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On my very first trip to Kota Kinabalu more than a dozen years ago on a business trip in my previous-previous job, my friend Ben, who is from KK, brought me to this one specific seafood noodle place that left a rather deep impression, and it’s been on my mind since.

Last week, I finally managed to re-visit the place – Fatt Kee Seafood Restaurant, for the second time in my life, also thanks to the same Ben.

Kee Fatt Seafood Noodle, Kota Kinabalu
Fatt Kee Seafood Noodle, Kota Kinabalu

I’m a fan of fish noodle of all sort, and have tried many versions over the years. At Klang Valley, some of you may know that I always visit B & Best, which offers a lot of different types of fishes and other fresh seafood to choose from, but in terms of uniqueness, I think Fatt Kee will have to take the cake, cos they offer one ingredient I can’t find anywhere else.

Fatt Kee seafood noodle at Kota Kinabalu, last I had this was more than ten years ago, the fish skin!!! So good! #kyeats #fishnoodle #seafood #fishskin #kotakinabalu

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And the magic ingredient is – FISH SKIN.

Yes, at Fatt Kee, you can have fish skin with your fish noodle, in addition to fish ball, fish cake, fish fillets, fish head, and other goodies.

glorious seafood noodle, with fish skin!
glorious seafood noodle, with fish skin!

Fish skin is this wonderful seafood that many may not have before without being attached to fish fillet, or the whole fish. The texture is soft, smooth, and about 5x tastier than other skin. At this place, they usually have either garupa skin or sharks skin available.

their fish cake is pretty on point too
their fish cake is pretty on point too

As for rest of the bowl, I also really enjoy the tomato based soup, those thick meehun (mee available as well), deep fried fish meat/head and their crispy fried fish cake. Their homemade chili sauce is rather spicy in a good way too.

If you’re a fan of fish noodle, or seafood in general, you owe it to yourself to visit Fatt Kee when you find yourself at KK.

Thanks Ben!

fatt kee seafood noodle, Sabah

Address:
Fatt Kee Seafood Noodle
Lorong Hilltop, Taman Far East,
88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.950895, 116.092461
Tel016-824 8414
Hours: Breakfast through Supper

On our Mt. Kinabalu Hiking trip, we took the opportunity to dine at perhaps the most popular Kadazan restaurant in town on the last day of our visit. The reason is simple, D’Place is located at Kepayan Perdana, which is just a few minutes away from KK International Airport, most strategic place for dinner prior to flying back since KK traffic can get quite horrific and requires a bit of management at times.

Update 28/11/2016: Moved to 2.01&2.02 2nd floor, Plaza Shell, from 12/12/2016

D'Place Kinabalu, a short drive from KK Air Port
D’Place Kinabalu, a short drive from KK Air Port

The restaurant itself is easy to miss if you’re not familiar with the area as it is actually located on upper floor and does not have very visible signage from the most common angles. Alas, we found it, and fortunately parking isn’t too big of a hassle.

Haze and I had the pleasure of having my colleagues Kelly & Zureen joined us for dinner, which made the occasion that much better.

part of Kadazan Set A
part of Kadazan Set A

D’Place serves no pork, and while you can order each dishes separately, most people ended up with their sets.

We ordered Set A, Set B, and Gulu Gulu Set to be shared among the four of us. Each of the sets are priced at RM 20.90 and comes with a free traditional drink.

These are what the sets have:

Set A:

  • Pinasakan Bangusan
  • Linopot
  • Sayur Kampung
  • Bambangan Om Tuhau
  • Talur Masin
  • Ikan Masin Masak Lada Putih
  • Hinava
  • Lada Belacan
  • Sambal Ikan Masin

Set B is the same thing but with Basungan Guring in replacement of Pinasakan Bangusan

pinasakan basungan, linopot, sayur kampung etc
pinasakan basungan, linopot, sayur kampung etc

The Gulu Gulu Set has the following:

  • Linopot Rice
  • Bambangan, Tuhau
  • Hinava
  • Sayur Kampung
  • Bosou/Nonsom Sada (fermented fish with rice)
  • 1 Sup Pinasakan
  • Sambal Belacan
  • Ikan Masin Asam Limau
  • Jantung Pisang Tumis

this is the gulu gulu set
this is the gulu gulu set

Feel free to google on what these funny words mean and what the ingredients actually are. They mostly tastes slightly salty and sometimes slightly gamey though not in a bad way. The sambal was most excellent, and we did enjoy the various preparation of smallish fishes that went well with the rice served.

It was an certainly an interesting experience but at the same time it’s not difficult to see why the cuisine does not gain wide spread popularity. Personally I prefer Sinalau Bakas anytime.

Zureen, Kelly, KY, Haze
Zureen, Kelly, KY, Haze

One thing that I do regret not trying is the sago worms (butod). You can have it here either alive or deep fried at RM 12.90 for 8 pieces. Since this is a delicacy in Kadazan cuisine, I’ll make sure I do that the next time!

D'Place Kadazan food map

Address:
D’Place Kapayan Perdana
Lot E36-2 Block E,
Kepayan Perdana Commercial Centre,
Jalan Cybercity,
88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.919138, 116.062750

Address:
D’Place Kapayan Perdana
2.01&2.02 2nd floor, Plaza Shell
29, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman,

Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu,
88000 Kota Kinabalu
GPS: 
5.977140, 116.074755
Tel016-833 2381

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