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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

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The one food that you absolutely must try when in Sabah is of course, their seafood. Situated by South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is blessed with some of the best the ocean has to offer.

And when it comes to KK seafood, the locals definitely have their own list of restaurants they prefer – Welcome Seafood at Penampang is one of those places.

Welcome Seafood, at Penampang, Sabah
Welcome Seafood, at Penampang, Sabah

The restaurant is situated some 10 KM away from the city at this place called Fu Guan Industrial Centre. Parking can be a bit of a challenge especially on weekends as the place is almost always packed with locals looking for a good meal.

Another awesome dinner last night thanks to Ben. At Welcome Seafood restaurant, the original Penampang beach. Fresh and yummeh no nonsense preparation. #kyeats #seafood #kotakinabalu #penampang #sabah

A post shared by KY (@kyspeaks) on

Modus operandi here isn’t too different from many other seafood restaurants – pick your fresh catch or live seafood, weigh them, and get the restaurant to prepare them in the cooking method of your choice.

clams, fresh shrimps, and steamed jewel garupa
clams, fresh shrimps, and steamed jewel garupa

Since it was just Ben and myself, we were pretty modest on our visit. We had live clams with leek and onion, steamed live prawns, and a portion of steamed deep sea jewel garupa with soya sauce.

When the seafood is of good quality, you want the preparation method to be as simple as possible to bring out the natural sweetness.

the coconut jelly is a must order too
the coconut jelly is a must order too

True to Welcome Seafood and Sabah’s reputation, the meal was absolutely top notch. The seafood was fresh, and the value offered was very very hard to beat, all those for RM 124.00.

If you’re there, be sure to leave some stomach space for their coconut jelly too!

welcome seafood penampang map

Address:
Welcome Seafood Restaurant
652, Jalan Penampang Lama,
Fu Guan Industrial Centre,
88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS5.926457, 116.094067
Tel016-623 2388
Webhttp://www.wsr.com.my/

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

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

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

It’s January, Christmas jingles made way to those Chinese New Year songs that seems to always resurrect the career of a few non-Chinese singers who sings in Mandarin but nobody ever care the rest of the year.

To many of us gluttons, this time of the year also means that we can have yee sang (鱼生) again! One of my favorite Malaysian invention (yah, they claim it’s from Singapore, or Hokkien province in China… I don’t care)

Gu Yue Tien at Chulan Square, classy place
Gu Yue Tien at Chulan Square, classy place

My very first lou sang session came with the courtesy of Meena’s invitation to the food review session at Gu Yue Tien in conjunction to the Standard Chartered’s Extravagant 8 Menu.

From 20th Jan to 17th February, Standard Chartered credit card holders enjoy great deals at 8 restaurants with special customized menu priced at RM 888++ per table for 8pax.

my very first yee sang for CNY 2011
my very first yee sang for CNY 2011

First dish was of course, the yee sang I’ve been waiting for since some 11 months ago. The version at Gu Yue Tien is a little different, fresh salad with addition of sengkuang, raisin, crushed nuts, crackers, oil, strawberry sauce, and of course, plenty of fresh raw salmon.

The taste is a bit sweeter and a bit fresher tasting, it was so good quite a few of us had second servings.

Gu Yue Tien soft boil egg with foie gras
Gu Yue Tien soft boil egg with foie gras

Next came the dish I had my eyes set on the moment the menu was sent to me via email – Gu Yue Tien’s soft boil egg with foie gras. According to Chef Frankie, he had the idea to create this dish from a visit to some charity cooking event in New York, East meet West.

It is basically a soft boiled egg, with most of the egg white taken out and replaced with foie gras sauce with chunks of foie gras in it. It was rich, savory, and pure heaven, I had two!

seafood soup with crab roe, salt bake Spanish Iberico pork ribs
seafood soup with crab roe, salt bake Spanish Iberico pork ribs

No real Chinese dinner is complete without soup, and I really give Standard Chartered a big thumbs up for NOT serving any sharks fin in all their Extravagant 8 menu.

So we had seafood soup with crab roe that comes with prawns, scallops, crab meat, and other goodies instead. Tastes better than any sharks fin soup that I had before (I’ve since stopped consuming sharks fin though, and I think you should too.)

Then there’s the salt baked Spanish Iberico pork ribs. I’ve had plenty of ribs before, but boy, this one really tops them all. Slightly salty, tender and juicy on the inside while crispy on the outside, the ribs is superbly flavorful and absolutely addictive. If you go to Gu Yue Tien, this is an absolute must-order dish.

steamed giant grouper, glutinous rice with fresh water prawns and wax meat
steamed giant grouper, glutinous rice with fresh water prawns and wax meat

Fish is another classic dish during CNY, we had steamed giant grouper with minced ginger and yellow bean paste. The fish meat is indeed tender, and I’ve always enjoy the thick but tender giant grouper skin as well. This dish is a good follow up from the ribs, with minced ginger countering the savory pork after taste.

Steamed glutinous rice with fresh water prawn & wax meat was the last main dish of the night. An unlikely combination of seafood with wax meat, but it is one that turned out very well. The wax meat imported from Hong Kong, and fresh water prawn sourced locally, the two ingredients tasted awesome themselves, but also give the glutinous rice a rich and very delicious taste.

pan fried nien gau, chilled mango cream with pamelo
pan fried nien gau, chilled mango cream with pamelo

We wind down the night with the CNY-compulsory nien gau (sticky cake), only this one is pan fried with sesame; and chilled mango cream with pamelo to cool off and try to clear off the super savory+yummy after taste in our mouth.

At this point, my stomach was protesting, and my brain shutting down due to food coma.

KY & Haze, Bald Eagle & Chef Frankie, Mei Yee & Lionel, KK & BabeKL, Meena & Alison
KY & Haze, Bald Eagle & Chef Frankie,
Mei Yee & Lionel, KK & BabeKL, Meena & Alison

For those of you who holds a Standard Chartered credit card (or know someone who does), don’t miss out on this great offer. I throughly enjoyed every dish at Gu Yue Tien, and if your taste bud is anywhere close to mine, I have no doubt you will too.

Chef Frankie is also one of the most friendly and inspiring person, he shared the story of stepping into the kitchen at the age of 13 to becoming an executive chef to owning Gu Yue Tien, amazing stuff.

Now chef, how about some of that ribs again? Gu Yue Tien is located just above Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square.

map to Gu Yue Tien at Chulan Square

Address:
Gu Yue Tien
Lot 5A, Chulan Square
Jalan Raja Chulan
50200 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.148518, 101.716114
Tel: 03-2148 0808