Part of my responsibilities at work involves traveling to Kota Kinabalu at Sabah. That’s mighty fine by me since it is probably my top 3 cities in Malaysia, the other two being Penang and KL.
Kota Kinabalu has it all, crystal clear ocean minutes away from the city, Mount Kinabalu, rich local culture, and just maybe too many Chinese and Korean tourists these days.
Ah Chee Tom Yam, at Kota Kinabalu
Anyway, since I happen to be at KK more often these days, I make it a point to explore the local food offerings. On my last trip, as I was looking for lunch options upon checking in the hotel, I found Ah Chee Tom Yam by chance.
Ah Chee Tom Yam is located just a few doors’ down from the famous Wiya Chicken Rice, the restaurant offers a rather simple menu with a choice of tomyam prawn meehun, Sarawak laksa with prawn, Prawn mee with rice wine, and Thai style chicken feet.
Ah Chee Tom Yam – meehun with fresh prawns
For obvious reasons, I tried the Tomyam meehun, which comes with 5 pieces of fresh tasting saltwater prawns properly peeled and cooked just right. Most importantly, the tomyam soup was rich and fragrant by without being overly spicy. The star of the bowl though was the prawns, they were sweet and definitely worth the RM 11 or so asking price for a bowl.
If you find yourself in KK town, this is one worthy place for a quick meal, oh, it’s completely pork free too.
Address: Ah Chee Tom Yam Lorong Segama, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah GPS: 5.983448, 116.075227
I’m blessed with many friends who know I love to explore different foods, and it is also from suggestions of these friends that I manage to experience all these different places documented in this spot on the interweb.
But even better than suggestions though, is when friends brought me to the source of food – like during my last work trip to Kota Kinabalu, May picked me up and took me to this place by the name of Sabah Keratang.
Restoran Sabah Keratang, Kota Kinabalu
Keratang is the local name for Giant Garupa – the largest bony fish that offshore Sabah. While there’s a misconception that giant garupa is just normal garupa that grew old and huge, it is actually an entirely separate species of garupa that can grow to half a tonne and has distinctively thicker skin.
Unlike full fledged seafood restaurants like Welcome Seafood, Salut Seafood, New Gaya, or fish noodle places like Fatt Kee, Taukefish, Sabah Keratang wedged itself pretty much right in the middle, offering fish noodle soup, fried rice or noodle with garupa, and a selection of seafood and other dishes to go with rice.
three dishes for two hungry souls
Over the dinner for two, we ordered a garupa soup (RM 30 for small), 3-in-1 seafood (RM 29.50 for small), and vegetable (RM 10) with a couple plates of steamed rice.
The garupa soup was as good as any seafood noodle places, with tomato and salted vegetable tofu soup base that compliments the fatty nature of the garupa meat with its thick skin. Portion was rather healthy as well even though this was a supposed to be a “small” one.
the giant garupa skin, check it out!
The 3-in-1 seafood came with prawns, squid, and of course, giant garupa slices. This turned out to be our favorite dish, the seafood was fresh and super tasty, and while it was slightly on the saltier side, with steamed rice it was perfect. I love it.
As for the vege, it wasn’t anything to shout about, not anywhere near the Kundasang sort of vegetable I enjoy.
Overall though, I thought Sabah Keratang is definitely a worthy place for a meal if you find yourself at Kota Kinabalu.
On my last trip to Sabah for work, Ben, as usual, brought me to one of those special food places where tourist business isn’t one of their aims. The place is called Taukefish Recipe, a restaurant with a rather peculiar set up that you’d think it is some sort of a joke.
Tauke Fish at Kota Kinabalu
The restaurant is converted from a house located at the deep end of a small kampung a stone’s throw away from the airport. While they have put up signboards leading to the eatery, they are about as tiny as half a piece of A4 paper, just to ensure that no one would ever notice it, but at the same time big enough to serve as a confirmation that you’re on the right track.
Secondly, the restaurant isn’t opened for business at all time. Ben mentioned that it is always best to call in prior, as the boss tend to only open for business when he could procure top quality fresh fish. Sounds good to me.
giant garupa fish meehun, only the freshest
Our lunch was their signature giant garupa fish meehun, served in typical Sabah style tomato broth (not entirely unlike the version at Fatt Kee), with a couple homemade fried fish balls, tomato, and salted vegetable. The meehun used here is also of the slightly thicker variety which does a good job of soaking up those broth a little bit more readily.
The portion of fish is certainly generous and of the best quality I’ve sampled from anywhere. They’re cooked just so you get to taste the natural sweetness of the seafood, perfect execution. If you like to spice things up, they also offer 2-3 different types of chili sauce to pick from.
you can almost smell the freshness from the photo
The taste and freshness of fish is definitely key to the existence of this place. If you’re at KK and love your seafood, this is a place to check out. Prices are definitely on the high side at over RM 30+ per bowl, but if you’re more than willing to pay such prices for some sushi, why not these?
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
Address: Fatt Kee Seafood Noodle Lorong Hilltop, Taman Far East, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah GPS: 5.950895, 116.092461 Tel: 016-824 8414 Hours: Breakfast through Supper