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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / East Malaysia

A dozen of so years ago when I went to KK for the first time for work, the one dish that left the biggest impression on me was fish noodle. Specifically, this one place which offers additions like fish skin, lips, and such, it was awesome.

Well, I don’t remember where that was, and this post isn’t about that place.

Jong Fa Pai kopitiam at Hilltop, Kota Kinabalu
Jong Fa Pai kopitiam at Hilltop, Kota Kinabalu

This instead, is Jong Fa Pai kopitiam, one of the popular outfit from Tawau that’s opened up several branches in and around Kota Kinabalu, offering mostly fish head & fish noodle since 2008.

We ended up here for our first meal in KK right after touching down at KKIA and picked up our rental car. It was suggested by my friend Ben as an alternative to Fatt Kee, arguably the most popular fish noodle place, also located at Hilltop.

slices of garupa meat in milk & tomato broth
slices of garupa meat in milk & tomato broth

The menu is simple, choose between fish head, fish slice, prawn ball, and have them either boiled or deep fried to go with milk based broth and meehon. We had the basic with slices of garupa at RM 10 per bowl, and it was actually pretty good. May not take B & Best out as my current favorite, but they were definitely pretty delicious. The broth is similar to Woo Pin at Taman Desa, but the quality of seafood is definitely better.

no regular coke or pepsi here but there's EST Cola
no regular coke or pepsi here but there’s EST Cola

In addition to fish noodle dishes, they also carry a few types of side dishes for sharing. We tried the beancurd skin prawn (RM 9) and found it complimenting the noodle dish pretty well. Crunchy & packed with fresh prawn meet in, it was pretty good especially after dipping into the sweet chili sauce.

Now is this place between than Fatt Kee? Well I guess I’ll have to find out the next trip!

jong fa pai kopitiam fish noodle kota kinabalu map

Address:
Jong Fa Pai kopitiam
Lot 11, Ground Floor,
Kolam Centre, Jalan Lintas,
88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.950145, 116.092007
URLwww.jongfapai.com.my

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

Kota Kinabalu, and many parts of East Malaysia for that matter, is famous for its seafood, and there are many restaurants to choose from. For a visitor, this can get pretty tricky as there are always those TSH (tourist slaughtering house) that one should avoid.

So on my trip to KK last year, I got the help from locals to suggest a good seafood meal. When both Joyce and Ben agreed that New Gaya Seafood is the destination fit for purpose, it surely can’t go wrong.

New Gaya Seafood at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
New Gaya Seafood at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Unlike some of the fancier seafood restaurants in the city, New Gaya is relatively plain. There’s no cultural dance or elaborate interior decorations, but there’s plenty of live seafood to choose from, with simple dining area that’s complete with plastic chairs and relatively tired looking tablecloths.

We’re here for the food though, and so long it’s relatively clean, who cares?

Sabah vegetable, ostrich meat, tofu in hotplate
Sabah vegetable, ostrich meat, tofu in hotplate

To start with, we have something green in the form of Sabah vegetable (RM 12). While seafood is the main topic, if you’re in Sabah, you gotta order this. The vegetable has a very distinct sweetness that is absent in those you find in Peninsular, I highly recommend this.

Then there’s ostrich meat (RM 20) and tofu in hot plate (RM 20) to complete our non-seafood trio. All these dishes were very good and go along well with the garlic rice (RM 10 for 5pax) we ordered.

fresh prawns and clams
fresh prawns and clams

Then came the seafood.

We started out with 1 kg of live prawns (RM 48). To enjoy the freshness of these prawns in its most unadulterated form, we have them steamed. It was so succulent and full of seafood sweetness, it really is the best way to enjoy these prawns.

Then we had those thick shelled clams (RM 26/kg) prepared with minimal fuss – garlic and chives. Sweet and juicy.

steamed garoupa, more clams, soft shell crab, mud crab
steamed garoupa, more clams, soft shell crab, mud crab

Our most expensive dish of the night was the 1 kg steamed garoupa with superior soya sauce (RM 90), as with everything else, freshness is key and this fish was alive prior to us ordering. I think that garoupa at this weight is pretty much perfect when it comes to the texture of the meat.

We also had the shellfish (RM 22 per kg) that you eat by twisting out the meat with a pick. This was steamed and went really well with the supplied condiment.

these were not all the dishes we shared at New Gaya
these were not all the dishes we shared at New Gaya

No seafood dinner is complete without crabs, and for this purpose we had 1 kg of deep fried soft shell crab (RM 78) and another kg of mud crab (RM 38) prepared with salted egg yolk. These dishes did not disappoint either, though I probably like the mud crab to be prepared a little less dry or perhaps have them baked or steamed instead.

Joyce, KY, Maha, Raj, Ben, Chew, Michelle, Vicky
Joyce, KY, Maha, Raj, Ben, Choo, Michelle, Vicky

Overall it was a great dinner with very good company to boot, we ended up splitting the bill at just over RM 50 per person. If you happen to go to KK, eat where the locals choose to eat and you won’t be disappointed. New Gaya seafood is definitely one of those destinations.

map to New Gaya Seafood restaurant, KK

Address:
New Gaya Seafood Restaurant
Lot A & B, Wisma Lucky Centre, Jalan Kianson,
88450 Inanam, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.988415, 116.138549
Tel: 088-385 020
Hours: 11:30am – 2pm; 5pm – 10pm

In my previous work assignment at KK, I was fortunate enough to have awesome friends sending me to dinners every night. On one of the nights, Nelson, my biking buddy whom I never biked together with, brought me to one of the more popular Sang Yuk Mian places in town – Jia Xiang Sang Yuk Mian (家香生肉面)

Jia Xiang Sang Yuk Mian at Lintas, Kota Kinabalu
Jia Xiang Sang Yuk Mian at Lintas, Kota Kinabalu

Jia Xiang is located at Lintas, some 10 minutes away from the heart of Kota Kinabalu. The restaurant is opened pretty much the whole day, with a host of rather efficient Philippine workers preparing the various dishes.

For those who aren’t familiar with Sang Yuk Mian, it is basically Sabah’s version of pork noodle. Sang Yuk directly translate to raw pork, as the slices of raw pork are cooked just before serving.

dry version of sang yuk mian, with mixed innards
dry version of sang yuk mian, with mixed innards

Much like pork noodle in other places, there’s dry and soup versions, and both comes with soup that includes pork slices, liver, lard, pork ball, and other types of innards. The dry version also has some minced pork sprinkled on top of the noodle.

The noodle used here (at least at Jia Xiang) is a type that’s quite similar to Japanese soba and thus carry a better texture to it. The dark sauce also gave it a richer flavor.

soup version of sang yuk mian, I love the chilli sauce
soup version of sang yuk mian, I love the chilli sauce

Above all though, what I really enjoyed about sang yuk mian is the chili sauce that comes with the noodle soup, I find it very aromatic and packs a punch. In fact, I wish I can buy some of these chili sauce that’s so common in KK but seemingly unavailable in Klang Valley.

If you’re a fan of pork noodle, give this a try when you’re in KK, there aren’t many other better ways to spend RM 7.

I’d like to thank Nelson for introducing me to this place, he also took me to the pyramid chicken rice place, good times!

map to Jia Xiang sang yuk mian, Kota Kinabalu

Address:
Jia Xiang Sang Yuk Mian
Lorong Lintas Plaza
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.946552, 116.089308

A week or so ago I went to KK for a short working trip. Of the many places my career brought me, KK has always been one of my favorite spots, so I was glad that I had the chance to visit the city again after some 7-8 years since I last stepped foot on it.

I was incredibly blessed to have awesome friends from KK for brought me to lunches and dinners while I was there the entire time. After all, you can’t get any better than having local food guides who knows the city in and out.

Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi, Kota Kinabalu
Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi, Kota Kinabalu

On the second day, Nelson, whom I got to know through some weird circumstances revolving a possible purchase of Aprilia motorcycle suspension (you can meet people from all sorts of settings kan?), came to my office and took me to the best chicken rice stall in KK for for lunch at Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi.

steamed chicken, charsiu, and the unique pyramid shaped rice
steamed chicken, charsiu, and the unique pyramid shaped rice

Since there were only two of us, we ordered the steamed chicken and chasiu (bbq pork) with a side of vegetable to go with some rice.

The chicken rice here is served in a distinctive pyramid shape, which was kinda cute though it doesn’t contribute to the way it tastes, obviously. The steamed chicken though, was smooth and quite delicious, with the chasiu tasting pretty decent as well.

As for the often neglected vitamin C entry, this vegetable dish was rather good. In fact, over my stay at KK I’ve found that the vegetable here tasted so much fresher, crunchier, and juicier than their peninsular counterpart.

For those who complains about the lack of good hawker food in KK, this is one place to check out. Thank you Nelson!

map to Wiya chicken rice, Kota Kinabalu

Address:
Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi
Block F, Lot 4,
Jalan Padas, 88000,
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.983967, 116.074422
Tel: 088-214 378