dragon at kuala terengganu
a very straight to the point “non halal” sign

I knew that it had to be at least a pretty decent place soon as we arrived. The restaurant was absolutely packed even on a Monday, and we had to wait for a table. There was a big group of middle aged ladies with “I love Redang” t-shirts, which doesn’t bear any significance to anything but I just felt like mentioning.

brinjal, long bean, salted fish, roast pork and bbq pork
long beans, eggplant, salted fish, roast pork and BBQ pork

Ed ordered a large portion of roast pork and BBQ pork, and I made orders of several other pre-prepared dishes to go with steamed rice. We had long beans, eggplant, omelet, bitter gourd, and some soup too.

Though the BBQ pork (char siu) was ordinary, the roast pork (siu yoke) was actually rather good. We actually ordered a second serving of roast pork to make up for going 3 days porkless on the island.

bitter gourd, omelet, soup, rice
bitter gourd, omelet, soup, rice

While the other dishes were commendable, my favorite had to go to the salted fish fillets. The aroma and taste was just so “right” I used it to replace soya sauce. Omelet  with salted fish, roast pork with salted fish, bitter gourd with salted fish, egg plant with salted fish, they were all awesome!

the group from Redang trip
Terence, Kim, FA, Ed, Horng, KY & Joe, Kerol & Haze

Including drinks, we only had to pay RM 8 per person for the meal. It was really cheap considering the amount of items we ordered. I’ve read that they serve pretty good “tai chau” during dinner time too.

map of Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Address:
198 Jalan Kampung Cina
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu

GPS: 5.333684, 103.132921
Tel: 09-622 3034